Idunn' s Revenge
Ingalf' s Funeral
After resting and staying for a meal at Sessrumnir, Skadhi, Njord, Idunn, and Skadhi's furry friends headed out on the final leg of their journey back to Ljossalfheim. Skadhi and Njord had carefully placed Ingalf's body onto a cart, which was pulled by Freyja' s boar Hlidisvini. Idunn rode in the cart, while Njord and Skadhi walked alongside. There was no joy, and very little conversation, on the way back to the Elves homeland. Skadhi noticed that Idunn was especially quiet on their journey. The Goddess of Youth had replaced her tears with a look of absolute determination. The Mountain Goddess could not help but notice that Idunn was now wearing Ingalf' s sword, which was a little too large for her small petite frame. When they arrived at Ivaldi' s hall, Idunn asked that she be allowed to go in first and break the news to her father alone. Njord and Skadhi quietly nodded their approval, and waited at the edge of the forest that surrounded their homestead. After a few long moments Idunn motioned for them to come in.
Skadhi carefully laid Ingalf's body upon the table in the dining hall, as Idunn and Bragi consoled Ivaldi, who was gently sobbing. Njord gave Skadhi an inconspicuous nod before reaching out his hand to Ivaldi. As the Elf took the God's hand Njord said quietly : " We are terribly sorry for the loss of your son my friend. " Skadhi walked over and placed her arms around both Idunn and Ivaldi. " Yes ! I wish that the outcome of our journey had been much different, and that we could have brought Ingalf back home alive. " Skadhi told them dejectedly. " We will leave you with your grief, and hope that you will see better days ahead. " she added. " NO ! " Idunn cried out as she leaned over and hugged Skadhi . " Father, please make them stay for the funeral ! Please ! " Skadhi was surprised by Idunn's outburst, and glanced over at Ivaldi with a questioning stare. " No God has ever seen an Alfar funeral. Is it allowed ? " the Mountain Goddess asked. Ivaldi gave Njord and Skadhi a tired smile before answering. " I would be greatly honored if you would stay and witness Ingalf' s funeral. You brought my son home to me, you deserve no less. " he told them. " Then we would be greatly honored to stay my friend. " Skadhi replied with a weak smile as Idunn hugged her even tighter.
The following morning Njord and Skadhi were awakened by the sounds of construction. Again and again they could hear wood being sawed, and nails being hammered home. Skadhi wrapped a blanket around her, and walked over to the window to see what all the commotion was about. Njord joined her at the window, and together they watched the frantic activities going on outside. What they saw surprised the Gods. Four large pillars had been set in the ground, and a large platform was being erected on top of them. Stairs ascended from the ground on both sides of the structure, giving access to the top. The Gods strained to see more, but their view was limited by their position. Njord and Skadhi quickly dressed and went outside to see the platform up close.
Ivaldi, Bragi, and Idunn were already at the site, and were supervising the work that was being done. Njord and Skadhi did not want to interrupt the frantic pace of the Elven workers, so they stood back, and watched in amazement as the Elves worked like ants building an ant hill. On top of the platform the workers had begun to build what appeared to be a bed frame, while Elven women were decorating the entire structure. Ivy was being carefully woven onto each of the four posts, and the handrails on the stairs. Into this dark green ivy they placed hundreds of the most colorful flowers the Gods had ever seen. The flowers actually seemed to glow as they were set in place ! When the bed frame was finished, bright green leaves were placed inside the frame as a kind of mattress. As the Elven women walked by with baskets filled with these leaves the entire funeral area was filled with their wonderful aroma. As the structure neared completion skilled artisans began to carve what appeared to be a type of Elf runes into the wood on all four sides of the structure. These runes were not as straight as Odin' s runes, but almost seemed to flow into each other in great loops and curves.
Late in the afternoon, as the construction was almost completed, Ivaldi, Bragi, and Idunn came over and invited Skadhi and Njord to the funeral feast. " There is just one thing that you must know my friends," Ivaldi told them, " There must be NO talking during the feast ! " Njord and Skadhi looked at each other, and nodded. " Understood my friend. " Njord finally replied. Idunn saw the perplexed looks on the Gods faces, and felt compelled to explain further. " During the feast the silence allows us time to remember those who have fallen. Many of our ancestors come to join us at the funeral feast, and any kind of speaking will drive them away. " Idunn told them in a tone of kindness. " We promise to honor your traditions my dear. " Skadhi told Idunn.
Idunn escorted Njord to his place at the feast table, while Bragi guided Skadhi to her seat on the benches. The feast was held in complete silence. The only sounds were utensils hitting plates, goblets being placed back down on the table, and of course, because of the intense silence, the sounds of hundreds of Elves chewing. When an Elf wanted something from the serving maidens the Elves waved to get their attention, and motioned when they had been served enough. By paying close attention to the other Elves Njord and Skadhi soon fit right in, and were able to be served without delay. The food was incredible ! Skadhi, who was used to thin fare out in the wilderness, was surprised by the great number of dishes, and all the wonderful flavors that each unique food had to offer. Skadhi was so happy with the menu that she barely noticed the lack of meat on the table. Njord's favorite food was a dish that consisted of little blue flowers, in a sauce, which made his mouth cool and refreshed as he chewed. The drink, which was delicious, was a wine made from the bark of a small tree. It was also very potent as Njord found out as he guzzled down his first goblet in one shot.
When everyone had finished the head serving maiden walked over to Ingalf, and handed him a fresh goblet of wine. The Elf then rose, stood on the bench, raised his goblet high in a toast, and shouted : " Let the celebration begin ! " Every Elf jumped up, returned the toast, and then began to laugh and cheer. Bragi laughed uncontrollably as he saw Njord and Skadhi looking around in disbelief. Bragi had lived among the Elves for a while now, and was used to these odd ceremonies, but he remembered his first time, and how shocked he was at the sudden outburst. Bragi leaned across the table and laughing yelled over the cheering crowd : " You may now, of course, talk as much as you like ! "
Suddenly from out of the hall five Elven men appeared carrying Ingalf's body. Two held the shoulders, two the legs, and one gently held the fallen Elf 's head. They slowly brought his body over to the platform . As they carefully ascended the stairs the cheering grew in its intensity, until the high pitched tone hurt the Gods ears. As they watched in utter fascination Ingalf's body was gently placed onto the leaf bed at the top of the platform. Then there was silence again ! Bragi put his arms around Njord and Skadhi, and escorted them away from the platform to the edge of the forest that surrounded Ivaldi' s great hall. He then whispered : " Not even I am allowed to join in this part of the ceremony ! Only Light Elves can perform the final ritual of light for one of their own. "
The Gods watched as the Elves gathered in a circle around the platform. Ivaldi and Idunn were the last to arrive, and once they were in place all the Elves held hands. Slowly they began to move to a silent beat. First they went around the platform in one direction and then turned and came back in the other. As the unheard beat began to gain in tempo the Elves began to all circle in one direction around Ingalf' s body. Faster and faster they danced around until their feet no longer touched the ground. As they gained in speed the Elves began to give off a glowing light which gained in intensity the faster they went. When the circling Elves became one solid band of light, Bragi pointed to the top of the platform. As Njord and Skadhi watched in awe Ingalf's body began to rise out of his leaf bed and hover in the air !
Then the runes that had been carved into the wood of the platform lit up, and began to move in the opposite direction of the circling Elves. Round and round the Elves circle, and the rune circle went, faster and faster until the entire platform burst into flames ! Suddenly from where Ingalf 's body had been floating, a burst of light shot up into the sky like a bolt of lightning heading in the opposite direction. In an explosion of light it found its place in the heavens, and dimmed to the same luminescence as the rest of the stars. The Elven dancers then slowed and came back down to the ground. They let go of each others hands, and stood there looking up at the heavens where there brother Elf, Ingalf, now resided for all eternity as a monument to his life.
Njord looked over at his wife, and was surprised to see tears trickling down her face. The Sea God had only seen his wife brought to tears once before, and gave her a questioning look, as he wiped away a tear. " What !? " asked Skadhi. It was very beautiful and very touching ! " Their ritual reminds me of the Midgardian practice of saying farewell to their kings and warriors by sending them off to Valhalla in a burning ship ." she added. Njord gave a little laugh, and kissed his wife on the cheek. Skadhi seldom showed anyone the softer side of her personality.
With the funeral ceremony over Idunn disappeared into her room, while the Gods were entertained by dancing and singing Elves. Idunn did not have time for merriment now. She had made a promise to her brother, and had taken an oath before her ancestors to avenge her brothers death . Now was not the time to celebrate. It was now time to plan the death of the evil Fjolverk who had killed her beloved brother !
End Chapter 4
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2014.
Next : Chapter 5 : Idunn' s Plan