D. Wallace Peach is running a month long writing challenge. The prompt is the picture below. Thanks for the challenge, Diana!
by Stefan Keller
The Jötunn places a warning hand on Fenrir’s head. There will be time for action, even revenge later. First though, they will observe. Unlike the mortals, they will not act in haste, without thought. The rainbow bridge is broken; there is no going back, but even after such destruction, the little men seem to think that is not enough.
Ymir gazes through icicles at the blue earth in the sky above his head. His cheeks are aglitter with frozen tears at what men have done. The gods have their part of responsibility, allowing their own petty quarrels to blind them to the wars of men who watched the anger of the gods and copied it, refined and honed it, until they had weapons capable of destroying the world. Add to that an incommensurate greed, selfishness and cruelty, and the fall of Bifrost was a mere side show.
Now they are here, looking for some cave where they can begin again, to swarm and spawn, and suck dry. Ymir’s icy gaze returns to the string of explorers, the vanguard, striding resolutely across the snowy wastes. Like so many waves of invaders before them, they have nothing to lose. They have burnt their boats; the home they left is a wasteland. Ymir had hoped that the inhospitable face of this planet would deter them, but he sees he was wrong. And as soon as they pierce the secret, when the dimensions shift and the summer planet returns, the floodgates will open. Men will flow from the stricken earth like rats from a burning barn.
Is that what you want?
Ymir strokes Fenrir’s head gently.
No. Not this time. They have had their chance.
Fenrir lets out a blast of burning breath and the men stop, sensing the change in temperature. They look around, note the melting snow, dig, scratch, find the grass beneath. The leader sticks a banner in the ground and unfurls his colours. A spring breeze tugs at the fabric. The invaders cheer.
Ymir sighs. Now. Make an end.
Fenrir surges to his feet and shakes the snow and ice from his coat. The men flinch in the avalanche and seize their weapons. The sky darkens; the wolf-shape blots out the light of the sky. There is no target. The men look in every direction but see nothing in the blizzard and the darkness. Their last sight is red, a cavern of red, like the mouth of Hell, and eyes, deep and fiery as the pits of Hell. In the instant before the flames engulf them, they see, reflected in the flames, the last vestige of the last forest, and the last deer lowering his antlers to face the final inferno.