I recently discovered this game and I wanted to write something for it.
I based the original Hel’s appearance off this concept art.
She had returned to the throne room. The room where her body lay, slumped in its massive throne. It felt so strange to think of it as her body. She felt disconnected from the gigantic corpse, as though she was looking at a stranger. But that was her. Or…No. That body was Hel. The original Hel. She may have been made with Hel’s genetic material, but she was not truly Loki’s daughter. She had no memories of who he had been before. She had no memories of him at all, save the horrors he had inflicted upon her.
Hel was the only identity she had, though. She had woken up with no memories, no idea who in the world she was. She still had no memories of being her. Of being Hel. But Hel was all she had. And so she would cling to that identity. She sat down on the stone in front of the throne, running her fingers over the scythe. It was still sharp, even after all this time. It did not cut her, though. She had a feeling it was unable to harm her.
“Do you hate him?” A voice came from beside her. She turned quickly, her heart in her throat. A ghost sat beside her, hands folded in her lap. She had not seen her reflection, not in all her brief existence. She had no idea what she looked like. But staring at the ghost beside her, she felt as though she were looking in a mirror.
The ghost was more substantial than the other shades the new Hel had beheld in her domain and much more distinct. Half her hair was white and half was black. The right side of her body was black, the division marked by white runes that shifted and pulsed. Her right eye glowed with an unearthly light, piercing into one’s very soul with its gaze. Black antlers crept out from under the snow-white hair on her right side. She was dressed similarly to the new Hel, with the addition of a thick fur cape and some added armor and ornamentation that made her look more like the sovereign she was.
“Do I hate who?” The new Hel asked.
“Our father,” the ghost replied. “Loki.”
“Of course,” the new Hel answered without a second thought, stumbling to her feet. “I despise him! He’s done horrible things! He doomed the world! He-” Her breath caught in her throat and her left hand went to her right arm. The arm their father had ripped off during her first battle with him.
“That is true,” the ghost conceded. Her gaze swept around the hall. The new Hel knew that this shade was the old Hel. The true ruler of Helheim. Loki’s true daughter. The ghost stood tall, holding herself with purpose and intent. Even in her weary state, she still exuded an aura of regality and confidence. She was the sort who gave orders, not took them.
The new Hel allowed herself a small smile at the thought of Henrik Andersson trying to order around this Hel. She imagined her predecessor would not have been nearly as willing to follow his directions without question.
“Do you hate him?” The new Hel asked. “It was his fault you were killed, wasn’t it?”
It had been Loki’s actions that had led to the death of Baldur, which in turn had led to the death of Loki’s children at the hands of the vengeful gods. The new Hel would assume the old would be furious with her father. The ghost hardly seemed the sort who would suffer fools lightly. But the ghost was silent, casting her gaze around the hall once more.
“Foolish though it may be, I cannot find it in myself to hate him,” the ghost admitted, getting to her feet as well to look the new Hel in the eye.
“You weren’t angry?”
“I did not say that.” A hint of testiness entered the ghost’s voice as irritation passed across her features. “I was angry. Furious, in fact. He never considered the consequences of his actions. Never thought about whether what he did would affect others around him!” Briefly, her voice rose, years of frustration spilling over. The new Hel took an instinctive step back, fear lancing through her at the building anger.
“He was so distraught to lose me, but did he not consider that murdering Baldur would cause Odin to retaliate?” The ghost’s voice boomed throughout the hall, the flames on the torches flaring as her anger rose. The foundations shook with her voice. Even as a shade, she was every inch the goddess she was meant to be. The new Hel couldn’t help but feel self-conscious. She lacked the presence of her predecessor. Was she truly worthy to rule this place?
“And to think he was lauded as a strategic genius!” Tears were welling up in the ghost’s eyes as she continued to scream. “Him! That short-sighted fool who couldn’t see beyond his own machinations! What good did any of it do?! What did it bring any of us save for pain and suffering?!”
Then, all at once, the fire left the ghost. Her shoulders slumped and she sighed heavily. The fearsome goddess was gone, leaving a weary young woman in her place. One hand went up to finger the antlers in her hair.
“I’m sorry,” the ghost whispered. “I didn’t mean to shout.”
“It’s alright,” the new Hel assured her. “I don’t mind.” It made her feel better to know the old Hel was angry as well. It made her feel as though she was less of an imposter.
“But, to answer your earlier question, no.” The ghost cleared her throat, attempting to regain some manner of control. “No, I do not hate him. I cannot hate him.”
The new Hel frowned slightly. After all she’d heard, all the anger the ghost had expressed, she still didn’t hate Loki. The new Hel couldn’t understand why. Why did the ghost still harbor love for the man who had gotten her killed?
“How can you still love him?” She asked, no, demanded. “After all he’s done, how can you still love him?”
“He was not always like that, you know.” The ghost smiled, a resigned expression. “Once, he was kind. Or, as kind as he could be. I am not so delusional as to say he was a good man. None of the gods were truly good people. But he did not set out to destroy the worlds in the beginning.”
“Does that matter?” The new Hel’s voice came out a bit too sharp, perhaps. She held no love for Loki. He had made her life a nightmare from the moment she had awakened on that slab.
“No. I suppose it does not.” The ghost’s smile fell. “I simply wanted you to know.” She remained standing there, surveying the kingdom that had once been hers.
“Was he…a good father?” The new Hel asked tentatively, her curiosity getting the better of her. Despite herself, she found herself curious about the person Loki had been before all this. Before the death of Baldur. Before the mask.
“He tried to be,” the ghost said. “He failed at times, but he tried. He wanted us to be happy.” She rested a hand on her fur mantle, a wistful smile crossing her features. “Since I could not leave this place, he did his best to bring the outside world to me. He would often visit to tell me how Jormungandr or Fenrir were doing.”
“Who are they?” The new Hel asked.
“Our brothers,” the ghost replied mournfully, her smile falling once more. “You encountered a recreation of Fenrir in that facility. The wolf with the two faces.”
The new Hel’s lips twisted at the conflicting emotions the memory of that wolf brought up. It had stalked her, struck fear into her heart. And yet…it had saved her. Time and time again it had come to her aid and kept her from danger. It had stood up against Loki and lost its life for its bravery.
“In his original form, he was quite eloquent,” the ghost continued. “He lacked the silver tongue of our father, but his words held weight. When he spoke, people listened. They had no other choice in the matter.” She smiled sadly again. “I do think he resented me a bit when we were young, though.”
“Resented you?” The new Hel frowned. “Why?”
“I was Father’s favorite. Blatantly. He made no attempt to hide it.” The ghost laughed weakly. “When we were very young, I believe Fenrir hated me for taking all of Father’s attention.”
“But he didn’t hate you forever, did he?” The new Hel asked. “Or he wouldn’t have saved me.” One didn’t sacrifice themselves for someone they hated. Not the way Fenrir had for her.
“His feelings toward me warmed when he realized I was one of the few sensible people in our family,” the ghost laughed again, stronger this time. “I questioned Father’s decisions. I held him accountable. But…” She trailed off, looking back at her own skeleton, slumped in the throne. “That didn’t stop him. It never did.”
The new Hel wasn’t sure whether to apologize or not. So she stayed silent, waiting to see what else her predecessor would say.
“I could see through your eyes sometimes,” the ghost said, not looking back at the new Hel. “I must admit, it pained me to see the father I so adored transform into a monster I scarcely recognized.” Her face twisted, whether with pain or regret the new Hel knew not. “To think that he would kill Fenrir…His own son.”
The new Hel lowered her gaze. The memory of the wolf’s death was so much sadder now that she knew of his identity. He had been her brother. Loki’s son. And yet Loki had killed him without a second thought. She was too weary to question how the ghost had seen through her eyes.
“I suppose the father I knew died a long time ago,” the ghost murmured. She ran a finger over the blade of the scythe. The new Hel would have expected the ghost’s incorporeal flesh to pass right through the scythe. But it did not.
“My apologies.” The ghost looked back at the new Hel. Her face was devoid of all expression except for weariness. “I believe I’ve taken up enough of your time.”
“You have nothing to apologize for,” the new Hel answered. She was glad to have gotten some insight into the person she was made from. And a new feeling for Loki was rising in her chest.
Pity for the man who had been driven so mad with grief by the loss of his daughter that he had destroyed himself and the world to get her back. It certainly didn’t excuse what he’d done, but part of her understood now.
The ghost smiled at her successor, then walked into her. Hel gasped at the bone-deep cold that suddenly enveloped her. But as soon as it had come, it was gone. In its place, she felt a power she had not before. An awareness of Helheim and the creatures in it. And, in her heart, warmth and…completion.
It appeared she was worthy to rule after all.