The Prophecy Of Destiny
The Ride To Hel
Even the great and powerful Odin himself had to stop at the golden gates of Asgard, and answer to the great sentinel Heimdall. " Halt ! " Heimdall shouted as the rider approached. When Bifrost's guardian saw it was Odin, he bowed his head in respect before asking : " Why are you leaving Asgard, and what is your destination Great Odin ? " Odin rode Sleipnir over to Heimdall, and stopped directly in front of him. The All - Father then bent over his horse, looked Heimdall in the eyes, and answered : " I am on my way to Niflheim ! The reason for my journey is something that quite frankly I am not willing to speak of my old friend. " Heimdall, gave Odin a sly grin, nodded his head, and then walked over and slowly opened the golden gates. " You may pass my old friend, and may your journey be a safe one ! " Odin thanked Heimdall with a wave, and then sunk his boots into Sleipnir. The great horse roared, and then took off like lightning across the rainbow bridge. As Heimdall closed the gates he could hear Frigga as she paced back and forth in Fensalir. Whatever Odin was about to do obviously had the All - Mother very worried.
Odin enjoyed riding Sleipnir over the rainbow bridge. As his eight - legged mount galloped over Bifrost it kicked up the colors of the bridge which then rained down upon Midgard as a fine dust. In the daytime this " rainbow dust " could not be seen, but at night it lit up the northern Midgardian skies with a wonderful show. His human children were amazed by the lights, and called them the Aurora Borealis. Odin loved to honor his children with this light show, and would ride Sleipnir across the rainbow bridge and back almost every night just to delight them !
Bifrost gently descended to Midgard ending in a deep forested valley, which sat in between two massive mountains. Even if humans could reach the bridge, and they hadn't yet, Odin had disguised the bridge next to the form of a waterfall. If a human saw the rainbow bridge they would simply think it was the sun reflecting off of the mist of the water like any other falls. Odin himself appropriately named the falls, " Regnbogifoss ". As All - Father rode his eight - legged horse through the falls, and into the valley, he marveled at the undisturbed beauty of the surrounding area. As much as he loved his Midgardian children it concerned him how many times they destroyed the natural beauty all around them to adapt the land to their needs. Here, however, in this pristine valley, it still looked much like it did all those millennium ago when he and his brothers first made Midgard from the body of the Giant Ymir.
Most horses could not climb the steep mountains that surrounded the valley, but Sleipnir, powered by his eight mighty limbs easily, and quickly, made it to the top of the highest peak. As Odin looked down into the valleys well beyond Regnbogifoss, he saw in the distance a group of humans gathered at the edge of a stream. Odin decided to lead Sleipnir down to the stream, to see what the humans were up to . He carefully kept Sleipnir in the thickest part of the forest to keep himself and his mount concealed. As he moved through the forest he caught glimpses, from time to time, of a white robed man dunking villagers in the stream to baptize them. When Odin came within earshot, on the opposite side of the stream from the humans, he dismounted and worked his way as close to the edge of the stream as possible. The All- Father found a tree near to the stream with a trunk that was large enough to hide behind, and from there he listened intently to the conversations.
Standing near the end of a line of humans were an older man and a boy. The boy spoke first : " But my friend Egil says the Christian God doesn't exist ! He says that we are all a bunch of cowards who are afraid to fight for what we believe in ! " the little boy said angrily as the man dragged in forward. The large man, who Odin supposed was his father, picked up his son under his arms, and put his face right up against his son' s face. " Listen here Eyjolf, and listen to me well boy, our village has several blacksmiths now, and I am losing more and more business to the Christian blacksmiths ! These Christians do not want me to make or fix things for them because we honor the old Gods ! And the winds of fortune seem to be blowing in their favor ! So what do we care if we get a little wet, and call ourselves something else, as long as it allows me to put food on the table, and clothes on our backs ! " he told his son in a hoarse whisper so the others might not hear. " But father ! " the boy protested before being cut off. His father shook the boy a few times, and then replied angrily : " No buts boy ! Egil's father, Hroar, is a farmer and does not depend on these Christians as much as I do ! " Eyjolf began to cry as his father placed him back down on the ground. The father then noticed that everyone around him was staring at them. Nervously Eyjolf's father stated : " The boy,.... my son,..... is just afraid of water.... that is all ! " Then the blacksmith yanked on his son's arm to move him forward as the Priest submerged another villager, and the line moved again.
Odin took a deep breath, shook his head, and then slowly walked back to Sleipnir. All - Father stroked the great horse's mane several times before mounting his faithful servant. " Let us go quickly from this place my speedy friend ! I wish to hear no more of this nonsense ! " Odin whispered to his horse. All- Father then kicked Sleipnir into a full gallop. The angry God no longer cared whether he could be heard or not !
All the way through Midgard, past Jotunheim, and to the border with Niflheim he kept seeing the images by the stream, and hearing the father's cowardly words. For nine days and nine nights Odin rode through the Hel plain, that was dark and covered in thick heavy layers of mist. Then, suddenly, out of the mist Val- father saw the river Gjoll, and followed it to the ancient wooden bridge that crossed its blood stained waters. The roof of the bridge was thatched in gold, it is believed at the beginning of time, but the rest of the bridge was rotted, and covered in mold. When anyone, or anything, crossed the bridge, either on foot, or on horseback, the bridge made a noise that sounded much like a painful groan. These sounds carried all the way to Niflheim, and alerted Hel that more dead were coming to stay. As Odin reached the other side he was stopped by a tall ugly Jotun maiden who served as the guardian of Gjallarbru ( The Gjoll Bridge ). In one hand she held a rusty spear, and in the other a moldy shield. " What is your name, and what family do you come from ? " she asked in a raspy monstrous voice . Odin pulled up Sleipnir next to Modgud and replied : " I am Odin son of Bor ! " The ancient guardian looked the stranger up and down before stating : " You are still counted among the living ! " She then asked : " What business do you have among the dead ? " Odin, who was becoming irritated by the witch, yelled at her : " I am here to see the Sibyl ! Get out of my way or be trampled ! " Modgud thought for a moment before moving to the side and bowing. Odin kicked Sleipnir into motion, and made sure as he passed the guardian of the bridge that he brushed up against her, pushing her back a step. As he rode away he heard Modgud yell after him : " The road to Hel lies below, and north of the river of the dead ! " Odin had been here before. He knew the way !
On the path to Hel' s great hall Odin passed many of the walking dead on the road. In several places there were so many that he had to pull Sleipnir over to the side to pass them. A few of the dead pleaded with Odin to take them to Valhalla, but many were resigned to their fate, and trudged along silently. Odin did not respond to those who begged for his help, though he did think to himself : " The path you walk now was forged by the path you walked in life. Nothing can change the fate for which you helped to construct ! "
As Odin approached the great hall of the dead he noticed Hel standing before its high gates, as though the All- Father had been expected. In one hand she held a rusty scepter, and in the other she gripped a leash. Odin's eye followed the leash down to where the Hound of Hel stood growling angrily. Garm, more of a monster than a dog or wolf, had a great jaw filled with very sharp teeth, and eyes that glowed red in the misty air. Its coat was matted down with the blood of its many victims, and by the drool which dripped out of its mouth constantly. Hel had to grip the leash even tighter as Odin walked Sleipnir over to her. Then Garm lunged at Sleipnir, which made the horse rear up on its four hind legs. Hel calmly pulled on the leash, while Odin walked his great mount back a few steps. Hel spoke first : " Why do you come to Niflheim, Odin of Asgard ? " she asked in a dead voice. Odin chuckled a little, which infuriated Garm even more ! " I am not here to see you, Loki' s offspring. I am here to see the Sibyl ! " he told her. Hel looked slowly up at Odin, and in a monotone voice replied : " Then you had best ride on . For I do not know how much longer I can restrain my pet before it breaks its bonds. " she told him. Odin gave her an angry look, shook his head, and then rode on. As Sleipnir pulled away, Odin thought to himself : " At least this time I will speak to the real Sibyl, and not the mother of three monsters ! "
Odin rode on to the eastern doors of Hel' s hall, and stopped there, dismounting next to a great grave mound which was covered with mud and mold. Odin tied Sleipnir to a tree by the grave side, and walked to the very edge of the mound. The All - Father pulled back his hood, and placed his rune engraved walking stick into the mud along the edge of the mound. Then Odin began to chant magical charms at the grave. Suddenly the walking stick began to glow , and the runes that were carved deeply into its surface began to flow back and forth forming new words that matched Odin's speech. Slowly, as he spoke, there came out of the mound an apparition ! It rose above the grave, looked down angrily at Odin, and said in a shrill voice : " Who dares to disturb the sleep of the long dead ! "
End Chapter 2
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2014.
Next : Chapter 3 : The Prophecy