Way past midnight
Deep in the forest overlooking Arendelle, a werewolf lunged at a quiet librarian who was in possession of an ancient set of weapons.
“Just as the Mundilfaris were among the founding families of Arendelle, and like how the Von Altheims trace their ancestry to the Germanic tribes that brought about the fall of Rome…”
Selene Severin was utterly calm as a raging, howling Hilde sprinted at her, her growing trunks of arms outstretched. Her newly formed sword, a coalesced, combustible medley of energy that lit up the night forest and metal, crackled in her hand. “… I had to turn to an ancient heritage to be ready to counter your power, Hilde.”
Hilde smashed into Selene, hurling her into a tree and causing it to topple, felling several other neighbouring trees as Hilde pounced on the royal librarian. “How – dare – you!” roared Hilde through sharp teeth and her elongating mouth. Her voice was guttural. “You betrayed the royal house’s trust! You deceived my Lady! And now you hold her hostage?”
“Yes, for this is the end of the Mundilfari clan. Without you, Hilde, Vi and Tess Gaunt will be alone. Just like how you left me when you let Uncle Severin die unnecessarily,” declared Selene, who to Hilde’s shock was unharmed despite being flung here and there like a rag doll by the werewolf’s staggering strength. Her body hissed and crackled with constantly reforming quicksilver, the constantly flowing metal encasing itself around her and allowing her to casually absorb several more of Hilde’s wild swipes, the latter’s sharp claws barely managing to dint her armour.
“This is Kveldulf formation art. Said to be forged by the dwarven smiths for the Aesir in their battles against Loki’s children, Fenris the Wolf and Jormungand the Serpent.” She raised her hand, drops of liquified metal dancing and weaving between her fingers. “Sealed away by the early saints and Christian monks that spread the faith of the Anointed One through these northern lands, this unique set of monster-killing armaments was deemed to be no longer relevant for the new age of peace.”
She smirked at a growling Hilde. “How wrong they were. As long as there are monsters like you…”
The quicksilver slid up Selene’s shoulders and solidified around her head, leaving only her calm yet angry eyes exposed and staring angrily at Hilde’s lycanthropic countenance. “I have you exactly where I want,” she cried, raising her clenched hands. “Kveldulf Crystallization: Mace of the Thunder God!” she screamed, as the Kveldulf metal shaped itself into two hard, spiked orbs encasing Selene’s fists. She swung them both at Hilde, and Hilde’s yellow wolf eyes widened – she leaped back before the mace heads bashed together, their impact shooting out a bright beam of light that seared and burned Hilde’s fur and skin. Michael and Danny, who had arrived to help Hilde and Vi, cried out Hilde’s name. Hilde snarled in concern, sensing that Selene’s metal was…
Werewolf killing, anti-lycanthrope silver.
Her purple one-piece dress shredded, her abdomen cut deep and bleeding profusely, Vi was already on the verge of fainting, but she managed to whisper Hilde’s name. “Selene… her… armour… is… silver… and light. Lethal. To… werewolves.” She wheezed, coughing blood again, before she uttered something she rarely did, hated to do, and never expected Hilde to try.
Hilde snarled and charged Selene again, her jaws snapping at the human woman’s otherwise lithe and frail-looking body. Yet Selene seemed perfectly comfortable in her Kveldulf armour, as if its quicksilver form could adapt to any body shape or mass. Selene raised her hands in a cross-arm block, her gauntlets protecting her from Hilde’s wild slashes that would otherwise have torn her apart. These claws, which Elsa herself was wary of, seemed to have little effect on the shining magical armour of the Kveldulf. Selene shot beneath Hilde’s blind spot and launched a wild uppercut, her armoured fist smashing into Hilde’s jowl and sending her rattled skull hurtling upward. The mace around her right fist reformed into a sharp lance, and Selene screamed, running at Hilde, who barely managed to sidestep Selene’s lunge. With a thought, that lance once more transmuted into a curved blade of a Viking axe, which Selene swung wildly at Hilde’s flank. Hilde could barely stagger away in time as the axe’s sharp edge glided along Hilde’s torso, drawing werewolf blood and searing the fresh wound with holy silver. Even in her weakened state, Vi screamed in horror, crimson eyes wide. “No!”
“I can kill you in as many ways as I want,” breathed Selene. “I’m only limited by my imagination.”
Hilde crashed to the ground, rolling along the wet midnight grass. She was howling in pain as the silver burned at her flesh, melting away at flesh and bone. It was total agony, far more painful than any cut that could have been made by a conventional bullet or sword. Her fur began to recede and her physical size began to shrink as she lost control over her werewolf state – such was the power of even one blow from anti-monster Kveldulf silver. Selene raised her hand at Vi, and the Kveldulf enchantment lifted, the sheets of light shattering into nothingness. Vi fell to the ground, faint from loss of blood, as Michael and Danny rushed over to her.
“My task is nearly complete,” said Selene grimly, “so I’ll make good on my promise. No one will lose their life tonight… except you.”
“Selene…” Hilde’s yellow eyelashes fluttered weakly as Selene loomed over her, raising her sword. “General Mattias and his men… are on their way. You can’t go on like this.”
“I’m all alone in this world. You think I want any escape from this?” hissed Selene. Yet unbeknownst to all, Michael already had Sergeant Severin’s will in his coat pocket. He ran from Vi’s side, who was having her wounds treated to by Danny, who frantically was closing her injuries with her gentle ice magic. The trade minister burst in front of Hilde, shielding her weakened, bleeding form with his own. He lifted Severin’s will with his left hand, waving it wildly even as his right held his Colt, which was pointed at Selene’s head.
Selene had lifted her reforming sword and was about to swing down at Hilde’s chest when Michael cocked his pistol and yelled, “Stop!”
Selene looked at the elder man, her emerald eyes wild, and screamed: “I told you, old man – stay out of this! You’re here to witness the death of Hilde and take Vi back to the castle for convalescence. Nothing more.”
“Wrong,” Michael barked. “You think you can just kill Hilde and walk away? You murder either Hilde, Vi or both of them, and you’ll be dealing with us all! The whole kingdom! Anna herself. Think about that.”
“You and what army?” said Selene, the disdain in her voice evident behind her Kveldulf helm. “I know all of your secrets. You won’t dare to do anything.”
Michael laughed, although it wasn’t so much one of scorn as one of sadness. “You think I have anything I want to escape or hide from? Selene, I know my secret things in my past. I could share them with you right now, if you wanted. Guess what: I got over them. Accepted the lessons and moved on. I wrote last year of my trip to Ahtohallan and the sister’s parent’s shipwreck. I received forgiveness and release from it. I refuse to live in the past. I’ve let it go.”
Michael continued as Selene stared at him. “You think you have all the angles covered? Well, life isn’t a neat little spy story where you pull the all the strings and everyone falls into place like you want. You had plans for Hilde, for Vi. Didn’t you think others might have their own plans for you? As did your very own uncle, Severin. Look. I have something for you to read.”
He reached out with his left hand, extending the paper to Selene and urging her to take it. “Before you strike Hilde, read this.”
“What is this, a trick?” demanded Selene, whose armour was still shimmering all around her, her entire body encased in a lean suit of quicksilver.
“No tricks, just take it and read it.” Michael answered. Selene took the paper from his hand and unfolded it.
My angel, my darling, my life – Selene.
By a stroke of luck, I was given the honour of serving King Agnarr as an officer, before being able to work with Mattias, a true lion among military men. And I’ve never been happier serving Anna, perhaps the best queen Arendelle has had yet. But in my line of work, your life is but a piece on the board that can be sacrificed at any time. I’ve long prepared for that day to come. And now that the Russian Empire’s Baltic Fleet is at our doorstep, led by that monster of a Grand Duke Yaraslaf, I must be realistic and prepare my will.
Selene’s eyes widened.
Perhaps I might come back to you, perhaps I might not. Should the latter turn out to be true, be certain of two things: first, that I bequeath everything in my possession to you, dear niece, so that you’ll have all the tools you need to secure your position and do whatever you feel would be best for your future. I doubt you’ll follow in my footsteps and become a woman of the Ravens. But you can serve Anna in many other ways, and my intelligence network, well… it couldn’t hurt for it to be at your disposal if I’m ever gone.
“This – this- ” stuttered Selene, and Michael nodded. Hilde slowly got back up, groaning.
The other thing is this: should I not come back from this war, please don’t let hatred or vengeance burn in your heart – not for the Russians, and certainly not for Anna or anyone on our side. Remember: I signed up for this. It’s part of the job. If anything, I’m blessed to have lasted this long as a veteran. What would be terrible is if you don’t live your life as YOU want. Don’t fixate on lost time with me and lose sight of the life you can rebuild with others.
I know things haven’t always worked out for our family. Especially for you, to have lost your parents so early on, to be alone for so long until fate brought us together. You’ve been such a light in my life, and I loved being your best friend. We had a great run. I won’t regret giving my life in the name of my queen, but I’m not blind to how you’ll feel about that. It’ll hurt for a long time, no kidding. But please find it in your heart to forgive, for your own good.
The best revenge is a life well lived after loss.
As she carefully read it, her green eyes swelled up as teardrops started to form. “Uncle,” she whispered, her voice faltering. The anger in her face softened.
“Your Uncle gave his life for what he believed in. His queen, his home, you. For you to go through this foolish vendetta would throw away everything you two had together and what he built for you after he died,” said Michael. “You lost your Uncle, your light. But you’ve gained a family of lights. Queen Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Mattias, even Vi, Hilde, Tess and Myself. Even our resident snowman Olaf!” He looked at Hilde, who had only just begun to regain herself after the terrible silver wound carved across her torso. She stumbled over to Vi, taking the weary vampiress in her arms and watching closely as Danny continued to heal her.
“You kill these two, your vengeance will not be pure, it’ll be totally empty and void,” said Uncle.
The Kveldulf armour around Selene slowly shattered, the quicksilver and light twisting and dancing around the young woman until it slowly began to be sucked back into the talisman from where Selene had unleashed its power.
Michael reached his hand out again. “If you can be big enough to accept responsibility for what you’ve done, I’ll personally ask our regent, Vi, and Anna herself if necessary, to offer you leniency. And, more importantly, you’ll gain a family who will love you and assist you in your rehabilitation and grieving. Heck, I’ll be your new Uncle! I’ll never replace your Uncle the Sarge, but I can promise you this; you’ll have a loving family of friends here in Arendelle. What say you, Selene?”
Selene fell to her knees, releasing Severin’s will. “It’s all I have left of him, isn’t it, Michael?” she whimpered, covering her tearstained face with her hands.
Hilde wearily got up after she’d made sure Vi was safe, walking weakly over to the hunched over Selene. She’d reverted completely back to her human form, but her eyes were anything but angry.
“There’s much we have to speak about, even if you don’t wish to see me,” said the commander quietly. “If I forgive you for everything that you did to my Lady to get to me, will you let me tell you about Sergeant Severin – my comrade and friend?”
Selene looked up, almost fearfully. “Yes. I turn myself in.” She hung her head. “There’s nothing else I have to live for.”
Hilde nodded. “Nominally, you’re under arrest. But… ” She sighed sympathetically. “There’s much we have to talk about.”
Danny walked over to Michael and gave him a hug. He sighed as he watched Hilde and Selene.
“And so one more ghost left behind by our war with Russia can depart in peace.”
ANNA’S RETURN TO ARENDELLE, AND THE CONFRONTATION BETWEEN HILDE AND SELENE…