Escape from Svartalfheim

Recorded: March 7, 2014
Characters: Bitterhand (NPC), Heimdall (NPC), Wormwood (NPC)
Location: Svartalfheim
Summary: Heimdall decides he's had enough of Dark Elf hospitality.

It may be dusk. It may be dawn. Ragnarok may be unraveling the fabric of time. From his present location, Heimdall would be none the wiser. True to his word, Malekith has provided him with clothing, fine cuisine, and adequate reading material. When he was transferred to better quarters, the same hospitality was extended.

Steps have been taken to make this area more inviting to a creature of light; though, it may be somewhat unsettling for the uninitiated. Points of light dance throughout the highly ornamental room as will-o-wisps mindlessly flit about on their ceaseless patrols. Shelves of tomes and ageless tapestries are bathed in a gentle, azure light with each pass. Depicted are grand halls, elegant and alien hosts of countless fae each more fantastical than the next. Rather than the extravagant golden detail of Asgard, the elves seem to favor a pale, polished silver to highlight the Stygian motif. Omnipresent are the phases of the moon expertly worked into the metalwork and blessing every picture.

Though different clothing has been offered, the Sentry of Asgard has preferred to keep the armor of his station. Of food, he's had very little, and the books only serve to vex him. A restless beast paces no less in a fancier cage. Being underground, he is unable to gaze up and see the state of his beloved Asgard. This will be remedied soon. With his body healed and determination at its apex, he moves for the door of his chamber and reaches for the knob.

Steel quietly slides past steel then jerks back as the tumblers catch. Though it is a lenient arrangement, it is still locked.

The lithe, lightly armored guards without peer candidly at one another at the noise. One draws his narrow, handsome shamshirs as his platinum brow arches. "Away with you from yon door, Asgardian. There is no business yet for you beyond."

Silence follows the guard's words, allowing a brief assurance that their prisoner has gone back to his distractions. An explosion of splintered wood and metal components reverses that theory within moments. Heimdall's forward-moving leg lands heavily in the ruined doorway and without skipping a beat, he reaches out to take hold of each guard by their traditional hairstyles with the intent of making their faces meet. None too gently.

The force of the splintered wood strikes with such sudden and unexpected violence that the guards almost get blasted away too swiftly for the guardian to clutch at them. Almost. Their faces meet and crash together with little resistance from the stunned victims. If they are fortunate, they slumber. Voices ring with shock and confusion from the depths of the corridor. His hosts are mobilizing.

The Sentry of Asgard looks to his unseen challenge with a darkened resolve. He has gotten used to the dim light of the corridors, and his ears have served him well during his time in the Dark Elf realm. He takes hold of the fallen guards' weapons — one shamshir for each hand — and marches forward with an earnest resolve to see his freedom. He focuses his all-hearing senses to the very depths and winding passages of his underground prison, both to track his impending opponents, and to locate any sign of wind from a door leading out.

A novice would be at a loss in the black bowels of Svartalfheim. It would take the keenest of ears to perceive the raging wind tearing into the jagged mountainside; battering at every window and door along the eastern bulwark. Heimdall is blessed to know that they come from his left. His nostrils may also detect faint drafts brushing smoke inward from that exit. There is a sweetness to it that is reminiscent of molasses.

The guards seem woefully unprepared for the prospect of the prisoner's escape; but, they do not display fear. They underestimate him and make no attempt to hide it. Four more skirmishers appear from the opposite path with the standard uniform. There is no light to glisten along the blades of their shamshirs but they each find the voices to ring once cleared from their sheathes. "Lo, brothers!" The captain calls, his dark face twisting into a mirthful smile. "Our guest has stirred and yearns for companionship! T'would be monstrous not to oblige!"

A chorus of delighted laughter responds. Unusual for a defensive formation, the squad spread themselves out so that there appears to be plenty of room between them. More than enough for the average man to pass. At once they fall upon Heimdall like a fleet of shadows.

Heimdall's ears find his exit and his lips dare to briefly express his certainty. Before he can take two steps in that direction, however, the taunting words of the captain steal his attention. He had meant to leave this area as quickly as possible, but certainly not without thanking his hosts for their time and accommodation.

The Sentry stands with his back to his aggressors and lets his ears be his guide. When one advances, he very quickly raises both his blades and spins them around to parry the attack strike the guard to the ground. His fluid motion brings his blades up again to cut matching lines into the next. One blade swings backwards to finish putting the second guard in his place, while the other stabs forward to spear the third in his chest. Heimdall pushes forward with the strength of his heritage, meaning to skewer the third and fourth guard together into the nearest wall.

Their arrogance leaves them pinned in place with shock plastered upon their startled features. Not one had the opportunity to scream; but, more are sure to come if Heimdall does not make haste.

Heimdall leaves the stuck pigs to die with their cultural weapon in their bellies, keeping one in hand for his own needs. He turns and rushes for the hallway of his choosing, following the sound of the wind and scent of sweet molasses. Once he has reached the exit he doesn't waste time testing the knob. Another swift kick forward sends it hurling away and reveals his latest whereabouts.

The long and tedious path through the tunnels lead to the comparative blinding light of a starry sky. An endless landscape of galaxies and nebulae framed along the bottom by the black, jagged fangs of Svartalfheim's mountains. Much of that is obscured by more wisps dancing around a brilliant, fluttering flame. Crouched above that flame is a man of incredible stature and deep, frozen skin. He turns at the sound of the door to peer at his visitor and, in doing so, reveals himself and the grisly source of the sweet smell.

The Frost Giant regards Heimdall with eyes both curious and hateful. At his side a small pile of clothing, many sizes too small for him. A drab sweatshirt. A collard shirt torn to ribbons. Strewn haphazardly across both are jeans with a pair of worn running shoes piled atop. It looks, at first, as if a slim, knock-kneed swine has been roasting upon the spit propped above the fire. It is not.

"Far from your palace, aintcha?" He grinned, displaying a pair of rotten, bloodied teeth.

Heimdall steals a moment to let his eyes adjust to their newfound light. There is a sense of relief at seeing the sky, but it is quickly stifled when the Asgardian takes in the scene before him. His gaze has been privileged to witness countless scenes of beauty and horror spread across time and space; therefore, he is unmoved by the the savory rotis of human flesh. Instead, his eyes land on the behemoth tending to what is obviously his meal. "You are a long way from home, Jotun. Have you somehow found the plains of Svartalfheim more to your climate?" He lightly grips the handle of his blade, though the weapon is hardly needed for this would-be challenge.

"Hold your words." The giant lazily dismisses, returning to the task of evenly roasting his long pig. Blue nostrils flare wide to devour that sweet scent before he addresses Heimdall properly. "I'm an 'honored guest.'" He spits, belly rumbling with a booming chortle. "Whatever that means. I got food in my belly and I ain't got a chieftain breathing down my back." He admits, sighing to himself as he rises to his feet and gathers the heavy, oaken club from the ground beside himself. "I got my manners, Asgardian. You're free to whatever pickens you want. If you win." He roars, kicking a spray of dirt at Heimdall's eyes then charging in for a swipe of his massive club.

Size in combat is both a boon and a detriment to the Frost Giants. On the one hand, the Jotun's spray of dirt creates a momentary cloud that hinders Heimdall's immediate view of his surroundings. On the other, the giant's slow, lumbering movements are easily picked up by the Sentry's ears. The club becomes a vault for Heimdall who tumbles forward as soon as he's launched over it. The cloud of dirt unearthed by his boots pales in comparison to his opponents but is still a sign of action—Heimdall launches himself at the Frost Giant's legs and slides feet-first between them, swinging his shamshir towards the tendons of each ankle. Just as with the guards in the hall, he does not intend to drag out this encounter.

Hamstringed, the Jotunn emits a wail of anguish with such depth the earth beneath them rumbles in response. He tumbles forward onto each knee, struggling with all his might before collapsing onto his palms. "You filthy bastard!" He snarls low and deep, lip curling with wrath as he glares ahead. "Enough with it. Finish me."

Heimdall steps near the Jotun's upper body. "Not until my curiosity is satisfied," he replies, then takes another look around. His eyes scan the open landscape, searching for other nearby aggressors. "You say that you are an honored guest. Was it the one-armed golem who bestowed you with this honor?" Referring to his own means of being taken prisoner.

"Nay, though the creatu—" The jotunn is rudely interrupted as the silver head of an arrow slips a path through his vertebrae and embeds appears through his esophagus in a mist of blood. The monstrous man gropes with surprise at his throat, squinting those panicked, scarlet eyes at Heimdall while he chokes on his own blood. The thud of his face colliding with the ground quakes at his inquisitor's feet.

The assassin tumbles through the air and lands with a silent cloud of dust, accompanied shortly thereafter by another muted companion. When they both rise they are clearly of elven stock.

"Doth mine eyes deceive me, Wormwood, or has yonder saffron knight lost his bosom companion?" Muses the archer. His armor is similar to the rank and file of the fortress yet made distinct. A deep, verdant tunic lies beneath a shirt a mithril rings, bunching before being clamped behind a pair of sterling bracers. Trousers of woven spider silk tuck into lightweight, leather boots. Clutched in one hand is a bow of fine ivory make inlaid with a beautiful, interwoven knot. A twin of the elven arrow embedded in the jotunn is nocked, drawn, and staring unerringly into Heimdall's throat. His bright, blond hair is kept long and unruly, framing his fine features and cold eyes with wavy tresses.

"Aye. Deceitful though they be, your eyes seem to speak true, Bitterhand. It seems our laboursome visitor has taken issue with his princely trappings. What ails thee, ser?" Wormwood sings towards Heimdall. His attire is nearly identical to Bitterhand, save the mahogany shade of his hair and, in place of a bow and arrow, the shamshir and curved short sword spinning casually between his dexterous fingers. The dangerous tips of each weapon have a slight, brownish hue to them and a mildly acrid scent. Poison.

The calm that Heimdall displays in light of his situation is a testament to his centuries as the Sentry of Asgard. He has spent long hours standing, staring, showing little reaction to wars that play out before him. Barely acknowledging the deaths he witnesses for years on end. That same gaze lifts in longing towards the jeweled sky and first checks on the realm he calls home, ensuring that Asgard continues to float along the streams of time and space unmolested. A soft sigh escapes his lips as his eyes make the vaguest glance towards Jotunheim, curiosity firmly planting root thanks to his fellow inmate.

"I merely longed to look towards the heavens," he comments with a wonder to his tone. It is both truthful and intended to be enticing, beckoning the brothers to join him in his star-struck stare. While they may only be able to see a mere fraction of what his eyes behold, a fraction is all that is needed for the distraction he has in mind. He keeps his ears focused on their limbs and weapons but that gaze of longing looks to Jotunheim for the answer to his suspicions. "The distant galaxies, in all their fleeting splendor, cast their whimsical spell upon this old Asgardian's spirit. One wonders how they dance so perfectly in the shapes that they do." He gestures up with his sword. "See that constellation? I thought the eve too early for it." Pointing at nothing, but they need not be aware of that.

Wormwood halts the eager flourish of his blades, catching the hilt of each and tracing the path of Heimdall's eyes towards Jotunheim. Lacking Heimdall's gifts, he does not see the countless horrors being visited upon the frost giants as they ready themselves to engage the Asgardian. Battlefields speckle the fields of ice with scenes of slaughter so thorough the frozen corpses blot out the snow. There is no question that it was not the giants who were successful. What remains of the scattered tribes during the engagements have already been herded into hastily constructed graves where they are summarily executed. From only a cursory glance the Eternal Vigilant has already been given a preview of the genocide.

"Steel thy eyes! Tis time to slay the sentinel!" Bitterhand reprimands, letting fly the first arrow then another. The words ring Wormwood from his daze and he, too, draws his mouth and rushes low, ducking beneath the arrows and slashing with the longblade at Heimdall's knee then following through with a daggerthrust to the kidney.

The distant sight of ruin on the plains of Jotunheim is more than enough confirmation for the Asgardian. His ears alert him to the whistling arrows and before either one can find their place in his throat, he swings his sword in an arc to knock them out of the sky. The blade completes its clockwise circle and comes back up with the intent of knocking Wormwood's longblade and subsequent arm high above his own head. A booted heel follows suit and aims to kick the elf's pretty jaw into an overbite.

A frown tugs at the corner of Bitterhand's lips as the arrows whiz past Heimdall and vanish in the distance. While an Asgardian may relish a worthy adversary, the Dark Elves prefer the quick and efficient kill. He draws another arrow and quietly murmurs a blessing into the head before firing it. "Mercy upon Heimdall, so that his eyes may never be burdened with horror again!" The arrow whispers at the air towards the guardian's armored chest.

The tip of Wormwood's blade disengages around Heimdall's shamshir and the elf weaves through the swing with a spinning flourish to move around the kick. He uses the momentum to snap the pommel of his dagger into the back of Heimdall's head to stagger him off-balance then tumbles forward, shielding his eyes in the crook of his elbow.

The knock from Wormwood's hilt serves to knock Heimdall off balance enough to avoid being impaled by Bitterhand's arrow. It glances past his shoulder instead and explodes upon impact with the fallen Jotunn, sending up a bright flash that the Sentry was fortunate not to face. While Heimdall allows himself to continue his forward stumble, he reaches backward to grab a generous handful of blonde hair and immediately diverts his momentum into a discus-like toss, meant to launch one Dark Elf into the other.

The unfortunate ricochet of the arrow catches both elves off-guard. Their disappointment is palpable. Wormwood is in the process of regaining his footing when his hair tears him back and into an Olympic hammer toss. Bitterhand snarls his indignation and lets loose an arrow too late to free his grappled friend who, as soon as he is released, takes the arrow in the shoulder then smashes into the archer. Both go crashing backwards with incredible speed, colliding full force with the hardened rock and falling forward. Wormwood doubles over and cracks into the ground while Bitterhand remains embedded from the overwhelming strength of the collision. Both are far from conscious.

Heimdall grunts at the end result of his throw but does not spare a moment to celebrate. He starts moving away from the camp, leaving his ears open for a sound not native to Svartalfheim. The Sentry of Asgard is quite familiar with the fact that rifts and portals exist between the worlds and is fully intent on using the nearest one to return him to Asgard. He jogs swiftly, changing direction occasionally, listening for wind caressing blades of grass in ways that only happens in his home realm. Sounds of stag grazing or Asgardians murmuring—anything to know which direction a rift may lie.

A voice whispers through the wind from back towards the fortress near the spit-roasted mortal. The words are barely audible but arcane ritual bleeds through their tonality. More importantly, a familiarity is in the tone; it is an Asgardian voice. A healer and confidant of the queen.

Heimdall stops and turns immediately. His jog becomes a sprint that would far exceed the record-breakers of Midgard. With his ears to guide him, he rushes past the Jotun's camp and straight into a pinprick of light that was getting smaller by the second.

Near the Plains of Ida, a sorceress mumbles the last words of a lengthy chant that will close one of many rifts discovered recently. The guards are diligently watching the world around them and barely paying attention to her work. They only stir from their stares when a sudden shout and thump cause them to reach for their swords in kneejerk reaction.

"…. Heimdall?" The sorceress blushes as she finds herself unexpectedly trapped under the Sentry's embrace. He gives a polite nod to her before he is helped to his feet by the guards. He shrugs them away before he can be questioned, then begins a purposeful march in the direction of the observatory. Though he looks worse for wear, Heimdall has at least one more duty to complete before he can rest this day.

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