A/N – Hey readers :) I bet you're all wondering why there's different name to the novel. Weeeellll I've revised the storyline of this book and have decided to make this a prequel to 'The Norse Trickster'. This storyline was only meant to be a few chapters long but the character's have demanded a little more air time so I hope you enjoy this latest diversion and the rest of the story :)
Chapter 15 – trials
Sinmara leaned on the wall of the scrying cave as Rjolda and Skirn instructed Surt on life in the valley. Apart from the look on the way Surt hadn't communicated with Sinmara in any way. Even now as she watched the three of them it was clear Surt was making sure not to look in her direction. Surt had been amazed when he had first entered the valley. He had gaped in wonderment at the huge arch of rock that announced the entrance. The valley had a tear shape forking out from the arch in sheer cliffs perforated with holes that served as entrances to a vast network of caves in which all the fire jotunns lived. The cliffs then became higher and curved inward as you walked further into the valley culminating in large arched caves which lead to the jarl's personal cave network consisting of where they slept, the scrying cave where they all were now and many others that only Rjolda and Skirn knew the purposes of.
The whole time Sinmara had kept up her cold, disdainful persona she used to have when she had lived. She had watched him stare in wonderment at the valley, talk and laugh with the other fire giants and all she wanted to do was drag him away. Sinmara had never anticipated that she would have to go through her worst nightmare so soon. Rjolda now led Surt to the pedestal where she used her magic to seek them out.
"This is what we use to find lonely giants like you to bring them here"
The slight metallic glow of the liquid glinted in Surts eyes like a child discovering something new. To demonstrate Rjolda waved her arm over the liquid causing it to ripple and show an image of the valley. Surt watched the giants walking between caves going about their business, he hadn't said anything since he had entered the scrying cave he was too taken in by the wonder of all the jarl's had achieved in the valley and the magic at their disposal.
Watching the two of them acting so kind and caring to Surt made Sinmara feel sick and she had no way of telling him it was all fake. As Surt lifted his gaze from the pedestal he avoided looking at Sinmara in the background.
"Well that is about everything. For now you must be tired so go and rest in sinmara's cave and Skirn will fetch you back when we have a place and job for you"
"Thank you Jarl Rjolda"
Surt and Rjolda shared a smile as Skirn led Surt out of the cave. When the sound of their footsteps had faded Rjolda then turned to Sinmara.
"Good job Sinmara, even I was convinced"
Sinmara chose to remain silent and stare at the floor. Rjolda continued to talk as she walked around the pedestal getting closer.
"Putting up that charade made me nauseous, poor naive creature. Although some might find such innocence alluring"
Rjolda was now stood face to face with Sinmara, who was now pursing her lips at Rjolda's insults. Rjolda grabbed sinmara's chin roughly and glared in her eyes.
"It's unfortunate really you had such potential and now you just sicken me. Especially with this 'thing' now inside you"
Sinmara's eyes widened
"LIFE Sinmara don't you sense it?"
Letting go of her chin, Rjolda gestured to her stomach and sneered at her ignorance. Sinmara remained silent as Rjolda continued to explain.
"But it will be rotted with a terrible affliction, Mortality. It will grow, age and die because of this unnatural process which must be eliminated from our world"
There was such disgust in Rjolda's tone she practically spat out the word mortality. Sinmara was confused Rjolda had never mentioned this before, it may be best to keep silent and let the jarl talk.
"That's why we gather the population of Muspelhiem here. To monitor their number and make sure none of those come into the world. This isn't the first time this has happened and we have sorted this before"
When Rjolda had finished talking, Sinmara had no idea why they had formed the community until now. She had to egg the jarl on to get more information.
"But why is mortality such a problem? If they grow and die then how can they even be a threat?"
"Now now I can't give everything away can I? We have a problem to sort traitor"
Rjolda had caught on to what Sinmara was doing and was now looking at her evilly. She stepped face to face with Sinmara again.
"This isn't our first encounter with them. Since we are immortal we don't require sustenance and we are born as we are. It's all due to the volcanoes we are born from. The source of that volcano powers us it is our life force and keeps us alive. But those with mortality have no such thing. They require rest, sustenance and are helpless when born. You are to leave this valley and not return until the child is born then you can return alone or your dear Surt will have to pay the price"
Sinmara just returned Rjolda's stare and nodded slowly. They had finally found a weakness. Before she served them out of loyalty but now they could use blackmail.
"You will leave immediately"
"You can say goodbye if you wish but do not tell him anything I would hate to see the look on your face if he was to be in an accident"
"You've made your point clear"
Sinmara turned to leave but was stopped by Rjolda's hand on her stomach
"Be very careful Sinmara"
Rjolda threatened. Sinmara just pushed Rjolda's arm to the side and left the cave.
Surt followed behind Skirn as he led him through the network of tunnels and passageways carved into the mountain. They came to the end of one of the tunnels and entered Sinmara's cave. It was larger than some of the others they had passed and Sinmara had the cave to herself. The cave was bare with no form of furniture or decoration. The only light was the faint red and blue glow of the viens in his and Skirn's skin. Surt walked in and looked around, it was one of the most unremarkable things he had seen.
"We thought some familiarity might help you settle in"
Skirn said still at the cave entrance.
"Can I ask you something?"
"What are you doing here? Why are we kept in these small caves? Wouldn't it be better out in the open?"
"For your protection, Rjolda and I want to make sure no-one is left out there alone. This is the most effective and compact way of keeping everyone together"
"Then why do you and jarl Rjolda have you own separate network?"
"We need to have the space to concentrate to keep this going"
Surt paused to consider his next question
"What did jarl Rjolda mean by job? I have one. My purpose is to protect Muspelhiem, out of everything that's happened it's the one thing that has always been clear to me"
Skirn raised an eyebrow at this.
"Really? Who told you that?"
Surt opened the flap over the sheath belted around his waist and lifted Surtalogi out. When he touched the stone sword it bloomed to life and illuminated the cave in red light. Skirn flinched back and his eyes widened, the jarl was speechless. Surt felt the energy flowing up his arm and into his body. He had forgotten how drained he felt when Surtalogi wasn't in his hands; maybe now he was here he wouldn't need the sheath anymore.
"Surtalogi told me my name, my purpose and where I was when I was first born. This sword has saved mine and sinmara's life more than once"
Skirn was still speechless as he stared intently at the blade, momentarily losing his composure.
"W...Well you can put the sword away now, you don't want to hurt anyone by accident. If you're ok I'll leave you to get settled and rest"
Skirn didn't even gesture a good bye as he practically fled from the cave. Surt put Surtalogi back in its sheath. He could hear voices further down the passageway and soon after Sinmara appeared in the cave entrance.
The two silently looked at each other until Sinmara spoke.
"That's the longest you've paid attention to me since we arrived. I'm being sent away, it seems that they found more giants since i was gone and they need me to get them. I may be gone a long time but I'll be back"
"Don't do that"
"I have to leave I have a job to do"
"No not that don't just pretend nothing has happened, that all this is ok"
"Surt I have to go but when I'm back we can..."
"NO! I need to know why you lied to me now! I need to know why you never trusted me to tell me"
"Because I knew this would happen. I knew you would want to come here if I told you and I couldn't let them..."
Be careful Sinmara Rjolda's words echoed in Sinmara's head stopping her from telling Surt the truth. After her pause Surt became irritated.
"See? This is what I mean i don't know who you are anymore. The things I've heard from the others you've fetched I couldn't believe you've done. Why Sinmara? Was everything just a tactic because you were sick of having to carry them back? Or was just for the fun of it?"
"Surt that's not fair"
Sinmara took Surt's hands and looked into his eyes
"This is why I didn't tell you, to save you from all this. When we were in Myrkwood in that cave together I never lied about what I told you"
"The reason this is so hard isn't finding out it's the fact you couldn't trust me to handle it"
"I do trust you"
Surt pulled his hands from sinmara's
"Because I don't trust them!"
Sinmara burst out. She had to leave before she endangered Surt by telling him anything else.
"Look I can't do this now but we will talk when I return"
Sinmara turned to leave
"Please Sinmara don't leave me here alone"
She didn't want too. Before she did anything stupid she ran away down the passageway and out of the valley to stop herself from giving to the urge to fight them. She knew if she did the two of them wouldn't survive it no matter how much trust they had.
Rjolda was pouring over the pedestal attempting to look into Myrkwood. The strain of the magic drained her like it did before, the blue of her veins faded to a very faint glow. Skirn walked in, saw what his sister was doing, grabbed hold of her robe and prised her from the pedestal.
"Sister how many times do i have to tell you not to attempt this, it is too draining you will die at this rate"
"Release me. I know what I am doing"
"Sister we have other issues concerning our new arrival"
Rjolda just waved her hand dismissively
"He looks strong enough we put him in the mines and keep him happy. We use his safety to keep control of Sinmara and carry on with our ultimate goal"
"He's the one with the sword"
Rjolda's face instantly paled in fear.
"Are you sure?"
"He says its name is Surtalogi"
"NO! No we're not prepared it's not time"
Rjolda became hysterical shaking off Skirn's grip on her robe and looking to the silver pool.
"Do remember what this pool first told us when we were born? What we saw"
"The mortals will bring us our end Skirn"
"The fire giants will have their last ride on a bridge of many colours. One wielding the sword Surtalogi will lead the charge setting the entire ground aflame. The land will sink and flood ending the immortal fire jotun race"
"The reason we've gathered them here. The reason we have made sure the mortals don't spread is to prevent that sword's arrival. He can't be here now!"
Rjolda slammed her fist onto the pedestal in rage and frustration.
"Calm yourself sister. We can dispose of him now before he becomes a threat"
"No, brother we can't be too rash. This must be handled delicately we have to go to source"
"I don't understand"
"We eliminate him we lose control of Sinmara and Ginnungagap will only make a new sword. We must rush our efforts and gather enough metal to cage her. Only then do we get rid of Surt and guarantee our survival"
"We haven't mined enough yet and to melt and maintain such a large quantity will take energy and time"
"Then make them go faster! I don't care what happens to them just get it done!"
Skirn just nodded and remained silent. He hadn't seen Rjolda lose it like this. She was always calm and calculated but now he could see a slight crazed look in her eyes like a trapped animal.
"I will see what I can do sister"
The fire Surt had launched at Ginnungagap on the edge of Myrkwood sailed across the yawning void, lighting the dark like a lone star. Like a comet the fire soared towards the ice wastes of Niflhiem illuminating the Elivagar streams below and causing the hardened ice to glitter in the light. The fire collided with the ice below in a massive explosion. When the smoke and flames subsided it revealed a crater and in the middle a colossal jotun with ice blue skin that shimmered as it moved like flames.
In the heat of the collision ice at the edge of the crater melted, as the drips ran down the side of the crater it began to amalgamate and from the water a cow was born. Its hide white as ivory and its large eyes all knowing it looked at the colossal jotun before it. With a long low moo that reverberated across the ice the colossus was roused.
The jotun turned its head and slowly opened its eyes. The jotun groaned loudly with hunger and reached out to the cow, its starvation was unbearable.
The jotun begged. The cow walked from the jotun and started making its way up the side of the crater. The jotun became angry and went to grab the cow from the ice.
The jotun shouted again desperate to quench the burning hunger. Upon reaching the top of the crater the cow looked to the hunger-crazed jotun, stooped and began to lick the ice.
After some time milk began to flow from the cow's udder and flowed down crater pooling at the jotuns mouth. The jotun instantly began drinking the milk and began sweating as it did so. The cow continued to lick the ice revealing the top of a head with brown hair. The cow paused looking to the ice jotun fervently lapping up her milk and then to the smock of brown hair below her.
I Audhumbla, name you whom I have given sustenance Ymir
And I name you Buri whom I have given life