Odin's Eyes :
A Story Of Hugin And Munin
The Sly Serpents
Balder was out hunting for wild boar in Asgard, when a great shadow of a large bird fell over the ground in front of him. As the shadow it cast reduced in size, the great golden eagle landed where the shadow had once been. Within a moment the great predatory bird shape - shifted into a form more recognizable to the God of light and goodness.
" I hope I did not startle you or disturb your hunt ! " Odin said apologetically to his son.
Balder raised up a gloved hand, and quickly a great brown hawk landed on his outstretched hand.
" I knew it was you father,.... and I am just about to leave on my hunt . " Balder told his father with a slight grin.
Odin raised an eyebrow, surprised that his son had recognized him.
" And what may I ask gave me away ? " Odin asked.
" There are many golden eagles father, ...... but there is only one eagle I know which has only one eye ! " he explained.
Odin smiled, satisfied by his son's skills at observation.
" I hate to break up your hunt Balder, but today my ravens were attacked, and I will not send them out alone in the future ! " he told his son.
Balder's usually happy demeanor immediately ceased .
" Then you will be in need of a creature who can look after your pets. " he told his father as he gently stroked Habrok's head.
" I can think of no creature better suited to protect my great ravens. " he told Balder.
Balder walked over to his father and patted him on the back with his free hand.
" Then you shall have Habrok with my blessings ! " he replied with a huge smile.
Habrok flapped his mighty wings, and let out a loud cry that carried for miles and miles in Asgard.
Balder laughed again !
" Habrok seems very happy and eager to help you father ! " Balder added while holding onto the anxious bird.
Odin joined his son in laughter, but behind his jovial demeanor lurked real concern for his ravens.
Unlike the harts, the serpents that sucked on Yggdrasil's roots did not need to climb from branch to branch to reach the top of the World Tree. After being told by Nidhoggr that Farbauti wanted them to kill Odin's ravens they simply slithered right up the trunk of the World Tree to the uppermost branches. In very little time they were in position, waiting and ready to kill the great ravens the moment they arrived.
These writhing serpents were not as conspicuous as the harts either. They were able to wrap their long bodies around the ends of the branches and hold themselves straight out as though they were a smaller limb growing out of the larger branch. Also, unlike the harts, these slithering vipers were not nervous like their four - legged cohorts, and were able to remain perfectly still for days if necessary. Only the occasional flicker of their tongues to taste the air gave them away. And here they waited to strike down Odin's black birds !
Several days passed without incident, and Odin began to wonder if the assault on Hugin and Munin might not have been intentional at all. During that morning's breakfast Hugin and Munin continued to feed him valuable information about the build up of warriors and weapons at the new village that the Frost Giants had built near the cosmic porthole to Midgard. Slowly his concern began to switch from his ravens safety to what the Frost Giants were up to
Odin began to feel less apprehensive about sending out his " eyes " to spy on the nine worlds than he did just days before. But still Valfather sensed that there was something that was not quite right . As Odin watched his beloved ravens fly off into the distance, from the doorway of his golden hall, he felt reassured by the silhouette of Habrok, the great hawk, which flew behind, and just above his pets.
Hugin and Munin circled overhead several times before landing in the upper branches of the World tree. They had both looked over the branch they were now perched upon very carefully to make sure that there were no harts, or other dangerous creatures which could harm them anywhere in sight. The only thing on this particular branch were leaves, and a few smaller twigs that jutted out from the main limb.
After landing the ravens kept a close eye on the trunk of the world tree, and the branches directly above and below them. Finally, when they felt quite certain they were safe, and they knew that Habrok was watching them from the higher limbs, Hugin and Munin rested and began to preen themselves.
The small dead " twigs " had remained perfectly still, and kept their eyes closed even after the ravens had landed. Then slowly, one by one, like the dead coming back to life, they began to open their eyes and flicker their tongues to taste the air. And it tasted good !
The first to notice the moving twigs was not Hugin or Munin, but Habrok who was carefully watching the ravens with his keen vision. The " Best of Hawks " wasted no time, and acted immediately ! It leaped off of its high perch, flapped its wings a few times, and then folded them tight against its body to gain speed as it quickly descended.
Hugin was preening the feathers on its right wing when it thought it noticed the dead twig closest to Munin move ever so slightly. Like a deer frozen in firelight, the raven remained immobilized by its own indecision caused by shock. Then to its utter horror Hugin saw the blood red eyes at the end of the " twig " and knew they were in trouble !
As the jaws of the serpent extended for an attack Hugin finally came out of its stupor and tried to warn its comrade with a sharp caw, but it was too late. The serpent struck quick and hard ! It was then that Hugin became aware that all of the dead " twigs " on their branch had come alive ! Within the blink of an eye the entire limb had become a writhing death trap for the two ravens !
Munin felt something grab hold of its wing, and let out a cry before it attempted to fly off. It was of no use, however, for the serpent had a strong hold on its wing, and was trying to swallow more ! Just when Munin feared its entire wing would be ripped off by the red eyed serpent it felt a tug on its wing and the snake was suddenly gone !
Habrok was angry ! Both Balder and Odin had entrusted it with the task of protecting Hugin and Munin, and at this most desperate of moments it looked as though it had miserably failed in its duty to the Gods. With a fierce screech, that was heard throughout the nine worlds, the great hawk swooped down, and with its sharp talons grabbed hold of the serpent that had taken hold of Munin's wing. Once the raven was free of the serpents grip Habrok pulled its legs apart, and ripped the snake in two, before letting it drop the great length of Yggdrasil.
Habrok turned back to help Munin, but when he saw that the injured bird had taken flight, and was out of danger, the hawk turned and headed for Hugin instead, who was now surrounded by hissing vipers, all of which had raised themselves up ready to strike the defenseless bird. When Habrok saw that Hugin had lowered his body in anticipation of being bit, the hawk quickly thought of a plan to help the raven.
With no regard for its own safety Habrok dove back down, and swooped up another snake in its talons. The hawk then rose up, did a half turn in the air, and dove straight for Hugin. At the last possible moment the great hawk flapped its wings, extended it talons and pulled the snake taut in its grip. Using the serpent as a battering ram Habrok smashed into the raised up serpents at full speed knocking most of them off of the branch.
Two serpents remained behind on the limb, however, and they were closing in on Hugin ! Habrok turned back again and just before it landed in front of Hugin it ripped the serpent in its claws apart and set both parts of its mutilated body down in front of the slithering snakes as a warning. Habrok then extended its great wings, and hid the raven behind them. Hugin, realizing it now had a chance to escape, jumped off of the branch, and flew after the unsteady Munin who was circling around the great World Tree with an injured wing.
Using its great wings to jump out of the way of the snakes vicious bites Habrok slowly backed away from the serpents. The slithering vipers were so sure that they had the hawk cornered, and would soon be eating the hawk, that they failed to notice that they were reaching the end of the branch.
When Habrok could retreat no further on the limb it simply flapped its wings and flew up into the air just out of the serpents' reach. When the snakes lunged at the hawk one last time to sink their fangs in to it they suddenly found themselves with no branch to land on. Habrok watched carefully with his perfect vision as the serpents fell for miles and miles before smashing themselves to pieces on the lower branches.
Habrok quickly scanned the horizon on all sides for danger before regrouping with Hugin and the injured Munin. Despite Hugin's insistence on finishing the mission that Odin had given them for that day, the great hawk forced them both to turn back, and return to Asgard at once !
- End Chapter 5
- Next : Chapter 6 : The Healer
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.