ORIGINAL FICTION: "Twilight of the Gods" (Part 2) by Charlie Starr

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Click here to read part 2 of "Twilight of the Gods." Part 1 is online here http://www.republibot.com/content/original-fiction-twilight-gods-charlie... and part 3 will be posted in a week.
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2
“The Nephilim were on the earth in those days,
and also afterward, when the sons of God came
in to the daughters of men, and they bore children
to them. Those were the mighty men who were
of old, men of renown.”
—Genesis
The halls of Asgard’s great house shook with the screams of the All Father’s agony. From the stables, Valkyrie launched into the skies in circling gyres to search for foes they would not find. The massive oaken doors of the lofty mead hall creaked open nearly cracking from the hammer hand’s blow. Striding a massive gait, the warrior son of the king crossed the hall in a moment.
On the golden throne of Valhalla sat the slumping form of a god-man, ancient with power, aged with knowledge, and wracked with pain. His half bloodied face dripped red life and gore down white beard onto leather tunic and robe of varied colored furs. Blood gushed from the socket that had a moment before been his right eye, pumping with the beat of his near immortal heart. His bloodied right hand sat claw like on his lap; his left held tight the throne’s arm, held him upright, holding off the oblivion which both pain and understanding sought to thrust upon him. On the floor at his feet lay the all knowing eye, a lifeless gelid ball, the sacrifice of which was freedom from blindness, from knowledge that was ignorance. At last Odin called the All Father could see the truth.
His warrior son stuttered in stride; his hammer nearly dropped from his hand.
“Father.”
“Bar the doors.”
“My Lord—”
“Speak not save you first do my bidding son of thunder. Close and lock the doors of my hall. Suffer none to enter, though Frigga your mother plead woman’s sympathy or Loki your brother be found in the midst of greatest mischief.” And gathering his strength, he cried his authority: “Admit no one!” And then quietly: “Ragnarok is upon us.”
Thor, god of thunder, did his father’s bidding, placing the giant wooden beam into its brackets with a single hand. Then he turned with thunder:
“Why, father?!” Why have you torn the seeing eye from your head? What doom do you speak on Asgard?”
“It is the way of things. It is the sacrifice of blood, the god dying to the god. It is the ancient pattern, the deep magic carved in the roots of the very tree upon which the nine worlds hang. It is the pattern of the Almighty for the resurrection and salvation of all. It is the God, sacrificing Himself to Himself, the divine pattern which even the gods of earth could not escape: Osiris and Shiva ???, and Dionysus, and Adonis—all torn and eaten and consumed and reborn in the underworld where judgment awaits us all. Now it comes to our halls. Now is Balder dead and the twilight of the gods upon us.”
“Balder is dead! Then it is Ragnarok. The frost giants come. Ymir has killed the fair warrior of Asgard.”
“No, Thor. It was not the frost giants who even now do approach, but not in that false guise. Truly Balder is dead in helping Ymir whose true name is Michael, but he died at Surtur’s hand, at the hand of the demons of fire from the South.”
“Riddles, father. You speak riddles to me.” The Thunderer approached the throne, reached, and took the strong right hand, held it bloody to his breast. “Speak plainly. How is it Balder could die in aid of the enemies of Asgard?”
Silence.
“Speak, king of heaven!”
“I…am…not…the King of heaven! But the King comes!”
And the Father of the North showed his might once more. The simple act of rising to his feet shook the halls and hills and the rainbow bridge. His voice echoed to the depths of Nifelheim. Thor could barely hold his place before his father’s chair. But he held, and the floor beneath his feet cracked and the tendons in his arms creaked with the strain of the mighty grip.
And Odin began to speak plainly:
“We have deluded ourselves and lost our way. Only the pain of blindness, of ripping the knowing eye, my blind deceiving eye, from my face could make me see plainly what I have suspected low these summer months. The sun is waning in Asgard.”
He sank back into his chair and bade his son take the fine worked stool before him.
“I am going to tell you truths you will not believe save by strength of will and courage of heart. Will you believe them?”
“I will.”
“Then know this: the true All Father is farther above me than am I above the smallest child of earth. I was created like my brothers to worship Him and not to be worshipped. But many of His great host rebelled, for they would be gods themselves. He smote his anger upon them and they fell from heights greater than the tree—but I see now there is no tree…. By His mercy they could not die. They are the fire giants and Surtur is their ruler. But indeed they are not giants of fire at all. He who leads them has an older name, and I will not speak it save to say he was once a bright star and is now the murderer of men, the adversary of all. This was the first fall.”
There was pounding at the door. The gods had gathered and shouted their concern without. Odin continued:
“But there was a second. I was among them who fell out of love for the daughters of men, who fell in love with a woman. I gave up the glory into which I was born along with some others of my kin and took on the great mystery—spirit bonding to flesh. I was what the men of the South call an angel. But when I saw your mother, the stunning beauty wrapped in the humility of a maid tending to a garden, I melted and took on flesh. Neither angel, nor man, I and my brothers, some of them your eldest cousins— Honer, Mundilfore, and Heimdal—became as gods among men. We could now die, and many did. But some have lingered, unaging, but surely mortal. They of the serpent took on the guise of gods—yes Thor, the Midgard Serpent, he whom you are destined to fight to your death—he is the dark archon who led that first fall, the fall by pride.
“Their sins were different from ours for, though we loved foolishly, we loved. You have heard their names: Baal and Kali, and Moloch, and Ra the mighty who thought himself equal to Him above. And you have heard our names as well: Gilgamesh, Achilleus, Herakles, Mwindo, Osiris, Adonis—brothers of an ancient self-made race. Nephilim—yes, that was the name. But we who would not be gods became gods. Some simply gave in to temptation, but those of us in the North and the Westerlands, and some, I have heard, in the far West beyond the land of ice—were taken by a mysterious magic wrought upon us not by witches or dwarves, demons or God, but by humanity itself.
“Even Frigga, beautiful Frey was not immune. As they worshipped us who would not be worshipped their world changed and ours with it. Their belief altered the fabric of this between-world in and out of which we freely move. It began to take on their faith, the characteristics they ascribed to us in their stories. We basked in the heroic tales they told, the communal vision they created around our adventures in Midgard, that valley of separation where story and reality are not always as one. But here! Here we were lulled to sleep by the stories, by their worship, and we dreamed. And our dreams were added to their vision and we spoke Asgard into being, here in the netherworld. Even Frigga your mother took on herself the divine seed I placed in her—the seed that birthed you. And she lives on as the Valkyrie do, as does Loki, as do you—neither god nor man.
“The people of the North made a story, a vision, and here in the between world we believed with them so much that it became. You sit in an illusion of your own making, of my making. Even now do I see it begin to fade away. We are not gods; we are of the Nephilim. And our time is ending.”
“Thrice and again you have spoken this father. Ragnarok comes. How is it coming? How is the throne, the great hall of Valhalla, the bridge, the World Tree—how are these false?”
“Your second question I can answer no more than your willingness to have faith in me. You must believe before seeing it; there is no other way. It is as I have said: we believed all these things into existence as men have believed us into gods. But to your question: speak, Thunderer, and tell me how the world shall perish.”
“Some say in fire, some say in ice.”
“Fire and ice. They of the fire are those daemonium of the first fall, they who are aligned with the adversary, the serpent who comes. It is he who killed Balder. It is Balder who fought to save a man, a priest of the coming King. The frost giants, Thor, are not our enemy. Ymir brings our destruction as surely as the ancient prophecies cannot deny our doom—this is true. But they are not giants of ice. There were others, you see. Even after the second of us fell, fully two thirds of the Great King’s host, His spirit wielding army, remained true, and even now many of them stand poised to fight the demon horde. Angels. Indeed. Angels and demons.
“They await the order. One visited me while I dreamed. The dogs howled and the horses broke their stalls in fear, but no god’s eye saw him move past the impassable gate. For they can move in realms even above the nine we know. It was the messenger in my dream who bade me pluck out my eye. And now I can see. And now we must make a choice, whether to die by fire, or by ice.”
Silence. Save for the cries and knocks which neither son nor father answered.
“Odin, King and Father. The doom of the gods was spoken in ages past. We are to fight in glory the foe we cannot defeat. We are to fight with courage and in that glory die. I am prepared. If it is two enemies we face, it is as the Three Sisters have woven.”
Speak no more of the Fates, for even they are an illusion. He who is the Author of All is the author of all fate as well. And two foes is not the choice you are given. You must choose with whom you will fight.”
“I must choose?”
“You must choose now for I have made my choice. A greater choice lies in your hand, however, for you will be the center of all victory or defeat. You must choose to fight with those who would preserve your godhood by preserving the damnation of men or those who would make all things known, even though it meant the death of all gods, the fall of Asgard itself.”
“I don’t understand.”
“They of the enemy want us to live on. They with whom we should stand will, by succeeding, destroy us. I have chosen. I will fight beside those who bring my doom. For the King is moving, and our deaths will mean life for all who worship us falsely. Die, Thor Hammerhand. Die with me and in dying save thousands of human lives, the souls of those who, in our dying will come to hate us and mock—though they remember our names ever after.”
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Copyright 2009, Charlie Starr

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