I just finished editing a grueling chapter. Not hard, just tedious.
I am getting ready to start Chapter 57 of 66, but I feel the “Slush Brain” setting in. I am grabbing lunch before I finish this up to recharge and postpone the Slush Brain! I adore this part of Dolor and Shadow because it is steeped in the magical world/fantasy element!
Here is the section I just fixed! This is the version that you will see in the finished copy you purchase! One thing you need to know, Seidr is the golden magical element that makes up life. Enjoy!
CHAPTER 56 – Scene 3
Rune walked alongside Kallan as she pushed her way over the moss and molehills, one hand yanking free her skirts that caught on the shrubs and branches as they walked and the other clutching Rune’s hand as if terrified to let him go.
Sarahkka continued her excited monologue five steps ahead as she led them into the trees. She stopped once or twice and burst into laughter she quelled with a shake of her head. After a moment, she restarted speaking in a language neither Kallan nor Rune could understand.
The trees thickened until a forest had formed, forcing them to slow their pace and the Beast within Rune paced. Kallan stopped pulling her skirts free, and began holding back the low hanging branches as they pushed their way through the wood.
After several minutes, Sarahkka stopped, giving Rune and Kallan time to catch up. They stood, taking in the surrounding area. The gamme, the horses, the reindeer, and Finn were far from sight. With a smile, Sarahkka uttered a few words and placed a twisted finger to Kallan’s mouth then pulled back the last of the thick branches. Pushing aside massive fronds, as tall as two Alfar, Sarahkka stepped into a vast clearing, waving Kallan and Rune to follow.
Kallan and Rune eyed the foliage, taking care to run their hands up the firm, slender leaves as wide as their hands. The Beast hastened his step. Rune reasserted his will. With difficulty, Rune and Kallan took their turn bending the fronds away and joined Sarahkka in a moss-covered clearing encased in tall pines and peppered in slender birch, where a brook flowed from a wall of bedrock. With their hands still clasped together, Rune and Kallan took one look at the ground before them and gasped.
Plum marsh orchids that could fill Rune’s palm climbed giant stalks. Blossoms of martagom lilies hung from their stems like large luminescent floral saucers. Toadflax and hop clover, made gold by the Seidr light emerged in bunches throughout the clearing. Bouquets of oblong blossoms, vibrant pink, protruded on a single stem. Each bloom elongated a span and was cocooned in a white, silk webbing that covered the plant from the ground to the tips of each rounded blossom. And ferns—grand, green ferns, more than two men in height—filled every corner, every crevice of the clearing.
Interspersed with the flora, oversized butterflies with wings of smoky cobalt blue, wings painted iridescent greens, and white wings dabbed with abalone, fluttered about the massive blooms. At the base of the trees, red spotted mushrooms clustered around fungi with pristine caps and stems. Both varieties, as long as a man’s arm, glowed gold in the Seidr light. Along the brook, a pair of dippers dipped and dove into the water and emerged after a minute with their beaks clamped on over-sized water insects and larvae. Among the foliage and flowers, red squirrels as large as ship cats scurried about the trunks of the conifers. Tufts of fur extended off each ear, and their tails, twice the length of their bodies, trailed behind them as they scurried up and down the tree like Ratatoskr.
“Do you see this?” Kallan breathed as Rune held back the Beast that clawed at his will.
Both gaped, unable to tear their eyes from the ground where golden light twisted its way through the tiny fibers of moss, making its way toward the Naejttie. There it mingled with the glow surrounding them.
“What is it?” Rune asked, unable to pull his attention away from the earth and the lines of Seidr that moved on the wind.
“It’s a Seidi,” Kallan said. “Sacred ground where springs of Seidr emerge from the earth.”
A smile lifted her face. With a nod, the Naejttie moved to the center of the clearing and dropped to her knees, splaying her palms out on the moss where the light flowed. Releasing Rune’s hand, Kallan knelt opposite Sarahkka and mirrored her.
With the fountain between them, the old woman mumbled a series of indecipherable words. The Seidr grew brighter, stretching like hundreds of vines across the ground, contorting itself up the trees with every word Sarahkka muttered. The Beast screamed and threw itself toward the lines. As if starved, it clawed and bit, held back only by Rune’s determination to keep it from feeding its insatiable hunger.
The Seidr twisted its way up the women’s arms and over their backs, until they were enveloped in a blanket of gold and the Beast released another scream. Sweat formed on Rune’s brow and Kallan gasped as the energy flowed through her. The Beast pushed and Rune bore down. He felt himself losing to the hunger. Its cloak of Shadow seeped out, breaking through Rune’s will and streaming into the lines of Seidr. It snaked its way to the first of the lines and Rune fought with the creature inside him.
It linked itself with Kallan’s Seidr. More Shadow drained as Rune’s strength waned. Hungrily, it lapped up Kallan’s Seidr, connecting her lines to his. Startled, he jumped, almost losing the fight, when he could hear an old woman’s words clearly from within Kallan’s mind.
“You’re fighting it, Kallan. Allow it. It’s there…ready to be a part of you.”
Sarahkka spoke. The fluid breath of her dialect interrupted Kallan’s thoughts, breaking Rune’s concentration, and more of the Beast broke through Rune’s weakening barrier. A mischievous light glistened in Kallan’s blue eye. At once, Rune understood. The Beast was up on its hind legs now, snarling and snapping at the Seidr, drinking more in as it flowed. He would not be able to hold it back much longer.
Gasping, Kallan re-positioned her palms on the ground and, re-establishing her center, reached into the bottom-most depths of her core, beyond the ends of her own Seidr where the earth’s power began and hers ended. From there she pulled the energy inward, trembling beneath the magnitude. A flood of strength swarmed her and the light from the ground doubled, pouring faster into the clearing. In a rush, the Seidr flowed and held her to the ground. The Beast shattered the last of Rune’s will as it threw itself at the Seidr.
Corporeal Shadow, blacker than umbra, flowed from Rune like the Seidr that poured from the spring. Unleashed, the Beast drank its fill while the sudden surge of Shadow and Seidr pinned Rune to the ground. Unable to move, he stood as the Beast pulled the trail of light from the wind to his feet, through the ground and into him, and Kallan knelt at the fountain with her eyes closed, oblivious to Rune’s Beast of Shadow.
Kallan pulled the Seidr as it mingled with that of the Earth’s, providing far more Seidr than Rune’s Beast could ever devour: so much Seidr that Kallan and Sarahkka remained oblivious to the Beast’s presence or how much it drank.
From the spring, the Seidr flowed until the whole of the clearing filled with light, far more than the Beast could drink, until the air itself glistened and gold streams rose up the trees like ivy and blanketed the wall of bedrock, taking the form of a wall of fire and flame that rose from the ground. And the Beast ever drank.
Over the wall of bedrock, into the sky it stretched and thinned, growing until the very ends of the Seidr became an endless stream of blue flames that ended where the edge of the flame glowed white. The tips flickered and licked the air, compiling until it formed a bridge that reached to the heavens.
Sitting back on her legs, Sarahkka released the ground and smiled, delighted at the depth of Kallan’s focus as the Seidkona absorbed the earth’s Seidr. Pulling it through her, Kallan fueled her own energy, oblivious to the bridge that had formed from the tiny spring that yielded the Seidr.
“Kallan,” Rune said, gaping at the bridge before them. He tried again to move and failed.
“Kallan,” he said, louder this time, hoping to break her concentration. When she didn’t respond, Rune slipped his own consciousness along the threads of Seidr and entered her mind.
Sudden comprehension awakened within, sudden realization that had not been, making Kallan aware of how unfocused and dim her thoughts had always been. The fog cleared within her mind and in the moment that she saw, she understood.
As vivid as the Seidr surrounding the Naejttie, Kallan saw the blood consumed by flame settling into the sea. A contorted face screamed as a man, a giant, rode into the horizon, crying out for war to Asgard as the edge of his silver sword ran with blood.
The image faded and changed, reappearing with flames that stretched to the sky, licking the air like dragons’ tongues. The screams rose with great plumes of black smoke and Kallan and Rune saw a pair of ageless, gold eyes smiling through the burning towers that was Lorlenalin.
With a start, Kallan gasped and released the ground at once, severing the ties that bound Kallan to Rune and the Beast. Seidr settled on the wind, leaving the bridge in view. Rune restored his will and manacled the Beast, which recoiled. The energy that held Rune to the ground released and he dove, catching Kallan before she fell face-first into the dirt. Beaded sweat fell from his brow and Kallan’s widened eyes met Rune’s.
“Lorlenalin,” she gasped, looking about with madness. A single tear streaked her cheek.
“She’s fine,” Rune said, knowing the images she had seen.
Kallan’s eyes shifted from side to side as if watching the memories play over, keeping her steeped in panic.
“Heimdallr!” she shrieked and sat up, reaching for the burning bridge. “Heimdallr!”
“Kallan, no!” Rune lunged, barely grabbing her in time to stop her from diving head first into the fire.
Her strength had doubled. Struggling more than ever to contain her, Rune wrapped both arms around her, holding her back.
“The Bilrost burns!” Rune shouted over her madness.
“Release me,” she said. “I have to warn him!”
“It wasn’t real!”
Kallan shoved his arms aside and lunged for the fire. With all his strength, Rune threw himself into Kallan, taking her to the ground with him as Kallan shrieked for Heimdallr. With two sharp syllables, the command of Sarahkka’s voice cut through their tussle, forcing their voices silent and their attention to the Finn. Entranced, Sarahkka rose to her feet.
With mouths agape, they stared in awe at the floor of fire and wall of flame. Atop a horse of golden flames that whipped and licked the leather reins, untouched by the fire that twisted and burned, sat Heimdallr, guardian of the Bilrost.