Tuesday, February 27, 2018

After Ragnarok (Spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok)

Hela awoke in pain.

The right side of her body was in agony, every nerve and muscle screaming in torment. She gritted her teeth and forced herself to sit up. That simple movement nearly caused her to lose consciousness, but she was Hela, and her will was strong.

She looked down, and a hiss escaped her teeth at what she saw. The half of her had been burned to the bone, and what was left of her flesh and muscle looked like cooked meat. She raised her right arm, forcing near-skeletal fingers to flex and form a closed fist. Satisfied, she called a sword and used it to prop herself up onto her feet.

She looked around for the first time, taking stock of her surroundings. The landscape was blasted and filled with a sulfurous reek. A poor showing for Asgard, she thought.

She remembered Surtur driving his blade down, the last attempt to dodge the enormous flaming sword as it bit home. Obviously less than successful, but that was of no consequence. She lived, and she was Hela, and she stood on Asgardian soil. That would be enough.

Hela closed her eyes and drew upon Asgard's power, willing herself whole again.

Her eyes flew open when nothing happened.

This was not Asgard!

She sought around herself, and now the landscape became clearer. A blasted wasteland, yes, and a very familiar one.

She was back. Back in the hell that Allfather Odin had banished her to, so many millennia ago.

She reached out instinctively, her senses questing for the weak point that she had found, that had granted her her freedom, her kingdom, her empire, everything that was rightfully hers... and found nothing.

Was she too weak? Or was that door simply gone, as if it had never been? Impossible to tell.

Hela raged. She screamed, cursing all the gods, her family most of all. She struck the ground, splintered sword after sword. And when she had nothing left she fell to her knees.

All of her rage was futile. Nothing she did had the slightest effect.

Of course not.

She was Hela, but she did not live.

And this was no Valhalla.

For the first time in her long existence, Hela suffered a single tear to fall from her eye.

Behind her, something chuffed.

Hela turned her head and felt a hot breath on her healthy skin as Fenris Wolf licked her face. She reached up and stroked the great wolf's muzzle, joy and astonishment lightening the weight of her despair. It looked at her with its old eyes, the glint of the Eternal Flame no longer present.

She rose to her feet again, and looked behind Fenris. Ranks of soldiers stood there, soldiers she recognized. The Einharjar of her youth, the warriors who had pledged to her above all others and followed her in defiance of the Allfather. They were dead, as she was dead, but their swords were sharp and their armor was strong.

As one, they put their fists to their breasts, and bowed to her.

Hela stood in the reeking waste and she smiled.

This was no Valhalla.

But perhaps it could be better.

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