The Book of Earth
4 - The Saboteur
Fenrir, god of wolves, sat below the world with his sister advantageous Hel, the highest princess of Muspellsheim and Niflheim and Hel as named for she. In the underworld kingdom Muspellsheim there is a lake of fire, the malicious demons do the bidding of their masters, they are born of fire to bathe in it, generations never dying having demonic spawn stronger than their ancestry in a cesspool of deviance far older than mortality. For their actions they are rewarded with carnal pleasures and reincarnation in the house of the Surtur, in their demise they return to Hel a failure, shortcomings which are punished in the ways of hell. When they return they are not arisen within the lake of fire but instead returned to the great darkness, suffering purgatory and the seven rungs of hell before they can return to the comfort of their molten sulfur where punished for failure to punish humans, it was their way that gave dismay unto them, and unanimously they contended their preference to be returned to the great lake of fire when they decease. The pleasure of demons is fire, for this would erupt on the three worlds of men and allow Surtur's rising, so Hel used ice to hold the lake of fire above the dungeons where failure and sin is tortured.
A world of chaotic fire and torment with swathes of feudalism and discontent and insanity above a crystalline layer of ice within the chasm, from below it is clear and transparent and the flames look like wisps of thin smoke and from above the demons cannot see down to Fenrir and Hel who sit staring at a magical sky of fire and ice from a distance no taller than twice of a man tall, as could be tallest among other men. The ice barrier cracked and made a terrible rumble, and Hel mended the fracture caused by the growing numbers of demonic saboteurs with pleasure. For the actions of the demons making such havoc Odin ordered the gods Freyr and Sunna to end their bringing of warmth and light to the worlds of mortals, in optimistic hopes it would despoil the efforts of the demons. By such a command the mountain became cold and Thor shook the snow from above and the earth was cold forever indignant of the three fates. Hel decided that if her demons could not torture Midgard and Alfheim and Svartalfaheim, that she would be the scourge of the land, she faded from existence in the darkened hell and reappeared from an ice cave in the world of Midgard to play in the witching hour.
The world was bleak and the light of the gods remained forever passed the shore of the horizon, barely a glow. The cold culled the demons and weakened the others until they were hunted and killed by men, from which they each returned to hell. With far too many in the lake of fire, even those that were not reborn in flame were approaching the unstable ice plane that held the lake of fire, which was cracking and breaking. Hel had forgotten her deed and continued to search for sinners and the weak willed whom she might sway to dastardly effects only to poach them for her kingdom beneath the world.
Fenrir was woken by the sound of the ice breaking. He could not freeze the demons nor abolish them as Hel could, so he decided to warn them. His words served only to alarm them, their hectic ruckus began to frenzy and the ice continued to fracture, he then ordered them to war amongst themselves to which the brazen and bold were apt and compliant, but the battles of the monstrous demons only worsened the fire and war. Holes in the barrier began to form and the fires of hell that pore over souls began to pour into the dungeons of contempt and despotism, in a panic Fenrir began to slay and slaughter the demons, there were far too many and even decimated their flesh crawled along the ground, they were far too much and the violence only made them more fervent and Fenrir more exhausted.
In haste Fenrir commanded the armies one by one to go below and support the ice with their hands, their warmth did more damage than good when their efforts were sabotaged whilst they were killed in the chaos they resumed in the lake with youthful vigorous fires from which they spawn, where they held the cracks together the ice would mend but the entire layer was melting faster than could be helped, Fenrir would order the demons to support each fracture as they were spotted, but eventually the ice could not hold the torrential lake of torture and thus it collapsed.
Hel above wandering the ice age had murdered many men and curtailed the weak of spirit until they succumbed to evil and she reaped their souls then sent them to the despotic dungeons of hell. From them she took their stolen map written in a language much like her own, which had long been unspoken by the people of Midgard. It was a dry and worn map uncovered from an unmarked rusty metal box that had stained the parchment red and made it brittle. A simple path it foretold whence it lead to a stone in the yard the height of a midget, hidden by hex she used a star, a grain of sand, and spring moss to open the stone, but it was the a puzzle that painted the symbols of sounds with firelight, the message warned that practical magic would not save whoever took the blade, that only divine witchcraft would prevail if the blade was stolen, as the stone from top to bottom turned to falling sand. She took the dagger and the world around her became drawn to the dagger wherever she moved, using her magic time stopped as she left the spirit trap. With her she carried the first finely crafted dagger that humans had ever made which was also the first knife used to kill a man, when came one of her generals whom was in charge of torture innovation.
Dvalin: "Greetings your majesty?"
Hel: "What is it now Dvalin?"
She held the knifepoint beneath his chin, the demon flushed faintly over its red skin and tried to camouflage with the surroundings to escape, but Hel made the air cold and dense and pierced the skin of the demon.
Dvalin: "It is a wonderful knife, my liege, where did you get it?"
She withdrew the knife scraped his skin at the same time then wiped the blood from it, as the demon's complexion resumed a scorned color.
Hel: "It was buried near the lost castle at Gaul, traitorous thieves were in contest for a trove map in a language that they could not read to a puzzle they shan't solve as mortal men, so I relieved them of their desires and paid them in their deaths...you had come for a reason I presume."
Dvalin: "The Lake of Fire will soon awaken Surtur; you have left your armies writhing and not warring and now the levee breaks."
With a snap of her fingers she and Dvalin were in hell and everything was inanimate. The water stopped before falling, the formation of each drop was wide at the bottom and pointed at the top as is any water drop, the points sharp enough to scrape steel. The steam would not move without great force and would drag across the armor of those who could try to part it, and the water was blackened and stolid like granite and steel. Above her the demons frayed and washed into the abyss were also frozen and trapped in the cold elements, positioned in awkward poses. Dvalin pulled on the cusp of a solid flame, a kindle fraught flicker that did not move, but was as ardent as a living flame.
Hel: "Dvalin, be gone!"
Dvalin: "It is only a piece I need take for a despot I have below."
She paused and watched with awe as in a formidable moment Dvalin broke a piece and retreated with it into the darkness. Fenrir waited with worry shown by the wolf blood within him, hanging his head low in respectful fear.
Hel: "This is a tragic problem that I cannot be in two places at once; at next offense you must come and get me sooner."
Fenrir: "Thank you for averting disaster, your wish is my command."
Hel: "Simpler things are known, I command you to send me the Minotaur king and leave my sight for one year, or until you are needed by father."
Fenrir: "Thy will be done."
With that Fenrir vacated Hel's side and retrieved the Minotaur regent for her then went to Jotunheim for his sentence, hunting in the snowy mountains. When the Minotaur arrived he knelt before the high queen Hel.
Minotaur: "All hell for thee your majesty."
Hel: "We must begin repairs at once, thaw the slaves as needed and begin immediately, use your labyrinth so that the little devils do not escape."
Minotaur: "It will be done by your all-wise command."
Hel: "I will be in the court of the damned if needing be."
Hel left the realm of her prison into the shadows and the Minotaur began thawing and rebuilding the prison and the lake of fire with blood and magic and as predicted containing the demon slaves as they systematically tried to escape.
Far below the reconstruction Dvalin stood before the culprits of the treasure map malice, three men in tattered and soiled worn and ovum soaked leather, the first blond, the second blue, and the third of crimson.
Blue: "Your attempts to take our freedom away are merely the god-king Odin at hope to let you play."
Dvalin: "By your heavy souls you each killed the other and the queen killed you third."
Blonde: "Absurd, you have our death?"
Crimson: "How, we are not dead, where are we?"
Dvalin: "You are in over your head, for your sabotage in your lives you will be now tortured, regularly, unless you have other wishes?"
Blue: "Do we not get a trail, a place to plea?"
Dvalin: "It is impolite to answer a question with a question my blue friend, besides that, you're not going anywhere."
Dvalin: "Yes, don't interrupt, this is a blade made from solid fire forged from the lake of sins, the first of its kind I have acquired to accost prisoners, and you will be my...experiments...it should cut you causing great pain but keep the flesh from cooking and peeling from your bones...who wants to go first?"