A Game Of War
" Soon you will be going home my dear. "
Off in the distance Odin heard the familiar cawing of his ravens. As they approached he stood up and raised both of his hands skyward. With a coordination that mortal birds lack, both ravens landed gracefully on the All- Father's outstretched hands, and quickly began to caw loudly, as they told their master all they had seen and heard.
Odin's grin faded quicker than the sun's glow disappears behind a rain cloud as he listened to the disturbing news his eyes and ears imparted to him. Then, as if the ravens had become aware of something sinister before it had appeared, they became quiet, and both birds peered with their black eyes off into the woods behind the All-Father. Odin too sensed the power before he actually saw it, and he spun around to see what had caused such a disturbance in the cosmos.
Odin transformed himself back into God-form the moment he spotted Gullveig standing at the edge of the forest. He quickly shooed away his ravens and reached down for his staff to defend himself from the threat that had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. With his anger building into fury Odin pounded his staff against the ground. In a flash of light the simple staff of a wanderer turned into the mighty spear Gungnir, the weapon that never missed its mark.
" It was you, Lord of Asgard, who cast the first spear at me in your great hall. You could not kill me then, and you will not kill me now ! " she told him tersely.
Odin gripped Gungnir tightly as he angrily responded to the witch.
" Why has the friend of wicked women interjected herself once again into the business of the Asgardians ? " he asked while trying to remain calm.
Gullveig laughed bitterly.
" Interjected ? ! I was asked by your wife to stop this madness,...., and I agreed. " she explained to the Lord of Asgard.
Odin lifted his spear and threw it at the Goddess of Seidr.
" Die you ugly bitch ! " he shouted as it left his hand.
The globe on top of Gullveig's staff glowed as she held it out in front of her. From it poured out an energy drawn from all over the cosmos which met the All-Father's spear halfway between them. And there, at that point, the will of Odin did battle with the seidr of the Vanir Goddess. Despite her magic being very strong the spear, though slowed greatly in momentum, continued through the cosmic stream towards Gullveig. When it came within her reach the Queen of Seidr grabbed hold of it and placed its point in the ground beside her.
" Once again it appears that Vanir magic has won out over Aesir might. " she told Odin calmly.
The sight of Gullveig standing unharmed before him with her staff in one hand, and his spear in the other, infuriated the Lord of Asgard. With his mind he ripped the spear out of her hand and forced it to return to him. Odin quickly threw Gungnir at the witch again. This time the spear hit its mark,... or at least it appeared to. As Gullveig moved to the side Odin saw that his spear had gone right through her and was embedded in the tree behind her.
" We can fight like this all day,...., or you can admit defeat and end this,..., this game of war you are playing with your wife. " she told the angry Asgardian.
Odin realized that he could not defeat Gullveig, nor could she harm him with her magic. With no hope of victory for either he wisely concluded that their battle could only end in a draw. With a nod he acknowledged, not that the Queen of Seidr had defeated him, but instead that it was his wife Frigga who had gained the ultimate victory over him in their game of war. Once again the All-Father summoned Gungnir to return to him. Once it was safely back in his grip he gave the witch a cold stare.
" I will return the child at once. " he told Gullveig abruptly.
" No ! Your wife is waiting for you in your great hall. I will return the child. " she told Odin calmly.
Odin took in a deep breath to help evaporate some of his anger before nodding.
" Then I will be going ! " he informed the witch.
As Guðveig watched in terrified amazement the Lord of Asgard placed two fingers in his mouth and whistled. Moments later a beautiful white horse, with more legs than a horse should have, galloped up to the bearded one-eyed God. With barely an effort Odin mounted the great steed and kicked it into flight. Despite being kidnapped, and whisked away to a foreign land by Odin, Guðveig could not help but wave to him as the horse and rider disappeared into the distance.
The snapping of a twig surprised Guðveig and made her look away from the departing God. She was startled when she saw that somehow the woman, who had opposed the great Odin, was now standing next to her, when only moments before she was a hundred yards away at the edge of the forest.
" How did you do that ?! " she asked, both confused and amazed at what had just happened.
" Magic, my dear. Simply magic. " she replied.
Guðveig clapped her hands together.
" How wonderful this all has been ! " she shouted excitedly.
Gullveig's smile disappeared, and was quickly replaced by a knowing smirk.
" It is too bad that you will not remember most of this ! " she told the child coldly.
With a quick flick of her free hand she wrapped her cloak around the child, and in a flash of light both disappeared from the clearing. Only the crackling fire remained behind to show that anyone had ever been there.
- End Chapter 17
- Next : Chapter 18 : " There Are No Winners In War ! "
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.