No one could have predicted what happened.
Although someone should have.
It wasn't, after all, a big explosion in the emptiness of space, an effect without a cause.
It was more like an avalanche that started with a few disperse snowflakes in the mountain.
There was a pattern, of course.
But by the time anyone saw it, it was too late.
* * *
After the war with the greeks, Aasgardian people had to grieve. Thanks to the madness that had overcome Lady Hilda, the seven Warrior Gods had died. The protectors of Aasgard.. the soldiers who would defend the land forever... and, in the case of four of them, the favored sons of the four mayor noble houses: Dubhe, Merak, Mizar and Megrez . Without them, there was no future head for the kingdoms that formed Aasgard.
There was no Aasgard.
However, while Dubhe, Mizar and Megrez showed their black blasons in signal of mourning, while the activities in those castles had diminished like a flame dying in the cold, Merak continued as always.
No one thought that it was as if they hadn't lost their ruler, the child once called the Light and Hope of Merak.
No one suspected that it was because, thanks to a trickery of the gods, the Lord of Merak, the young man named Hagen, was sleeping inside the castle, since the day the greeks had abandoned Aasgard.
A trick, and not a blessing, because although the body of the young lord was intact, his mind had been taken completely. All his training, all his childhood, all his love for Aasgard had been forgotten.
Still, the people of Merak couldn't just abandon their lord, their son as the young man had been called more than once, and so, in secret and away from Aasgard's Council's eyes, they took the challenge of educating the young lord once again, to restore him to his former self.
They would have succeeded, perhaps, had it not been for another trick of the Gods… A year after the terrible war, when Merak's first Chanciller had announced to the people of the Castle that Lord Hagen had finally regained the use of his voice, the other God Warriors returned.
Intact in body and mind.
By chance, Hagen had managed to wander away from the castle, away from his guards. His feet took him to the entrance of the cave where he had lost everything.
By chance, it was there where he meet him.
The secret warrior, the one called the Shadow.
Alcor Bud, the dark half of Mizar.
* * *
The first physical sign of the avalanche that started that day, when Bud and Hagen crossed paths, was an earthquake that shook all of Aasgard.
Dubhe Siegfried, Gamma Tholl and Epsilon Phenrill were near the port, getting ready for a trip that would take them to Greece where they would find Lady Hilda and Lady Freya. For both of them it as a surprise, as tremors weren't common in Aasgard.
Alberich, Lord of Megrez was in the forest of his kingdom, celebrating that he had managed to stage a munity against Dubhe. That he had two of the four votes needed to become the new captain… and he was sure he would get the other two with ease.
Cyd, Lord of Mizar was asleep in his brother's arms.
None of them gave any importance to the earthquake. None of them listened to the wind and the cry of anguish that could be heard in the distance.
* * *
"Don't you say hello to your old friends, Hagen?" The velvet voice had startled him at first. He hadn't expected to see anyone near the frozen caves, much less the vision of elegant, feline beauty in front of him.
"I'm sorry... Do I know you?" A question that he had asked more than once, to his tutors, to his maid... to everyone in the castle where he lived... the castle the others said he owned and that he couldn't hate more passionately.
It was cold.
"You do." The man in front of him continued, after a small hesitiation. "We used to be brothers in arms, warriors of the same army. My name is Alcor Bud."
* * *
The people in Merak knew that something was wrong. They knew it when the earthquake began, as they knew it was a sign of the volcano's anger.
They knew that the volcano was only a mirror to their lord's heart.
When Lord Hagen returned to the castle, his eyes red like hot coals, his mouth set in a grim line, they knew that something terrible had happened. And none dared to approach the grieving man.
Not when he entered his rooms, not when he reapared, his clothes torn and burnt, his hair cut and wild, his skin showing lines of smoke.
Not even when he spoke, and revealed his new plans for the kingdom.
There was going to be a new war.
A war between Aasgard... and Merak.
* * *
"What makes me so different from you? What makes you different from your brother, in any case?" Hagen had asked, when Bud confessed that no, they hadn't been friends before, and that Bud had been trying to get something from Hagen all the time.
"That." Bud had pointed to a small blue jewel in the base of the metal horse he said was Hagen's cloth. "The Odin Zaphire is what marks you as one of the God Warriors. I don't have one, and I'll never have one as long as my brother is alive."
With remarkable ease Hagen took the stone out of it's place and held it in his hand. It was a cold, blue jewel, that didn't seem to shine in the weak light of day.
"This?" He asked, and couldn't miss the way in which Bud's eyes lightened when he was near the stone.
Perhaps it was that shine, or perhaps it was the promise of a smile on Bud's face.. but Hagen simply grabbed his friend's hand and placed the stone on it.
"Here. Keep it." He said, smiling at Bud's surprised expression. "I am not a God Warrior, and you are. You should have it."
* * *
If any of the other God Warriors had seen Hagen walk away from the Merak Castle they would have not recognized him.
Or perhaps they would have, since he was the only one in the whole country who had tanned skin.
But besides that, there was nothing in the man who walked with a strong pace, melting the snow beneath his booths, that would remind anyone of the responsible boy who had trained day and night to control his powers.
This man, this Hagen, wasn't controlling his powers.
He was letting them run free.
The snow melted with every step he took, the wet grass beneath it catching fire almost immediately. If one dared to come close, one could have seen a faint reddish glow about six inches away from Hagen's body: it was the intense heat that was fueled by Hagen's anger.
He crossed the forest, and the smallish villages near the castle, looking at them with disdain. He hated them, the medieval mindset of his land.
All that was going to change.
Finally, he stopped in the frontier of the Merak kingdom and the Megrez's territories. The territories of the "new" captain of Aasgard.
What better place to start the war?
* * *
"What do you do to me?" Bud had asked, after the first meeting when they had told the others that Hagen had lost his memory, that he hadn't died in battle, and that he had willingly given his zaphire to Bud.
"What do you mean?" Hagen had blinked at the question. He truthfully didn't understand it, althought that might have been because he was engrossed reading an old science book he found in the Merak library.
"I used to hate people, especially my brother. But since I've meet you... Is as if... no. Never mind."
Hagen had lifted his eyes from the book then, to look straight at his friend's face.
Friend? No. That had been a lie since the moment he had seen Bud near the cave.
"Does that makes you unhappy?" Hagen had asked, turning the answer into a new question.
Bud had paused for a moment and then, in the moment that it took Hagen to blink, he was next to Hagen, looking into his eyes.
And then, Bud had placed the most innocent, most soft kiss on Hagen's lips.
* * *
Hagen closed his eyes, standing in the frontier of the kingdoms.
Inside his body, he could feel his blood boiling, like lava.
He could actually feel the lava of the volcano, the lava under his feet, as part of his own body.
It was a glorious feeling.
With a wordless scream he called to the lava, making the volcano explode with all the fury he had been keeping in his heart.
With all he hate he felt for the land.
He felt how the lava traveled in a perfect circle around his land, around his kingdom, effectively separating it from Aasgard. Thankfully, Merak had a port, so they wouldn't be incommunicated from the world, just from the backstabbing, medieval land that he used to protect.
He could hear the earth screaming at this attack, as the lava melted and destroyed the rockbed, creating a hellish ocean that would be impossible for human to cross.
His land was safe.
Now, he only had to show the "Aasgardian Army" why they shouldn't mess with him.
Smiling at the bright glow of the lava, he walked straight to the river of fire.