Good Witch, Bad Witch !
Cast Out !
Then the queen glanced over at the child, if you could call it that, and winced as she slowly took in what she was looking at. The grotesque face was elongated like that of a weasel, and the nose that protruded outward was misshapen and disproportionate to the rest of its face. The child had thick dark eyebrows, and clumps of dark bushy hair on its head . And its eyes were as black as the night sky without stars. There was nothing to love about this child, and yet Queen Imd found that if she did not have love to give this child, she did have pity in her heart for the unfortunate infant. It was then that the queen decided she wanted to keep both babies.
Utgard - Loki had not gone far before his conscious got the better of him. His anger over being rejected by Hefring was still burning hot in his mind, but he feared what a child that he had cursed so thoroughly, would do to those around it as it grew up. Finally, he decided that he had better return, and warn Hefring about the child. But when Utgard - Loki returned he was told by those in the village that Hefring had died in childbirth.
Once Utgard - Loki had recovered from the shock of finding out that the Jotun woman that he once loved had died, he sought out the midwife Amgerd to find out what had become of the child. When he found the midwife Utgard - Loki was horrified by what she told him ! If the king were to raise children as evil as the ones that he now housed, it could, over time, destroy all of Jotunheim ! Utgard - Loki was glad to hear that only one of the babies was born a hideous monster, but even one evil child was too many . The master illusionist thanked Amgerd for her kindness, and then quickly made his way to the king's great hall.
King Hastigi could not join his wife in their bed chamber for sometime . He had a long line of Jotuns in his hall who had legal cases that they were waiting to present to him for judgement. A necessary task for the king, but one he did not enjoy. As Utgard - Loki entered the great hall he gave his name to the court guard, and waited in line for his turn to speak to the king. Luckily most of the disputes were minor ones, and he did not have to wait very long for his chance to address the king of Jotunheim. When it was his turn the court guard spoke up : " Utgard - Loki wishes to speak to King Hastigi ! " he officially announced . " Yes ! Yes ! Step forward and tell me your complaint ! " the king ordered impatiently.
When Utgard - Loki walked closer to the king than was usually allowed, two warriors stepped forward and blocked his way. " King Hastigi, what I have to say is for your ears, and your ears only ! " the Jotun told him in a respectful tone. The king then motioned to his guards to step back and let Utgard - Loki approach him. Utgard - Loki positioned himself at the king' s side and whispered. " You have two babies in your care. One of which is cursed to be forever evil ! " Startled, the king shot back : " And how do you know this to be true ? " Utgard - Loki grinned, a sly grin. " Because I am the one who cursed them ! " he told the king. Hastigi stared into the Jotun's eyes, and then he proclaimed, to the dismay of those still waiting, that court was now finished for the day. The king then turned to Utgard - Loki. " You will follow me ! " he commanded.
Two warriors followed the king and Utgard - Loki to the bed chamber, and then after they entered, the guards stood watch outside of the door. Queen Imd was playing with both babies as they closed the door. " My dear, I would like to keep both babies. I know that the one child is quite ugly, but we could keep it hidden here... " She stopped mid - sentence when she realized that her husband was not alone. " Before we decide on anything we need to hear what this Jotun has to say. " the king told his wife.
" My lady, I am Utgard - Loki, and one of these babies must not be allowed to live ! " he told the queen. Imd gave the stranger a cross look . " And why is that ? " she asked angrily. Utgard - Loki took a long deep breath before slowly answering. " Because, my queen, I placed a curse on the child while it was in the mother's womb, that it would be the most evil thing in all the nine worlds. Queen Imd put her hand to her mouth, and then sat down on the bed in between the two children.
King Hastigi stepped forward and placed his hands on his wife' s shoulders. " So you see my dear that little monster must not be allowed to live. " he told her pointing at the hideous one. Hastigi stroked his wife's hair gently as he continued : " As I commanded earlier that monster must be brought to the Jarnvid forest and left to die of exposure. Utgard -Loki walked over to the bed and was about to pick up the ugly child when Queen Imd physically stopped him. " No ! If the child is to die I want to be the one who leaves it in the Jarnvid forest ! " she commanded. Startled, Utgard - Loki stepped backwards towards the door. " As you wish my lady ! " he told her. The king then addressed the stranger rudely. " I think it best if you leave now ! I think you have caused my wife and I enough problems today ! " Utgard - Loki nodded and silently walked out of the king' s hall .
The next morning Queen Imd had her horse saddled and rode out to the edge of the Jarnvid forest with the little creature named Eistla. As she dismounted at the edge of what many believed in Jotunheim to be a cursed forest, she felt her heart sinking. The queen understood all too well what the stranger Utgard - Loki had told her and her husband, but when she pulled back the blanket from the child' s face, and looked into Eistla's big black eyes she felt that somehow what she was doing was wrong. Queen Imd knew that if the baby was as evil as the stranger made it out to be that it must be left to die, and yet a tear rolled down her cheek as she placed the child gently on the ground in a soft patch of dead leaves. The queen did not have the heart to remove the blanket . The cold night would do its work with or without the blanket.
As Imd mounted her horse she heard the sound of rustling leaves. When she turned the queen saw an ugly stubby little troll woman looking down at the child. For a moment the two just stared at one another, but then the troll woman spoke : " Are you leaving this child here to die ? " she asked. The queen stuttered as she answered : " Well.... Well... look at the child.... just look at the child ! How could I possibly keep such a hideous creature ! " She told the troll woman nervously. The troll woman bent down, picked up the child, and pulled the blanket from the baby's face. She smiled at the little child as she rocked it gently back and forth in her arms. " How can you call such a wonderful little child hideous ? " she asked the queen as she kissed its misshapen forehead.
Queen Imd slid back down off of her horse, and grabbed the little troll woman by the shoulders. " Would you be willing to raise such a child !? " the queen asked hopefully. Suddenly, a deep voice rang out from behind the troll woman : " We will take this child as our own if you refuse it ! " the voice replied. Queen Imd searched to the left and the right in the forest, and finally saw a little troll man partially hidden behind a tree. The queen looked the troll woman in the eyes. " Then take this child, whose name is Eistla, for I do not want to be the cause of its death ! " she told her with tears in her eyes.
The troll man stepped out into the open. He was a little taller than the troll woman, and despite the fact that he carried a stone hammer in his hand he seemed harmless. " My name in Branmir, and this is my wife Amvid. " he said as an introduction. " We have tried for many years to have children, but have been unsuccessful. I assure you that we will love and care for this child that you find so undesirable. " he told the queen.
Through tearing eyes the queen nodded her thanks to the trolls, and then began to walk back to her horse. After she mounted her steed she turned back and faced the trolls, who were now standing side by side admiring the child. " My name is Queen Imd. I would like to come by from time to time to see how the child is doing. Is there a way for me to get in touch with you ? " she asked the trolls. Amvid smiled at the queen. " All you have to do is come to this very spot, and call out our names, and we will come. " the troll woman told her.
Before Queen Imd could leave Branmir called out to her. " You said the child' s name is Eistla ? " he asked. Imd smiled at the trolls. " Yes ! Her name is Eistla. Please, take good care of her ! " she told them as she kicked her horse into a trot. The trolls waved to the queen, and then quickly disappeared into the forest. Queen Imd cried all the way home.
- End Chapter 2
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2014.
Next : Chapter 3 : A Kingdom Cursed !