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Seiðr

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Kara groaned and shifted uncomfortably on the rough-hewn wooden bench.

 

The muscles in her back ached and the stitched skin on her cheekbone was tender and warm, healing slowly from the battle a week before. The woman who had adopted her had carefully cleaned and tended the wound for her as she recovered, staving off the poison that often took root if not watched closely. She had nearly lost her left eye to the blade of an opposing raider’s axe, just barely pulling her head back in the nick of time as the bearded weapon flashed down towards her face. The metal had sliced through her skin from forehead, through brow, just missing the corner of her eye, to the middle of her cheek. Had she not realized what was happening she would be sailing to Valhalla with a split skull.

 

Had she not been plagued by night terrors she would have been more alert.

 

It was frustrating. And dangerous.

 

Kara didn’t understand if they were visions from Odin or Loki, neither god showing their presence in these terrifying visions. Confusing visions of things that just didn’t make sense, injecting her into the body of someone else in a bloody world that was strange and alien full of fire and death. The worst part was when the crimson earth would fall out from under her feet and she would wake as she fell, drenched in cold sweat as her heart hammered painfully in her chest. These night terrors, these visions , had been haunting her for what felt like a lifetime. They distracted her, pulled her mind away from more important tasks, and robbed her of rest. It left her tired and irritable, easily riled to the point of lashing out and she hated it. She hated the feeling of not being in complete control of herself. She hated the expressions on the faces of her loved ones when sharp words fell from her lips. She hated how it made her feel that her heart had been scooped from her chest to be replaced with embers.

 

This injury had been the wake up call she had been avoiding for some time now out of a purely stubborn nature. She had let the strange dreams eat away at her for too long and Kara had nearly paid for it with her life. Someone was trying to speak to her, and it was time to heed the warnings. Kara was certain she wouldn’t get another shot across the bow. It was time to seek out help, and there was only one person who might be able to offer some sort of guidance.

 

So here she sat in the weak waning sunlight of late fall outside of their vǫlva’s home, tugging her fur cloak tighter around her shoulders to ward off the chill. Kara was embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t the act of reaching out for assistance that made her uncomfortable, it was her own feelings. She wiggled her hand up to the collar of her woolen tunic to touch the pads of her fingers to the thick braided leather thong about her neck. It was warm from her skin and she pressed it to the crook of her neck for comfort. Kara couldn’t feel the weight of the charms sitting, but she knew they were there. The black jewel from her real mother, long dead. The lucky bronze coin from her adoptive sister. The canine tooth of the first predator she bested, a trophy that came with scars.

 

The silver amulet of protection that had been gifted to her from the vǫlva .

 

That one was the most precious after the jewel from her mother. Heavy silver wire had been hammered into a delicate shield knot and threaded with the finest yarn, dyed red with costly cinnabar. It was an expensive gift, and one of truly great value and power imbued with the seer’s magic. She kept it hidden to herself, it had been a gift given in confidence after all.

 

Kara sighed and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees as her mind started to wander. She fiddled with the cord against her neck as she tried not to listen in on the voices inside the small wooden lodge. The worried voice of the young mother lilted out through the open door, almost overlapping with the lower alto of the vǫlva . She closed her eyes and listened to the tone of her voice, letting it wash over her like a warm balm. Truly, it was her pride and attraction to the woman that had kept her from seeking help. She respected her deeply for her spiritual work and role in their community, and dared not take her presence lightly.

 

She had also, unfortunately, dedicated her heart to the woman.

 

It was a sad affair, in a sense. The vǫlva was dedicated to her work and had given her life to the gods far too early-something she had mournfully admitted into her ale horn a few celebrations past when the night was late. It hadn’t been a regret , but a wish of a what could have been. Kara had understood, of course. It would be shameful to tempt the woman away from her duties. Vǫlva weren’t required to abstain from a family and solely dedicate themselves to their seer work, but uncomfortable circumstances and familial tension had chased the woman from her home. It had been a protective measure when the raiders from Kara’s clan had found her nearly fifteen years ago, hungry and bloody on the outskirts of their lands. She had, of course, immediately befriended the young seer and they were thick as thieves and often inseparable. It was only years later when their duties became more consuming did Kara realize what was happening. To drown it out she buried herself in her role to their clan. It was a futile attempt and eventually she didn’t hide it from her closest friend, too tired to expend the energy to do so.

 

Whether the vǫlva wanted her to or not, Kara had given her heart in its entirety. She rejected all other advances and chose not to stray from whom she desired. The vǫlva had witnessed one of the rebuffs and told her not to wait-that she was wasting her time foolishly devoting herself to her. Kara had simply shook her head and told her that she would not be swayed, just that it was what she wanted. When the vǫlva looked as if she would argue Kara had reassured her that she would never push her for more than the friendship she could offer her. Nevertheless she renewed her pledge with a softness to her voice that surprised even her. The next week the vǫlva had given her the amulet in a quiet moment with a lingering touch. An acceptance and a promise that she would hold her heart with care.

 

Kara sat up and leaned back with another quiet groan, sighing uncomfortably as her back pressed into the side of the vǫlva’s wooden lodge. She looked about her and watched the breeze catch the branches of the trees, crisp and sticky sweet with their long thin needles of green. The multitude of chimes strung on braided leather clinked and rattled softly. Kara idly counted the odd shapes of rune-carved bones and antlers, glass beads, and talismans of metal or fire hardened clay hanging from the low eaves. In a brief pause she noticed the beams could use a new coating of stain and made a mental note to freshen up the color when her back was healed. She had just started to trace the knot work on the supporting pillars with her eyes when the voices of the young mother and the vǫlva approached.

 

The heavy wooden boards creaked under their feet as they stepped out into the weak sun, finishing their conversation. The young mother thanked the vǫlva one more time, nodded in greeting to Kara, and hustled away in a swirl of fur and blue wool. Kara only spared her a nod in return, her attention already turning to the völva standing in the doorway.

 

Even Freya would be jealous of her beauty, Kara decided.

 

It was a blasphemous thought, but it was one she stood firmly by. The vǫlva’s fair skin was marred only by the dark tattoos of her religion and the kohl on her eyelids. Thin bars crossed over her high cheek bones and the bridge of her nose, bisected her strong chin and lower lip and down the front of the column of her throat. Her eyes were greener than the land in spring, and her hair blacker than Fenrir’s fur. She did not look like them with her ethereal looks, having been the product of a woman stolen from Britannia. Despite her origins, seiðr ran thick through her veins-so virile that many sought out her guidance from across the land. Yet she was young, not many years older than Kara herself, the creases at the corners of her eyes and mouth only barely starting to show. It was unusual for a prominent seer to be so young without a family, and Kara often wondered what the elderly vǫlva thought of her.

 

Kara had not realized she was staring at the singular dark freckle dotting the center of her throat until the woman raised a dark brow in question. “Has Loki stolen your speech, raider?”

 

The silver talismans tied about the vǫlva’s head covering caught the low sunlight as she lowered herself onto the bench next to Kara in a rattle of beads and rustle of fabric. She smelled of leather and herbs and Kara stole a quick breath, averting her eyes from the expanse of fair skin that dipped in a low v down her front.

 

“No, but I fear he is stealing my rest.” Kara finally answered after hastily clearing her throat.

 

The vǫlva pulled her cloak about her against the wind and tilted her body towards her. “You never come to me for help, Kara. What troubles you?”

 

Her voice was painfully soft, colored with private worry that she only showed to Kara. It was enough for her to shift with some discomfort to face her, and watched the vǫlva’s vibrant eyes search her face and flicker to the healing cut. She swallowed thickly and tried not to let her gaze wander away out of fear. In a moment’s notice, the vǫlva had quickly become her tethering anchor to the reality around them.

 

“I have… been having terrors in the night. Perhaps they are visions? They frighten me. They distract me.”

 

The vǫlva frowned and slid a hand out from her cloak, hovering hesitantly for a moment before reaching out. Her fingertips were cool against her skin and Kara let her tilt her head and inspect the wound, her own gaze dropping to the heavy knot work of tattoos that she could see covering the skin of her forearm. By memory, Kara knew they ended on the back of her wrist and five sigils traced over the bone and tendon on the back of her hand. Her own weren’t nearly as intricate, and she had often wondered how far the vǫlva’s extended.

 

“Tell me of your dreams?”

 

Kara drew her eyes from the tattoos on the vǫlva’s forearm and back to her face, holding herself still through a wince as the seer gently touched a stitch.

 

“I am not myself, always wearing strange clothes. The world I am in… is cold. And red. Both the ground and the sky as if they were painted in blood. There is metal, smooth and perfect unlike anything I have ever seen before. Like silver but polished until it reflects all.”

 

The vǫlva withdrew her hand again and listened with a calculating look, her eyes narrowing as she catalogued the details. Kara continued.

 

“There is a woman. She is sad and bids that I flee, but it hurts and the world falls away underneath me… and I am falling until I wake.”

 

Just recounting the terror made her heart sit at the base of her throat. Kara glanced around and when she saw no one else was nearby, she leaned in closer and let her fear and weariness show plainly on her face.

 

“Lena, I’m scared .”

 

The vǫlva slumped at her choked whisper and her hand reached out of her cloak again, squeezing at Kara’s knee in comfort. But only for a moment and her hand withdrew once more.

 

“These dreams. They are only of this?” She asked.

 

Kara simply nodded.

 

“You do not see the one-eyed one?”

 

“No. If he is there, he hides himself from me.” Kara couldn’t help but slump a little further and allowed herself to voice another worry. “I fear it is not the Allfather showing me these dreams. I fear it is someone else. Something else.”

 

They sat in silence for a long moment and Kara let her eyes wander to the sun setting low behind the trees. She could smell the cooking fires in earnest now for the evening meal and realized she had been taking up the vǫlva’s time.

 

“But perhaps they are just dreams and I am borrowing your evening on an empty worry.” She muttered, feeling silly as she eased herself into a more upright position with a faint grimace.

 

“Kara-” The same pale hand pressed into her knee again. “-it is not an empty worry. These dreams are clouding your hugr and putting you in danger.”

 

It was enough to dull the shame in her chest and keep her seated. Kara swallowed thickly and looked out into the village and watched the houses warm with fire and candle.

 

“It is late. I can come back when the sun rises.” She offered, still bitten by guilt.

 

“Or you can wait here a little while. Let me meditate, and then we can speak again over the evening meal.”

 

It was a bold offer on a short notice. It also wasn’t lost on Kara that the vǫlva was offering to share her meade horn with her. They had only ever dared to share in the presence of others where it was commonplace. This was far more intimate than she was expecting, and it would be a grave insult to refuse. Of course she didn’t want to refuse. Kara simply nodded, not trusting her tongue. The vǫlva gave her a once-over with a critical eye and rose to her feet.

 

“Do not stray far from me. I will collect you.”

 

“Yes, vǫlva .” Kara managed, bowing her head in respect.

 

The vǫlva didn’t linger but slipped back into her home. She only returned for a moment with a blanket for her, and then eased the door shut. Kara settled in again this time with Lena’s heavy blanket across her legs. If the vǫlva was willing to give her time tonight, she would wait.

 

She couldn’t hear much inside the house, not anything distinct. Kara held no knowledge of the seiðr rituals, she was only privy to the general information they all shared. There were intricate prayers and chants, recipes of potions and tinctures, salves and teas, the bounty of the earth used carefully with distinct purpose and each used for a specific event. But only the vǫlva were allowed to understand the knowledge needed to wield these prayers and supplications. 

 

Kara heard her begin to speak inside her home now, low and steady of rhythm with the metallic rattle of a seiðr staff. Her voice rose and fell in timber, still quiet enough that Kara couldn’t understand what she was saying. She waited, her vision blurring as she stared out into the darkening village. The extra blanket helped but the chill still seeped in, keeping her awake with the bare discomfort. At some point the rhythmic rattling changed as did the vǫlva’s voice, no longer steady but strained. Kara could smell something, a sweeter smoke that made her nose itch and the edges of her mind blur. The rattling shake of the seiðr staff quickened with the vǫlva’s muffled chanting and Kara watched the last weak orange of the sun fade, her breath fogging in front of her face.

 

The rattling ceased and the vǫlva fell quiet.

 

Kara waited for what felt like an eternity, as if hung in the balance of something greater. Then there was movement in the lodge and she listened to the vǫlva walk around and open windows to the night air. The ritual meditation was complete. Kara discovered that she was terrified to know the results. Before she could second guess herself, the door opened with a low creak and the string of silver talismans on the handle rattled against the wood. The vǫlva appeared again with a candle. She had shed her cloak and her tunic was a little looser about her body. The candle highlighted a thin sheen of sweat on her neck and chest and her skin was still flushed. It clicked for Kara that she had been listening to her bring herself to a mindless state and heat lurched in her belly. For a moment Kara wished that she had been allowed to assist her, but she knew it was for selfish reasons. The low heat was brutally lanced with shame. The vǫlva’s work was sacred and not to be defiled by carnal desires.

 

“Come inside.”

 

The vǫlva’s voice was low and rough. Relaxed as her breath fogged in front of her chin. But there was a note of concern that had Kara rising to her feet and folding the borrowed blanket. She heeded the seer and stepped inside. The small lodge was blessedly warm. Kara had been inside many times during the day, but never in the evenings. Colorful rugs and furs lined the wooden floor, muffling their steps. More chimes of bone and antler and metal talismans hung from the silvery rafters covered in intricate knot work carvings and runes. Bunches of dried herbs and flowers hung next to the chimes, perfuming the air. At the front of her lodge baskets of more materials, fabrics, furs, and other supplies lined the perimeter with huge clay jugs of varying shapes and sizes. Behind a sturdy table filled with more items related to seiðr were shelves of smaller crocks and leather pouches and items. A set of ceremonial knives razor sharp were glinting on the table.

 

A single candle lit the table, but the vǫlva led her through to the back of the lodge. A large sconce chandelier of cattle horns hung from the highest rafter, faintly illuminating the small attic storage space. The largest part of the lodge acted as a living and work space for the vǫlva , and a large fire pit made of wide stones was placed in the center of the area. An enormous pot of fine copper was carefully hung on iron chains from the rafters, pulled to the side off the fire for the time being. Kara had seen it full of bubbling liquid before, an earthy tone and pungent enough for her to wrinkle her nose had filled the space. It was now clean and dry, a burnished warmth of the soft precious metal. The work station to the right included another table and a small grinding stone mill. It seems that it had been used for the vǫlva’s most recent ritual.

 

“We will sit there. I apologize, I may need your assistance.” The vǫlva murmured with a slight wobble, still under the effects of her medicines as she gestured to the only bare table in the small living area.

 

Kara nodded and took a seat for a moment to rest her back and shrug out of her cloak, carefully stepping over the trail of the heavy divider curtain of leather and thick wool. She purposefully sat with her back to the small bed and wooden chest. It was a futile attempt to keep her mind from wandering to more base thoughts as she watched the vǫlva bend down to retrieve items out of the small cellar in the corner. She pulled her eyes away from her backside with effort, only for it to fall upon the wooden seiðr staff half-hidden on the work table. The silver rings encircling it glinted in the firelight-as did the lingering slick on the shaft. Heat returned to her belly and Kara’s tongue felt thick in her mouth.

 

Her line of sight was broken as the vǫlva rounded the fire with some pots. Kara rose to her feet with a steadying breath and focused on helping her prepare the meal, and not of how her tunic gaped open at the chest. They worked in silence, warming a dish of ground oats with rich milk and honey to top with dried fruits of the last summer. Kara busied herself with toasting dried fish and thick slices of bread, and watched the vǫlva return to the cellar for a petite barrel of what she knew to be meade. The meal was readied and served forth, and they settled into their bowls and meade horns in a companionable silence at the table. When the meal was gone and their horns were full again, the vǫlva finally started to speak.

 

“I had trouble seeing into your hugr .” She admitted quietly. “It is not often that I cannot see. Even with my own hugr free, I could not connect.”

 

“You saw nothing?” Kara asked, her heart dropping.

 

“I did-” She clarified, “-but it was blurred. As if looking through a muddy stream.”

 

Kara frowned. It was something at least. But it was troubling.

 

“Kara, would you return tomorrow evening? I would ask you to drink a brew and meditate with me.”

 

The sudden snap of her head looking up at the vǫlva had her wincing, but the heavy implications of what she was asking made her face warm. The fire lit the woman from the back, catching the curve of her sharp jaw as the low candle on the table between them warmed her face in amber.

 

“I… truly?”

 

The vǫlva was steady in her conviction, her face only betraying concern. Kara’s mind raced as words began to spill from her mouth.

 

“But, Lena, that is sacred and not for me to know- Would I be violating your space? Your hugr ? I don’t possess the knowledge to-to-to-what if? What if I misstep? I do not wish to shame you or bring dishonor to your practices. I…”

 

She trailed off when she realized the vǫlva’s expression had softened, that painful longing look returning. Kara blew a breath out, feeling helpless.

 

“I am fearful that my desire for you will interfere.”

 

She whispered the words between them, her shoulders curling in as if trying to shield her heart. The vǫlva fiddled with her cup and sighed her own breath.

 

“I understand. Of course, you may also return tomorrow and I will guide you through a lesser meditation on your own.”

 

It was a safer harbor and Kara took it.

 

“How would that work?”

 

“I would prepare a potion for you. There would be prayer and an offering to the fire. I would watch over you and guide you as your hugr is freed.” She explained, bringing her horn to her lips. “It will clarify your own visions. I will not see them.”

 

Kara could only stare into her cup, still hesitant.

 

“You do not need to decide right now. Come to me when you have a decision.”

 

Kara nodded and drained her cup.

 


 

Kara found herself outside the völva’s lodge early the following morning pacing in the snow.

 

Her terrors had returned in earnest and she had been up for hours, frightened to try for more rest even though her body screamed for it. She didn’t knock on the door until she started seeing others about the village begin their work, not wanting to wake the seer if possible. Kara hadn’t needed to worry, the door swung open a moment later to reveal the vǫlva clean and put together. In her hand a clay cup of tea steamed and her expression morphed from pleasant to worried in a heartbeat.

 

Kara . Come-” She stood out of the way, “-come inside. You look dreadful.”

 

“Forgive me, I couldn’t sleep.” She offered, stamping the snow off her boots before crossing the threshold.

 

The lodge was cozy and perfumed, and the large copper pot now hung free over the low embers. She heard the door latch behind her and a hand pressed to the small of her back, ushering her further into the building. Kara let Lena lead her to the fire and sat in the chair offered. A moment later a fresh cup of tea was pressed into her hands and she couldn’t help but just cradle it under her chin and let the warmth seep into her. She could already feel herself relaxing in the safety of the seer’s home, her closest friend’s home.

 

“Have you eaten?”

 

Kara shook her head. “Food turned my stomach.”

 

Lena made a concerned noise in her chest and set about the fire, warming up a small serving of porridge and mixed in some water of crushed chamomile that had been steeped next to the small clay pot of oats. She offered the small bowl wrapped carefully in a cloth and Kara took it gratefully. As she warmed herself by the fire and slowly ate the gruel she told her of her dreams. They were more terrifying than before, this time with strange creatures chasing after her until she fell into the stars and froze into ice. Her story was met with a worried silence from the vǫlva next to her.

 

“What are your duties today?” She finally asked, her green eyes piercing.

 

“My sister knows I am here.” Kara confessed.

 

The vǫlva nodded. “Good. It will take the morning, but I can prepare a potion for you to commune as soon as possible.”

 

Please .”

 

It wasn’t a request, Kara was begging. She had never needed clarity so badly before in her life. The vǫlva took her empty bowl and stood. She pressed her hand steady into the top of Kara’s shoulder.

 

“I will help you, Kara.” She paused, uncertain. “I will try.”

 

For the next few hours Kara stayed out of the way as the vǫlva worked, drawing water from the creek behind her house and preparing herbs in a meticulous order. A few times she paused to take care of other villager’s needs, listening and tending to their worries with care. But Kara could tell she was almost rushing through, her mind back on the heating copper pot and the herbs half ground in the large mortar and pestle. Soon everything was in the pot and it was time for the herbs to steep for a few moments. The vǫlva closed the door to her home and returned back to Kara. She directed her to move the chair out of the way and sit on the ground. Kara did as she was told, and accepted the shallow bowl of steaming brew. It smelled floral and rotten, cloying in its rankness. Kara wrinkled her nose and studied the green-brown liquid.

 

“It will be bitter. Drink it quickly.” The vǫlva instructed.

 

Kara grimaced and quickly did so, choking down the scalding potion. The vǫlva took the empty vessel from her and picked up a seiðr wand, a thin rod of twisted iron as tall as her hip. The iron end was adorned with rattling rings, designed to shake against the bowed basket-handle. On the very tip a precious stone was set into silver filigree. Before she began she took a single small seed, and placed it in the embers in front of Kara.

 

“When you see it smoke, breathe it in but only once. Then bury it in ash when you can no longer hold it in your lungs.”

 

Kara nodded, scraping her tongue against the top of her mouth to try to ease the bitter taste of the potion. She leaned forward and watched the seed closely as the seer rounded the fire to stand across from her. The vǫlva grasped the knob, and started a rhythm of tapping the wand into the floor. The rings jangled in time, steady and a base for the cadence of her prayers. She called out in supplication for guidance, for understanding the dreams that were plaguing Kara. Soon enough the seed was smoking and she leaned in, breathed in the rank aroma once as instructed and held it. She fought back against a cough from the heat at the back of her throat and her head grew lighter. When her lungs strained she covered the seed in gray ash, exhaling a subtle smoke as she leaned back.

 

It hit her hard.

 

For a terrifying moment, Kara thought her limbs were pulling free of her body. She was both calm and enraged at the same time as the fire in front of her started to blur and swirl like eddying currents of a stream. She could still head the steady thump and jangle of the vǫlva’s wand, but her voice sounded fuzzy against her ears. Her eyes started to droop against her will and a warmth in her stomach from the brew trickled out into her veins, reaching and searching like the tendrils of young roots. Kara felt like they were crawling deep under her skin, worming their way into her body in search of something , yet she knew they would not harm her. If Lena was there, she was safe. And-

 

Blue fabric tight on her arms.

 

A red ground far below her and a sky of blood hung low. There were deep fissures in the world below her, glowing sickly green-brighter than anything she had ever seen in her life. Then she was standing on the surface and the woman was there, with a sad solemn face of high cheek bones and a white stripe in her dark hair. Lights flashed all around them, bright against the new silvery metal that reflected everything.

 

You must flee, little one. It is not safe here .”

 

Kara tried to speak, but her mouth wouldn’t open so she shook her head. She wasn’t supposed to leave, something was telling her to stay. It felt as if her teeth had fused. Her legs were stone.

 

The woman’s eyes grew black. Empty. Her mouth had too many teeth.

 

You are not safe here .”

 

Long thin hands reached for her-and she was flying.

 

Soaring high in a small silvery enclosure as if she were being pulled in Freya’s chariot. There was a heavy dull thump behind her and Kara knew the world she had been standing on was gone, gone , and now she was falling into a hole darker than black in the middle of the stars-

 


 

Kara woke.

 

A terrifying weightlessness took hold of her and she scrambled to grab hold of something before she floated off the ground and into the sky-

 

“Peace, the effects will subside with time. You are safe.”

 

A warm hand pressed flat into the center of her chest and she sucked in ragged breaths. She was still in the vǫlva’s home, flat on her back with her head resting on her thighs. Kara blinked against the fuzziness in her vision and looked up. Above a wide v of pale tattooed skin and necklaces of silver and precious stones, the vǫlva was watching her closely. Her hair was loose about her shoulders, draping down in silky curtains from under her head covering.

 

“H-how-how long?” Kara rasped, blindly reaching up and pressing her hand onto the vǫlva’s in an attempt to ground herself.

 

“You were only away for a few moments.” She reassured her. “The proper dosage was given.”

 

Kara nodded, her head pressing back into the vǫlva’s thighs. The dream, the vision , had shaken her deeply. Her heart was still racing and she was just vulnerable enough to curl her fingers around the steadying hand on her chest. She focused on her breathing, on the crisp cool air that blew in from the now open window, the warm weight on her chest and the steadiness under her head. The world still spun, the colors still swirled and winked around her in ways she knew weren’t real, but she felt safer now knowing that it was expected.

 

“Bread and ale will help settle your stomach. Give you something to focus on.” The vǫlva murmured. “Nothing will hasten the end of the effects, but patience and distraction and rest can help.”

 

Kara nodded hesitantly. She didn’t want to leave her, and wanted desperately to press closer. It must have shown in her face because Lena smoothed her hair off of her sweaty forehead.

 

“In a moment.” She offered instead, her green eyes kind and understanding.

 

Kara relaxed and the building nerves eased the tension in her body. She focused on her breathing and not how she felt like she was floating a hands breadth off the ground. Lena soothed her with kind words and kept her hair off her face, her thumb smoothing over the skin of her chest just under the hem of her tunic neckline. Kara lost track of the time but at some point she was easing herself up into a sitting position and accepting a thick hunk of bread and a horn of ale. The vǫlva knelt close again, her expression curious.

 

“What did you see?”

 

Kara took a sip of the cool drink and cleared her throat. “The same as before-but more? Clearer. I was still someone else, still on the same red planet… the woman was there again. She told me to flee.”

 

The memory of warping features brought the clawing fear back and Kara stuffed the bread in her mouth to give herself time to think. She softened it in her mouth with another sip of the yeasted ale.

 

“You didn’t?” The vǫlva prompted.

 

Kara shook her head and swallowed her bread. “Something wanted me to stay. But then she changed. Her eyes were… black. Nothingness. And her mouth a maw.”

 

“Animal teeth?”

 

Kara glanced up and caught the vǫlva’s gaze.

 

“Man’s teeth.”

 

The vǫlva frowned. “A maw of man’s teeth. What happened next?”

 

“She reached for me. Her hands were too long and thin, and then I was flying in a silver chariot. The world exploded behind me and I fell into a black spot in the stars.”

 

Kara paused again, bumping the lip of the cup into her chin.

 

“And then I woke.”

 

The vǫlva drew in a slow deep breath and held it for a moment, exhaling through her nose with a hum. “I see.”

 

“It wasn’t much help, was it?” Kara mourned and took another hearty sip of her drink.

 

“...perhaps.” But it wasn’t a convincing answer.

 

The silence hung between them as the vǫlva mulled over the information, allowing Kara time to lazily munch through her bread and finish off most of her ale. Her tunic was sticking to her skin with sweat, but it would dry soon enough. Exhaustion was beginning to tug at her weary body and she knew that she would have to return to her own abode to sleep-nightmares or not. She was tired , and to try to push herself in this state would be dangerous.

 

“Do you still hold reservations to meditate with me?”

 

She knew the question would come up, but Kara feared that there was no other way.

 

“I do, but what choice do I have? The gods provide no clue at this stage. We must… we must try something stronger.” She admitted.

 

The vǫlva inclined her head in acceptance. “I need to gather some items, but I will be ready in a few days time. Rest here a while longer if you need to. I must open my services to the village.”

 

Kara nodded mutely and nursed the ale in her cup, still feeling as if she were on a longship bobbing at sea.

 


 

True to her word, the vǫlva had what she needed in just a few days.

 

Kara had been able to get some rest since her visit to the seer, but now her dreams were plagued by the woman with black eyes and too many teeth. Kara was stoking the fire in their family’s home, her adoptive mother and sister settling in for the evening when there was a knock at the door. Her sister perked up with a curious frown from the handle of the seax she was re-wrapping. Kara jumped up and hurried to the door with her axe in hand behind her hip, pulling it open just a crack and blocking it with her body.

 

It was the vǫlva .

 

The hood of her cloak was dotted with fat flakes of snow, her breath fogged in front of her face. She didn’t say anything, but Kara nodded. It was time.

 

“I will return.” She muttered, hooking her axe to her belt and taking her own cloak off the peg next to the door.

 

“Where are you going?” Their mother asked, looking up from her stitching.

 

Kara wrapped herself up and pulled up her hood, opening the door wide enough for her to slip out-and for them to see the vǫlva as a reassurance and explanation.

 

“For guidance. Rest well.”

 

She pulled the door shut with a creak of wood, and came face to face with the vǫlva . They were too close, their cloaks brushing. Kara could smell the herbs that were intrinsic to her livelihood. Her eyes dropped to her mouth, just discernible in the low light and she was seized with the urge to kiss her. The vǫlva’s tongue peeked out and wet her lips, and the urge grew stronger.

 

“Come. Everything is ready.” The vǫlva breathed.

 

And then she was stepping away, her boots crunching in the new snowfall. Kara hurried after her with her heart in her throat, worried for what they may find and distracted by her attraction. The village was settling in for the night, making it easier for them to slip through unnoticed and unbothered. They tramped up the short steps to the vǫlva’s home, shook the snow off their boots, and slipped inside.

 

The vǫlva’s home was warm, almost too warm, and they shed their cloaks next to the door. Kara propped her axe against the wall and peeled her boots off when she noticed the vǫlva was too, and tried not to think about how her heartbeat was thick in her throat. She followed her back into the lodge after the door was securely latched, slipping past the workstation at the front and to the large copper pot. It had already been pulled off the fire but the brew inside was still steaming. The heavy divider curtain had been pulled closed around the vǫlva’s bed, and Kara decided that was probably a wise decision. With what she was expecting tonight, it would be best if there weren’t any extra temptations.

 

“Unlace your tunic a little?”

 

Kara blinked and heat crawled up her neck. The vǫlva was removing her head covering and laying it down on her work table. There were extra bowls laid out, and a small crock. The wooden seiðr staff was also laying out on a clean cloth. One of the bowls was a shallow vessel of carved wood. There was a thick dark liquid in it.

 

“Kara?”

 

She realized she had been staring again and shook herself back to the present. The vǫlva was sizing her up with a measure of concern, her hands half paused on her belt.

 

“We can wait.” She offered in a low careful voice.

 

Kara almost took the escape, but she shook her head no . She needed to find out what these dreams meant. She needed to know why they plagued her.

 

“Unlace or remove?” She asked, tugging at the lacing at the hollow of her throat.

 

The vǫlva watched her for a moment longer, then started tugging her belt free. “Which ever brings you more comfort.”

 

Kara swallowed thickly against the cloying herbs in the air and unlaced the neckline of her outer tunic. The single bead of sweat tracking down her spine underneath her chest cloths had her changing her mind, and she quickly undid her belt and pulled the woolen garment off. She also removed her linen undershirt in a moment of boldness, draping the clothing over the back of one of the chairs nearby. The sound of sliding fabric drew her attention back to the vǫlva -and she quickly averted her eyes again when she saw her step out of her leather leggings. Kara knew that clothing would have to be removed for certain parts of the ritual, but it still caught her off her guard.

 

“Are you ready?”

 

This time Kara nodded without hesitation.

 

“Good. Let us begin.”

 

The vǫlva stood over the fire and the copper pot and shook the bracelets on her wrists, beginning her invocation. She greeted the Allfather and those who may bless them with their attention, her voice soft in supplication. Each completed verse was finished with a shake of her bracelets. The first step was the brew, and she served them both a shallow bowlful, instructing Kara to take it with her. She eyes glinted like dark emerald in the firelight over the lip of the bowl as they watched each other drink. When the brew was finished the vǫlva collected the larger shallow bowl, starting a new verse of prayer and invocation with a jangle of metal. She dipped her fingers into it and held her hand out over the fire.

 

It was blood.

 

And most likely herbs. Something precious and blessed with her seiðr to create a linking spell of sorts. The vǫlva let some of the blood drip into the fire as offering with a rattling shake of her wrist. It hissed and spit upon contact. She dipped her hand back into the bowl and drew her fingertips down her face, then swiped her thumb down the middle of her throat. She went back into the bowl once more and drew a sigil on the center of her chest, and licked the pad of her thumb to draw the seiðr into herself. Kara held still as she approached, still murmuring her spell work as she dipped her hand back into the bowl. Her clothing was loose about her body, unfastened and exposing all. Kara dared not look, and kept her eyes on her face, flexing her hands down by her side.

 

The seiðr blood was cool against her skin.

 

Kara suppressed a shiver as the vǫlva drew her fingers down her face and the middle of her throat with gentle pressure. She dipped her thumb into the bowl again and drew a different sigil on Kara’s chest in a few quick movements-and then held her thumb up in front of her mouth. Kara leaned forward and let her tongue dart out, quickly laving over the pad of her tongue to complete the linking. It was coppery and bitter, and there was more than just blood as she had originally thought. The vǫlva didn’t flinch at the touch. She didn’t even react other than to continue her chant and return to the fire. Kara watched her return to the fire for another offering, and then she set the bowl back onto the table and wiped her hand clean.

 

“Kneel.”

 

Kara padded to where the vǫlva was pointing and knelt next to the fire where she had the previous ritual with the bed to her back. She kept her gaze to herself as the seer bent down and placed another henbane seed into the embers closest to her.

 

“Remember. Just once, and then bury it.”

 

Her breath was hot on her ear and Kara could only nod, not trusting her voice. The vǫlva rose and rounded the fire, the light illuminating the lithe leg adorned with looping tattoos that showed through the gap in her open covering as she knelt to place her own seed. Her chanting continued and she returned to the table to collect a dried mass of greenery. It looked like a collection of small dried flowers and delicate leaves. Before she could get a good look at it, the vǫlva placed it into the embers between them with a rattling of her bracelets. She was so distracted by the beginnings of thick white smoke and the vǫlva opening the small crock on the table to smear a salve onto her seiðr staff Kara almost missed the seed smoking in front of her. 

 

Kara leaned forward and inhaled the rancid smoke, knowing what to expect this time. She buried the seed in ash and held her breath in her chest until her lungs tightened, and then exhaled the faint smoke. On the other side of the fire the vǫlva knelt, the seiðr staff next to her on its clean cloth with a new shine. Kara watched her lean down to inhale the smoke of her own henbane seed and then bury it as she had. As the vǫlva held her breath she rose up once more, and carefully took the smoking green bud out of the embers. She exhaled with another smokey invocation and a rattle of her bracelets, then started pacing around the fire. Thrice she circled, filling the air around them with floral smoke that made Kara’s head feel light and fuzzy. The bud was returned to the embers and the vǫlva knelt once more across from Kara.

 

“Focus on the fire. Let it sooth you.” She instructed, and then raised her hands with a jangle of bracelets and another call for clarity, the fire light glimmering on the drying blood on her skin.

 

Kara did as she was instructed, easing her breath and relaxing her shoulders as best she could, and listened to the vǫlva lead them deeper into the ritual. The metallic rattle of her bracelets became a steady beat now, one that Kara would time with her breathing. Again she was hit with the sensation of her limbs detaching, pulling away and tossing her weightless-but less violently this time. She was cocooned by the effects of the white smoke and her rush to the feeling of flight was slowed, if dizzying.

 

As she was staring into the swirling flickering flame, she vaguely realized that the vǫlva had picked up her staff and had laid down on her back. The warmth of the brew spidering out into her veins was joined by a different heat that coiled low when the vǫlva’s chant was almost broken by a harsh sigh. A second quieter jangle of rings joined the bracelets, lending to every other beat and matching Kara’s breathing. She concentrated hard on the fire and the rhythm of the rings, relaxing to accept the effects of the medicines she had been given.

 

Everything started to swirl in strange winking colors and Kara felt as if she were soaring. The heat of the fire made her eyes water and her lips dry. Her head felt detached, like a bundle of seaweed bobbing in the surf. It felt good yet disorientingly aggravating, a strange mixture of mild pleasure and the balance on a razor-thin edge of rage. The vǫlva’s voice grew breathier and Kara could hear her, a soft sticky wet sound joined the quieter rings and her ears turned to seashells and fluffy wool.

 

The embers in front of her started breaking apart, floating up and out as if weightless. They passed through her without harm, a small globe imploding in the vǫlva’s hearth. The steam hissing from the wood as it burned grew around her, thousands of voices screaming out from within the fire.

 

They were screaming.

 

And screaming .

 

The vǫlva suddenly cried out her final supplication in ecstacy, the jangling disrupted as she fell into mindlessness-and Kara’s mind lurched with her.

 

She was back on the bloody planet adorned with silver, unraveling at the seams yet encased in blue fabric. The woman with the white streak in her hair was there, her long reaching fingers pulling- pulling -her towards the strange egg shaped chariot with fish fins.

 

Time to go, Kara .”

 

Mother, no-

 

The woman changed-her skin bubbling and stretching, her mouth full of too many teeth- she melted into a woman that looked like the vǫlva . But it wasn’t her Lena. Her skin was blemish free with no tattoos to be seen. Her body was dressed in some sort of black outfit that hugged her form, her hair clean and braid-free tied back in a high tail.

 

Kara .”

 

To her horror blood trickled down her pale cheeks, her expression twisting with grief. Green eyes again turned black and her mouth opened too wide with too many teeth-and she was soaring again in the silvery pod-chariot. Flying so fast her body was melting into the seat, pressing her into the surface with an unimaginable amount of force and if she tilted her head back she knew that her skull would be torn away. On the outside of the pod were hands, clawing to come inside, tearing at the strangely clear glass as if it were a thin film and the air was sucked from her lungs. All Kara knew was fear.

 

And fear.

 

And FEAR -

 


 

She woke.

 

Kara pressed her hand into the pelt she was lying on and focused on steadying her breathing as the ground swayed underneath her. At some point during her vision she had slumped onto her side. Her body was hot and cold at once, a thin sheen of sweat gathering on her skin and beading at her hairline. She still felt like her muscles were painlessly peeling off of her bones, but it was expected. Her heart still thudded heavily at the base of her throat and she managed to pry her eyes open. She could see just around the hearth, her vision fuzzy around the edges as embers still seemed to float through the air and fizzle out into nothingness.

 

The vǫlva was watching her with a bewildered expression and flushed face.

 

She was still on her back, her long over tunic open and baring her chest even if the hearth hid her. She was trying to breathe steadily, sweat highlighting the curve of her shoulder and the cord of muscle in her neck.

 

“What did you see?” She rasped.

 

It took Kara a moment to find her tongue in her mouth, but she only had one word to say.

 

You .”

 

The vǫlva swallowed thickly, the muscles moving in her throat. “I saw you too. I was… somewhere new. My guardians were cruel but faceless. I did seer work with strange things made of metal and… you were there. You had the powers of a god.”

 

She rolled partially onto her side, her inky hair a mess but her green eyes blown wide with wonder and her drug and orgasm induced high.

 

“It was still too blurred for me to pick much else out.”

 

“The Allfather? Loki?” Kara asked.

 

The vǫlva shook her head against the pelt she was laying on.

 

“I only saw you.”

 

They breathed in silence for a long moment, the fire crackling and popping and the bud of greenery still giving off hazy white smoke. The vǫlva licked her lips and grunted softly, another sticky sound and jangle of metal accompanying the movement of her shoulder. She sat up with a quiet groan and laid the seiðr staff on the clean cloth she had brought to the floor with her. Kara rolled clumsily onto her back and watched her rise slowly to her feet, the firelight softly warming the gentle swell of her breasts and hips where her garment hung open. This time she didn't avert her eyes and drank her in. The vǫlva watched her back, just breathing for a moment with a troubled expression.

 

“We will have to try again another night. I must commune with the gods for guidance on how to… how to better link our hugr .”

 

Kara nodded, still letting her eyes dip to the new skin she had never been privileged to lay eyes on. After a moment the vǫlva carefully wrapped her garment about herself and moved slowly towards the back door where Kara knew the small toilet behind the lodge was set.

 

“I need to clean up. Stay as long as you need.”

 


 

Time passed, Kara wasn’t sure how much.

 

She had worked around the village, hunted, trained, and went along on a raid to a new colony that tried to put down roots next to their land. The group hadn’t put up much of a fight, most even choosing to offer their skills and labor to Kara’s clan to protect their children. Many of them had been too weak and too hungry, travel-worn and too exhausted to want to cause conflict. The group had been folded in, swelling the borders of their village and gratefully easing themselves into routines. It was a comfort to see the children getting along as they played in the streets or by the water, and there was no animosity from the grown men and women of the new group. She busied herself with helping welcome them into their home. Kara had also seen the vǫlva out among them, greeting them, getting to know them. They were under her care now too, so Kara remained patient and waited to be summoned for the next ritual.

 

She couldn’t stop thinking about how she sounded. How she had looked.

 

Kara had selfishly stolen moments to herself thinking of her with a loosened belt and her fingers sticky, wishing that they were the vǫlva’s . Her hand was a poor replacement for what she craved, but it was all she could afford-and all she dared to take. She was becoming restless waiting now, pouring her energy into her work and training. Finally she was offered a respite, a message from the vǫlva scrawled in neat runes on a piece of parchment. 

 

Two days, when the moon is full .

 

Kara’s restlessness doubled now that she knew when the next attempted ritual would be. Perhaps she would finally get answers to the terrors that kept her from rest. Perhaps… she could find some comfort in the affection that could not be returned. It would be difficult. But she could learn to live with the rejection, just as she had for the past few years. She would become her protector and sentinel, whatever she desired or needed. Kara would be that object of use, even if it was only to help repair a basket.

 

Time bled together and soon enough Kara found herself quietly knocking on the vǫlva’s door after the evening meal. There was a muffled enter and she slipped inside. The lodge was warm again. Dim, lit only by the fire in the hearth. The vǫlva was standing with her back to her staring into the flames. Kara quickly hung her cloak and removed her boots, setting them next to the seer’s by the door. She leaned her axe there as well and padded silently into the lodge. The large copper pot was pulled off to the side closest to the work table, steaming with the same pungent brew. The same bowls and vessel of blood were also present, as were the henbane seeds and the strange bud of greenery. The seiðr staff from before was absent, but the same small crock of salve sat next to a collection of soft leather straps. A bedding of pelts and blankets had also been arranged next to the hearth, and a small pot sat in the embers away from the flames. Kara could see the steam rising from the lid of the water that had been boiled.

 

“Kara, I must confess something to you.”

 

The vǫlva’s voice was a timid murmur, unlike anything she had ever heard from her. Kara stepped a little closer, feeling her brow pull low with worry.

 

“Are you well? Has something happened?”

 

“I… yes? Erm.” She twisted her fingers together, a nervous habit Kara hadn’t seen in years.

 

It was then that Kara realized she had already removed some of her clothing and was once again only in her large over tunic. She averted her gaze accordingly, now conscious of her own hands wanting to reach out and explore. Kara crossed her arms across her chest instead. The vǫlva cleared her throat and took a deep breath.

 

“The reason why I had not been able to connect our hugr was-was my fault. I was trying not to hold you too close and it caused the link to weaken.” She explained, looking down at her hands. “I was trying to… to protect you. Forgive me, it was selfish of me.”

 

Kara’s mind stuttered. Was the vǫlva saying what Kara thought she was saying? “I don’t understand… Lena-”

 

Lena finally looked up at her, green eyes full of anguish and Kara shut her mouth with a click of her teeth.

 

“I have held you at a distance for years, yet my heart cries out to you every day .” Her teeth flashed with a downturn of her lips, the threat of tears. “I harbor a bone-deep love for you that clouds my hugr and and makes my thoughts wander.”

 

The low confession knocked Kara’s feet out from under her.

 

She had known that there had been some attraction, but what Lena was describing… it was a match to the color of her own heart.

 

“Will you forgive me for holding you so far from me? The connection is needed for understanding and for the ritual to work-but I don’t want it only for that. I want to be selfish. I want you .”

 

Kara had heard enough.

 

She uncrossed her arms and finally- finally -reached out to her. Kara cradled her face gently, Lena’s breath hitching in surprise, and she kissed her.

 

There was a moment, a space between the skip of a heartbeat, and then she was kissing her back.

 

Kara couldn’t remember the last time her heart had felt so light. Lithe arms circled around her ribs and pulled her close, crushing them together in an embrace of relief as she kissed her again and again until they were breathless. They paused, tangled together to just let themselves feel for a moment.

 

“You have my forgiveness. You already have my heart.” Kara whispered, kissing away a salty tear as her own finally escaped and rolled down her cheek. “There is nothing to repair. Only more to build.”

 

The vǫlva , Lena , sighed shakily and pressed soft and yielding into her. “I wish to do that with you. I want to right now.”

 

“But the ritual.” Kara offered, hearing her hesitation.

 

“Yes, the ritual.” Lena sighed. “We must complete it. Try to find clarity. And then we can move forward.”

 

Kara nodded, her head rocking against Lena’s.

 

They separated reluctantly and the seer drew her seiðr up around herself like armor, the firelight still catching the tracks left from her tears. Kara took her own steadying breath and readied herself, hopeful and excited for what came next for them. She hastily wiped her own tears from her face and waited for instruction.

 

The vǫlva began with a bold jangle of her bracelets.

 

She repeated the same invocations from before, calling out for guidance and wisdom. She gave them the steaming brew, bitter and cloying. And then she was in front of Kara, her eyes dark but her expression determined. Deft fingers loosened her belt and Kara could feel her face warm. She let Lena slowly undress her with meticulous care. Piece by piece, the vǫlva removed her clothing until she stood bare before her. Gooseflesh raced across her skin as green eyes glinted in the firelight and greedily drank her in. With a shrug of her shoulders the vǫlva rid herself of her tunic and it was Kara’s turn to stare. The firelight smoothed over the strong muscle in her thigh and the toned abdominal muscles as she turned and retrieved the shallow wooden bowl of the blood infused with her seiðr .

 

The vǫlva began the next part of the ritual with her hand over the fire like the previous time, her bracelets clinking with a shake of her hand. She drew her hand down her face, drew the sigil on the center of her chest, then more on the backs of her hands and an extra pair flanking the first just under her collar bone. Lastly she drew her thumb from the sigil on the center of her chest down. Down over her ribs, over the tattoos on her stomach, to the coarse black hair between her legs before licking some of the blood into her mouth. Kara’s heart thundered in her ears as the warmth of the brew reached into her veins, melding with the greedy heat nestled low in her abdomen. She could feel her body warming and coming alive with anticipation.

 

She held herself still as the vǫlva drew the same sigils on her skin, and then with effort as her thumb swiped down her front. Her touch left her before her thumb could travel further to the small tingling ache at the top of her sex, and she obediently laved her tongue over the pad of her thumb to close the seiðr link. The vǫlva returned to the fire and finished the invocation, then returned the bowl to the work table. She paused, her hand resting on the leather straps.

 

“Do you trust me?”

 

Kara swallowed thickly, still tasting copper. “Yes. Always.”

 

A soft smile flitted across the vǫlva’s face, but she quickly stifled it. She picked up the leather straps, the small crock of salve, and a clean cloth.

 

“Kneel on the bedding.”

 

A thrill raced through her and she quickly did as instructed, feeling a little more comfortable next to the warmth of the hearth. The fur was soft under her knees and the moment felt far too intimate to be a seiðr ritual. The vǫlva bent in front of her and laid the items out, then returned to the table one last time with another shallow dish containing the henbane seeds and greenery bud. Kara had so many questions about the salve, the leather straps, but she held her tongue and waited, pressing her hands flat into the tops of her thighs in an effort to keep herself still. The vǫlva was murmuring soft spell chants again, and plucked the clay lid off of the steaming pot. She reached in and pulled out an object, about the length of her hand and the width of two of Kara’s fingers. It took a moment for her to understand what it was, but it clicked as the vǫlva dried it and laid it next to the straps.

 

A false phallus made of smooth leather. She had heard of such things from the Romans and Greeks, a gift from their god Dionusos made of leather or wood or stone, but had never seen one in person. The gravity of the situation pressed into her and Kara was determined to make sure that everything went according to plan. For this to go right for both of their sakes. The vǫlva picked up the straps and touched her knee.

 

“Rise up?”

 

Kara did so, rocking up off of her haunches. The vǫlva carefully wrapped the leather around her hips, making sure it laid flat on her skin. She looped the straps securely around her thighs, high enough that the backs of her knuckles brushed against her. Her breath caught in her chest and she held her hips still, heat blossoming through her body. There was still plenty of soft leather strap left, but the vǫlva paused and began another invocation. She opened the crock and Kara finally got a look inside at the clean, filtered animal fat colored by a ground powder. With steady hands the vǫlva took the phallus and rubbed some of the salve onto the wider end. Then, she pinned Kara with a look that made her blood roar through her veins, and reached between her legs.

 

Kara did gasp and subtly roll her hips as warm fingers slipped between her legs and slid through her, gently probing. Her breath hitched as she rubbed, the tips of her fingers slick from the salve dipping just into her. As she pulled her hand back her finger slid along the sensitive bundle of nerves and a soft moan hung high in Kara’s chest. She ached for her to touch her there again, to sink her fingers into her and pull the greedy animal pleasures from her bones. She wanted Lena to consume her with her touch, with her mouth. But first, she had to wait.

 

The vǫlva positioned the phallus against her and instructed her to hold it in place as she took the leather straps and wrapped them around the base. There was a small rounded knob on the end that pressed easily against her clit, and Kara had to focus on her breathing as the vǫlva tightened the criss-crossing straps to hold it to her. She couldn’t help but stare down at the new object jutting out obscenely from her hips, warm in her hand-

 

“Does that feel comfortable?”

 

Kara blinked against the mounting haze of arousal and the foggy effects of the brew she had consumed. She touched the leather warming her skin, shifting around on her knees and found nothing to be pinching.

 

“Yes.”

 

The vǫlva nodded and continued the ritual, smoking the henbane seeds and inviting Kara to breathe in the smoke, then added the bud of greenery. As the perfumed white smoke rose from the embers the vǫlva pushed her down onto the bedding, helping her to get comfortable. Kara laid there and breathed, feeling the familiar lurch and pull of the henbane. She took the brief moment to get used to the leather about her hips as the vǫlva made her three circuits with the greenery bud before placing it back into the fire. She was a goddess standing above her, golden in the firelight with blazing eyes and crimson sigils.

 

The vǫlva spread her arms wide with a ringing jangle of her bracelets, the metal singing through the haze. She stepped over Kara to straddle her, and then sank to her knees. Her weight rested on her thighs, one warm hand planted securely on her hip as she dipped her fingers into the crock again. Kara hesitantly reached out and bumped her knuckles into her knees, rubbed the pads of her fingers over the soft fine hair. Lena rubbed her thumb affectionately on her hip in between the leather straps, and then wrapped her fingers around the phallus. With deliberate motions and a few mumbled words, the vǫlva smeared the salve the length of the tool. Kara’s heart was a flutter of bird’s wings in her chest as the embers seemed to rise out of the fire and float and swirl around them.

 

Then she was wiping her hand clean on the cloth and rising up onto her knees again. The vǫlva widened her knees as she moved up above Kara’s hips, her lips still moving in quiet spell-speak as she found the phallus with her finger tips. She caught Kara’s gaze for just a moment, her face flushed and her eyes dark, and then started easing herself down onto her in short shallow bobs. The pressure of her movements pressed the base into her, the small knob bumping against her clit. Kara’s gaze bounced from the vǫlva’s chest and the glittering rings in her pebbled nipples to the darkening leather becoming slicker and disappearing into the seer bit by bit with each careful bob. And then she eased down on her completely with a low sigh, her chest heaving as Kara filled her completely. The continuous pressure on her clit had her gasping and clinging to the vǫlva’s thighs, her heels digging into the soft fur bedding.

 

The vǫlva stayed seated on her for a long moment, her head tilted back and her lips moving soundlessly. She leaned back to brace her hands on Kara’s thighs, and then rose up. Her thoughts ground to a halt as she watched her from the new angle, slick pink folds clinging to the leather visibly peeking out from the coarse black hair as she rocked up. She could see the bundle of nerves at the top of her sex, deep pink and swollen. The vǫlva tilted her hips back and sank back down onto the phallus again with a moaned prayer, and then tilting forward as she rose again to draw the end against a sensitive spot inside her with a gasp. Kara was entranced by the repetitive motion, the peeking of pink, and the slick sticky sounds of the vǫlva accepting her assistance to bring herself to a mindless state. Each movement had the thicker base and the small knob pressing into her, coaxing pleasure to sinking into a heavy tightening coil in her belly.

 

The world seemed to bleed and blend with the firelight, swirling into the vǫlva’s body as embers sparkled and danced around them against the weight of the sky. The vǫlva started moving her hips quicker, a slow building speed that had Kara reactively grinding up into her with a subtle shift of her hips. It increased the pleasure between her legs and with the smoke she had inhaled, made her feel as if she were leaving the bedding in a floating stretch and pull of sticky tree sap. She felt so intimately close to her that her heart ached. The edges between them started to blur-quite literally as the herbs they had consumed made Kara’s mind see things that weren’t truly there. The vǫlva was moving quickly now, the easily sliding onto the leather phallus now with a near-reckless abandon. The pitch of her voice was rising high into her chest, breathless and strained with pleasure.

 

In a clumsy surge of motion and a low moan, the vǫlva took Kara’s hand from her thigh and pressed into into her abdomen without breaking her rhythm. She then took Kara’s thumb and placed it onto her clit, her hips jerking at the new pressure. Kara couldn’t help but groan in agreement as she started rubbing her thumb over her, understanding that she wasn’t to stop until the vǫlva fell into her trance. She was unlike anything she had touched before, warm and slick, soft and firm. If given the chance, Kara wanted to find out what she felt like against her tongue. What she tasted like.

 

The vǫlva was struggling to reach the end of her final invocation now, her hips becoming more frantic as she drove the both of them towards release. Kara watched her greedily, to the roll of her hips, the way she looked around the leather, the way the metal in her nippled flashed with each bounce while giving herself over to the pleasure slickly grinding against her. The vǫlva’s voice rose to such a pitch Kara’s ears rang and she sat roughly on her, hips jerking as she ground down onto her and into her hand as she fell into ecstasy.

 

Kara’s mind lurched with her at the same time, her own pleasure blooming forth in a sudden release against the rounded knob.

 

Her mind blanked and she soared into a blur of creamy skin and orange firelight-

 

-and landed in a curious shop of metal and glass. Sweet pastries unlike anything she had ever seen of sugars and jellies and creams filled the case-and next to her Lena was smiling and pointing at one of them. The joy bled to fear and she was in the strange blue outfit again, fighting a terrifying creature with blue skin and other people with dangerous weapons that threw smaller pieces of metal faster than the eye could see-but she could see it. There was a glowing blue flat object in her hands-it lit up like the moon and she could use it to communicate-Lena’s face was on it smiling. She was flying but too high above the ground and she was above the birds, soaring through chilly fluffy clouds without the aid of the silver pod-chariot and by sheer ease of will. It was the respite she had from the terrible god-like powers and the resentment she held from them and for the woman with too many teeth. She was in a world of blues and greens and stone and metal as its protector. High in the sky the blood red planet hung low, fracturing into ghastly fissures of sickly green and on the surface-the woman watching her with empty holes for sockets. The fear overwhelmed her but a warm hand on her chest pulled her gaze down and it was Lena, with her caring eyes and gentle smile and Lena and Lena and Lena -

 


 

Kara sucked in a ragged breath.

 

Pressure between her legs caused a zing of pleasure and her hips jumped out of reaction, and Lena gasped above her. She was still sitting on her, reeling from the herbs and the orgasm and the vision. Kara’s hand had shifted to curl around her hip, her thumb pressing into the crease where her thigh began. Their bodies still blurred and shifted, melding and melting, separating in a swirl before coming together again in the white hazy fog. The vǫlva was looking down at her in wonder, flushed and breathless.

 

“What did you see?”

 

The vǫlva’s question was little more than a whisper. Kara reached for her then, smoothing her hands over every curve of Lena she could reach. She poured her affection into her touch, her chest filling with sunlight as Lena leaned over her and did the same. She breathed deep as long elegant fingers traced over her tattoos on her chest and face.

 

“You.” She sighed, still unsure of so many things, but she knew one thing. “I am for you, no matter where I am.”

 

Lena was just herself now. Plain and raw, dropping her grandeur and authority as a vǫlva to just be with Kara in that moment. She pressed her hands flat to Kara’s chest and smoothed them over her breasts, her stomach, to where they were joined.

 

“We are but one facet in the face of a gemstone. Our pasts, our futures, are all of one dimension. Our threads are woven into one. They are never separate.” She breathed in awe.

 

Kara took her hands in her own and laced their fingers together tightly, her tongue heavy in her mouth with the weight of her words. “If our threads are intertwined, it would be cruel and godless to tear them from each other.”

 

She took Lena’s hands and placed them on her chest again, her callused palms warm against her nipples. Kara wanted to be as close to her as possible, for as long as possible.

 

Be selfish with me .”

 

The words burbled forth in a strange language, harsh and lilting at the same time, yet it felt at home in her mouth. Lena understood her with a breathless sound, her hands tightening on her. There wasn’t a need for more words, and Kara found herself giving into the overwhelming craving for the woman in her lap. She surged up with a grunt, her arms sliding around Lena’s back to pull her down to her. Lena leaned down with a needy moan and slipped her tongue into the hollow of Kara’s throat, and then up the front of her neck. Kara held her closer at the sensation of her tongue on her skin, and accepted her greedily into her mouth as she laved over the curve of her chin.

 

With a surge of energy, Kara wrapped an arm around Lena and flipped them over. The change in position shifted the leather phallus in Lena and against Kara, resulting in a mingling of quiet moans. She rolled her hips experimentally, slipping away and then pushing back in until she felt Lena warm and soft against her skin. The action pulled a whined utterance of her name from Lena’s chest and her dull nails raked lightly down her back. Kara rolled her hips again and learned a new rhythm, working herself against the rounded knob as she searched for a way to give pleasure to the woman clinging to her.

 

Strong thighs squeezed at her hips, two arms, six arms, ten-wrapped around her, touched her, smoothed down her back and tugged at her hair. She was melting into her like wax, blurring and swirling until her hands sunk into her skin. Sinking into her ribcage, their mouths becoming a single maw of too many teeth as the pleasure built until she was about to-

 


 

“-Kara. Wake up, you’re dreaming.”

 

Kara blinked her eyes open groggily, barely making out the 3:37 AM on her digital clock. She inhaled deeply through her nose, feeling the comforting weight of Lena’s arm curled around her ribs as she pressed into her back. Kara’s wedding bands subtly reflected the soft blue glow on her night stand. She must have forgotten to put them away earlier.

 

“...sorry.” She mumbled, disoriented from the lengthy dream.

 

Lena kissed the back of her neck sleepily and sighed, sagging into her back. Her breath warmed her through the fabric of her shirt but Kara’s mind was having trouble sinking back down into sleep again, stuck on the tattooed Lena she had dreamt of.

 

“Lena?”

 

Her wife sighed sleepily. “Hmmm?”

 

“Do you know if seers in viking times used sex magic?” Kara didn’t mince her words, now thinking about the acts she and dream-Lena had participated in. She was still too tired to want to do anything about it, even her body wanted rest.

 

“Is that what you were dreaming about?” Lena’s voice rose a little in curiosity.

 

Kara hummed a sound of affirmation. Lena sighed heavily into her back.

 

“Well… Like many cultures, sex and fertility always have a role. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an element of sex to viking magic. I’ll do some research for you in the morning.”

 

She could already hear sleep pulling at Lena’s voice again and the very apparent plea to hush, please . Kara rolled over to snuggle close, nosing a kiss into the top of her head as she adjusted her arms around her.

 

“Humans are weird.”

 

Lena sighed a soft laugh, placing one last kiss to the collar of her t-shirt before pressing the tip of her nose into her skin. “Creatures of comfort.”

 

Kara hummed another sound of affirmation and settled in, feeling sleep pull at her as Lena’s breath evened out. That was the last time she’d let Winn drag her into binge-playing a video game in a week. She usually didn’t play them, but it had made him happy and she missed his friendship as they video chatted cross-mellinias.

 

She was just about to doze off when one last question crossed her mind.

 

“D’you wanna get tattoos?”


“Kara, go to sleep .”