"This changes things." Tyr paced the chamber like a caged panther. Ymir lounged, not unlike her brother, upon the couch, watching her future husband as he mumbled to himself. "Obviously, we can't take him out yet. Too soon along with his father and Heimdall will suspect something. That kid is too smart for his own good. I don't want to kill him you know. Children, I've never liked watching children die."
Ymir snorted. "I imagine so, if you were any different I think we'd have to rethink this marriage deal." She allowed her own morbid amusement to pass over before she furrowed her eyebrows. "Surt mentioned Titanic Heathens in the South, did you know about this?"
Tyr stared at her in poorly masked fear. "No, I didn't. But it means I may have to lead my Warriors to their aid. Gods, the Southern Realm can hardly fight for shit." Tyr caught himself too late. He bowed his head. "I apologize for my reprehensible language. I should hold my tongue-" He stopped talking, he had been interrupted with Ymir's laughter.
Tears pooling in her eyes. "Tyr, dearest, no need to apologize. The Gods know if I could have evaded punishment for speaking so freely I would have."
Tyr shook his head, taking a seat beside her feet. "I say we make another deal. We speak freely around each other, we hide no intentions, politeness and manners be damned! Our speech to each other shall not be obstructed."
Ymir smiled genuinely for once. "I think such a deal can be made."
Tyr winked, what Ymir could assume would have sent any other girl swooning for him, and patted her knee. "Very well."
Silence fell in the room, both becoming victim to their own thoughts. "Fighting the Heathens, it sounds dangerous."
Tyr sent a crooked, ironic smile her way, but she could tell in his eyes that he did not find the subject amusing. "You've no idea."
Ymir sighed, bringing her knees closer to her chest to allow Tyr the space to sit more comfortably on the couch. "I wish I could fight alongside you, I always loved watching the men dance about each other in the duels my brothers watched. My father was always so bloody ignorant." She rolled her eyes. "I hated him so much."
Tyr's throat rumbled with a soft chuckle. "You know, I can teach you to fight. My Lady Ymir, you could fight beside me. Perhaps not against the Heathens, but against pathetic, pitiful men sure."
Ymir cocked an eyebrow. "I can't tell if you're being facetious." Despite her pessimism, she could not stop the excitement from rising in her chest.
Tyr shook his head again. "I'm not! I mean every word I say, my Ymir. We're marrying against your will, but that doesn't mean you must hate me. Please, might we be friends?" He stretched his hand out. Hesitantly, Ymir allowed him to take her hand, kissing it with a charming smile. "I'll teach you anything and everything you want to know." He promised.
Ymir watched as he stood to resume his pacing, lost in her own world. She watched him carefully, but she couldn't bring herself to think anything romantic of the man. But perhaps she could trust him enough. Logically, she knew asking for friendship would be a good first step in courting her, but she wouldn't allow him to get that far in their relationship. Frankly, she was more terrified about her impending marriage with Tyr than she cared to let on. Gods, what would he expect from her on their wedding night?
"Our marriage shouldn't change our plans for world domination." He smirked a bit to himself, amused with his own joke. "However, it means I'll have to take you with me while recruiting. But it means I can spend less time here 'courting' and more time out on the field. Less suspicion should be cast on us if that is the case. Now that I think more carefully, this might be to our advantage!"
"Very well," Ymir nodded absently, she had her own worries. If he expected anything of her, what would he do when she ultimately turned him down? She made it awfully clear on the day of their engagement that she was not intent on being his wife. Honestly, she had no care in the world about whom he had sexual relations with. Gods, she'd prefer he found a mistress if that meant she was left alone, so long as it caused no scandal.
Two weeks passed by in a blur and she found herself draped in an earthy brown with strips of gold, green, and black weaved around her body into a complicated, traditional wedding toga that dipped low on her chest and carefully tightened to imply a thin waist and hips capable of child bearing. Ymir's eyes seemed to shine with flecks of lighter brown and gold, mirroring her clothing. Her hair was braided and weaved around in a traditional hairstyle, common amongst royalty and noblewomen. Her freckles dotted across her skin, standing out due to her brown clothing. She was elegant, and stable. She was the perfect image of a young bride, her clothing and stance mimicked that of Mother Earth, the very reason brides wore brown on their wedding day in the Northern Cardinal Realm.
She stood in the center of her now empty bed chambers. Her things had been removed from the room and taken to her new home with Tyr. Simple furniture such as the bed and her dressers remained, but anything personal, which there wasn't much, was gone. She did not see the servants remove her things, and she wasn't concerned. She didn't need most of those things anyway.
Finally, one of her handmaidens approached her with a worn, rectangular box. "We were told that this was to be given to you on the day of your wedding, my Lady." She opened the box carefully to reveal a black, leather corded necklace with a golden plate etched with designs on it. Ymir ran her fingers across the black figures on the designs, recognizing the words to be an old language, very old. It took her a few minutes to translate them to say "daughter of the earth" in elegant writing. Around the words careful figures seemed to dance about. She knew it to be a creation myth, the one in which the four personified elements, fire, water, wind, and soul, tore apart the giant, Ymir, to create the universe, gods and heroes springing from the ground as her blood fell into contact with the sweat of the four elements.
"Mother, why in the hell did you name me after a monster that got torn apart?" Ymir had asked, looking up in horror from her book.
The only response she got was a stinging pain across the back of her hands. "Ymir! Do not speak to anyone of greater status, or even lesser status, that way! If you wish an answer, reword your question as if directed at your superior!" Her mother glared at her. "As it so happens to be."
Ymir rolled her eyes. "Why did you name me after a monster?"
Another slap to the back of her hands, she was sure one day the meter stick her mother used for such punishments would break one day. "I am not your equal, Daughter Mine."
Ymir grit her teeth. "How exactly should I reword the question then?" She growled.
Ymir's mother rolled her honey colored eyes. "I say you take after your father oh too much." She snapped the meter stick again on the desk. "Sit up straight and listen! You begin with the title of the person you are addressing. Never forget to leave out their title. You will say 'Lady Ragnarok, mother of mine,' then you will state your question, worded precisely and eloquently, 'for what is your reason for naming me after such a tragic and monstrous creature such as the giant Ymir, whose fate is less than savory?' and with that, you will smile graciously, and await an answer politely, your hands folded and full attention on the person answering such a question. When you speak, never run out of beautiful words, Ymir. It's these words people fall in love with, and if you wish for people to give you what you want, your rhetoric must shine brighter than any star in the sky."
"Does that include the sun?" Ymir's mother raised an immaculate eyebrow. "Er, Lady Ragnarok, mother of mine, I must ask, er, do the stars my words must outshine include the sun?"
She nodded once. "Very well, we will continue our lesson tomorrow, but yes, you must enamor the entire room, Ymir. We are women, we cannot expect to be strong we must use language to guard us."
Ymir rolled her eyes again. "You never answered my question, mother. Why am I named after a monster?"
Ymir's mother gave up. "Because, Ymir, you are a lady. You are nobility and will birth heroes and gods just as Ymir the Giant did. You are the daughter of the earth and shall be just as strong. Yes, the giant's plight is a grotesque one, but the beauty that came of it is what you shall bring just the same."
Ymir shook the memory from her head and touched the necklace carefully. "This was a gift from my mother, no?"
The handmaiden nodded. "Yes, my Lady."
"Very well, put it on me."
The necklace was tight and itchy, meant to hold carefully to her throat, to show, not unlike a dog's collar, who she was. Ymir stood tall and glanced at herself in the mirror. "I suppose I won't be seeing any of you again."
Her handmaidens shook their heads wearily. "No, my Lady." One of them spoke aloud.
"Very well, I wish all of you good fortune." She spoke dully, the well-wishing almost a duty rather than a sincerity. Her handmaidens nodded.
"We wish you good fortune as well, my Lady. May the Gods look down upon you in favor."
Ymir left her chambers alone, guiding herself along to find her escort. Surt would be leading her through to her marriage ceremony. He stood tall in his usual attire, though he had a sword at his hip now, he waited for her at the great double doors leading away from the castle that she called home throughout her childhood.
Surt's face stretched into a smile. "Wow, my darling sister, how beautiful you look!"
She curtsied slightly. "I thank you, my brother, Lord Surt."
He offered his arm, before touching the gold on her neck. "I don't understand these words. These pictures, what are they?"
Ymir walked alongside her brother leisurely as they left the castle to the horse drawn carriage she would arrive at her ceremony in. The walk was long, which gave the two plenty of time to talk. "It's the creation of the world. Did mother never tell you? It was one of her favorite stories, that, and the one of our father's namesake, the Ragnarok. The words say 'daughter of the earth' but the story around it is about the giant Ymir, and the four elements, the beginning of the world as we know it."
Surt smiled jovially, today seemed to be a good day for him. "Tell me the story then, dear Ymir. I loved mother so much, however my studies took me from her for much of my childhood."
Ymir nodded. "She adored you, you know. I always seemed to mess up."
"You were a child, Ymir."
"Not a good one, I suppose." Ymir sighed. "Anyway, the story goes as this. The giant Ymir, fell to the four elements. Fire, Water, Wind, and Soul, slew the giant and used her flesh to create the earth. The Gods and many of our human heroes sprung from Ymir's blood when it came into contact with the sweat of the elements. Mother named me after the Giant because she hoped that I would create something equally incredible such as a hero."
Surt chuckled. "And so you will, dear sister. Tell me, what of my name? And Heimdall's as well?"
Ymir smiled, she so rarely had civil conversations with her brother. It was moments like these that made her hesitate in her scheme to kill him. "Well, Heimdall is actually one of the Gods, didn't you know? He is the guardian of the kingdom of the Gods. Fitting, as he stands guard beside the thrones."
"It is fitting isn't it? He'll be joining the army as soon as he comes of age, after all, it's his only option. I have a long life ahead of me, and the Realm is mine. However, until then he'll have a good home here. Perhaps, after he's returned from the army he'll become one of my most trusted advisors. He's a brilliant boy you see." Surt smiled affectionately, sniffing at the air. "A beautiful day to send my beautiful sister to marry in a beautiful wedding."
"You're in a wonderful mood today dear brother. But I do believe you're right. Heimdall has been clever since we were children. He guards us now, he'll guard our Realm soon, and then he'll return to guard our secrets."
"What about me?" Surt turned, taking Ymir's hands and swinging her about in a half dance like they once did when they were children, however both of them now had grown much more graceful. "My namesake, does it come from these myths mother loved so?"
Ymir laughed at the childish maneuver. "Yes, however, yours is not quite as appealing. On the Ragnarok, the ending of our world, your namesake cut apart the world with his flaming sword. Strange, that is, unless you tear apart our Realm."
"I would never!"
"Perhaps mother liked the strength of the Giant Surt rather than his actual deeds." Ymir pondered, allowing Surt to continue leading her on in the awkward half dance. "I must say, you have the passion, the fire, to be likened to Surt."
Surt smiled once more, twisting her about. They reached the carriage shortly and stepped inside. "And what did mother have to say about the Heathens? What created them?"
Ymir thought. "Mother told me that the Heathens were the beginning of the end. See the Ragnarok is the end of the world, but it's a cyclical thing. It's a war between the Giants and the Gods and it literally destroys the world before they raise it once more. She said the Heathens are mercenaries sent from the Giants, meant to seek out heroes and Gods alike and destroy them before they can prevent what is coming. She said that the Heathens were the very reason that she named us the way she did. We are meant to birth the heroes and be the Gods that stop the Ragnarok from beginning."
"If it must happen, then why should we fight it?"
"Don't you think if it were an unpreventable event that it would have happened by now? The Heathens are centuries old. They haven't overwhelmed us yet, let's not give up hope. I don't suppose you want to be the last Lord of the Northern Realm?"
Surt shook his head with a weary laugh. "I don't want to be the last. But I want to be the greatest."
Ymir smiled. "And so you shall."
As silence fell over the two, Ymir watched outside the window as decorative streets and homes stood tall, less looming than during the funeral procession, but not quite appealing to Ymir. She didn't like the white and gold that strung across above them, and she didn't like the forcibly pleasant peoples waving at her. She recognized the blacksmith's apprentice, a strapping boy she used to sneak out to train with, she didn't recognize anyone else however.
When the carriage stopped, Ymir took a deep breath, nerves suddenly catching her by the throat. Surt leaned forward and kissed her forehead. "Ymir, you will be better off now. I can't give you a happy life, how lonely you would be! Tyr is the mightiest Warrior we have at our disposal, and handsome too! Smile, dearest, and let us go."
Ymir forced a smile and stepped forward. Surt opened the carriage and stood straight, he was tall, but Ymir was just as tall. They could have passed for twins if Surt had freckles. Surt held out a hand and waited for Ymir to take it and step down. When she looked about she saw the cheering and happiness of the people around her. Noblewomen dressed in red, the noblemen standing ramrod straight, drinks in hand. Their noise and celebration seemed muted to her, but Ymir stepped forward anyway, as a path opened up towards the entrance of the building.
Surt led her forward and Ymir kept her head high. She was the only one allowed to wear brown and gold, and she strained to see Tyr. She did not have to strain long, as they entered, the building opened up to be an elaborately decorated atrium like room. In the center, stood Tyr, dressed in black, with speckles of blue scattered across his chest. Leather straps around his biceps and thighs, he wore silver wrist gauntlets that shimmered in the lighting. He was the personification of the sky, and today, the earth and sky would meet to become one.
Surt melted into the crowd as Ymir was handed off to take the arm of her fiancé. He smiled down at her with a charming smile, and Ymir, in turn faked a shy smile herself. Upon their meeting, the crowds went silent and Surt and Heimdall stepped forward once more, finally, the officiator appeared. "By the Gods, we must sit." He announced, silence fell and everyone sat down. The spectators sat at their seats while Ymir, Tyr, Ymir's brothers, and a man Ymir did not recognize sat down, crossing their legs. "Link hands, blessed couple."
Ymir and Tyr did so, grasping hands in a specific way, hooking thumbs and lining their fingers together. "Today, we wed two of the mightiest of the Northern Realm! We watch the joining of two souls, two great people shall become one, and shall rise above us all. Today, in love, Tyr, the mightiest Titanic Warrior shall pledge himself to our dearest Lady Ymir, daughter of Lord Ragnarok and sister of Lord Surt."
Ymir zoned out slightly, thinking about what she was about to do. "Now, Lady Ymir, pledge yourself."
Ymir snapped her head up to look directly at Tyr. "I pledge my mind, body, and soul to be completely at the command of my dearest husband, to serve and care for the love of my life, I pledge all that I am to the great Tyr, Titanic Warrior of the North."
A few moments later, Tyr rumbled. "I pledge my mind, body, and soul to protect what is dear to me, my darling wife, and when it so comes, my strong family, I shall command my wife in mercy and adoration, I pledge all that I am to Lady Ymir, daughter of the great Lord Ragnarok and sister to the mighty Lord Surt."
"Now, mark upon your faces with the earth." An ancient ceramic jar was set between them, filled with blackened earth clay. Together, Ymir and Tyr moved their right hands to take a small scoop of the clay and mark the face of the other. Ymir marked carefully on his forehead a crescent sun, and upon his chin a wavy line resembling water. On his cheeks three horizontal lines, the top for the Gods, the second for her people, the bottom for the earth. Tyr marked the same lines on Ymir's face and the two wiped their hands on a rag provided for them.
"And now, for the eternal markings of your marriage." The officiator gestured for Ymir to remove Tyr's shirt enough to expose his breast, she placed her hand on his chest, just over his heart and words said in a strange tongue caused a slight burning sensation under Ymir's palm. Tyr grit his teeth in pain and after the searing ceased, Ymir removed her hand, leaving black handprint over Tyr's heart.
Next, Tyr moved Ymir's clothing just enough to slip his hands beneath the thin cloth and press his hand over her heart. The burning was intense, but Ymir grit her teeth and it was over in only a few minutes. When Tyr removed his hand, a roar went up in the crowd around them and the two were ushered into a horse drawn carriage to be taken to another location for the celebration.
The celebration began with a huge feast, Ymir sat to the left of Surt at the head of the table, and Tyr on her left. Heimdall sat across from her at Surt's right, and various nobles filled the table shortly thereafter, congratulating her and smiling, red blushes on their cheeks from too much drink so early in the day.
Tyr was much more outgoing, he smiled and thanked the spectators for their support. "Ah, Ymir, this is my brother." Tyr introduced the man Ymir had not recognized at the ceremony. "His name is Nate."
Nate shook her hand shyly. "A pleasure my Lady," Ymir could still smell the earth from him, he was obviously a farmer.
"The pleasure is mine, I've yet to meet any of my dear husband's family."
Nate shook his head. "I'm all that's left, my Lady, even then, we're not related by blood."
"Oh brother," Tyr laughed. "Your family took me in, raised me as their own, as far as I'm concerned, we are blood."
Ymir smiled graciously as Nate was ushered off and the feast began. Ymir gave up on keeping track of how much wine Tyr and her brothers drank, but she knew Tyr hadn't drunken too much.
"My Ymir, dance with me!" Tyr proposed jovially, as the last plates of food were taken away, extending his hand to her.
"You're drunk, love." Ymir giggled.
"Of course I am! It's our wedding celebration! Dance with me!" His cheeks were tinged with pink as he let out a boisterous laugh.
Ymir, incapable of resisting his puppy-like begging, took his hand. They entered the dance floor first as a peppy folk song Ymir vaguely recognized began. She knew the dance to it well, since her nighttime adventures did not always include vicious sparring with the village boys, but also lots of peasant dances. Tyr and Ymir fell into step so quickly it almost looked choreographed. The folk dance resembled a waltz, but it was much faster and involved a lot more complicated footwork than a traditional waltz. Ymir was astonished at Tyr's exceptional performance, the precision and timing required a great deal of skill, and Ymir knew for a fact that alcohol should have inhibited him more than it did.
Heimdall watched the two proudly while Surt brought another woman he hadn't seen before away to a deserted chamber. Heimdall couldn't help but note that his sister almost resembled something akin to happiness as she danced along with her husband.
Ymir and Tyr retired quickly after a dance to sit away from the music and dancing. "Ah, I must say Ymir, you do look beautiful today."
Ymir rolled her eyes. "And I look like shit the other days?"
Tyr laughed loudly. "I can't get over it when you speak like that. It seems so foreign."
Ymir smirked. "Well, you have awhile to get used to it." She poked his chest, right where her handprint now sat permanently.
Tyr shook his head. "You know, I'm not going to make you do anything you don't want to."
Ymir looked up, searching for sincerity in his expression. She nodded slowly. "I suppose I don't have to say aloud just what it is that I don't wish to do."
Tyr shook his head, tucking a strand of hair from her face. "No, you don't have to say anything."
Ymir couldn't believe she was doing this, but she wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him. The first time she'd really hugged anyone in quite a while. She supposed perhaps Tyr could be her friend. Or more than just a friend, she supposed he could quickly become her best friend. "Thank you," His arms wrapped around her slender waist was the only response she received.
A/N Okay! So later than I wanted it to be, but this last week has been midterms and I needed a few days to recover. Hope you guys liked it! Please review!