1963-11-13 - Nella Fantasia
Summary: Brunnhilde lies injured and dying in an alley, but fear not — she is not alone. The Prince of Wolves has heard of her plight and comes to lend his aid. No one dies alone tonight.
Related: None
Theme Song: Nella Fantasia
hrimhari brunnhilde 


It's some insane hour of the night, not quite dawn, but close enough. Hilde had started drinking when it was still daylight but she can't really remember when she stopped. In fact, she can't really remember much right now. She had intentions of getting home a few hours ago when booze, misery, and the pure exhaustion of barely having slept in multiple days finally won out. She thought she was headed down the street to her little shack of an apartment, but it was actually just an alley. Once there, she stumbled confused, lost and more drunk than someone her size should be. Then exhaustion one.

It's now god-only-knows how much later. In truth, she got lucky. A slumped figure mostly in black in an alleyway blended into the shadows enough that no one noticed her. Otherwise, far worse may have happened to the defenseless blonde tonight. She's ice cold to the touch, but then she's always cold. From the scent, she was sick at some point in time. At least she had the presence of mind not to be sick *on* herself. Medics. Her dark pants have soaked up a lot of alley water and worse. Her white blonde hair is stringy and half stuck to her face. She looks like some vagrant drug addict.


What is a night?

To everyone, it is something different — something unique, just like the day. Good, bad, in-between, better or worse… one dog's playground is another woman's… alley of solitude. Such is the case tonight, for as Hilde had dragged herself into the alley, two dogs playing there had run away.

On a mission.

Now, a short time later, one of those dogs returns — she is what one might call a 'bitser', a dog of so many different breeds it's almost impossible to tell them all, from looking at her — with another… a large, furry labrador.

The Labrador pads over toward Brunnhilde; he sniffs, then twitches at the acrid scent of vomit on the pavement, but he does not shy away. He continues approaching, until his wet nose is almost in contact with the woman's cheek.

Which he licks.

<This one has found the Two-Leg She, sire,> he says in the language of dogs to… someone else.


It's going to take a few licks to get ANY reaction from Hilde. Maybe she actually did it this time, pushed too hard, drank too much. Maybe she had actually intended to TRY and kill herself, maybe she succeeded. But then another lick or two comes and Hilde gives a little whimper of vague consciousness, reaching one sluggish, unfocused hand up to push away that uncomfortably wet feeling. "Een… go away…" She slurs out drowsily.

Having hopefully dashed away the annoyance, she rolls over onto her other side, curling into the dank pavement and wet brick of the alleyway. Either her mind doesn't know something is wrong or simply doesn't care. She's stopped shivering at least. That's a good sign, right?


A shadow appears at the end of the alley.

At first, it looks like just another street-dog, larger, but still… no collar, and out in an alley by itself? Definitely a stray. Then it moves forward, rising up on its hind legs until it is walking like a man — until a man is exactly what it becomes.

Just… covered from lupine head to clawed footpaw in silver fur. Hrimhari, Prince of Wolves, gazes down at Brunnhilde with great sorrow in his golden eyes, and he nods slowly to Dodger, the Labrador.

"Yours is the gratitude of Hrimhari," he tells Dodger in English, although the canine seems to understand, and backs off. He too watches Hilde with infinite worry in his eyes.

<Will the She live?> he asks tentatively. <She does not… smell well. At all.> The other dog, a she, looks at the prince in agreement with Dodger.

Hrimhari lifts a clawed hand to stay any further comments from his companions, and crouches down beside Hilde. "This is not how thy story ends, dear one," he tells her softly. As his hand touches the ground, the concrete starts to crack — just a little, here and there — until fresh roots and leaves bloom up underneath his fingers. He closes his eyes, and from a pouch hanging about his neck on a thin cord, he produces soil — from very, very far away.

The prince adds the Asgardian soil to the ground, working it into the cracks, and closes his eyes. The night-flourishing plants that grow up beneath his fingers release a calming scent into the air… and the prince waits.


The scents are harder to ignore than the licking tongue. Not exactly healing, but something made to ease the mind and bring someone back to consciousness. Like far more calming smelling salts. Still there, in the alley, the woman cannot ignore the smells around her any longer or the sounds at her back. She gives a low, protesting sort of groan as she rolls onto her back again and tries to push at plants.

Plants. Plants that shouldn't be there.

Half conscious, still mostly drunk and probably half in shock, the blonde turns her head enough to stare at the blossoming things at her side in drugged confusion. "…not…how I pictured… dyin'…" She rasps out. She always had an affinity for death, and always would, but what she thought of Heaven wasn't really this. Heck, she never even thought she'd go to heaven. But part of her knows she didn't make it home and she can't really feel her limbs. If she was purely human? She'd be dead now. But that sliver of an Asgardian spirit has kept her alive through the worst circumstances and here it keeps her half aware and still breathing.


Dodger goes to lick Hilde's face again — partly to reassure her that there are those who care about her, and partly to reassure himself that she is in fact waking up and 'stepping back' from the brink.

Hrimhari doesn't say anything for the moment. His clawed fingers are moving ever so slowly and deliberately over the budding plants coming up through the cracks in the ground. As some wider, silver-tipped leaves form, he reaches for a sprig, breaks it off and holds it out to Hilde.

"Eat, dear one," he tells her gently. "This… heaven — ," he cannot quite bring himself to say 'Valhalla'; she is not ready to hear that yet. " — of thine awaits thee yet… but not tonight."

Dodger edges a little closer to Hilde, unable to prevent a single whine of worry from escaping his mouth. The She-dog behind him goes to sit at the far side of the prince.

<Does this one not have a den of her own?> the she asks.

Hrimhari doesn't reply. Yet.


It's not a dog whine from Hilde's throat, but the reaction to Dodger licking her cheek definitely gets a moaning little whine as she tries to swat the wetness away. This time, she realizes that wetness is actually attached to an animal and no matter how angry, hurt or like giving up she feels, she can't hurt an animal. Her bony hand settles for rubbing against his scruff for a few heartbeats, "Hey… mutt… s'okay. I'm awake…" Could she sense the dog's worry, or just was speaking to not feel alone? Who knew.

But then there is another voice, and she's absolutely NOT alone. If she wasn't still half drunk, she'd probably leap out of her skin. As is, her body's sluggish with shock and cheap vodka. The leaf is given a sideways look, but the medic is a very modern minded woman of medicine and she has no bloody clue what this guy — didn't he look familiar? — was trying to shove at her. A shaky hand comes up, pushing that leaf away, "…nah…buddy…ain't… not…my style… ain't no hippie… don't do grass…" Oh. She thought it was marijuana.


"Grass?" the wolfman asks in confusion, looking at Dodger.

<This one eats it when he is sick,> the dog offers helpfully, getting a nod from the other as well. Hrimhari looks even more confused and finally shakes his head at the thought. "This is not grass. It is… herbal."

<Put it on the ground in front of her if she won't eat it,> says Dodger. <Then pretend you are going to take it. That… always worked on this one.> The Labrador beats his tail on the ground to try and reassure his liege of his sincerity.

Again, Hrimhari frowns.

Even the dogs of Midgard are strange to him… at times. It is then that he realises that Hilde does not recognise him — completely — and the fur ripples back from his face… but nothing else. He has no clothes on but his fur, and humans… react poorly to nakedness. Usually.

Another oddity of the species.

"Eat," he says again, holding out the sprig. "These leaves are restorative in any form, but none more so than when eaten, and you are not well. You are a healer, are you not, Brunnhilde? Heal thyself." And he holds out the sprig even closer to her.


Alright. Maybe she wasn't *dead*, but there is no doubt that Hilde was sick. Having strange fever visions or hallucinations. Because there is a man covered in fur, actual FUR, leaning over her right now and dogs seem to be making noises in a way that would almost indicate they were communicating, even if she cannot understand it. And he used a name that no one has used since she was 2 years old. No one called her that. *No one*. It wasn't even on her ID badge at work. She wrinkles her nose, trying to pull away a bit from that offered leaf, but all of this was close to being completely overwhelming. It couldn't be real.

"…no…weed…Mary Jane… it's herbal too… but I don't…" She rasps out weakly, every part of her scientific, very mortal mind denying what is going on here. But, if she was hallucinating, well, what would the harm in the leaf be? If it made the scary wolf man who looked like that guy from the diner happy. So, after a heartbeat or two, she reaches ice cold fingertips up to take the leaf and puts it skeptically on her tongue.

And, a moment later, she's puking. Alcohol is the worst for that, especially cheap vodka and alcohol poisoning. At least it's enough that her body is rejecting it. She's not asleep any more. She's leaned into the corner to be sick and mutters raggedly after, "…ain't that kinda… hoo-doo healer… I'm a medic…but… 'mwawake…I'll move…I'll go."


<That's what happens when this one eats grass too,> Dodger tells the prince helpfully, eyeing the vomit. <The She should eat it now, and feel better.>

Hrimhari frowns again, and glances at the two dogs. "Leave us, for now — but keep the She in sight," he tells them. Both dogs reluctantly comply, leaving the prince with his charge — as he does feel somewhat responsible for this woman, wounded in her soul as she is. Instead of offering more of the leaves to her, he drops a hand to the plants now covering a small patch of ground no more than a foot wide.

The healing scents of those flowers increases, just a little.

"This one promised to look out for you, and so he has," he tells her softly. "You are sick, Brunnhilde. You need help. Why will you not let Hrimhari help you?"

Part of him knows why; he can smell it — after a fashion. Hilde's behaviour reminds him very much of his own, after his pack was killed. He did not want help then, either.

That is what convinces him to intervene.

Morphing back into wolfman form (completely), Hrimhari puts the remaining sprigs of the healing plant into the pouch around his neck, and then scoops up Hilde in his arms. She is light as a feather to him, and he carries her swiftly and stealthily across town…

To the building owned by his grandsire. Loki. It is here that Hrimhari lives while in New York, in an apartment of his own — although he hardly spends any time here. It is well-kept, with a faint scent of 'dog' — 'clean dog' at least — and he lays Hilde down on the long sofa in the living room.


Brunnhilde. That name again. So old and with an accent that really didn't sound like it was from this world. Why did her head echo so strangely when she heard him say it? That feeling of deja vu stronger than ever. She looks half sick again, but at least she's done puking. "…how…how do you know my name?" She whispers out raggedly, ashen gray lips hovering on the edge of other words that she doesn't quite say.

And then he's morphing back into a wolfman and Hilde's head has simply had far too much of this. That was not possible. If she was feeling better, she'd probably be screaming, freaking out, losing her ever loving mind. Instead, her eyes roll back into her head and she hits the ground hard again. Out cold. At least that makes it far easier for him to carry her back to his place without her fighting him in any way.

While the apartment might smell like clean dog, it still smells far better than her. Sick aside, she's been laying in a dank alley for hours and drank far too much cheap booze before. But his sofa is far warmer and the cold shock of her body will slowly begin to wear off. If he actually wraps her up in some blanketing, she might finally return to shivering, which is a good sign. Unless he stops her, she'll probably sleep it off the rest of the night. But, at least, she's still breathing.


Once safely inside his apartment, Hrimhari disappears into the bedroom briefly — to return a moment later in human form, dressed, and carrying blankets. He drapes one over Hilde, in silence; he does not answer her question… not yet, and then goes into the kitchen.

The pouch is opened, the sprigs are placed on the bench, and he uses others to brew tea — just as he has seen Hogun do, many, many times over centuries. Quietly, the prince brings the tea over to his charge and sets it down on a sidetable, in arm's reach.

"You will be safe here," he tells her as he crouches down a few feet away, resting on his haunches. "Do you remember Hrimhari?" he asks. "As this?" and he motions to his face, now fur-less.


While most of her body just wishes to sleep, to rest and recover, the sound of a voice behind her and that strong scent of herbaled tea is enough that Hilde's head can't hide from it all. She needed rest so much, almost more than she needed to get the booze out of her. Most of it was gone by this point. But she'd pushed this mortal form to her very last limit and beyond, so it's a struggle to pull herself back to consciousness. Especially now that she was warm. She could sleep for hours like this.

But he's there. She can hear him breathing behind her, the soft, cultured echo of his voice. His name. With a little moan of protest, she rolls over onto her other side so she's facing outwards from the couch instead of towards the cushions. Her hair still sticks stringily to her thin, sunken cheeks. Bloodshot eyes study the now-clothed man, part of her mind groping for that time. "…yeah… the… weird guy from the diner… with the dog." She rasps out, still half curled in on herself.


Hrimhari nods.

So there is at least some spark of lucidity about the She — that is a good sign. How he wishes he could make her heal herself… even if only to be fully rid of the toxins she has ingested (the alcohol). As for the real problem… that lies beyond the prince's reach to heal, at this point.

"Rest," he tells her. "Breathe. There will be time for questions and answers in the morning. This one will have food and drink waiting for thee… when thou canst stomach it."

Rising to his feet, the prince walks to the window for now, and murmurs in the ancient Tongue of Asgard: "Heimdall… watch over this She. Hers is a spark that must not fail in the cold night. Should that spark flicker overmuch…"

He looks upward.

"Take her to Asgard and the Soulforge. Else… leave her in this one's care. Hrimhari will do… all he can." There is no audible response to his words, no returning call from Heimdall… but outside, lightning cracks followed by a peel of thunder.

Hrimhari knows he has been heard.


Vaguely awake, but only vaguely, Hilde listens to his words and lets him coach her to rest. She's too tired and too sick to really fight it, but the tea isn't going to happen either. He's got her to the point of being almost warm, comfort and protection that her body can really do nothing but grope desperately for the sleep she's put off far too long. "…rest… yea…" She mutters drowsily, then tucks her head against one of the couch pillows. It's barely minutes before her breath evens out again. There is still a part of her that hears that prayer. Those old names. The part of her soul that knows them but sleeps.

It can only sleep so long, especially when life calls out to the Valkyrie time and again so close together. Like poking a hibernating bear.

That sick, slightly shivering sleep is not an easy one. Plagued dreams of bloodied battle fields. Stretches and stretches of poppies. The clash of swords. A woman with green eyes. Lightning. Heimdall. Home. Darkness. The souls of so many dead. Ghosts and warriors marching shoulder to shoulder. It will probably be written off later as the hallucinations of sickness, but now the images are vivid and so real. They drive her breath ragged in sleep, half panicked.

She's fighting something in a few hours. In her head, who knew what it was. A box, a trap. A coffin. On the couch, it was the blanket she was wrapped up in and the hardness of the couches' back behind her…"out… out… Let me out… Don't do this… we walked as sisters… please…" She pants out between shallow, ragged breaths of panic.

Somewhere, thousands of lightyears across the universe, a blonde Asgardian lays in a box, bloodying her fingernails trying to get out.


The prince is near.

He has not left the apartment at all in the last few hours. While his charge had slept, he had spent the night placing reagents about her, inscribing runes in furniture with his claws and doing whatever he could to strengthen a 'healing circle' around her. Then he had gone to his little herb-garden in another room. There are no Midgardian plants there — all have come from the wilds of Asgard and other Realms, most of them for healing.

Some… Hrimhari has kept merely to remind him of home.

As his ears and nose pick up on the terror in Hilde's voice and body, he hurries into the living room. Wide-eyed, seeing Brunnhilde in his state instantly has him calling upon his healing magic — a more direct form of it. Removing the blanket, the wolf-prince attends to the two most grievous injuries he can sense:

The right arm, which is in a cast and soaked through with sweat from the last while — and Hilde's mind, which suffers a veritable assault of terror. Firstly, he lays a hand upon her brow and begins channelling wellness from his own lifeforce and the runes about the room into Hilde, to ease her pain.

Then he draws a claw across the cast around her arm, gently cutting it free so he can attend to the injury — which sorely needs cleaning.


While the wrist is bad — and it is bad, broken in multiple places, it was probably never really going to set right even in the cast, the mind is worst. He might sense that his magics don't just say here. They go back, far, somewhere else. All the way back to Asgard, calming someone else ever so far away, but he does manage to calm both sides of that soul. For a moment, her eyes jerk open, staring up to the man who is leaning over her, that too-gentle hand on her forehead, as her mortal body gulps for air, too-thin chest rapidly rising and falling. But he's taken the terror. And her eyes, in that moment, aren't the pale blue he's usually seen. They are silvery ice, far more ancient. She sees him, and knows him, for but a few of those panicked heartbeats…

Then it falls away. She blinks, drowsy, shaking free of whatever that was, blue eyes back and breath beginning to calm as his working finishes pulling sanity out of that pool of bad dreams and Othered memories. She's still breathing somewhat shallowly as she looks down, realizing that he's cutting her ruined cast free. It was probably wise, getting soaked in the alleyway had ruined the thing. Beneath, her wrist is purpled and green with the matted, marked flesh that comes after being caught in a cast for over a week.

"…h-hey…. 'syou… from the dinner. Fuck… how… shit, I'm sorry…how'd I… get here?" It's debateable if she actually even remembers the alleyway, she was such a mess. But she does remember him, she's not fighting him any longer, and her voice sounds far more even than before. In pain. Tired. But not falling apart.


Hrimhari smiles.

He is already at work cleaning the gravely-injured arm; the methods must seem… archaic — primitive, even — by the standards of the EMS, although they would not have access to waters from the fonts of healing, bandages blessed by the Seidr, or the herbs the prince has already used. Gentle as ever, he washes away the blood, glancing occasionally into Hilde's face.

"You remember Hrimhari, then," says he, smiling some more. This time, he refers specifically to their meeting in the diner. "This one found you… very sick. You rest in Hrimhari's home… carried hence during the night."

He pauses to take the arm in both his hands, channelling more healing directly into it, his golden eyes falling closed for a moment or two. "This injury is severe," says he afterward. "Do you remember how you came by it?"


His strange cadence of speaking was enough to trigger other memories as well. Mainly of that night in the diner. The fact that he used her full name. How many other things about him were so odd. She's also now conscious and recovered enough to actively pay attention to these things. Hilde's not fighting his touch any longer, even has he does something odd with that wrist. It hurt enough to almost be numb and she knew the cast was ruined. Maybe she'd simply given up on not trusting, who knew.

So, she lays there, still mostly wrapped in that blanket. So thin and delicate looking, she almost seems a child on that couch though far too tall for any adolescent. The channelled healing lids her eyes for a heartbeat or two, the nicest feeling thing she's had in a really long, long time. She can suddenly, actually feel her fingertips as her hand experimentally flexes against his. "…what… are you doing? And… yeah. Halloween… when… when that crazy lady did something on the Empire State building. She… she was doing something… Awful. Betraying the ways.. using… trying to use dead… It was awful. I didn't understand it." But something inside her did. "But…I had to fight it. I… went up there. I was fucking crazy. Had… tranquilizers. There were other people, super heroes…fighting her, but it wasn't enough? So…I stabbed her with a bunch of tranqs. She… wasn't happy. Tried to toss me off the building *by my fucking wrist*. Bitch. Someone…caught me… but…" Amora. This woman, in her mortal form, actually stood up against *Amora*.

She then gives him a weak, ashen lipped smile, but she doesn't look near so deathly as she did. "…thanks, buddy. You…you didn't have to do this."


"Nay," he replies, while holding Hilde's arm in his hands. "Hrimhari did. This one told you, did he not, that he would watch over you. Wol — Hrimhari's people — keep their promises." He seemingly does very little to the arm; there's no wrapping a splint about it — although a bandage lies to the side for later use. Instead, he merely wills it to heal, having already had time to prepare his seidr-magic.

A pause.

"There is something you should know," he carefully goes on to say, eyeing Hilde askance, all seriousness. "The dead do not simply… rest, as humans think. There are perils in the afterlife as there are in this — and souls often require…guidance. What this sorceress did… stirred many from their Sleep. You felt it. It… was Wrong."

There's a strange, subtle emphasis that he puts upon the word 'Wrong'; although it is true he could mean it in the moral sense, that is not his intent. He means 'Wrong' as in 'against the Natural Order'… and he watches Hilde's face as he says the word.

She did, after all, use the very-not-human phrase: 'betraying the ways'. "This struck you most deeply, did it not," he adds aloud, careful not to word it as a question. It is not.


The woman slightly rolls her wrist, just testing it, still sore, but she's enough of a medic to know that's infinitely better than it was before. It would probably still do good with a brace, but the actual worst of the breaks? That seems gone. Hilde blinks, her eyes wide, staring at her not nearly so purple wrist again like he's performed a miracle. Because, in her world, he has. "How….god…How did you do that?" SHe breathes out, momentarily distracted from his very important question.

But then her head comes back to it. He didn't really ask her a question, but it was implied. She nods slowly, brow still slightly furrowed. "Yes. It… it felt awful. Off. I… had to do something. So I did. I might be crazy, they were all…powered. Mutants or something. It was nuts." Hilde explains in her very modern, colloquial dialect. She hasn't dropped back into those old phrases again, nor have her eyes gone silver. Whatever reassurance he's given has allowed the Valkyrie to sleep again.


The prince reaches for one of the blessed bandages, and proceeds to wrap Hilde's arm in it; he is silent for a while, hesitant to answer her question of how he is healing her, and even more hesitant to overwhelm her with what else he could say.

"Aye…" he agrees eventually as he ties off the bandage. "This one knows… you are haunted, Brunnhilde. Your dreams are haunted. You see the faces of the Dead — you hear their voices, crying to you for help… and you think yourself mad."

He takes a breath.

"You… try to make them go away, to fade into the woods, beyond the mountains… in another Realm altogether, aye? This one suggests…" and he looks into Hilde's eyes. "When next you hear them — listen. If it helps, speak aloud: 'This one — I…" and his face contorts with the strange word (strange to him at least). "I… hear you. Some of them, at least, will be the quieter. You will see."

He may not have answered her question, but what he has told her… could likely give her more to think about, than merely saying 'magic'. He knows it. There is a terrible risk in what he is telling her… even if it is not quite the same as coming out with 'you are Valkyrie of Asgard'.


The fact he knows these things, can explain exactly all the hellishness of her nights, the strange things she sees on the streets, the Otherness she constantly feels? It's unnerving. No one else has been able to call her on this, not quite so clearly. It's like he sees into her head. Hilde's dead quiet for several of those panicked bird heartbeats, pressing ribs back, deeper into the couch, instinctively leaning away from him and curling into herself. But she cannot deny his words.

"…I… try. I sing to them, sometimes. Help them find peace… I do." Hilde whispers, the faintest rasp of soft words, like she was confessing something to a priest. "I…help where I can." She still keeps to the old ways, even if she doesn't understand why. But she needs him to know that she does. It's important on so many levels. "I… always do…but… today. Yesterday… I didn't. I couldn't let him die." And gods does she feel guilty about that. A rim of glass moisture hitting her eyes suddenly as she dares confess it.

But she couldn't think about that now. She'd drink again. She'd want to find the peace of death or worse. She swallows back a breath and presses on, glassy eyes staring up at him. "How…how do you know all this? Are… are you mutant? Am I? Is…is that why I see these things? Because I'm a mutant?"


The prince goes silent for a while.

"You true calling, Brunnhilde…" he eventually says, very carefully. "Is with the Dead, not the Living. Men and women in your profession do all they can to ensure the Living stay living — and there is great honour in this… but they do not see the larger world."


"You do. Normally…" and now he rises to his feet, grabbing a pillow from another sofa to place behind Hilde (if she will allow him). "It would be your role to guide the Dead… but in this case, this one believes the Dead should be the ones… to guide you. Listen closely to them — this one knows a Guide will be sent."

Hrimhari reaches for the tea he has brewed for her, and offers her some. "Hrimhari is not… one of these 'mutants' of which you speak," he explains slowly. "He is… something else. As are you. Think of 'mutants' as one of many… wondrous beings in the universe. You have crossed woods and fields into unfamiliar territory — and the creatures therein are strange to you. 'Tis like unto that."


The woman does allow him to put another pillow behind her. Now, Hilde is slightly sitting up, not laying. She still looks a bit messy, but doesn't look nearly close to death as she did before. Her knees curl up, in against her chest. For so tall a woman, she can curl into the tiniest little space. So strange for a woman of Asgard, a supposed Valkyrie. There had to be more to this story, how she is in this body, how she does not know herself. But she's up and functional, blanket still around her hips and legs, her hands far more free than before.

"…Something else. We… are the same… something else?" Hilde's pale eyes narrow closer on him, skeptical, but hopeful too. She doesn't actually feel insane for once and that's a nice feeling, even if all of this is overwhelming. She keeps experimentally opening and closing her fist, getting used to having an almost functional right hand again. There is no doubt what he did to her wrist was a miracle, but no doubt he did it either.


Taking a seat just across from his guest, Hrimhari briefly tugs at his shirt and trousers — they still make him uncomfortable, no matter how often he must wear clothes — and gives Hilde a slow nod.

"'Twould be unkind of Hrimhari to burden you too much with revelations — especially while you are healing — so he shall not," says he, golden eyes blinking slowly. "We are… very similar, and the truth… will find you in time. You are closer than you know."

He pauses a moment, frowning thoughtfully.

"How much of your life do you remember, Brunnhilde? From the time you were a pup — a… child — until now? And when did you begin dreaming of the Dead?"


Well, that was frustrating. He had answers that he didn't want to give her? Hilde's brows furrow, her jaw setting a bit tighter, looking like she's about to be stubborn and protest. But then she actually thinks about it for a heartbeat or two. Did she want to know? It had been the most hellish two weeks of her life, did she really want to confirm that nothing could go back to normal ever again? She swallows tighter, the tight pangs of wanting her life of last month coming through twice as hard as before.

"Can…will my life ever be normal again? I just want… a normal life, Hrimhari…" In those moments she looks so painfully young. So scared. So very mortal. It's the mortal side of Hilde grasping for the last inches of reality she can find. She can't lose Barney and her normalcy in one night.

His questions stop her, they gave her something to focus on instead of that overwhelming feeling of dread. She takes in a deep, shaking breath before she even dares reach forward to take that tea. She doesn't sip it, but she's holdig it now. "…I…I remember everything… at least, I mean…everything normal. Being a kid, growing up… school… but… the ghosts were always there too."


The prince nods.

"This one sees. You are staring into the pond hoping to see one reflection… but you are not prepared for the other. That which you call 'normal'…" he trails off, shaking his head. "It is closer to fantasy in this moment."

The silver-haired man lets out a sigh. He very much wants to show her — and it would only take a word. One word. In a single word he could show her where she really comes from, who she really is… to a point.

After all, what is a Valkyrie's soul doing in a Midgardian Two-Leg's body? …The Soulforge would know… perhaps. "Drink the tea," he tells her as a healer would his patient. "You will need your strength." Is he going to tell her? Or show her? Whatever he plans to do, he gazes steadily back at Hilde to add weight to his words.

He is serious.

And she will need all her strength.


The woman isn't stupid. Despite her spaciness, her skitishness, the things about her that made so many people just assume she was a druggie or worse? She's actually quite good at reading people. Even if those people are strange wolf princes who aren't comfortable in their own clothes. Hilde can read the weight behind his eyes and words. It scares her, deep down. "…I don't know if I want to know." The scraggly blonde whispers. At least she had enough courage to adit the fear. "…these weeks… I've lost too much. I don't…want to lose more…" And that is true. The booze? The sickness of last night? It was all grief filled misery.

She does drink the tea, though. In case this happens, in case she cannot handle it. In case everything changes, she sips that pungent, healing tea, her eyes slightly watering at the sharpness of it, menthol and something more. Licorice, maybe? Things not of this world. She doesn't gulp it, but she sips, and watches, and waits. She looks like a woman standing on the edge of a cliff, not certain if she will jump over or be pushed.


"Hrimhari knows."

Standing up, the silver-haired man walks toward the nearest window overlooking the city, and he remains there for a while — not quite with his back to Hilde, as the sofa is more to his left. His eyes close and he tilts his head back, releasing a long breath through his nostrils.

"You will gain much," says he. "And lose… This one cannot say. Your life will change — and you will feel whole, as though someone had poured water into an empty pool. When you dream of the Dead, you will greet them in confidence, and know how to help them. You will be stronger, swifter… your limbs will feel as your own."

He turns sidelong to look back at Brunnhilde, eyebrows slightly raised, tone gentle. "And naught will be the same again. Hrimhari can guide you to the stream, but yours must be the choice to drink. When you are ready… this one swears he will take you. Hrimhari did mention a guide — he will visit you in your dreams, and you will know he is one of mine."

<'Tis almost the hour of awakening,> he remarks in his mind, casting his thought across the heavens to a Realm far, far away. <Let Havardr come forth from the Gates of Valhalla. His prince calls him again.>

And who is 'Havardr' — 'high guardian' in the old tongue — that Hrimhari should call him? In Brunnhilde's dreams she shall find out, when the spirit of one of the 'Mighty Fallen' offers his help. In death, he serves as a Hound of the Valkyrjar, swift and strong, fearless in battle — a larger, shaggy-coated canine. In life

He was Mr. Pickles, a valiant poodle who attacked a seamonster on the shores of New York, with no regard for his own life, in the defense of others. Hrimhari's mind catches the returning call of his faithful hound… and smiles. Looking again at Hilde, he says:

"You are not alone, Brunnhilde. Whatever comes."


The silence is actually not uncomfortable. Silence never really bothered Hilde. She's getting accustomed to the taste of the tea, especially as it calms that aching, empty rock of her stomach and helps focus the pain in her head. How the hell were herbs more effective than the things she had in her medical bag? Her eyes half shut, almost bracing herself for the worst to come, otherwise just forcing herself to breathe slow, deep and even. Breathe through the emotions, through the loss.

She does not interrupt his words, though those tired, blue eyes reopen so she can watch him and listen patiently. They aren't actually words of comfort. Though part of her wishes to find those things, most of her just wants life to be normal again. Actually normal. She doesn't want it to change. Humans are so resistant to change and she is no different. She takes in a shuddering breath, bittersweet smile tugging at her lips. "…Not… alone. No. I guess not. Sure as hell feels like it, though.. when the one you want around is gone." She whispers, the only real admission as to what happened to put her in this state.

Otherwise, nothing seems to have changed. Not in her waking world, at least. She takes one last, long sip of the tea and then achingly begins to unfold herself from the couch. It was still a good sign — if it wasn't for tea and healing there was probably no way she was getting up. She stands slowly, pushing her now mostly mobile right hand back through her hair. She looks gaunt and drained, but very much alive and more herself. "…I…I should get out of your hair, Hari. You've…done enough. I'll figure it out, whatever the fuck is going on. I always do." Even up again, she looks so tall, thin and delicate. Like a stiff breeze would take her out. Such a woman of contradictions, especially compared to what she should be.


Hrimhari leaves the window and walks back over to his guest. "This one's home is your home," he tells her, although he does not stop her from trying to leave. "You are welcome to stay longer if you wish. There are towels and clean clothes in the bathroom. Hrimhari… does not understand them well, so the choices might be… strange. They are there all the same."

The prince smiles.

"But if you truly desire the comfort of your own den — home — this one will arrange a… car to meet you at the door. It will take you wherever you wish." He pauses after that, hesitant to say what is on his mind next… it elicits a frown upon his brow, and he inhales a bit through his nostrils.

"When you wish for the answers to your questions… call Hrimhari's name. This one will hear it — be certain of it. We will… Hunt together, and find the truths eluding you."

The prince steps back then, smiles once more, and gives Hilde the choice of whether to stay a little longer and freshen up here — or return to her home. Either way, revelation awaits the young woman, and Hrimhari prays she will be ready for it.

The Dead will only let her run for so long.


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