III: Krampusnacht, 20th Century by the Mortal Calendar, a German Burgh Bordering the Black Forest

I might have sought an elusive solace in the wilds…yet it was never my way to simply diminish into obscurity…I had kin to free and to avenge…

I stood, a baleful figure silhouetted against a bonfire of burning books…”subversive,” they called them…my curiosity piqued, I picked one from the flames and cocked my head inquisitively at the strange letters…strange to my eyes…

“Halt! Krampusnacht is forbidden by order of the Reich. “

He pointed an accusing finger…he tried to pull the mask off. Then, with sickening realisation, he understood it was no mask…I snapped the finger off in my mouth and chewed in crunchingly beforegrabbing the boy by the throat and forcing him into a sack slung over my back…his cries stifled…

One of his elders sought to intervene only to be unceremoniously flung into the bonfire.

Evil of youth was all around me…the aroma in the air…yet I demurred…inexorably and mysteriously drawn to the dark forest…I strode through into its labyrythine depths and the cold where old wounds pulsed. There I came upon an unlikely company of fighters…weather-beaten youths huddling in a remote glade by a lonely fire.

“Do you have one fit to be called leader amongst you?”

Though haggard and disheveled, he drew himself up proudly and defiantly…

“We are members of the Resistance. Are you friend or foe to our cause?”

“You would flatter yourself to call yourselves my allies. Your petty mortal quarrels do not interest me, any more than the struggles of ants for dirt mounds mean aught to you…nonetheless, perhaps formal introductions are in order…I am the daughter of Loki and Hel, goddess of the Underworld…my brother is the Yule lord Krampus…”

There was a collective silence before they laughed…

“Ja, and I am Charlemagne!”

I’ve slaughtered mortals for less insolence…yet I will relent…strange are the will of the Norns…I sense I am meant to protect thee…I know not wherefore, yet it is not the place of even a goddess to question their designs…”

I scanned their faces…appraisingly before my eyes locked on one…she grasped him and throttled him before their horrified eyes. From his pockets spilled correspondence and payment from the enemy.

A collaborator and informant in their midst.

“They have been informed you are here….they draw nigh…”

“Extinguish the flame. We will shelter in the forest,” their leader commanded.

“No need…I am here…what weapons do you wield?”

They displayed a humble assortment of small arms.

“Shoot me…”

He hesitated.

“Now!” I commanded.

I lunged at him and he at last fired.

They expected me to fall….

The bloodless wound smoked on my torso before healing rapidly…

“You call that a weapon?”

“It is all we have…”

“We haven’t any reinforcements…no army to contest them…we strike under cover of darkness…sabotage…assassinations when we can…yet we have no army to contest them in the open.”

“You do not…I do…” she whispered cryptically. “This wood you have sheltered in was once the place of a terrible battle…there are others here among us…I see the dark shades of men and horses…those who betrayed their sworn lord and yielded their swords or fled…they were cut down doing so…denied Valhalla for their cowardice…yet I can redeem thee as goddess if you answer my summons to draw blades and shed the blood of my enemies….”

Restless shadows began to gather form and face, mustering into a dark horde…schooled in the art of necromancy by her mother…conjured skeletal hands gripped swords and torn banners and helmed skulls hailed her in unison with shimmering blades and banners mounted with stag skulls…

They seemed to have a commander. He rode in gothic malevolence astride the reanimated carcass of a partially-skeletal stag, ravens perched on its honed metallic antlers.

A cruel spiked chain trailed behind as a whip and snare. Shreds of decaying flesh flapped against exposed bones, buzzing with flies. The stag reared, partially-decaying hooved legs flailing. Astride the undead beast, a knight clad in grotesque black armour, severed heads hanging by their hair from its antlers. An armour-clad revenant wielding a great spiked mace.

A pale raven suddenly sailed to my shoulder and appeared to whisper in her ear.


“The Hitler Youth are coming…”

“Do let them…” I smiled.

A troupe of the Hitler Youth marched into the glade.

“Have you apprehended these fugitives or are you one of them?” I was questioned.

“Neither…and you are?”

“I am Rolf. My father is a hero of the Reich, an oak leaves medalist…”

“My dear boy…your father is a frozen corpse scavenged by wolves as we speak in the wilds of Russia…your mother weeps for him now…perhaps be dutiful and console her, no?”

“Hans…where are you going?” they called after him.

“But hark…I hear…music?”

A torch-lit procession appeared of gold-masked and cloaked figures appeared wreathed in holly….

“There is a Yule feast tonight, is there not?”

“At Herr’s castle, ja…”

“And whyever were such fine upstanding youths as yourselves not invited…how remiss of him…you will accompany me and my entourage…”

“We cannot…”

“You misunderstand me…it was not a request…”

The mentor of the Hitler Youth was an avid huntsman…rumour abounded that a beautiful white stag had been sighted in the forest. His ancestors would have admonished him of the peril of pursuing a white stag into the dark wood…his breath steamed in the chill air as he sighed at what seemed a pale apparition…the white stag…he smiled as he imagined the envy of his rivals as its mounted head graced his wall…he slowly reached behind his back to unsling his rifle…

It was then the stag turned its head…one side was as hauntingly magnificent as he expected…the other was rotted and partially skeletal, with flies buzzing around exposed brain matter infested with maggots. The entrails of slain hunters hung from its antlers…it stomped the snow as if in anticipation of a charge…he recoiled in horror and ran…the stag did not pursue. He nuzzled a graceful arm and hand that caressed him fondly…

“Come hither then my pet…the quarry is afoot.”

He sought sanctuary in his chateau to no avail.

Who is there? Show yourself!” he demanded, brandishing his luger at the shadows….jangling with each tread, something lurched from the darkness….

The phantom stag…

“I quite agree, Herr, on the thrill of hunting for sport…” I taunted.

He pivoted and ran as the stag charged…

He heard the gallop of its hooves on the flagstones…

He cast open the door to his trophy hall…slamming and barring it behind him…

He flung himself back as the antlers of the stag punctured the door thrice, then relented….

The room was dark as he lit candles and sobbed in fear…looking at all the mounted, taxidermized beasts he had bagged, he felt emboldened at his prowess at a hunter…his candle illuminated the fierce expressions of the beasts….wolf, boar, bear, and more exotic creatures like lions and jaguars…their glass eyes shimmered back at him eerily in the darkness. He turned to the door at a mysterious voice chanting in a strange tongue…suddenly he cried out as he heard some objects falling to the ground behind him. His candle swept the floor searchingly…some of the mounted animals had inexplicably fallen from their display pedestals…he heard it then…an ominous growl. He looked on, aghast, as the head of a taxidermized wolf suddenly turned to face him, baring its fangs…its eyes smoldering red in the firelight…he ran towards the door as all around him the mounted animals reanimated…he cast open the great door only to see the stag smiling at him with rotted teeth…its antlers hooked into his flesh and threw him into the air, again and again, toying with him as Dark Elves squealed with impish delight at the spectacle…the stag tossed him a last time and higher…he expected to be impaled on the antlers, yet the stag drew back…he landed painfully on the flagstones and was swarmed by the reanimated animals…eating him alive, his screams drowned out by the jubilant cheers of the Dark Elves….

“The night is yet young, my thralls. Come hither and hasten….a great revel awaits,” I beckoned. The lordly, baronial keep was lit resplendently…like a gothic birthday cake glittering in the night…

The castle walls were festooned with holly and a lavish banquet was set against the background of a wall high ornate stained-glass window. Meanwhile, the mischievous children of the manor were marched to the nursery by their stern governess. As soon as the lights were turned off, the boy opened his eyes and he rose furtively, drawn to the shimmering Yule tree and horde of wrapped presents…his attention was suddenly beckoned to another trove of boxes…ones “confiscated,” or looted, really, from the homes of Jewish villagers. One especially provoked his curiosity…it was a mysterious ornately-carved box…the light shimmered enticingly in interplay along the runed patterns…it seemed ajar…he raised his palm outward…only to cock his head inquisitively as the box began to stir…at first trembled…then shook…

Someone must be inside…he realised…perhaps a Jewish child concealing himself during the looting to escape capture…he smiled sadistically at the prospect…he pressed a palm to his mouth to stifle the laughter…and drew closer to the box…suddenly, he heard laughter…impish piping glee and hands shot out from the box. Talons locked into his cheeks and neck and he was wrenched off his feet and into the box. It shook violently, then abruptly lay still…the governess making her rounds investigated the sounds, then passed on…the lid of the box lifted and emberous eyes watched her go. All compliments of their eccentric host, a grizzled heavy-set man with a distinctive ey patch remained aloof from his guests, awaiting the arrival of a mysterious “guest of honour.” One ambitious guest ventured to approach him.

“I must say, Herr, I am most intrigued by your vision of reviving the old ancestral faiths….and I have been informed you have the ear of the upper echelons of Der Fuhrer’s party…do elaborate, Herr…”

Suddenly, there was a stir among the guests…they made way as a graceful figure approached, gowned magnificently in regal blue silk and ermine. I seemed impossibly beautiful, framed at the threshold against an ethereal background of softly falling snow. I held a bejeweled golden goblet like a cupbearer…the young officer stepped forward to greet me suavely.

“Your party costume is most…evocative and authentic…why, you seem to have graced us from the pages of Nordic lore…radiant…I believe a toast is in order for this stunning beauty…the finest wine for this exquisite lady…” he gushed.

“No,” I replied.


“I have brought my own drink…”

“But our wine is fit for kings…”

“Mine is fit only for gods…”

“And I simply must sample this vintage. May I indulge as well?”

Bewitched, he allowed my arm to intertwine his lifting the goblet to his lips…

“Tonight, we are both gods…” he sighed.

“Then drink…deeply…”

My eyes looked at him over the rim of the goblet as he tasted it…

I slid my arm away as he reeled back…

He swayed, then laughed giddily….then laughed more….uncontrollably…euphorically…trembling with mirth…then maniacally, his eyes crazed as he roared with mad laughter….suddenly, blood flowed from his mouth as his flesh began to melt from his bones into a puddle of smoking slime and charred skeleton…

“Guards!” it was shouted.

None came…


An officer backed away, brandishing his Luger at her…he cursed at me as the other guests huddled behind him…

Suddenly, dark silhouettes appeared behind the colourful stained glass window…clawing at the panes…then their hands punched through the glass and grasped him from behind, pulling him through the shattered glass…meanwhile, the governess evaded the stampede of panicked guests into the skeletal clutches of besieging ranks outside. She dutifully sought to collect the children from the nursery. She barked at the cowering children to assemble in a line…she diligently counted heads…

“Where is little Henryk?” she demanded…

“Stay here!” she ordered them.

“Henryk!” she called out…

Suddenly, she saw a small figure silhouetted against the Yule tree.



“Come here this instant…”

The little figure waddled over to her…the familiar face…was suddenly pulled off, a flesh mask revealing a bloodied and leering Dark Elf.

She screamed and backed away, yelling out to the children.

Suddenly, she was hooked by a giant candy cane and pulled into the nursery.

“Play time! Play time!” the Dark Elves chanted.

”So many games to play!”

“She never lets us play,” a little girl sobbed.

“How now?” a Dark Elf coaxed…

“Ja,” another child whined.

“And is she very strict with you?”


“Does she make you do chores instead?” the Dark Elf pressed. “Well, we can’t have that! Come let’s play some games with your nanny then?”

“Oh, yes!” The children beamed with feral glee.

“Here’s some toys for our game,” the Dark Elf offered, handing the children an assortment of barbed blades…

“Our mam never lets us play with them.”

“Never fear…tonight is a special night…we can do whatever you want…Nanny is waiting…”

Casting aside reluctance, the children reinforced the Dark Elves as they swarmed the bound governess…

“Oh, what fun!” the cheered.

“Jesus!” a member of the Resistance gasped.

“You invoke the name of their god?” she roared.

“Run…to the castle!”

They found themselves hindered by the undead warriors. As they drew back, one fell and she tried to scramble to her feet as they reached for her with skeletal hands.

“Stay down!” their leader cried out.

He cast aside his cloak and drew a dark tube…

“I’ve been saving this.”

A torrent of flame shot over her and enveloped the Draugur…the dark elves pursued them through the torch-light corridors… cavorted and leaped acrobatically with simian agility. The darkness was filled with their chatter, as if the halls were infested with voracious nocturnal insects, bounding over any barricades…that they kicked in their way to hinder their advance…

Squealing in anticipation of flesh, the swiftest of the elves leaped over the final obstacle, gleefully anticipating the terror of his cornered prey…instead, he fell back with a crossbow bolt between his eyes…they had found the castle armoury and rallied…they had hastily pulled swords, spears, shields, and crossbows off the wall….they leveled crossbows on an overturned table and their leader held them at bay, brandishing a torch and sword…their eyes shimmered crimson by the firelight as the Dark Elves hissed and bared their fangs. Their claws raked harmlessly on shields and hastily donned armour…something was pressed into their leader’s hand.

“It’s from the castle chapel…throw it! Now!!!”

A bottle of clear liquid shattered and splashed on the seething horde of elves…their tortured cries were cringingly shrill as the holy water sizzled away their flesh…they shot venomed darts and one was hit…

She fell to the ground…convulsing her lips frothing as if stung by some venomous insect…


Their leader advanced on the Dark Elves…wielding a great war hammer and torch, clad in black gothic armour…

He swatted them aside and set others aflame…

They charged him like a dark torrent, enveloped by squirming bodies…like dark leeches…

“For Hell’s sake, stop!” he cried and they did…

The bells tolled midnight then.

The Dark Elves drew back from its somber tones…they covered their ears as they began to bleed…writhing in agony before dissolving into shadow…

They tended to their wounded sister helplessly ‘til their leader pulled off his helm, knelt by her side, and poured holy water on her wounds…the guests had all fled or been devoured…now only the host remained, inexplicably confronting her impassively and smug…

“Well met then, daughter of Hel…and Loki,” he grumbled.

He retrieved my goblet and toasted me sarcastically, drinking it to no effect.

“You know me?”

“Ja…that I do…I lured you here…”

“Then you are…”

“Odin!” a voice bellowed like a blast of coldest winter.

And there outlined at the threshold of the door, towering in his wrath, glowered the Yule Lord himself, Krampus in all his nightmarish glory. The last heirs of Loki faced their father’s executioner. For once in his eons of existence, he felt an alien sensation of fear betrayed in his one eye. The runes that branded their foreheads shone deep red like reopened wounds as she roared her counter-spell to Oden’s wizardry in battle cry.

In vain Odin, called out to his Valkyries….yet the age of the Aesir had ended. His power long since waned…none came…yet he was not without power….nor was I. Every runespell he cast at me was parried…as Krampus lumbered forward, driving him ever back, finally grasping him by the throat and impaling him on mounted antlers. Mirrored in Oden’s cyclopian gaze, my brother saw his face restored to one of aquiline and refined features and fair crown of hair. He drove Odin’s torso further onto the prongs until I cried out…

“Hold, brother! We are not like him…”

Krampus unhanded him then….

Oden’s head slumped down and he groaned, yet still clung to life…

“Well met then, brother…”

We turned to Odin…he had vanished…it was as well.

There were so few of the old gods left to guide and vex mortals.

“And alas, here we must part ways…the will of the Norns…”

“I know…” he said sadly…

“Some consolation, mayhaps, however, and how remiss of me to neglect to mention: a Yule gift awaits thee in the larder. Trussed up Hitler Youth…”

“Some fine dining before we part…”

“Of course. Happy Yule…”

“Yes…happy Yule,” I smiled back.


For all installments of “Daughter of Hel: The Lost Saga of Krampus,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1