Baldr ran through the wastelands of the Nordic ice ranges. Under normal circumstances this would have been quite impossible. The snow worms would have devoured any life that travelled over those ice-ranges. But the circumstances were not normal, and Baldr, even less so.
Second Son of Odin need not fear snow worms. Baldr, lord of the shadows, need fear neither fire nor ice. Baldr, the Vigilant, however feared his father's wrath. Always had. And he feared his father's death curse even more.
Baldr, the vigilant no more, ran as fast as his immortal legs could take him. For all of Ragnarok were at his heel and the time for diplomacy was long gone.
Images of the past few hours flashed through his mind. Loki, with his accursed poison spearhead. That bastard traitor Tyr with his stumped hand and his blasted wolfhound. The memories were still burnt in his mind. Truth be told, he couldn't care much for Odin. The old god had always treated him with contempt and disrespect. Yet, the arrogance!
He still remembered the words. Odin took Baldr's shoulder, the first time in centuries, and he had taken the young demi-god to the Tree of Life, and had told him of his task. His voice was course, rough and old, “Baldr, son to Frigg. Mark this spot in creation well. There will come a time when you must stand vigil here. At the time of my death. Nine nights and nine days you'll stand, without relief or sustenance. And you must carry my spear with you. Nine nights and your task shall end, and only then shall I pass on.”
The words echoed in his vast memory, and he recalled the moment, the exact moment when he was indeed standing vigil at the Tree of Life. He remembered hanging upside down by his ankle, naked to the skin. He remembered the snakes and the bees and the rats. He remembered the imps throwing their sharp stones at him. And he remembered holding on to the spear for dear life.
He flinched in phantom pain and almost stumbled on the slippery ice. He remembered the spear very well. It had been stabbed through his back and out into the front, skewering his internals all over the place. Battered, bruised, utterly destroyed, Baldr had stood vigil for three days.
A wake. Purposeful sleepnessness. He told them what they could do with the spear and the wake. And now there were after him, for he had broken his promise. He had broken his promise to his father, a promise any other of Odin's children would have given their legs and more to make. And they were after him now. All Baldr could do was run. And pray to his dead father that his assassin Fenrir would not come to finish him off too.
Shopaholic ties the knot
Come December, and if there's one thing you cannot escape here in Dhaka, it's the wedding season. Whether you have a relative tying the knot, or are flooded with invites, or even stuck in a traffic jam in front of a shiny mall, watching in bemusements as Bridezillas rush past, laden with last-minute oh-so-essential shopping, you can run, but you cannot hide. Weddings are a big deal, and in some cases even more so than the marriages that follow.
At least that's how Becky Bloomwood feels at the beginning of the third instalment in Sophie Kinsella's 'Shopaholic' series, when her boyfriend finally proposes. On one hand, her parents are over the moon, digging into life savings to give their only daughter a wedding she'll never forget, in England. On the other hand, there's her would-be mother-in-law Elinor, who sees this as the perfect PR opportunity for her own causes, and begins to plan a high-profile event in New York. Emotionally inclined towards her parents, yet lusting after all the glittery goodness that the New York wedding promises, Becky can't decide which offer to turn down. With the countdown to the big day, and big decisions to make, the story lurches towards a nail-biting conclusion, stopping for plenty of shopping trips, hiccups, and surprises along the way.
Becky shows a little more depth of character in this novel. She's still an annoying, self-centred flake, but you can't help but pity her feeble attempts at trying to keep everyone happy. Also with some tension between the groom and his mother, this story is a lot more emotional than its prequels. The supporting cast of wedding planner, caterer, best man, bridesmaid, wedding dress designer, and a returning villainess from the previous novels is filled with enough variety to keep things interesting. Ms Kinsella manages to balance the sad notes with the happy ones and throws in enough comic relief to keep you chuckling throughout the shopaholic's adventures. If you liked the earlier books in the series, you're going to love this one!
By Sabrina F Ahmad
The Moon and The Ocean
The Ocean was a spirit with dark brown hair and a blue satin dress. She sat by a tree and sang to the waves every night. One night, she sang to her sons as usual, but this time seeing the full Moon, she sang out to her. Feeling very lonely she stood up and walked towards the sea and sat on the shores of the sea while singing to the Moon. To her astonishment, the Moon replied to her.
“I will come down to your land known as Earth,” she said. And down came the Moon spirit in a white silky dress with laces so silver.
By Imaan Khasru
Christmas is here!
A few Christmas present suggestions for a few colourful characters:
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