Chapter One: Exodus
The first thing we see, the first thing this book will show, is a soft morning frost over plants in a meadow.
Text: The first winter came softly, gently, sprinkling the world with ice.
The second thing we see is fire, the eruption of a super-volcano (like the one in yellow stone), from a far-off perspective with nothing to tell us just how large it is. But it’s massive, the size of a state bursting with lava and rock and ash.
Text: The second began with fire that blotted out the sky.
The third is another distance shot, of a pack of 20 humans on a glacier. Everything is covered in ice. They are traveling on foot, and are covered with animal skins for warmth.
Text: Then came the third winter, completing the Fimbulvetr, and with it…
Fenrir, an impossibly large wolf with a blue-gray tint to his coloring stands in the center of the humans. Two of them dangle in shreds from his jaws, and one was been crushed beneath his paw.
Text: The Ragnarök.
Gungnir, the enchanted spear of Othinn, sticks out of Fenrir’s shoulder, as he rears slightly. Othinn’s companions, the wolves Freki and Geri are latched onto his chest, and while they are the size of horses, they are much smaller than he. Circling overhead are the ravens of a soft purple hue, Huginn, with dark plumage, and Muninn with lighter feathers. But as thought and memory they only observe the battle, and do not participate. Othinn sits on his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir as it kicks its front sets of legs in the air, having just thrown the spear. He has a patch over one eye, and his other blazes brightly. He is clothed in fine goatskins.
Text: When the gods will war.
The wolves Freki and Geri lie dead at Fenrir’s paws, Sleipnir has been humbled to the earth. The shadows of the ravens can be seen on the ground. Othinn’s throat has been torn out by Fenrir’s jaws, and he lays on the ice, reaching for his spear that still sticks out of the wolf.
Text: And die.
There is snow and darkness. A girl no older than twelve stares helplessly, as blood splashes across her face. Her name is Thrasir.
Text: But before…
Before the girl stands a man dressed in rags, with stringy dark hair, filthy, dark stubble, and hateful black eyes. He’s still holding her father, a balding farmer, strong but not large, whose throat he’s just slit.
Text: When her father was murdered before her eyes, Thrasir prayed.
A large hand reaches out of the snow, out of the darkness. The man it belongs to stands easily eight feet, and dwarfs the man with the knife. The hand belongs to Vidar, and it warps around the man’s head, holding him up in the air.
There is snow and darkness again. Thrasir’s face is splashed with more blood, but instead of fear, she’s relieved, and almost happy.
Text: Her prayers were answered.
Vidar cradles her in his arms like a small child, because to him she’s about that size, as he rides. She is almost asleep, but stares up at him dreamily.
Text: He took her to Mimir’s Wood, and though she did not know it then…
Vidar sets her down in a forest. Mimir, old, wise, with a beard near to his knees, stands away. Closer to her is Lif, young, slightly older than she. He’s holding a simple flower out for her to take, and she hesitantly stands by Vidar.
Text: rescued her a second time.
Loki does battle with Heimdallr on a wide plateau. Loki is beautiful, with blonde hair, with slightly fey features. Heimdallr is large, masculine, hairy, and angry. The battle with Loki is very personal for him, and it shows in his eyes and in his snarl. Behind them giants march, and the first of the Aesir arrive, including Freyr (but not Thorr, who is slowed by his size, which forces him to wade through the sea).
Text: For when Loki did battle with his brothers…
Text: and the Aesir stopped the march of giants…
Surtr, the great fire giant, holds out his sword of flame. Freyr, the lord of light, leaps at him, and is burned in the air even as the fields catch flame around Surtr.
Text: it was the only place untouched by Surtr’s flame.
Lif and Thrasir chase happily after a butterfly, smiling. In Mimir’s wood, all is peaceful.
The world is covered in ash, so deep you can’t see dirt. There is nothing but ashes, as far as the eye can see.
Text: Time passes.
The sky lightens. Through the ash, new plants have sprouted.
Text: The barren, scorched earth is impregnated by seeds from the Idavol Fields…
From the sky, we can see Mimir’s Wood. The trees that line the outer rim were blackened on the outside, but still grow on the inside, and they protected everything in the wood. In the center of the trees is a long, golden field with what could be naturally growing wheat. Two tiny specks travel through the yellow field, Lif and Thrasir, hand in hand.
Text: snuggled safe in the bosom of Mimir’s Wood.
Lif and Thrasir stand at the edge of the wood, still holding each other’s hands; time has passed, and they both stand on the cusp of adulthood. Thrasir has become pregnant, slightly noticeably, as they both look out at the plants that have begun to grow beyond the boundary of the Wood.
Text: And they are not the only seeds sewn.
Lif and Thrasir gaze at each other, smiling. They’ve been through the end of the world together, and things are finally starting to look good again.
They kiss one another.
Thrasir and Lif stand around a stone altar. A fresh kill has been laid out on the altar, as well as juice crushed from grapes, captured in a shallow wooden bowl.
Text: And in the first new spring, they gave thanks to the risen Baldr.
Thrasir, exhausted, and covered in animal furs, lays in the middle of a larger fur, having just given birth. Lif gently cradles their newborn child.
Text: As Thrasir gave Lif a daughter.
Thrasir lies in the same place. The furs she lays on and under have been stitched at the edges, and combed, and cleaned. She is subtly better kept, and her clothes better tended. Lif and Thrasir’s daughter, Frigg, named for the goddess, looks up at the baby boy held lovingly in her father’s arms. His name will also be Lif.
Text: And the very next spring, a son.
Lif the younger and Frigg harvest wood. They are around the age of four, so they mostly gather twigs and sticks.
Text: Seasons waxed.
Lif the younger cuts wood as Frigg stacks it. They are around the age of ten.
Text: And seasons waned.
Lif strikes Thrasir across the mouth. They were having a fight, and her face is contorted in anger and surprise as the blow hits, and drops of blood fly from her lip.
Text: And some fruits grow bitter, and harden.
Thrasir stands defiantly, with her fist clenched. She’s about to hit back. What she doesn’t see is her children standing behind her.
Thrasir looks behind her, and seeing her children her anger dies.
Thrasir turns back to Lif. Her fist is unclenching, and falling to her side. Her eyes are closed, and her face is reluctantly submissive.
Thrasir has been through hell. Her eyes are puffy and purple, and her lip is only healing from the last split. Lif strikes her, and her fist is already balled up. Her children are a couple of years older, still watching with horror, although her son’s fists are clenched.
Thrasir looks back at her daughter. Her daughter wants her to give in. She wants them all to be a family. Maybe this is the last time he’ll do it.
Thrasir looks at her son, and she knows that if she doesn’t hit him back, he will. That’s why her hand is already behind her back, reaching for something.
Thrasir stabs Lif in the eye with a crude, chipped-rock knife. He shrieks as his eye oozes out in a tide of blood.
Lif collapses to his knees, Thrasir walks over to a pot over the fire to fetch a cloth.
Thrasir pulls the knife out of Lif’s eye, and cleans it on the cloth.
Thrasir pushes the cloth into Lif’s empty eye socket.
Lif:   Treacherous beast…
Thrasir grabs a goatskin bag. And shoves her belongings into it. Lif realizes that she’s leaving him.
Lif:   You can’t-
Lif:   we can’t be the last-
Thrasir gets close to Lif and stares him down, pointing to their children. What she says to him she says through gritted teeth.
Thrasir: They are our legacy.
Thrasir: I will never have another of your pups.
Thrasir kneels before Frigg, who clings to her tightly. Thrasir holds Frigg’s blonde head against her shoulder.
Text: She loves them. But in them is so much of their father.
Her son tries very hard not to cry, to be strong. His fists are clenched at his sides, and his chest puffed out. He bites his lip as she strokes his hair, and looks at him with stern kindness.
Text: And the world outside Mimir’s Wood is dangerous and unknown.
Thrasir: Protect her, my son.
Her son stands firmly as Frigg cries on his shoulder. Thrasir looks back at the both of them as she stands on the threshold of the trees, about to cross over into a world none of them have visited much since the world caught fire.
Text: She prays she leaves them for their safety, and not for herself.
Thrasir stands atop the scorched plane where Heimdallr and Loki fought. The plateau has been smashed and burned, and looks down at a mound of boulders. Behind the rocks is the sea as before, and before them a lake of magma lazily runs beside it.
Thrasir walks through a softly growing field. In the distance, far off, is Volhöll, the hall of heroes, but it is far off. Nearer to her is a fallen tree, and on its corpse are two ravens. Muninn has not fared well, and she has lost most of her poor mind, driven mad by the memories of lost friends. She does not eat enough, and plucks feathers from herself to pass the time. Huginn pecks at Muninn, trying to raise her from her stupor.
Thrasir throws a rock at Huginn, and it knocks the dark raven off its balance.
Thrasir chases Huginn off. Muninn barely registers any of it, and continues to pluck his own feathers.
Thrasir: Leave him be.
Thrasir sits on the log beside Muninn. She’s larger than Thrasir realized, about 3 feet tall. She pets her head, and she looks up from her preening.
Muninn hops onto Thrasir’s shoulder as she stands, and looks in the direction of Volhöll.
The hall is larger than she realized. She’s gone the distance that she thought it would take to get there, but she’s only halfway there.
As Thrasir arrives at the hall, she finally takes in the majesty of the place. It’s unbelievably massive, the doors hundreds of heads tall.
Thrasir is barely able to push one of the doors open enough for her to enter Volhöll.
Thrasir is shocked to see the inside of the hall. Dead warriors from across the ages, wearing only animal skins and in some cases what remains of their own, rotting flesh, sit in the great hall, drinking. One of them pinches one of the Valkyries, with his mug raised.
Norb: Mead maiden, my flagon is empty.
Thrasir walks through the hall. Some of the dead men notice her, and watch her curiously. Some of these even know who she is, and are terrified at the sight of her.
Welcome last woman, Thrasir.
Our mistress Freyja has gone to Folkvang.
I am Hildr.”
Thrasir stares out at the Valkyrie, waiting tables for the raucous corpses of heroes.
Thrasir looks at Hildr questioningly, as the Valkyrie fills a flagon with mead. A satisfied goat, Heithrun, sits in the corner. The goat’s udders have already began to swell up.
We Valkyrie no longer collect fallen heroes.
Othinn’s share of the dead belong now to our mistress Freyja.
And we serve those who survived the destruction.
Thrasir follows Hildr back into the hall. Hildr bends over, showing the man a bit of cleavage as she hands him his mead. A man behind Thrasir is reaching towards her butt. A man beside him eyes him suspiciously; he understands that this is the last woman, and the import of that, and is taking up the knife beside his mug.
Thrasir: But what became of Vidar the silent?
The man with the knife stabs the lecher through the hand. Thrasir is slightly surprised, but follows Hildr’s lead, and doesn’t become too concerned. They are walking back toward the kitchen, where Heithrun has stood up on a step, ready to be milked.
Gone with Vali to avenge the slaying of Thorr’s children, and secure the return of Mjolnir.
Thrasir: Magni and Modi are slain?
Thrasir: By what force?
Hildr squeezes Heithrun’s teats into a pail, squirting out mead rather than milk. In the foreground, the hand-stabbing has started off a brawl, and men leap upon other men from tables. The scene is so common-place that Hildr doesn’t even look up, and Thrasir knows the myths well enough not to be surprised.
None knows. They seek answers from the wisest jötnar.
And all the while the master Vili wanders alone.
Hildr empties the pail into a larger vat. The fighting is already dying down.
Thrasir: Where is the wisest of the jötnar?
Hildr reaches out and strokes the raven, still sitting on Thrasir’s shoulder, on the neck.
Why, in Jötunheimr, of course, to the east.
Hildr: Muninn knows the way.”
Page Twenty One;
All of the heroic corpses are sprawled over tables, chairs and the floor. Most of them have knives, forks, and spoons sticking out of them. Some are dead, some of them laughing. Hildr kicks one of them as Thrasir steps softly.
Thrasir walks cautiously through the fields, away from Volhöll in the distance. Far to the east, she sees the remnants of Hrimthurs’ Wall. The wall, when it stood, was as tall as Volhöll. Now it’s in ruins, crushed and smashed. The pieces of it lay spread across the land in five foot slabs. As she walks, Muninn lands on her arm.
Thrasir walks between the crushed pieces of the wall, looking into the distance, where a great plateau begins. It is covered in part by a large dust storm. It is in fact the seat of the great giant, Vafthruthnir. His leg can be seen, but his complexion and skin are like rock, and he blends in well with his chair.
Page Twenty Two;
Thrasir begins to climb up the stony leg. The leg should be craggy and misshapen, poorly defined from the rock surrounding it.
Thrasir reaches Vafthruthnir’s shoulder. At this same time, Muninn alights on her shoulder. She is only partly surprised when the giant begins speaking.
Vafthruthnir: Well met, Thrasir, last of womankind. And Muninn, old fowl.
Vafthruthnir: Her lover, Huginn, heralded your approach.
Vafthruthnir turns his face towards his shoulder, and while it’s entirety is hidden through fog and mist and dust, his face before her is truly awe-inspiring. It nearly robs her of her breath.
Vafthruthnir: What is it you seek, little one?
Thrasir: Vidar and Vali, and…
The giant’s great stone head is turned eastward, and she looks with him, as does the bird. The clouds seem to part for them, because there is a window to the east, showing them lands that have greened faster than the pale yellows she has just passed through.
Vafthruthnir: You seek purpose.
Vafthruthnir: No longer mother, no longer wife.
Vafthruthnir: The answer to either lies east.
Vafthruthnir brings his hand up to his shoulder, palm open and flat.
Vafthruthnir: Step into my hand, child.
Vafthruthnir: I know how hard the climb can be.
Vafthruthnir sets her down at his feet, but stranger is the fact that she is also at the feet of another. She sees him, and is awed.
Thrasir: My God.
Page Twenty Four;
Splash page. Because this really is the sight that’s going to sell the second issue. Standing over her, looking perhaps even larger than when we first saw them, is Othinn. In his hand I Gungnir, balanced on his shoulder and behind his head. He’s smiling down on her, happily. Muninn is just landing on his shoulder, with her wings outspread.
Othinn:   It pleases me you haven’t forgotten, little daughter.
Text: to be continued…