‘Hel, run! Stay close!’
Loki joined the Northern army with Hel to fight against Demons, hoping to find a cure for his daughter’s curse. Odin, the leader of the army, knew from information that there were Demons gathering in the forest. To check whether the piece of news was true, Loki and Hel led a troop of soldiers to search for Demons in the forest. There were indeed Demons, but this was all a trap. The moment they entered deep into the forest, a Demon army made a surprise attack. Loki’s force was immediately besieged by loads of Demon soldiers. The valiant Loki and some of his men managed to fight a way out, but the Demon troops pursued them relentlessly, forcing them to fight and retreat at the same time.
Despite her weak body, Hel endured the pain and ran with the Northern warriors. But all of a sudden, the effect of the curse on her body aggravated. Her legs were racked with pain so intense that she could not help but fall.
‘Hel!’ shouted Loki.
The girl wanted to stand up, but even the slightest movement would bring her acute pain in her legs, or even all over her body. Unable to move, she burst into tears. A Demon soldier was already in front of her eyes, about to slash her with his sword. Hel could do nothing but close her eyes and scream in despair.
‘Hel, run…’ A soldier’s words pulled the girl out of darkness. She slowly opened her eyes, only to find a Northern warrior having taken the enemy’s lethal blow for her. His back was splattered with blood, but he managed to thrust his sword and killed the Demon before breathing his last just as he ensured Hel’s safety. Loki dashed to his own daughter, grabbed her by the waist and picked her up. Holding Hel in his arms, Loki did not stop running. He shouted to the soldiers on his side, ‘don’t throw yourself into the fight! Retreat first!’
Hel was shivering. She had long understood the cruelty of war, but she would still be shocked every time she got involved in it. She looked back and saw the soldiers returning for her rescue were slaughtered by the Demons one after another. She buried her head in Loki’s arms and the idea — it’s all my fault — resonated in her mind.
The group finally settled down after running for a distance unknowingly far. Loki and a few soldiers went to scout around to ensure it was all safe, leaving those injured at the site. Hel wanted to take care of the wounded soldiers, but she could not bear the agony as she saw the cuts on their bodies. She blamed herself for the soldiers’ injuries or even sacrifice. She could not face up to the casualties, so she ran to the cliff alone, with her mind flashing back to the past few scenes.
‘If it weren’t for me, everyone wouldn’t have died, and it wouldn’t be so hard for daddy… It’s all my fault…’
Hel was tormented by a sense of guilt. She would rather prefer the death of her, a useless girl, than that of the others, but there was no way to turn back time. The more she thought about it, the more she pushed herself to the dead end. She had the feeling that everything would turn better without her being here, so she walked vacantly towards the end of the cliff step by step...
‘What’re you doing? Wanna die?’
A familiar voice spoke from behind. Hel stopped and looked back. As she turned, she accidentally kicked a stone down the cliff. She was just one step away from shattering into pieces like the stone. This thought hit her, filling her heart with the fear of death.
‘...It’s meaningless for me to live on! I don’t want to see anyone dying for me again. And if I die, you don’t need to work so hard to take care of me anymore!’
Hel cried to Loki, as if voicing out every thought in her mind. Loki responded with just a cold smile. He did not say a word, but dragging his daughter back to their camp. Hel struggled, trying to break away, as she deemed herself worthless. However, Loki was grabbing her so tight that she could even feel great pain, let alone getting free… The pain from Loki’s grab was like not only the pain within her body, but also the pain within Loki’s heart.
Loki brought Hel back to the camp and flung her to the ground in front of the injured soldiers. Falling heavily, Hel scraped her knees and elbows. She strained to stand up, looking at Loki perplexedly with her tear-filled eyes. The soldiers were shocked to see this situation. Loki was always a loving dad. No one had ever seen the two interacting in this way. And no one dared to say a word.
‘They all risked their lives to save yours. If you wanna die, die in front of them!’
Loki’s words struck Hel so deep into her heart. She plucked up the courage to look at the soldiers in the eyes, where she could find care and kindness. From their looks, she understood that life is not something individual. We’re all connected. Once we’re brought together by destiny, our every life belongs to not only oneself, but everyone around us. She wiped her tears with the back of her hand, turning her sadness into a smile. She started passing food and water to the soldiers, taking good care of the companions who had injured themselves to rescue her.
From then on, Hel gradually freed herself from the gloom brought by the curse. Her cheerfulness made her a symbol of faith in the army. Everyone prayed in their heart that Hel would soon recover from the curse...