Odin' s Revenge
The Old Woman
Gangleri slowly made his way through the little village of Saurby to its center, where in a place these Midgardians called the , " village square ", the local folk gathered to sell their produce and their wares . As a God Odin had tasted some of the sweetest of foods, and after a millennium had grown tired of their rich flavors. In Asgard he only drank ale and ate Idunn's sweet golden apples. The rest of his food he gave to his wolves Geri and Freki to eat. Here in Midgard, however, the food was not quite as perfect, and often had a bitter, or sour taste to it. And when he traveled as Gangleri eating these foods, that were a bit off in taste, had become a treat for him that he enjoyed very much.
As the God, in human form, made his way to a large cart that sat at the edge of the square, he reached into a pouch that hung at his waist. Gangleri pulled out a flat stone, and rubbed it slowly in between his fingers. Within moments the stone transformed into a shining silver coin. With Midgardian money now at hand the weary traveler walked over to the produce cart ready to make a purchase.
Gangleri smiled at the Elderly woman who stood at the side of the old rickety wooden cart. " Good morning to you maiden ! " he said as he looked over the various fruits and vegetables that were on display before him. The old woman turned her head slightly as she looked the stranger up and down. " My ain't you a big one ! " she told her prospective customer with a toothless grin.
Gangleri could not help but smile. In Asgard he was always treated with great respect, and his fellow Asgardians were always very careful in what they said, and how they said it to him. But here in Midgard he was treated as an equal, and his children said whatever was on their mind to him. And the disguised God absolutely loved it ! " Yes, my dear. I am still large in proportion, though I have lost some of my vigor over the years. In my younger days I would have swept a lovely maiden such as yourself right off of her feet, but alas now I have barely the energy to buy some fruit from such a beauty as yourself. " he told her with a pleasant smile.
The old woman blushed for the first time in many years as she shyly looked down at the ground. " And in my younger days, when I was a shield maiden, I would have rushed into your arms ! " she told him with a little giggle. Gangleri looked up from the fruit and asked : " You were a shield maiden ? " The old woman pouted a little before replying. " I was a very good shield maiden in the old days. I had dreams of dying in battle and being swept up by one of Odin's valkyries, and taken to the golden halls of Valhalla. Dreams, however, turned into reality, and now I stand here an old woman with a hunched back selling produce in the village. " she told him sadly. The old woman took a deep cleansing breath. " Choose what you desire. I promise I will give you a fair price charming one ! " the old woman told him trying to not show her disappointment at how her life had turned out.
Gangleri looked the produce over very carefully before choosing. " I would very much like to have a dozen of those strange red apples . " he told the old woman as he picked one up and studied it. The old maiden gave the stranger a surprised look. " Did you expect them to be made of gold like the one's that Idunn gives to the Gods ? " she asked with a little laugh. Gangleri looked at the old woman and could not help but chuckle himself. " No, but I am sure the Gods would like these almost as much as Idunn's apples. " he replied.
The old woman carefully chose twelve apples for the hooded stranger, and then with a smile picked out four more for the gentleman who was being so kind to her. After placing them in a small sack she turned and handed the apples to him. " I put in a few extra for you. " she told him. Then she leaned over the cart and whispered. " But don't tell anyone, or you will ruin my reputation as a hard bargainer ! " she added with a wink.
Gangleri laughed at how funny his human children could be. " What is your name child ? " he asked. The old woman looked up at him as if he had suddenly gone mad. " My name is Hrund my friend ! " she told him. Then with a flirting smile she added. " It has been many many years since anyone has referred to me as a child. " Gangleri returned her smile, and reached out and placed his hand upon her chin. " I can still see the youthful beauty that once radiated from you. " he told her as he offered the coin to her with his other hand.
Hrund could not take her eyes off of the strange old man whose kind words had made her feel fifty years younger. When she finally looked down at her hand she saw the shiny silver coin in her palm. " Oh ! " she stated in a startled voice. " I am sorry, but I do not have enough coins to change such a large amount ! " she told him in a flustered tone. Gangleri kissed the woman on the forehead . " I will remember you shield maiden Hrund ! " he told her. Then he turned and walked away. A tear welled up in Hrund's eye as she watched him disappear across the square. " And I will never forget you either ! " she whispered.
Gangleri walked out of the village and found himself a place at the edge of the forest to make a camp. He was careful to make sure that he was far enough inside the cover of the trees and brush not to be seen, but close enough to hear any and all activity coming from the clearing. The old wanderer gathered up as much dead wood and twigs as he could find in the surrounding area. He then placed them in a pile and surrounded them with large rocks. Gangleri reached into a second pouch that he had tied around his waist, and pulled out the stones that it contained. He sifted through the stones until he came to a kenaz rune stone. Gangleri blessed the stone and placed it beneath the piled wood. He then chanted an ancient spell over the stone. After a few short moments a flame sprung up from the stone, and the wood was soon ablaze.
Gangleri sat warming himself by the fire as he drank the ale he had brought with him from Asgard for his journey. All there was left for him to do now was wait. If the Norn had been truthful in what she had told him, then it was here at the outskirts of the village of Saurby that he would find the answers that he so desperately sought. As he sat drinking from his horn he reached into the sack that the old woman had given him, and pulled out a red apple. Gangleri smiled as he bit into the Midgardian fruit, and tasted its slightly sour flavor. " Yes, Hrund, I will remember you and your wonderful apples ! " he said quietly to himself.
- End Chapter 2
Next : Chapter 3 : The Interrogator
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.