Under The Hrafnsmerki
A Spell Of Wind And Blood
As the phantom like apparition approached its feet were hidden beneath a long garment which gave the illusion that she was floating above the ground. With wide eyes Ashildr and Reginleifr stared at the figure dressed all in black as it came closer and closer. By the time it stopped a few feet in front of them the sisters were hugging each other as if they each were driftwood from a wreckage in mid-ocean that a survivor was clinging onto for dear life. And when the being reached up to pull back the hood that covered its face all three prepared for the worst.
Each sister gasped in turn as they looked upon the face of the now uncloaked woman who stood before them. Her features were not hideous, as they had expected, nor were they scary to look at in any way. And although the woman's face was a bit paler than most others they had seen in Britain, it seemed quite pretty despite her apparent age. There were a few wrinkles around the eyes, and her neck was no longer smooth, but she still retained the beauty that she had obviously enjoyed in her youth. Only her gray hair gave away her true age.
" Are you lost,... or do you seek the Witch of The Dark Forest ? " she asked in a high squeaky voice that did not seem to match her pleasant smile.
When Ashildr stepped forward to reply Gylla moved over a bit to hide behind her remaining sister.
" We have come to ask the witch to place a victory spell upon a flag that we have made for our brother. " she told the woman.
The woman in black slanted her head to the side to peek behind Reginleifr.
" Do not fear me child. For I mean you no harm. " she explained in a friendly but high pitched tone.
Slowly, and cautiously, Gylla peeked out from behind her sister before moving to her side.
" My name is Gylla, and these are my sisters Ashildr, and Reginleifr. " she told the woman as she pointed to each of her sisters in turn.
The woman nodded before walking over to the center of the pentagram. Once there she slowly lifted her hands up to the sky. As she reached for some unseen force light filtered through the heavy forest canopy and lit up the rocks that made up the witch's symbol. Her eyes widened as she felt the magical power of the forest pulse through her. And as she spoke her voice was much stronger, and lower in tone.
" And I am Myriam ! The witch of the du Coedwig,... or " Dark Forest " as you would call it ! " she told them with a flare that was almost theatrical.
Reginleifr, who at this point was just as frightened as Gylla, took the canvas bag from Ashildr. She carefully removed the Hrafnsmerki and unfurled it for the witch to see.
" Will you help us ? " she asked somewhat timidly.
Myriam looked at the flag for a moment and then grinned.
" For a price, my dear ! " she informed Reginleifr.
As the three sisters quietly braced themselves for what they felt would be an outlandish request the witch stepped forward and allowed her grin to relax into a comforting smile.
" By the looks on your faces you do not have much to give. " she stated as fact.
It was the oldest, Reginleifr, who once again spoke for all three.
" We are women of modest means. " she replied.
The witch gave the eldest of the sisters a suspicious look.
" And yet you are all well mannered, well dressed, and have taken the time and effort to learn the language of my people. " she told them.
Ashildr found her voice once again and replied to the witch's concerns.
" We are the daughters of Ragnar Lodbrok, and the sisters of Ubba. We rely on the generosity of our brother for our wealth. However, we are both fighting a common enemy, and we are hoping that you will take that into consideration when you set your fee. " she explained to the witch.
Myriam looked at each of the sisters in turn, examining them closely in the dim light. The youngest girl was wearing a Thor's hammer around her neck, while the older women wore Odin's symbol of the Triad, known as the Valknut, around their necks. The eldest also wore a bracelet that depicted the Midgard Serpent circling the earth.
" Ah yes ! The Christians have been trying, without luck of course, to kill me for years. I therefore will lower my price for you, my sister Pagans. " she informed them.
Ashildr raised her eyebrows in anticipation of the amount. When it was not forthcoming she asked :
" And that amount would be .....? "
Myriam smiled pleasantly and patted little Gylla on the head as she responded.
" I think that one silver coin from each of you will settle the agreement. " she told them.
Reginleifr, who was relieved at the price for the spell, reached into her pouch and pulled out two coins.
" Ashildr will pay you her part, but I will pay for myself and Gylla, for she has no money of her own. " she informed the witch.
Myriam stepped back and answered Reginleifr harshly.
" No ! Each of you must pay one silver coin ! " she stated again.
Ashildr frowned as she dug a silver coin out of her pouch.
" My sister has told you that Gylla is very young and has no money of her own. " she shot back tersely.
Myriam's face went blank as she responded.
" Then you will give your sister a silver coin as a gift, and she will decide whether she wishes to give it to me. " the witch explained.
With a sense of confusion Reginleifr shook her head.
" Fine ! Here you are Gylla ! You can give her the coin ! " Reginleifr said sarcastically as she handed the silver coin to her sister.
Gylla's lips pouted.
" I want two coins ! " she shouted.
" Why ! " she shot back.
Gylla looked up at her older sister with tearful eyes.
" Because,... I have never had money of my own,... and it's not fair ! " she blurted out.
Reginleifr shook her head again, this time out of a sheer sense of disgust.
" Oh,... alright ! Here ! " she said angrily as she handed the second coin to Gylla.
" Now give her one of the coins ! " she added.
Each of them handed the witch their coin in turn, and then waited to see what would happen next.
Myriam winked at the youngest sister before turning and pointing to the center of the pentagram.
" Place the flag in the middle of the sacred star. " she informed the sisters.
As they complied with her instructions Myriam walked over to the edge of the clearing and broke off a branch from a thorny bush. When she returned to the center of the pentagram she instructed them to kneel before the flag and hold up their right hand. Thinking this to be a pledge rite each of the sisters did as she was told. The witch had a different use for their hands however.
Gylla screamed as the thorn tore into her flesh. Myriam had chosen her first because if the young girl had seen her sisters' reactions she might not have agreed to the ritual. As the blood dripped from Gylla's finger, Myriam, with a grip that was as strong as any man, rubbed her finger up against two of the tassels that represented the raven's claws. The witch then repeated the process with Ashildr and Reginleifr. When the claws were covered in blood Myriam instructed Reginleifr, as the oldest, to hold the flag up by its edge in the center of the pentagram. She then instructed Ashildr and Gylla to stand behind their sister.
Myriam knelt before the flag and raised her hands up to the heavens. As she spoke The Dark Forest lit up with a glow that did not come from Sunna's rays.
" Gods and spirits from a time before the Christians,.... before the Romans,.... and before the Druids,... here my call. In this sacred place, upon this sacred symbol, these three sisters have made a blood oath to you for this flag to be blessed with a victory spell. I ask, as your humble servant, that you grant their request and give my sister Heathens what they ask for. " the witch spoke in an almost manly tone.
As the light grew in intensity blood began to drip from the tassel - claws of the flag, like rain upon the ground in the center of the pentagram, consecrating the ancient blessing. Then, as if out of nowhere, a strong wind blew up which made the flag flutter wildly in its current. Myriam looked up at the sisters with eyes that had lost all color, and spoke in a booming voice not her own.
" Victory will be granted to the holder of this banner when the wind makes the raven flutter and fly ! " the voice explained.
Then the wind died down and the flag hung limp.
" But, if the blessing of victory is not in the wind, and the flag hangs low, keeping the raven upon its branch,..... then only defeat and death awaits the one who fights beneath it ! " the voice told them in conclusion.
Then the forest became dark once again and a silence fell over the woodlands. Myriam looked up at the sisters for a brief moment before tumbling over. As the witch trembled on the ground the sisters stared down at her with fearful wide eyes.
" The victory spell of wind and blood is now upon your flag. Remember the Gods' warning...... " Myriam told them before she fell unconscious.
- End Chapter 3
- Next : Chapter 4 : Ubba Receives The Gift,... And A Warning
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.