Okay, so it seems like there is a market for this. And apparently I was not the only person longing for a Norse-mythology mixed Blue Exorcist story. Well, turns out I have to be the one to write it, but if that's the case, then so be it.
As Blue Exorcist is an "old" series at this point, I do not expect a lot of attention on this story. I am fine with that, and will appreciate whomever takes the time to read and pass on their thoughts.
Also, I think I'd better smack this down like a warhammer on a spike in a very verbal coffin: I do not own, produce, possess, act in, participate in, affiliate with or otherwise have any legal, familial or lawful ties or connections with Blue Exorcist. I am a fan that enjoyed the manga and anime both.
Also, if you are the type to verbally kill me with fire for lore-errors, let me put it like this right away: A lot of my material and sources come from Madsens' Valhalla, thus Balder in this story never married Nana. Höder was never killed by his step-brother and Loki still lives with the gods. So, if I also need to say this, I will say it as follow: "I could not give less shits about Marvel's Thor if I was constipated."
The only good thing Stan Lee ever did with Norse Mythology was inventing Voldsdag and his two companions.
The Halls of Helheim had always been said to be cold, grey and lifeless places.
No life would ever spring forth here, nor could it, for all who came to Hel were dead, souls of those who had died the strawdeath. For to die in bed, to die without proving one's worth to the Valkyries, that was truly the greatest shame and regret any man could face. Few women ever escaped the travel to Hel, but the shield maidens so often song about in the sagas of old, made up that distinction.
Even so, life was not known to be found in Helheim. For its queen was Hela, daughter of Loki and Atla, sister to Fenris the wolf and Jormungand, the World Serpent. All who lived and died knew Hela to be as cruel and cold as her reign, which was so aptly sharing her name.
As the centuries passed on, and a new religion claimed the hearts and minds of those who had once revered the gods, so were legends and stories forgotten or simply remembered as fairytales, stories with little merit.
Yet though the world forgot, Helheim did not cease to be. Nor did its queen. For queen Hela was death, and death endured no matter when or where one was. And as the queen endured, so did her reign. And as the reign grew prosperous in souls, so did Hela grow prosperous, though in a manner different from the myths describing her evil and corruption.
At a time, when Balder lived in Helheim, it was known to a select few that those two opposites grew close. Balder was life, goodness and nobility, while Hela was death, corruption and malice. And yet, grow closer they did, and so it happened that Hela became with child.
When born the children, for Hela bore two, were similar in their appearances, but different as day and night. While neither was cursed with the half-rotten features of their mother, the siblings both bore her ashen white hair, and pale, grey eyes.
Elise was the older of the two, though one wouldn't realize this by watching the child. Though older in name, she was seldom the mature voice, and would often be found in the midst of mischief and misdeed, most often played upon the souls languishing in the halls. When asked 'why', she would complain that Helheim, in all its cold glory, was dull. From an early age she would prefer animals to the souls of Hel, and would rather spend the day with Nidhogg Due to the nature of their home, her childhood went without friends beyond what she could make of the animals.
Egil was the younger by moments, but a sister of mischief forced upon him the role of the mature. He didn't mind her playing around with beasts of terror as much as he was annoyed by her theatrics. Due to the nature of their home, his childhood went without friends beyond what he found in the dead or the books.
This all happened so very long ago, and very few have ever offered any serious support to a single, misjudged theory of the sagas of old.
Egil's voice rang through the corridors ad chambers of their home, cast between the pillars of rock, each as tall as the tallest tree, and thicker than even the towers of Valhalla.
His call went unanswered once again, though it didn't deter him from keeping it up. His sister was well-known for being elusive when she wanted solitude, and few could ever claim to track her down when she wanted peace.
Egil, and he could say this without boasting, was one of those few. He had known his sister for as long as they had been alive, and knew her every quirk and turn. Time passed differently in Helheim than it would do in Midgard, where the humans lived. He had been there once, when he was still very young, and the skies had been blackened by clouds of fire and smoke.
It had been mother who had taken them both up, so many mortal years ago that no doubt every human back then was now dead. Explosions of strange and powerful kinds racked the earth, and it had been as if the humans were challenging Thor himself. Mother had said the humans might change appearances, religions and technology, but they never lost their thirst for slaughter.
It was strange that she had taken them there, as those who died on the battlefield never went to Hel. Still, it had been an experience, maybe for their education, and one he treasured though was uncertain why.
He was still quite young, though his age could not be counted accurately. Such was the way of Hela's children, for death held no sway over them in Helheim. Yet his appearance would make humans think of him as a late adolescent, something Father had explained was due to his face. And yes, he looked different from his father, in more than just the color of his hair. Still, age was a foreign concept to him, and one that sometimes caused confusion.
Elise called him stupid and dumb when he pondered these things, though he believed she was wrong. Pondering the mysteries of life, even when you could never die, was a fulfilling use of his time. Not like there's a whole lot of other things I could be doing…
The sound of wings in the air caused him to glance about and up. The cavernous ceilings of Helheim often stretched so high than none could see them. They intertwined with the roots of the World Tree, Yggdrasil, which spanned the worlds.
"…why am I not even surprised?" he muttered to himself, upon seeing Nidhogg in the air. The beast was great and terrible, and Sulphur dripped from its maws when they did not breathe fire. Its scales were black and brown, gleaming in the unnatural light illuminating the halls of Hel. However it was not Nidhogg who caused him annoyance, but rather its passenger; "Elise! Mom wants to see us!"
Surt's asshairs, she's high up…
"What?!" his sister, the introverted girl who preferred books and animals to humans – though they were dead, some could still tell good stories – yelled from her seat on Nidhogg's spine. Egil had never wanted to sit where she did, specifically because the great wyrm's back was covered in spikes each the length of his arm, and though nothing could truly harm them as Hela's children, he did not like the surge his abdomen gave whenever he had attempted to ride the great beast.
"Mom! Wants! To! See! Us!"
"I can't hear you! What did you say?!" it was obvious that she could, but she had never wanted to be at the beck and call of anyone, not even mother. And she could get away with it, most of the time. Despite the tales humans and Aesir alike spun about her, Hela was a forgiving, kind woman. The arrival of their father in Helheim had been what turned her from a bitter, cold woman, into the often girly, fun-loving yet stern mother who had birthed them.
"Just come down from there, will you?" he grumbled, not even bothering with raising his voice. She could pretend loss of hearing for all she wanted, but he was bored with being the errand boy whenever mother needed them both. Just because he was never flying around on a great wyrm, it shouldn't have meant his day should be spent running around to find his sister; "Seriously, I'm getting tired of you always taking off."
Nidhogg clung to one of the massive pillars, digging his claws in like it was the hide of a prey, or the roots of the Tree. His passenger and master said something to the great beast, lost in the distance to Egil's ears, and the wyrm released its grip on the rock, allowing gravity to plummet them both towards the floor.
Had they been humans, Egil would have been terrified for his sister's life.
But they were not humans. And they were in Helheim, the realm of their mother. As long as she ruled, no harm would nor could come to them. He still wasn't sure how the magic behind it truly worked, but had resigned himself to learning that when the time was right. As such, he simply watched in silence as the great beast spread its wings and arrested their fall meter above the hard granite. When the wyrm touched down and dug its claws into the floor, Elise slid off like a human would off a horse. She landed with lightly bended knees and straightened up, stretching as had she only woken from a nap.
"Hey, Egil." She greeted him, though her attention was kept on Nidhogg. The great wyrm rolled its eyes in satisfaction as the daughter of Hel ran her hands underneath his jaw and throat. Compared to him, the girl was tiny, like a cat to a human.
It was funny how power so rarely had anything to do with size. This was also something Egil often pondered, but remained quiet about as his sister caressed and stroke the gnawer of the World Tree. A deep, guttural rumble echoed through the chamber as the wyrm shook its head and neck, allowing loose skin to flail about like a wet sail.
"So, what were you saying?" she said, offering the wyrm one last stroke before sending it off with a clap on the side. The buffeting winds from its wings made Egil's clothes fly behind him, making him feel as if he stood in a storm.
"Mom wants to see us." He repeated, crossing both arms before his chest. Elise mirrored his stance, no doubt attempting to annoy him. Well, it worked; "It's important."
"Really? Why?" she dropped her arms and looked at him with honest curiosity in her eyes. White hair and grey eyes sometimes gave one the illusion that she was older and therefore more mature than him, but although the first was true, the second remained false.
"Something's happened in Midgard." He explained, and it was truly all he knew. Mother had simply told him to go fetch his sister due to events in the world of humans, and he assumed it was time for a new excursion to the surface. I wonder if the humans realize we never left…they chose new gods, but we remained yet.
Had they been forgotten due to the Aesir's slight, because the gods had neglected their duty? And yet, when the humans died, it did not matter whom they believed in. Those souls that did not enter Valhalla or the paradise set by the Christians, would end up here, in Hel.
He supposed most were relieved when they came here, discovering not eternal fire and torture, but instead an eternity of contemplation. Unless they went mad first, of course. There were a lot of souls going mad when they appeared in Hel.
Not that he understood why. Hel was far less torturous than it had once been, and now lush fields covered many halls once dark and cold. Flowers sprouted in every crook near Hel's throne, and what souls accepted this eternity often seemed to enjoy it. Helheim knew no suffering, no torture and no hunger.
And yet, souls would rather languish than accept this. Humans, he had realized long ago, were unknowable. And for that, they interested him even more.
When entering Hel's throne room, Nidhogg was already in his wont place, resting behind the throne with the tip of his tail slung around its base. Around the throne itself, residing on trunks and boulders in the midst of a grassy field, Hel's court was attending what business they preferred. Mother rarely if ever used the court for anything but keeping an eye on the ongoings of her realm, and preferred letting Father deal with the more delicate cases.
Hela Atlasdottir herself, queen of Helheim, presided upon her throne. Once, it was said to have been made of the bones of the dead, yet now it was carved wood. Intricate symbols still decorated the dark seat, radiating magic into the air. It made the room simultaneously cold and hot, causing Egil's breath to appear before him.
Mother had once been said to be half-corpse, half-woman. Grandfather had taken her to Hel, wanting to shelter her from prejudice and malice she would have no doubt faced in Asgard. Her mother was a giantess, and as such she was detested by the Aesir. Egil and Elise had both watched from behind cover when Odin, King of the gods, had paid them a visit centuries ago. He had once more attempted to take Father back to Asgard, yet Father had chosen to remain.
The Aesir were not their friends, that much Odin had left clear that day.
Now, Hela, the queen and their mother, was headed towards them both, letting her robes drag on the grass behind her. Her dress was simple and meager for a queen, but fitting for the goddess of the dead. It was plain, green and grey. Her dress ended at the collarbone, revealing skin that showed far more life than rot. Once, her face had been split between decay and life, yet now all that was left were wrinkles and warts on the left of her face, while the right was as any living woman. Eyes rumored to harbor only cold and wrath now radiated warmth and affection as she watched her children approach. Her lips creased in a warm, slight smile, and she held out her arms for them to embrace her.
They did so, pretending not to notice the way some in court would no doubt snicker at the display.
When softer, lighter steps treaded the grass, both looked up to see their father approach. He, contrary to them, aged like the gods, and as such depended on the golden apples Ydun provided. He would not need another for many years to come, but his face still aged as the centuries passed by. His hair was still as golden as Mother said it had been when he had first arrived, and his chin as smooth as then too. Only his eyes stood out as older, holding a dulled blue instead of the radiant young he had once possessed.
And because they were a family and cared little for the gossip at court, the children hugged him as well.
"Have you told them yet?" Balder, son of Odin and prince of Asgard, asked of their mother. His voice never strayed from friendly, and nothing ever seemed to anger the man. From what Egil had discovered in his books, it was not odd that the Christians had used him as a model for their founder.
"I thought it best we discussed this when all were here." Hela, daughter of Loki, queen of Helheim, replied, eying her husband with a thin smile. When she stood back and started walking, they all knew to follow. Even now, there were pathways and corridors in their home that only she knew of; "Let us retire to the studies, shall we?"
The studies, also known as the family library, was where both children had received the majority of their education. Throughout the centuries, scholars and knowledgeable men and women had entered Helheim upon death, and those worthy had been tasked with tutoring the twins in the events and history of Midgard. As magic permeated Helheim, books of vast knowledge had been available regardless of the subject, and their education had been sound, likely far superior to what humans ever received.
Mother took a chair at the end of one of the long tables, beckoning for them to sit as well. When both children had seated, and Father took the seat next to her, Mother pulled a book of newer origins from one of the shelves and placed it before them all. It was runic script, yes, but the events were detailed to have transpired in Midgard, fifteen human years ago.
"I am very well aware that you both know Helheim is not your prison." She started out, a wry tone to her words. None spoke, and she seemed to take that as goodwill to continue; "While Asgard, Vanaheim and Alfheim surely hold magic and fairies, lately Midgard has become the more interesting of the realms. Now, fifteen years ago, an event transpired in Midgard. The humans who know about it call it the 'Blue Night'."
"…Blue?" Egil looked between his parents, wondering what could have transpired to warrant a color for its name.
"An old creature, old enough to have been around when Ymir was brought down, murdered a number of humans that night. Each was a member of what they call 'Exorcists', an order of human warriors dedicated to fight what their church classifies as demons." When Hela paused, it was with clear expectation in her eyes. Expectation that her children ought know what ancient evil she meant.
"Someone or something deemed evil by their church…" Egil mused, tapping a finger on the heavy wood. Yggdrasil's roots made for good furniture, a small, petty way of paying the gods back; "…is it the god they call 'Satan'?"
"Ruler of what they refer to as "Gehenna", yes." Their mother nodded; "Now, for the most part, we have remained out of each other's affairs. Satan does not possess the ability to enter any of the nine worlds, and we have no desire to enter his, making for what you could call an easy truce."
"I'm guessing the 'for the most part' as ended?" Elise sighed, twirling white hair around her fingers. Instead of Mother replying, now Father spoke up.
"You are right, Elise. Something happened recently that made it clear Satan does not intend to keep to himself." Their father sighed, sounding as if he was disappointed with Satan. As the god of goodness, no doubt that was exactly the case; "As you might be aware, my father oftentimes made trips to Midgard with…business, in mind. Satan somehow did the same, and a human woman gave birth to twins, each his son."
"So…why is that a sign of him not keeping to himself?" Elise inquired, sounding halfway between bored and interested. Egil glanced at his sister, wishing she would be more serious when the situation so clearly demanded it; "I mean, most of the Aesir used to go to the other worlds to get laid."
"Because of what happened last night." Mother replied. Her expression, minutes ago warm, was now set in the very bedrock they stood on; "Somehow, Satan managed to use one of his sons to open a gate between his realm and Midgard. The gate was destroyed soon after, but the fact is that we still don't know what transpired, or how it ended. We only know that Satan is looking for means to open the barrier between Gehenna and Midgard, which would most likely lead to the latter's extinction if it came to be."
"Damn…that's actually pretty bad."
"That's an understatement." Egil sighed, looking at their parents for confirmation. When they both seemed to agree, he sighed again; "if Midgard is wiped out, so will we. Much as you don't seem to realize it, Elise, Hel, Asgard and every other world is tied to Midgard by the World Tree. If Satan destroys Midgard, the giants of Niflheim will no doubt take the chance."
"…Damn…So, Ragnarok, basically?"
"Yes, that is what we fear." Hela nodded, her expression unchanged from the stone; "The children of Satan, however, seem defiant of him, and will soon start training to become Exorcists, though as I understand it, the younger already started…" Mother paused and turned a page in the book; "The leader of the place they will be trained has agreed to accepting the two of you as initiates."
The room fell silent.
"We're…what?" Elise growled after minutes of uneasy quiet. Her hair slowly started rising with her disbelief; "You're just, just now, telling us we're going to Midgard because, what, the Christians finally cocked it up?"
"Your purpose there is officially to learn what you can and show that while the Church might view us on par with Satan, we are protectors of order, not the chaos he would bring." Father said, lacing his hands on the table. His voice, while tired, gave off a sense of wisdom that silenced Elise; "There is another reason, however. With the renewed attacks from 'demons' in most of Midgard, the Church has also stepped up their attempts to engage us. Asgard and the other realms are safely away, but Helheim is physically tied with Midgard. Your safety is most assured elsewhere than here, regardless of how insignificant the threat may seem."
"Odin's ballsack…" his sister swore. While it was under her breath, the words still caught their father, who coughed when processing the image they no-doubt conjured; "Can we at least bring Nidhogg?"
"No." both parents replied in unison. Egil couldn't really see how Elise would plan on brining the wyrm anyway. No way the humans would miss something like that flying around. Father relented first; "But…later, maybe, seeing as the school is-"
"School?" now Egil was the one staring; "You're sending us…to a human school?"
"No, no, no…" Mother groaned; "You'll be going to the "True Cross" Academy, the center of exorcist-training and where both Satan's sons will also be. Behave, and keep an eye on them. Don't do anything to provoke religious authorities, but your identities are your own to keep secret. You are both old enough to handle that, I hope."
"So…we're supposed to be trained by Christians?" Elise piped up, her voice now more defeated than defiant; "Fenris, that sucks."
"If that's your biggest issue with this…?" Mother asked, looking mainly at Elise. When Egil's sister simply pouted and looked away, he then became center of the attention; "Egil, what do you say?"
"Do you want us to befriend the sons of Satan?" he quietly asked, unsure of his own feelings on the matter.
"That will remain your respective decisions. But I do want you to keep an eye on them, nonetheless." She said, then paused, as if there was something important she had forgotten; "On that note…I would not think it smart to mention to others around you what their identities are."
"…Because they would be labeled enemies?"
"Yes. At least, that is my assumption, unless the church has changed any in the past six centuries." She sighed and closed the book; "If, and this is only in the worst case scenario, they turn out to plan on opening the gates to Satan's realm, I want you to stop them."
The finality in her voice betrayed that conversations were not on her mind. She meant the sons of Satan would have to die, if they should prove themselves enemies. I suppose first impressions will be kind of important, then…
"What can we bring?" he then asked, looking at his father, then back to mother; "aside from not bringing a wyrm with us."
"From what I could understand from my father, most exorcists will be required to become a warrior of some form… as such, I would bring a weapon." Hela looked from Egil to Elise, then back to Egil; "As I understand it, magical weapons and items are allowed, so Bani will be allowed, due to its size."
"So he gets to bring his hammer. What about me?"
"…Garmr will be going with you, Elise." Their mother answered, and it took the girl a moment to process what the queen had said. Then, her eyes, grey though they might be, shone with surprise; "Realize that I am only loaning him to you because he is the sole of my servants who can be among humans without causing panic. You will be allowed to summon him at whatever time he might be needed, so take heart in that, daughter."
Luckily it wasn't the Jormungand, then. There was no way in Hel or Asgard that the World Serpent could be brought amongst humans. And Sleipnir was also out, simply because the horse was loyal to Odin before all else.
Which would have left Fenris, if not for the fact that the dire-wolf was just too big to have around humans. And suddenly his own hammer would have seemed insignificant compared to his uncle. Good thing then, because he wasn't very fond of the chained beast. Fearsome though he might look, Garmr was at least loyal beyond measure, and could pass for a normal hound.
"So…who's the leader, since he's agreed to accept us?" he asked, looking mostly at his mother.
While Loki technically still resided in Asgard, it was no secret that he was anything but popular.
"A man my father once met in Midgard, Mephisto Pheles, I believe his name is." Mother said, resting her chin over her hands; "From what I could understand, Pheles is not human either, but what exactly he is, I couldn't determine. Take care, when around him." Considering Father remaining here means grandfather is on Asgard's permanent shit-list, I suppose he has the right to a few secrets…
"Now then…" when Hela stood, so did Balder, and subsequently, their children. She looked at them both, and clapped her hands together; "I believe we have some packing to do."
Egil shared a look with his sister, though he knew they thought differently on the situation. She, he guessed, was not keen on the idea and would rather remain in Helheim where she could act like she wanted, ride her wyrm and avoid social contact.
He, on the other hand, was starting to see this as a golden opportunity.
As some might have realized, I am basing the Norse mythology heavily off of Madsen's Valhalla, a comic series staying true to the myths and sagas to such a degree that they make Marvel's 'Thor' look like 'the Hulk'.
Since watching the anime many months ago now, I always wanted to see if there was a story integrating Norse mythology into the universe of Blue Exorcist. By all rights there should have been just that, as no religion regardless of age or popularity, boasted the sheer awesomeness of the Asgardian gods, nor maintained as long a grip on their respective cultures as Asatru did, and still does to this day.
I have always been pretty passionate about the culture of my people, but it was only after my tour in New Zealand, as far from Denmark as this planet will take you, that I truly found myself diving into the myths and sagas that founded Scandinavia. Contrary to popular beliefs, the Asatru Pagans of Scandinavia were some of the most tolerant people to be found. There was no such thing as religious persecution, damnation for your sins or torture of prisoners. There were no crusades and no one was killed because they followed a different god.
We even had an Arabian diplomat visiting in the early millennia, who later wrote in great details about how, despite his initial impression that the Scandinavians were savage compared to their counterparts at the Mediterranean, the people of the north were friendlier, more given to sharing, bathed more often and – and I shit you not – extremely good looking. Yes, a man traveling the known world decided we looked so damn great that it had to be documented for future reference.
The Scandinavians had medicine and written language long before Christianity arrived, though we did not have stockades, inquisitions or witch burnings.
There were many reasons I found myself immersed into this seemingly forgotten culture, each as important as the other. In the end though, I think it remains the fact that while God needed to be feared for the first fifteen hundred years of Christianity's run, the Aesir never demanded your fear, nor your love in return for "salvation".
In the end though, this is just my personal opinion. Doesn't mean it's true, doesn't mean it's false.
Even our version of Hell – surprising how alike the words are, wouldn't you say? – was very similar to Paradise. It was calm, serene and peaceful. Only, there was no need to praise someone twenty-four hours a day.
As a final note, I would very much like to hear reactions, thoughts and even criticism - constructive, if you please - on this story. I'm probably going to be following both the manga and the anime, taking the best from both worlds when possible.