1963-11-04 - Call of the Wyld - Part II
Summary: Having just rescued a single baby girl from a village of the Horse-Lords overrun by the Undead, Hrimhari and Rogue make for the wild, and ponder what to do with the mysterious Draugr coin in their possession. They are the Hunted now…
Related: Call of the Wyld - Part I
Theme Song: - Brennisteinn - Sigur Rós
hrimhari rogue 

Fade in…


It rains.

Oh, how it rains.

Whatever gods or elementals may hold sway over the weather, it would appear that some of them are weeping. The sky is completely covered in a thick blanket of matte-grey clouds, and (for now) there is little sign that the deluge will end any time soon.

Hrimhari sits at the mouth of a cave, overlooking the rugged countryside of the Horse-Lords' land. At this point in time, the tyrant known as 'Mogul of the Mystic Mountain' still holds sway in some corners of the Realm… but not all. From the cave, the lands spills away down a rocky slope toward a vast, wooded area below. The cave lies part-way up a mountain-side, and serves as home to a family of mountain-wolves: large, lean and hardy.

Finding food for the infant girl rescued a few hours ago had proven slightly difficult: Hrimhari and Scarlett have had to call upon this wolf-pack's denmother for milk — unusual, to be sure, but the baby needs to live. She has survived too much to perish for lack of sustenance now.

"This one has returned," the prince remarks aloud — to himself, to Scarlett, to the universe itself. "Truly. For all Hrimhari has lost, there is more left to protect… than he had realised. Life… requires more. Offers more. Hrimhari… will give, as a prince should."

The wolf-man's nostrils flare and he narrows his eyes across the slope to the woods. A low growl emanates from his throat, but he makes no other move. Glancing behind himself with a golden-hued eye, he says: "The Restless Dead move. The eyes of Hrimhari have espied them in the woods. We are safe though; these caves cover great distance — although recent issues with the Clay-Legs has made this one… wary."

A pause.

"How doth thou, Milady?" he asks. "And the infant She."


“The Norns weave a passing strange thread for that infant,” says the redhead in her ragged attire. She should otherwise be shivering, having subjected every passing waterway to a personal inspection. The last dousing left her comparatively wet, but no longer does her cloak bleed mud or rusted, diluted stains into the water, and her unfortunate leathers are merely stiff and unpleasantly tight as they conform to her figure.

Wolves do not, as a rule, care when a woman goes skyclad. Scarlett cares even less. After a thorough scrubbing and dousing several times to the cave, success is had. Her garments aren’t in the best state, hardly worthy of an Asgardian delegation, but she purged the undead poison from them all the same. She is clean, and even if her thoughts do not settle well, one trouble is managed.

Her fingers tug through her loosened braids, attempting to comb the snarls created through her perils with the undead, though the unkindness will be that short of a comb? She’s never going to look respectable or anything less than the veteran of a nasty, brutish fight.

Reckoning on the horizon, her gaze narrows a fraction. Since the return, her voice has been absent its usual choral depths, instead restrained to a basic track to the ear. “The restless give us no respite, for surely they require neither rest nor sustenance. Your subjects and this young one undoubtedly do.”

The infant will have to look elsewhere for human company. Given the state of her dress and worse, her emotions, Scarlett is a timebomb for anyone to touch.

Well. Anyone short of Hrimhari’s grandsire, for reasons unspoken.


At least the den is warm.

As warm as it can be, with an open cave-mouth leading to a deluge outside. Hrimhari turns back to look at Scarlett, completely ignoring her state of undress, and follows her gaze toward the infant.

"There is something being woven about the She-pup," he agrees with his companion. "This one wonders what name shall come of these events…and if the young She will survive them at all. Still… We are not without power. Or allies."

The prince slowly shifts from wolfen-form to something in between: humanoid, fur-clad with lupine head, and crouches down to the dirt. Scooping up some of the earth in his clawed hand, he lets it sift through his fingers while he… softly croons would be the word.

It is no song with words; in point of fact it sound more like a wolfen howl, only softer, and melodic. It is in an ancient mode, almost mournful — but certainly sombre. The other wolves in the den lift their heads to look at him for a while, then return their attention to keeping the 'She-pup' warm.

Hrimhari turns his golden eyes from the earth in his hand, to the Undead scouring the woods below. His lip curls. The song dies. "We must move quickly," he tells Scarlett suddenly. "The draugr come."

True enough, down in the woods the Undead are turning toward the mountain; they have yet to realise that their quarry is in fact hiding in that direction — or they would come all the more swiftly — but discovery is only minutes away. The prince ducks back in the cave to Scarlett's side. "We may yet lose them in the tunnels, or take our chances in the open. This one cannot tell if they are pursuing the coin… or the She-pup," and he looks at the infant.

"We cannot leave either behind. Speed or stealth?…"


“She must live. Surely only as testimony to the losses of her people, and the sacrifice made on her behalf. For are we not beholden to their efforts to the dying breath to secure her future?” Scarlett’s gaze holds its fair share of shadows, though equally as much fire constricted within the radiant pulsation of emerald. “Someone struggled that she might be protected against the horrors descending upon a peaceful people. Is there no custom in this realm, or Vanaheim or Asgard or any of the Nine, to foster and raise a child?”

Her hands clench, curling naturally into loose fists at the sheer futility of peering into a cloudy future with all the inherent blindness the gods cursed mankind with. She has none of the wisdom learned by hanging from the boughs of a tree, or putting out her own eye to learn eighteen charms.

Thick fur and snuffling bodies tight together in the den lend a certain comfort unfamiliar, but not unwelcome. She looks back to the clutch of lupines holding the chill at bay from the child, and her own drying cloak is given up as a blanket and swaddling, such as so tiny an infant might require. Though she won’t risk touch, the redhead nonetheless can offer some kind of support.

Reality tilts on a pragmatic line into darker pathways of thought. “How far be the tunnel system? We will need cloth. Food. Has anything senses slightly better than mine, they will detect her by her excretions or her cries. This is not indefinite as an arrangement, nor have I leave from any to transport her back to Midgard for temporary arrangements. Would you guide me upon the proper forms, I will oblige them, but otherwise we risk harm to your people through the lasting attrition of battling the undead or this warlord. Racing through the tunnels gives us cover, yet no course to identify our assailants. Yet in the open, we have no certainty of any success.”

The choice, for someone who flies, is infinitely easier. Take to the air and leave the undead far behind. Yet they are restless, driven by no need as the living have. The choice is plain.



Hrimhari is quiet for some time, watching the Restless Dead moving through the woods, prowling, hunting…The very smell of them is enough to awaken the blood of Fenris, the God-Wolf, inside of the prince.

He does not like it.

There is so much — so much of himself — that he has rejected. Even his role as prince, the responsibility of leading his people, became anathema to him for a time. True, it was short compared to the aeons he has lived, but it felt so much longer…

He looks back at Scarlett.

"We are hunting with our muzzles covered," says he. "We cannot smell, cannot see, nor hear — the dark is an oil that clings to the fur. We need to know more. Take the infant-She, but give me the coin. To the West lies another settlement like unto the one we left behind. If it is safe, we may yet leave the She among her own people — and while milady travels by air, this one shall go by stealth upon the ground."

He lifts his chin, and then stands to his feet. Soon the choice will be taken away from them — the draugr are almost here. "Do not fly too far ahead — milady has not spent enough time among wolves to know the Dream, to hear the wolves speaking as one. Let Sif teach thee someday."

Hrimhari exchanges silent words with the wolves of the den, and some of them lope out into the rainy night. "We need to know if what they seek is the coin… or the She-pup, or us. The wolves shall buy us a little time…"

And the prince slowly shifts into regular wolf-form again, waiting.


Scarlett’s expression reads uncertain and loyalty, the burning glow of her eyes stricken by a harrowed fear common to all warriors. Those who have blooded their blades and bloodied their knuckles all know it, unless they are truly sociopaths.

“I do fear to harm this child, though my intentions are but for the best for her,” she whispers, scarce entrusting in the plaintive chords of her voice from betraying her.

She reaches for the cloth wrapped coin and hands it to Hrimhari, glad to be done with the thing and the incessant pressure murmuring against her developing sense for such things. Giving a slight shake to throw off the prickly feeling, she hastens deeper into the cave, whirling on her heel.

“The babe, dear friends,” she murmurs to the wolves. Kneeling to scoop up the child, she disturbs the child from its furry bower and the loss of heat, comfort, and milk causes a thin, angry wail to split the air.

Out of time. On the other hand, the redhead has an advantage none among the draugr do. She securely tucks the cloak around the sobbing baby, the flushed cheeks and face hidden by a torn, scorched fold. Hugging the babe to her chest, she kicks up to the air.

“I would bless you with the luck of your gods, but I dare not cause you offense,” she tells Hrimhari, tarrying but a moment, “thus I pray we have luck in the Fatebringer’s name. He owes you, at any rate.”

The cave mouth scrapes her back and the sniffling babe fusses and complains, but Scarlett’s arms are secure. They take to the air, angling sharply for height before either wave of risen dead can crash upon them.

Sometimes the best a person can do is insufficient. This has to be enough; one touch will kill.


<The Two-Leg She flies like the Thunderer, Prince,> the denmother comments to Hrimhari as they watch Scarlett soar into the air. <But without the hammer.>

The prince turns to look at the wolves in the cave and nods his head slowly. Gazing back up at the departing Scarlett, he replies: <That one carries her hammer within her heart. She is no less powerful, or noble. Be safe — you have the thanks of Hrimhari.>

With that, the wolf-prince sneaks out into the night and the rain, watching other wolves attack the Draugr with 'hit and run' tactics. It should keep the Undead busy so that Hrimhari and Scarlett can make their escape..

There are many Draugr in the woods. Back at the mountain settlement, there had only been a handful compared to this, and most of those came from dead villagers… reanimated. In this group of Undead, one can easily detect older, stronger Draugr — wearing the ceremonial armour and weapons from their days as great men and women of valour.

And they are all hunting.

Is it the Black Coin? now in Hrimhari's possession? Is it the infant-She, borne aloft by Scarlett? Both? Is it the prince and his flying companion they want? Or all of the above. What happens next should, with hope, answer some of these questions.

Holding the coin carefully in his teeth, Hrimhari takes to the ground like a silver streak. Only the steed of Odin himself is swifter on land. No sooner has he left, than several Draugr turn — some look to the sky, others look to the wolf. Those pointing upward, unsling powerful bows from their backs, nocking arrows to ancient strings — and then fire volley after volley at Scarlett.

The rest… pursue Hrimhari.

And now the race is on.


Fools seek to strike Scarlett with their arrows. She may lack Mjolnir’s ability to deflect projectiles on the spin of the hammer, but her skin and armour defy most mundane objects. It’s not to say the pointed head impacting her calf does not hurt. It bloody well does.

However true the shot, the arrow cuts through already torn leather and strikes pale skin harder than alabaster in some ways, supple and warm though it may be. Her nervous system alights in fine, sharp detail as the strike transmits over the searing line of pain.

Under any circumstances, the redheaded bohemian might spin on a dime, but her distinct lack of long range attacks — barring umbrellas or spears — prohibits such foolishness, and the squalling bundle dependent utterly upon her has no such protections. Arms tighten further around the babe, smothering the child practically to her breast behind the protective barrier of her arms.

Others raining down on them might hit shoulder and protectively bowed back, one even standing on end until she rips it free and hurls the bloodied missile away. Judging the arcs of falling arrows is purely a waste of time.

She instead tears across the sky, a peridot meteor streaming flame from her tangled braids, dropping almost to the treetops. Sacrificing agility for speed has its consequences, like a facefirst collision with a pine, but the skim also prohibits easy targeting through the canopy. Betimes she drops into the greenery to listen or watch for flashes of Hrimhari’s presence, almost impossible given how well the wolf blends to his natural environment.

But then the draugr probably aren’t wise enough to expect a girl to drop out of the shadows and thread Hrimhari’s own path, accelerating ahead of him. Those movements jiggle and jar the poor baby, though in some ways it might match the motions of the womb, but in others the cold wind is hardly welcomed.

For now, she’s alive.


It becomes clear in no matter of time that the Draugr have some means of tracking both coin and babe — which means for Scarlett and Hrimhari that their troubles are far from over. For one thing, they can hardly fight back while trying to keep a baby safe from harm, and the mystery of the coin needs yet to be solved.

Before more innocents join the Draugr in their rampage across the countryside. And all this for a coin?? It boggles the mind — unless there is yet more going on.

As this realisation hits the Wolf-Prince, he howls while streaking through the trees. The Draugr can scarcely keep up, but there are too many of them — coming from all sides, except above. Arrows whiz by, narrowly missing both companions, but sooner or later one will find its mark…

And Draugr unholy arrows are deadly even to Asgardians.

As the ground ahead becomes rockier, with fewer trees, Scarlett will be able to see the plain stretching out before them — leading toward the next Horse-Lord settlement. The good news is, 'as the Bohemian belle' flies, it is not far away; the bad news: they'll never get there without cover from the Draugr's fell arrows.

Not without slowing down the Draugr a bit.

And there aren't enough wolves to do that.

They need a miracle.


The bitter reality, then? Scarlett is only human. Miracles aren’t precisely her stock in trade, except one unpredictable link built on faith and the unnerving tendency for her tormented thoughts to vibrate the universal superstrings hard enough to get some attention. Not a chance here, in this forgotten realm.

Draugr arrows are fatal to everyone but draugr, presumably, so that avenue too is briefly considered and discarded.

But arrows can’t exactly go straight up, whereas Scarlett can.
Then, in that moment, she whips a look back to the Wolf Prince scouring the plains, a russet streak against the tumbled land. Memories slam into place, the genealogy and carefully drawn images in a great library torn from the vault of memory.

The redhead draws in a breath, then looses a shout as pure and long as she can.



They only have to reach the settlement.

The Horse-Lords will have warriors enough to hold off the Draugr — and from the looks of things, they have been doing so for a while. There will be shelter there, a chance to rest, to think, plan — to find out what this Black Coin is, who or what is driving the Undead to this… mad rampage, and…

What fate will befall the little girl in Scarlett's arms?

They only have to reach the settlement.

Arrows hit the ground all around the silver prince of wolves. He dodges one way and another, fast enough to impress even Sleipnir, Odin's faithful six-legged steed… but it will only take one. One arrow to commit the Wolf-Prince, and perhaps the Lady Bloodcrown as well, to an eternity of undeath.

Then it hits.

From the heavens a beam of multicoloured light strikes the ground in a circle wide enough for a squad of horsemen to fit within — right behind Hrimhari. The beam — no doubt the power of the Bifrost brought to bear upon the ground — cuts a swath across the edge of the woods. It moves like a snake, vaporising Draugr after Draugr…

And their arrows.

Scarlett is now free.

The Prince is now free.

More Draugr and their thralls come, but there is now enough of a gap between them that Hrimhari and Scarlett can make a single, straight dash for the fortified village ahead of them. The prince's eyes close as his wolves catch up to him, and he breathes two words, directed at the heavens:

<Thank you.>


The enormous sheen of interdimensional energy heartens the spirit even as it sends an agonized pang of longing through Scarlett. It represents all that is birthright to some, and undeniably not hers.

Not that anyone, her included, knows.

When the first charge of coruscating gold and citrine slams into the ground, the draugr arrows scatter to the winds. She spins on her axis, clutching the child to her breast and dropping almost to ground level.

She flings out her gloved hand to Hrimhari, a lifeline that may be less necessary but valued nonetheless.

“Take it!” She has to shout to be heard over the roaring rush of starlight, the baby’s wails hardly audible. “I can carry both of you!”

He might not expect that, but perhaps he has his own mission not to get ahead of his people. Denial she will accept, either way, but the risk is so terribly great.

Though does Hrimhari grip her, some way, she raises him from the ground. The frantic flight of the wolves becomes a staggering plunge towards the Horse-Lords’ line, fallen foes retreating behind the fury of Asgard to save Odin’s grandson (most certainly not Scarlett and she will deny it forthwith at every breath).

But when she proverbially kicks on the afterburners, the redhead makes the world accelerate at a dun blur with child, and possible prince, as the air itself vibrates in excitement until the sonic boom rattles the firmament up to the atmosphere at the widening shockwave.

One last flipping off to the undead? Absolutely.


//An hour later… //

The village of the Horse-Lords proves something of a welcoming sight for a sobbing baby, a ragged and tired redhead, and the unexpected addition of the Prince of Asgard’s wolves and his entourage.

To say the least, they might not have been prepared for that. Scarlett hands off the baby and goes to find a cloth to wipe the drool and milk spit-up off herself. The process of scrubbing herself down, using ashes as necessary, takes little time.

Long enough for Hrimhari to hear the lay of the land and the desperate state faced here, and the diminished supplies of the besieged villagers from across the plains. Here the survivors straggle, and they no doubt appreciate the additional forces. But it is no solution.

Such is easily conveyed by a grizzled grey warrior with a scar running down half his face, and his council of six warriors, all wrapped in furs and armed to the teeth.

They cannot afford to host the noncombatants long. Supplies are low. Answers and solutions are needed, and no great heroes have emerged to wipe the undead from the map. What do Hela’s forces want? That’s open to speculation, be it the extra bodies for an assault, wiping out resistance to the warlord on yon hill… Something else?



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