sandman bring me a dream Who: Kate [Hecate] & Abel [Fenrir]. What: Hecate stumbles upon Fenrir in his cave, and soothes him. Where: Ye Olde Norse Times. When: Everytime.
Fenrir moved in the small space he was allotted, growling against Gleipnir's winding red spiral around his muzzle. The same small, crimson thread moved down around his paws, binding them tight to allow the minimal amount of movement, trapping him in the pitch black expanse to which he had been banished. His eyes squeezed closed, focusing on a small drip of water in the distance that offered him some measure of succor. This miniscule sound was interrupted by the sound of gravel kicked loose by an errant foot, the tiniest indication of a visitor. Fenrir's giant head swung away from the wall against which he was pressed, searching for the intruder. Rather than rage filling him, exhaustion folded his form away from whoever was seeking to interrupt his silent reverie.
"Who are you? What do you want?"
Hecate had taken a different route on this night, a need to explore thrumming in her veins. She went further than she ever had before, following an invisible path her whim set, and came upon a cave system that felt...new, like it had not been touched by the gods before...or at least, not any gods she knew. Without hesitation she stepped inside and wandered through the dark, cold passageways, the weight of the stone around her comforting as she moved through it with no destination or goal in mind.
She had sensed no other life in this abandoned area of the world and so was surprised when a gruff, inhuman voice interrupted her stroll. She paused, turned toward the passageway the sound had come from, and continued in that direction, conjuring her torch as she approached.
Her light played upon the fur of a huge beast. “I am Hecate,” she said calmly. “My apologies; do I disturb you?” Only then did she notice the crimson line around the unknown creature, and many questions entered her mind.
Fenrir snorted, as though the question were obvious and unnecessary. "How did you find your way here? I thought that, after my father had come to say his piece, I'd be left to rot. Who sent you? Wodin? One of the others? Have you come to gloat at me like all the rest?"
Wodin? Hecate frowned at the unfamiliar name. “I wander, as is my will and my right,” she said. She observed the strange way the creature moved against the thread, as if limited by its touch, and her expression softened. “Perhaps you might tell me who you are, and how you came to be here.”
How this woman could not know who he was left Fenrir bewildered; but he did not recognize this woman, though the sound and smell of her reminded him somewhat of his sister, Hel, and that thought was a slightly soothing one. He strained against his bonds once more, turning so that he might sit and face the woman completely, even as he towered over her with his immense form.
"My name is Fenrir, son of Loki. I was placed here because others fear me and what I might do. Not because of what I have done, but for what I will do."
Hecate stepped closer to this Fenrir, son of another being whose name she did not recognize. He reminded her of Cerberus, though of course the guard of the Underworld did not speak in the form of words and sentences. Clearly Fenrir was an immortal from a faraway land, for she sensed that sort of kinship with the being, and only an immortal could survive such a punishment without mortal sustenance. Some humans brought the beliefs in other gods to her land, but never enough to diminish the strength of her pantheon, and she had been content enough in her existence not to pursue knowledge of them. With the opportunity before her now, however, she would learn what she could.
“The prophecies of the Moirai cannot be thwarted,” she said. “Or do the sisters not hold sway in your realm, Fenrir, son of Loki?”
Fenrir's giant, burning yellow eyes narrowed toward the woman, his jaws opening just enough to see dagger-like teeth that were as long as her arm. "I know not these Moirai, and prophecies hold little sway for one who has done no wrong, but is caged regardless." He strained against his bonds, taking one tiny step toward her that proved he still had some, if intensely limited, movement. " If you're among those who believe I should take my undue punishment quietly, I suggest you leave, before I decide you might have other uses."
Hecate laughed, the sudden sound cracking through the still cave air. “Peace, friend, peace,” she said kindly, too experienced to be cowed by Fenrir’s looming stance. “I have fought greater foes than you, giants among immortals, and won, and been rewarded by the king of the gods for my success. But I mean you no harm if you mean me none in return.”
She walked to a small outcropping raised off the uneven ground and sat down gracefully as if it were the finest throne. She clapped her hands once, and the torch she had been holding only a moment before attached itself to the wall behind her, two more flames appearing further down the cave on either side. “There,” she said with satisfaction. “Now tell me what use you thought I might be.”
Curiosity filtered down over his features, watching her move as though she owned the cave he was imprisoned in.
"None," he replied, honestly. "None have come here, save to gloat and make fun of my predicament. What other purpose would you have, to come here? This place is hidden and locked against all who might trespass, for fear that I might be set loose. You said you found this cave by chance; where did you come from?"
“Hellas,” she replied, attempting to find a natural spot on Fenrir’s massive face to rest her eyes, “ruled by Zeus and Hera, from Mount Olympus.”
A sneer replaced her smile. “Only those weak of character would add insult to injury.” Not even the Underworld souls who had earned punishment were mocked for serving their due. “I cannot say you do not deserve your fate”--she held up a hand to forestall any protest--”or that you do, for this land and its gods and its laws are foreign to me. But I assure you, I am not weak of character.” Her eyes flashed, and then her expression softened again, pity for this trapped and lonely creature urging her to take action. “I will not free you, you must understand, but name your desire, and if it is within my power, I will fulfill it.”
He held his tongue, though not without some annoyance. Still, his curiosity was piqued; a stranger from a strange land, a deity in her own right, someone who had simply wandered into this area. A million questions spun through his mind, for once distracting him from his predicament.
"Tell me more about this Hellas," he replied, his voice fervent with his desire to know. "This Zeus and Hera, on Mount Olympus."
Hecate inclined her head. “Very well.” She settled back, crossing her legs and placing her hands, fingers laced, over her knee. She told him the story of how in the Titan war she aided Zeus, son of Kronos, who overthrew his father who in murderous attempts to escape his prophesied downfall only made it come about the quicker. Though she did not look at her torches or make any movement, the flames seemed to make grotesque figures whose shapes flowed against the firelit walls in time with her words. Fenrir listened, enraptured, interrupting to ask more questions and descriptions of the Titans, who seemed to draw his curiosity more than the gods themselves.
Next she spoke of Hera’s insatiable wrath, and when she reached the story of the mortal Galinthias who made Heracles’ birth possible, the shadows morphed into a kaleidoscope of long rodent bodies with bobbing heads. “The girl did no wrong, and I took her in as my sacred servant to make that known.” She paused, and the flickering torchlight resumed its amorphous wandering along the cave walls. “We have neither of us a land ruled by mercy, it would seem,” she said, “but I offer it where I can.”
Fenrir had moved to a near lying position, as much as his bonds would allow. His great head rested on his forepaws, his great breathing echoing a quiet undercurrent to Hecate's voice as she told her tales.
"This Hera reminds me of my grandmother, Frigg," he commented. "Though I do not think Frigg would be one quite so jealous. Heroes and warriors are venerated here; only those who die with a sword in their hand would be welcomed to Valhalla.
"Succor is not something that makes great warriors," he finished, his words turning bitter once more. "But this Zeus does not remind me much of my grandfather, Wodin. He is the one who ordered me here, chained, all because I grew too quickly. Such a crime." He seemed eager still for more distraction. "But what other gods, other tales have you? What is your role? A weasel is a strange choice for patronage, but I have heard stranger still."
Hecate’s hand twitched as she unconsciously moved to pat the heads of her canine companions, who were not currently at her side. Mindful of Fenrir’s form, she did not mention her other choices of followers. “My father was one of the Titans I helped overthrow,” she said quietly. “He was called the Destroyer. I prefer to lend a guiding hand than a ravaging one, for I see not the point of this world otherwise. Our Underworld welcomes all, warrior or not, and I escort their souls into the afterlife. Is there much fighting in your land, then, to venerate warriors so?”
"We are not sowers. We learned to live by theft. There are those who serve, but it is better still to be a king with men to follow, those who would see a strong arm used to take from the weak." The words were said with no small amount of pride, despite the fact that the same who would have their society built as thus would also seem him stopped from ending it. He had been raised among such mores, and thus it was difficult to drop them entirely.
"There is an afterlife for those who do not seek Valhalla. Most go to my sister's abode, Hel. I have not seen her in much time, so I do not know what it is like there. How is it in your land, this place where the dead walk once their time is done?"
Hecate frowned, not liking the sound of this rough land where power and cruelty ruled at the expense of justice and mercy. She could not see how the balance was maintained, but she said nothing; it was, after all, not her home. “It is ruled by Hades the Unseen One, and his new wife, Persephone, the Iron Queen,” she said, smiling to herself at the epithet she and Hades had come up with for the springtime goddess. “The dead who deserve it may choose to live their afterlife in peace. Those who wronged others in life are punished in death.”
"Ah, the land of milk and honey has a steely side after all." Fenrir turned his head to the side, one giant eye fixating on Hecate like a bird assessing a worm. "Are any of these so-called punishments as unfit as mine?"
“The punishment fits the crime,” she replied evenly. “Hades and Persephone are just. It is living mortals who have more to fear from the gods than the dead in our Underworld.” She recalled the man whom Hades’ carelessness had nearly killed, and recognized the hypocrisy that the Receiver of Many would have treated the man better in death than in life. The knowledge did not comfort her.
Drawing the conversation away from the immortals with whom she shared a home, she illustrated her spoken point with stories of unfortunate mortals upon whom various gods had inflicted their wrath. With bitterness in her voice she told of Arachne, whom Athena had intended to kill out of jealousy but at the last moment used Hecate’s own magic to transform the mortal woman into a spider, and of Semele, whom Zeus destroyed when he foolishly revealed his true form to her. “Yours is not the only land with injustice,” she said, forgetting in her disdain for her extended family and her affinity with the being before her that she did not know the true circumstances behind Fenrir’s bondage.
Fenrir listened intently, lamenting only when each of her stories came to a close. The way she wove words allowed him a respite from his chains, a freedom he was not given in the darkness of the enclosed cave. He worked his jaws for a moment, straining them against the red ribbon wrapped around them.
"Immortality does lead to hubris," he finally agreed. "Perhaps all should take a turn in Gleipnir; then they would realize the value of what's been bestowed upon them." He fell silent, tired. He had not had a visitor in so long that the tiny sliver of socialization was exhausting him. But, for once, he did not wish for her to go.
"Tell me a story of your moon. Ours is drawn by a brother who chases his sister across the sky, creating night and day in equal measure. Apparently, I am to swallow them whole." He snorted. "For their sake, I hope they run fast."
“Gleipnir?” she inquired, as curious about his land as he seemed to be about hers. He did not respond, either mishearing her question or ignoring it entirely.
Hecate chuckled. “Our moon and sun are also drawn by sister and brother. The duties were held by titans before the war and by children of Zeus now. And why are you to swallow them, when more palatable fare is to be found?”
"It is fate," he replied, his large eyes blinking against sleep. "I barely know Mani and Sunna, young as they were before I was cast in here, but I'm sure they've supped on tales of my fearsome teeth before they ever truly knew me." Finally, those same eyes slipped closed, despite his attempts to fight against it. "I would rather a rabbit than a person, though now I would eat anything..." With that, he fell asleep, his ears swiveling a moment before laying back on his great head.
Hecate’s heart eased to see the great creature, for once, peaceful. She stood, took up her torch, and soundlessly walked back the way she came, silently promising to return again and provide what companionship she could.