An Uncivil War
( Part Two Of The Ítreksjóð Trilogy )
The Long Walk Home
Standing above them in the hills, on both sides of the valley, Rock Dwarves laughed and hurled insults at their Earthen cousins as they passed through their territory under the watchful eyes of Asgardian warriors who guarded them. To make the Earth Dwarves' embarrassment complete, Geri and Freki, Odin's wolves, held the long line of Dwarves together by nipping at the heals of any stragglers who dared to fall back, while Hugin and Munin flew overhead watching their every move.
As Durinn shuffled along he thought to himself that it could have turned out much worse. After the dragon Ítreksjóð had chased the Frost Giants back to Jotunheim, Odin had turned his Asgardians around, and waited to " greet " his fleeing Dwarves. Too tired, and with many of their numbers injured, they could not escape on the rings they had placed beneath the Rainbow Bridge. All they could do was wait and surrender,... and of course hope for the best.
The All - Father could have wiped all of his Dwarves off the face of Asgard for what they had done, but instead he had shown mercy, and allowed them to go home. With an escort of course ! Before they had begun their long arduous journey back to Svartalfheim Odin had one last ominous thing to say to his Dwarves, however :
" We will discuss compensation for your little act of,.... indiscretion,.... at a later time ! " Odin had told them.
And Durinn fully understood that his personal shame was not complete yet either. He knew that soon he would have to go back to Jotunheim to see Farbauti, and in his mind there was not much in the nine worlds that he feared more after their failed mission than the leader of the Frost Giants !
What was more dangerous at the moment, however, was the way that the Rock Dwarves were seeing them. This was without a doubt their most vulnerable moment in their entire history. These mountain dwelling cousins of theirs had long been jealous of their great wealth and prestige that the Earth Dwarves had gained from working for, and with, the Gods of Asgard and Vanaheim. Now, marching through their domain in such a wretched state, and guarded by the Gods, who in the past had depended greatly on their skills as craftsmen, they looked very weak and defenseless.
There had always been a kind of equilibrium of power between the Earth Dwarves and the Rock Dwarves. The Rock Dwarves, although much more aggressive in nature, were fewer in number, and therefore refrained from attacking their cousins who lived underground. This disparity in numbers became even greater after their little war with Skadhi over the killing of her wolves. Now, however, after the loss of Nain, Niping, Bombor, Fili, Thekk, and all those who Heptifli lead into the booby - trapped second tunnel, the numbers were more evenly balanced . The difference of course was that many of his surviving Dwarves had been injured with severe burns, and broken limbs in Asgard, while the Rock Dwarves had by now fully recovered from their battles with the Mountain Goddess.
As the Earth Dwarves entered the main cave entrance, that led down into their deep earthen domain, they received one final insult. Modi, Magni, and Odin's wolves remained outside the cave entrance to make certain that the Dwarves did not go anywhere,... at least for the time being. Despite this further humiliation Durinn was actually glad that the Asgardians were to remain in Svartalfheim. True, the presence of the Gods would keep them imprisoned, but at the same time it would keep out anyone who harbored ill will towards them,.... namely the Rock Dwarves !
When Durinn reached his rock home he was worn out. His skin throbbed from multiple burns on his back and arms, and his body ached all the way down to his bones from the long journey. The leader of the Earth Dwarves gently applied an ointment made from roots and tree sap, and then carefully wrapped his red, pus filled, burns with clean bandages. Working with furnaces all day, every day, over the many millennium had taught the Earth Dwarves how to make a salve that would heal even the worst burns quickly and completely. The other aches and pains, however, would take a little longer to go away.
As Durinn lay carefully down, stomach first, upon his moss bed, he decided that he would get up early in the morning despite how much pain he was in and venture down to see his father Motsognir. For if the Dwarves ever needed Motsognir's wisdom they surely had an occasion for it now !
After finally making himself comfortable, and just before his eyes closed for him to fall into a blissful sleep, Durinn saw in his mind's eye Nain falling from Bifrost to his death once again.
" It was a disaster ! " was the last conscious thought he had before sleep took him away.
- End Chapter 1
- Next : Chapter 2 : The Rock Dwarves' Plan
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.