Gerdr' s Dilemma
Within moments two male servants, the serving maid, and the chamber maid, who had knocked on her door, had assembled at the golden doors at the entrance to the hall. Gerdr nodded to everyone, and then reached down, and slowly opened the doors. Although it was rather dark outside Gerdr's arms illuminated the entire front of the hall as though a hundred torches had been lit. The dogs were howling incessantly at something off to the left in the shadows that was just out of range of her glow. As they ran off in the direction the great beasts were pointing they saw a dark shadowy figure lying on the ground near the fence. When they reached the point where Gerdr' s arms lit up the area, the Giantess stopped . " No ! No !! Beli ! Oh, No !! " she screamed into the cool night air. The Jotun maiden rushed to where her brother lay, and knelt by his head. What she saw as she reached out to cradle his head in her arms made her look away. " Brimr " she cried out to her servant. " Please remove this..... this .... weapon from my brothers head ! " She cried out choking on her words. Brimr ran forward, and with the help of the other servant, pulled the antlers out of Beli' s head. All of those gathered cringed at the sucking sound the antlers made as they were extracted from the Jotun's skull. " Please help me to bring my brother inside ! " she pleaded with her servants. The servants each grabbed a limb, and with Gerdr holding her brother's head, they slowly carried his lifeless body into the great hall, and from there brought it into his chamber where they laid him down on his bed. Gerdr knelt by her brother's side, and with her hand gently stroked his blood soaked hair as though she were combing it. " Who would do such a horrible thing ?! Why would they kill my brother ?! " She cried out. The servants, in tears, remained respectfully silent. After a moment she composed herself, and as she held her brother's dead hand in hers, she addressed her servants : " Thank you for your help. Please go back to your rooms now, I want to be alone with my brother. " she told them as teardrops streamed down her face. Tears welled up in Brimir's eyes as he watched Gerdr kiss her brother's hand. He motioned to the others to leave, and quietly closed the door behind him.
Skirnir thought it strange that Freyr was not there to see him off. His master had given him his magic sword, and had promised his horse Blodughofi to take on his journey to Jotunheim, but Blodughofi was not in stable when Skirnir went to saddle him. That was of little concern though, Freyr had many fast horses, and he simply chose another of his master's mounts . But his lord not being there to see him off on a journey that seemed so important perplexed the loyal servant. As soon as Sunna rose in the sky Skirnir mounted up, and galloped towards Jotunheim. As he rode swiftly through the nations on his way to Gymir's hall he had plenty of time to go over and over again what he would say to the Giantess. That is of course if he was allowed to entire Gymir's hall to gain an audience with her ! First he thought he would ask kindly, and to this end he brought with him eleven of the finest golden apples, that Idunn herself had picked . If that did not work to sway her, then he would give her the ring Draupnir that had been retrieved from Balder's funeral pyre. If these magnificent presents were not enough to gain Gerdr's favor, then he was more than prepared to resort to threats, or even curses, if absolutely necessary. Skirnir kept hearing over and over in his head Freyr telling him that " He must gain Gerdr' s hand in marriage on his behalf, whether her father or brother agreed or not ! " He felt the great weight of this responsibility on his shoulders all the way to Jotunheim !
Several days later as Skirnir came over a ridge onto a level plateau, he saw a herdsman with an immense flock of sheep. Skirnir stopped and asked the shepherd, who was sitting on a mound, the way to Gymir's hall. The herdsman agreed to tell him, but he also warned him that he would never be able to speak to the Giantess. Skirnir thanked the herdsman, but told him that he had no choice but to try. " I must also warn you, my young friend, that something is afoul at Gymir's hall. Last night someone lit a defensive fire around the great hall, which will make it even more difficult to reach the gates of Gymir's abode. " the herdsman told him . " I thank you for the warning my friend ! I will do my best to be careful, while at the same time honoring my lord' s wishes. " Skirnir replied.
After being shown the way, Skirnir rode down the hill to the evergreen forest below. He then boldly rode right up to the ring of flames that encircled the great hall. After taking note of the fire's width, and height, he rode Freyr' s horse a short distance away before turning back to face the flames. Skirnir took a deep breath, and sank his heels deep into the horse's side. The steed responded immediately, and galloped at full speed towards the flames . As they reached the burning wall Skirnir could see the horse's breath rising in the cold air, and sensed that his mount had reached its top speed . Several strides from the flames Skirnir pulled back on the reins, and felt the horse as it jumped into the air. Skirnir could feel the intense heat beneath him as he crossed over the crackling ring of fire, and he had to hang on for dear life as the horse came back down hard on its front legs . The horse stumbled a bit, but it was able to keep its balance, and proudly trotted up to the gates of the hall.
Skirnir had jumped safely over the fire, but now he was confronted by two very vicious looking beasts. And they were angry ! Very angry !! Skirnir had never seen two more horrible looking beasts in his life . He had heard stories of Garm, and Fenrir, but he never believed that such horrible animals could really exist ! If he killed the beasts with his magic sword, he thought, it would be difficult for him to gain the Jotun maiden's hand for his lord. If he didn' t kill them, however, how could he gain entrance to Gymir's hall to speak with her ?
Gerdr was startled when she heard the dogs barking again ! Resolved that her death was imminent she left her brother's bed chamber, and walked slowly to the entrance of the great hall where her frightened serving maiden was already standing. " Gerdr ! There is a man outside who jumped over the great wall of flames ! He has already dismounted his horse, which is now grazing in front of our hall ! " The serving maiden told her in a panic . " I fear that the man outside my door may be my brother's killer ! " Gerdr replied. " However, if he has made it past the ring of fire then he means to come in one way or another." the Giantess sad sadly. Gerdr thought for a moment before speaking : " Invite the man in to our hall to enjoy some of my father's famous mead, and we will await our fate. " she told her with a sigh.
The trembling serving maiden went outside and opened the gates. She then calmed the dogs, and invited the man in with a wave of her hand. Gerdr had seated herself in Gymir's high seat by the time the stranger entered the great hall. The Giantess motioned to the stranger to come forward. Gerdr carefully looked the man over before asking : " Are you of the elves, the Aesir, or the Vanir my friend ? " Skirnir was mesmerized by her great beauty as he replied : " I am from none of these groups, and yet I have journeyed a great distance to see you. " Gerdr looked down at the stranger's sword : " Why does a stranger bravely jump over my great fire, and stand without fear before my guard dogs ? " she asked expecting the worst. " I have journeyed a great distance to speak to you on behalf of my lord and master, the Vanir God Freyr. I am here to bargain for your hand for my lord, and to set a date for your marriage, fair maiden ! " Skirnir said proudly.
Gerdr sat there for a moment in silent disbelief. She was relieved, but also a little annoyed ! " My brother has been killed, and I am afraid that at this time I will not entertain thoughts of marriage to anyone. How can I even consider being with Freyr for as long as I live ! " she told him forcefully . " Then my guess is that this will be a hard bargain Giantess ! " Skirnir told her. " I think it is time to begin the negotiations ! " he then told her as he pulled out a small sack from his pack.
End Chapter 6
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2014.
Next : Chapter 7 : Gifts and Curses !