A Goddess Pushed Too Far !
As Skadhi observed the father's almost constant abuse, the Mountain Goddess took out her frustration on the tough boar meat, chewing it harder and harder. Eldgrim's words were bad enough, but the father seemed to enjoy reinforcing them by hitting or pushing the boy for every perceived offense, whether it was real or not. To Skadhi the boy looked like a small animal caught in a trap. Afraid and with no where to go he was at the mercy of the one who had trapped him. The abuse went on for a long while, until sleep finally gave the boy relief from his abuser.
The next morning the humans broke camp, and headed back the way they had come. Before following the humans Skadhi examined their camp, and found that they had carelessly left the fire still smoldering. The Mountain Goddess covered the fire pit with several feet of snow, and then quickly picked up their trail again.
Almost anyone could have tracked these humans. The sled the boy was forced to pull was heavy and made deep depressions in the snow, making following the father and son an easy, but very slow and tedious task. Skadhi always stayed just out of sight. The Great Huntress had a sixth sense which allowed her to know when anyone was looking her way, and by the time the father, or son, turned in her direction she had already ducked out of sight. Skadhi followed the Midgardians all morning and most of the day. Then, just as Sunna was being carried over the horizon, they reached a tiny hut at the edge of a small village.
As the humans approached the frail looking little structure, a thin haggard looking woman appeared in the doorway holding a small child. Hoskuld dropped the ropes of the sled and ran into the woman's arms. " Welcome home Hoskuld ! " she told him as she hugged her son with her free arm. Hoskuld looked up at his mother, and from behind a tree Skadhi saw the child smile for the first time. It struck the Mountain Goddess that his mother showed more love in that one instant for her boy than her husband had shown in the two days she had tracked them. " I killed a deer mother ! " Hoskuld told his mother excitedly. Skadhi watched as the mother lovingly kissed her son on the forehead. " I see that ! It is a very nice size one too ! " she told him proudly.
Eldgrim shook his head back and forth. " Stop smothering the boy Jorunn ! " he shouted at his wife. Jorunn gently pushed her son away as Eldgrim approached. " I am hungry woman ! Make my supper ! " he demanded. Jorunn smiled, a weak smile. " Shouldn't we cut up the deer carcass first Eldgrim ? " she asked her husband. Eldgrim lifted his arm and backhanded his wife across the face. The force of the blow knocked her backwards against the hut, and almost made the mother drop her infant. Eldgrim walked over to his wife with an angry look on his face. " Don't give me any lip ! I said I want my supper, and I want it NOW ! " he shouted in an evil tone. Jorunn secured the child up against her body, and quickly ran inside to make her husband's dinner.
Skadhi had known anger many times in her life. The Gods had killed her father ! The Dwarves had killed her wolves ! Ullr had attacked her husband Njord, and her own people had tried to kill her ! But nothing matched the rage that burned in her at this moment ! Nothing ! The time for observing was over. It was now time to act ! As Mani rose over the Midgardian mountains Skadhi began to howl like a wolf. The sound reverberated through the forest and echoed off of the mountains. It was both a call to assemble, and a warning to the human who she now despised more than any other being.
Eldgrim and Jorunn looked at the front door as though they could see through it at the sound of the first howl. As Jorunn was stirring the thin stew that hung over the fire she asked : " I hope the wolves don't get at the deer carcass. " Eldgrim gave his wife an angry look. " You just finish dinner ! I will go out and kill the alpha male, and then the rest of the pack with fade back into the woods. " he told his wife as he grabbed his bow and headed for the door. Hoskuld, who was standing near the door, was pushed out of the way as the father flung it open.
Eldgrim did not have to walk very far into the forest before he saw the moon's glow shining off of the wolves' eyes . As Eldgrim placed an arrow on his bowstring the alpha male began to step forward menacingly. The large wolf moved slowly towards him with his head low, drool dripping out of its growling mouth. " You can growl all you want you ugly bastard, in a moment you are going to be dead ! " he told the wolf. Eldgrim was about to let loose the arrow when he suddenly felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Slowly, and with a dread of the unknown, he glanced behind him at the large black shadow that hovered over him.
Skadhi watched the human as he left the hut, and as he approached the wolves she worked her way silently behind the human. Before the Midgardian could let loose his arrow Skadhi reached out with her right arm and knocked the bow out of his hands, breaking his forearm in the process. As the human instinctively grabbed for his broken arm the angry Mountain Goddess wrapped her large hands around his throat and lifted him off of the ground. She then ran forward and shoved him up against a tall elm tree.
Eldgrim looked down in horror at the Giantess who was dressed in helmet, and coat of mail. He tried to scream, but her grip on his throat was too firm and all he could manage was a faint hoarse whimper. Eldgrim kicked out at the Giantess with his feet, but it was though he were kicking a rock, and had no effect. In that moment he was sure he was going to die !
Skadhi looked into the eyes of the terrified Midgardian. She made sure that her grip was strong enough to keep him in place, but not forceful enough to snap his neck. " What is the matter little man ?" she asked. " I am just a woman. Why don't you try to hit me you piece of human excrement !? " she said in a coarse whispering voice. Skadhi placed her nose up against the humans and stared directly into his frightened eyes.
Eldgrim could not answer the Giantess, which infuriated her even more. The Great Huntress threw the human into a thorny bush as though she were discarding a stick. Eldgrim grimaced in pain as the thorns tore his clothes and ripped into his flesh. The human had made it halfway out of the thorn bush when Skadhi grasped him by his broken arm, and twisted it behind his back, pulling him through the thorns backwards. With her other arm she place the human in a choke hold from behind.
Skadhi slowly picked Eldgrim off of the ground and whispered into his ear. Puny little man, you will NEVER again hit your children ! And you will NEVER, EVER, lay a hand on your wife !!" she told him angrily. In a fit of rage Skadhi bit off the humans ear, and threw him to the ground. The Mountain Goddess hovered over Eldgrim and spit the Midgardian's ear into his face, and then asked. " Do you understand me human !? " Eldgrim held his broken arm meekly up against his chest, while cupping his other hand over the bleeding mess where his ear was once attached. His entire body was now trembling from fear and pain. Skadhi bent down and asked again. " DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME ! ? " Eldgrim winced in agony and nodded that he understood. " What are you ? " he asked, almost choking on the words. Skadhi pointed her finger at him dramatically. " I am the Goddess Skadhi ! I am your worst nightmare ! I am the shadow that is going to follow you around until the day that you die ! I am danger, and fear, and I will come back and kill you if you ever lay a hand on your wife or children again ! " she told him in rapid succession.
Eldgrim used his legs to push himself backwards away from the Giantess who hovered menacingly above him. He did not get very far however before he skidded into a tree stump that stopped him. Skadhi move forward a step and looked down at the little man who now was bent over in pain. " If I ever catch you abusing your family again I swear on my father's memory that I will come back and kill you ! " she repeated. Then Skadhi spread out her arms. " And my friends here will be watching you every night and day ! If they catch you even so much as raising your voice to your wife or children they will tell me at once, and I will be back ! " Eldgrim looked around and saw that he was surrounded by an angry growling wolf pack. When he turned back to the Giantess she was gone. Then, one by one, the wolves turned and trotted away.
As Eldgrim staggered back to his hut he heard a voice : " Tell no one that you saw me ! " it said. As he threw open the door to his hut, his wife, who had been to afraid to go outside, screamed when she saw her husband's clothes torn to pieces and his body covered in blood. Eldgrim fell down on his knees and as if begging cried out : " Help me ! " Then his world went black !
When Eldgrim awoke he found himself on his bed, his head heavily bandaged, and his arm held up against his body by a cloth sling. As Eldgrim looked up at his wife with tears in his eyes, he did something he had not done in years. He kissed his wife lovingly on the cheek. Jorunn recoiled as though she had been punched ! Eldgrim saw the confusion in his wife's eyes and struggled to sit up in bed. He reached out with his good arm, and placed it around her. Hoskuld, who was sitting by the fire watching his parents began to cry. He had never seen his parents embrace.
Eldgrim heeded the words of the Giantess and made up a fanciful story. " The wolves attacked me before I could get off a shot, and then I was chased into a thorn bush. " he told them. " But worst of all I fell over a stump and broke my arm. And as I lay there helpless the alpha male ripped off my ear ! I barely staggered back to the house before they killed me ! " he continued. Every time he told the story it seemed to bring the family closer together. It was a memory that they all could share.
Eldgrim never hit his wife again, and he treated his children with great respect from that day forward. He decided that Hoskuld would never be any good with a bow and arrow, so Eldgrim taught the youth to use an axe, a sword and a spear. To Eldgrim's amazement the boy became very skilled with all types of weapons. Thorolf, the infant, was good with his hands, and became a good carpenter. He, along with his father and brother, built a much bigger, more sturdy longhouse next to the original hut, which was later used as a storage shed.
Jorunn could not help but notice her husband's deep fear of wolves. For some strange reason they seemed to hang around their house and howl every night which became a constant reminder of that awful time he was attacked. What she did not understand was why her husband suddenly built an altar at the edge of the woods to honor the Goddess Skadhi. Every day as the sun went down he placed an offering of meat and mead on a large rock. Her husband thought it was the Goddess who ate the meat and drank the mead. She of course knew it was the wolves who took it. Though she did think it odd that the drinking goblet was emptied, but never knocked over.
As Skadhi slowly walked back to her great hall in Thrymheim her sixth sense told her that she was being watched. But there was nowhere to hide from the all - seeing eye that followed her every movement. And she could not only feel herself being watched, she also could sense his anger !
End Chapter 2
Next : Chapter 3 : Standing Before An Angry God !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravenheart ), © Copyright, 2015.