Time for the WEP+IWSG Challenge and another attempt at a change of scenery and style. DC Sparkle Anwyl is on extended leave so a character from a previous Challenge reappears.
Warning: there are several attempts at literary devices, specifically kennings. For those stumped, I’ve deciphered the head-scratchers at the foot.
Note:A kenning is a metaphorical compound phrase that replaces a single, concrete noun. A kenning employs figurative language to represent the simpler concept, such as using the phrase “battle-sweat” to refer to blood. Kennings are plentiful in Old Norse and Old English poetry and prose.
Threat-cries echo in Nökkvé. The Holy Darkness stretches forever across the winter-blanket. Answering howls on the snow-breath affirm friends travel the self-same path of power.
Silver-face smiles her blessing on our journey granting light as I slide ski-swift over fresh frozen-tears.
Fur-girdled hunters silent-shadow me, protectors – even if of Fenrir’s race. Noble and wise denizens. Teeth sharp from natural prey. Flesh from those facing lights-end. Grim but just. A tooth-claw ending.
Tracks appear, converge. Distant specks arise on the silent-fall, become threads weaving towards our annual heart-call.
I’ve visited time-turning-age to ensure spirit-breaths re-forge the natural order.
For I am Skaði. Goddess, giantess, huntress and snow-stealth specialist.
Size is not the issue. Speed is. The endless-revival needs sentient-life to affirm our faith.
Moonlight glistens on a spreading pool. I stoop. A wound-sea but no sounds of battle.
Earth Mother’s blood seeping too soon. Salt-tracks on my cheeks. Stings. My wealth-chambers reel. Is there time to save her?
Foul-howls tear the bleak-black embrace. Hounds baying. Wild shapes thunder past. Asgard-Riders with the Harrier of Hosts driving the fear-spreading soul-hunt.
Most quail and run. I remain tall. The wolf-pack crouch, baring fangs.
Hooves pound and swirl snow-dust as Oðinn wheels Sleipnir around so the spirit—swarm surrounds us.
I confront Slain Tamer, caressing his eight-legged horse. “My Breaker of Rings. What prey tonight?”
Never question the dread Huntsman of the Otherworldly Host, unless your sagas are entwined. But I ignore our wedded bliss.
He sneers and doffs his crooked head-hider. “My Snow-Stepper. You never fear even me. Why have you ceased your journey? For me?”
I shake my head as I kneel on the earth. “You? The Ruler of Treachery holds no fear.” I point to the death-stain. “But this evil does. Jörð, sister-wife bleeds. Blood-steps we need to heal with Solstice song and ceremony”
My shared-husband dismounts. His blinded eye reads the blood-runes staining the snow. “You are my Wise God-bride. This is the sweat-scent my hounds and host pursued. The Earth Mother dies from the weapon-weather man reaps. Will you ride with this harried Horse-wolf to save her? Will the wolves run with the hounds?”
I smile at his heart-bait. “Great ring-giver, you soar above the earth-coat. I will swift ski below matching your hunting pace. Will your hounds join the wolf-pack? It would torment Fenrir further.”
“The Wolf of Winter will be driven away. But healing Jörð must be soonest. Onwards.”
Together, our packs race time to reach the Gathering of the Nine Realms.
Deities and denizens mass around us.
“Welcome, Fenrir-Bane. Welcome Snow-Dancer. Do the shadow-wolves and wild-hounds hunt together tonight?”
Oðinn dips his hat to me. My heart stirs.
“Our Liege-Lord and I follow the self-same battle-sweat trail. Our Mother, Jörð is dying. Abused and abandoned by greed and ignorance within Midgard. Join our healing as we prepare a path for Sól’s return.”
The life-song rises from the Gathering. Deep chords from Oðinn’s male-band. Sky-climbing phrasings from my stepdaughter Freyja and our female searers. Wolves and hounds howl-lead the life-denizens. The voices weave, the Rite resonates, and the Nine Realms pulsate.
Our music echoes throughout Nökkvé. The Holy Darkness diminishes.
The life-bringing light returns as Sól, our golden goddess drives her chariot across the canopy.
Jörð breathes. Death-dew dissolves from Earth Mother’s flourishing footsteps
Originally, I had planned to write a Sparkle Anwyl case for the 2019 WEP + IWSG Challenge starting in April and ending in December. I wrote the first episode in April, but then posted the next episode of Kindled Casket, last month. There is a ‘caged bird’ in the episode but not as planned – that follows in the next episode. That case will unfold over the next few months.
Hence, the attached standalone short – Fettered Air. A departure from my Welsh police procedural, so your responses will interest me.
I slide ski-swift across the winter’s blanket under the Blood Wolf’s Moon. Beside me the chicken-legged hut creak-crashes through the forest.
We’re alone in the taiga.
No sign of Baba Yaga. She’s vanished as have the denizens.
No howling wolves. Nor snow leopard scents. No eagle-owl hoots. Nor honking
swans. No ice-crawlers corpse feeding.
For nothing breathes in the wailing wind.
Yet, Nature writhes in pain, dragon’s bile dripping on her from
I am Skaði. Goddess, giantess, huntress and snow-stealth
specialist. Size is not the issue. Speed is.
The house is noisier, but we make a team. This hut can track her mistress better than even I, its feet scratching up clues, windows watching for signs.
Our mission came from Svetovid, seer and guardian god – and
we had no choice.
“Find Baba Yaga before this world rebels.”
Why me, a giantess from Jötunheimr? Because neither Odin nor
Thor will ask me ever since the marital strife with my spouse, Njörðr.
“Nobody else volunteered,” added Svetovid. “Besides those
deities I posted on separate operations.”
He’s as secretive as my Vanir and Aesir brethren. Not just
Loki plays with intelligence. Our trickster-thief and clown has too many
“Others are missing?” I asked, expecting evasion.
“Find Baba Yaga. That’s all.”
So, a need-to-know answer means Skaði is disposable. Nothing
Am I that terrible?
I had my reasons for smashing my husband’s sand sculptures. The whale-way was a prison with seabirds flaunting freedom.
But he called my majestic mountain retreat a dreary cell. “I’m
trapped here. I can’t ski or snowboard like you.” He ranted and ripped down my hunting
Thus, I get the menial tasks. Unless Odin sends his ravens or
wolves with heart-baits.
Not this occasion. A telepathic eagle with four heads.
“Find Baba Yaga.” Svetovid’s orders resound in my brain.
The wilderness wrestles promethium chains. That is enough reason to pursue the quarry.
So we scour Siberia.
The creak-crashing hut spins above the earth-coat. We have
the crone’s spoor.
Calls and cries clamour on the snow-breath.
Ahead a green clearing by a lake glows bright. Invisible to vicious
human eyes, but I see the torches, tents and throng bridging the veils.
Baba has parked her mortar by a host of other vehicles, one
that is familiar – my stepdaughter’s pantherine-drawn chariot.
With groans and creaks, the chicken-legs spin the hut to a
halt by the pestle-guarded mortar. Shutters slam shut. A fence of human bones
topped with skulls encircles them.
My gaze shoots arrows at the polytheistic conclave nobody
invited me to.
Goddesses gathered from the Nine Realms. They have abandoned
their posts to feast. Brews flow, dice roll and deities chatter. Everyone
distracted as Midgard clamours for release.
Baba knocks back vodka, cackling to another crone – Hecate,
clutching a goatskin of wine. Their dice are corpse-stones, and Hel’s are
Are they oblivious to the desolation? Among the feasting, denizen envoys are airing their anxiety.
My pounding heart settles. Mind muses past irritable white-out.
Not all the deities are wizen and wild in their attire and behaviour. Some goddesses appear serious.
Freyja, stepdaughter and party animal rises – statuesque and sober, despite her goblet of mead.
Her eyes seize mine as she silences the symposium.
“Sisters, the snow-dancer is here. The world cries, and we have
battle-sweat to spill. But when shall we three score meet again?”
“When the chaos is banished, when the spear-din is won,” Hel
I add my voice, realising their design. “Ere midnight. After
the sleep of the blade claims those flouting our laws.” Faces flash in my head.
I smile. “Nature’s justice must wield the icicle of blood against false leaders
My sisters nod. Creatures yowl.
Freyja smiles and summons her champions. “I come, Durga and Adrastea.
We have fangs to extract.”
Her pantherines roar in response.
We will shatter the fetters on Nature. No more will humans build cages entrapping our laughter and song.
Yes, this is my #WEP/IWSG post for June so part of the 2019 WEP/IWSG Challenge. This a standalone short, although Skaði appears in my novel Eagle Passage, which I wrote the first draft of for NaNoWriMo 2016.
Word Count 660: FCA
Comments are welcome as usual and the following applies:
I have been following and voting in WRITE CLUB 2019 and voting on the excellent final 30 entries in the Preliminary rounds. I plan to continue voting in subsequent rounds hoping my favourites win.
I submitted an entry – under a pen-name – but did not reach the standard of other entries. Re-reading my submission, I know why.
But what do you think? Should I have used this for the April WEP/IWSG Challenge, Jewel Box? All critiques and comments welcome.
by Zilarrezko Ezpata
Supercilious servants seldom deserve attention when they thrust a drab
packet into my hands. Howsoever, this maid is incessantly thus. Why her
mistress accepts her insolence vexes me. I accept the delivery but offer no acknowledgement
and send the servant on her way, back to my sister-in-law’s house on Harrison
Boulevard. My man can convey my response.
Locking out the oppressive heat behind the front door, I walk across the tiled
hallway. The package is lighter than expected. Dreary plays my brother intends
for his conjectured theater, or native artifacts I will capitalize? My throat
constricts but my mind exalts.
I discard the brown paper as I carry the tawdry ivory-inlaid box contained within
to the maple desk in my tranquil sanctuary.
Placed inside the ruby-red interior are ten jewelry cases that flush my body
in warmth. A sealed message lies on top. The wax has an imprint, but somehow blurred.
Intentional? Never. Made in haste.
My heart beat rises. Profit beckons. My stomach flutters.
Fingers caress the soft vellum envelope. I falter
at the unusual leopard-spotted variety but dismiss an irrational image. The
perfume pervading the room banishes the remembrance. I break the seal.
Only my love,
Arantxa dabs Angel’s Trumpet on her
A precious and profitable attachment.
My spirit soars on pounding beats, body burning.
I return the gifts you used to seduce
me, without success. Unlike base men such as you, I am neither a heart-cheater nor
Herewith, the moonstone pendant. You
promised a diamond as in the book, but that was beyond you. Why didn’t I take
The crude cameo locket that will never
be me. Not even an old-fashioned eye portrait. My eyes are blue not black.
The Art nouveau enameled barrette affronted
One pearl earring shed like a tear,
the other dust. You are the dream-crusher.
Did you intend the amethyst bracelet
to enslave me?
The faux emerald and sapphire choker?
Tighter than a scoundrel’s purse. My breeding detects peridot and topaz so as paltry
The rough-cut ruby brooch that drew
more than my blood. Why the deceit with a mere red garnet?
Perchance, the diamond necklace you
locked around my neck meant aught. But never was I gulled by your growing
Can a lie-weaver ever repent? No, thus
I spurned this silver band stolen from some naïve conquest.
Only overreached by the gold ring that
never engaged my soul or eyes.
I am smothered by her two-faced words.
My head whirls, and my mouth burns. Confused, I stagger to my armchair. I read
her last lines.
This blood-lined box that holds your
cheap baubles, unfit to grace this lady.
Finally, the Palouse colt. Or what
remains of him—the vellum produced from his skin.