Title: Epic Redemption
Plotbot - December 8, 2009 09:51 PM (GMT)
There was a knock at the door and then, not long after another impatient knock at the door. Whoever was on the other side was quite insistent and the knock would repeat every few seconds until the door was finally opened.
Standing outside Amora's home was the unmistakable raven haired form of Karnila, the Queen of the Norns. Though she could not quite match Amora's beauty, she was still a quite strikingly attractive woman and had a body that would no doubt draw the eyes of most of the men who saw her.
She was wearing the regal, if rather exposing garb that befitted her position as Queen of an Asgardian Realm. Given the looks she was getting from those on the street, though it was clear that she'd cast some kind of glamer that disguised her garb. Though many people stared it was apparently because there was a six and a half foot tall woman (in three inch heels) with a lingerie model's body rather than because the same woman was dressed in strange clothes.
"Your shields have gotten much better, my former apprentice," she said when she saw Amora. "I was unable to teleport straight into your domicile. I had to walk half of what these mortals call a 'block' to get to you. Please invite me in. I have tidings I believe you would like to hear."
Enchantress - December 10, 2009 06:29 PM (GMT)
Life on Midgard was dull. If it was not dull then it was irrititating and full of very rude mortals. There was one right now just banging on the door as if she was some common woman. Amora was very tempted to lay waste to whoever she found on the other side; even if it did not help in her bid to return to Asgard. She was still deciding while opening the door of the small brownstone, but who she found there made the decision final.
"My shields? Yes that was the point."
The distance from Asgard made her abilities weaker than they would be otherwise. It was something that bothered her a great deal. Amora place a very constructed smile on her features and stepped back from the door.
"Please. Come in, Karnila. I would love to know why I have been honored with such a visit."
The place where she lived now was a far cry from her previous home in Valhalla. It was nice enough, but Amora just hated it. She was a woman, no a goddess, who was used to living in luxury. Amora gestured to a dark green couch in the small living room.
"Please. Sit down."
Plotbot - December 10, 2009 08:16 PM (GMT)
Karnilla was no more pleased to be on Midgard than Amora was. Fortunately for her, though, she could return to the storied halls and glorious terrain of Asgard and its associated realms any time she liked. She had the good grace to not look disdainfully upon the common furnishings that Earth provided for Amora as she entered the other woman's domicile.
She was a queen however and as she sat on the simple couch, she retained her regal bearing. Her back was perfectly straight, her posture impeccably erect and she crossed her legs at the ankles, though the position did little to hide the lovely curves and lines of her legs. Her chin was held slightly up as she scanned the room and then settled her eyes on Amora.
"Your hospitality is as warm as ever, my dear Amora," Karnilla said with thinly veiled cattiness.
"I assume that you do not want to live in this manner indefinitely, however," she continued, gesturing elegantly to take in the plush by Earth standards quarters that surrounded them. "I assume that you would prefer to once more strut the halls and streets of Asgard rather than wade through the thoroughfares of Midgard.
"You know, of course, that as Queen of the Norns it is mine to glimpse into the fog of the future and glean the paths that fate might take. I have had a vision that a grave danger is about to threaten our shared homeland. I also know that the foolish Asgardians will be loath to trust either of us if we present this information to them and I am forbidden by ancient pacts from stopping it directly. Thus, I come to you. If you fend off this catastrophe, my former protege, the Asgardians' honor will leave them no choice but to welcome you home with open arms and even hail you as a hero."
Enchantress - December 14, 2009 05:06 PM (GMT)
"You know that I always give you all that you deserve," Amora said with the perfect mimicry of a sweet smile on her face. It was a very plain truth about how she felt.
Amora moved and settled herself on a small chair; she would speak those words, but would not actively antagonize the queen. The days she could do that had slipped between her fingers and there was the possibility that she would not get them back.
The very tall, very blond woman started to lean forward slightly when Karnilla began to speak. She was very interested in what her fellow Asgardian had to say about her glimpse into the future. Of course she didn't want to spend the rest of eternity in Midgard. It was fine enough to visit...for short periods of time.
"It must be quite the catastrophe indeed if they will welcome me as a hero. Is it so dangerous that they will welcome me back to Asgard after my death? Tell me more and I will think on it."
Plotbot - December 14, 2009 05:41 PM (GMT)
"Ah, dear Amora, you always did have a sharp wit, and a way of bending the truth to your own whims," Karnilla mused with her own small smile. "I think, perhaps, those were the reasons why you were such a good apprentice."
She seemed quite pleased when Amora leaned forward, leaning back herself to all but lounge on the couch she was sitting on. She watched and listened to her former apprentice quite closely, however, weighing her every word and expression.
"If my vision is correct, and I can see no reason why it would not be, what is coming will leave the Golden Realms of Asgard in complete ruins. It will be a disaster rivaled only by the destruction of Ragnarok itself," Karnilla explained, her voice betraying a hint of the true worry she felt over the situation. She paused for a moment, her normally smooth brow furrowed in thought.
"Oh, there's no need to worry about that," Karnilla continued. "A lady as cunning and well versed in the mystic arts as yourself should be able to handle the situation with relative ease. Although, you should, perhaps, find yourself some champion to handle the more...physical aspects of the quest.
"For that matter, you will need to visit one of your former champions and ask of him a boon. My vision shows me a creature of great power and durability attacking Asgard. Only a powerful weapon such as Mjolnir will be able to bring it to an end. Since I doubt that the mighty Thor is going to hand his hammer over to either of us, you will need to ask your old friend Skurge the Executioner for his axe for a time. Of course, you will have to go to Hel to talk to him."
Enchantress - December 15, 2009 04:22 AM (GMT)
"It was also one of the reasons that I was such a bad apprentice."
Amora let her guard down for just a moment. It was enough to let those words escape her lips. The Asgardian woman then slipped back into her usual role; guarded in all things as she talked to the Queen of the Norns. The mask was quick to cracking at mention of Skurge. Things had not ended so well for the man or in truth for her. Still she was able to slap a new and even more artful mask over her features.
"And what shall I do after that? Wield the axe myself? I am sure that you would enjoy seeing me try."
She had heard what Karnilla said before, but chose to make that jab anyway. The mention of Skurge had thrown her off guard.
Plotbot - December 15, 2009 05:08 PM (GMT)
"True enough," Karnilla agreed with her original statement. "That upset me far less than the way you ended your apprenticeship with me, however."
There was no denying that the two women had a history, and not necessarily a friendly one, together. In some ways, they were rivals, especially given that they were both considered one of the most powerful sorceresses of their realm.
Perhaps that was why Karnilla quirked a single, curious, and perhaps pleased eyebrow at Amora's apparent discomfort over mention of Skurge. The Enchantress and Executioner had what could, generously, be called a tragic romance and it was nice to see that Amora had a heart no matter what facade she might have tried to project.
The Queen of the Norns shrugged her shoulders idly at Amora's somewhat sarcastic question.
"Obviously you have not been in Midgard long enough. Haven't the Midgardian women proven that they can do anything a man can? You would, likely, be strong enough to wield the axe, though perhaps not with very much skill.
"But, my suggestion is that you find some physically powerful, if not particularly clever man to swing it for you. You've always been quite adept at finding powerful men to do your bidding."
Enchantress - December 16, 2009 03:04 PM (GMT)
"The women of Midgard are very determined."
It was not the smartest thing to show weakness in front of Karnilla, but if there was any it could not be helped at the moment. Amora had not expected for that name to be mentioned in this conversation. Perhaps spending all this time on Midgard had taken the sharp edge off of her mind. The woman inwardly sighed but that did not show up on her neutral expression.
"Yes. It was always one of my particular skills. The trick is to find a powerful man who is perfect for the job."
Amora might have been bothered by the conversation so far, but her expression became one of calculation. She was still the Enchantress after all; no one could strip her of that part of her identity. Even if she was banished to spend her days in Midgard.
"And will you be here to watch my attempt?"
Plotbot - December 16, 2009 04:10 PM (GMT)
"Indeed they are. I don't think anyone can deny the power of the women of Midgard. Many have underestimated them to their own peril," Karnilla responded.
It was difficult to determine exactly how Karnilla felt. She was just as good at wearing a pleasant mask of emotion rather than displaying her actual feelings. It was, in a way, a contest of ice queens.
"I have no doubts about your skills, my former apprentice. I am certain that you'll be able to find someone who is up to your standards."
She rose elegantly, straightening out wrinkles on her clothing that were not there. "I will leave you to your work. When you are ready, simply teleport yourself to the realms of Asgard. I will augment your magics to help you slip through the barrier that bars you and will guide you to where you need to be.
"I'll leave you to your work." She turned then, sashaying out of the room and out of Amora's domicile. She went less than half a block before ducking into an alley and disappearing.
Enchantress - December 31, 2009 11:36 AM (GMT)
Amora's clothes were not some illusion, but actually those favored by the more mundane women of Midgard. Her powers were more subdued being kept from the halls of Asgard for so long. She knew it was practical to conserve; even if some people thought she could not be so thoughtful. It was all part of the mask.
Once Karnilla had been properly escorted out the blond woman went back to her bedroom. Her steps were slow as she considered what the Queen of the Norns offered. It was a chance to be among her fellow Asgardians once more. They might trust her again. Well not that exactly, but they would let her return home. Amora knelt down by an overly plush bed, one of her big indulgences, and slipped out a flat case from beneath it.
Isn't that what the people of Midgard did? Put things that they didn't want people to notice under the bed? She opened the case to inspect the familiar green and black material. Here is where the Enchantress was hidden, but it appeared that woman would meet the world once more.
It galled her, as she slowly changed outfits, that anyone would need to augment her magic. The Enchantress would definitely be offended, but now she had to be more practical. She shook off the negative feelings, made sure her curtains were tightly closed, and then began the spell that would take her back to her true home.
Citadel - December 31, 2009 03:12 PM (GMT)
The mystic words came to her lips as easily as ever and the feel of eldritch power filled her once more. For a time, the dull, mundane world of Midgard stood before her eyes before it flickered and shifted and disappeared. Even with all the decorating she'd done to her home, nothing on Earth could compare to the glory that was inherent in Asgard.
Karnilla's magic guided her own, leading her to the place where her quest would begin. A dark, ancient wood was at her back and her feet were in an overgrown, wild field. Before her were a chain of sharp, imposing hills and directly before her was the gaping maw of a dark cave.
Despite the somewhat threatening terrain that surrounded her, there was still something glorious about the terrain. Everything was larger and more impressive with sharper edges and demarcations, brighter light, darker shadows. Even the air was cleaner and more invigorating.
But she was not alone. Perhaps an instant after she appeared at her destination, someone else did as well. A tall, broad shouldered man in the flashy garb of one of the Midgardian superheroes flickered into existence next to her. Almost immediately, he fell, lurching forward and stumbling to his hands and knees.
"What the hell?" he asked, pushing up to his knees. He turned to her immediately, his face hidden by his helmet though he could clearly see through the t shaped slit in it. "Did you bring me here? I have to get back. The bomb's about to go off."
Enchantress - January 4, 2010 04:22 AM (GMT)
"It is best that you do not call her name out loud. She can be very difficult once you meet."
The Enchantress most certainly knew what he meant, but she chose to play a little dumb at the moment. This was a new man and it might well very work on him. She wondered if this was some accident of her teleporting or if the Queen of Norns was just enjoying herself a bit too much.
She inspected the man who had stumbled before her. His costume was just a little too much for her taste, but the men of Midgard tended toward that kind of thing. The masked man looked very big and very strong; it was the kind of frame desired to wield a very large axe.
"I know nothing of any bombs. I only know that I need to protect my home."
Citadel - January 4, 2010 05:10 PM (GMT)
The man's head cocked to the side at her quip. Given the fact that his helmet all but hid his face, it was the only indication of the quizzical look he was giving her that she could see. "Who can be difficult?" he asked, clearly confused.
He stood, looking around, first his head swiveling, then his entire body turning to take in his surroundings. Apparently, that wasn't enough either and he reached up to remove the helmet. The face revealed underneath was quite handsome with a straight, prominent nose, high cheek bones, expressive lips and bright blue eyes. His hair was a vibrant shade of red and quite thick, though cut close to his head.
"Dammit. I guess Punisher's on his own, then," he replied to her second response. His eyes settled on her and it seemed that he really noticed her for the first time. There was no denying Amora's charms and as a healthy young male, he couldn't help but admire them. His pupils dilated, his stance changed and his expression softened as he took her in.
"Is this your home?" he asked. "Where are we? Who are you?"
It seemed that he was just full of questions for her.
Enchantress - January 6, 2010 03:38 PM (GMT)
"Hela. " She spoke the word in a whisper and pressed a finger to her lips. "She is not as sociable as you might imagine. We will do well to be careful so close to her home and not speak of it so casually."
This new man was very handsome. So that would make things easier for her; since it was more pleasant when they were easier on the eyes. The Enchantress looked around her like taking in the scene for the first time. He was welcoming of her already and that made things even better. She recognized that change in poster. It happened all the time around her; though she was trying not to brag.
"I am Amora and this is part of my home. You are in Asgard. Have you not heard of this place before?"
She would be genuinely surprised if he had not.
"I am about a task that would protect it."
Citadel - January 7, 2010 04:18 PM (GMT)
Azara's people were entrenched in mythology. For many centuries they were the Earthly representatives of the Greek gods and their interests extended beyond the purely Hellenic. Although he had not learned as much about the Norse gods at the feet of his mother and assorted uncles and aunts, he did know the basics. He was familiar, at least in theory with Hela and certainly knew what Asgard was. And, of course, he knew both the legends and recent heroic deeds of the Mighty Thor. In fact, he aspired to be like Thor.
At her whisper and small admonishment, he looked around warily as though expecting the queen of the Asgardian underworld to appear behind him. He also took the opportunity to reexamine his environs and could not help the faint smile that came to his lips as the wonder and glory of the realm filled him. This was a place of legend.
Fortunately, he was not familiar enough with either Asgardian lore or Thor's history to equate Amora with the Enchantress. Otherwise, he might have been wary of her intentions.
"Hasn't everyone heard of Asgard?" he offered in return. "I just never dreamed that I might get to see it."
He grew serious when she hinted at the nature of her task. "I'm Citadel, but you can call me Azara. If you can use me, I would like to help. Is that why I'm here? Did you bring me here to help?"
He took a step closer to her, in the hopes that perhaps proximity would help influence her decision. He wasn't entirely sure what was going on, but he sensed that there was a chance at true glory here and he was interested.
He was also quite interested in her. Standing so close, he couldn't help but notice that she was almost as tall as he was and be impressed both by her height and by her stature.
Enchantress - January 7, 2010 07:18 PM (GMT)
Now this was going better and better by the moment. The Enchantress presented him with her best worried smile. She wanted this man to think that she was thankful but also cautious. Now that was actually the truth, but old habits die hard. Odin kept his eye on the queen of the dead more firmly now, but Hela could be..mercurial.
"I imagine that many people in Midgard had heard of Asgard. Yet I do not think that I have heard of you hero of Midgard."
Amora moved just half a step closer; lifting one well cared for hand and putting it to Azara's chest. It was a gesture meant to convey her need for his help. She hoped this man did not want to be too much like Thor. She had a difficult history with that particular deity.
"It was not my intention to bring you here, but perhaps the powers sensed my need. I can only say that I am thankful that they did. I must venture into Hel and find a weapon that will help me with my fight. It is not easy."
Citadel - January 7, 2010 11:45 PM (GMT)
Azara flushed a little at her words. Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, those were household names. All too many people were like her and had never heard of Citadel. He was no publicity hound, but he took his relative obscurity as a sign that he was ineffective. After all, if he'd made a difference, done great things, people would know who he was.
"I haven't done much as a hero," he explained shyly. "I guess you could say I'm new to this."
His chest was firm and muscular under her hand, though strangely, it seemed that he was not breathing. At least his chest did not expand and contract the way one might have expected while her hand was on it.
He was still holding his helmet in one hand but, hesitantly, he raised the other to grasp her hand, gently. Perhaps it was his desire to make a name for himself that made him say what he said next. It certainly didn't hurt matters that an impossibly beautiful woman who seemed to be in need had asked it of him.
"Oh, is that all? Just going into Hel?" he joked. "I'm your man. We can't argue with the powers, now can we?"
He flashed her a bright, carefree smile, still holding her hand for a few moments before releasing it and grasping his helmet with both hands. "No time like the present to get started, right?" he said as he moved to place his helmet on his head.
Enchantress - January 8, 2010 09:03 PM (GMT)
If she could read his mind at the moment she would have found this Citadel impossibly sweet. Such genuine earnestness was rare to find in Asgard, Midgard, or any other world that might be out there. Amora would surely think it was an act, but he did appear very genuine.
Amora stopped the man from putting the helmet on; her hands resting on top of the thing before he could lift. It was then that she leaned in and placed a light kiss on his cheek. The Enchantress was not fully behind this thing. She wasn't using magic to get him to help. Azara had already offered to help. It was just a little thing that would wrap the man further around her finger.
"Thank you. You are a brave and a true hero. Your name will be honored though all of Asgard and Midgard will surely follow. I know now, that with you near, I cannot fail in my task."
Amora pulled away after that and took her first delicate steps toward the cave entrance. She frowned for a moment where Azara could not see. It would be difficult to see Skurge once more. She was sure that it would not go so well.
Citadel - January 8, 2010 11:47 PM (GMT)
Azara was quite earnest and undoubtedly idealistic. He firmly believed in truth and justice and that good could overcome any evil. He also knew that for good to succeed, good people sometimes had to fight and he was eager to be on the front line.
He was not naive or foolish, however. In fact, he had a particularly keen mind. Fortunately, Amora had tried no subterfuge and he had no reason to doubt the truth of her words. What she planned on doing was a good thing, even if she might be doing it for selfish reasons so there was no need for her to use her mystic powers on him.
Nonetheless, he did blush a bit more at the kiss. He had been confused as to why she'd stopped him from putting his helmet one, but now he moved even faster to get it in place to hide the flush on his cheeks. A bit flustered by the woman, he would likely be easier to manipulate if it became necessary.
"Oh, that hardly matters," he replied to her comment. "Being honored isn't important, especially if there's a chance that we can do some good."
He didn't see her frown, but he sensed her tension. Fortunately, he simply attributed it to the danger and importance of their quest.
The cave was simple enough, a gash cut into the plain stone of the cliff face. It quickly became apparent that it was the entrance to a vast underground system of caverns, however.
The rough stone passage twisted and turned, growing narrower and wider at random intervals. At times the ceiling came down so low that they both had to duck to pass through. Other times, the roof soared overhead so far that it couldn't be seen. Fortunately, it never grew so low that the Enchantress never had to suffer the indignity of crawling or wiggling along on her belly.
For most this place would be nothing more than that, a vast network of tunnels, passages and caves. It had its own dangers as the stone occasionally shifted and some dangerous creatures made their lairs there. It took an individual steeped in magic to find and see the true nature of some of those passages, though. There were tunnels within tunnels and these led to places that weren't entirely there.
Their path grew darker, more ominous and foreboding. The seeming glow and perfection of Asgard faded slowly until everything was faded, washed out and gloomy.
The path opened up abruptly, this time both horizontally and vertically. A vast chamber presented itself to them. The tunnel continued on the opposite side of the chamber but between them and it was a massive dog. A dog so massive that it could easily snap either of them up with a single bite. Big enough that it straddled the path worn into the rock and was so tall that they could easily walk under its belly. Fortunately, it was not facing their direction but was facing the exit to Hela's realm.
Azara had been following Amora closely, ready to interpose himself between her an any danger that might present itself. He would have lead the way if he'd known it. Now, he did push past her, his feet lifting a few inches off the ground as he demonstrated his ability to fly.
"What is that?!" he asked, his voice low in the hopes of avoiding the creature's attention.
That was Garm
, the watchdog of Hel and those entering that infernal realm had nothing to fear but those trying to escape would face his fury.
Enchantress - January 12, 2010 03:20 PM (GMT)
The Enchantress might have been humbled by her exile to Midgard, but she had not been brought so low. She would not crawl along on her belly. It would be more likely that she would find some way to bring down a wall. The woman still held onto a great deal of her pride.
Azara was eager and he was flustered. Amora had no compunction about using that to her advantage. There was more at stake here than even the hallowed realm of Asgard. She wanted to return home and walk among her equals once more. Midgard was so washed out and dulled in comparison.
The woman had to pause at the sight of the watchdog. It was a large beast and intimidating even if it wasn't looking at either of them. Amora was pleased that this Citadel imposed himself between her and the creature. It meant well enough that she could depend on him.
"Garm. We should have no trouble from him traveling into the realm. It is the natural order of things. Once we leave...there could be difficulty. We can only know for absolute sure once we try. These are unusual circumstances."
Citadel - January 12, 2010 11:04 PM (GMT)
Azara would have interposed himself between most people and the massive beast before them. The fact that Amora was an extremely beautiful woman only made it all the easier. Not to mention the fact that she was the one who knew what was going on here. Without her, he would, quite literally, be lost.
Not that he was at all sure that he could defeat the beast before him if it came down to it. The massive canine looked like it could snap them both up in one bite.
"Garm? I've never heard of him," Azara continued to whisper. "Only Fenris. You think we can pass?"
He started to edge forward but stopped abruptly as a thick, deep voice rumbled through the cavern.
"Of course you know about Fenris. Everyone knows about Fenris. But it is Garm who will devour Tyr at the end of days." It took a moment to realize that the growling voice was coming from the dog. Especially since Azara was not accustomed to dogs talking. He was even less accustomed to them sounding so irritated and bitter.
Garm's back was still turned to them and he stared intently at the exit to the underworld. He was, apparently, quite ready to gobble up anyone who thought to escape from Hela's realm.
"You are quite right, little one. I am forbidden from attacking anyone who enters Hel. Although, the two of you smell so delicious, I might just chance Hela's fury to eat such delicacies."
Enchantress - January 16, 2010 10:25 PM (GMT)
"If you devour him then he cannot return to Midgard and spread the tale of your majesty."
Amora wanted to keep a very respectful distance from the beast; even more so because of his sensitive ego. He might certainly be pushed to at least hurt them if he's offended enough. The Asgardian woman stepped back and looked up at the massive creature. The Enchantress gathered up her bravado to answer the guardian.
"I don't think there is any creature, in this realm or the others, is delicious enough to turn Hela's wrath upon you. Just let us pass without trouble and you can have your amusement later."
Citadel - January 18, 2010 04:52 PM (GMT)
Again Amora proved her ability to charm and manipulate males, whether human or otherwise. Her subtle flattery and threats were just the right combination to sway Garm to her way of thinking. His pride and fear of his mistress were enough to make him question whether eating these two little morsels was a good idea.
"Very well, little two leg," he sniffed haughtily. "You and your little friend may pass. But remember, when you leave you will have to pass this way again. That is if you get to leave. My mistress is jealous and loathe to let those who come into her realm leave again."
There was a distinctly human like smile on the canine's face then, an expression that seemed out of face on his furred muzzle.
That expression sent a shiver down Azara's spine. But, it seemed that the dog was going to be as good as his word so after casting a single, questioning glance at Amora, he eased past the guardian of Hela's realm. Of course, that meant walking under the beast, not the most calming of prospects.
Beyond was another small tunnel that then opened up on Hela's realm proper. Massive caverns intersected and connected, the dull stone absorbing the pale light that seemed to infuse the entire place. The shades of the dead filled the realm. Their smokey, transparent shapes wandered aimlessly, performed endless, meaningless tasks, or simply sat or laid in one spot, staring blankly or weeping bitterly. Wails of despair filled the air, coming from all directions at once, but even without those sounds, hopelessness filled the air.
"How are we going to find him?" Azara asked, stopping just inside the cavern. He didn't want to wander around too much if he didn't have to.
Enchantress - January 19, 2010 06:05 PM (GMT)
"Thank you Garm. We will certainly remember that you looked down upon us with such benevolence."
It was best that she continued to soothe his ego. It could very well help the both of them once they went to leave this realm. Amora knew that it would not be an easy attempt on the very best of days. The Enchantress would not admit that she feeling, as they said in Midgard, rusty with her powers after being away for so long. The woman was relieved that she was able to summon up a golden light; one that would offer some protection against attacks. It would protect them as long as the light shone down on them.
Amora's long stride brought her to Azara's side very quickly. She looked around the realm, suppressed a shiver, and then looked back to the man.
"I will be able to find him. He will show brighter than any of these shades."
There was a faint sound of pride in her voice. Amora chased it away. She doubted the man would care what she thought after all of this time. A thin thread of light reached out and started winding its way through the dreary realm.
Citadel - January 20, 2010 12:00 AM (GMT)
Azara cast a glance back down the tunnel. From this angle, there was no way to see the massive canine at the other end. Anyone who thought to escape wouldn't know their danger until they were already in the beast's jaws.
A second glance took in the golden light surrounding them and then traced the line that extended away into the infernal realm. He hesitated only a moment, ensuring that she was ready to continue their journey before setting out to follow that light.
"I guess this person must be someone special," he said. "Otherwise he would not be important enough for us to have to enter Hel to meet with him. Is he some kind of hero?"
Before she could answer, there was a shout of incoherent rage. It was filled with the jealousy that only the dead could feel for the living and the sorrow that only the damned could feel for themselves.
Azara spun toward the sound, his body immediately tensing for battle. A trio of the shades rushed toward the living pair, their beards unkempt, their hair wild, their eyes bulging and their clothing only tatters. Only one of them was armed and that was nothing more than an old, yellowed bone. The others seemed intent on using their bare hands to exact their vengeance on the living.
Azara's feet lifted off the ground and he began to drift forward in an instant before he charged. But there was no need. As though they were raindrops striking a windshield, the trio smashed against the golden light Amora had created. With a hollow thud they each discorporated, turning into a faint, hazy mist that rolled away from the light sullenly.
"Wow." Azara whispered. He turned to Amora with fresh respect in his eyes. "I'm not sure who's protecting who here."
Enchantress - January 20, 2010 03:33 PM (GMT)
"He is very powerful and the weapon is very powerful and yes he is a hero."
It was up for debate if most people would agree with the man being a hero. Amora didn't want to speak too much of Skurge at the moment. It didn't matter that the information would be forced into the light. It didn't matter that it would happen sooner rather than later. Explaining things to Citadel would go to a place that was very unpleasant. The Enchantress made a point of avoiding unpleasant places. She was supposed to live a life of ease and perhaps worship.
Amora had been prepared to fight or to let Azara fight. She had not been too confident in her abilities. The woman was pleased once the light did its work; battling the dead was never something most people would call pleasant.
"We are here to protect each other. It is how we will stay safe. It is my hope that they continue to do so."
Now that was certainly another truth. They fell from her lips so easily today. Amora moved forward and kept an eye on the dead around them. There were those figures who were quick to skitter away. They were aware enough to learn a lesson.
Citadel - January 20, 2010 04:33 PM (GMT)
"You watch my back and I'll watch yours," Azara agreed. There were worse things in the myriad dimensions than watching Amora's back.
Citadel remained in the lead in case they happened across something that was too strong to be stopped by the Enchantress golden light. Of course, if there was something too strong to be stopped by the Enchantress' protections, there was a good chance he wouldn't be able to do anything to stop it. Azara simply followed the tendril of light that extended from Amora to her quarry.
Time passed strangely in Hela's round. It became difficult to determine how long they'd been there or how far they'd traveled. They passed through valleys, more caverns and over hills and cliffs. Finally, they mounted a sharp ridge that leveled out on a flat plateau.
Another of the dead spirits came hurtling toward them and shattered upon the Enchantress' shield. This one was not trying to attack them, however. It had been knocked into them. And the person doing the knocking was standing there glaring at the two of them.
"Hello, Amora. I was wondering when you would show up," Skurge tapped his chest where the golden tether that lead from her stopped. And quite a chest it was. Skurge was a massive man, his chest twice as thick as Azara's though their shoulders were about the same width. His thighs were bigger around than Amora's waist and his biceps were as massive as her thighs. His square face had a scowl plastered on it.
"What do you want?" he's as gruff as ever and now that he's not under her thrall doesn't seem to have any reason to be nice to her. He sat on a nearby bolder, resting his hand idly on the haft of his axe where it leans nearby.
Enchantress - January 21, 2010 03:24 AM (GMT)
The trip meant hardly anything at all to her. She could feel herself drawing closer to Skurge and the Asgardian woman was feeling unsure of herself. It was not a normal emotion for the Enchantress to feel. Had she not spent all her life becoming a skilled sorceress and a master manipulator. One man should not be enough to cow her; even if the blood of giants coursed through his veins.
Amora hardly noticed the dead creature turning to mist against her shield. It was the voice of the massive warrior that startled. The Enchantress was tall as all the women of Asgard, but Skurge would tower over her as if she was nothing. Why would she feel even the faintest bit over such a man.
"I could be here to visit an old friend. Would that be so hard to believe?"
She didn't look back at Azara for the moment. Skurge was going to reveal much to the man in these moments. Amora was not sure if it would end all that well. She let her gaze drift down to the massive weapon near his side.
"Karnila has set me on a task. I need your axe to protect Asgard from a powerful creature."
Amora would give him the plain truth. He deserved that though he would just as likely not believe it.
Plotbot - January 21, 2010 05:18 PM (GMT)
Skurge sat almost indolently upon the stones he'd chosen as a chair. He leaned back against one, his foot propped up on another and his forearm resting on his knee. Yet, his full attention was on Amora and her companion.
He smiled bitterly at her response to her question. "Only because it has never happened before. And because I know you. You don't do anything unless it benefits you somehow. You don't have friends, Amora, only enemies and pawns. I have no interest in ever being either again."
Despite his gruff words, there was the faintest flicker of hope and longing in his face and posture. To a woman like the Enchantress, who excelled in reading and manipulating people, he might as well have come out and said that even after everything that had passed between them he still had feelings for her. Perhaps, even, his gruffness is a defense against those feelings.
"Karnilla, eh? Her tongue is almost as twisted as yours. If Asgard is threatened why are you leaping to its defense? Why isn't Thor facing this creature? Or Balder? Or the Warriors Three?"
He looked her over rather obviously, though his eyes did not linger where a man's normally did. Instead, he seemed to be inspecting her arms.
"And what will you do with my axe?" he asked, stroking the hilt the way a person might pet a favored pet. "Of all the wonderful things you can do with those hands, I've never known wielding a weapon to be one of them."
Enchantress - January 21, 2010 06:38 PM (GMT)
It was not going well. Amora was not so surprised that was the fact. She hid her own expressions with skill garnered over the ages. Still the two of them had spent a great deal of time together; doing things that might occasionally be considered noble. More often not they were things that had only caused trouble and sorrow for those around them. He might see the briefest flashes of guilt and regret in her expression.
"Skurge. You can answer your own question. Karnila visions of the future can be true enough, but there are those who would argue she is trusted less than I am. Even if Asgard itself was coming down around her head as she spoke."
Amora had forgotten about the golden tether. She made a jerking motion with one hand and it snapped and then disappeared. Skurge would certainly think even more poorly if she allowed it to stay there. Amora glanced briefly to Azara and then focused on the massive Asgardian before her. If she had been a different woman then she would have flushed at the innuendo.
"I am a woman of Asgard. I could be strong enough to wield the axe, but someone with the training should use it. I do wish to return to Asgard, but I want there to be something to return to. If it is destroyed then that will not happen. I do love my home despite what you might think."
Plotbot - January 21, 2010 11:27 PM (GMT)
Their nobility had been out of sink. Skurge had broken free of Amora's grasp of him and redeemed himself as a just and brave warrior before Amora turned her abilities to the good of Asgard. Of course, the Executioner had had the uncommon opportunity of being able to redeem himself after his death. Perhaps it had been his time in Hel that allowed him to realize the error of his ways and perhaps Amora would have reached the same conclusion with the same opportunity. They might even have been able to reconcile and protect their home together.
As it was, however, Skurge was now forgiven of his past sins while everyone, him included, looked on Amora dubiously.
He looked briefly down at the severed tether, rubbing his chest where it had linked to him but made no comment about it.
"You speak the truth. Perhaps Balder, befuddled as he is by her womanly charms would trust the words of Karnila, but the rest of the Asgardians would likely suspect her of any mischief that she might warn of." There were many people who'd set their sights on the Golden Throne of Asgard and Karnilla was one of them.
"I cannot deny that you have proven that you love our home, Amora, despite the way you've sometimes endangered it in a quest to get whatever it is that strikes your fancy at the moment. It is likely foolish of me, but I believe you."
He turned his attention to Azara then, rising to his feet and crossing massive arms over an even more massive chest. "And is this whelp going to be the one to wield my axe for you? Is he the new plaything you've decided to toy with?"
There was no mistaking the jealousy and bitterness in his tone, though he tried to hide it. Skurge had loved Amora from the beginning and her infatuation with another had been the catalyst that sent him on his road to redemption. Seeing another possible subject of her affection clearly angered and saddened him.
Enchantress - January 22, 2010 02:54 PM (GMT)
Guilt. It was not a emotion she was used to feeling. Why should she feel guilty for simply going after what she wanted? Is this what people had to go through when they tried to be "good". Amora thought that it was hardly worth the trouble and yet it would not let go of the woman. It was true that perhaps she had done poorly by Skurge, but was all of this emotion necessary?
"He is not a new plaything. He is Citadel and a hero of Asgard. You would not wish someone to speak so poorly of you, Skurge."
Most would not believe such words could come from the lips of the Enchantress, but perhaps being banished to Midgard had some affect on her. Perhaps it was the faint feelings of shame, that nipped mercilessly at the edges of her conscious, that forced them out. Amora was not pleased about it either way. There were times she wanted to go directly back into her old life, but then she would never be allowed back in Asgard.
"What shall I say to soothe you? Tell you that you were my one and only true plaything?"
There was a hint of fire in her voice. It was not as if Skurge had been, what the people of Midgard called a saint, for all their time together. Perhaps the biting words were also fueled by her own feelings of guilt. It was not helping Amora's case, but she could not help them.
Citadel - January 22, 2010 04:57 PM (GMT)
"Having you admit that I was only a plaything is enough," Skurge answered. Perhaps she had been being sarcastic, but her words confirmed something he'd long suspected but never wanted to admit. He put on a brave face, but he was clearly bitter about it.
"Well, I won't just hand it over," he continued, looking past her at Azara now. "It's been my closest, loyalest companion. You'll have to prove that you're worthy to carry it."
Azara nodded, the frown on his face hidden by his helmet. Clearly there was far more going on here than he understood. These two shared a history with roots that were deep and twisted. He would be foolish to get involved in them.
But a fight. That he understood. He stepped forward and Skurge drew closer, the two men facing each other across the narrow, flat space atop the ridge. It seemed like a horrible mismatch. Skurge's half-giant ancestry meant that he stood a head taller than Azara and looked to weigh twice as much.
The two men faced each other silently for a moment and then, as though a hidden signal passed between them, they both lurched into battle. Azara was faster, getting the first blow in. His fist struck Skurge's stomach with enough force that Amora would feel the shockwave from it. But even as his hand was making contact, Skurge's own massive fist connected with his helmet, sending out its own pulse of disturbed air.
The appearances of the two combatants was misleading. Though Skurge was bulkier and more heavily muscled, Azara actually had the edge in strength. Skurge, on the other hand was a more skilled fighter. Azara had been trained almost from the time he could walk in how to hurt and disable people with his bare hands. His mother was a warrior after all, and that was how she interacted with her son. Martial arts were one of the first games he played. Skurge, however, was a centuries old warrior who'd earned the respect of the Asgardians in war against giants. Azara's blows were more powerful but Skurge's were more telling.
For several minutes the two men battled, the tide shifting from moment to moment. Time and again it seemed that a blow was struck that would end the fight only for the stricken to rise again and return the strike in kind.
Finally, Skurge managed to get Azara in a full nelson. The smaller man's advantage in strength was negated by Skurge's leverage and size and it seemed that the fight was all but over. In the course of their battle, they'd ended up facing Amora and Skurge's gaze went from his opponent to her. They lingered on her for long moments and then Azara abruptly slipped free.
He drove his elbow into Skurge's stomach, knocking the wind from him and doubling him over. A grab and a twist flipped the larger man over his shoulder to slam into the ground hard enough to crack the stone and Skurge was dazed for a moment. Before Azara could strike another blow he held up a hand.
"I yield," the half-giant said. Climbing slowly to his feet, he limped over to his axe. Holding it flat with both hands, he extended it to Azara. Nursing his bruised stomach, Azara stepped forward, taking the axe reverently.
"It is yours," Skurge solemnly said.
"No. I am only borrowing it. You are its rightful owner and I swear I will return it if it is within my power," Azara replied.
Skurge nodded before releasing the axe and turning his back on them. "You've got what you came for. Now leave me in peace."
Enchantress - January 25, 2010 05:09 PM (GMT)
"You truly do not know me Skurge. Yet I have no one to blame other than myself."
Amora doubted that he had heard the words or cared if he did. The two men were going to battle now. In past times she would of enjoyed this kind of thing; two men battling before her to leave one a champion. Now it was simply like ashes in her mouth. The tall woman actually looked in the proceedings with distaste. Amora and Skurge might of stared at each other briefly during the battle, but it seemed to go for much longer.
"I will make sure the axe is returned to you. It is something that I can do that you will accept."
Skurge had turned his back on the both. There could be little done to make the dismissal more clear. Amora turned and walked away silently; trying to garner as much dignity as possible. She could check on Azara once they were out of the half giant's sight. She just wanted to get away from the other man quickly.
"I am sorry it all turned out that way, Azara."
Citadel - January 25, 2010 11:16 PM (GMT)
Skurge made no obvious sign that he heard her words. Yet his shoulders flexed and hunched subtly, tensing and relaxing with his own guilt and doubt and resignation. To a woman who could read men as well as the Enchantress, he might as well have professed the hurt and lingering love he felt for her at the top of his lungs.
Azara looked at the Executioner for a few silent moments more before following Amora. He was easily able to keep up as he was not limping. He did nurse his side, however and twisted and turned the arm that he was carrying the axe with to ease out some of the ache in it.
"You have nothing to apologize for, Amora," he replied when she spoke again. "It's clear that the two of you have some history together. Things are often bitter when ex-lovers meet again. Especially when one is still carrying a torch for the other." He cast a glance back over his shoulder, though the other man was well out of sight by now.
"He must have believed that you were telling the truth, or that he owes you something. He threw the fight."
Enchantress - February 1, 2010 05:37 PM (GMT)
"We were never lovers."
Amora found herself telling the truth once more. It had become quite the banner day as they ventured through Hel. She had only ever given enough affection to Skurge to keep the man at her beck and call. If she had given him too much then the half giant would have become too comfortable. Skurge have even objected to some of the things that the Enchantress wished him to do. It was very cold, very calculating, and it had always worked.
Amora appeared genuinely surprised at what Azara had to say next. She was not one to study combat and the thought of Skurge was throwing a fight was impossible to leave. She would find him dead first.
"I think, perhaps, that we owe each other many things. It is not our concern right now. We must take the axe out of Hel and find out what to do next."
Amora certainly didn't think they were all good or even mostly good. She probably only deserved bad things from him. They had lived lives that were not kind ot the world or each other.
Citadel - February 1, 2010 11:17 PM (GMT)
Amora's magics lead them along the path that would take them out of Hel. Of course, all the courses out of the underworld lead to the same place, but only powerful magic would be able to find them. Almost everyone in that infernal realm wanted to get out, but most never found the exit.
Azara was a bit surprised and embarrassed by Amora's correction. From the way the two of them interacted, he had been certain that there was some romantic connection between Amora and Skurge. He blushed at having jumped to the wrong conclusion. Before he could reply, however, the shades surrounding them scattered, darting away like tadpoles from a pebble that's been dropped into a calm pool.
The reason soon became clear as the Mistress of Hel, Hela herself, appeared. She was tall, much taller than either Azara or Amora and even taller than Skurge had been. She was slender, though not without her curves and cloaked from head to toe in regal green garments. Half her face was hidden. Cursed to be half alive and half dead, the goddess was nonetheless vain and kept the hideous, dead half of her face concealed.
"What makes you think I will let you leave my realm little enchantress? I don't suffer trespassers lightly," she said, her voice filled with all the cold malice of the grave. She aimed a single finger at the axe that Citadel carried. "And I am even less forgiving of those who come to my realm to steal."
Enchantress - February 2, 2010 02:53 PM (GMT)
Amora didn't comment on his embarrassment or on anything else at the moment. She simply kept her silence and followed the path that would lead them out of this place. What would explaining what was between Skurge and herself accomplish? Amora would simply feel guilty and that did nothing for their situation. She would glance at Azara from time to time, but focused on keeping the shield carefully around both of them.
The blond woman had hope that they both might escape without trouble. Garm would let them pass and then they would be free of the grasp of Hel. It was not to be the case. The queen of the realm had decided to grace them with her presence. They should be honored to be graced with an audience. She put out one hand to stop Azara from moving forward in a protective stance. It might make Hela feel as if she was being challenge. Amora dipped her head at an angle that would be enough to seem respectful.
"Mistress Hela. We wish neither to disturb your or your realm. We are only on a quest of great importance. The axe was given to us freely and we have sworn to return it once our task is finished."
Plotbot - February 2, 2010 04:09 PM (GMT)
Hela's dark gaze went more closely to the axe. Despite Amora's outstretched hand, Azara had lowered the weapon from his shoulder and had it gripped with both hands at his waist.
"So, I have another trespasser do I? He must learn that no one flaunts the boundaries of Hela's realm so readily." Her gaze went away from them both. "Ah...yes...there he is."
After a moment of concentration she focused on the two before her again. "Now he'll learn the price of his arrogance," she said with a satisfied smile.
"Please, keep the axe. Consider it your prize for bringing that interloper's presence to my attention. Without it, he won't be able to escape his rightful fate the way he has done once already."
The smile changed a bit. "But Amora, Surtur's little toy is going to be so magnificent. I can hardly imagine the souls it's going to send to me. You have little love of Asgard, yourself, why not simply watch it burn and be reduced to rubble? Return to Midgard and live like a goddess there."
Enchantress - February 3, 2010 03:17 AM (GMT)
It was not in one's best interest to oppose Hela in anything. Amora was surprised that she happened to do so now. The woman was also surprised by the vehemence in her voice. Skurge would of certainly imagine it was all an act, but there was a third surprise in that she meant it. Amora cast a quick glance at Hela, prepared to have to fight if necessary, before looking back to Azara.
Amora raised her voice again, but this time in surprise. Hela could not be serious about this prediction. The queen of the underworld must be toying with both of them.
"Do you think that he would stop with simply Asgard? He is an insatiable beast. Why be a goddess over nothing but rubble. Surtur would even come to try and take Hel itself."