“One moment.” Freyja turned and shouted to someone Hel couldn’t see then faced her once more. “So sorry. Everything is in chaos here. I’m in the middle of taking the last group of werewolves and draugar to their new home. Hold on again, Idunn needs me. For someone with all the patience in the Nine Worlds, she has been incredibly short this morning.”

Hel watched Freyja walk a few steps away from the screen. With only her sandaled feet visible, Hel strained her ears to hear what was going on but couldn’t make out any words, only mumbles. Just as her infamous lack of patience reached a point of no return, Freyja reappeared and immediately scowled.

“You haven’t been taking Idunn’s patience serum or doing your exercises, have you?”

“They weren’t working.”

Freyja’s gaze narrowed. “They would if you actuallydidthem. Now, why are you calling?”

Hel let out an exasperated sigh. “Freyja,yousent me the summons.”

“Oh, that’s right. I need a vacation.”

“You aren’t the only one,” Hel mumbled under her breath as the other goddess chattered on. “Wait, back up and begin again. You lost me.”

Freyja’s mouth snapped shut, and her elegant auburn eyebrow rose. “I didn’t lose you,youweren’t listening.”

“Just tell me why I have a group of werewolves and draugar in my kingdom. You know the rules, only the dead are allowed here.”

“Not exactly.” Freyja hesitated as her gaze moved to stare at something over Hel’s shoulder. “Baldr! It’s been so long since I’ve seen you. You are looking quite well for being...well, dead.”

Baldr stepped up to Hel’s side and gave the other goddess a slight bow. “It is always good to see you too, Freyja. How are Freyr and Idunn?”

“My brother is well and working hard with the elf co-regents to rebuild Alfheimr. My best friend, as usual, is well. At least, I think she is. Lately, she’s been baking up a storm, so I must take some time to find out what’s wrong in her perfect little world.”

“No world is perfect, goddess, as you well know. Maybe she just feels like baking?” Baldr said with a chuckle.

“Maybe, but knowing Idunn as well as I do, I doubt that’s the reason. She hasn’t been acting normal since the war’s end on Midgard. I’ve just been too busy to sit down for longer than five minutes to ask her about it. Now, back to the werewolves and draugar. Alva and Bernard—you remember my assistant and her soulmate, don’t you?” Without letting them answer, she continued. “Well, Alva has some kind of ability to speak to the draugar king and promised to help his people if they wanted to leave whoever was using and controlling them for his or her own nefarious purposes.”

“That’s vague,” Hel muttered.

“I know, but it’s all we’ve been able to figure out. The draugar don’t know who’s pulling their strings, but those under King Ghaldath aren’t the normal draugar of old. They don’t feast on people, nor did they commit any crimes, so our leading premise is they were illegally created. What Alva was told by the king, they were all either tricked into service, promised vengeance for whatever wrong had been committed against them, or they were turned outright.”

Hel frowned. “Wait...did you say the king’s name is Ghaldath?” She glanced at Baldr before turning back to Freyja. “The same Ghaldath that your brother was always running off to war with? The Viking?”

Freyja nodded. “The same. We believe he was cursed by his brother and another god who used to go with them.”

Hel closed her eyes as a nauseous feeling rolled over her. “My father. Loki cursed him, didn’t he?”

“Hel, we don’t know that. It could have been any number of gods...not even Norse, for that matter. There are many other vengeful gods in other pantheons, you know that,” Freyja said.

Exhaling, she nodded. “I know, but I also know my father, and this type of curse is just the thing he would do. My gut tells me it was Loki. When we discover the truth, the only other thing we’ll need to know is why. What’s his end game because if there’s one thing I know about Loki, he always has an end game.”

“Hel, I know this is a lot to ask, but can the werewolves and draugar please stay in Helheimr? The group I sent to you isn’t as...forceful, as the others. They could use your firmness. You are one of the best warriors I know.”

“Flattery, Freyja? Really?”

The goddess smiled and wiggled her eyebrows. “Is it working?”

Hel bit the inside of her cheeks to keep from smiling. Showing any emotion other than her usual ire would only egg Freyja on. “Not even remotely.”

Freyja’s humor disappeared. “The situation is dire, Hel. We have too many draugar together, and their auras, for lack of a better word, are setting the werewolves off. Raisa—one of my Night Witches—suggested splitting them up into smaller groups to get used to each other. She believes, as does Alva, that they could become a formidable fighting team, which we desperately need if we are, indeed, up against your father.”

Hel exhaled, pinching the bridge of her nose to ease the growing pain in her head. Letting out a resigned sigh, she dropped her hand. “Fine. They can stay, but I can’t babysit them. I have other things I have to take care of too.”

“I understand. Just place them somewhere safe. The draugar love caves, and the werewolves...well, they used to be human and lived in homes, so put them wherever you can.” Freyja pinched her lips together, her mouth slowly moving to one side.

Hel rolled her eyes. “I know that expression. What else?”

Tags: Heidi Vanlandingham Fantasy
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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