Chapter 3:

Memories in Chaos, Part 3

Ragnarok: The Day After

Surtur was carried from the battle by his companions and kinsmen. He had suffered many wounds in his duel with the floating sword of Freyr. A slice across the stomach, an open long wound across his chest, a pierce through the left left, a slice in the right arm, and a jab at the right knee. Somehow he had survived, and even more miraculously, he kept conscious. But it was not miracle keeping Surtur alive and awake. It was hatred and anger and grief. His son lay dead, and his slayer refused to reunite Surtur with his son. What more dishonor and insult to him could that cursed god Freyr do upon him? There was none, at least in Surtur's eyes. How wrong Surtur was, would he later come to realize. 

Surtur's sword, Rauòur's sword, Rauòur's body and other fallen warriors were carried by surviving fighters. The Fire Giants, or sons of Muspell, had allowed the band of gods to carry their dead with them, so that they may be buried and honored in their lands. Surtur cursed them all, survivor and fallen, for aiding in the slaying of Rauòur. He knew no respect for them, no honor for their bravery in battle. They were but foul thralls before a cruel god by name of Freyr, and Surtur would know justice against them. 

As his companions carried Surtur back to his home, they had bandaged his wounds, and stitched them so blood would stop steaming upon his body. Upon sight of his home, where Surtur, his son Rauòur, and his wife Hvitur lived, Surtur knew great grief. He would have to inform his wife of their child's death, and his failure as father to protect him. To see Hvitur's grief would wreck him, like no other sight could. 

Surtur asked his fellow sons of Muspell to place the swords of him and his son by the door of his home, and leave Rauòur in Surtur's arms. He did not desire anyone to witness the scene about to occur. A mother's grief. 

Surtur knocked upon the door of his home, waiting for his wife to greet him. The anxiety of knowing how her face would change, made Surtur tremble as if the world tree, Yggdrasill, was quaking at its roots. He heard the voice of Hvitur, greet him before she opened the door.

"Ah my beloved husband and cherished child are home! I know you have brought great victories and defended our realm from invaders, spreading the glory of the strength of Muspell and her flame!" It was a usual saying in the realm of fire, to the warriors returning from battle. How untrue Surtur realized it was. How much of a lie had been built into their lives? How foolish they had all been for believing in such tales.

The door opened, and Hvitur stood, greeting wounded Surtur and dead Rauòur with a smile as beautiful as a thousand suns. The last she would ever shine.

Her eyes met Surtur's and lowered to the body in his arms. Silence filled the air and drowned out everything. Eternity and infinity grew quiet, and time stopped. For an instant a realm cut off from all others was born, and in an instant that realm died.

Hvitur's smile changed to gape, her vocal cords clearly contracting as if making a great effort to scream. There was none.

She fell to her knees, and her body convulsed. Her hands were on the ground, and her sight was upon her hands, looking away from reality before her.

"My dear husband...whatever foul illusion and joke you play upon me is not amusing. Please end it this instant and bring out my child! How cruel you are to play with the love of a mother!" Surtur could not answer her. He could not find the words to respond, for they choked his throat and made sound impossible. 

Hvitur stood up and gazed upon the body of her son. She moved her hand to touch his face, as if to make sure all she was seeing was truly there. Her hands shook, moving slower than a stone in breeze, wishing to delay the inevitable. But by definition, the inevitable must always come. She touched Rauòur's cold face, and knew no illusion. Her son lay dead in the arms of her husband. 

The dam holding the wailing waters of Hvitur broke. A great cry echoed throughout Muspell. No, not just through Muspell. A cry that reached each of the nine realms and could be heard even at the roots of the world tree was bellowed from the mouth of Hvitur, and nothing could calm its cause. A mother had lost her child, no greater tragedy existed.

Hvitur fell to the ground, not even on her hands and knees. The sound of weeping filled the air, and intermixed with the crackling of fire. Water filled this mother's eyes, and Hvitur wept steaming tears. Her son was dead, and she could no longer see his smile.

Surtur's knees gave out, and he fell with his son in his arms. The sadness had overwhelmed him, and he was too weak to stand. It was not from wound of body, but wound of mind that had done it. Hvitur grabbed Rauòur's corpse, and buried her face into his pierced chest. Her whimpers and whines broke him. They broke Surtur, yet he could not cry. He could not feel. His body was numb, and no tears steamed from his face. He sat upon his knees, watching the mother of his child weep and scream for her son to be given back to her. He knew that prayer would never be answered.

Surtur did not know how to deal with melancholy or sadness. He knew no wise words of comfort to say to his wife. No context that could give his death any meaning or importance that would calm her. He had simply died and left them. That was all. His slayer did not lay dead or even wounded. The father of Rauòur had been useless in preventing, and avenging his son's demise. Surtur had no right to speak. He was cause and enabler of this tragedy, and deserved no right to defend himself or his behavior or ease his and Hvitur's grief. The son of Muspell would simply watch every tear, and listen to every sob unleashed by Muspell's daughter. He would take it all in, and remember. Remember, and hold it in. Hold it in, so he may unleash it tenfold on Freyr. 

Surtur forced himself to his feet with Rauòur's body in hand, and with heavy foot, walked to his son's bed. He lay the body, blood soaked and pierced by sword, upon it. The father of Rauòur realized something had been forgotten when he looked upon Rauòur's face. His eyes were open, as if still awake. Surtur lay his fingers upon his son's face, and laid Rauòur to rest. He did not need to see the sight of his mother's sorrow. 

That night, family and friend were informed of the loss of Rauòur. Sword-brother and shield-sister to both Rauòur and Surtur visited the body, and weeped upon the sight of the now cracked seed of Muspell. What once was filled with fire, now lay hollow and cold, and what a tragedy it was for mother and father to lose him. They were words repeated by all who visited. Hvitur held the body of Rauòur and refused to part with him, her weeps as constant as the hissing of fire that burned all around the realm. Hvitur's father sat from afar in Surtur's home, occasionally letting out tears at both the death of his only grandchild, and at the sight of his daughter lost in despair. Surtur's mother and father, along with Hvitur's mother, were thankfully not able to see such sights, for they too rested with Rauòur and kept him company.

A score of maidens of Muspell wove new garments for Surtur's child, and in a day they were done. The seed of Muspell was cleaned of blood, and his stained clothes burnt in fires, ash spread to the wind. The clothes were black as night, fitting for a journey to Niflheim, realm of the dead and source of ice and cold and mist in the great void of Ginnungagap. For a Fire Giant, it was at the opposite end of the world tree, and farthest realm from there. Surtur prayed that Rauòur's fire would keep him warm even in that freezing torment, and that he would know no frosty maw that could touch him. Fate was often cruel, and Surtur did not believe that kindness would be given, even for the grief of father and mother for their son. 

Friends and family came to the ceremony, and left tributes and gifts for the beloved seed of Surtur. Food, mead and wine, gold both red and yellow, swords and spears sharper than loss and sorrow, were given before the body of Rauòur. Chants, hymns and ballads alike were sung by maiden and man, in mourning for the deceased boy. They were drowned out by the song of Hvitur's tears, and no one knew peace. Death followed, and knocked upon that door of Surtur's home, and only later would Surtur even realize what stood before his eyes. It was his greatest regret. 

Hvitur mourned for nine days and nine nights. Surtur could not stay with her in her days of sorrow and despair, not because of custom or tradition. Rather, Surtur's heart could not bare the sight. He could withstand to see Hvitur shed tears or hear her pleas for Rauòur's body to be filled with life once more. He drowned himself in drink, a great binge of nine days and night, refusing to stay clear of mind or understand the consoles of family and friend alike. 

Upon the tenth day, Surtur awoke, head aching from numbed misery and alcohol. He carried himself away from the halls of the Fire Giants, where he drank for nine days and nine nights, back to the home of a weeping mother. How he wish he hadn't. Or perhaps, how he wished he had done so sooner. 

For what greeted Surtur upon his entrance to his home, was Hvitur, hanged by rope and noose.