“Miss Krogh.” The older doorman of the apartment complex at which Hel arrived greeted her with a small, almost grandfatherly smile. Hel returned it, though made sure to keep her distance a little. The night air felt chilly, but it wouldn’t be nearly as chilly as a handshake from her. That was not something she wanted to invite. “He is home.” The man continued before he opened the door for her.
“Thank you Oswald.” She said with a smile as she stepped inside. Expensive buildings had a way to make it feel warm without letting you feel a real transition from the outside. Unlike most, Fenrir did not have a front door you could knock on. That was a shame. There was something about knocking that used to make visits feel so much more personal. Though Hel really didn’t want to buzz her brother’s intercom and spoil the surprise like that. “Oswald, dear. Could you help me with something?”
Hel could barely feel the elevator slow down. It was such a smooth ride. The first time she visited she thought the thing was broken. Then she stepped outside and saw the view. A ding heralded someone’s arrival in Fenrir’s home. The goddess’ heels announced who it was.
"Suck on that J!" Fen smirked, nudging his sibling playfully in the side as King Boo raced across the finishing line, placing him firmly in first place. This was ignoring the fact that she had completely obliterated him in the previous two races and that, he suspected, was with her going easy on him. “Yeah, yeah, I’ll get you next time!” Jorm chuckled, a grin easily finding its way onto her face at his antics. Tossing the controller onto the opposite side of the large corner sofa, the wolf god was leaning to wrap his lithe fingers around a bottle of beer when the doorbell abruptly rang.
"Precisely on time as always." He winked at Jörmungandr before hopping up, taking a swig of beer as he strolled towards the wooden apartment door. It was a surprisingly lengthy walk, space being one of the things that had been a must when he'd been searching for somewhere to live. It just happened that spacious apartments also tended to be luxury ones. Pulling the door open, he immediately embraced the goddess with an enthusiastic hug. Though she was icy cold to the touch, he tended to run on the hot side, so it sort of balanced out...even if he did have to suppress a mild shiver. "Hel! Come in! Beer? Mario Kart?" He offered as he walked ahead of her, already heading to the fridge to look for more refreshments.
“Heya sis! Come take a load off!” she called out from her comfy spot, the controller having been switched out for a bottle though it was quickly discarded all the same in favor of hopping over the back of the couch and wrapping her sister into a constrictive hug. She knew that Hel wouldn’t hug her back but was determined to show that some touching wasn’t the end of the world. It was the hope that someday, she would stop being so afraid and go a little more on the wild side, take a risk. Jorm let go after a few seconds, practically leading Hel to the kitchen by keeping an arm around her shoulder as they walked. “Tell us how the shitfest went while we wait on the stew to finish! No one gave you too much trouble right?”
The goddess was – as always – surprised by the sudden embrace. She didn’t return it. Though in her heart it pained her. She just hoped, every time, that her brother would understand her own strange beliefs. Not that she truly had ever explained them to her siblings. They all had their strange quirks, a result of the injustice done to them. “Water.” She quickly followed up on her brother’s summing up. Helheim was not a place of beer or mead. There was no celebration there. Its denizens subsisted on fresh spring water alone. It wouldn’t make for a party, but then again they weren’t worthy of Valhalla or Fólkvangr. So fresh water would do.
She smiled at her older sister’s invitation to ‘take a load off’. Jormungandr always told her to relax. Not that the goddess of the graceless dead ever could. For millennia she was duty bound. No amount of time on earth could ever change that. None the less the invitation – given every time she and her older sister met – was well appreciated. It showed that despite how Hel was, her siblings still cared. After all, the goddess was well aware that the not returning of physical affections made her a hard person to like, let alone love.
Just like with Fenrir, Hel did not return Jorm’s hug. Though she did give her sister the biggest smile she could give. Not that it was very big, really. A colleague once told her that her smiles had something melancholic behind them. As if they had some deep sadness behind them. She never really gave it much thought.
Then her sister mentioned the luncheon. Her demeanor shifted ever so slightly. Few would recognize it, but her siblings would. Something made her deeply unhappy. “Macaria and Zagreus suffered the true death.” Hel said. She remained just inside of her brother’s apartment, near the front door. “They fell from the skylight but were dead before they hit the ground and… did not rise again. They are gone. Seemingly forever.” She said. The goddess of the dead did not move. She wasn’t sure how well her siblings knew either of the dead deities, but in times of grief it was best to give the information straight, correct and without too much emotion. So those who heard the information could freely feel their own emotions. Sadly, that meant that Hel had to hide and suppress her own feelings. Luckily enough she was very well practiced in doing so.
Unlike her sister, always one to control her emotions and suppress them, Jormungandr was the very opposite. She was an open book, everything written on her sleeve and her words sometimes punctuated with harsh truth so when she heard of the two immortal deaths, it froze her in place. She felt cold seep into her veins that had nothing to do with Hel’s temperature and everything to do with the rush of fear and concern. If someone or…something had killed immortals then none of them were safe. The two that she loved, that were in arms reach…could be taken from her again but this time no reunion to be had or looked forward to. The others that she cherished that were not present could be in danger. ”H-How could this have happened?! This shouldn’t be possible.”, she wheezed, horror and panic etched into every word as she began to shake as she held herself. She didn’t know the two lost but their names were definitely locked into her brain now. She couldn’t imagine what their family was feeling. Family. ”Where is father?! Hati?! Everyone? W-We need to call them. Are they safe?” Jorm might dislike the Aesir, some on the border of hate but they were still her pantheon.
Fenrir passed Hel a glass of water before leaning against the marble countertop, silently observing his two sisters as the news was broken. Sharp blue eyes, always intense even when he didn't mean to be, watched for the subtle or not so subtle (in Jorms case) changes in their body language.
"Dead Greeks. Well that's going to be a shitstorm..." The wolf eventually piped up, a small sigh escaping his lips. If it had been any other pantheon maybe there could have been a semblance of moderation in their reaction. But with the Greeks, he was sure that would not be the case. "Any god or goddess who thinks they're still invulnerable is mad. Even assholes like Odin barely have any influence now, beyond the small worlds we've created around ourselves." Fen wasn't trying to be cynical but his fall from...no it definitely hadn't been grace. His fall from one hellscape to another had left him under no illusions about how weak they all now were.
Moving over to Jorm, he clapped a hand on her shoulder, squeezing it gently. "But anyway, two dead deities does not a Ragnorak make." He shrugged nonchalantly, trying to hide his own uncertainties. If this was Ragnorak, it was better than the prophecies had stated. He for example, was by no means capable of consuming the entire world.
"So...how exactly did they die?" He asked as he turned back to Hel, shaking off thoughts of eating Odin before raising a questioning eyebrow. Fen didn't want to care, in fact he wanted to remain firmly planted in the shadows, but he couldn't help but feed that small well of curiosity that rose up inside of him.
Something inside of Hel – a more human side perhaps – wanted to rush over and hug her panicking sister. It hurt the goddess to see Jorm like that but there was nothing she could really do and a hug would only make things worse probably. So she kept her distance. As always. “Father is still safe when he left the luncheon. Though I couldn’t figure out where he would be going.” She omitted the fact that she had gone up the roof herself a bit later instead. And that she had visited the morgue instead of following Loki. Still, if there was ever a divine who could weasel his way out of a dangerous situation it would be her father. “Hati is working with Athena.” She continued to explain. “So he is safe as well.” Hel didn’t care for the rest of the Norse. Only the blood Loki counted for her.
As always Fenrir came out exceedingly cynical. Hel expected it. There was no point in engaging it. Not really. Then he asked his question. “They were cut down.” Hel said matter-of-factly. “After that they fell through the skylight of the club down to the floor. Everyone expected them to rise up again but.. well. That did not happen. Cuts could be seen. Though nothing that shouldn’t heal.” Her eyes darted over her two siblings. The point was easily made. “There is a weapon out there that can kill gods.” Just for a second, a moment, Hel’s heart quickened. Just the thought that such a weapon really existed made her excited. Yet she couldn’t show that. Not even to her siblings.
“That does leave the matter of the Ambrosia.” Hel quickly changed subject to what she thought to be more important in the moment. “Hera was smart enough to give everyone in attendance for the luncheon their apple. Persephone might be a bit preoccupied with giving them out now.” She removed the top of the whiskey tube and pulled out the Fruit of the Tree of Life. “I kept it for you.” She gently put it towards Fenrir. Then she turned towards Jormungandr. “You should probably ask Hebe for yours. Things are heating up, so don’t wait too long. Okay?”
Jorm nodded to her brother, feeling more stable with his hand on her shoulder. It was a physical reminder that she was not alone and they were in this together. ”As long as you are sure they are safe.”, Jorm replied, grateful that the people she cared about most were most likely out of harm's way. She didn’t like the explanation any better than when her sister had simply said other immortals had perished. A weapon? An actual killer of immortals? How was this even possible? She was fearful for who would be next or if it was someone close to them all out to get other immortals. The change in conversation was much needed and openly accepted, happy to just put that mess and fear behind until more answers became clear. ”I think the Greeks are probably gonna have their hands full for a while and a year added to my age isn’t gonna kill me. I’ll hit her up whenever I see her next if I remember to do so. I know she sometimes goes to Acropolis parties and I’ll be dead before I get caught going into Odin’s building or whatever.”
Fenrir took the apple in his hand, tossing it idly in the air before catching it once more. Was this a chain of sorts? He could never truly leave, never truly be away from the Aesir with their immortality threatened so easily. "You sure?" He glanced at Jorm, "I'd happily go give cyclops a visit." Fen grinned wolfishly, pointed canines bared as if in threat before they sunk into the apples soft flesh.
"But anyway, this talk of dead gods is boring me." He spoke up once he had finished his snack. It was boring him, that was true. And he had not failed to miss the almost imperceptible and brief change in Hel’s presence as she'd spoken of the weapon. She had no reason to kill any Greeks, though he was certain the keeper of Helheim would use it on Odin if she got a chance. Wrapping his arms around the shoulders of both his sisters, he pulled them closer. "I want to hear all about what my lovely sisters have been up to. I want tales of draugr Hel and the tallest building you have jumped off recently Jormungandr."
Hel managed to quickly free herself from Fenrir’s second embrace. She enjoyed them a lot, but it was better to not get used to them. It did worry her that Jorm seemed so nonchalant about aging a year. Well, she was planning to see Hebe anyway. Hopefully, the charitable goddess would give her two apples. If not well, Hel was the youngest. A year would do less to her than to Jorm she reckoned.
But then it happened. She turned her head towards the glass windows. There were whispers coming through. Only the goddess of the graceless dead could hear them. She stepped towards the window. The whispers became hoarse voices. Their words and meaning were just under the surface. A flat hand reached out towards the cold glass.
Hel’s eyes went wide in shock and surprise. ”I have to go.” She said. Her voice was shaking. She rushed over towards the hallway. “Jorm, get your apple!” She shouted at her sister before leaving.
”Wait!…And she is gone…..what just happened?”, she asked, looking at Fen utterly confused before sighing and shaking her head. It seems family time would have to wait, well, at least with all of them anyway. ”Oh nevermind, I’m pulling off the stew. Don’t know about you but I’m starvin’.”