Odin's Eyes :
A Story Of Hugin And Munin
The Ground Battle
The harts led the battle line forward with their large multi pointed racks lowered like battering rams. Unlike when they attacked the ravens, Dain, Duneyr, Durathror, and Dvalar, could not afford to be nervous, or fail to do their duty this time, for now everyone was watching !
To their right, and and just behind them, Nidhoggr's massive clawed feet pounded the ground with every step. On one side of the great dragon was Garm, the " Best of Hounds ", while Fenrir, the great wolf, walked along on the other. The serpents seemed to be everywhere as they slithered along the ground in between the other beasts. Their tongues flickered in and out to " taste ' the air, and compensate for their poor eyesight. These lethal vipers had to be careful where they slithered, for there was a good chance if they did not they would be trampled under the feet of the great beasts that lumbered above them.
On the other side of the great tree's roots waited Odin's formidable animal legion . Each Asgardian pet lined up directly across from the evil creature they were about to engage in battle. Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjoster were out in front with their heads lowered, and their massive curved horns ready to defend against the harts, and their intricate racks. Geri and Freki were next in line and they positioned themselves across from Garm, and the young wolf Fenrir. To fend off the great dragon Nidhoggr, Gullinbursti, and Hildisvinni strode confidently forward grinding their mighty tusks against their lower teeth to sharpen them, and warn their enemies. The great boars' sharp golden bristles stood up straight as a deterrent to being attacked. Interspersed in between Asgard's great beasts were hundreds of Freyja's cats. These felines would fend off the slithering serpents that made the ground across from them seem to be alive.
At the base of the trunk of the World Tree, where the root reaches down to the underworld, two tiny eyes peeked out of the shadows. Ratatoskr had found itself a place right in the middle of the action to witness what was sure to be the strangest battle ever fought. What the little tree squirrel did not realize, however, was that it was not alone !
Nidhoggr did not wait for the harts to clear the way. The great dragon flapped its wings, thundered forward past the nervous deer, opened its massive jaws as wide as it could, and tried to swallow Gullinbursti whole ! It quickly realized that it had made a huge mistake ! Nidhoggr's mouth and tongue were scratched, and its tender oral membranes punctured by hundreds of surgically sharp bristles that would have made the great surgeon and healer, Eir, envious of their perfection. The great dragon immediately roared in pain ! So loud in fact was its scream of agony that every animal on the battlefield stopped for a moment to see what had happened.
The moment did not last long, however, as the harts, and Thor's goats, were the next to clash. Four harts should have been more than a match for just two goats. But these were not your normal run of the mill Midgardian goats. Tanngrisnir, and Tanngnjoster were much larger than the harts, and with a skull that was harder than granite they feared nothing. Of course the fact that they could be killed and later resurrected by their master Thor, also gave them an air of invincibility.
The harts put up a brave fight, but after they butted heads with the angry goats several times, damaging their antlers in the process, they quickly retreated up into the lower branches of the World Tree. Thor's goats followed them to the base of Yggdrasil and kept guard there so that the harts could not re-enter the battle. Ratatoskr, who was taking it all in, could not help but giggle inside as the harts scurried by him like frightened little mice !
Garm tried to help the harts, and attack the goats, but Geri and Freki viciously held the evil hound at bay, allowing the goats to chase the harts up the World Tree . Gullinbursti and Hildisvini tried to advance as well, but could not move forward because of the hundreds of hissing serpents that blocked their way.
For a moment it looked as though Fenrir would be the one to breach through the wall of great Asgardian beasts until it was suddenly stopped by a pack of wolves which poured out of the shadows just below where Ratatoskr was hiding. The little squirrel made a loud chirping noise, which was its way of cheering on the large wolf pack that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. The pack, led by a large alpha male, rushed forward and prevented the young, but savage, Fenrir from penetrating the Asgardian line, and getting in their rear.
Swift - Runner, the alpha male, had brought his pack to the battle field at the request of The Mountain Goddess. Skadhi was both angry and hurt that she, the Goddess who walks and talks with the forest animals, was not asked to help at such a critical time as this. The Goddess who lived in both the Jotun world, and the Asgardian realm, had sent her wolves not to gain glory for herself, but to honor Odin and all the Gods and Goddesses who had accepted her as one of their own after the death of her father. As Swift - Runner and his pack harassed the great beast Fenrir, snapping and growling at the much larger wolf to keep it in place, it became apparent to Odin who watched from high overhead, that not asking Skadhi for assistance was an oversight that he would never make again.
The great beasts of the underworld were having a tough time of it in the shadow of Yggdrasil massive branches. Even the ever dangerous slithering serpents were being kept busy by Freyja's cats. Every time they tried to slither forward one of the fierce felines would arch its back, and quickly bite, or scratch with their sharp claws, at the vipers. The serpents tried to strike back, but the cats were too fast, and simply leaped out of the way of their massive fangs.
Ratatoskr was thoroughly enjoying the show when he noticed one of the cats had become encircled by several serpents. The nervous little squirrel suddenly found a courage it had never known before ! It boldly scurried down the tree root it had been hiding behind, and attacked the unsuspecting serpents. It completely caught the snakes off guard as it bit at their tails with its sharp teeth. When the serpents turned to address this knew threat the trapped cat broke free from the ring the serpents had formed and escaped. The grateful cat returned the favor and curled back around to help the tree squirrel attack the vipers.
Ratatoskr stayed and played what it considered to be a game with the serpents. If it had only known that just one bite from the snake's fangs would have killed it in a matter of moments, the little squirrel surely would have retreated back to its hiding place. But ignorance is bliss, and the World Tree Messenger stayed and fought as bravely as any of the Asgardian pets.
It was becoming apparent to Garmr and Fenrir that the battle had been lost, or at the very least they realized that it could no longer be won. The harts had fled, the serpents could make no headway against the cats, and their strongest comrade, the injured Nidhoggr, had been chased to the rear by the boar Hildisvini, where it was now spitting out blood from the hundreds of tiny wounds in its mouth that it had received from Gullinbursti. The two great canines could not move forward themselves and attack because of the Skadhi's Jotun wolves, and Odin's pet wolves Geri and Freki. The only logical move was to slowly make a fighting retreat back down to the dark realm.
As Odin watched from high overhead, he saw that the fight had gone out of the evil beasts. With a high - pitched screech Valfather commanded his Asgardian animals not to follow their enemies down into the lower realms. A moment later, once the great dark world beasts had cleared the battlefield, Odin landed among his pets, shape - shifted back into God - form, and congratulated each of the animals in turn for their great victory. All - Father even went over to Ratatoskr and thanked the little tree squirrel with a stroke on its back, and a pat on its head.
Suddenly Habrok screeched from high above the battlefield ! Hraesvelgr had awoken ! Odin quickly changed back into eagle form and flew up to the branches where he had left the unconscious Frost Giant. He need not have hurried, however, for the great Jotun was still in a state of utter confusion, and was incapable of doing much of anything but moan in pain.
While the good beasts of Asgard began to slowly return home, Odin grabbed hold of the dazed Jotun with his great talons, and carried him all the way to the world's end. Here he dropped the Frost Giant into its nest, and then proceeded to the land of the Dwarves. There, in Svartalfaheim, the All- Father had the Dark Elves make a fetter for him. The Dwarves swore to Odin that the fetter would hold the eagle in its nest, despite the restraint being invisible, and made out of impossible things.
When Odin returned to Hraesvelgr's nest he placed this " invisible " fetter around the Jotun's leg. The other end he permanently attached to the branch with an unbreakable magical spell that he had learned a millennium ago. Several days later when Hraesvelgr awoke he turned himself into an eagle only to find that the restraint would only allow him to go as far as his nest, and back to the edge of the branch where the fetter was attached. For now at least the great eagle would not be able to interfere in the nine worlds. The only purpose left for Hraesvelgr was to create the winds that swirled around the nine worlds . Odin, however, knows the future better than anyone. He had already seen that the great Jotun - Eagle would be released at the onset of Ragnarok by the same earthquakes that would release Fenrir and Loki.
- End Chapter 10
Next : Chapter 11 : Not On My Watch !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.