Dark elf loses boy.

Lying in bed, side by side to her new lover, Seidr absently rubbed the soft fuzz on Hans’ chin. Was he really so young that a beard yet eluded him? She worried that he might not be with her long enough for shaving to become an issue. Already the Hero’s Call clearly echoed in his thoughts.

“Something’s bothering you,” she said to him.

Hans rumbled a sigh. “It’s silly, but, well, you’re so much lighter and smaller than I am. When we made love, I was afraid I might break you in two. I felt like some pawing animal.”

She made a sound more like a chirp than a laugh. “I am, by the reckoning of Midgard, your realm, 523 years old. In that time, I’ve had thirty or so mates and lovers, most of them my own kind. None have been as kind and gentle, or satisfying, as you have.”

She sat up abruptly. “Though this ‘pawing animal’ thing sounds like it might be fun.”

≪It is.≫

“You stay out of this,” Seidr muttered.

Hans sat up and looked at her. “Stay out of what?” he asked.

Seidr apologized, “Sorry, just, answering a ‘stray’ thought out loud.”

≪Stray thought?! Very funny. This is my place. I’m the one that invited you in, remember?≫

With that she cartwheeled over him, naked, pirouetted once and knelt down. With some difficulty, Hans had to work at getting his gaze up to her face.

She smiled before wagging a finger at him. “We’ve had enough fun. It’s time for us to get to work.”

“Work?”

“Uh huh.” She winked. “You have unasked questions yet to be answered and we need to get you outfitted, unless you plan to fight monsters barehanded, wearing only my skimpy robe.”

Still kneeling, she put her hands on her hips. “That would give Gná’s warriors ideas I don’t want them having.” She took his hand and pulled gently. “I may even have something that by right belongs to you.”

Hans leaned on an elbow, looking her in the eye, and asked, “How do you know I plan to fight at all?”

“You said you wanted to do the right thing, as soon as you decided what it was.” Seidr poked him on the forehead. “Don’t think for a moment I didn’t notice when you reached your decision. You just weren’t sure what my reaction was going to be when you told me you’re going to join Gná’s fight.”

Seidr dressed as she spoke, first panties, then bra, then the robe, tied at the waist. Hans enjoyed the reverse strip, but wasn’t sure if he should ask why she wasn’t wearing any undergarments before.

≪Hey! How about giving me some attention?≫

Hans noticed Bast head butting his hand and began stroking her back.

Flicking away an imagined piece of lint, Seidr said, “We’ll discuss later why you were thinking of Gná while you were doing what you were doing.”

“Um, what happened to my clothes, by the way?”

Seidr actually shuddered. “Sorry, they were a real mess. Beyond my ability to repair. And they reeked. Treating you was more important, so I had to,” she choked on the words, “burn them. But, try this on.”

She tossed him the cloth he’d thought was an oversize towel. It was a mostly green plaid, a tartan he finally realized. She also produced his original belt, it was lightly stained and still somewhat damp and stiff with water.

Wrapping the cloth about himself, Hans chuckled. “This wasn’t quite the reaction I was expecting.”

He fumbled a bit, so she took the cloth and belt back and laid them out on the bed.

“Yes you were, you just thought you were hoping I’d take it so well. Now lie down with your knees even with the edge,” she directed.

As he did, Seidr went on saying, “We truly love each other, Silly Man. I can’t explain why, but it surely means we can, we must, trust one another, even in the face of doubt.”

≪Oh, that’s deep.≫

Seidr glared at Bast as she flipped the cloth about him and fastened the belt. “Now stand.”

Hans stood and the upper half of the tartan draped down over his belt.

“Sort of a double skirt,” he remarked. “Not what I’m used to calling a kilt, actually.”

Seidr shrugged. “Well, it’s missing the pleats, but this actually is more like the ‘belted plaid’ worn by Highlanders in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. In cooler or wet weather you can pull the outer part of the ‘skirt’ up over your shoulders and even your head.”

“Wow,” Hans remarked. “That seems real practical.”

She smiled. “Its normally worn with a tunic, but the best I could do for you is my old robe.”

Still grinning Seidr added. “I’ll make a léina for you later; sort of an oversize tunic. In the meantime, you take care of this tartan. It’s my favorite tablecloth.”

He laughed aloud as she tied a pouch to his waist. She might have burned his clothes, but had known to save him his wallet, class ring, and even his pocket change. He seemed to appreciate that.

She’d wondered why he didn’t have a watch or phone, but that question would have lead to more. Not that anything electrical would work here anyway. She needed to be careful to control the order he learned things. Her original intentions would be hard enough to explain as it was.

“A little breezy, but I can get used to it,” was his only complaint.

“Ready?” she asked.

“I guess. Where are we going?”

All she offered him was a musical, “You’ll see.”

Turning away from him, Seidr faced the wall and began to chant:

Light’s end, edge of night,

Betwixt event horizons.

Tesseract, unfold.

A large, black circle took shape in front of her.

“A black hole?” Hans asked.

“Hmm, best description I’ve found is ‘naked singularity.’ But this isn’t really a hole to nowhere. It’s more of an Einstein-Rosen bridge.”

His eyebrows got all scrunchy. It was kind of cute as he asked, “Singularity, tesseract, Einstein-Rosen bridge, how do you know those words?”

Seidr shrugged. “I’m not entirely separated from Midgard. I shop for supplies every few months or so. I buy a lot of books and catch a few movies. But I’ve been speaking to you in Døkkálfarish, the Dark Elf language. And if I’m not wrong, you’re picking up on Latin from my spellcasting.”

She watched his jaw drop as he realized that was true.

“That is so weird,” he said. “Why is that?”

Seidr shrugged. “I’m not entirely sure. I think it’s because Aelfheim is a higher realm. Mental magics are more effective here. You’ll be able to speak with most intelligent beings of this realm.”

Then she smiled. “If you don’t mind my saying so, I’m impressed that you’re able to attach meaning so easily to such advanced concepts. Now hurry after me, these don’t last long.”

She called out, “Bast! I’m going to the well!”

Seidr picked up the lamp and step into the circle, leaving him in the dark. Bast almost knocked him over as she raced into it behind her. Hans shrugged and, expecting a wall to the face, walked forward.

He found Seidr on the other side in a dark chamber. A metallic, clattering sound revealed Bast’s location somewhere off to the left.

≪I love this place!≫

Seidr waved a hand and oil lamps around the chamber sprang to life. Hans gasped as he took in the mounds of trash and treasure filling the huge cavern.

Seidr swept her arms out and announced, “Behold, Urd’s Well. Forgotten treasures from across the ages, so vast that even the Goddess of the Past has forsaken them.”

She shrugged. “I’ve always wanted to say that to someone. Supposedly every item here is important to the future somehow.”

Hans looked around, whistling softly.

“Shouldn’t a well be full of water? What’s all this stuff?”

“The well is dry. I don’t know how long, but all these objects were once thrown into still waters or a well at some point.

She picked up a Chinese vase, turning it in her hands. “I’m not sure what to do with all the Ming Dynasty knock off vases, though. I swear, they must be breeding. It’s been my work since I found this place to try to sort through and catalog all this. In two hundred years I’ve barely gotten started. What we’re looking for is a wide leather belt with iron rings. I paid it no mind when I first came across it, but it might be . . .”

Hans piped up, “Thor’s girdle of strength?”

Seidr nodded. “Very good. You’ve got the heart to take on Loki. I’m glad to learn you’ve got the wits you’ll need as well. What else have you figured out?”

Hans joined Seidr in going through stacks of, stuff. “Ragnarok must have really happened. According to legend, due to Loki’s machinations.

“Now he’s here and Gná wants him ousted. Which she obviously hasn’t been able to do. Also he’s probably well guarded by his children, Jormungand, the Midgard Wyrm, Hel, Queen of the Underworld, and the late Fenrir, the Fenris Wolf.”

Seidr nodded. “Not bad. Not bad at all. Actually, Gná’s armies have been wiped out to a man and woman many times over the centuries. I’m not sure how many aelfkind are left, but in all the years I’ve been in this realm, I’ve never even seen one of their men.”

≪I keep telling you that’s because there aren’t any.≫

Hans picked up a scabbard, it was made of leather, but had been neatly tooled. He could make out a dragon on it, the mouth being at the point where the sword went in. The sword had a simple cross guard, but the hilt was wrapped with twisted wire, instead of leather. The weighted pommel, bronze perhaps, had a dragon design on it as well.

He asked, “Wasn’t there a Gná in Asgard? My Dad used to read me a lot of Norse myths. She was Frikka’s handmaiden and messenger, I believe.”

Hans pulled the sword part way out. It gleamed, almost glowed on its own. It had a runnel between its two edges with something in Latin inscribed on it. He said, in an off tone, “Excalibur?!”

In a matching tone, Seidr replied, “Another one? Oh my. Be a dear and put it over there. I’ll look at it later. It’s probably just another movie prop.” She pointed at a mound with several weapons and pieces of armor.

As Hans trotted the sword over to the designated heap, she returned to her lecture, “She’s one and the same. It seems she’s getting more and more desperate. I hear she once plucked a whole Roman legion from out of the past and told them she was Hera.”

“Hera was a Greek goddess.”

“And this bunch was Christian. That’s probably why they tried to kill her. You know what’s sad? If she had somehow managed to prepare you before dropping you in Fenrir’s Lair, you might have had a chance at breaking Loki’s seal.”

Madison picked up a belt, leather with iron rings as described. “Is this it?”

“Mmm, no. It’s quite wide. You’d wear it around your midriff actually. Unless I miss my guess, you won’t even have to ask.”

She took a pouting stance. “And it was  right here. I swear.

“Now, where was I? Oh yes, Loki’s Seal. Gná probably knows far more than she’s told, but according to her, Loki betrayed Asgard to the frost giants. They in turn betrayed and slew him. But not before Jormungand cut the root of Yggdrasil, sending Asgard, all of the Aesir, Norse gods you called them, and the invading giants into oblivion.”

“So that was Loki’s ghost I saw in the tower?”

“Of a sort. I guess he anticipated the giants’ treachery. His spirit is bound to a golden seal, which his children brought to Aelfheim sometime after the ruin of Asgard. They hid themselves in that tower for years. No one knows for sure how many. Decades probably. Then around eight hundred years ago, Loki’s army swarmed out of it. They’ve been causing wreck and ruin ever since.”

“How did Gná escape and become queen? “Hey, this looks about your size.” Hans is held up a brasier made out of tiny golden links.

Seidr squealed, “That was my favorite! Its been here all this time?” Eagerly, she added, “There was a matching skirt, and a, mmm, you’d call it a panty. We must find them.”

Hans looked about. “I think you mean a bikini. I thought we were looking for Thor’s belt?”

“We are, but this is much more important. I’m drop-dead gorgeous in that outfit.”

Hans shrugged and began looking. A hot babe in a chainmail bikini was justification enough for him.

“You were telling me about Gná,” he prodded.

Seidr bit her lip as though trying to remember, though Hans guessed she was really trying think where the rest of her outfit might be.

“Frikka sent Gná away when Gullinkambi, the golden rooster, heralded Ragnarok. No one doubts Gná would have stayed by the side of her mistress unless ordered to leave, but she had to obey her command. She eventually became Aelfqueen simply because she was the heir. The beginning of her reign was probably one of the finest ages this realm has seen.”

She sighed sadly, “Now, her people are mostly in hiding.”

Then she squealed, “I found it!”

“The belt?”

“My skirt, Silly Man.” She waved her hand in a slight spiral. “Now turn around. I want you to see me in it, not getting into it.”

Hans turned. Many soft clinking sounds followed.

“Ok, what do you think?”

≪Pretty.≫

Hans turned back and whistled softly at Seidr. The halter top, if it could be called that hung from golden collar about her neck, and draped down across her pert bosom, leaving the lower quarter of her breasts exposed. A band of links hung from lower part of the halter and wrapped around her back. The weight of the back strap held the whole thing in place. The metal must have been chilly, since her nipples stood noticeably erect under the fine links.

The skirt was something else entirely. It hung as a triangle from one hip. The other hip was exposed and width of the skirt as it crossed her groin, was barely enough for modesty.

She stood, legs spread wide, weigh on her right leg so that her left leg jutted out prominently. Her robe lay abandoned off to one side.

“Wow, but . . .” Hans looked at the scars on her torso and left leg, as well as those from Fenrir’s first bite on her left shoulder. He felt sort of like he’d ruined some great masterpiece.

Seidr stepped up and put a finger to his lips. “Don’t you dare apologize for the scars. They’re mine now, and you can’t have them back.”

“Always one step ahead of me, aren’t you Seidr?”

“Of course. I’m older, wiser, and it’s the only way to maintain the illusion that you follow me about like a lovesick puppy.”

≪Watch your language!≫

Hans continued to gaze at her. At certain angles he could clearly see …

“Um, isn’t there supposed to be a bikini bottom with that outfit?”

Seidr scowled and shook her head. “I never liked that part anyway. It was damned uncomfortable with a length of chain where chain has no business being. What’s the matter with my skirt as it is?”

Seidr stepped back and pulled the front of the skirt to one side. No panty on at all.

“Don’t you like this look?”

≪Again?≫

She released her skirt and squealed again, “There it is!”

“The bottom?”

“No, your belt.”

She pulled the belt from out of a pile of leather items and tossed it to Hans.

“Put it on.” She clapped her hands together like a gleeful child. “It goes above your regular belt. Against the skin, I think.”

Hans opened his robe to put on the belt. Seidr made a soft “woof” sound.

“Pardon?” Hans asked.

Seidr waggled her fingers at him. “Nothing. Put it on.”

Hans buckled the belt and looked suspiciously at it. “It seems, well, right somehow. But I don’t feel any different.”

Seidr winked suggestively. “Well, at least it looks good on you.”

Hans tried to retie his robe, only to find that the robe no longer fit all the way around him. He was stuck with a gap down the front.

“Hello,” he said.

Seidr licked her lips. “It definitely looks good on you. I’m just glad we didn’t put you in any armor first. That would have been awkward.”

≪Oh this is grand! Now he’s really dangerous. I am so glad you dug that up for him.≫

Hans flexed his arms. The muscles in them bulged and swelled. He sucked in his gut and it stayed there. Each motion brought more definition. A single squat and his calf muscles could be identified separately. Fortunately the effect stopped short of gross. He didn’t want to look like a bodybuilder, much.

“If we could find a way to bottle this . . . I don’t see anything to complain about here. Other than the fact that my options for clothing seem to have narrowed.” He adjusted his momentarily too tight belt and looked up excitedly. “What else is here? Thor’s hammer?”

Seidr shrugged. “That would be too easy. Of all the great weapons stashed away in here, that one is conspicuously absent. Still, there’s no shortage of arms and armor in this room.”

She had a breastplate in hand already and held it up to his chest.

“Too small,” she frowned. “That was the largest metal breast plate I had. I think there’s some leather over here though.”

She dug out a set of leather breast and back armor pieces. It had been treated somehow to make it rigid. It seemed to fit, barely. Hans held his arms out so Seidr could buckle them together.

She stepped back. With a big grin, Hans flexed. That broke all the buckles down one side. His grin turned sheepish at Seidr’s scowl.

She shook her head. “You would think I could outfit an army from this room. It doesn’t help that you were already bigger than ninety percent of your ancestors before you put that belt on.”

Hans shrugged. “Actually, I’m used to being able to move when sparring. Heavy armor would just slow me down.”

Seidr tossed Hans a pair of steel bracers. “See if you can break those. We might as well make a game of it.”

As luck would have it, they fit, with a little bending. Bending that he wouldn’t have been able to do before. A set of leather greaves, a sort of skirt of leather flaps, and a pair of laced up sandals also fit neatly. As long as he didn’t hit any cold weather, Hans figured he’d be good to go.

Seidr moved close to Hans and began stirring her finger tip in his exposed chest hair, “Well, they say the greatest warriors fought with little or no armor. So you look the part. If you could win wars on looks alone, I’d say Gná’s worries were over.”

That tickled, but it was the joke that made Hans laugh. “Well, now all I need is a good sword.”

Hans spied a scabbard and sword. “Ah ha!” The scabbard itself was simple wood, but it had a strap that would let him sling it over his shoulder. The sword’s hilt had a circular hand guard, and was only wrapped in leather, but the grip was long enough to use two handed. He drew the sword. Rather plain, but the single edged blade was Damascus steel and looked razor sharp.

Hans held the sword in both hands, set his feet apart. “This will do very nicely.” He took a couple of practice swipes at an imaginary foe. “The balance is almost perfect.”

Seidr waved her hands. “It could well have been intended for you. The Narn were always funny that way. Though I’d wager Urd ‘borrowed’ my skirt for her own use, at least before leaving it here to be found when it was. She’s such a clothes horse.”

Seidr suddenly looked upward. She had a sympathetic look on her face. “Ooh! That had to hurt.”

≪Ammut’s Teeth! Gná doesn’t start small, does she?≫

Hans sheathed his new sword and slung it over his shoulder. A perfect fit indeed.

“Gná?” he asked.

“Aye. She just used a very strong spell to try to breach my wards. She’ll end up with a wrinkle or two if she keeps casting spells they way she has the last couple of months.”

Seidr turned away, her mood somber. “That was a very powerful attack. I’m sure the strength of my wards surprised her, but I may have underestimated her as well. I want to make sure you know something.”

≪Dog drool!≫

Bast just happened to be looking the right way when Hans vanished. At her epithet, Seidr turned to look. It took her a moment to realize he was gone. Bast watched a her friend sank to her knees.

“No, not so soon,” murmured Seidr.

Seidr picked her up. “Where did she take him, Bast?” she demanded. Her hands quivered, so maybe the shaking wasn’t intentional.

≪Hey, not so rough! I’m clairvoyant, not psychic. I have to know where to look to see him. Oh, Seidr, I’m so sorry.≫

Seidr clutched her to her chest. Bast began a comforting purr as Seidr looked up, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“Remember that I love you, Silly Man. And come back to me.”

Bast kept purring. Keeping a person had its rewards, but could be a real bother sometimes.

Next: CHAPTER 7–DEFIANCE

http://www.tmi-comic.com/web-novels/aelfheim/
Copyright AndyOH! (Andrew F. Odendhal)
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This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead is coincidental.