( Gna's Glory )
The Second Day
Frigga rose and spoke to the handmaidens as they finished their nutritious meals.
" You were taken from your beds early this morning because today's competitions will be long and hard ! " she informed them.
A collective moan came up from the handmaidens as they waited for Frigga to continue.
" We will begin with the spear throwing competition, which will involve hitting targets at various distances. The next event will be the sparing event with swords and shields. This will be followed by a test of your archery skills, where you ladies will have to hit both stationary and moving targets with great accuracy if you are to come away with a gold arm ring. " she explained to the handmaidens.
Frigga then looked over at Skadhi.
" I will allow the Mountain Goddess to describe the final event of the day. " she added with a nod to Skadhi.
Skadhi returned the gesture, and then turned her attention to the handmaidens.
" Your day will end with an exhausting run through the rough terrain, and thick forests, of Thrymheim. You will begin in the deep valley beneath my great hall, and from there you will have to weave your way up the mountain through thickets and boulders. When the first handmaiden reaches the halfway point I will release my wolves . Not only will you have to outrace each other, but you will have to avoid being surrounded and captured by my wolf Swift Runner and his pack. If you are trapped by my wolves you have lost and are out of the race ! The first competitor to knock on my door will be awarded a gold arm ring as the winner ! " she told the handmaidens.
Frigga nodded her appreciation to Skadhi, and then smiled at the handmaidens.
" Gather yourselves together ladies ! When the sun rises above the tower of the great temple we will begin the first event in the meadow just beyond the courtyard. " Frigga explained.
When the handmaidens arrived at the meadow the first thing they noticed were the hundreds of spectators that lined both sides of the field. Across the front of the field a golden ribbon ran from one side to the other. Standing in front of the ribbon, next to a cart filled with spears, and looking as regal as ever, was Odin. As the competitors reached the gold ribbon they observed that there were three targets set up out in the field. Odin explained to them that the targets were set up at twenty five, fifty, and one hundred yard intervals.
" This competition will test both your accuracy with a spear, and also your ability to throw for distance ! " he told the handmaidens in a serious tone.
Skadhi walked over and stood next to Odin.
Gna and Syn, being previous winners in this competition, have earned the right to throw last ! " she informed them.
" Gefjon ! You will be the first competitor ! " Skadhi shouted.
Frigga smiled pleasantly as she added : " I wish you all the best of luck ladies ! "
Gefjon took the spear that Odin offered her with confidence. This she felt was an event that she could excel at. Her first throw, at twenty five yards, hit the target almost dead center. Her next toss, at fifty yards, was almost as accurate, missing the center by only the length of a finger. Her third throw, however, although accurate, barely caught the edge of the one hundred yard target.
Vor was next. She hit the twenty five yard target on the second ring, but missed the longer throws completely. Hlin hit two of the targets, but was short on her final throw. Var missed the twenty five yard target by a foot, and was disqualified on her fifty yard throw when her arm went over the gold ribbon. Then she amazed the crowd by nearly hitting the one hundred yard target dead center !
Syn was called next by Odin. She easily hit the shortest target, and mid range target near the center, but missed the center circle by just a hair on her one hundred yard throw. Syn smiled at Odin, and beamed with confidence as she walked away from the line. She could not see how she could lose with such accurate throws.
Gna nodded to Odin as she took her first spear from the All - Father. Odin was impressed by her calmness as she strode over to the ribbon. Her first throw hit dead center, which delighted the crowd. They cheered even louder when her second throw also hit the center of the middle target. Then the spectators became hushed as she set herself for the final throw. With a two step run, and a small leap Gna let go of the spear. The tension that had built up in those watching the event was released in a loud roar as the spear just caught the outer edge of the inner circle of the furthest target !
Gna proudly accepted the gold arm ring from Frigga, but there was no time to celebrate for Freyr had already set up the circle of rocks that would be used as the ring of honor in the sword competition.
Once again a competition did not go the way the spectators had envisioned it. Almost everyone felt that Gefjon, due to her great size would be an easy winner in the event. However, Syn, using her great athletic ability, kicked the bigger woman's legs out from underneath her, and stabbed her in the heart with her wooden sword before Gefjon could react. In the other matches Var easily defeated Hlin, and Gna made short work of Vor.
This left Freyr with a bit of a dilemma. Three competitors remained, Syn, Var and Gna. Freyr considered a series of fights that would use a double elimination to decide the winner, but it was Odin who with a laugh gave them the wisest answer.
" Put all three in the ring, and let them have at each other ! The last one standing is the winner, and will have earned the gold arm ring ! " he told Freyr.
Freyr smiled and motioned for the three remaining warrior women to enter the ring. When all three had gathered their weapons, and shields they stepped over the ring of stones, and faced each other. Frigga started the event by dropping her handkerchief on the ground as the signal to begin.
Odin had been right to suggest the three way competition. Not only did it make for a great spectacle, but it showed everyone what each opponent could do when faced with more than one opponent. The fighting was fierce, and not all that fair. Gna and Syn had already decided in their minds that this competition had come down to just the two of them. They quickly attacked and " killed " Var with their wooden swords and then faced off against each other. In a grueling battle, that lasted nearly as long as all the other matches combined, Syn was eventually able to thrust her sword past Gna's shield when the latter slipped slightly, and let down her guard.
As Syn proudly accepted her second arm ring from Frigga, Odin stood by watching intently. He was impressed by Syn's competitiveness and with her ability to think on her feet. Valfather decided then and there that Syn was worth taking a closer look at.
The foot race was a disappointment for the spectators. Due to the denseness of the forest, and the rocky terrain it was impossible for them to line the route, and follow their favorite competitors. A few of the heartier Asgardians and Elves traveled to Thrymheim to witness the end of the race, but most ended their day with the sword contest. If they had been able to follow the race they would have been surprised to see once again that Gefjon's size and strength did not aid her on her ascent of the mountain. The low hanging branches hindered her progress, and made her lag behind making her the first to be captured by Skadhi's wolves when they were released.
Var and Vor were also surrounded and captured by Swift Runner and his pack leaving only three runners left to finish the brutal course. Hlin, Syn, and Gna were all doing well until they hit the rocks at the top of the mountain. Hlin fell injuring herself, and had to hobble the rest of the way up the mountain, while Syn and Gna were making about the same time as they reached the great hall on top of the mountain.
Frigga smiled with anticipation behind the front door of Thrymheim ! In her mind she had a vision of who would win, and when she heard the knock upon the door she flung it open to greet the winner. Frigga was pleasantly surprised when she saw that it was Gna who stood before her. Frigga had begun to grow fond of Gna, and was now hoping secretly that she would win.
Everyone was surprised when Hlin, limping noticeably was the next to emerge from the forest and reach Thrymheim's doors. Despite her slight injury her slim physique and small stature had allowed her to easily slice through the thick forest and navigate the many boulders.
To Odin's disappointment Syn came in a distant third. Odin felt, however, that this was due more to the fact that she had fought so very hard in the sword events, than any lack of effort on her part in the arduous climb to the heights of Thrymheim. And although he was supposed to be impartial, Odin, much like his wife, had chosen a favorite and was rooting for Syn to emerge as the overall winner.
At the end of the race Gefjon announced that due to her poor showing she was dropping out of the competition. Upon hearing this, Loki, who was already worried about the amount of gold he had bet on Gefjon, quietly and discreetly left Asgard unnoticed !
Would tomorrow decide the winner of the great competition ? Or would it come down to the final event on the final day ? These were questions that all those in Asgard were eager to find out . But only time would tell !
- End Chapter 7
- Next : Chapter 8 : The Competition Becomes Fierce !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ) , © Copyright, 2015.