Grandfather didn't really talk much. He would always speak in riddles loving to quote his stories. He bought the manor naming the forest after himself, Alistar Wood. After he died, my mother decided to have his funeral there. So after the service, we went to the manor, greeted by “friends” and relatives. The whole thing seemed like a formality, fans even snuck in taking pictures.
Wandering around my own family’s home, I came across his office. I saw the door was turned so out of curiosity, I tried it. Now wide open, the room looked as if it had been ransacked, papers scattered, shelves fallen , ink splattered all over. I tried the light for a better view but it flickered like a firefly. Watching my step, I wandered around utterly confused on why the room of a man who passed of old age looked this way.
The family portrait behind his desk was slanted so I went to fix it. Seeing my mother Susan, Uncle Roger and late Aunt Persephone as teenagers made me remember that they must have felt like I do now when they lost Grandmother. As I fixed the portrait, I became overwhelmed with its weight and placed it down. Wondering of how I would readjust it back, I looked up at the supposed empty area for the painting. A door was in the wall. Oval door with emerald-colored knobs, butterfly wings carved in it’s wood, embroidered in gold. Thinking my luck may run out from being here, I decided to try it. Grabbing both knobs and turning, behind this door was a mirror.
At first, I saw my reflection, but the light flickered and changed the surroundings I saw. From room to the woods, I felt adrenaline coursing through me. I reached out for the mirror and felt its resistance as I pushed my hands against it. Then, my hand fell through as if I submerged it in water. Pulling against it just pulled me in further. Before I knew it, nearly half of my body was inside. When my legs were pulled in, I heard the door behind me close and was pulled upward.
Hitting my head above me, I pushed in up instinctively and could feel a door opening. So I put my back into it, forcing the doors open, feeling dirt fall on me. Doors open & crawled out of this hole and layed on the grass. I could feel the cool shade of the enormous tree of golden leaves above. Getting up, I then began to process that I was in the woods in the mirror. As I turned back, the doors from which I came, fell through into the ground and were swallowed whole. I dusted myself off and decided to see if I could find service on my phone.
Wandering this wood, I heard a “ZIP” & snickers around me. Thinking that these were hallucinations, I kept on strolling through the wood. Then it happened again, ZIP and snicker. But this time I could see a trail of green dust in front of me. So I picked up the pace and followed the remnants of the vanishing dust. As I began to do so, I heard a buzz behind me and turned to see a girl flying directly at me. Sticking my hand out to stop her, she turned the other way. Before she did, I stepped in front and we collided. Scurrying to get up, she had a ponytail & wore a green uniform with golden armor plates. Before she could, I got up and asked “Excuse me where are we?”. Immediately she sprinted away and I then began to chase her. As I was behind her, I noticed her nearly transparent leaf green wings. Confused, I decided to speed up to question her. As I did so, she looked at me saying “No-Winged”. Then her wings began to flutter and in one fell swoop, I was left in the dust. Literally.
I continued to run and after hours running following their trail, I came across a bridge above a canyon. Crossing, I heard rumbling underneath. I saw a pack of wild beasts clothed in black fur with multiple eyes running through the canyon. In fear of what was coming for me, I quickly sped up & crossed, sprinting into the bushes. As I gathered my thoughts, I noticed the trail was vanishing. Sprinting to the dust, I felt my stomach rise. Then, silence. I stumbled around, unsure where to.
However, I saw a ray shining through the trees. Following this light, my eyes let me know that I was far from the manor. A golden city of towers of light which all circled around a shining evergreen tree. People flew around and filled the air with multiple colors of dust. I only felt so amazed when I read Grandfather’s stories about these people. The ones of butterfly wings clothed in nature's colors. Faires.
I ran into the nearby market and looked around at it all. Merchants selling moonberries which were transparent orbs and blacksmiths hammering out thin rapiers. As I walked around and could hear gasps and whispers. “His back”, “ No-Winged..”, “ Who is he ?”. Then, I heard a loud thud and a deep voice “ The City Guard passes”. Instinctively I tried to stay clear as they passed but I couldn't as they surrounded me. Turning around, there were 6 men with emerald spears and golden herculean beetle-like armor. I tried to run but 2 more blocked me and met me with a blunt end.
Waking up to pokes in my chest, my eyes slowly opened and the lights all around came into focus. I arose in a wooden hall in front of 10 people in green robes with silver rods and mitres hats like the Pope. One woman proclaimed “We are the Alfheim Council. You have intruded from the realm of Midgard. State your reason…” My mouth dried up as I tried to make words. The man on the left said “Scouts saw him in the woods, Eldrid”. Eldrid then looked at me confused “ So he didn't come via Bifrost……Ulf ?”. Ulf looked toward the middle man and said “ Wasn't it closed after he..well she was exposed,Gleb?” Gleb looked down and said “ It's only been 20 years, the seal didn't wear off”.
As they talked I regained my voice and said lowly “No-Winged….” The guard next to me hit me saying “ Speak louder for the Council” I then yelled, " They called me no-winged, All I did was come through that door” Gleb then stepped down and walked down the staircase and said “ You , my young non-winged friend have come through the Hideout Door”. He then stood in front of me and gestured for the guards to give us space which they unwillingly did so.
Gleb spoke boldly but low and still filled the room. He said “The door which you came through is linked to the Bifrost which links your world to ours. Think of it as a bridge through the Nine Realms.” I then digested this and looked up at him and said “But you all said that the door was sealed”. Gleb then walked around me and said “ Either the seal wore off though it was set to open on a certain condition”.
I turned towards him and he stuck his hand out to stop and said “ The condition was that the No-Winged King came in contact with the door”. He explained that the No-Winged King’s goal is to defeat the God-Wolf, Fenrir and that I must begin training. The moment he mentioned “fight” I stopped him saying “ Listen, I don't care about your dog or “king” , I need to get back to my grandad Alistar’s funeral”.
As I finished my sentence I could hear the council gasp and mutters, Gleb stopped in his tracks. Without looking back he said “ So you are indeed the No-Winged King, Descendant of Alistar Aland, The previous No-Winged King”. I walked up to him and said “ So you knew my grandfather…..So wait then he defeated Finrar or Fenreer before, right?”.
Ulb came down and as he did so he began to ucloth, revealing single claw scar on his chest. He said “ I took the name of the Wolf , the Ulb as I fought against the Wolf and cast him to the tree base which holds the realms together,Yggdrasill.” “Now it has climbed back up and is ready to lay siege to as It must kill the All-Father Odin”.
That's when it clicked. My grandfather’s stories of a boy fighting the “end of days” and being chosen by Odin to save the universe were true. That these were not just stories but an autobiography about his life. Suddenly, the hall shook. Screams came from outside l so I quickly ran to the door and opened it. I nearly fell out from the wind which was pulling me. I realized that I was inside that huge tree I saw. I looked down and saw the towers falling and the city on fire. I focused my eyes and could see the same wild beasts on the ground running around rampant and shooting beams of what looked like dark energy around.
Ulb and Gelb came running up to see what had happened for themselves. Ulb gasped and yelled to the guards “ Sound the bell, Alfheim is under attack by the Garms and that forsaken witch”. Gelb then started to escort me out of the hall as it flew into a fury, with its members fleeing. Then Garms came crashing in as if they had climbed here. Gelb instructed a guard to fly me to safety. Before I could fight back, I was charged at by the guard and fell out the door. As I screamed for my life and the guard held me close, his wings began to flutter. Dust spreaded and with his fully extended wings, we flew. We flew down to the base of the tree, where he tried to drag me along. In protest I dragged my feet and he still wouldn't give up. Then out of nowhere, he was rammed into the other end of the street by a Garm.
The Garm then turned to me and began to sniff me. It then began to circle me and when it was behind me getting low, I made a break for it. The Garm took off after me as I ran for my life. Before the Garm took me from what seemed like a nightmare, I was rushed once more and I could feel my feet lift off the ground. Expecting for them to come back in contact with the ground, I kicked them upwards. Feeling no resistance, I opened my eyes to see that the girl from before was carrying me to safety. And she for sure could fly and do it quickly. She dodged and ducked and manuvered every Garm that was in the way.
As we passed a street I saw a woman with a cone hat clothed in all black and a purple whip atop a large Garm in armor. She whipped the other Garms and caused them to attack their surroundings. She had long scarlet hair and green eyes that pierced me as if my own mother was furious. We got and the pack and she whipped them and yelled “Stop that scout and bring them , Dead or alive”. The scout then said “ Nice try,, you fake”. The Garm pack chased us and we dashed into the woods. We ran as quickly as we could but I could feel the toll before taking effect.
As I slowed down, the scout could tell I was exhausted. She found some bushes and then proceeded to pick some moonberries. She crushed them and spilled its contents on me and did the same to herself. As we could hear the rustling from inside the wood, we chose to hide in the bushes. I could feel my heart once more and thought, of what Mother would say from all this exercise, probably a “ Good on you, what do you want a cookie for not playing Nightfort everyday?” ”. I nearly chuckled but quickly remembered what's happening. I felt their paws as they pushed against the bushes.
Then I heard a howl from back in the city and I felt the ground shake as they rans. After we were sure they left, we got up and walked farther into the woods. It was a piercing quiet as we were only provided with the sounds of the forest. I decided to kill the silence saying “ So we never got to actually introduce ourselves correctly...” As I spoke she began to walk faster. So I sped up to keep up with her. When I did , I said “ I'm August and you must be the scout who reported me to Gelb, huh ?”. She stopped and turned angrily pointing at me as she said “ Do not address the Grandfather Fairy as if you are equals!". I gave up conversing as we came upon a cave.
We took shelter and she quickly flew out and brought firewood. As I tried to start a fire using Bear Grills as reference she looked at me utterly baffled by my inability. She took the sticks and remarked “ So what do you even learn in Mid...Earth... unable to start fire” I sighed as she broke the silence. Looking att her as she started to prepare the fire, saying “ Ok let's try again…. My name is August Aland-Smith and you are…?” She put down the sticks and said “ I am an Imperial Scout of the Alfheim Army, Kara Njord Leifdottir, of…” Before she could finish I cut her off with an “ Ok I get it , I’ll just call you, Kara”.
She seemed slightly angered by my slight relaxed tone and continued on the fire. I asked “ So who was that lady with the whip…”. As sparks flew from her rubbing cave stones together, She answered “ You mean the traitor of the door?” “She is just like you, she came from the door, prophesied to be our so-called savior”. I looked down in the dirt, thinking back to the faces of the council as they looked in doubt and repulsed my presence.
Kara kept on saying “ She came here told that she was the No-Winged King and trained for years” She finally sparked the rocks and they caught the stick saying “However, the prophecy was never for one with a growing chest”. “The council found out, quickly….excommunicating her and she ran to the Forsaken Realm, Svartalfheim.” “ She must have gone to those damn dark elves and well came back for this” .“I was scouting for her next attack but I was thrown off by something in my way” as she looked directly at me, nose flaring. Kara told me about Alfheim and about the previous battle against Fenrir. They lined up so well with the novels that before she told me, I knew their endings.
She put out the fire as she said “ The smoke may cause some Garn to catch us”. As the cave went dark, I layed down in it’s sand, able to see her wings low but fluorescent light. Then my world went dark. Out of nowhere I was kicked and could hear yelling in the cave. I slowly got up and rubbed my eyes. In front of me, 3 Garn and the lady in black. Kara stood ready to fight and I just put my hands up and said “We surrender !” She then whipped at my feet and the Garn picked us up with their mouth and carried us away.
We were taken through the canyon, to a large cave. As we entered the cave, It lit up with yellow lights from the eyes of all the Garn there. We were thrown down and the lady stepped over Kara and went unto her stone throne set like a 90’s Couch. That’s when it clicked. “ You…….you died….” I said. She took off her hat to show her long scarlet hair and smiled. “ Does Roger and Susie ever talk about ol’ Aunt P..” as she laughed.
She told me that she too found the door and as her father went through it, she followed as well. “ But when I went in, the time difference was so great that what seemed as a few minutes were years to me and he had already returned back through the Bifrost” I treaded closer saying “ So why didn't you go back….why did you lie?” She whipped in my path and said “ You're just like your mother, always trying to find the good”.
She got up and continued lashing near me and she proclaimed that there was nothing left for her. The Garn began to circle and enclose on me and Kara. However, I noticed that she was using the whip to coordinate with them. She whipped near Kara during her rant and I stepped on it before she could pull it back. In a moment of weakness she let go and I could see the Garn confused. Quickly I started whipping in her direction and the Garn started to step towards her. Kara took me and flew quickly out of the cave and through the canyon.
We reached a halfway point and she smirked saying “ So I guess Midgardians are as good at trickery as Loki”. I smiled quite puzzled and looked at the whip in my hand “ Yeah I guess we are good liars….”. As we jogged out of the canyon back into the forest towards Alfheim, I thought about Grandfather and if his whole life was a lie. If anyone else knew about the Hideout door…. I knew one thing for certain, my aunt was going to come for this whip and Alfheim.
Today, I wanted to but didn't really talk much.