Bk. 1, Part 2: “What Has Gone Before” [Part 4]
THE CODEX LACRIMAE, PART 2: THE BOOK OF TEARS
by & © 2012-2013 A.J. Carlisle
Excerpt from: “What Has Gone Before” section; regarding events of The Codex Lacrimae, Part 1: The Mariner’s Daughter & Doomed Knight
(Part 4 of 5 recaps):
In spite of the frigidity of Hela’s icy citadel, Aurelius and Clarinda get better acquainted, feeling an undeniable attraction that poses problems for the Sicilian and Italian youths. For his part, any romantic feelings cause a conflict with Aurelius’s vows and intention to become a priest; as for Clarinda, besides the fact that she’s still grieving over the murder of her father, she’s wary of the young man’s bloody reputation of violence and unpredictability from the Battle of Mecina.
An attack by the skeletal guardian, Modgud, brings them both directly into contact with the Queen of the Underworld, Hela. After addressing the young Hospitaller as a long-expected “Lord Aurelius” — and predicting that Santini will live for almost a thousand years and call Hel his home for part of that time! — Hela brings both youths into a ghastly hall where Old Nick awaits. Trapped, the gigantic wolf at Hela’s side attacks Aurelius after he slices the fossegrim’s blue coral from Satan’s neck, and the scuffle between beast and Hospitaller carries both through a window and into the winds of the perpetual blizzard outside.
Clarinda immediately launches herself at Old Nick — scooping the blue coral from the floor along the way — and succeeds in escaping from the trap thanks to some advice from her new friend, Ratatosk, a talking squirrel who’s befriended her during the three months that she’s been training in the Norn Grottoes. The Brisingamen necklace that Clarinda uses to transport through the Nine Worlds suddenly works again, and she uses it to teleport from Hel back to the Norn Grottoes.
In a discussion with the Norns, Clarinda guesses correctly that something about Aurelius’s presence previously prevented the Brisingamen’s magic from working. Urd takes Clarinda to a meeting with Mimir at the Well, and at a council with the Norns, Mimir, and the mysterious Grimnir, she’s commanded to find Aurelius in the Wastes of Niflheim and to bring him back to the Well for protection and counsel. Grimnir also magically joins her favored weapon, the quarterstaff, with his magical spear (Gungnir), telling her to keep it always safe and that it will never miss its mark. For protection in Hela’s lands, he lends her talking wolves Geri and Freki, and orders Ratatosk the Squirrel to stay close to her.
Meanwhile, Aurelius survives the plunge from Hela’s Tower, his fall broken by trees in the forest below as he grapples with the gigantic wolf. When they reach the ground, the wolf changes into a man named Fenris, revealing him- self to be the rebellious brother of Hela. Fenris saves Aurelius’s life thanks to the help of his mate, Skade the Huntress, who gives Aurelius a magical potion that helps offset the killing frost of Niflheim. There’s barely time for getting acquainted before Hela’s Wilde Jagd, or “Wild Hunt,” finds them and a great battle ensues. The trio emerges victorious because of Skade’s berserker-like ferocity, Fenris’s ability to grow to the height of a tree, and Aurelius’s enchanted hatchet, an unassuming tool that unleashes more devastation upon the enemies than any could expect.
Thanks to the direction given by the wolves, Geri and Freki, Clarinda finds the three warriors at the end of the battle. The entire group hears horns in the distance, and a decision is reached to take flight to the Fenrir-baude, the “hut” of Fenris and Skade that rests on a mountainside overlooking the great Franang Falls, a nexus between the worlds of Midgard and Niflheim…
[Continued on next page, “Bk 1, Pt 2: What Has Gone Before (Part 5)”]