Skadhi was dreaming peacefully, with her little bear cub friend Little Growler curled up beside her, when she was suddenly awakened by the yelping cries of a wolf. When she focused her mind she saw her wolf friend Swift Runner crawling over to her. Skadhi jumped up when she noticed that his fur was matted down in thick blood. As he crawled over to her it was obvious that he was in severe pain, and needed help. Skadhi quickly examined Swift Runner and found that he had been shot in the hind leg with an arrow, which had broken the bone as it entered. As Skadhi studied the arrow she realized it was the type that was made by Rock Dwarves. This meant it could not be pulled out, but must be pushed all the way through to extract it.
Skadhi stroked her friends head, then looked Swift Runner in the eyes and said quietly : " I have to push the arrow through to remove it so prepare yourself my friend. " Swift Runner closed his eyes, and let out a little growl to signal he was ready. Little Growler who had been watching from a short distance ran behind a tree to hide, but peeked out to see what was going to happen. As she pushed the arrow through with one hand, Skadhi grabbed up a handful of snow with the other, which she used to help numb the wound as the arrow exited. She reached into her pack and pulled out some root oil, which she then mixed with some mud she scraped from under the snow with her knife. She covered both wounds with this thick mixture, and then began to stroke her severely wounded friend.
Skadhi knew that Swift Runner would die if she did not do more to help her old friend. She quickly scraped away the snow to expose the bare ground below. In the earth Skadhi used her knife to carve healing runes, and then placed Swift Runner, who was barely alive, and breathing in shallow breaths, over them. Skadhi looked up to the sky and said to herself : " What was that healing charm that Odin told me about all those years ago ? All - Father is so wise, I should listen more closely to him ! " "Oh...... Yes ! " she shouted out loud. " I remember now ! " Then she started to chant the words that Odin had taught her : " For bone - sprain, as well as joint sprain; bone to bone, blood to blood, limb to limb, so that they are linked again." Again and again she spoke these magical words until Swift Runner slowly turned and sat up unsteadily. The poor wolf looked exhausted from his ordeal so she lay him back down, and stroked him until he fell asleep. Little Growler, sensing that things were better now, came out from behind the tree, and laid down beside the sleeping wolf to keep him company. Skadhi smiled as she watched her little bear cub friend cuddle up with the sleeping wolf. " You watch over Swift Runner while I get us something to eat, Little Growler, " Skadhi said in a whisper. Little Growler was fast asleep even before Skadhi finished the last word.
Skadhi moved silently through the forest in search of game for herself, and her injured friend. She did not have to go far before she spotted a nice size deer nibbling on the fresh shoots of a small bush. Quickly, but silently, she reached into her quiver and pulled out an arrow. Within seconds she had the arrow on the string, and had perfect aim at her target. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a tiny newborn fawn struggling to stand up on shaky legs. Skadhi dropped her bow down to her side and said quietly to herself : " Never kill a mother. Never ! " It took several hours before she found deer tracks again. This time she followed them to a large male who sensed her presence, but did not know where she was. In one fluid motion she set the arrow on the string, pulled it back, aimed, and fired. The deer never knew what hit him as he fell to the ground. The arrow had gone straight through its shoulder, and into its heart killing him instantly. Skadhi placed the deer on a small sled and headed back to camp.
When she arrived back at camp she saw that Swift Runner was still sleeping, but Little Growler was amusing himself playing with some pine cones behind a bush. After cutting up the meat, Skadhi woke up Swift Runner and fed him by hand. With every bite Swift Runner seemed to gain in strength. When Skadhi checked his wounds she saw that they were almost completely healed. " Thank You, All - Father, " she whispered into the wind. Later when Skadhi lay down to sleep next to Swift Runner, Little Growler, who was always jealous of anyone, or anything, that came close to Skadhi, nudged his way in between the two and fell asleep as well.
The next morning, during a hearty meal of deer stew, Swift Runner, in a series of howls, yelps, and growls, told Skadhi what had happened to his wolf pack. He explained to her that they were ambushed, and surrounded on three sides by Dwarves, who were intent on killing them. Most of the pack got away, but several were killed by the Dwarves, and others were wounded. He then finished by telling Skadhi of his journey up the mountain to her camp wounded. Swift Runner then asked for Skadhi's help in avenging the death of his pack members, and most of all his beloved partner Snow Ball, who he had been together with for years, and had many pups with.
After hearing Swift Runner's story Skadhi rolled up her things, tied them, and threw them over her shoulder. Then she looked at Swift Runner who was now almost fully recovered, and said with a determined voice : " Show me the place where the attack took place. " Then she turned and yelled to Little Growler : " Come on Little Growler, we are going on a little trip today. " The little bear cub ran up to her and jumped up and down on his front legs to signal he was ready and excited ! Skadhi strapped on her snow skis, and they left camp, with Swift Runner leading the way.
It was a beautiful day ! The sky was a deep blue color, which contrasted nicely against the white mountain peaks. The trees, mainly evergreens, were rather small near the top of the mountain, but as they descended they grew bigger and bigger, and much more numerous, until they opened up into the valley below. Skadhi had to unstrap her skis at this point because as the trees got larger the snow became shallower and shallower until it finally disappeared at the floor of the valley. Little Growler was having a wonderful time ! The bear cub was fascinated by every butterfly, and squirrel that passed by his way. Skadhi constantly had to call for him to keep up with them.
Suddenly, Swift Runner slowed down and crawled over to a form lying stiff in some leaves. He stopped and looked back at Skadhi with agony in his eyes. Skadhi recognized the wolf immediately as Swift Runner's partner Snow ball. Swift Runner started to howl from his grief, but Skadhi yelled to him to stop. " I am sorry my old friend, but those who did this may still be in the area so we must be quiet ! " Skadhi said in a sorrowful, but commanding voice. Swift Runner obeyed, and layed down in the grass next to Snow Ball's body. Skadhi walked around, and found three other wolves scattered about, and all were riddled with Dwarve arrows. Little Growler sensing the gravity of the situation layed down next to Swift Runner, and comforted him with his presence. Skadhi meanwhile, sat down on a log and wondered why after all of these years Dwarves would start attacking wolves. Her wolves ! Lost deep in her thoughts, Skadhi did not notice the two ravens that were circling overhead.
Skadhi placed the dead wolves on a makeshift sled, and trekked back up to a mountain ridge that overlooked the valley entrance. She felt that they would be safe here for the night. Skadhi took each of the wolf bodies, and wrapped them in tree bark, and tied them together. Then she held a sacred ritual for the wolves, and after reciting a magical incantation she placed them on a bonfire she had made to set their spirits free. Little Growler watched in fascination as the flames grew higher and higher. The flames seemed to howl as each of the spirits left the bonfire, and went back into the woods where they belonged. Swift Runner also began to howl. Skadhi did not try to stop him this time because he was calling for his pack to return.
- Glenn Bergen, Copyright, 2012.
End Part 1
Next : Part 2 : Skadhi encounters the Dwarves
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !