He looked upon his blood soaked hands, the blood of one who had been near and dear to him. Who he believed to be his true love. He looked down onto the corpse, my corpse. Although my love felt endless distress he did not shed a tear, only animosity grew inside of him. Looking upon my crimson carcass he howled to the heavens. Cried out and cursed the fates that had damned me to this lowly station in the pits of hell. If I could only reach out and touch my hand upon his face and tell him, ‘Dear Orstein do not blame yourself for this.’ Unfortunately the power was beyond my grasp. Orstein did blame himself for my death and swore that he would find the one who defiled me.
“Dearest Kathrine,” He stroked my cold cheek as he placed his brow against mine, eyes closed as to envision me still living. “I will find the corrupt soul that dare disgrace your beauty. By my sword he will pay.” His mind still traveled to the thought that it was his fault, although I do not blame him perhaps it is possible that if he was not hunting that day he could have saved my life. Sadly the fates are not that kind. My love then lifted my body from the pool of blood and carried me from our home and into the snowy land. He placed me gently on the ground and began to dig, with his two bare and bloodied hands he dug a shallow grave. My shallow grave. “I am sorry I was not there, and I am sorry this is all I can do.” He placed me into the hole and buried me.
With his strong physique he stood tall as he looked over my final resting place. This did not satisfy him, he looked away from my grave for the last time and noticed footprints, they lead away from the house and into the village. The shallow markings of boots had yet been covered by the snow. He drew his sword and quickly walked toward town. Orstein’s quest for retribution was a noble one to be sure, but a selfish one as well. He sought to not only end any anguish I may have felt but also to end his own guilt.
“Where are the townspeople.” Orstein said as he slowly walked into town. “Gregor! Alexander!” He continued to search for any remaining people. Yet no one was to be found. “Where are the hunters, the women? Even the angsty children are missing.” Orstein continued to follow the only trail of footprints in the entire town. Unbeknownst to him, every man, woman and child had their life stolen by the same fate that robbed me of mine. Each lay in their own homes murdered. Orstein worried less about them and more about me, with every thought his mind still brought him back to my name. But what would he do once he found his revenge? Would he go on? I did not know.
He continued through the snow, ignoring the harsh weather that continued to ravage the land with no remorse. The cold did not seem to hinder his movements, no other thoughts afflicted his mind other than the thought of vengeance. Not of the cold, not of the townspeople. Only of me.
“Cowards! Show yourselves!” Orstein yelled into the mountains. No answer came down from the misty peaks only the innocent snow. My beloved continued, trekking up the mountainside still following the footsteps which began to fade. The piercing cold began to agitate his thick skin. “Asgard’s gates do not open for one who dies in a storm. I need to find shelter.” Orstein found his way into a dark den, sword in hand he continued down into the blackness. Coincidence was not kind to him, or maybe it was. The cave opened up into a large hollow, an immense fire burned in the center. Surrounding the fire was hulkish monsters. Their armor a deep black which haunted the mind, even with the safe feeling from the blazing light their armor still emanated a heinous aura. Their helms resembled contorted animals, birds, wolves, ram, and all manner of wild beast. The beings looked of human, but their skin was pale and rotting. Orstein looked on with confusion, he stood at the mouth staring in; watching them all laugh and talk of the kills they had. This enraged him. His grip tightened on his sword and he moved forward into the light.
“Monsters! How dare you talk leisurely about the innocent men and women you have slaughtered.” The monsters turned to him and drew their own weapons, swords, axes and bows now all aimed at Orstein’s heart.
“Mortal!” One yelled in a dark corrupt tone. “Sever him from existence!” Orstein readied himself as one by one the demons attacked. As one raised its arm to cleave Orstein, my love simply moved forward and grabbed its arm holding it in place as he pierced the beast’s stomach with his own blade. Lifting with both hands he tore the warrior in two. Ignoring the blackened blood that now stained his skin he moved toward the next, he swung his sword low taking out the legs of the creature, as it lay on the ground he stabbed downward into its skull. Monsters that had stood back, pulled back on their bows and launched arrows aimed for Orstein. He could not react in time as an arrow bore into his shoulder and another skimmed his cheek scarring his face. My wounded warrior wrapped his fingers around the shaft and ripped the arrow from his shoulder. He looked at the archers as he rushed toward them, pushing aside the soulless beings he moved to the one who had shot the arrow. Like a noble warrior he leaped toward the cowardly demon and plunged that same arrow into his eye.
“Finish him!” Another fiend yelled. More corrupt beings came from the depths of the cavern to fight. He tried to fight them off but it became too much, overwhelming him they fought harder and stronger than he ever could. They surrounded poor Orstein, the threat of death now became real.
“Enough!” A deep voice shouted over the roar of the crowding monsters. Quickly they moved away from my husband, who stood to his feet. Blood covered his body, not all of it his. “Mortal, why do you disrupt my armies’ good times?”
“Good times? They celebrate the murder of innocents!”
“What else is there for demons to celebrate?” He said sarcastically.
“A house outside the village, who was there?”
“House just outside the village you say? I was there, a lone woman in her home. An easy kill.” He laughed maniacally. “I had fun with her death.”
“Then it was you.”
“Yes.” Orstein moved forward and looked the monster that killed me in the eyes.
“I have a promise to keep.” With a powerful swing he took his vengeance. The brilliant blade met the flesh of the demon and severed his head from shoulders. Black blood flowed out as the body became limp and fell to the ground, where it deserved to lie. “Let the coldness of Helheim hold your abhorrent heart for all eternity. Live in your own personal perdition where you find no mercy, but know when the day starts anew you face the same torture again and again.”
It was done. He had avenged me, but his heart did not find happiness. His mind could not escape the fact that I was gone and there was nothing that could bring me back. He had what he wanted, but retribution did not only defeat his enemy but his reason for existence. He dropped his blade and fell to his knees as the horde approached him. A single demon pressed a mere dagger against my loves throat and cut deeply, erasing his meaningless presence. For if he fought and lived on he knew that life would be empty, no hymn could be sung of the warrior that lived happily after avenging his wife's wrongful death. His life, if sung, would be sung as if he lived and died in a single moment. He would be regarded as a man of honor, who paid with his life for the vengeance he did seek for his true love. Although if you were to ask me, his life was more than a simple bards ballad.
© Copyright 2017 Tucker Haase. All rights reserved.
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