Leon Hedstrom


It is named wind with the Humans.
But waverer with the gods.
The Vainr call it neigher.
The Jotuns shrieker.
The Alfar whistler.
In Hel, they call it squall.

--Alvissmal 20, Prose Edda


Grifflick had never been a sentimental goblin. This wasn’t a time to start. For many of the Folk said, or so the rumors that pierced into the Looking-Mound proclaimed, that these years and years after Tribulation had caused the humans to go soft. Even some of the Fire Folk had drifted into states of soft butter. But not Grifflick, never Grifflick.

He was one of the wise ones. He was a goblin who stayed with it. Grifflick remained alert; he would survive the Cleansings to come. Not like that fool, Shilling-and-Penny. Slaughtered. That was the one word for it.

The old Fire was dragged to his doom by little less than three Examiners! Even on days of mourning, Grifflick couldn’t help but feel embarrassed at the old coot. He coulda’ taken on three Examiners, and a Magister, with his paws cut off.

But what did he care? They were all droppings from a passed age. An age of rotten old men ruling the Nine Worlds, and huffy, puffy heroes with guidance from old Odin.

Stupid crow-keeper! the goblin thought with a distinguished grimace. The one-eyed idiot let all the worlds fall. He even let that big wolfie rip him to shreds at the Twilight. The only dog with worse stench than Odin’s was that lumbering Thor.

However, that didn’t matter now. All that mattered was that this had to be done delicately, and if it wasn’t... well, poor old Grifflick would have to find a new hideout. How could he ever return to the Looking-Mound after that? And where would the Faerie go? He didn’t know right from left! If Grifflick messed up navigation, he’d find his way to the Universal City very fast.

Grifflick was confident though. The Deacon had lazily left the chapel minutes before. Probably off to take a bit of a snooze. Despite the situation, the little squirrel-faced figure couldn’t help a mischievous grin. Perhaps he would have to teach the Deacon a little respect for his religion. The Nameless indeed. A little slip of a brick and the man himself would be nameless for a while.

“Oi! Bag-o’-Barley! That bumbling farmer could be back any second!”

Reality. It flooded into Grifflick’s mind too fast. The darkness was very evident in the room now.

“Spice-to-the-Stream, you know I like to be a perfectionist.”

“Yeah, and soon it will get your furry butt Cleansed!” Spice was fuming. Why was he so mad?

“Fine, fine you babbling skull-picker!”

“Oh! Call me a crow will yah?”

Spice-to-the-Stream leapt off his scrawny haunches and tackled his companion. Grifflick felt razors dip into his tail.

“EEEAAAAAAHHHHH!!!” Grifflick howled as the other goblin’s teeth sunk in a second time.

With a ferocious squeal, Spice felt the older goblin’s claws sink into his cheek, scrabbling away fur and whipping notches into the skin that lay underneath. Spice fought back by kicking Grifflick into the aisle beyond their hiding place behind a pew. Then, as Grifflick’s mind began to clear from Spice not pounding on it, he realized the real danger to fighting.

“The Deacon!” he gasped.

“What’re you saying, fog-wallop?”

“I’m saying that the Deacon! He can hear two of the Folk brawling from across a field!”

Rapidly, or as rapidly as a goblin can, Grifflick counted up the screams and shrieks in that fight. There had to have been enough to wake the Deacon. Had the man even been sleeping?

“Fat chance he cares! Probably bolted! Silly man!”

Grifflick shushed his friend. He scampered back behind the pew. This wasn’t good. It had never really occurred to Grifflick that the Fire wasn’t always a good thing. Bad temper, strong emotions, and being massacred. Yes, that too.

Grifflick took in a deep breath into his miniature lungs. He tantalizingly peeked over the wood of the pew. He looked past the pews, past the communion wine he was going to fizz up, and Grifflick focused on the door. Was that a shadow? Why were things so dark? What would the Deacon do? What could he do? Surely he wouldn’t get the Universal City involved, would he? He certainly could. They weren’t too far away. Grifflick wished he didn’t have this fear in his stomach.

Grifflick wanted light, he needed light. Fear needed light to douse it. All the stories of the Word and the many powers from Tribulation filled the goblins’ bodies. What if a Magister was standing right beyond that chapel door? This was of course, ridiculous, but what would the goblins care?

Another hint of a shadow danced suspiciously at the door. The fear was nipping ferociously at Grifflick’s paws. This wasn’t good. A shape was most certainly there, if only there was some...

Light! Faint colors had appeared in the air! What was this? The room was pleasantly warm, instead of full of fear. For once, the goblins from the Looking-Mound felt welcome in the human’s world. Even with the Order, and the Nameless god, and the hate of the Good Folk, Barely and Spice felt wanted. Even in the house of the Order, the two Folk felt like they weren’t alone. They weren’t dead. They weren’t stuck down in Chaos.

Grifflick’s arm was itching, actually, whole cross sections of his skin prickled with a pleasant, slight burning. It started, surprisingly, with the runemark in the center of Grifflick’s muscled back. That unbroken mark. That purple figure of Daeg that shone at times when Grifflick remained deep in World Bellow too long.

It itched deeper now. The shape was becoming more prominent in the doorway. Fear still, was staying back, whatever it was, that power was keeping it at bay. Grifflick knew what his mark wanted his arm to do, but he didn’t understand it. But why fight it? Why fight the Elder Age? When runelight knocks at your door, why would you not let it in? So, with a final spasm and a rapid squirm, Grifflick’s arm lifted to his face.

Bjarkan. The word flickered in Barley’s mind as his forefinger and thumb met, and completed the absurd circle. The union of fingertips finished, and the goblin focused on the shadow by gazing through the cycle at the shape. Light, more light than ever. Grifflick gagged on the overwhelming friendliness that grappled in his stomach. This figure had no harmful wishes to Barley and Spice. This figure wasn’t the Order, they were Chaos.

A violent violet light was spilling into the room, or so Bjarkan claimed. And if Bjarkan was wrong, well, they might as well all die right then. So the light raged, bursting off the man’s left arm. For now it was plain, by his own runelight, it was a man.

He was a handsome man, a powerful man, an indestructible man. Power licked at his heels, serving his every wish. Light of the Elder Age was his steed, and Chaos was his cloak. This man had many names, but no true names, many homes, but no real sanctuary. This man had been running for a long time, running and hiding. Just like Grifflick, just like Spice.

“You can come out now, friends.” The man’s voice had an outlandish twinge in its recesses, a faraway accent. It made Grifflick’s eyes glaze over, this man was so... so...


“Who are you?” Spice’s voice was full of a deep awe at the young man, for he was very young. His body and face couldn’t have been very old at all, but his eyes. His eyes were emerald green, but they held all the colors of the sky and the wind with them. Fire danced in his gaze, the conflagration aching in his irises.

“I am of essence as you are. I am the Fire.”

“A Fury?” Spice breathed.

“Indeed that, young dreg.”

His voice was so smooth and deluxe with sweeping syllables and silent hisses, Grifflick couldn’t stand it. Why was the man wearing such rags, he had the essence of a prince! The raggy outfit held bags around a cheap belt, and he wore no shoes! He was I the guise of a trader, but he couldn’t be so low in the world!

“Sir? Your fantasticness?” Grifflick said.

“You flatter me young Fury.” The man loved every word of it.

“Sir? Are you a trader?”

“A traitor maybe, but no, I am no trader.”

Nervously, Spice piped up again, the goblins had emerged now, to join the traveler I the center of the chapel.

“Your mastership? Who are you?”

Grifflick knew, his finger and thumb told him. Those lights told stories, and so did the thin scars, criss-crossing the man’s lips.

“I suppose you might name me the Captain.” The scars parted as the man grinned his classic, wicked grin.

“The Captain?” Spice asked. His voice was high and more weasely than usual.

Bag-of-Barley hesitated to speak his next words, did this man get angry at such things? He often did in the story books.

“You wish to speak Fury, do so.” The words startled Grifflick quite a bit. Could he read minds now? Was it just common sense? Or was it that Grifflick was squirming about in an unholy fashion.

“Captain, sir, I just...” he hesitated . The Captain was staring at Grifflick’s fingers, still in Bjarkan’s formation. “I don’t think you are who you say you are.”

Unbelievably, the Captain leapt into a wicked giggle. “With a runemark like yours, I expected you to find out sooner. And who, pray young Fury, am I?”

Grifflick breathed. He knew, his sainted mother read him many tales before she was Cleansed for unnatural speech and intellect. The Good Folk weren’t supposed to be smart like she was.

“You have many names Captain.” “I could call you Godslapper, or Chaos King, or Dogstar, or Skytrapper, or the Falcon Man. Or Crossed Lips-”

“I see you have a plentiful mouth, be very careful, or you’ll get yourself a case of the deadies.”

The light on the Captain’s arm lit brighter than ever. What Grifflick saw there did not surprise him in the slightest.

It fit who it belonged to that runemark. Kaen, the Fire, wildfire, in fact. It really summed things up. Only, that couldn’t be right. Grifflick looked closer. The Captain’s Runemarks wasn’t facing the right direction, it was backwards, it was reversed.

“I see you’ve noticed this old thing.” The Captain indicated his runemark.

“It’s quite powerful, but sir, why?”

The captain paused. For a moment he put on an expression that Grifflick hadn’t seen on him yet. His Aspect deepened and his scars became much more prominent.

“You mean how did it get reversed?” The Captain smiled a sad little smile. “That was done back in the old days.”

At this, Spice looked uneasy. He didn’t quite know what the Captain was yet, but Grifflick knew. That statement sent chills into Grifflick’s bloodstream. Ice was running through his veins. So he was Dogstar, and he was in the very same room as two lowly Good Folk. Grifflick was frightened and exhilarated.

“Captain?” It was Spice again now. “Captain, will you be our leader?” “Will you lead the Looking-Mound?”

Grifflick glared at his companion. His eyes were very glazed, and the other goblin didn’t look quite right. The Captain’s runelight was having a strange effect on Grifflick’s friend. Even Bag-of-Barley felt dizzy as the Captain smiled his sly grin.

“I’m sorry Furies, but when I see a chance I go for it.” The Captain grinned. “I’m leaving tomorrow. I’m going beyond the Hindarfell. There’s been something there. A runemark. It makes me very concerned.”

Grifflick was astounded. The Falcon Man afraid? He had never been afraid in all of the goblin’s wildest adventures alongside him.

“You don’t mean those rusties down at the Red Horse, do you?”

“Why yes, young Furies, I do.” The Falcon Man looked more than a bit angered. “They have more power than you think. Plus, I can’t stay in one spot forever.”

“Why not? Why ever not?” Grifflick could easily imagine Spice to begin foaming at the mouth. He was being frenzied by the Captain’s Aspect.

“Calm down Spice-to-the-Stream!” “Show some respect.” Grifflick tried to say the words honestly, but being near Dogstar made him wild, too.

Grifflick the goblin wanted to scamper on the ice plains of Jotunheim, and dash across the fields of Vana, the land of the Vanir. The goblin wanted to vandalize Odin’s throne, and steal his magic ring, the Dropper. Grifflick wanted to fly with Hugin and Munin, burn Red Horse Hill, and call out to the ancient Ymir of Muspell, the land of flames and Chaos.

“Thank you, Fury, but your friend is experiencing a very natural feeling,” With a little smirk he continued, “People who have a feeling of obsession are usually people who come in contact with Signatures, and aren’t too bright.”

Yes he was tricky, old Chaos alright.

“Captain, why do you have to keep moving, if you don’t mind my asking?” Why had he said that? Goblins, especially him, were never very polite. Was it fear? No. It wasn’t.

“You see young Fury, Captain isn’t the highest ranking in the books.”


“You see, the General stands above the Captain in power. Sometimes, the General even gets mad at the Captain.”


Grifflick didn’t understand the Captain in the slightest. But he didn’t need to. Even now the man was getting up, his makeshift costume was suddenly dazzling, and his red hair gleamed. After all, he was the Good Folk’s hero.

“And now young Good Folk, I leave you to it.” “Fizz their wine, steal their sheep. But never give up hope. Days are coming when their Good Book will be burned, and the Universal City will crumble.”

“Captain, is that a prophecy?”

“No, it is a professional guess.”

“And Loki?”

“Yes, Fury?”

“When will you leave us?”

“I already did.”

And he was right, he was already gone.


© Leon Hedstrom, 2009