Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Last King of Shambhala - Chapter 3 (by Daniel Grant Newton)


The NEXT CHAPTER IS HEREWoot woot!  That is the next chapter of The Last King of Shambhala by yours truly, for those playing at home.

To check out the previous chapters, click below friend:

The Beginning
Chapter 1 

Chapter 2  


King Odin’s Revelations

(03)

Vanaheimr, 10,000 years ago.

For many moons, Odin, King of the Gods, woke from a nightmare sweating and panting.  All he could remember from the dreams was the haunting face of a scarecrow and its hollow voice.

Odin believed that dreams were windows of insight, incomprehensible in the light of day. So when the scarecrow returned to him night after night, he was compelled to visit the forgotten world of Vanaheimr to seek meaning.

Vanaheimr is an ancient land destroyed by a warlock ruler called Mimir.  It is said he uncovered a magic key that was too powerful for him to control … and the sea became poison, the air became fire, and the land fell into the sea.

However, Mimir could not let go of his kingdom – even after death.  And so he became trapped in between the worlds of the living and the dead.  It is said that from this unique vantage point, he gained great prophetic vision.

Odin sat silent in his longboat, closed his eyes, and inhaled deeply.

Mist slowly danced around his boat, the moonlight glinted off the steady ripples below, and a rasping hiss slithered across the water's surface.  Odin’s eyes snapped open.

“All right, Mimir, you there?  The King of the Gods, a.k.a. King Odin, vis-a-vis ruler of the physical known universe, is waiting here to see you, and you keep him waiting.  What do you have to say about that?” called Odin over the pitter-patter of the rain.  “So don’t make him wait.  Are you so sure he’s got the patience for that sort of dramatic entrance?  Does he?  Does he?  No, I don’t think so.  Otherwise, how would he get things done when he’s got a million things to do as ultimate king?”

He paused, and heard no reply.  His eyes drifted over the ghostly shapes created by the low-hanging mist.  His voice boomed into the wind: “Come now.  Show yourself to your God.  Try to put your reasonable and justifiable fear of such a powerful god aside so you can have the honour of a discourse with the great Odin.”

His words once again fell on a deathly silence. 

He could hear the drumming of his heart against his chest.  He could hear his hairy, heaving chest trying to suck in the dusty, ancient air.  And he could hear the steady beat of the water lapping up against his long boat.  But nothing more. 

“I’ve got a metaphorical scrolls here for you, addressed to the half-dead warlock Mimir, from, yes, from the King of the Gods, vis-a-vis me, and it says the King of the Gods doesn’t wait for anyone, so...” Odin let his bellowing voice trail off into the thin air.  His words echoed in the distance, as if hitting the edges of this world and bouncing back at him.  “Come now, I know you can hear me, let’s talk one ruler to another.”  Odin added under his breath, “Even though one ruler doesn't have anything to rule anymore, so technically, is no longer a ruler … but we’ll look past that.”

The bow of Odin's longboat creaked, the boat rocked, and shadows moved below the surface of the water.

“And why do you think I will help you?  What’s in it for me?” crooned a soft voice in the wind.

Odin paused pensively.  He kept his head perfectly still, but his eyes wandered around his surroundings.

“What's in it for you?  Apart from getting to talk directly to a god?  That in itself is enough for anyone of right mind.”  Odin paused.  “You have nothing I can’t take, so...” Odin growled.  “I could just take it.  But I’m an Asgard, and we have a refined etiquette developed over countless millennia to adhere to so, I’m asking before I bash your non-physical head on the bow of my ship and just make you tell me.  Simple.”  Odin paused to look through the mist caressing the water.  “You don’t really have a choice.  Subsequently, do yourself a favour and make it easy.  Otherwise…”

Odin pounded a fist into the open palm of his other hand.

Again there was silence.

“You do realise, I am the King of Gods.  Not a king, but the king.  The only king.  Just one crown and it is on my head, so…”  He paused.  “I’m a pretty dangerous fellow, really.  That’s just about as powerful as you can get without being on the other side of life’s curtain...” Odin said as his fists clenched by his side.  “Give me a reason, and I will destroy the rest of your world without a heartbeat of hesitation.  Your kingdom will be gone forever.  Well, what's left of it.  Empty real estate right now, isn’t it?  But I’m sure it means a lot to you... so...”

“Believe me, there is nothing you could do to me.  Your power is limited at the very best,” came the voice, followed by a low mechanical-sounding chuckle.

“Sounds like you need a warning from the gods,” Odin said. “That,” he continued, smiling and looking about him, “is when an incredibly powerful god will come down and use the elements to pre-warn you of what could happen if you don’t bow your head and accept his commandments.”

“I can’t wait for a god to challenge me.  Where’s the god?” responded the voice, laughing more than before.

“What do you mean where’s the god?  I am the god, aren’t I?”

“You’re not a god.  You’re a giant who has found the apples of eternal life and dabbled in a bit of magic, and very primary magic at that.  You may rule over the Jotun and Asgard, but you don't rule over a warlock as powerful as me.”

“If I weren’t a god, then would they call it a ‘warning of the gods’?  No, they wouldn't call it that.  They’d call it something else.  ‘Warning of the mortal’ or something, which, granted, wouldn’t be as concerning.  But know that I am a god, your god, the King of the Gods in fact, and so the statement does apply.  And doubly so, I might add, seeing as I am King of the Gods.”

Mimir's voice seemed to echo from every direction.  “So you call yourself the King of Gods, do you?  Yet you are not truly a god, and not truly immortal.  Without the magic of Idun’s apples, you’re as mortal as those you look down upon.  You of the Asgard forget that the Jotun, all the giants, are your brothers.  You are no king, and you are no god.”

“Yes, I am the King of the Gods, so, embarrassment… yours,” Odin screwed his nose up at the water.  “Essentially, I wear the big gold crown and sit on the throne and make really important decisions.  You, on the other hand, are talking water, which is nothing, essentially.  Talking water, what can we do with that, except drink it, and listen to it cry ‘don’t drink me, don’t drink me … and don’t use me to wash your genitals whatever you do, and don’t…’ and more.  Stupid, yeah?”

“I am as your people call me, ‘the Well of Wisdom’, I know all, and I know you are no god, and not much of a self-appointed king.”

Odin forced a soft chuckle between mashed teeth.  “Yeah, I was told Mimir was the ‘Well of Wisdom’, but instead of wisdom, I draw laughter, so... misinformation.  I was misinformed.  This has been a waste, hasn’t it?  You know nothing of what I want to know, do you?”

“You are mistaken.  You may draw laughter now, but...  in the end, only I will be laughing.”  Mimir’s voice drifted into the distance.

Odin smiled wryly.

“I may not have any eyes,” thundered Mimir, “but I see further than you.  I have seen your universe’s end.  And that is why you are here.  You’ve come here to see your universe’s end for yourself.”

As Mimir spoke, a violent wave crashed down on Odin’s boat, nearly knocking the ‘King of Gods’ into the water.

Odin shook his head so wildly his long soot-coloured hair and beard escaped their braids.  “Not entertained by your magic tricks and tall stories.  Thought the mist on the water was pretty dramatic, but seriously, let's get on with it now,” said Odin, brushing strands of seaweed off his shoulder.  “Choice, okay?  If you do not talk straight, I will destroy you for good.  If you tell me what I want to know, there'll be no need.  Simple, isn’t it?  I know what I would choose.  ‘Yeah? What’s that?’  I would choose to live and not be destroyed and left a black hole for eternity.”  He paused a beat.  “And one more thing, I came to find out about a dream, not the end of the universe, so the egg landed squarely on your face there, water man, or whatever you are.”

“And how do you plan on destroying me?”

The earth shook as if it were sniggering at the king.

“The end is nigh for you and the worlds in your universe, oh mighty Odin.”

“Not frightening me, Mimir.  We’ve started with twisted mind games, good, bit of fun, not the best of starts, but forgiveness granted.  But there’s a time to say, ‘oh, that’s enough my God, sorry and all that, let’s get on with your questions’, yeah?  Time to play fair, or I will show you the might of my army, which let me tell you now, you don’t want.  Okay?  Good.”

“Tell me, what makes you think I can help you anyway?  You are wise enough to know you cannot avoid the destiny of the universe.  Even if you think yourself a god, surely you see that?”

“A scarecrow in my sleep.  He talks to me.  Don’t know what it’s about though, and keeps me up.”

Odin paused, deep in thought, before continuing:  “Did I at any point lead you to think this was about anything else?  Because it’s not.  Just a silly dream.  Nothing more - nothing less.  Not worried about it, just, a little uncomfortable, okay?  Alright.  Good.  Sorted.  Done.  Bravo.  Excellent.  Splendid, even.”  Odin’s forehead creased and his body stiffened.  “The stories in my world tell of something like this happening to you, before, so that’s the only reason I came down to your level to talk...”

Odin could imagine a prickly grin in the frosty wind that bit his cheeks.

“Before when?  Before I destroyed this world,” taunted Mimir.  “You could say the scarecrow came to me at the end of my days.  And he has come to you, in another way.”

“Works for you…  but can’t happen to me.  We’d gone through this, yeah?  I am immortal, so...”  Odin craned his head back as a bitter cold wind whirled about him.  “Last time I checked, immortal means cannot die.  Lives forever.  A la an immortal god, so...”

“It is not only true for you,” sniped Mimir, “but for every living thing in every world in your universe.  Everything will start to die, and the universe will wilt away to nothingness.  You, however, will not live long enough to experience it, but...”  Mimir paused.  “It will be so.”

“I don’t think you are getting this whole cannot-die-cause-I-am-an-immortal-god thing,” Odin yelled.  “With Idun’s apples, the gods, a.k.a. the Asgard, cannot die.”

“Have you not heard of Ragnarok?  It is what those on the other side call the death of a universe.  Every universe in this glorious multiverse has a pre-determined Ragnarok.  And yours is upon you.  The little light you call your universe will flicker out in just 10,000 more years.”

Odin’s eyes narrowed and his forehead crinkled, as if he were looking straight into the sun.  “Question.  Ragnarok may make you feel better about destroying your world, but how can that possibly be the meaning behind my dream since I am, as aforementioned, immortal?”

“Surely through your search for wisdom you have heard of Ragnarok?  You must know nothing is eternal.  Even a moron of a giant eating life-prolonging apples cannot survive Ragnarok when it takes place.”

“Okay, starting to spook me, but still not buying it.”  Odin arched his shoulders back.  “Since Idun discovered the apples, yeah, not one Asgard has even felt sickness, let alone died.  Doesn’t sound like wilting flowers but blossoms forever blooming to me.”

“You do not need to believe me – you will die anyway. You will know soon enough that my words were true.  You cannot change Ragnarok once it has begun.  It is the end of the story.  Of course I find pleasure in your fear and pain, the energy makes me feel alive. I feed on it, but I have no real desire or motive to lie to you.  I only tell you what I have seen.”

“Okay. Line, hook, you’ve caught me.  Show me what you’ve seen.  Show me what’s going to happen so I can…” Odin paused and straightened his back,  “so that someone, let’s just call them the greatest king of all time, can stop it.”

“You think too much of yourself, King Odin.  You cannot stop it,” Mimir’s voice mocked.  “I can show you.  But don’t waste your last breaths trying to stop it.  It is your universe’s destiny.  You are powerless to deny destiny.”

“Show me now,” roared Odin.  “I may look like I am a calm and collected king, but I can sting, sting like … something that really stings, and I do not have patience for you.”

“As you wish.  But everything has a price.  The price I ask is for one of your eyes.  I want to see the fear in your eyes as you beg for your life.  I want to see the King of the Gods on his knees.  I want to be there as you struggle for your final breath.”

“You want one of my what?” Odin asked.

“One of your eyes,” hissed Mimir’s voice over the sound of the small waves thumping against Odin’s boat.

“Just to clarify, you did say one of my eyes, and not one of Asgard’s famous duck pies?”

“That is correct.”

“Because here’s something else that rhymes with eyes, compromise, yeah?  I don’t know if you have a mouth, or tastebuds for that matter, but a duck pie from Asgard is heavenly, so… compromising, yeah?”

“I do not negotiate,” growled Mimir from the depths of the ocean.  Odin’s boat began to rock.

“All right, all right.  Which one do you want?” the king asked.

“Your right eye.”

“Does it have to be my right?  I’ve kind of grown fond of that one.”

“Your left eye.  It does not matter.”

Odin tossed his head from side to side.  “That’s kind of the one I prefer to use at archery.”

“Unless you have another eye to bargain with, it must be one or the other.”

“Not really a fair swap though, is it?  Swapping an eye for a vision?” Odin muttered as his heavy breath froze in front of his scarred lips.  He swallowed.  “We need blood to seal the trade anyway.  Might as well be mine… as always.”

Odin unsheathed a royal silver fishing dagger from his belt, and made no hesitation.  Blood spurt across the deck of the longboat. 

Odin staggered to the edge of his boat, chuckling to himself like a madman, and hurled his eyeball into the sea. 

There was no splash.  It simply disappeared into the mist.

Suddenly, the ocean roared and the sky turned white with clapping lightning.  Then the wind began to whistle like a boiling kettle.

Odin hung over the deck and peered into the water with his remaining eye.  The water swirled faster and faster as his blood cascaded down into it.

Inside the swirling water were quick-moving pictures of a heavy snowstorm blasting through the universe and freezing entire worlds over.

Odin’s stone face fell and lost its colour.  He saw fields of dead bodies from all the worlds he knew, including the Asgard, being covered in snow.

As quickly as the images had appeared, they disappeared, and Odin staggered back.

Odin sat in silence for a very long time.

“There is a way to stop Ragnarok,” said Mimir, interrupting the silence.

Odin raised his head.

“A child will be born with the power to halt the wheels of Ragnarok, once they have been set in motion” Mimir continued. “Or, if the child should prefer, he can bring about Ragnarok.  A child like this is always born into a world facing its extinction.”

Odin shook his head, and answered Mimir’s echoing voice softly.

“It does seem strange for you to tell me this now.  One, you are rather evil and foreboding, and helping me out doesn’t seem like a thing you would do.  Two, if that was the case you could have saved me my eye and just mentioned that at the start.”

“You are right; I enjoy games.  But I also don’t take risks.  Your knowledge of your demise won’t prevent your death or the death of your universe.  You will not be around to find the child.”

“Does Quan yin know of this child?”

“Quan yin is bound by higher laws created by the ‘Seven Keepers of the Multiverse’.  She will not interfere in matters of the physical world.”

Odin was about to question what he meant by that, but instead kept quiet as he saw a light appear in the distance.  It was very faint at first, hidden behind thick mist, but as it got closer and brighter Odin could see it was coming from a lantern in a boat.  And in the boat was Heimdall, the lanky, hollow-cheeked, bronze-toothed god who kept watch over the kingdom of Asgard.

Mimir’s presence had faded into the background by the time Heimdall’s small boat clinked against Odin’s longboat.

Heimdall held the lantern against Odin’s face and inspected the bleeding eye socket.

Odin peered back at Heimdall with an unwavering eye.  “You followed me.  You can’t just follow me.  There’s things a king needs to do that... why did you follow me?”

Heimdall was a close friend of Odin’s, but always reverted to formalities when he was nervous.  “Highness, I will not ask what purpose you have in devilish lands, for I am a friend who trusts you.  And Highness, I do not wish to question your reasons, for I am a loyal servant of the Crown.  But as a friend and a loyal servant I beg you hear my reasons for being here.”

“Very well, Heimdall,” snapped Odin.

“First, let me say, I did not see her leave the walls of the castle,” said Heimdall.  “No one did.”

Heimdall stepped back as he saw the king of gods begin to shake uncontrollably.

Odin’s fist flew into the carved dragon head at the head of his longboat, shattering it into shards and sawdust.

“Out with it,” seethed, breathing sharply between his teeth.

Heimdall swallowed.

“Um… Idun and her apples…  Well… They’re… She’s gone.”

CLICK HERE FOR CHAPTER 4...

The fate of the universe to be apple stew?  But who is to blame?  Pull the covers over your head and keep one eye open - no disrespect, Odin - until Wednesday... Remember, a new chapter Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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