There’s a feeling in the air. Something dense, full, and saturated with memory, sadness, and desire. A cutting wind whips around the wooden threshold and the cold assaults the flesh like thousands of pricking daggers. It’s tireless, unrelenting, and impossible to escape or ignore.
Cast the runes on the white furs. Cast the runes till the spirit stirs.
Orange shimmering flames spark and pop in the middle of the small room — their heat colliding with the damp freeze that pours into the hut through aged cracks and carefully aligned seams and beams. The sensation of snow is all around, despite the fire, fresh straw, and pelts that pack the space.
His deep exhale emits feathery apparitions, and with each breath, it’s as though the pieces of time that comprise him are wrestling to break free and realize a place somewhere in the immortal plane.
Cast the runes for the fighter lost. Cast the runes for the heart betossed.
She draws the sharp edge of the blade over the soft flesh pulled tightly along the side of his scalp. The metal crackles through tiny golden hairs emerging like fresh spurs. Her hands feel wistful as she smooths the oil along the seams of his skull, and she depresses her chest along his spine to reach the hairline nearest his eye.
Cast the runes and find the need. Cast the runes and let fate intercede.
She can feel his heartbeat alongside her ribs. It’s a hammer controlling the gravity of the moment, and the next and the next. Her palms moisten, and as time edges away, she nicks him. Blood – deep, glossy, and bright as the day – wells quickly and spills over onto the roundness of his cheek.
Cast the rune for the sun. Cast the rune and time’s undone.
Her pause stirs him, and he reaches for her knife hand, covering it fully with thick fingers reddened by winter’s assault. He is burning hot like a wicker man — like a pyre outstretched to the broad sky of the wilderness.
Cast the rune and discover the ox. Cast the rune for the messenger fox.
When he pivots to meet her face, his blue orbits are black caverns in the night’s fire, and they reflect times of swords, teeth, and bones.
Cast the runes for the dark’s dusty haze. Cast the runes for the goddess’ gaze.
She extends her hand and thumbs the blood from his cheek, replacing it over his eye and pulling it across the white hairs of his soft brow. He could be a god — this skald-warrior; this magnate-king of no renown.
Cast the runes for the man of Earth. Cast the runes for Tyr’s rebirth.
They hang suspended in the moment, his mouth barely brushing her own. She feels her muscles tense and petrify like mountain rock until his touch takes her.
Outside the hut, the winds howl a memory of sadness and desire like an ancient song. Like a crying lyre. Like wolves.