Good Witch, Bad Witch !
The Final Confrontation !
Even in the light of day the Jarnvid forest seemed dark and gloomy. Along the trail there had been a nice cold breeze, but here at the edge of the forest the wind was as still as the dead. Adding to this scary scene was the utter lack of sound. As they dismounted from their horses each and every noise they made seemed to be muted by the stillness of the forest. It was almost as though the forest was a living thing that fed off of light and sound. When they reached the edge of the treeline that marked the beginning of the Jarnvid forest King Hastigi looked over to his wife and nodded. Imd knew he was asking her to call to the trolls.
Quen Imd took a deep breath before she began . " Amvid ! Branmir ! Please come out, we must speak to you ! " she yelled into the cold dark forest. She waited for a reply, but when none came she called to them again. Over and over again Imd called to the trolls, but she received no response. Just as King Hastigi was about to tell his wife to take him to the troll' s underground home they heard a rustling of leaves that as they listened seemed to be coming closer.
" Why have you brought him here !? " Amvid asked angrily. Imd ran over to the little troll woman, and knelt down before her. " My husband now knows that it is not your daughter Eistla who is causing all these curses to descend upon Jotunheim ! " she told Amvid. Branmir suddenly appeared from behind a tree. " We are glad that the truth is now known ! " he told them. Amvid walked around Queen Imd and stood before King Hastigi with a suspicious look upon her face. " Then why have you come back to the Jarnvid forest ? " she asked. King Hastigi bent down on one knee so he could speak to Amvid face to face. " We have come because Ulfrun has sickened my army. And even if my army was healthy they could not hope to defeat such a powerful witch as our daughter ! The only way to defeat an evil witch is by the power of a good witch. We need Eistla' s help to get rid of Ulfrun once and for all ! " the king explained.
Amvid slapped the king' s face ! " How dare you ask for my daughters help ! Twice you Jotuns have come to our forest to kill Eistla ! And now .... now you have the audacity to ask her to help you with your problem ! You both are raving mad if you think that I will allow my daughter, my only daughter, to help the likes of you ! " she shouted bitterly at the Jotuns. Branmir stepped forward and added : " You left Eistla here in the forest to die, though she committed no crime ! You have no right to ask her for anything ! " he told the Jotun king and queen. As Hastigi and Imd hung their heads in shame they heard someone, or something, coming toward them from deep in the forest.
" I will help these Giants ! " the cloaked figure said. Amvid ran to her daughter's side and grabbed her by her forearm. " NO ! " she screamed. " You do not have to do anything for these Jotuns ! " she added grabbing hold of her hand and squeezing it tightly. " Yes, you are right mother. I do not owe these Jotuns anything . But I do owe a debt of gratitude to the Jotun woman who gave birth to me. I am told that her name was Hefring. She would want me to confront my evil sister. Of this I am quite certain ! " she told her mother as she stroked her hair. Branmir ran to his daughter and hugged her leg. " No ! You must not do this ! We will not let you ! " he said out of desperation. Eistla placed her hands on both her parent's heads and hugged them tight. " I am sorry, but you cannot stop me. Either my sister must die, or I must die ! " she told them.
Eistla gently pushed away her troll parents and walked over to the king and queen . " I think we should leave for Jotunheim at once . " she told them calmly. Hastigi pointed at his wife. " You will ride with Imd . " he told her. Eistla smiled. " No need ! " she replied, and lifted a hand into the air. Suddenly, a broom made from a branch, and straw, appeared out of nowhere. The king and queen watched in stunned silence as she placed the broom in between her legs and slowly rose into the air. " Shall we go . " Eistla said with a pleasant smile.
King Hastigi and Queen Imd had to kick their horses often to keep up with the flying witch. The pace was brutal and the horses were lathering, and suffering. Then, about halfway through their journey back to Jotunheim, Eistla began to circle over a small grass patch in the middle of nowhere. With great amazement they watched as she floated gently down to the ground and landed softly among the tall grass. Hastigi and Imd raced over to see what had happened.
As the king and queen dismounted they saw Eistla cradling Ondud in her arms. She had one hand on his back, and the other was on the back of his neck. Ondud' s expression was one of sheer joy, almost as though they were a couple enjoying an intimate moment. When the king and queen came closer they heard Eistla chanting words in some language they did not understand. She repeated the same words over and over as she rocked Ondud like a baby in her arms. Suddenly, the messenger opened up his eyes wide, and let out a deep breath. Eistla set Ondud gently back down on the ground and then turned to Hastigi and Imd. " Why did you not tell me that this Jotun was gravely injured here. " she asked. Queen Imd stepped forward. " We thought that there was no hope for him. " she told the witch. Eistla shook her head in disbelief. " There is always hope. You should not have left him here to die. " she scolded them.
Eistla walked over, picked up her broom, and in an instance was floating above them again. To the utter amazement of the king and queen Ondud stood up, whistled to his horse, which came running over, and mounted ready to travel with them. King Hastigi walked his horse over to Ondud. " Are you well enough to travel ? " he asked. Ondud smiled from ear to ear. " I have never felt better in my entire life, my lord ! " he replied with a huge smile.
The Jotuns, with the witch flying high over them, pushed so hard that they reached the great hall just as darkness was descending over the cold world. Ondud wished the king and queen well, and then rode on to the warriors camp to see how his comrades were faring. As the king and queen gave their horses to a handler, Eistla, who had been circling overhead, landed gently at the front doors of the great hall. When Hastigi and Imd joined her the ugly witch leaned her broom up against the hall and clapped her hands. The doors instantly flew open !
The hall was dark ! In fact so dark that it was impossible to make out the feasting tables and benches that lined both walls. With no fires lit in any of the pits it was also very cold in the great hall as they entered. The king and queen felt an indescribable fear as they slowly groped their way into the hall . Eistla, however, sensed something in the dark. Something very powerful and dangerous. An entity that was pure evil ! Then suddenly the doors slammed shut behind them !
" What a wonderful surprise ! I did not expect you to come here Eistla . " the evil witch said in a gentle tone from out of the darkness. Eistla stepped protectively in front of the king and queen. " Your reign of terror is over Ulfrun. " Eistla told her sister calmly. Ulfrun turned around and faced the intruders. Her eyes shone an ominous color of red in the darkness of the hall . " You are mistaken sister, my reign has just begun ! " she screamed as she formed a dozen arrows with her magic. With the power of her mind she flung them at her ugly sister with all her magical might. Eistla calmly swiped her hand in front of her, and caught all of the arrows as though she were picking berries off of a bush. As she threw them on the floor she raised her other hand and the fire pits one by one burst into flames. " That is much better, is not Ulfrun ! " she asked her sister. Ulfrun smiled, a wicked smile. " Yes it is ! Now I will be able to see you as you die ! " she replied. Eistla turned to the king and queen and told them it would be better if they left. King Hastigi and Queen Imd did not protest. They ran out of the great hall as fast as they could, and did not stop until they found a hiding place in the surrounding woods.
Ulfrun suddenly began to laugh. " This hall is not big enough for both of us sister ! " Ulfrun yelled as she waved her hands in front of her. Without any warning the entire great hall collapsed onto Eistla. " Goodbye sister ! " Ulfrun said with a laugh. Slowly Ulfrun felt the ground begin to tremble under her feet. Then the pile of rubble that had covered Eistla shook violently and exploded out like a volcano ejecting its lava, and ash. And there, surrounded in a shroud of dust, stood Eistla, well and unharmed.
" Is that the best that you can do my evil twin sister ? " Eistla asked. " Did you really think killing me would be that easy ? " she added. Ulfrun gave her good sister a wicked grin. " I guess I underestimated your power Eistla, but I promise you I will not make that mistake again ! " she screamed. Ulfrun conjured up two large boulders and threw them at Eistla with all her might. Eistla quickly formed a huge hammer before her and smashed each of the boulders one by one. Eistla smiled at her sister as they walked around each other like two wrestlers ready to day battle. Eistla spoke first : " There is not enough room in the nine worlds for two such witches as us to exist. So I am afraid sister that I must destroy you ! " she told her sister with a hint of regret in her voice.
The battle went on throughout the night. One sister would conjure a fire breathing dragon, while the other would summon a wall of water to put out the creatures flames. Ulfrun threw a hundred knives at her sister, but Eistla moved a huge oak tree into their path, and they all struck the tree harmlessly. Ulfrun then conjured a huge spear, and cast it at her sister. With a mere wave of her hand Eistla turned the spear into a beautiful bouquet of flowers which she caught. Eistla then thanked her sister for the lovely present, and the fight went on.
The contest continued well into the morning. By this time both sisters were physically and mentally drained, but otherwise unharmed. As they stood wearily across from one another waiting for the other to act they each used the time to catch their breath, Eistla suddenly spoke. " Ulfrun ! If I were to give you all of my great power, to add to your own immense strength, would you leave Jotunheim and never come back ? " she asked. Ulfrun could not believe what she was hearing ! Could her ugly sister really be that foolish ? " Ulfrun could not help but smile as she asked suspiciously : " Why such a generous offer sister ? " Eistla stepped forward and came face to face with her sister. " Because this is not a battle that either one of us can win . " she told Ulfrun. " This fight could go on for a millennium with no clear winner, and in the meantime we will destroy the entire Jotun world. " she added. " So I will ask you again. I will give you my power if you will leave and never return to Jotunheim. What is your answer Ulfrun. " she asked calmly. Ulfrun thought for a moment. " How do I know that this is not a trick ? " she asked in return. Eistla gave her sister a little crooked smile. " Because I will let you draw the magical power out of me, and it is I who will be at your mercy. " Eistla replied. Ulfrun laughed. " Then open yourself up to me sister ! " she demanded.
Eistla stood with her arms held up to the sky. Ulfrun then reached out with her powerful magic and began to draw in her sisters raw power. The evil witch began to moan in ecstasy as she felt herself slowly growing stronger and stronger. Then suddenly Eistla threw her arms at Ulfrun forcing all of her power into her sister at once ! The force of the transfer threw Ulfrun up against a large maple tree, from which she slowly slid down to the ground. Ulfrun looked up at her sister. " That was not very nice Eistla ! " she said angrily. " Did you really think that you could harm me in such a silly fashion ! " she added screaming at her ugly sister. Ulfrun laughed as she felt her sister's power pulsating through her body " And now it is time to die Eistla ! " she said more calmly to her defenseless sister.
Then Ulfrun stopped laughing. Her eyes began to glow bright red, and bulged out of their sockets. The beautiful, but evil witch, began to shake uncontrollably as she yelled at Eistla. " What have you done to me sister ?! " she asked with fear in her voice. Eistla, now powerless, stood defiantly before her sister and said confidently : " I have killed you sister. No being, no matter how strong they are, can contain and control that much power. Your evil greed has become your own doom ! " she explained to Ulfrun.
Slowly Ulfrun's body began to expand and contract with each heartbeat, as she screamed pitifully. Finally her flesh and bones could no longer hold the force of the power in, and much like a lid blowing off of a boiling stew pot, she exploded into a million particles of magic that rained down all over Jotunheim. When the dust had cleared all that was left of Ulfrun was a hole in the ground where she had been standing. As Eistla looked up and watched the glowing particles slowly fall back to Jotunheim she said softly to the sky : " Goodbye sister ! "
- End Chapter 7
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2014.
Next : The finale : Utgard - Loki' s return !