|Augustus Bernard | ᛏ Tīwaz ᛏ (oathretractor) wrote in paxletalelogs,
@ 2017-04-22 19:03:00
by the rivers dark where I could not see
Who: Fenrir and Tyr
What: The Leavings of the Wolf has another offer for the caged beast.
Where: Dreamland, a land of dreams and a place for dreams to land. (Bonus: Nihilism, because it’s the Nordic dreamland.)
When: Between the never and now.
Lesser men had fallen today, for the battle had been won. Bodies littered the area, their deaths punctuated by darkened pools of blood upon the freshly fallen snow.
And the snow continued to fall, irrelevant of the morning’s massacre. It would cover the bodies entirely if the wolves did not find them first.
He carried a considerably sized chunk of horse meat, wrapped carefully in the tattered remains of a fallen soldier’s cloak. Tyr had slain the horse’s rider in combat, and the horse faced the sharp end of his sword not much later. Mortal men would sacrifice these quick-footed animals as offerings to his ilk, praising Odin, Sigyn, Baldr.
Tyr had no sacrifices left to make; he had only the tattered offerings of a horse not long dead.
Step by step he trudged through the snow, wrapped in the cloak of an elk. His fur-lined boots kept the wetness of the snow away from his skin, although the gods were immune from such mortal misfortunes--save for that of death. Or, as Tyr had discovered, dismemberment.
The large cave loomed before him, the snow falling faster as he reached the entrance. Within, he knew that he would find the son of Loki, bound until the dawning of Ragnarok and the end of the Aesir. Tyr had brought the monstrous wolf food since he was but a cub, and saw no reason to now stop this practice. He could feel the warmth of the horse meat emanating from its coverings, his steps quickening to reach his one-time companion before the meat grew cold.
Rounding a bend in the cave, he came upon a low flickering fire and the wolf in its shadows.
“Fenrir Wolf, how fares your hunger?”
At first, it seemed there was nothing there, as though the god was speaking to nothing. Then pinpoints of light turned and fixed themselves on Tyr, accompanied by a snarling sound. A great thing moved, shadows detaching from the wall to shift as much as it was able despite its bindings.
"You ask that each time, and each time, the answer remains the same," Fenrir replied, his voice nails on stone. He did not move closer to the fire, but his eyes (long after his nose) did pick out the offering brought by his former friend. "I don't know whether to be pleased or saddened that your loyalty to the beasts that serve you still don't merit more compassion."
“It is compassion enough that we use them as sustenance,” Tyr plainly intoned, the pragmatism that cost him a hand still nonetheless bred into his bones. “Their fallen bodies would cease to have a noble purpose otherwise, although the wolves would simply have them as fodder.” Unwrapping the meat, Tyr approached the fire. A spit was elevated above the flames, but Fenrir had no use for cooked meat.
Tyr did, however. The god crouched near to the fire, cloak crumpled around his shoulders. He removed a knife from the innermost layers of it, and sliced through the horsemeat a portion for himself. The rest he held up, inspecting it; the god had not dared to look Fenrir in the eye since arriving in the cave, and this did not change. “I have saved you the best portion, old friend. Don’t refuse it.”
Fenrir snorted in contempt at the word friend. His eternally aching stomach, however, refused to allow him any other path.
"Have I ever?" Long lines of saliva dripped from where his mouth could faintly be seen in the firelight; teeth the length of daggers revealed themselves as his lips drew back in a grimace, hackles raised and ears pressed against his skull as he waited for Tyr to hand over the meat.
The wolf’s apparent disdain went ignored by Tyr. He stood, leaving the small chunk of meat on the dead man’s cloak. Carrying the largest portion of it, he walked resolutely towards Loki’s offspring. Only when he stood within near-biting distance of the wolf did he look him in the eyes, gaze steady and hard, masking his own sense of remorse.
“No,” the god replied, with the barest traces of a smile. “I don’t doubt the depth of your hunger. May this satisfy you, giantess-born.” Tyr held the horse meat out to the wolf, ascertaining he had enough distance between the two of them for a quick retraction of his remaining hand. At his side, his scarred stump--healed over what seemed eons ago--lay useless. A phantasm twitch of pain coursed through it when he offered the meat to Fenrir, as if the missing limb still remained, still remembered the brutality of his betrayal.
The meat was snapped up in nearly the same moment it had been tossed. Fenrir caught it halfway down his throat, great jaws lifting high to let the raw food slide down his gullet, chewing minimally with his great fangs. Gnawing, slurping sounds accompanied his sparse, quick meal; it was a drop in the bucket of his hunger, barely enough to sate him for an hour, let alone for a day.
Finished eating, those same piercing, orange eyes moved down to see what he'd made of Tyr's right hand. He smiled, as much as he was able to with his wolfish jaws.
"You're getting better with your left. Practice makes perfect, hm?"
Seeing the wolf devour the horse meat would have produced a visceral reaction in any of the other gods, in addition to a deep fear of the damage those fangs could do to them. But Tyr had never been afraid of Fenrir, from the time he was a cub small enough to wrestle with the hunting dogs, to the monstrous size he was now--ravenous, bloodthirsty, and fully capable of consuming all of the Aesir.
“It makes no difference to me,” responded the one-handed god, mild in his tone and seemingly unaffected by the wolf’s sardonic jest. “As long as I can wield a sword, I can’t complain.”
Merely looking upon the beast’s form caused the fateful memory of a broken oath to resurface, one which Tyr revisited each time he came to this cave--the flashback of a bloody stump where once had been a hand, and the wolf gulping down its remains, crying traitor with every flash of his teeth and snarl from his throat. Even now, Tyr could still hear the cracking and crunching of his own bones in the wolf’s mouth.
“You and I both know I did only what was necessary,” he continued, settling down opposite Fenrir, near the fire again. He readied the last portion of horsemeat onto the spit, a laborious effort which had once seemed so simple with two hands. “The creation of Gleipnir is testament enough of my fulfilled duty.” A shrill, cold wind blew through the cave, and he tugged his cloak tighter around his shoulders out of habit.
The cold had little effect on Fenrir's fur; still, he did not enjoy the lodgings that had been thrust upon him without his consent. A thick red tongue swept over his lips and nose, scrubbing clean his fangs of any traces of meat; the smell of what lingered from Tyr's kill made Fenrir's stomach throb with pain, but the great wolf bit it down. He had done so for so long; he could manage a few moments more.
"Does that help you sleep at night? That you've fulfilled your duty?" It was an old argument, one that they circled back to each time Tyr made these visits. Fenrir both enjoyed and hated them; the face of his former friend did little to salve the wounds created by the betrayal of the Aesir. That is what he considered his bondage and entrapment; all this talk of fate, that he would be destined to slay the Aesir during the end times simply because of what he was. He thought it foolish, though there was some dark humor to be had in the gods ensuring the fulfillment of their own inane prophecies.
"How are you sleeping these days, my old friend?"
“Well enough,” came the reply after a thoughtful pause, as if a guilty conscience were the least of Tyr’s concerns. While he may have regretted the harm he had caused Fenrir, he did not regret his lie. The longer the Aesir thrived, the better for them all. Even the wolf must have understood--or if he did not, he simply needed to accept it. Tyr’s somber gaze traveled from the thin sinew of material which held the wolf by powerful magicks he himself did not fully understand, to the scheming, bitter eyes of Loki’s son.
“I cannot choose my Fate anymore than you can, Fenrir Wolf; I have accepted the consequences, but the sacrifice was merely a means to an end.” In saying so, he leaned forward to turn the spit, the meat revolving slowly in a circular fashion. “We must all make sacrifices to better ourselves, and perhaps this is something you still haven’t grasped.” Here, he allowed himself a private, humorless smile. It would be as Odin willed it; justice and punishment, the law-makers and the wrongdoers would all atone with their lives during Ragnarok.
"In what way does this better me, Tyr Odinson? To be chained up here and treated like an animal; my sister consigned to hell, my brother tossed into the rocky and unforgiving ocean?" Fenrir shook his great head, saliva dripping from his mouth like venom from the snake that hung above his father during his bondage. If only Fenrir's was so short-lived.
"No, you gods buy yourselves time, you pat yourselves on the back that all you do is for the better, when in truth, it's merely self serving. It would have been far kinder to kill me and my siblings rather than lock us up like this."
“So you would choose death instead of your revenge come Ragnarok?” Tyr chuckled lowly, amused at the notion that one of Loki’s children would dare throw away the chance to commit revenge, sealing the circle of betrayals and battles that were a constant in their lives. “Odin has troubled dreams, and in them, it is you who devours his entrails. Surely, Fenrir, you would enjoy seeing this become reality.” Dark eyes regarded the agitated beast, probing for any hidden meaning behind the wolf’s careless words. “When our world ends, yours will begin.”
"It is a very long wait, Tyr," the great beast replied, lowering his massive head to the floor. Nails scraped atrociously on stone. "And though you all say these things will happen, how do you know? I am an undying, immortal being, constrained to live solely in this cave, until such a time. If you had even an ounce of understanding, you would let me go."
Rather than immediately respond, Tyr removed the cooked meat from the flames and the spit, a cumbersome but profitable task. Charred edges gave the horse flesh extra flavor, and he silently thanked the horse for having carried a future corpse upon its back. When he had swallowed the first bite of his meal, only then did he consider Fenrir’s deceptively polite plea. This would not be the last time the wolf tried to bargain for his freedom.
“I understand too well, old friend, which is precisely why I cannot free you.” As if in sympathy with the wolf’s predicament, an echo of pain came from Tyr's missing limb--non-existent muscles contorted and strained. He gritted his teeth, unable to ignore it. When the spasm passed, he continued. “And you, Fenrir, need to accept what the Norns have decreed. It's no easy task, but it must be done. This is about more than you and I.”
"Oh?" The great wolf laughed. "And here you prove my point. The ego speaks, and everyone else lesser than those who would rule this world suffers.
"Interesting that it's only me and mine who do, though I'm glad I had a chance to extract even an ounce of retribution, Tyr Odinson." His orange gaze flicked to Tyr's stump; he remembered the taste of the other man's flesh, bittersweet as he remembered years of friendship scorned with a single act. So what if he'd gotten too big, too fast? A little too rough... A little too hungry. Shouldn't such faults be laid at his father's feet, of all places? Instead he was left to rot, and Tyr served his penance by forcing himself to visit, bringing him scraps from his dinner table as if nothing had changed. The great wolf snorted again.
"Do you not grow tired of this game? What are you hoping to achieve, by coming here?"
“There is nothing left to achieve,” he stated, as if this simple turn of phrase summed up everything. And perhaps for Tyr's view of the situation, it did. “Why would I grow tired of your company?” he continued, picking at the horse meat much like a fussy child. “If you would prefer me not to visit, it's simple enough for me to leave this cave.”
The once honorable god of justice tilted his head, appraising the wolf. “You know that I cannot free you--it is beyond the limits of my power. But would you forsake a man who misses his hunting companion? I am already short on assistance, as you well know.” Wryly, he held up his scarred stump as an example, daring the wolf’s laughter and mockery.
"You would not avail yourself of one of your father's wolves?" Freki and Jeri were not unknown to Fenrir. He wriggled inside his bondage, trying to get more comfortable as one of his paws went numb. "For someone who gave his companion up so easily, I'm surprised that you'd care what happened to me afterward. Replacements are easy to come by."
Ah, of course. The wolf never quite had a sense of humor, now had he? Tyr smiled to himself, finishing the remainder of his meal, fingers wiped clean from grease on the dead man’s cloak. He’d long since learned to temper his own reactions; a mixture of self-denial and restraint that proved useful in times such as these.
“Neither of them knows the true meaning of the hunt,” he began, settling in against the wall of the cave. The flames from the fire were more welcoming than the glint of Fenrir’s teeth, but that needn’t matter. He had all the time in the world until Ragnarok. “They’re coddled, Fenrir Wolf. You should have devoured both of them when you had the chance. I hunt alone now; I felled an elk twice your size a fortnight ago.” This talk of the open wild and bountiful prey--this--was cathartic and familiar. Certainly, the beast would come around eventually.
Tyr would be patient until then.