Part one of two
By the third week of winter proper, in the twins fourteenth year, the snow had piled knee high, melted, froze and snowed a bit more, leaving a nice thick crust on top, perfect for animals and light weight children to run across.
Octavian had developed the sniffles the second week in however and Rolf had been dosing him with elderberry syrup and as much herbal tea as he could hold. Having her twin stuck in bed had irritated Fricka to no end but she bore it well enough and was barely seen by anyone, least of all Octavian, which had hurt his feelings to have been abandoned by his sister in his time of illness.
At the end of the third week, Rolf's doctoring had paid off and Octavian was declared well enough to start being active again, so long as he didn't overdo it by going out and getting cold and wet. After being given one last dose of syrup, Octavian wandered out into the main hall and stood for a few minutes until Luhith and Seba came by, fresh out of the training room.
"How are you feeling today?" Luhith stopped and looked down at him questioningly while Seba went on past into the dining room.
"Rolf said I'm all better...just feel weak." he shrugged, looking at the floor. It was difficult admitting to weakness to the men that he looked up to and admired so much. "Have you seen Fricka anywhere?"
Luhith shrugged one shoulder, "Might check the basements....no ones seen her but we've felt her wandering around."
Octavian sighed and nodded, "Okay...thanks."
He stood there for a moment longer after Luhith had left, staring at the narrow door that led to the lower levels before stepping forward and pulling the door open. A wave of cool, moist air washed over him, dank and musty smelling and he sighed before taking the first step. The stairs were narrow and wound down around the core of Kasbaarg, branching off at short halls or rooms. The third level down housed the rarely used dungeons and beyond that....the lava floe and crystal springs that led out into the cavern.
At the first hall he turned off and pushed the door open, looking down the short hall with two rooms on each side. He couldn't feel her there; in fact she seemed to be completely absent from his senses and his stomach flopped into his shoes with worry.
'Unless you're clean and bug free, don't talk to me.'
Octavian pushed his lips out in a pout and scowled at the wall,
Rolf said I'm all better...I just have to get my strength built back up.
She came out of nowhere and he grunted loudly as his back met the stone floor and the air was pushed out of his lungs when his twin crashed into his chest. He wheezed and wrapped his arms around her back as she nipped and huffed and nosed him over before sitting up, bright eyed and content.
"You're really all better? We can do things now?"
"Rolf said I had to take it easy for a while but yeah, we can do stuff again."
Dark eyes met light and he smiled quietly. So she has missed me. It was a nice feeling, to be missed. His mother had babied him through his cold but at fourteen, it was a bit much to be babied by your mother and his biggest fear was to be thought of as a momma's boy by the men. But, to be babied by your twin was a whole other story and their bed had been painfully empty without her.
"Hans said that the river and waterfall have frozen solid and I wanna go see it. Remember Da told us about those shoes with blades on them, so you can slide across the ice? We should make some." She gave a bounce to punctuate her enthusiasm and he groaned softly and pushed her off.
"Don't do that, my stomach still hurts from coughing..." He sat up and scooted against the wall, "Why don't we learn to make the skates and then we can go to the river."
Learning to make the skates would take a long enough time that he could be strong enough to go to the river without getting sick again but he saw the expression on her face and knew it would be a fight. She inhaled slowly, puffing up before letting the breath out sharply and narrowing her eyes.
"But what if it thaws by then? We need to see it now before it thaws and then we can work on the...." she paused to remember the new word, "...skates. And if it's still frozen, then we can use them."
"It's not going to get any warmer between now and spring thaw....I think we'll have lots of time."
Her eye twitched and he braced automatically, then tilted his head questioningly when she didn't assault him.
"Your blood is still tainted and you smell funny." she sniffed in explanation as she got up and brushed her skirt off before offering her hand to him.
Octavian looked at it for a moment before grabbing it, noting how warm and slender her hand was compared to his own hand; cool and starting to grow broader already. She pulled him up and cocked her jaw to the side before releasing his hand,
"Fine. We'll do the skates first..." she conceded with a grumble, "Da or Lufta?"
"Da, unless he's busy, then Lufta."
Fricka gave a short nod and grabbed him, vanishing to the training room and sat on the bench since Alek was engaged in mock combat. Swords clanged and hissed against each other as Alek and Lufta sparred and Octavian leaned forward, biting his lip as he watched, studied each move, analyzed and got wrapped up in the moment. Alek was teaching him, slowly, letting him decide what weapons he felt comfortable with, letting him grow into a role and into himself without forcing. They had time.
The match came to a end when Alek and Lufta ended up tumbled on the floor, boxing each other before giving a laugh and sitting up. Grown men they may have been, but childhood friends with hearts like boys didn't change overnight.
As soon as Lufta stood, Fricka pounced on Alek and he laughed, "There's my girl. Oof...And my boy." He hugged them close and kissed their heads before leaning back on a arm and raising an eyebrow, sensing the question on the air.
"We want to make skates for ice." Fricka stated.
"Will you show us how?" Octavian chimed in.
Lufta laughed from the bench as he unwrapped his hands, "Sounds fun. You must be feeling better, Tavian?"
Octavian glanced over his shoulder and nodded, "Mhm."
"Skates hm?" Alek ruffled his hair as he looked at the eager faces, then smiled, "Alright."
Fricka gave a cheer and bounced up while Octavian smiled quietly and together they caught Alek's hands and pulled him up, then, once he was up, he scooped them both into his arms and slung them over each shoulder with a laugh.
"You're asking me to rely a lot on my memory though."
He vanished with them as he said it and put them down in the workshop before either had a chance to protest about being carried and moved about gathering paper and ink pens and ink pot before sitting at the work bench, the twins gathering around him.
"Oh Da, your memory is fine." Fricka smiled, leaning her chin on his shoulder, "So what do we do first?"
Octavian pulled up a second stool to sit on and placed himself near Alek's elbow; it wasn't manly to be leaning on his Father the way Fricka was, even if deep inside he wanted to. "We have to make a design, right? And then we'll have to use our boot forms to make a shoe but...I don't know how to go about attaching a blade..."
Alek sat back and nodded, "A bit different than the ones I grew up with but that could work. Ours were simply carved bone fastened to a leather shoe and you would push yourself across the ice with poles or sticks. I suppose using a metal blade, heavier than a sword blade, could lend speed."
They sat around and planned and discussed until dinner time, at which point a general drawing and idea had been written down before they had to put it aside for the night. The rest of the week was dedicated to making the shoes and learning how to hammer out a hardy blade, which they attached to a piece of wood which was joined with the leather shoes. Octavian was back to his usual self, Fricka was overjoyed and everyone was happy.
The following week found the twins floundering through the snow; even though the crust was hard enough to walk on, there was always pockets that broke through and buried a person up to their thighs. So, by the time they reached the river, both were fairly damp, at least to the second layer and they paused to perch on a large, warm rock.
The day was clear and the sun turned the snow into fields of diamonds. Not a bird's wing of wind stirred the puffy heaps of snow that rested on bent branches of the cedars or fir trees and tiny winter birds flitted here and there, breaking the silence with their song. It was a peaceful and easy silence and the air was filled with cool smells; the rich, dark scent of the damp trees and moss and the crisp, breath-taking smell of the snow.
Fricka smiled at Octavian, blowing clouds of frozen breath at him before bending to slip boots off and pull the new skates on. He smiled back, dark eyes quiet and reserved before doing the same and together, holding each others shoulder for balance, they moved onto the wide span of ice.
They wobbled for a moment, before slowly inching forward with jerky movements, both were afraid of falling or losing control. Octavian was sure it would be Fricka to take them down but it ended up being himself to do so when his blade hit a uneven patch of ice and they both tumbled down with a yelp.
"Are you okay?" Octavian asked, after sitting up with a groan and checking himself over, only to be belted back onto the ice by a frozen hand.
"You did that on purpose."
"Why would I throw myself down on purpose?"
She hissed at him and slowly got back upright before inching away from him, not paying attention to the fact that he was pulling himself to the bank and shaping a hard snowball. A moment later, it clipped her ear and she snarled as she tumbled down again and caught herself on hands and knees while Octavian rolled onto his back and laughed, only to be smothered in a snow bank a second later.
He vanished and tackled her out onto the ice and the tumbled and slid along, snarling and laughing at the same time. Over the space of an hour, they had finally figured out their skates and done some skating, as well as tumbling and playing.
Neither of them took notice of their surroundings.
Octavian-centric drabble, based on a prompt Kira gave me.
I don't like ending but I had to cut it off before it became overly long.
"Don't you think we should go back now? Mother will be worried."
Fricka gave Ox, the gentle Fjord, a nudge to the left and shook her head vehemently, "Da can find us if they worry. We've come this far, we're not going back yet."
Octavian heaved a sigh and glanced around worriedly at their current surroundings before resting his head on his sister's back. They had since left the lush cedar forest and alpine groves and were now wandering aimlessly through dead, blackened timber stands, sprinkled with boulders and oozing seeps. Frankly, he didn't know where they were and he was sure his overly confident twin didn't know either. They were, in a word, lost.
Fricka was not one to concede defeat however and saying his thoughts on the matter would more than likely get him tossed off into a bog and left. So, he tightened his arms around her waist and closed his eyes.
"Haven't you ever wondered what was on the other side of that valley? Your sense of adventure is really lacking, you know that right?" She nudged Ox into a faster walk as they crossed a stream and meandered up a narrow valley, towards a conical peak, similar to the volcanic core Kasbaarg was built on.
"I left it at home by the fireside with my hot tea, until someone decided to get mad at the world and drag me away from it. It is still there, waiting for me to return." Octavian snapped irritably as his stomach gave a rumble.
"Gods how are we even related."
Ox gave a snort and side stepped, then balked, wheeling on his haunches. He wasn't a war horse by any means...just a gentle beast Alek had brought home for the twins...smaller than the war horses so that they could manage him but still sturdy and capable for all their excursions away from home. At his wheel, Fricka stilled him with gentle words and then dismounted as Octavian gave a soft groan and looked down at her.
"What are you doing? Let's just turn around and go home and for once, not investigate." She had that spark in her eyes; the one that always made his nerves run screaming and his warning bells start going off.
She looked up at him with a wide grin, "I don't see or sense anything weird...he probably smelled something off. Come on, I want to see the other side of this ridge."
He scowled at her and folded his arms. No he didn't...he sensed something evil and you do too and damn your curiosity and damn the fact that we're twins and it would kill me to let you go alone. Huffing, he slid off and tied Ox to a branch, then motioned for Fricka to lead on.
The narrow ravine wasn't anything special; dark gray shale was in over abundance and here and there a wind battered, thorny plant stood bravely amongst the rocks. Clouds scuttled across the sun and the wind whipped and tore at their clothes. Fricka was right of course...he didn't really sense anything unusual but she had a penchant for trouble and he rested his hand on his dagger just in case some crazed creature leapt out of the ground at them.
Fricka bounded over the rocks with the enthusiasm and agility of a mentally unstable mountain goat and Octavian followed at a more sedate and normal pace, keeping an eye on her while glancing up at the sky....it appeared that it might rain.
Abruptly the scenery changed, so suddenly it took his breath away as he found himself standing in a lush, grassy meadow. A sparkling lake stood in the distance and on the far shore, rose mountains that were dusted with snow and so steep it made his heart pound. A voice seemed to call him from behind but the words he did not understand and he turned to find a golden maiden, leading a white horse, walking towards him, hand outstretched.
His breath caught and he looked down as a blush spread across his face, then back up as she reached him, "Is....is this Paradise?"
"It is. Valhalla and the Golden Hall awaits you." The Maiden made a sweeping gesture behind her and he looked into the distance, catching sight of a great gold and white Hall, glimmering like a jewel.
"But...I am neither warrior nor did I die in battle." He paused. "....Am I dead?"
She took his hand and led him to the water's edge, motioning that he should look into it. "This is a vision of things that will come to pass and these...are things that have not yet come but that you shall never see."
The water turned crimson as she touched it with her sword and images of war horses, flying the Kasbaargian Banner, appeared, followed by wars and more bloodshed than he thought possible. He saw the Arnulfa being wielded, cities being laid waste and burned, armies crushed, battle fields of corpses being fed upon by the birds and beasts and a faceless and shapeless leader at the head of it all.
"Who....who is responsible for such....destruction?" he asked, taking a step back and looking at the Maiden despairingly.
"You already know, in your heart."
"...Are you saying that....that I'll die and Fricka...Fricka will do these horrible things? Why? I don't understand!"
"She will do it because her grief will overcome her. She will do it for revenge. She will do it to feel. But most of all....she will do it for you."
Octavian slumped onto a rock and looked up at her with wide eyes, heart pounding violently against his ribs as if it would break free. This had to be a nightmare...but this place was so beautiful...was it really Valhalla?
"Come, Octavian Kasbaarg. Eat and drink your fill and wait with the warriors of old for Ragnarok."
"I...I can't. I have to go back. Can I go back? Please....I can stop her, I can change this..."
"The future cannot be undone and that which is written, cannot be unwritten. The Fates have decided."
He clutched his hands to his head and bowed over as a scream pierced his mind and he was consumed by utter blackness, thick and heavy and smothering. Pain shot through his shoulder, then his side and he realized the scream was his own. What had happened? In the blackness he felt another presence and he knew it...he knew the quiet seething aura and the scent of blood.
His soul screamed in anger and hers answered before suddenly an over powering aura was felt and the blackness faded after a moment...Octavian sinking to the ground with a whimper. He could heard the wolves attacking and swords clashing together but he didn't want to open his eyes until he felt the big warm hand of his Da and the scent of blood rushed his brain, forcing his eyes open.
"Congratulations. You wandered into Jaroslav's territory." Alek chuckled softly before lifting Octavian upright and checked his wounds before hoisting him onto Ox.
"...." Octavian looked around groggily and fell forward onto Ox's bushy mane, slurring a question. He felt generally numb and sluggish but the memories in his mind of the Shield Maiden and what he had seen in the water was still with him.
"Hans has Fricka. She's not hurt much more than you." Alek replied, answering the slurred question as he took Ox's reins and vanished them back to the castle.
Octavian fell asleep at some point but when he woke up, he was bandaged and in his own bed, Fricka cuddled against his back in a ball and his wolf pup curled at the end of the bed.
I will call my wolves and I will hunt you over the frozen wastelands of the north. I will scent your blood on the sands of the south and taste your fear on the eastern winds. I will howl my victory in the woods of the west.
Let us clash our wills together, let us bath in each others blood as we struggle for supremacy. Run me through, taste of my blood and my strength for when your bones lie in the sands of time I will remain. Enjoy your moment for it is fleeting.
My sword will pierce you asunder, cleave flesh from bone; tissue and sinew will melt from the intensity of my fury. My horses know no tiredness and my wolves teeth are sharp and they bay for your blood.
Time holds no meaning for me and my fury has no end. Where are your horse and rider and the brightness of your shield? They have melted, they have sunken into the earth with despair before the power of my armies.
Five more to go before I'm done.
91: Kaj and Rista are the two archers. 93 and 94 go with 24 and 59. 90 is OHC AU involving a ninja >.>
Dolph sat back in his chair and rested in chin in his hand, watching Fricka and the young pup that had started hanging around.
He obviously had a thing for her and she was shutting him down at every turn. This was all sorts of a creepy love triangle...or perhaps a quadrangle? He didn't even know any more but it took everything he had not to grab the pup by the collar and toss him out the nearest window.
Kaj and Rista looked at each other for a moment before looking back down at the lake below them. Who would have guessed that Justinius couldn't swim?
92. All That I Have:
Octavian chewed his lip for a moment, "When you left...I realized something.."
"What's that?" she yawned, rolling over to look at him.
"You're all that I have."
"And you I...now shuddup and let me sleep."
93. Give Up:
The Hunter Commander stepped back from the narrow bars and folded his hands behind his back, watching disinterestedly as fangs clashed around the iron and retreated with a pained sound.
"You should give up now...your sister and her little band will never find you here, Octavian."
94. Last Hope:
He could smell the toxic gas leaking into the chamber and he threw himself weakly at the door again, shuddering as his nervous system started to shut down. Red lights and blaring horns had started going off several minutes ago and he had watched as the scientists had run for cover as the building shook, leaving the gas on for longer than intended. It would kill him at this rate.
He could feel her coming, her rage blackened the air as his vision blurred and faded in and out. She was his last and only hope and he struggled to keep it together, begging for fresh air as the toxin raged into his blood stream like fire.
It had been Sigmund who had shown Dolph the advertisement first. He had been browsing a magazine he had picked up in the modern world and, being the imp that he was, immediately trotted off to show Dolph, who promptly choked on his soup.
Not two days later, Victoria's Secret was invaded by not only Dolph but Seigmund and Seigfreid. Needless to say, Fricka was less than amused when she found a pink and white striped bag containing slinky black lingerie laying on her bed that night.
84 Is Alek and Epona when they first 'met' and she was trying to kill him.
88 Deals with Rolf and Fricka after her issue with an aborted pregnancy when she was in her 20's.
81. Pen and Paper:
I take pen and paper in hand to reply to your marriage request.
Go screw yourself.
Sincerly, Fricka Kasbaarg."
82. Can You Hear Me?
"Hello? Is there anyone alive out there? Can anyone hear me?"
"No! No one can hear you because you waited too long to go back you moron!" Fricka yelled at the television, threw the remote at Laurie and stormed off to the bathroom to hide her tears.
Laurie blinked. He would never ever have guessed that Titanic would make her cry.
They said time healed all wounds. He wasn't so sure any amount of time could heal these wounds.
84. Out Cold:
He had her pinned against the wall, his forearm braced against her throat as she snarled and raged and slashed at his bracers with bloodied fangs. They were both heaving, bloodied, bruised and torn; his eyes held only affection for her and her's, blood red and savage held only hate. He huffed his hair from his face and braced himself as she struggled against him, although she was slowing, exhausted from fighting him.
He smiled as her body suddenly went limp and he caught her in his arms, holding her close. She was out cold and he was only getting started.
Every downward spiral had an end. The question was, when you got there, did you start climbing or start digging?
Fricka apparently, was the type who started digging, because if you kept digging, you'd eventually reach the other side.
86. Seeing Red:
Her hair was red. Blood was red. Octavian chewed on the end of his quill and pondered as Hans and Fricka snarled in each other's faces, blood splattering the library doors. Her eyes were flickering; red, then silver, then red again.
Octavian smiled and bent his head again to his paper, scribbling a title across the top.
Food for the body was deer steaks smothered in mushroom gravy, apple pie with fresh ice cream, bread with butter and sugar.
Food for the mind was the massive library and deep discussions that lasted into the early hours of the morning.
Food for the soul was coming home to a soft embrace, seeing her smile, feeling her touch.
He would never forget the pain in her eyes when he found her laying on the floor in one of the rooms on the lower level. She had been injured before and took it like she always did; with muttering and growling and cursing. But this was different..this was something precious that had hurt her from the inside.
He told her that it was better so. Alek would spill their blood if he found out. She was too young anyways, he had said.
She had just cried; confused and hurting with a pain she could not describe.
89. Through the Fire:
"Through fire and through blood, through battle and storm, we pledge our souls to your service."
Blood of fifteen men spilled over the sealing stone in the bowls of the castle, mixing as it ran into sixteen channels and into sixteen golden goblets. They drank but only She savored.
They were bound to her, to each other, to the castle. An un-breakable bond, allowing them to sense each other, to communicate without words, to understand scent and feeling; animalistic and intelligent in one.