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She Was Horrid

by on June 3, 2013

Last time in the Catrina Chronicles, Krystelle and Co. had made contact with a troll and discovered a way to get into Asgard from above. Little did they know that Catrina was attempting to get into Asgard from a decidedly different, and much more ominous direction….

Princess Catrina had never been so cold in her life. Even the time when she had been transported into a refrigerator in the future and subsequently fought an army of sheep in the snow hadn’t been as cold as this. Even wearing a thick parka, wooly mittens, and a scarf which Edmund had (in an unusual display of generosity) provided her, Catrina still felt the freezing wind chill her down to her very molecules. When she added in the eternally sunless and clouded sky, and the heaps of snow and ice that piled up everywhere and made walking very difficult, Catrina was pretty certain that Niflheim was the most depressing place she had ever been.

What really irritated her was that Edmund didn’t seem a bit bothered by the unending inclement weather. He wasn’t even wearing a coat; no, he marched on in tunic and trousers, leaving footprints which sizzled with the steam of melted snow. Catrina guessed he was using some sort of diabolical power of Character Hell to keep himself warm. She almost envied him. Not really. But almost.

Edmund paused and glanced back to where Catrina was struggling through yet another snowdrift. “You all right, sis?” he called mockingly.

“Peachy,” she said. “When do we meet your friend?”

“Oh, we’re nearly there,” Edmund said. “I’m surprised you haven’t noticed him by now. He’s hard to miss.”

“I can’t see ten feet in this snowstorm. How am I supposed to-”

Edmund rolled his eyes. As if on cue, the wind changed direction, and suddenly the snow parted before them. Catrina had just plowed through the drift and emerged onto a relatively clear patch of rock. She looked up to see Edmund’s friend. And up. And up. And…..”Oh. My. Cow.”

There before her was the most monstrous dragon she had ever seen. It could easily have sat upon and squashed Shmirmingard Castle, assuming it had merely decided to sit upon the castle instead of incinerating it. Its immense black wings towered into the sky, its tail ran away into the dark horizon, the sound of its breathing rumbled upon Catrina and shook the earth beneath her boots. She felt like an original Polly Pocket doll in comparison with it (or she would have, had she been born in a time period when Polly Pocket dolls existed).Β  To her even greater amazement, the dragon was not free. A positively ginormous root circled round and round its massive scaled body, pinning it to the frozen ground of Niflheim. The dragon occasionally raised its mighty head and gnawed at the root, but despite its efforts it couldn’t seem to get clear.

“Niddhog, Ripper of Corpses, my sister Catrina,” Edmund said, in a very matter of fact way. “Catrina, Niddhog. Well, now that you’ve been introduced, let’s get to business, shall we? I’m afraid Niddhog, being an ancient Norse mythological sort of dragon, only speaks Old Norse, but fortunately I can translate.”

The dragon rumbled something at her, his eyes glowering red and immense. “He says,” Edmund ventured, “that he’d be more than willing to let you pass. In fact, he’ll even help you get into Asgard itself.”

“How kind,” Catrina said flatly. “What’s his price?”

“It’s only a little thing, really. A mere trifle. He wants you to cut through the root. He’s been trapped under it for…well, quite some time. The Asgardians won’t help him, of course. So, he asks you.”

Catrina looked at the root, then at the dragon, then back at Edmund. “Does he realize how big that is? It could take me weeks.”

“I think,” Edmund said, glancing pointedly at her Sporksaber, “that he believes you can do it quicker than you think. You do have a certain flair for the impossible. So, what’s your answer?”

Now, it was at this point that Catrina made a really terrible mistake. She ought to have considered that if the Asgardians had elected not to free the gigantic dragon from the root, they probably had a really good reason. She might have realized that working with her evil brother and his dragon friend wasn’t such a swell idea. She might even have wondered what would happen if she did set the dragon free, and what such a creature might do afterwards.Β  But Catrina had turned a moral corner. She had sworn to get Mlrning, the Shovel of Thor. By whatever means. Niddhog presented a way to get the shovel. That was all she was interested in. “Tell him….I agree to his terms.”

Of course, freeing an ancient dragon from a root of Yggdrasil is easier said than done. Catrina climbed up onto its enormous breadth, planted her boots on its surface, raised her Sporksaber, and sliced away at the root, but she didn’t even seem to make a dent. Chips of wood flew everywhere, but the root seemed not the least bit disturbed. Edmund face-palmed. “Don’t you realize what you’ve got there?”

Catrina glared at him. “Yes, it’s my Sporksaber, and I’m doing the best I can with it.”

“Hardly. Let me explain,” Edmund said in an incredibly insufferable way. “Your red Sporksaber, and Katrina’s green one, and Ermingard’s Spork Arrows are all tapped in to a mystical energy field. A sort of…Sporky Force. It’s the concentrated essence of laughter, of various kinds. All you have to do is open yourself up to it, let it flow through you like digestive waste materials through your sewage through a pipe, and then you’ll be able to cut through the root and free Niddhog.”

“You could have chosen a more appealing metaphor,” Catrina said. Nonetheless, he had a point, and she didn’t see anything else to do. So, she closed her eyes and tried to sense the Sporky Force. For one moment, she almost did. She had a vague feeling of irrepressible hilarity, of the joy caused by a particularly clever pun, of the warm and genial feeling of being among friends laughing with each other….but then something whispered to Catrina that this wasn’t the power she wanted. It was basically good, and wouldn’t work in undoing something good itself. So Catrina reached out to darker amusements. The kind of laughter directed at people, not shared with them. Stinging insults, blistering mockery, cutting sarcasm…and as she tapped into that mystical energy, the light of her Sporksaber slowly paled, flickered, and then changed colors entirely, from red, to a flaring emerald green. With the full power of the Green Sporky Force flowing through her, Catrina raised her blade and drove it furiously into the root.

Lightning crackled everywhere. All Niflheim shook. Yggdrasil itself quivered to the tops of its branches, and the Asgardians wondered what had happened. Alarm spread. Weapons flew to immortal hands. But it was too late.

The root, one of the three that had upheld the ancient tree of Asgard since time immemorial, shattered. The dragon beneath it rose. Its wings, suddenly free, tore at the cold air of Niflheim, sending a mighty wind scouring across the plain. Edmund himself was driven backwards by its force. He looked round for his sister, not out of any particular concern for her well-being, but because he wanted to make sure she was still going after the shovel.

Then he saw her. Catrina had been thrown from the root as it buckled, but she had luckily come to rest right on the dragon itself. Now she clung to its scales with one hand as it lifted into the sky, her other hand blazing with green fire. Now it was Edmund’s turn to laugh. “Goodbye, sister!” he called, though he was certain she couldn’t hear him over the thunder of Niddhog’s wings. “Have fun storming Asgard!” Then he turned and transported himself in a blur of smoke back to Character Hell. He had his armies to unleash, after all. They wouldn’t want to miss the end of civilization.

Catrina and the dragon rose up through Niflheim, smashing out past the mighty tree Yggdrasil and tearing into Asgard itself in a blaze of fire. Dimly Catrina registered that something had gone wrong with the sky. When last she had been in Asgard, it had been very calm and sunny. No more. Now even the stars seemed to have gone. Battle horns sounded everywhere, men and women rushed about in full armor, and in the distance she heard the terrible howling of wolves. Then a spear whistled past her head and glanced off the dragon’s scales. Following its line, she saw Thrud, the daughter of Thor, whom she had met several times, her eyes hard with fury. Catrina leaped from Niddhog’s back and the dragon rumbled on in search of new prey. “Thrud,” Catrina said. “Where’s Mlrning?”

“The shovel?” Thrud said, aghast. “Are you still after that? Do you not realize what has come?”

Catrina shook her head. “I’ve just got here myself. What’s happening?”

Thrud’s voice fell to a grim whisper. “Ragnarok. The end of all things.”

“But…that’s not supposed to happen. Not for a good long time yet!”

“It has happened,” Thrud said, stretching out her hand as her spear flew back to her. “When Niddhog, Ripper of Courses was unbound from his prison, by what means we know not, it began the end. Now the gods will all perish. Odin. My father, Thor. Tyr, who defended you. All that is left is for us to fight to the last.”

Catrina went very pale. “This started when the dragon got free? But…Edmund didn’t tell me. He didn’t say anything about this. I didn’t mean for-”

But Thrud was gone, running off to join the doomed battle, spear held high. Catrina watched her go, as fire rose about the walls of Asgard. Then she turned. Even if the world was ending, even if she’d somehow caused Ragnarok, she still had one thought. She had to find Mlrning. And so she didn’t go after Thrud; instead she ran off in the direction of a small woodshed she’d glimpsed on the way in. Once she had Mlrning, she would make things right. Somehow.

Only it wasn’t there. The Shovel of Thor had gone.

To be continued….


This has been a very exciting episode of the Catrina Chronicles. For previous episodes, go here. To buy a copy of Nuclear Family, in which Catrina plays a fairly important part, go here. Thanks for reading!





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  1. this is by far and away my favorite episode of this story so far. I laughed so hard at ‘Sporky Force’ co-workers were asking me what was so funny. It was nice to see one that seemed longer than usual, or maybe there was just more moving the story forward action, I’m not sure. Regardless, excellent job and hilarious writing. Adams would be proud πŸ˜‰

    • I wish I could say I came up with the Sporky Force, but I believe it originated in the Spork Room thread on the NaNoWriMo website. So many wonderful things come from there. The Sporksaber, though, that’s my own invention. πŸ˜€ And making Douglas Adams proud….what a very nice thing to say. I am deeply moved. πŸ™‚
      Adams is just brilliant. He and Tolkien and Lewis….man, England has such talent.

  2. I suspected before you pretty much said as much, that making a deal with the dragon wouldn’t end well. Now to wait and find out what she can do to stop ‘the end’. (Maybe she can get some revenge on her evil brother as well? :))

    • Oh, I’m sure revenge will be happening somewhere soon. Catrina and Edmund take sibling rivalry to a whole new level.

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