A Follower Of The Old Ways
( Formerly An Independent Asatru )
Ardaric : King Of The Gepids
- Hunnic Funeral Dirge for Attila the Hun
"The chief of the Huns, King Attila, born of his sire Mundiuch, lord of bravest tribes, sole possessor of the Scythian and German realms—powers unknown before—captured cities and terrified both empires of the Roman world and, appeased by their prayers, took annual tribute to save the rest from plunder. And when he had accomplished all this by the favor of fortune, he fell, not by wound of the foe, nor by treachery of friends, but in the midst of his nation at peace, happy in his joy and without sense of pain. Who can rate this as death, when none believes it calls for vengeance?"
- Jordanes, Getica ( circa 551 A.D. )
The morning was cold, despite the sun's warmth, which radiated down upon the lands of the great King of the Huns. Like a warrior on horseback, carrying bad tidings at full gallop, a stiff cool breeze blew down from the mountains, and swiftly crossed the plains to the door of his hall. The cold had the royal attendants huddling for warmth at the entrance to the king's hall as they awaited their master, and his new wife Ildico, to awaken. Not one of Attila's servants suspected that anything was amiss in the royal household. The fact that their king was sleeping late, on the morning after his wedding night, caused no concern among them at all. On the contrary, those closest to Attila envied the pleasure that their lord and master had obviously enjoyed the night before. They would simply have to wait, shivering in the wind, to serve their lord, because no one dared to enter the wedding chamber without being called upon to do so !
As morning transitioned into midday, however, several of the royal attendants became suspicious that something might not be quite right. At first they did little more than place their ears against the doors to listen for any sounds emanating from within. When nothing but silence persisted the servants ran off to find warriors, two of whom were warming themselves around a fire nearby, to investigate further.
Fearing what their king might do to them if he was disturbed Basich, and Edecon, also were reluctant to do much of anything. Finally, when the noon sun began to slide down the western sky, the warriors knocked on the doors to rouse their king. When no one responded to their ever increasing pounding they broke into the king's hall, where in the dim light they witnessed a most horrific sight.
There, on the bed, behind a silently weeping Ildico, who was apparently in a state of shock, lay the still body of the great Attila the Hun. Basich, fearing the worst, ran over to the bed and threw Ildico on the floor to better examine the king's body. Being that their lord was half naked it was easy for him to see that Attila's body had not been punctured, or slashed, by any weapon. Strangely, there also appeared to be no blood on the body that he could see.
Edecon, who was as puzzled as his friend by what he observed, slowly moved forward and examined the body in more detail. Seeing nothing more than Basich had seen, he gently lifted Attila up by the shoulders and opened the king's mouth to see if he could detect the odor of any poisons. As he did, a torrent of blood, some of which had congealed, poured down the king's chin, and out over his chest. Try as he might Edecon was not fast enough to avoid being splashed with the foul smelling blood.
While his friend dealt with the shock of being splattered with blood, Basich reached down, lifted Ildico off of the floor, and shook her like a rug.
" What has happened here !? " he shouted at the newest wife of Attila.
Basich waited only a moment for to answer. When she remained silent the warrior backhanded her across the face. The blow achieved what the shaking had not, and Ildico woke from her self imposed daze.
" I demand to know what happened here ! " he yelled, spitting his words into her face.
Ildico looked up at the warrior, and began to weep uncontrollably again.
" He,..., drank,..., so,...., much ! And then,...., he began to,..., choke ! And before I could do anything,..., he suffocated in his own blood ! " she haltingly shot back at the inquisitive warrior.
Basich slapped her again !
" Why didn't you seek help !! " he screamed angrily at her.
Ildico broke down and became limp in his hands.
" He was gone so quickly ! " she whimpered pathetically.
Basich was about to strike her again when Edicon grabbed hold of his hand.
" We must send word of their father's death to Ellac, Dengizich, and Ernak. " Edicon insisted.
Basich nodded that his friend was right. It was then, as he glanced away from Ildico, that he noticed the royal attendants standing quietly in the doorway.
" Make King Attila's body ready for his funeral, and take care of Ildico. We have to notify the commanders of the Germanic peoples, Ardaric, and Valamir, and find the king's sons, to inform them of their father's death. When we return I expect to see our king cleaned, and in his best warrior's clothes ! " he told the stunned servants.
Once the news was learned of Attila's death, none of the joyous elation remained from the wedding festivities of the night before. The laughter and singing, that was so prevalent at the couple's wedding feast, had now been replaced by the tortured sounds of wailing, and the torment of self disfigurement, by the king's folk, in honor of their fallen leader. For these proud nomadic Steppe people, mourned not with the lamentations of women folk, but with the blood of men.
The next day, when Attila's sons arrived, the king's body was placed on a beautiful bed, within a silken tent, in the middle of a flat plain, so that all could honor their great king with one last farewell. Outside the tent the greatest of the Hun horsemen rode around and around the tent in a race to show Attila who was the fastest. And before darkness fell over the area targets were set up, and as they flashed by they shot their arrows into bales of hay which were made to look like Roman soldiers.
That night, around giant bonfires, the Huns, along with their Germanic allies, drank until early morning and sang songs that honored the memory of their fallen leader. The night ended only when the last warrior fell in a drunken stupor, and there was no one left to raise a cup in Attila's honor.
The next night Attila's sons, and a carefully selected few warriors, went away from the camp and buried the king's body in a secret place. It was written by later Roman historians that his body was bound in three coffins. The first was gold, the second silver, and the third was made of strong iron. It is believed that these three metals represented the strength of iron, which showed him to be the mightiest of kings, and the precious metals showed his great ability to subdue both the kingdoms of the east and the west.
The death of Attila marked the beginning of the decline of the Hunnic empire. It also offered to the Germanic people a chance to escape the yoke of the Huns, and establish their own independent kingdoms. And so begins the story of Ardaric : King of the Gepids.
- End of Prologue
- Next : Chapter 1 : Uncertainty And Opportunity
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.
Þrívaldi : The Nine-Headed Jotun Beast
With his mind resigned to his fate Rauðskeggr walked to the edge of the cart, and without waiting for a helping hand, jumped off. The skald landed awkwardly on the ground and stumbled, at first forward, and then backward a step, before gaining his balance. Despite a few drunken giggles most of the warriors seemed to be truly concerned that such an old man would dare to try such a foolish stunt. The mood, however, soon turned much more tense when it became apparent that the skald, and the berserker Magsefni were staring each other down.
The huge warrior, who sat only a few steps from where the skald had landed, grinned at the determined expression that was etched upon Rauðskeggr's face.
" What will you do old man !? Will you draw your sword from its scabbard and attack me !? " Magsefni shouted at the skald with a sarcastic laugh.
Rauðskeggr's expression did not change at all as he placed his right hand around the hilt of his sword.
" I will defend myself as best I can. Odin teaches us that it is better to die in battle, than to cower in shame. " he replied calmly.
Magsefni immediately jumped up off of the rock he had been perched upon.
" Odin ! Odin !! What does a scrawny old man like you know of the Valfather !!! " the berserker screamed maniacally at the skald.
" It is true that I no longer possess the skills, or the great strength, of a powerful warrior such as yourself. But I know that Odin judges each of us individually. The All-Father appreciates every one of his children for whatever skills they practice well. " he explained to the now furious berserker.
" Do you think that Odin will appreciate you when I cleave your head apart with my axe, and blood flows out of your lying mouth instead of pretty words ?! " he screamed as he removed the axe from his belt.
Rauðskeggr stood his ground both figuratively and literally.
" I do not know how Odin will judge me, but I firmly believe that the All-Father will condemn you for such a cowardly act as killing an old man." he informed the berserker calmly.
Raðbarðr watched intently as the old skald, and the berserker debated how great Odin would judge the merits of a duel between a healthy young warrior, and an old storyteller. An outcome, which of course, was a forgone conclusion in his mind. As the young warrior studied the old poet he saw a spark in his eyes of the warrior he once must have been. It was then that he asked himself a question.
" What will Odin do if I allow Magsefni to kill the old man. Would he not judge me to be a coward ! " he thought to himself.
Before Raðbarðr could act Magsefni raised his axe over his head and screamed. The young warrior wanted to reach out and stop the berserker, but he was already out of his reach. Raðbarðr, in the blink of an eye, caught sight of the berserker's back foot just as it was lifting off of the ground. With the reflexes of a cat he swung his foot forward and caught just enough of Magsefni's leg to make him off balance.
Rauðskeggr barely had time to draw his sword before the berserker headed toward him. Magsefni's first step was firm and fast, but the second footfall did not land correctly, and the huge warrior stumbled awkwardly forward. As the berserker's axe began to come down on him Rauðskeggr ducked and thrust his sword forward, more to stop the warrior's progress than to kill him.
Magsefni felt something hit his back foot and he instinctively looked away from his target to see what had impeded his forward motion. In that minuscule moment in time Rauðskeggr moved in closer, and his axe passed harmlessly over the skald's head. That small stumble, combined with the axe not hitting its target, and meeting the resistance expected, threw him further off balance, and despite his best effort to right himself, he fell forward. As the skald's sword entered his stomach, just below his breast plate, Magsefni cried out in anger and disbelief. And by the time the sword exited his back, cutting his spine in two, the berserker was already paralyzed and fatally wounded.
Rauðskeggr remained in a semi-crouched position, holding his sword firmly in both hands as the huge warrior began to, at first lean forward, and then fall over on top of him. As both men hit the ground with a thud, the hilt of the sword was rammed into the skald's stomach taking away his breath. Therefore, and ironically, it was Magsefni who was allowed to say the final words that they would ever speak to one another here in Midgard.
" Why would Odin favor you ?! " he asked in an incredulous tone before the last breath left his body.
Raðbarðr jumped up off of the stump he was sitting on and ran over to where the two men lay crumpled upon the ground. As he spun around the young warrior drew his sword, and swung it menacingly in front of him.
" I will defend the skald Rauðskeggr with my life ! Who among you will dare to challenge me ? ! " the brash young man shouted angrily.
Several of the friends of Magsefni stood up to accept the challenge, but when they saw that they were almost alone against the mass of warriors gathered around the bonfires they had second thoughts. The matter was settled when Albrikt, and King Thorgest drew their swords, and stood on either side of Raðbarðr in solidarity with the young warrior. Albrikt spoke words that seemed to mirror what the majority of the warriors were thinking.
" Magsefni issued a call for a duel, which was accepted by Rauðskeggr, and by the will of the Gods, the berserker was triumphant. Both men honored themselves this day, and although the outcome was,...., unexpected,..., to say the least, the result was honorable and should be respected by us all. " he announced.
King Thorgest nodded his approval.
" Sit back down, and accept what has happened as being ordained by the Gods, or prepare to fight ! " the king yelled at the warriors.
A few of Magsefni's closest friends looked as if they might draw their swords to defend the honor of their comrade, but when more and more warriors stood up and joined the king, they decided not to act.
When everyone had calmed down Raðbarðr returned his sword back to its scabbard and then spun around to see how the storyteller had fared. As he peered down at the bright red face of the skald, who was pinned under the berserker's massive body, he asked :
" Are you still alive old man ? "
Rauðskeggr looked up at the face that hovered above him, and replied angrily.
" Either kill me with your sword, or get this sack of human excrement off of me before I suffocate under his weight ! " he managed in a wheezy and weak voice.
Albrikt and Raðbarðr could not help but laugh as they reached down and rolled the huge berserker off of the frail little skald. As Rauðskeggr struggled to take in air once again Raðbarðr turned to the king and asked :
" Shall we leave Magsefni's carcass for the birds ? "
The king thought for only a moment before responding.
" No ! Until tonight he was a brave and faithful warrior, who served me well. We will build a funeral pyre for him. This will allow his friends to honor him one last time, and hopefully keep them firmly, and loyally, in our army. For we will need every last man to fight the High King of Ireland, the man called Niall Caille ! " he explained wisely.
- The End
- Next : New Story : Ardaric : King Of The Gepids
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.
Þrívaldi : The Nine-Headed Jotun Beast
Rauðskeggr took his time as he walked up to the nearly completed fort. With every measured step he contemplated his own mortality. As he looked up, into what would probably be his last sunset, the skald made himself a promise.
" I will not leave this world as a coward. If I am to die by the hand of the berserker Magsefni I will not be passive, but will fight to my last breath. " he whispered to himself in the form of an oath.
There were so many warriors at the hill fort, that as Rauðskeggr came upon them, they had to part like a wave before the bow of a ship to allow him to pass. While the skald walked among these proud warriors he was surprised at how many of the men, old and young alike, nodded to him as their eyes met. Possibly his skills as an orator had not impressed all of these warriors, but he had touched some of them with his story, and managed to gain a small measure of their respect.
Once again the cart awaited him at the top of the hill. The skald grudgingly had to admit to himself that it was the perfect platform from which to speak to the multitude of warriors. Raðbarðr, who was once again waiting for him, greeted the skald with a warm smile before carefully lifting him onto the cart. After thanking the young warrior Rauðskeggr cleared his throat, and knelt down on one knee in a very dramatic fashion.
" Thor knelt down by his brother, and carefully examined the horrible wounds that the dragon Þrívaldi had inflicted upon him. The sharp claws of the creature had dug deep into the flesh of Hildólfr. And judging by the rich odor of blood streaming from the opening, and the unmistakable stench of his bowels, which he was holding in with one of his hands, while he continued to slowly eat the dragon's heart with the other, Thor knew that his brother would soon die if he did not bring him to Asgard as quickly as possible to receive Eir's healing touch.
" Hang on brother !! " Thor yelled as he lifted Hildólfr off of the ground as gently as he could possibly manage.
War Wolf looked up into the red glowing eyes of his brother, and grinned.
" You not need waste your time Thor. I knew the dangers of fighting such a beast, and I battled it with all my might. If I am to die, there will be no dishonor in my deed this day ! " he assured his brother.
Thor did not answer his brother's bravado. With a look of great determination engraved upon his battle worn face, and the spark of divine power glowing in his eyes, Thor began to run back towards the river. Along the way the Thunder God ignored the thorns which tore at his skin, and sharp branches that painfully tried to impede his progress. When Thor reached the stream he did not slow his pace at all. With a great leap, that would have impressed many Jotuns, the God of Thunder crossed the entire width of the stream, landing awkwardly on the opposing side. After stumbling forward several steps, and nearly dropping his precious cargo, Thor once again began to race across the Thrymheim landscape. And in a matter of moments he once again stood on the bank of the swift flowing river.
Although Thor was more cautious jumping from boulder to boulder, while crossing the river, he lost little time, and once on the other side he began to tear through the woods using the same trees that Hildólfr had felled only days before to avoid the thick brush. Balancing himself like a squirrel on a thin branch the God of Thunder navigated the uneven trees with great dexterity.
When he reached the border between Jotunheim and Midgard Thor became aware that his brother had become very quiet, and his face was ashen. With the care of a mother placing her baby in its cradle, Thor lay his brother on the ground. It took the Thunder God only a moment to realize that Hildólfr did not have long to live. With an anger born of desperation Thor pulled his hammer out of his belt and stretched it up to the heavens.
" Father ! Father !! Your sons need your assistance !! " Thor screamed above the crashing thunder.
Before he could repeat his cry for help a blurry image of a white horse came streaking towards him. Like a flash of lightning Odin arrived. The All-Father pulled hard on the reins of Sleipnir, stopping the great horse only feet from where his son lay injured. Thor took a long hard look at his father's face. Thor was shocked at how concerned he looked because he had never witnessed his father in a nervous sweat before, nor had he ever seen such a worried look etched upon his face. He was about to explain what had happened when the All-Father, gripping the reins tightly in his right hand, reached down with his left, and scooped up Hildólfr as if he were a small pet. As he carefully placed his son on the front of his saddle, facing him, he made sure to hold Hildólfr close to him so that he would not fall off. When his son was secure he struck Sleipnir with the reins, while kicking his eight-legged mount hard with his heels. The great white steed, who was not accustomed to such treatment, immediately realized the importance of the situation, and flew off towards Asgard like a shooting star across the heavens.
Frigga, and Eir, were awaiting the arrival of the critically injured God with nervous anticipation. With the help of the All- Mother's handmaidens they had built a platform on which they made a bed of soft pine needles. Below this they made a raging fire over which they had hung a pot of boiling herbs. In the steam produced by this mixture rose up a healing medicine for the stricken God to inhale, once he arrived.
The moment Odin arrived at the healing platform he pulled on the reins as hard as he could, forcing Sleipnir to come to a skidding halt by the ladder that led to its top. With the energy and vitality of a God much younger than himself the All-Father bolted off of his great mount, and climbed the ladder to the bed where he lay his injured son carefully down.
" Descendant of Buri and Bor I command you to live !! " he shouted as he stepped back from the edge of the bed.
After Odin descended the ladder, Eir, along with the All-Mother, ascended the platform. As the Best of Physicians, and Frigga, attended to the badly injured God, Frigga's handmaidens gathered around the bottom of the platform, joined hands, and began to dance. While the herbs, in the form of a magical steam, infiltrated the lungs of Hildólfr the handmaidens kept up a melodic healing chant, in a high pitched tone, that reverberated through the body of the fallen God.
Deep into the night the handmaidens danced and sang, while Eir used her healing hands to repair the damage done to Hildólfr by the sharp claws of the dragon Þrívaldi. Thor arrived when the moons had made their way half away across the Asgardian sky, and quickly became impatient despite his father's warnings to sit quietly and wait. As the sun rose up over Asgard the God of Thunder would wait no longer. He disregarded his father's warning, broke through the dancing Goddesses, ran up the ladder past his stepmother, who vehemently protested the intrusion, and strode angrily over to the bed of pine needles where his brother lay.
Eir was very displeased when she spotted Thor's red hair, out of the corner of her eye, as she knelt over the injured God.
" I have not yet finished the healing process ! " she yelled over her shoulder at the God of Thunder.
Thor ignored the Goddess, and gently pushed her to the side. With one hand he pulled out Mjolnir and thrust its huge metallic head into the air. He then placed his other hand over his brother's heart.
" With my command of the elements of the heavens I demand that my brother live ! " he screamed out in a furious tone.
The heavens quickly flashed to life and a bolt of lightning struck Mjolnir and traveled through the God Of Thunder into his brother's heart. The pure elemental power reverberated through Hildólfr and began to pour out of each of his orifices, sealing his wounds, and healing as it went. Slowly the pall of death lifted from the fallen God and his eyes flickered before opening widely.
" You have rested long enough War Wolf ! It is time that you rejoin your brother and sister Asgardians ! " Thor shouted at his brother in a scolding tone.
Hildólfr managed a weak smile as he tried to rise up on his elbows.
" As you wish brother ! " Hildólfr whispered in a weak hoarse voice.
Eir leaned forward and forcefully grabbed Thor's arm with one hand, while at the same time gently pushing Hildólfr's head down with the other.
" You may have enlivened the spark of life within him, but he is far from being healed ! " she told Thor tersely.
Thor, who was not accustomed to being grabbed in such a fashion, looked down at Eir's offending hand angrily. When Eir, despite his warning, did not remove her hand from his arm the angry God looked over at Frigga, who was staring him down with scolding eyes.
" Don't you dare ! " the All-Mother shouted harshly to the God of Thunder.
Thor had never seen such a mean look on the face of Odin's wife. Realizing, that despite his fury, it would be a great dishonor to strike the Best of Physicians, Thor narrowed his eyes, and lowered his hammer.
" Allow Eir to finish treating Hildólfr ! " Frigga instructed Thor in a firm but much kinder tone.
Hildólfr chuckled despite his discomfort.
" You cannot defy two Goddesses such as these ! Go brother ! I will be fine in their care ! " he assured Thor in a loud whisper.
Thor looked down at Eir's hand again. The physician released her grasp, and nodded to Thor respectfully, before pointing to the ladder. The Thunder God pursed his lips, exhaled in frustration, and placed his hammer back into his belt.
" Females ! " he said under his breath as he left Hildólfr's bedside.
Frigga grinned as Thor passed.
" And what would the God of Thunder be without a mother, a wife, and a daughter ? " she asked.
Thor could not help but shake his head as the images of Jord, Sif, and Thrud, appeared in his mind.
" I would be a lesser God. " he replied reluctantly, as he placed his foot on the ladder.
Rauðskeggr tried to continue, but he could not help but laugh as warriors clapped and laughed at Thor's predicament.
" Another miracle performed by our Gods ! " someone yelled out from the crowd joyfully.
Rauðskeggr's smile suddenly disappeared, and he pointed in the general direction where the comment had originated.
" Yes ! Hildólfr's recovery was a miracle, but that is not the end of the story. For you see it is almost impossible to kill a dragon such as Þrívaldi. As the still warm body of the creature lay in the forest of Thrymheim in its belly there was growing a fiendish offspring, which, once born, would feed off of the decaying flesh of its parent. Thor had removed Þrívaldi's heads and hearts, but he did not know that this dragon was capable of reproducing without a mate. When the creature was injured, in the first meeting with the Gods, the infant began to grow within its belly. Such is the curse of such a vile creature ! " Rauðskeggr explained to the warriors.
Magsefni had heard enough. The berserker abruptly stood up and looked at the skald menacingly.
" Let me guess. This story will continue tomorrow ! ? " he asked angrily.
Rauðskeggr looked the berserker directly in the eyes.
" No ! The story of Þrívaldi, The Nine-Headed Jotun Beast, has ended. " he told Magsefni calmly, despite knowing exactly what it meant.
- End Chapter 9
- Next : Chapter 10 : Rauðskeggr's Fate
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.
Þrívaldi : The Nine-Headed Jotun Beast
Rauðskeggr was stunned when he arrived at the hill, where Thorgest was redesigning the fort to Norse specifications. Around multiple bonfires stood and sat more warriors than the skald could count. In his mind he figured their number to be approximately five hundred, but he could not be sure as more were still arriving. And from their loud conversations he was able to discern that the warriors, who had attended an earlier telling of his story, had bragged so much about the tale that they now all wanted to hear the incredible ending. Of course the skald knew that this night would not be the last part of the tale, but he was gratified that so many thought highly enough of him to attend tonight.
As Rauðskeggr took his place in the center of the bonfires he noticed that a cart was uncomfortably close to where he had told the stories on previous nights. He was about to point out this fact to the king when Thorgest asked Raðbarðr to help him up onto the cart so that the warriors could better hear and see the skald as he spoke.
After thanking the young warrior Rauðskeggr looked around at the hundreds of faces that stared up at him. For the first time in his life he felt a great weight of responsibility upon him to make the next chapter in this story especially good. The extra pressure did not, however, distract him enough to miss Magsefni's angry glare. As with every other night the berserker had positioned himself directly in front of the storyteller. As Rauðskeggr began he closed his eyes and looked away from the fury being sent his way.
" Thor and Hildólfr awoke long before the weak Jotun sun rose over the forest. The brothers ate quickly, then prepared to leave their little camp, and cross the river once again, to search for the deadly dragon. This time, however, they would leave their packs behind, and travel light and swiftly through the Jotun forest.
Thor was the first to cross the river. The God of Thunder seemed to be in a hurry to meet his destiny. He had been quiet all morning, and Hildólfr saw a look of determination in his brother's eyes that he had never seen before, even in the most ferocious of beasts. Hildólfr was sure that his brother would either slay the dragon this day, or die in the attempt. This realization both inspired and terrified him at the same time.
Hildólfr drew a cloth out of his belt, and covered his face with it as they entered the burned out section of the forest, where the ash was ankle deep. He fully expected his brother to do the same, but Thor seemed oblivious to the choking dust that rose up all around them. War Wolf grinned under the cloth and nodded his respect for his brother's indifference to the discomfort. Nothing was going to stop the Thunder God this time. Not raging rivers, nor choking dust, or even the scorching flames of a nine-headed dragon would deter his brother from completing Odin's command to kill the great beast.
When they once again reached the stream the brothers saw the great destruction the dragon had caused with its fiery breath. Before the encounter with the dragon, this area had been covered in lush vegetation, and the forest had a canopy that seemed to reach up to the heavens. Now, however, it looked as barren and ashen as the area just past the river. The only difference was that this section of the Thrymheim forest was still smoldering, and live embers were being carried aloft by the cool Jotun breeze to dance in the air like fire flies.
The brothers separated, and moved through the smoking woodlands with great care. While Hildólfr's strides were measured with caution, Thor suddenly bolted forward, almost as if he knew something that his brother was not yet aware of. Moments later, above the crackling of burning wood, Hildólfr heard the thumping footsteps of the dragon in the distance and understood the reason why his brother had begun to surge ahead and move further to his right. As with their first meeting with the great beast, once he realized what was happening, Hildólfr ran off to his left, and began to work his way around where he perceived Þrívaldi to be.
Before the brothers reached the area where the creature was stalking them the burned out forest once again gave way to a lush woodlands. It was obvious to both Hildólfr and Thor that the winds had been blowing in the direction of the river when they first met the dragon, or this section of Thrymheim forest would have been destroyed as well. As War Wolf spotted the nine-headed dragon, through the trees and off in the distance, he took advantage of an especially leafy bush to hide behind to observe the creature. And if he waited here for Þrívaldi to pass Hildólfr knew he could surprise the dragon and attack it from the rear.
Hildólfr's plans changed when he watched in horror as his brother, who apparently had thrown caution to the wind, ran straight for the great beast with his hammer held high over his head. As Hildólfr's shocked stare rotated back to the dragon he saw what had enraged his brother so.
" How can that be possible ? ! " he asked out loud.
War Wolf gave up his hiding place, and took off after the dragon, to help his brother. As he pulled his great axe out of his belt he continued to count the heads on the body of the dragon from the image that was burned into his mind.
" Nine heads ! How can it still have nine heads ?! " he asked himself as his mind tried to contemplate that the heads they had severed and crushed had somehow grown back.
Thor screamed a war cry as he let loose his mighty hammer at the middle head of the great beast. The impact crushed the skull of the creature and caused it to stagger back a few steps. This momentary stunning of the dragon allowed Hildólfr to run right up to the side of the creature without being noticed. With his axe held over his head he leaped as high as he could manage, and swung at the neck furthest to the left. Once again there was some resistance from the scaly skin, and tough flesh, as the blade cut through the muscular throat of the great beast, but the result was the same as the day before, and the severed head fell to the ground with its lifeless eyes staring up at him.
This time Hildólfr did not back down, nor did he worry about Þrívaldi's strong tail. As he raised his axe to strike again, he smiled at the creature while the tail came whipping around at him. With a great leap, and good timing, the club of the tail passed harmlessly beneath him. With great concentration War Wolf became fixated on striking out at the second head on the left. In the air, and with his great weapon held behind his head, he became vulnerable to being attacked himself. Just as his axe began to cut through the tough flesh of the beast, Þrívaldi struck out at him with its sharp claws. In an instant both the God and the dragon cried out in pain !
As the dragon head, axe, and the ripped open God plummeted to the ground Thor screamed out with a fury that has not been witnessed since that moment in time. To prevent a further attack on his brother, the Thunder God alertly threw Mjolnir at the chest of the great beast with all his might. The force of the blow staggered Þrívaldi backward four or five steps before it fell over on its side. Thor then ran over to his injured brother, followed by his hammer which was trying desperately to return to the speedy God's hand.
Thor reached his badly injured brother just as Mjolnir reached his outstretched hand. Despite only having time for a short glance he could see that his brother would not survive without immediate help from a skilled physician like Eir. Thor, however, was faced with a dilemma. He could either pick up his brother, and try to return him to Asgard at once for medical treatment, or he could stay and fight the great beast risking Hildólfr's life. He could not, however, do both at the same time !
The dragon, which had regained its balance, now hovered over the Gods like a tall oak tree over a squirrel. This made the decision easy for the son of Jord. As the dragon drew in enough breath to fuel its remaining heads, Thor stared up at the creature with an anger he had felt only once in his life. Many years before, when the Vanir had breached the great walls of Asgard, the God of Thunder had gone into a state of fury, that the Midgardians called berserking, and now that same sense of outrage was pulsing though his veins.
Thor did not hesitate ! As his eyes gleamed bright red, and a form of electricity, found only in storm clouds, crackled in his red beard, the Thunder God raised his mighty hammer Mjolnir up to the heavens. The two powerful beings eyed each other for only a brief moment before they both acted.
From its remaining six heads Þrívaldi belched forth a torrent of flame that was sure to engulf both the Thunder God and his brother. As the fire left its mouths the end appeared imminent for the proud sons of Odin........"
Rauðskeggr paused for a moment when he heard a number of the warriors in the audience gasp in horror at what appeared to be the imminent demise of the Asgardians. The skald quickly raised his hand to halt their noisy trepidation. When they quieted down he began again.
" There, on the precipice of annihilation, stood the great God of War unfazed by his own downfall. In a moment of time too small to be measured, a charge of lightning emanated from the heavens and struck the Thunder God's hammer in a great flash of light. This elemental power was then redirected by the hammer at the dragon's fire, which forced it back into its own faces, and knocked the dragon off of its feet again.
After rolling on the ground several times Þrívaldi came to a painful halt at the base of a large elm tree. Stunned by the blast, and burned by its own liquid fire, the dragon writhed on the ground in pain, as its feeble mind tried to decipher what had just happened.
Thor felt no pity for the creature as he reached down and picked up Hildólfr's great axe. With Mjolnir in his right hand, and the axe in his left, the Thunder God slowly walked over to the severely injured creature. As he stood watching the dragon for a moment he noticed that its injuries were already beginning to heal, and one of the missing heads was regrowing. Renewed with fury Thor lost whatever restraint he had left. With his right hand he bashed at the dragon's heads, each in turn, while with his left he sliced off its crushed skulls with his brother's axe.
When the great dragon had been beheaded nine times, including the partially regrown head, Thor noticed that Þrívaldi's chest still pulsated with a heart beat. It was then that Thor decided to end the creature's life once and for all. Using Hildólfr's axe the Thunder God cut through the chest, and rib cage of the great beast, and pulled out each of its nine beating hearts.
Using a custom long since discarded, Thor placed the ninth steaming heart into his mouth and bit off a large piece of it. As he chewed the heart the enraged God felt his body being revitalized by the dragon's organ. Realizing what this could mean for his severely injured brother, Thor ran over to Hildólfr and placed the partially eaten heart near his mouth.
" Eat brother ! If the creature can heal itself then I believe that its healing powers can save you as well ! " he explained as he held his brother's head up off of the ground.
Hildólfr, however, was too far gone to chew the tough heart. After several tries a frustrated Thor ripped off a bloody piece of the organ and shoved it into his brother's mouth. At first it appeared that Hildólfr might choke on the meaty morsel, but in a matter of moments the God's pale complexion changed as the dragons blood slowly made its way into his system. By the time he finally swallowed the tiny piece, Hildólfr's eyes had become clearer, and the God seemed much more alert.
" You could at least have cooked it first ! " Hildólfr told his brother with a weak smile.
Thor ripped off another piece of the dragon's heart, and shoved into his brother's mouth.
" Shut up and eat, or I will make you consume the entire dragon ! " he told his brother with a grin.
Rauðskeggr stopped speaking when a warrior suddenly jumped up from off of the empty barrel he was seated upon, and yelled :
" He lives right ? ! Hildólfr recovers, does he not ? ! " the warrior shouted to Rauðskeggr.
Rauðskeggr joined the other warriors in a hearty laugh at the expense of the inquisitive warrior.
" Well Þrívaldi's heart did not have the same therapeutic properties for a God that it does for a dragon, and despite being stronger Hildólfr was still in grave danger of losing his life ! " the skald explained to the warrior.
King Thorgest stood up and nodded to Rauðskeggr.
" Well told my friend ! But I fear that it is late, and we will have to wait until tomorrow night to discover the fate of Hildólfr. " he told everyone.
As the disappointed audience was breaking up Magsefni went over to the skald, and whispered angrily to him as he passed.
" I know what you are doing. Once the story ends, so too will your life ! "
- End Chapter 8
- Next : Chapter 9 : One Miracle, One Curse !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart), © Copyright, 2018.
Þrívaldi : The Nine-Headed Jotun Beast : Chapter 7 : " How Do You Kill Something That Just Won't Die ?! "
Þrívaldi : The Nine-Headed Jotun Beast
When the last of the warriors returned to their seats, Rauðskeggr looked over at King Thorgest for the signal that he should continue his story. With a slight nod of his head the king indicated that the skald had his permission to proceed. Before he began Rauðskeggr cleared his throat, and glanced over at where Magsefni was seated. The berserker's expression had changed little in the past few days, and he was met with a stone cold glare that made the skald swallow involuntarily. This time, however, Rauðskeggr did not look away, for he had decided that despite his advanced age and frailties he would face the crazed berserker head on.
" Thor sat down on a rock, near the bank of the river, next to his brother, and patted him on the shoulder.
" Do not feel bad brother. We fought hard, albeit not very long, against the creature, and we did the dragon great harm before having to retreat from its fiery breath. " he told Hildólfr in a consoling tone.
The Thunder God stood up and pulled the long handle of the axe out of his belt of strength.
" Here ! You will need this when we venture across the river again. " he told his injured brother as he held the axe out in front of him.
Hildólfr, who was still dealing with the immense headache, and dizziness, caused from being hit by the tail of the dragon, took his weapon from his brother. As he did so he shook his head with disgust.
" What good did my axe, or your mighty hammer for that matter, do us in our fight against the monster ? I cut off two of Þrívaldi's heads, and you smashed several others, and yet we did little or nothing to rid this land of the great beast ! " Hildólfr replied dejectedly.
" Then we will attack the creature with more fury next time ! " he told his brother confidently.
Hildólfr drove the end of the shaft of his axe handle into the mud, before angrily giving his brother a questioning stare.
" How do you kill something that just won't die ?! " War Wolf exclaimed bitterly.
Thor reached down and patted his brother on the back again.
" We are the son's of Odin ! We will find a way !! " the Thunder God replied emphatically.
Then before his brother could speak Thor quickly added :
" But for today, brother, rest and recover your strength. At first light tomorrow we will cross the river, and hunt this creature down. " he assured Hildólfr.
Both Gods spent the day in quiet reflection, and contemplation, as they went over every little detail of their encounter with the dragon Þrívaldi. Each tried to consider what they had done right, and of course, what had gone so horribly wrong. As evening fell they built a fire a short distance from the river and discussed what conclusions they had come to, and how they could better attack and kill the beast.
Hildólfr added two logs to the fire before he sat back down on the uncomfortable rock he was using as a seat.
" Skaði told us that she pierced the dragon's chest with many arrows. We can then assume that either the dragon has more than one heart,......, or possibly none at all, ...., so attacking its chest region would seem to be a waste of time." War Wolf speculated.
Thor nodded but remained silent.
" Now I cleaved two of its heads from its body, and you smashed,....., was it two or three of its skulls ? " Hildólfr inquired.
" Two ! " Thor replied.
" Two,...., so we know that destroying four heads is not enough to kill the beast. And we also know that the creature has razor sharp claws, a strong whipping tail, and heads that spew forth hot death like a volcano ! " Hildólfr continued.
Thor shook his head and held up one of his huge hands to stop his brother.
" Your words speak of only what it can do, and what we cannot do. Let us instead discuss what we believe are its weaknesses. " Thor insisted.
Hildólfr thought for a long moment.
" Well, it did seem weaker, and more desperate, when you crushed its second head with your hammer. Possibly the more heads we kill the less powerful the beast will become. " he speculated.
" Yes ! I observed that as well ! " the Thunder God agreed.
Hildólfr tapped a finger against his chin and looked off into the distance thoughtfully.
" I would think that a fire breathing dragon should fear water as well brother. " he told Thor.
The Thunder God grinned.
" Yes ! And War Wolf, there is another way to fight fire ! " Thor stated, dangling the statement in front of his brother to try and figure out on his own.
Hildólfr frowned, and after contemplating the riddle for a few moments, he shrugged his shoulders as if to show that he had given up.
Thor narrowed his eyes angrily.
" You spend much too much time in the deep dark forests of Asgard brother. For if you stood on a high mountain when the dark clouds gather you would surely know that you can also fight fire with something brighter and more intense than even the hottest flame that a dragon can produce. " he told Hildólfr.
War Wolf could not hide his displeasure any longer.
" And that is ?! " he yelled back impatiently.
Thor tapped Mjolnir with a finger.
" Lightning ! "
Rauðskeggr paused for a moment, and then looked over at King Thorgest.
" My Lord, judging by the position of Mani it is getting late into the night. The next part of the story of Þrívaldi is a rather long one, and I believe it is the most spectacular part of the tale. It would be a shame if the warriors were too tired to fully appreciate the most exciting part of the story. " the skald informed the king.
Thorgest thought for a moment, and then unexpectedly yawned. This involuntary act of exhaustion seemed to make the decision for the king.
" Perhaps you are right Rauðskeggr. Let us save the best part for when we are fully alert. " the king agreed .
The king of Dyvlinarskire then turned to his warriors and spoke in a commanding tone.
" We shall retire for the night and return here tomorrow evening right after the great feast ! " he informed his men.
- End Chapter 7
- Next : Chapter 8 : The Absolute Fury Of Thor !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.
Þrívaldi : The Nine-Headed Jotun Beast
When Rauðskeggr returned to the bonfire he was met with laughter, and some comedic jeers, but overall he seemed to be winning his audience over. And although a few of Magsefni's closest friends appeared to be angered by his mere presence, the vast majority of those around the fire seemed most satisfied with not only the tale he was telling, but with his as a skald as well.
" Could he possibly find an ally among these warriors to protect him from Magsefni's wrath ? " he asked himself as he prepared to continue the story of Þrívaldi.
A moment later Rauðskeggr shook his head.
" Why would any of these great warriors save me from a berserker ! " he reminded himself, before beginning.
" With every step the War Gods took a fine ash was kicked up off of the ground causing a cloud of dust to form around them, and especially behind them. The air quickly became so thick with with this choking ash that both Thor and Hildólfr decided to cover their noses and mouths with a cloth to make it easier for them to breathe. The brothers also agreed that it was a good idea for them to keep a distance of fifty paces between them instead of walking side by side. This allowed them to stay within sight of one another, but far enough away that the dragon would not be able to attack them both simultaneously.
The terrain, though covered in deep ash, and burned out stumps, was much easier to navigate through than the lush dense forest on the other side of river. In no time, and with little effort, the raging river was left far behind them. The lack of trees, and foliage of any kind, also gave the Gods a clear line of sight ahead. However, despite the sense of security the open terrain afforded them the brothers remained silent, using only hand gestures to point out changes in direction or landmarks of interest.
Just as darkness began to fall over the Jotun forest the burned out landscape ahead began to be replaced once again by a thriving forest. The change was small at first, with only a few trees and bushes having survived the fiery onslaught, but soon more and more trees and bushes dotted the area ahead, including the annoying thick and thorny brambles which once again began to hamper their progress. It was then that Odin's sons decided it was time to find a place to bed down for the night.
After walking a few hundreds yards further they came upon a small stream in which they could wash off the ash dust, and also obtain fresh drinking water. When they were finished cleaning themselves up, they ate some of the food they had brought with them for the journey. And as the starless sky became pitch black they bedded down by some boulders near the stream. Tired from their arduous journey they both quickly fell asleep. " Rauðskeggr explained before pausing for effect.
The skald looked around at the warriors with a very serious expression etched upon his face. When he felt he had peaked everyone's interest to the hilt, Rauðskeggr dramatically punched his right hand into his left, which he continued for several moments.
" Suddenly, there came a pounding sound through the forest ! At first it was distant, and did not disturb the sleeping Gods, but soon, however, it began to make the ground beneath their sleeping bodies tremble, forcing them away from their dreams of glory, and back to the reality of the dangers in the Thrymheim forest. The adrenaline of the moment quickly whisked away the grogginess of sleep as the brothers jumped to their feet and began to scan the dark woods for the source of the noise.
It was Hildólfr who first noticed the lights in the distance.
" I was not aware that they had fireflies here in Jotunheim. " War Wolf whispered to Thor as he pointed off into the distance.
The God of Thunder strained his eyes to better see the points of light his brother had observed. When he finally caught sight of them he counted eighteen of the yellow-gold glowing disks in the forest. Then he noticed something rather odd about them. Within each yellow disk there was a black line that ran from the top to the bottom. And yet as strange as this was there was something also very familiar about them.
The moment Thor realized that these were not fireflies, but eighteen dragon eyes staring back him, he shouted as loud as he could.
" Run Hildólfr ! Run !! "
Both Gods barely had time to reach the stream before the flames were upon them. And although they submerged themselves in the stream just in time to avoid being turned into cinders, the water above them quickly turned to steam under the massive onslaught of the dragon's fiery breath. Thor knew that they could not remain there for long, however, for another mighty blast from Þrívaldi might boil them alive in the stream !
The Thunder God lifted his brother's head to the surface and whispered into his ear :
" You will go around to the left, and I will circle around to the right. We will confuse this vile creature by attacking it from both sides at once. ! " he explained hurriedly.
With his sense of pride enraged, Thor leaped out of the water and onto the bank on the far side of the stream. With the speed of a lightning bolt Thor raced after the dragon. Hildólfr tried to be as quick, but he slipped on the muddy bank of the stream, and fell flat on his face. War Wolf was angered by his clumsiness, but when he felt a hot blast of air flow over his head he realized that his misstep had saved him from being burned, and possibly incinerated by the dragon.
When Hildólfr felt the air on his back cool he jumped up and made his way in a semicircle to the left of where he had at first seen the ' fireflies '. After he reached a point where he felt he was parallel with the creature he turned in and headed for it at full speed with his axe held high above his head ready to strike the mighty dragon down. Before he reached the beast, however, Hildólfr heard a metallic ,'clang', and saw the sky light up with a brilliant flash. In that brief moment he saw that Thor, who was standing on the branch of a dead tree, had smashed one of the dragon's heads with his mighty hammer, which had already returned to his hand.
Unfortunately for Hildólfr his weapon was not endowed with magical powers and it did not return to him if he threw it, which meant of course that he had to make contact with the creature in order to strike out at it. Fortunately, luck was on his side once again, and he was able to run right up to the creature, who was preoccupied with fighting Thor, without being noticed. With a mighty swing of his great axe he cleaved the nearest head clean off of the dragon's neck. To celebrate his victory War Wolf cried out with joy almost as loud as Þrívaldi roared in pain. The son's of Odin, however, made the mistake of basking for too long in their of own glory. For they were about to learn why the Great Huntress Skaði could not defeat such a powerful beast such as Þrívaldi.
The great dragon was infuriated by the audacity of these two tiny creatures. Did they really think they could kill the strongest of all beasts ever to roam the forests of Jotunheim ?
" Not while I have seven heads left to protect me ! " the dragon assured itself.
Four of the dragon's heads immediately spewed forth its liquid based flame at Thor, which the God evaded by doing a back flip off of the branch, and landing safely on the ground beneath. As the tree above him burned Thor began to twirl his hammer in front of him to defend himself from the next stream of fire that was sure to come from the dragon's heads. The Thunder God did not have long to wait.
Angered by missing the nimble little creature the first time, Þrívaldi turned two more of its heads toward the annoying bug that had somehow alluded his flames. After taking a long deep breath Þrívaldi spewed forth a fierce stream of fire that burned everything in its path. When the dragon used up its breath, it looked down expecting to see the little creature burning like the rest of the foliage in the area. What he saw instead further infuriated it, and made it roar so loud that the echoes were heard all the way to the frozen regions of Jotunheim where it is said that Farbauti, in his Ice Palace, commented on its volume.
The vortex caused by the twirling of Mjolnir had caused the flames to be forced away from Thor's body. The Thunder God, though protected at the moment, knew that he could not stay there much longer due to the intensity of the fires burning behind him. While continuing to spin Mjolnir he rotated the hammer up over his head before flinging it a second time at the dragon. Once again there was a metallic, 'clang', as the flat surface of his mighty hammer struck the hard skull of another dragon head. As the eyes closed, and the head drooped down to its chest, the other six mouths opened and spewed forth such a torrent of flames that Thor did not wait for Mjolnir to return to his hand. The God of Thunder ran for his life !
Seeing an opportunity to finish off the great beast, while it was preoccupied with Thor, Hildólfr swung his axe as hard as he could at the nearest intact neck of the dragon. The scaly skin of the creature provided some resistance to the metal, but the razor sharp edge soon made its way all the way through another of Þrívaldi's necks. As the head fell backwards Hildólfr made the mistake of being greedy. As he swung his axe over his head to strike again he never saw the huge bony tail that whipped around hitting him squarely in the ribs. The force of the blow threw the Forest God over a hundred yards, through branches and thorny brush.
Hildólfr grunted and groaned as he repeatedly bounced off of the ground and tumbled along the uneven rock strewn floor of the forest. He lay on the muddy ground, dazed and confused, for only a few moments when he felt something grab hold of him. At first he fought against the thing that was trying to lift him off of the ground, but when he heard a familiar voice he stopped and allowed him to assist him.
" We need to leave here now ! " he heard Thor scream above the roar of the dragon.
Thor pulled his brother to his feet, and out of the way, just in time to miss the whirlwind of fire that scorched the earth where he had laid only moments before. Thor pushed and shoved Hildólfr forward and ran as fast as he could despite being encumbered by his dazed and confused brother. As they made their way back to the river Thor and Hildólfr could hear the loud thumping of the dragon's footsteps, and feel its fiery breath on the backs of their necks.
" My axe ! Where is my axe ? ! " Hildólfr cried out as they came to the river.
Thor gently smacked his brother on the back of the head.
" Now you worry about your weapon ? ! " he shouted into his brother's ear.
Hildólfr stopped at the edge of the river.
" It is mine ! I must have it !! " he screamed back at Thor.
Thor physically threw his brother onto the first boulder in the river before showing him that he had his axe securely in his belt. Under the threat of the dragons fiery breath the brothers crossed the river much faster than the first time. As they stood on the bank of the other side of the river they were greatly relieved when the dragon gave up and chose not to cross the water and attack them again.
" Rauðskeggr ! Rauðskeggr !! " King Thorgest yelled out to the skald, who seemed to be totally consumed by the tale he was telling.
Finally the skald came out of his dream-like state, and turned and bowed to the king.
" Yes, my Lord ! " he replied respectfully.
King Thorgest smiled.
" I think it is time now for you to allow us to relieve ourselves. And I for one do not want to miss a single word of your wonderful tale. " he told the skald.
Rauðskeggr bowed again.
" That is most kind of you to say, my Lord ! " he replied happily.
Magsefni was the last warrior to leave his seat to relieve himself. As he passed Rauðskeggr he lowered his shoulder into the skald, and knocked him to the ground.
" Why,...., I am sorry old man ! In the future you should not be anywhere near where a warrior wishes to tread ! " he warned.
As Rauðskeggr watched the berserker walk away he feared that his time on Midgard would soon come to an end !
- End Chapter 6
- Next : Chapter 7 : " How Do You Kill Something That Just Won't Die ? "
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.
Þrívaldi : The Nine-Headed Jotun Beast
On the second night King Thorgest made certain that his skald Rauðskeggr had plenty of mead to drink before he began telling the second part of the story of Þrívaldi. The king also asked a serving maiden to keep his horn full while he was telling the tale so that the skald would not have to keep stopping to ask for a drink. When everything was ready, and everyone was settled in, he motioned for the skald to begin.
" Tonight I will tell of the Gods journey through the dense forests of Thrymheim. " he explained to the warriors, who had grown in number since the night before.
" Neither Thor nor Hildólfr had ever been to Thjazi's woodland hall at Thrymheim. Both Gods stopped for a moment to marvel at the great size of the structure, before they continued on to the edge of the forest that began just past the clearing that served as the hall's courtyard. Hildólfr especially was impressed by the thickness of the beams that held up the huge turf roof that covered the building.
" Thjazi may have been an evil Jotun, who kidnapped Idunn, and tried to steal the Gods golden apples, but I am most fascinated by his skills as a carpenter, and craftsmanship as a woodworker. " Hildólfr commented to Thor.
Thor wished to get on with the business of killing the dragon, but he too could not hide his interest in the hall's construction.
" Yes, brother ! The carvings of deer and other forest creatures, under the edge of the roof, is very impressive, and as ornate as anything in Asgard. " Thor added in agreement with Hildólfr's statement.
As he studied the carvings Hildólfr nudged his brother in the ribs and grinned.
" Of course in Asgard they would be covered in a thick layer of the finest gold ! " he noted.
Thor could not help but laugh at his brother's observation.
" Well,...., that goes without saying ! " he told Hildólfr.
When the Jotun hall no longer held their interest the brothers left the abode built by Thjazi behind and began their search for the creature they had come to Jotunheim to destroy. After a hundred yards, or so into the forest, that only moments before had been a sparse woodland, however, the trees and other flora began to close in around them. Paths that had once been wide enough for the brothers to walk side by side through, now narrowed to allow only one at a time to pass. It seemed to the Gods that with every step the trees grew closer and closer together. And despite the thick canopy, that allowed little or no light to reach the forest floor, thick bushes, with thorns and prickly branches, grew here which further hampered their progress tearing at their clothes and scratching their flesh to the point of drawing blood.
Thor's irritation with their slow progress rose to such a level that the Thunder God began to use his mighty hammer Mjolnir to try and clear away the brush that impeded their every step.
" I almost wish I had brought a scythe instead of my magic hammer ! " Thor told his brother as he whacked at the bushes to make a path between the trees.
The Thunder God then added with a disgusted smirk :
" Or at the very least an Atgeir ! "
Hildólfr understood his brother's frustration over their slow progress. Thor was not used to having to deal with such impediments that delayed his journey. He, on the other hand, was all too familiar with the intricacies of a dark and very thickly overgrown forest. Having lived, and survived in such an environment his whole life, he had become quite adept at moving through a dense woodland, like the wild animals that live there. It was one of the reasons he was said to be like a wolf,...., though it was not the only reason.
Hildólfr could not help but laugh a little as his more famous brother, and next in line for the throne of Asgard, beat at the bushes like a child trying to kill a bug with its toy.
" Allow me brother ! " Hildólfr told his brother as he removed the long shaft of his axe from his belt.
With a gleam of fury in his eyes, and the axe handle firmly in his hands, Hildólfr raised his great weapon, and tool of the forest, over his head and took a mighty swing at the tree next to the bush that his brother was trying to hack apart. With a great, 'thwack', that rang out throughout the surrounding area, the tree's trunk was cleaved from its base. And there it hung for a brief moment before a great cracking sound announced its ultimate demise. The brothers watched with great anticipation as the tree slowly tipped on its base and finally fell forward hitting the forest floor with a sound that echoed through the woodlands like an explosion.
With a smug smile on his face Hildólfr pointed to the felled tree and exclaimed :
" Follow me brother ! "
As they moved forward along the trunk of the tree, safely above the cutting branches of the bushes below, Hildólfr cut off the limbs which stuck out of the tree barring their way. Thor, who followed closely behind his brother, grudgingly had to admit to himself that he was glad that Odin had forced him to bring 'War Wolf' along on this venture.
The brothers made slow, but steady, progress through the dense forest of Thrymheim. They followed the path of trees, felled by Hildólfr's mighty axe, to a meadow clearing where a wide river, lined by huge boulders, and fed by a high mountain lake, raged across their path. Once again it was Hildólfr who felt he had the solution to the obstacle that blocked their way. Using his razor sharp axe he cut down the largest tree he could find, stripped off its branches, and threw it across the great river. To his dismay, however, the tree was not nearly long enough to stretch across the body of water, and once the current of the river took hold of it the tree simply floated away.
Thor tried not to embarrass his brother, for his effort was a noble one, but he could not help but laugh as the great length of timber floated down river and disappeared in the distance.
" Forgive me Hildólfr, but it was quite a humorous sight ! " he explained to his brother.
Hildólfr, not seeing the same humor in his wasted effort, narrowed his eyes, and pointed an angry finger at the Thunder God, before addressing the insult.
" And what is your solution to our dilemma brother !? " he shouted bitterly at Thor.
Thor's outright laughter changed to a small grin as he took into consideration the hurt feelings of his brother.
" Your solution, despite being a good one, looked at the wrong parameters when trying to solve this equation....." he began to explain.
Hildólfr, who did not like his brother's condescending tone, quickly interrupted.
" You may try to sound like Odin if you will, but I doubt that you have the mental capacity to achieve even a small portion of the great wisdom of our father,....., so just tell me what your great solution to our problem is ! " he insisted.
Thor raised his eyebrows, and smiled at the discomfort he had caused to his brother's ego.
" Well,...., as I started to say,...., you brother have only looked a the width of the river. I, on the other hand, have been carefully gauging the depth of this water and I feel that if we were to throw those huge boulders, that lie along the shore, into the river we could use them as stepping stones, and thereby cross this stretch of water safely and dryly . " he told Hildólfr.
War Wolf gave Thor an annoyed look before walking over to the edge of the river. To his chagrin the depth of the water, though being too deep to wade across, did appear to be shallow enough for the large boulders to rise above its surface if thrown into the river. Hildólfr pursed his lips, as though he did not wish to say the words, before finally admitting that Thor could be right.
" Yes ! It might just work ! " he reluctantly told the Thunder God.
The placement of the boulders soon became a contest between the two brothers to see who could sink the huge chunks of rocks close enough together for them to jump from one to the other as they attempted to cross the raging water. To their dismay the game wound up in a tie as both placed ten perfectly, but also missed their mark twice each.
The fun and sport of the boulder competition came to an abrupt end when they each jumped off of the last boulder onto the far bank of the river and peered off into the distant forest which had obviously been recently ravaged by fire. Thor, after carefully looking around, turned to his brother, and pointed to the blackened woodlands.
" This must be where Skaði fought Þrívaldi and was forced to retreat when the creature spewed forth a fiery inferno ! " he told his brother.
As he looked out at the scorched forest Hildólfr quickly forgot his rivalry with his brother and he began to consider only the battle that lay ahead of them against the vile dragon.
" We must tread most carefully from this point on ! " he reminded his brother. "
Rauðskeggr could wait no longer.
" My lord ! My apologies, but before I can continue I must relieve myself ! " he told the king with a great sense of urgency.
The warriors, who had now grown in number to over a hundred, laughed heartily at the skald's discomfort, and shouted their support for the skald :
" Let him pee ! Let him pee !! "
King Thorgest, who was trying to maintain his sense of honor, was laughing as hard, if not harder, than his warriors, simply waved to Rauðskeggr to let him know that he had permission to take care of his business.
Only one warrior did not see the humor in the actions of the skald. Magsefni, the angry berserker, in his mind, had already decided the fate of the old storyteller.
- End Chapter 5
- Next : Chapter 6 : The First Battle
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart), © Copyright, 2018.
Þrívaldi : The Nine-Headed Beast
Rauðskeggr belched slightly before finishing the contents of his horn. As he prepared himself to continue the tale of Þrívaldi he became aware that his audience had grown. Now, forty to fifty pairs of eyes stared at him as if they were pleading with him to hurry and resume telling the story. Rauðskeggr took a deep breath and tried his best to ignore the menacing stare of Magsefni. He then began the story where he had left off....
" Skaði walked up the golden cobblestones, to the entrance of the great hall in Asgard, with her loyal wolf Swift-Runner on one side of her, and her bear cub friend Little Growler on the other. As she reached the golden steps, that led to the massive golden doors of Valhalla, she suddenly realized that she had also brought something along with her pets to the realm of the Aesir. Unlike her first visit to Asgard, when she was consumed with rage and willing to die to avenge her father's death, she was now filled with a feeling of great doubt and insecurity. For neither a year, nor a season, or even a full month had passed since she was accepted into the Aesir community as one of their own. As she slowly reached up to knock on the great golden doors one question kept popping up in her mind.
" Do I have the right to ask these Gods for a favor ? "
The Goddess Syn stood stoically by the entrance to Valhalla guarding the entrance to her Lord's great abode. Like a statue put in place she seldom left the post she had won years ago in a great competition with the other Goddesses. She was at times, when the Goddess had to provide a defense for an innocent victim of injustice, relieved by Odin's ever present messenger Hermod, but today she was at her post while Hermod stood by Odin's side in case there was a need for his special skills.
Syn was neither startled, nor was she particularly surprised when she heard the knock upon the golden doors of Valhalla. Many times a day visitors came to Odin's hall seeking an audience with the Lord of Asgard. It was her duty to decide which guests had good reason to see the All-Father, and which would only waste Odin's precious time. With military precision the Goddess turned, unlocked the doors, and opened the one to her right. To let the visitor know that she was armed and ready to defend Odin's hall she pounded the shaft of her spear on the floor, and pushed the point forward into the face of the guest.
As I have already stated, the guardian of the Golden Hall was almost never surprised by the variety of unusual visitors who came to see Odin, but the sight of a Jotun female, with a wolf and a bear at her side, did make the Goddess raise an eyebrow.
" Who seeks an audience with the Great Odin,...., and what is the purpose of this visit ? " Syn asked in a voice devoid of all emotion.
Skaði bowed her head slightly as a greeting before she answered the sentry.
" I am the Goddess Skaði, the daughter of Thjazi, and I have come to ask Great Odin for his assistance in battling a creature most vile. " she told the monitor of the great hall.
Syn slowly looked the Goddess up and down trying to assess who she was, or what she really wanted. The female who stood on the porch of Valhalla did not look like any Goddess she had ever seen before. Her clothes were torn and splattered with blood, her hair was singed on one side, and she had cuts and bruises on every exposed piece of skin, none of which had completely healed.
" And why should Great Odin help you with your,...., problem ? " Syn asked in return.
Skaði raised her chin higher, to show the guard that she still retained her honor, before replying.
" I have heard that the Aesir are of one mind, and community, and that when one of their own is attacked, or dishonored, they come to their aid. " she told the sentry.
Syn could not help but grin slightly at the disheveled Goddesses' reply. She nodded, stepped backward from the doorway, and spun around to face the high-seats where Odin and Frigga held their court. With two loud bangs of her spear shaft upon the floor she announced the arrival of a new visitor.
" Skaði has arrived, my Lord, and must speak to you most urgently ! " she shouted down to the royal couple.
The Mountain Goddess had not taken into consideration her rough appearance, but halfway down the hall, with a bear and a wolf at her side, she suddenly caught sight of Odin and Frigga sitting upon their high- seats dressed in their finest clothes, and quickly felt quite out of place, and a little embarrassed. And when Skaði stood before the All-Father and All- Mother she was not surprised to see the shocked expressions upon their faces. What came next did surprise the Mountain Goddess, however !
Odin stood up and pointed a finger at the injured Goddess, while Frigga sat with her hands covering her mouth to hide her shocked gasps of horror at Skaði's condition.
" Who,...., or what,...., dared to attack an Aesir Goddess ?! " Odin demanded to know at once.
Skaði bowed meekly before answering.
" There is a creature most vile and dangerous roaming the thick forests of Thrymheim, my Lord. I tried my best to defeat this dragon, which boasts nine heads that spew forth fire, but I was unsuccessful. That is why I have come to Asgard seeking your assistance Great One. " she explained.
Frigga jumped up off of her high-seat and glanced over at her husband.
" This must not be allowed to go unpunished ! " she blurted out angrily.
" And it shall not ! I will respond quickly and with a force capable of killing this creature ! " he assured his wife.
Odin turned and faced Hermod.
" Take Sleipnir and find Thor,....., and also Hildólfr ! Bring them here at once !! " he commanded.
Hermod nodded before running for the entrance to the hall. He was halfway to the doors when he shouted back :
" Yes, my Lord ! "
After the doors closed behind the messenger, Frigga stepped down from her high-seat and placed her hand near a deep cut on Skaði's face.
"She needs a physician. " Frigga told her husband.
Again Odin nodded.
" Syn ! You have my permission to leave your post ! Find Eír and bring her to my hall to examine Skaði at once ! " he shouted with a great sense of urgency.
This time Syn could not hide her shock, or her confusion. Obediently, however, she nodded to the Lord of Asgard.
" Yes, my Lord ! At Once ! " she shouted back before quickly exiting the hall.
Rauðskeggr cleared his throat, and looked over at King Thorgest.
" My apologies my Lord, but may I have another drink of mead before continuing. The smoke is causing my throat to become most dry. " he asked.
Out of the corner of his eye Thorgest caught Magsefni as he shook his head, and rolled his eyes, at the request. It made the king think for a moment before replying.
" Of course,....., but I think it best if you serve yourself this time ! "
Rauðskeggr nodded his thanks before walking over to the barrel of mead and dipping his horn into the sweet mixture. When he returned to his location at the center of the circle he tried not to look at Magsefni, who continued to stare at him with a contemptuous look, but his eyes kept being drawn to the almost maniacal glare in the berserker's blood shot orbs. By the time he finished his mead Rauðskeggr was sure that this might be the last story he ever told.
" Now,...., where was I,...., oh yes,...., Thor and Hildólfr were much alike in that neither liked to travel by cart or beast, but preferred instead to walk no matter how long the journey. This time, however, the urgency in Hermod's voice convinced them both to hop onto Sleipnir's back and let the great eight-legged horse whisk them back to Asgard at a speed unmatched by any other creature in the nine worlds.
Despite all that had transpired the atmosphere in the great hall was light and quiet. Geri and Freki were playing with Swift-Runner and Little Growler, while Eír tended to the wounds of the Mountain Goddess with herbs and a type of healing magic known only to her. Skaði lay across a golden bench telling her story to the Gods in greater detail, while Fulla, at Frigga's request, was trying her best to cut and comb her burned hair, to make her look presentable once again.
The moment the intense pounding on the golden doors commenced the mood in the hall changed. It was almost as though everyone within the hall could sense the essence of great power that lay on the other side of the closed doors despite not being able to see who, or what, was there. When Syn opened the doors, and everyone saw the mightiest of Asgard's Gods enter, a type of power, and yes, fear, entered the great hall with them. Geri and Freki ran to Odin's high-seat where they stoically sat by their master's side. Swift-Runner and Little Growler crawled to the bench that Skaði was lying upon and hid in the shadows beneath.
Both Gods nodded to Syn before lumbering up the hall to where the Lord and Queen of Asgard sat speaking to the newest member of the Aesir. So powerful were their footfalls that each reverberated loudly throughout the hall like a stick beating a drum. And when they reached the high-seats Little Growler, a predator in its own realm, suddenly began to shake uncontrollably with fear as it looked up through the legs of the bench at the massive bodies of the Gods.
Other than their similar stocky muscular physiques these two mighty Gods could not have been more different. Thor, despite being in breeches, a simple tunic, and a pair of boots, was clean and neat in his appearance. Both his red hair, and his beard, were neatly trimmed and braided to show his status as the Prince of Asgard. In his Belt of Strength was tucked the mighty hammer known as Mjolnir that had been made for him by the Dark Dwarves.
Hildólfr, who was also known as ' War Wolf ' by those in the forested regions of Asgard, on the other hand looked for the most part like a typical God of the mountains and forests. His hair and beard were scraggly, and looked as if they had not been tended to in months. His face and arms were covered in a light coating of grime and soot from living in the deep forest, and his clothes, made of thick animal pelts, and strong hides, were made to keep him warm and dry, and not to show off the fact that he was Odin's son. His weapon of choice was also somewhat different from his half-brother's hammer. On one end of the head of the weapon was a blunt hammer much like Thor's, but on the other was a razor sharp axe that could be used to cut down the largest of trees, or the heads of any enemy who dared to try his strength, or patience. To make the axe more effective the handle was much longer than Thor's magic hammer.
Both War Gods stood by silently while Skaði and Odin conversed in quiet tones. When Odin felt that he had heard enough he looked up from the Mountain Goddess and addressed his sons.
" A great beast, a dragon of epic proportions, has attacked one of our own in the dense forests of Thrymheim and injured Skaði. I will not let this stand ! I cannot let this stand !! This creature must be destroyed, and quickly, to not only restore Skaði's honor, but also the glory of Asgard ! " Odin explained to his sons.
Hildólfr nodded in agreement.
" And which one of us will you send father ? " War Wolf asked.
Odin's eye blazed with anger.
" You will both go to Thrymheim to confront this great beast ! " he informed Hildólfr.
It was then that the final difference between the two half-brothers showed its ugly head. For Thor often traveled with others, humans and Gods alike, while Hildólfr always walked the deep forest paths and high mountain regions alone.
" If this vile creature lurks in the thick forests of Thrymheim then I am the better choice to take it on and defeat it father. The woods are my domain ! " he assured his father.
Thor, who had remained silent, was quick to speak up when his half-brother slighted him.
" And I am the strongest being in all the nine worlds ! I need no help in slaying a mere dragon ! " he told the All-Father with a hint of sarcasm.
Odin nearly jumped off of his high-seat when he heard his sons protesting his decision.
" I did not ask my sons for their opinions ! My word is final ! You both will journey to Thrymheim together and kill this monster before it becomes too great for even a God to destroy ! " he yelled angrily back at his insolent children.
Both brothers nodded and complained no more. The Lord of the Heavens and Midgard had spoken and no one had the right to overrule his decision. " Rauðskeggr told the warriors before yawning loudly.
King Thorgest shook his head in agreement that it had become late and that all were tired.
" Let us retire to our beds and rest. The skald can finish the story tomorrow night ! " he told his warriors.
Rauðskeggr breathed a sigh of relief . He too was tired, and if he did not finish the story tonight, then Magsefni would not dare to kill him until the other warriors had heard the entire tale of Þrívaldi .
- End Chapter 4
- Next : Chapter 5 : The Dense Forests Of Thrymheim
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.
Þrívaldi : The Nine - Headed Jotun Beast
Magsefni could not hide the grimace of disgust, that was clearly pasted upon his face, as the old skald prepared to tell what he was sure would be a long and very boring tale of pure fantasy. Realizing that he had one last chance to interrupt, and hopefully change the subject matter of the story, the berserker stood up and confronted both the skald and the king of Dyvlinarskire.
" My lord ! Must we hear this old man speak of nonsense when he could retell stories of great warriors, and their heroic deeds ? ! " he asked in an almost demanding tone.
The smirk on Magsefni's fast was in direct contrast to the eager smile that curled up the corners of Thorgest's mouth. His smile quickly disappeared, however, when his berserker, to his great chagrin, attempted to defy his authority by forcing his will over a king's on the group as a whole. Thorgest wanted to quickly reprimand the brash warrior for what he considered a form of insubordination, but the king knew all too well that Magsefni was a skilled warrior who was well respected by the other warriors, and a friend to many. To dishonor him in front of the others might eventually lead to a split in his army, and possibly to his own downfall.
No ! The king had to find a diplomatic way to handle this potentially dangerous situation. Thorgest, using wisdom instead of the force of his own will, addressed Rauðskeggr instead of answering Magsefni's question directly.
" Can you tell us a bit more about this intriguing new tale about the Gods and Jotuns ? " he asked.
The skald gave the berserker a brief nervous glance before nodding to the king.
" Of course, my lord ! As I have stated previously this story revolves around the most vile and dangerous of Jotun monsters called Þrívaldi, and how his thrice mighty powers were pitted against not only the great God of Thunder Thor, but also his brother Hildólfr's incredible fighting skills as well. " he explained to the warriors gathered around the bonfire.
A gasp rose up from the Viking invaders ! As King Thorgest looked around he could clearly see in the wide eyes of his men that he had made the correct choice by asking Rauðskeggr for further details, instead of directly answering his berserker's rude question. The matter was quickly settled when Albrikt, his second in command, stood up and shook his fist joyfully in the air.
" A tale that includes the great son of Odin known as ' War Wolf ' ! This we must hear, my lord !! " Albrikt shouted above the crackling of the burning wood in the bonfire.
Raðbarðr, despite being a junior member in the king's army, stood up and bowed to the king.
" My lord ! Please let us hear this great story ! " he interjected in a tone that bordered on begging.
Magsefni's second request for a change was quickly drowned out by a chorus of, " Hildólfr, Hildólfr, Hildólfr ! " and he soon had to acquiesce to the will of the others, and reluctantly sat back down.
King Thorgest grinned from ear to ear as he pointed around at his warriors.
" I believe that my men have spoken skald. You may continue ! " he told Rauðskeggr happily.
The skald nodded respectfully to the king, and then pointed a finger at a star in the heavens above.
" The story of Þrívaldi, the nine-headed Jotun beast, begins with the mating of two of the most vile creatures who ever lived in the forests that surround Thrymheim, ( Din-World ), in the realm we know as Jotunheim. The creature they spawned would one day be as black and evil as Jormungandr, Fenrir, or Garm the Helhound ! With nine heads, filled with breath capable of scorching the earth black with fire, claws as sharp as any weapon made of steel, and a tail that could be used as both a whip and a crushing club, it was truly thrice mighty " he explained to the warriors, who were already hanging on each and every word he spoke.
" Now, you must understand that at first this creature was as innocent as any newborn. Instincts can only account for some of a wild beast's aggressive tendencies, and much like the wild wolf which can be tamed to be obedient and subservient by Gods and men alike, this creature did not have to grow up to be the violent monster that it eventually became.
The first determining factor that decided its evil fate was the way in which Þrívaldi's parents, Eitrnaðr and Ormrørindi, taught their offspring to hate everything and anything that was not of their own kind. Each life lesson learned by Þrívaldi taught the young monster to detest almost all living things, and made it see them merely as food to satisfy its ever growing appetite.
The second set of circumstances, that forever changed the life of the great beast, was unintended, but far more devastating to its personality. Over a period of several years the Jotun Thjazi, and his daughter Skaði, hunted down the parents of Þrívaldi, who were killing all of the available wild game around their great hall at Thrymheim to feed their voracious offspring. First, Ormrørindi was caught out while hunting alone, and despite breathing a swath of fire that burned down a portion of the forest surrounding the Thrymheim hall, the young Skaði placed a well aimed arrow through its heart killing the monster instantly. Later, when Þrívaldi found the charred remains of its father's corpse, the horrific image was forever burned into the creature's memory.
Nothing, however, compared to the loss of its mother Eitrnaðr in a fight with the Jotun father and daughter. Despite being hit numerous times in the chest, by Skaði's piercing well placed arrows, Þrívaldi was able to stand its ground and hold off the young Giantess. This was due to the fact that one of the few ways to kill it was to pierce all nine of its hearts simultaneously. The great huntress, however, was quite oblivious to this information at the time, and became increasingly frustrated by her many attempts to kill the beast.
Being preoccupied by the elusive, and very dangerous Giantess, did not allow Þrívaldi time to prevent Thjazi from cleaving his mother in half with his mighty axe. The horrific sight of his mother's fatal injury was too much for the monster to take ! With a fury never seen before, on any of the nine worlds, the multi-headed dragon, using both its poison and devastating fire, forced the Jotuns to retreat from the still wriggling body of its mother. When it was sure that it had beaten back the Giants, Þrívaldi knelt down next to Eitrnaðr , and listened to his mother's final words.
" Kill them ! Kill them ALL !! " she hissed as her last breaths left her mouth. " Rauðskeggr told his audience.
Then, the skald paused for effect, slowly looking into each of the warrior's faces to see if they had been drawn into the story. Satisfied that he had reached his goal, Rauðskeggr grinned slightly before continuing his tale.
" This story now intersects with a tale which we all know quite well, but one that deserves to repeated once again here tonight. It seems that Odin, Loki, and Hoenir were traveling together when they stopped to cook some meat for dinner. Despite placing the meat over a fire for a great length of time it would not cook. An eagle, which sat in the tree above them told the trio of travelers that the meat would only cook if he were given a share of the meat. After the Gods agreed to the eagle's demands, it took a disproportionate amount of their meal angering Loki, who stabbed the eagle with his staff. The eagle, which was actually the Jotun Thjazi in disguise, then flies along the ground, with the staff still sticking out of it, just high enough for Loki's feet to be dragged painfully along the ground, and through thorny brush. The eagle tells Loki that if he wishes him to stop then he must agree to his demands. Loki, who could no longer endure the torture finally agreed.
What the Jotun has asked for is the Goddess Idunn and her magic apples to be brought to him. Loki reluctantly agrees, and tempts the Goddess into a forest where Thjazi, once again in eagle form, carries her in his talons back to Thrymheim. The Gods, who grew older and grayer with each passing day, without their rejuvenating apples, threaten Loki with death if he does not return Idunn to Asgard at once. Terrified, the Deceiver of Gods borrows Freyja's falcon coat and flies to Thrymheim to rescue Idunn. After changing the Goddess of Youth into a nut to be more easily carried, Loki began his flight back to Asgard. Thjazi, however, returned just in time to see Loki stealing his prize, and quickly transformed himself into eagle form to chase after the thief who had dared to betray him. When the Gods saw the eagle gaining on Loki they built a great fire in Asgard which rose high into the sky singeing the wings of the Jotun, which made him fall to the ground where the Asgardians finished him off.
Skaði, wearing her father's helmet and byrnie armor, and with all types of battle implements, traveled to Asgard seeking to avenge her father's murder. The Aesir were so impressed by her willingness to die in battle, to gain revenge for an injustice done to her, that they decided not to fight with her, but instead offered the Giantess compensation for the death of her father. First, she could choose from among the Gods a husband, and second she would be honored by being accepted into the Aesir as one of their own. There was one small stipulation, however. The Giantess would have to choose her husband by seeing only the lower part of his legs.
After examining all of the male Aesir's feet Skaði chose the legs which seemed most perfect, assuming that they must belong to the Shining God Balder. She was disappointed, however, to find that they belonged to the God Njordr instead of the Pure God Balder. As a Jotun woman of great honor she decided to abide by her decision and married the Vanir God of Safe Harbors, who could calm the mighty seas and the winds.
For a while she left Thrymheim to live with her new husband at Noatun, but after nine days and nights she could stay there no longer due to the shrill shrieking of the shore birds which were most irritating to her. When the newest member of the Aesir, now known as the Mountain Goddess, returned to Thrymheim alone she found that the creature, in her absence, had gone on a killing spree throughout the forests that surrounded her father's abode. Several times she hunted the great nine-headed beast, but despite sinking many arrows deep into its scaly flesh, she returned to her great hall with the creature still alive and lurking in the thick forests of Thrymheim. Finally, after another failed attempt left her singed and nearly dead, Skaði decided that it was time to seek help from among her new allies in Asgard. " Rauðskeggr told to the warriors who sat on the edge of their seats listening to every word.
Rauðskeggr cleared his throat several times before asking :
" Forgive me, ...., would it be possible for me to get something to quench my parched throat ? " he asked timidly.
Magsefni shook his head back and forth out of sheer disgust when Albrikt, of all people, rose up and went over to the cask of mead and dipped a horn into it for the skald. As he returned Magsefni could not resist making a comment.
" Will you hold it for the skald while he sips it as well ? " the berserker asked sarcastically.
In one swift motion Albrikt handed the horn to the skald, spun around, and drew his sword from its scabbard, pointing it at the beserker. Just as quickly, Magsefni matched the second in command's threat by drawing his sword as well. For a long moment the two stood glaring at each other menacingly. Finally, using only his authority as king, Thorgest placed his hand upon the hilt of his sword, stood up, and commanded the warriors to put away their weapons, and sit back down. To the surprise of those seated around the bonfire, many of whom had already chosen sides, both men backed down and returned to their seats.
King Thorgest, after the tense moment had passed, also returned to his seat, after which he spoke calmly to the skald.
" You may continue with your intriguing tale, for which we are all eager to hear, when your thirst is quenched. " the king informed the nervous storyteller.
- End Chapter 3
- Next : Chapter 4 : Thor and Hildólfr
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2018.