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Blood Brother

Updated: Jan 1, 2024


"And yet, it was still a performance. Odin and I both knew it. It was a kind of play, a dream of how things might have been if he and I had been capable of trusting each other for a change. And so we hunted, and sang, and laughed, and told heavily edited stories of the good old days, while each of us watched the other and wondered when the knife would fall."

— by Joanne Harris


How do you think this will end, brother?

The future may be set in stone, but you, Odin, have certainly done nothing to avert its course.

When the time comes, I will enjoy it.

It seemed so simple in our youth. Two boys laughing in the sunlight at a future that seemed so distant. So insignificant. So easily changed. I would not betray you. That was all. I would not lead the giants into Asgard. I would not blow the horn.

We were brothers. In name, and choice and arms, if not in blood. And I would not betray my brother.

And yet. As that future drew closer…Brother, I had sworn to never betray you. Why then, must you betray me?

My children, Odin. They are my children. Whatever else they may be said to be, they are mine.

I did not mind so much with Sleipnir. There is more of his father in him than I and I… I did not wish to think too long on the circumstances of his birth. He is animal in wit, clever – he was my child, of course he was clever – but animal all the same. It was no hardship to give him to your care. The steed to the king of gods. What loftier ambitions could a stallion aspire?

But the others. Oh, the others.

Did you see your future looming closer when you learned I had lain with her? A Jotun. An enemy. The exact same as I. She was not beautiful, but there was something of the cunning in her eyes, the quirk of her lip that enchanted me all the same. It is not as though I did not know that our happiness led to some brutal arbitrary end.

Your people have always excelled at killing mine. But we were adults, and we faced that end with forethought, and as much dignity as these tragedies can ever hold.

But our children, our beautiful monstrous children. How could I know, then, what you would do to them? To children?

They were monsters yes, but monsters with minds. And they were mine. Did our brotherhood truly mean so little to you that you would hurt them so? For crimes that they were not yet old enough to commit. Crimes they were too young to understand!

I suppose I should thank you for my daughter. After all, you made her a queen. A queen of the realm of the wicked dead, bound forever to her throne. Never to know the touch of sunlight, or the taste of summer berries sharp on her tongue, staining her teeth like blood. The prettiest prison you gave my children, but a prison all the same.

Sweet Jörmungandr you gave to the cold waters. To the dark depths, and the crushing pressure. Deep these oceans may be, but even they aren’t big enough to hold my largest son. He twisted in on himself, scale rubbing against scale in a miserable circle as he shifted in place, the world trembling and flooding with his turns. Eventually, he was forced to take his own tail into his mouth, an unbroken circle, round and round over and over stretching out into infinity.

And Fenrir. My Fenrir. I try not to weigh the cruelties that you have inflicted on my children. But him, what you did to him. It would wake me in the night, shaking in my bones. At least, if I still were able to sleep.

He thought it was a game.

You told him it was a game.

How frightened he must have been, when the chains you bound him in failed to break. I am glad it will be him who kills you. I am glad he will have the satisfaction of seeing you die.

And after this, you all had the audacity to treat it like some crime when I sent your Baldr to meet my daughter. You took my children. I only made it fair and took yours. I even gave him the dignity of a quick, clean death. Is that not better than any offer you made my own children?

This prison cannot hold me forever. It will not. It has already been foreseen.

One day the chains that bind me to this rock will fail. My lovely Sigyn will put down her burden, the acid on my skin will no longer hurt me, and the snake above me will no longer keep me here.

I will escape. It is foretold. And will burn the nine realms that you hold so dear to ashes. Will rend the world tree from its roots. Will watch your people, your sons, your daughters, drown in their own blood as they fall.

And brother, I will enjoy it.

Insp. Norse Mythology


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