( Gna's Glory )
The Competition Becomes Fierce !
Once again Skadhi rudely awakened the contestants out of their sound sleep. All the maidens rushed to the dining hall except Hlin who could barely walk. During the night her muscles had stiffened up from her arduous race up to Thrymheim, and she was now in constant pain as she arrived to the breakfast. Unlike Gefjon, however, Hlin decided to try and continue in the contest.
The first venue of the day was a two part archery competition. The first event would be a static target contest to see how many arrows each of the handmaidens could place in the center of a stationary target that sat fifty yards away. The second round of the event would involve hitting a moving target that was pulled on a cart by Svadilfari, back and forth across the field.
Ullr, the great archer God, had been chosen as the judge of the competition by Skadhi herself. The mountain Goddess knew of no other archer, outside of herself of course, who had a better aim in all the nine worlds ! Before the handmaidens took their places, and readied themselves for their turn to compete, Ullr gave the ladies a few pointers on aiming, calculating wind velocity , and how to judge and lead a moving target to gain the most accurate shot possible. Skadhi smiled, and thought him a showoff, but the information he gave the handmaidens was valid, and if they grasped the concepts he was teaching, it would help them as they aimed at the targets.
The stationary target competition was first, and as had been the case throughout Frigga's challenge, Gna and Syn went head to head leaving the other competitors behind. Gna lost out to Syn when it was judged that her final arrow, of twelve, had missed the bulls eye by what seemed like the thickness of a hair. Vor came in third, with Var close behind. Hlin was in so much pain it was difficult for her to pull back the string , and her shots suffered accordingly, placing her last with the worst score.
Syn smiled from ear to ear as she was awarded her third arm ring in the competition, which tied her with Gna for first place. Odin too was very happy to see that Syn had drawn even with her rival Gna. With the passing of each event Odin was paying more and more attention to Syn, who he thought was an impressive warrior for a handmaiden.
The moving target competition was much more difficult for the contestants. Not only did they have to lead the target, but they also had to try and compensate for the up and down motion of the cart. Whenever it hit a depression in the meadow the cart would drop as much as six inches which would knock an arrow out of the center target if the archer did not compensate.
This time it was Gna who got the better of Syn ! She hit the target all twelve times, and placed her arrows into the center mark ten of the times. Syn matched her arrow for arrow until the ninth shot when the cart hit an especially large rock making her arrow miss the center ring completely. Although she also had 10 bullseyes the complete miss placed her in second. Var switched positions with Vor this time for third, while Hlin once again came in last.
After Frigga presented Gna with her fourth ring Hlin approached Frigga and respectfully told her that she could not participate in the wrestling event because she was in no condition to compete in such a physical contest. The All - Mother told the ailing handmaiden that she fully understood, and thanked her for competing.
Just as the circle of stones was being completed for the wrestling " ring " , Sjofn and Lofn rode up in a horse drawn cart to the judges stand where Thor was seated. In the back of the cart lay Fulla with her head propped up on pillows. Despite looking a little pale she smiled at Thor pleasantly as the cart stopped .
" May I stay and watch the final events ? " she asked weakly.
Thor immediately stood up and pointed to the crowd at the north end of the ring of stones.
" Move aside and allow Frigga's injured handmaiden a place where she can watch the wrestling matches ! " Thor commanded.
After the crowd had parted Sjofn and Lofn parked the cart next to the ring, and then propped up Fulla's head so she could get a better view of the matches. Frigga, who had been sitting next to Odin and Thor, stepped down off of her high - seat, and in a gesture of kindness walked over and stood at the side of the cart to watch the matches with her recuperating handmaiden.
Frigga then nodded to Thor who announced :
" Let the first match begin ! "
Skadhi walked to the center of the ring and called out :
" Gna and Vor enter the ring ! "
Gna entered the stone circle with a confident look upon her face. The handmaiden already had earned four arm rings, and if she could achieve a fifth here in the wrestling competition she would be declared the overall winner of the contest and become Frigga's messenger. Vor, on the other hand, looked nervous and unsure of herself. She had done well in the events, almost always finishing in fourth or fifth place, but now she had to face a determined competitor who had already proved herself to be the best in many of the events.
Thor, who liked to be a little theatrical, decided to start the match by raising his hammer in the air, which caused a loud boom of thunder that reverberated throughout Asgard. Before the first echo had resounded Gna attacked Vor. She made a quick lunge at the Vor's feet, and with all her might lifted the more petite Goddess off of the ground, and threw her out of the stone ring. The stunned handmaiden lay in the grassy meadow, and looked up at Thor, who was supposed to be impartial, but instead was cheering Gna's cat like move !
The second round was no better for Vor. She tried to grab Gna around the neck, but the handmaiden grabbed her arm and quickly spun her around into a headlock. Gna then kicked out Vor's legs and pinned her down until she relented. Vor did not even bother to put up a fight in the third match, and was easily forced out of the circle of stones.
"Gna wins the best out of five match with three wins ! " Thor announced to the crowd in a booming voice.
Skadhi then stepped back into the ring and shouted.
" Syn and Var to the ring of honor please ! "
Var would not be such an easy opponent for Syn to defeat. She had managed third place finishes in many of the events, just behind either Gna or Syn, and she was determined not to look as foolish as Vor had seemed to the crowd.
Syn was not expecting such a violent start from Var. The Goddess of Oaths put her head down and rammed into Syn's stomach, while lifting her legs off of the ground. Syn felt herself being pushed out of the ring, but with her legs in the air there was nothing she could do to stop it. Var was not as strong as Gna, however, and instead of throwing Syn completely out of the ring, as Gna had Vor, Syn landed on the rocks at the edge of the ring. The moment her hair hit the grass just beyond, Thor signaled that Var had won the first match.
Syn was furious ! The determined handmaiden fought tenaciously against an opponent who wanted to win as badly as she did. In the final, after they had split the first four matches between them, Syn was able to twist Vars arm behind her, and kick out her legs. The crowd flinched collectively when they heard a loud snap as Syn pushed her opponents face into the ground. Syn immediately jumped up, and called to Eir, as Var began to scream !
" Eir ! Come quickly, Var is injured ! " Syn shouted.
As the " Best of Physicians " ran to Var's aid, Thor stood up and calmly told the stunned spectators :
" Syn is the winner three matches to two. "
Frigga was visibly shaken by the ferocity of the wrestling matches. She did not want to see any of her handmaidens injured, and was rather quiet when she announced that their would be a break for lunch before the final match would take place. As Frigga passed her husband Odin nodded to his wife.
" I know this is hard for you to watch, but it is important that your new messenger be as brutal as any enemy who might attack her. " Odin told her with a tight lipped grin.
Gna and Syn did not eat or drink much before being recalled to the ring by Skadhi. Neither wanted to be weighed down by a heavy meal, or risk getting cramps from drinking too much. The two handmaidens tried to rest a little before what they both knew would be a very difficult and hard fought wrestling match, but both had their adrenaline running high, and found it almost impossible.
Skadhi, who was all too familiar with violence, was a little surprised at the brutality that Gna and Syn used as they squared off in the stone ring. Thor, for his part, was loving the spectacle ! The Thunder God thought the maidens fought more like animals than intelligent beings, while Frigga considered stopping the match when Syn was " accidentally " poked in the eye. Odin, however, was greatly impressed by both warrior women, and in his mind he was formulating a role for the loser of the competition.
After four matches Gna and Syn were tied at two wins a piece. Fulla, was horrified by the ferocity of the competition and asked Sjofn and Lofn to move the cart away. The brutality of the match reminded her of Jotun's attack, and she simply could not bear to watch it any more.
All of the High - Gods rose up off of their high - seats and stood to watch the final round. Both Gna and Syn were badly bruised and bloodied as they faced off against each other. Gna had her nose broken in the fourth match when her face hit one of the rocks that bordered the ring, and Syn's left eye was swollen and partially shut from the " poking" incident. Both had bloody scratch marks and scrapes on their arms and legs, and they looked more like they had just come from a bloody battle than from a simple wrestling match.
Gna attacked first grabbing hold of Syn's arms. Syn, was able to free one of her arms. and while trying to push Gna away struck her hard in the windpipe. Gna immediately fell to her knees gasping for air. Syn had not meant to hit her opponent in such a manner, but her desire to win was such that she dragged Gna over to the edge of the ring and pushed her out of the circle of stones.
As Eir ran over to Gna to attend to her injury, Syn looked up at Thor not knowing whether she would be disqualified or announced as the winner. Thor sat in deep thought for a moment looking very undecided. When Eir announced that Gna was fine, and had simply had her breath taken away by the blow, Thor rose up and shouted :
" I declare Syn to be the winner of the final round of the match, and therefore the overall winner of the wrestling contest ! "
Frigga was so appalled at what she had seen that instead of placing the arm ring on Syn's arm the All- Mother handed it to her and walked away without saying a word. As his wife walked away disgusted by what she saw, Odin sat on his high - seat smiling from ear to ear.
- End Chapter 8
- Next : Chapter 9 : The Final Event
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.