The alarm clock had been ringing for almost a minute before Peter Hansen awoke from his deep sleep, and rolled over to shut it off. Peter had not slept well the night before because he was both excited, and scared to death at the same time. Peter had been alone for almost thirty years when he met Reverend Caroline Decker. He had grown so accustomed to being alone that he was actually no longer lonely. That is until he saw Caroline at his temple a year ago. Now, if he didn' t see her, or talk to her for several hours, he felt lonelier than he had ever felt in his entire life. He was hoping, however, to change all of that today at noon in Johnson's Mill Park. Peter Hansen had decided he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Caroline, and since he had just turned 54 years old, he wanted to start that new life as soon as possible.
It was a beautiful day for late August . The sun was radiant but not too overpowering, and there was hardly a cloud in the powder blue sky. As Caroline walked through the entrance to the park she saw Peter sitting on a bench adjacent to the lake. As she came closer she noticed a violinist and a cello player in the gazebo just off to the left.
" Odd ", she thought to herself, " I didn' t hear of any concerts in the park this weekend." As she looked at Peter sitting on the bench, she remembered back to last year when she sat quietly next to Peter on that same bench, and put her head on his shoulder, as he put his arm around her. The memory made her feel like a school girl in love, and gave her chills.
As Peter heard footsteps behind him, he turned, looked over his shoulder, and saw Caroline coming towards him. She was beautiful ! Caroline was wearing a light beige dress with brown designs that complimented her red hair perfectly. Peter stood up, smiled, and said pleasantly, but with a twinge of nervousnous : " My don't we look nice today ! " " Why thank you, Peter ! Do you like my new dress ? " she asked as she twirled around to show it off. " You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen Caroline Decker ! " Peter answered with a huge smile. Caroline blushed, and out of modesty changed the subject . " I was surprised that you asked me to the park for lunch, but I am so glad you did . It is such a lovely day ! " Caroline said with a warm smile.
Peter nervously asked Caroline to join him on the bench, and then motioned discreetly to the musicians to start playing. Caroline looked over at the gazebo, and said with excitement : " Oh, isn' t that wonderful ! " Peter smiled at her and replied : " I am glad you like it Caroline. " Peter then stood up, and looked deep into Caroline' s eyes. He reached out and held her hand, smiled a warm, but nervous smile, and started his much rehearsed speech. " Caroline, a year ago we sat on this same bench, and shared a wonderful moment that I will remember for the rest of my life. In the year since then I have grown to love you with all my heart, and soul. When I am with you I feel ten feet tall, and happier than I have ever been in my whole life ! And when you are away I miss you so terribly that it makes me ache inside ! " Peter then took a deep breath to calm himself down before continuing. " I think I knew from that first moment that I saw you in the temple that my heart belonged to you. " Peter then reached into his pocket, and with trembling hands, and pulled out the engagement ring. Peter then went down on one knee before asking the ultimate question . " Caroline, will you marry me, and share the rest of your life with me ? "
Caroline was pretty sure what was going to happen when Peter took her hand, but she tried hard not to show it. With every word that Peter spoke, however, she became more and more emotional. By the time Peter finished she was smiling, and crying at the same time. Caroline jumped up, put her arms around Peter and kissed him, before saying through trembling lips: " Yes Peter ! Of course Yes !! " Peter picked up Caroline, and twirled her around as he said : " Today you have made me the happiest man in all the nine worlds ! " Peter then sat Caroline back down, and placed the ring on her finger. As she watched Peter place the ring on the womans hand, the violinist could not hold back her emotions and tears began to course down her cheek. The cellist, who was her husband, gave her a surprised look, and then nodded his approval as they continued to play Vivaldi's Four Seasons.
Later as Peter and Caroline walked hand in hand back to the rectory, they saw Hakon and Patty window shopping on the other side of the street. Hakon was holding Patty's hand as they crossed the street to talk to the Reverend and the Godi . Before the round of hello's could be finished Caroline held up her hand to show off her engagement ring to Patty. Patty screamed like a little school girl when she saw the ring. " Oh my Gods ! Oh my Gods, you are getting married ! " Patty shrieked as she threw her arms around Caroline . Hakon looked at Caroline and tried to keep a straight face as he asked : " Who are you getting married to Caroline ? " Peter acted nonchalant and replied : " To the most handsome man in the world ! " Patty then joined in on the joke and added : " You are marrying Brad Pitt !? "
As Peter and Caroline were being congratulated Ulf and Raven walked over to them and asked what all the commotion was about. Caroline showed the ring to Raven and the shrieks and hugs started all over again. Peter, Ulf, and Hakon stood off to the side and watched in amusement as the ladies talked of ideas for the wedding. They spoke for almost an hour before Patty said she was sorry, and told everyone that she felt a little tired and needed to lie down. Hakon apologized as well and started to walk her back to her house. Peter remembered how Hakon had taken it upon himself to help Patty after she was released from the hospital after Richie Benton's vicious attack on her. Her physical wounds had almost completely healed, but she was not as carefree as she had once been. She was afraid to be alone, afraid to be around strangers, and she was not sleeping well because she had recurring nightmares about that horrific attack . Patty could not get Richie's crazy eyes out of her thoughts, and it scared her to death. To compensate she leaned on Hakon physically, and emotionally, for support.
Peter thought that at first Hakon helped her because he felt sorry for her. He always loved the fact that Patty was so happy and outgoing, but the attack had placed limits on her ability to show this side of herself. Hakon started out just helping her to stand, or giving her a hand to get up the steps of the temple. After a while a spark of feelings grew into love between them, and even though they did not acknowledge it at first, they were seldom apart. "They made a strange couple", Peter thought. Hakon was 6 foot 2 inches tall, and 220 pounds of pure muscle, while Patty was almost a foot shorter, frail, and 120 pounds lighter. As Hakon had once himself said to Peter : " Love knows no boundaries. " As a couple Raven and Ulf, on the other hand, were the exact opposite of Hakon and Patty. They rough- housed with each other, and seemed to go from one argument to another. And yet when they weren' t fighting you could almost feel the love they felt for each other . Unlike Patty, who was frail and petite, Raven was a big girl who didn't take crap from anyone. Everyone agreed that they suited each other very well.
As Peter walked Caroline back to the rectory the adrenaline that had been keeping him going for the last few hours began to wane. When they reached the front door Caroline turned to Peter and was going to invite him in for a cup of coffee, but when she saw his bloodshot eyes she laughed and said : " You have had a busy day haven' t you Peter ? You look exhausted ! " Peter tried to perk up but answered reluctantly : " I didn't get much sleep last night, but I' m alright. " Caroline smiled a huge smile before scolding him : " You are not alright Peter ! Now give me a kiss and go home ! " Peter laughed before kissing her, and then slowly walked away. As Peter left he heard Caroline say : " Good night honey ! " Peter smiled and thought to himself : " It is good to be engaged ! " He turned, waved, and blew her a kiss before heading home.
Peter whistled to himself as he walked up the stairs of the temple for the weekly thursday ritual, and sumbel. Hakon met him at the front door, and said with a smile : " Pretty happy with yourself these days aren' t you Peter ? " Peter grinned before saying : " Yes I am Hakon... Yes I am ! " "You look fairly content too my friend ! " Peter said with a touch of sarcasm. Hakon looked at Peter and laughed as he answered : " Yes I am Peter.... Yes I am ! " As Raven and Ulf joined them in the foyer of the temple to greet the members as they entered, Raven turned to Ulf and whispered: " What are they smiling about ? " Ulf looked at both of the happy guys and just shrugged his shoulders.
Holding the rituals was such a joy these days. There were no demonstrators trying to drown out the temple - goers words, and no threats of violence, or law suits. They could simply sit in their circle of friends, and honor their Gods, heroes, martyrs, and ancestors in peace. Everyone was so relaxed during the rituals, and much more able to express themselves before the Gods than before. Even the usually volatile Raven was much less angry and at times made light of situations that would have driven her crazy just a short time ago. Peter felt a much stronger bond developing between the members than they ever had before. They were becoming of one mind, and Peter was so proud of them.
A year ago everyone left after the rituals because they feared leaving alone, and generally left as a group. Now, however, they stayed around afterwards and socialized, sometimes for several hours before leaving. On this particular night Brian Kingman, who was one of the newer members, mentioned to Peter that a new family had moved into Johnson's Mill named Wollfmen, and Brian told Peter that their three children were all heathens. Brian added with a smile that the oldest, James, had approached him about the possibility of joining the kindred, and attending the rituals. Peter' s first question was a simple one : " Are they all of legal age Brian ? " Peter asked. Brian nodded and then replied : " Yes ! I believe James is 22, Dag is 21, and Lisa is 18. " Peter shook his head thoughtfully before saying : " Well as long as they are all of legal age they will not need their parents permission, so invite them to a meet and greet next thursday after the ritual. " " Sounds good ! " Brian replied. " They have cool nicknames too Peter ! " Brian added. " Really ! " Peter asked. Brian laughed as he said : " James is called Wolf, Dag is called Dragon, and Lisa is called Serpent. " Peter laughed as he said : " Well, Raven will definitely love that ! "
On Friday morning Peter was awakened from his sleep by someone who was ringing his doorbell. After pulling on a robe, he staggered to the front door and opened it. He was greeted by a radiant Caroline Decker who put her hands on her hips and gave him a little angry look : " Peter ! " she said loudly, " We have so much to do today How can you still be in your pajamas ?! " Groggily Peter asked : " What do we have to do Caroline ? " Caroline pushed past Peter, turned and replied : " What do we have to do ! " We have to find a hall, decide who to invite, pick out invitations, taste wedding cakes, pick out a menu for the reception, choose a florist, pick out my wedding dress,... and your tuxedo, choose a minister, decide where we are going to be married, get our blood tests, and decide where we are going on our honeymoon, and book that as well ! " And I think that we need to get started as soon as possible, don't you Peter ? " she added.
Peter just stood there for a moment in his pajamas with his mouth wide open in a state of shock. He looked at Caroline closely as if he was seeing her for the first time, and thought to himself : " Who is this woman ! And what has she done with my fiance' ! " Peter then asked in a sheepish voice : " Do I have time for a cup of coffee ? " Caroline ignored his discomfort and said : " Get dressed quickly, and I will buy you a cup in town. " As Peter was buttoning his shirt he looked in the mirror, and said quietly to himself : " Is this what marriage is like ?! "
As Peter drove Caroline to the fourth hall that morning, she was still going on and on about everything they needed to do. She kept reminding him that it was his idea to get married in just one month, and that of course meant everything had to be rushed. Peter occassionally was able to get in a, " Yes, dear ", but generally he just listened. He had begun to realize that the wedding had little or nothing to do with him, but was strictly the domain of the bride. As they pulled into the parking lot of the Luxury Inn, in Berkeley, Caroline's eyes lit up. " This place looks very nice Peter ! " she said with wide eyes. Peter took her pause as his cue to add : " Yes, very nice. " Caroline had called the Luxury Inn the day before, and found out from the superviser that there had been a cancellation for the first week of October on the 7th. It would mean moving the wedding up by a week, but that didn' t bother Caroline as long as she had a nice hall to have the reception in. It just meant she was going to have to work a little harder to get everything ready.
When the clerk opened the door to the hall Caroline fell in love with it at once. It was a large hall, which looked as though it had been recently renovated, and was lavishly decorated in what looked like a Victorian style. Peter, who was beginning to feel like Caroline' s chauffeur, and becoming a little bored in the process, actually perked up a little when he saw how nice the hall was. He glanced over at Caroline, nodded, and said : " I love it ! How about you ? " Caroline hugged Peter and replied : " Yes, this is it. This hall is perfect ! " Peter exhaled and said to himself : " Well, that is one thing checked off of our list ! " Caroline looked at Peter thoughtfully, and then added : " Oh my, that reminds me, we have to find a band for the reception ! " Peter shook his head, took a deep breath, and thought : " Well, add one more thing to our list ! "
Next on their itinerary was the jewelers to pick out their wedding bands. Once again Peter just sat back like a spectator, and watched as Caroline looked at two or three dozen wedding bands. Peter had to admit though that she had good taste because the wedding rings she picked out were very nice. Next up were the wedding invitations which also held little interest for Peter, who once again he deferred to Caroline to make the decision. Peter was starving by 2 O' clock when they reached the bakery to taste wedding cakes. Caroline had said that to really judge the flavor of the cake, filling and icing, they had to be a little hungry, and so they had skipped lunch. As the little plates were placed in front of him Peter ate every crumb, and even used his finger to get the last bit of icing off of the plates, to Caroline' s embarrassment. They finally decided on a white cake with lemon filling, and a cream icing that wasn' t very sweet.
Caroline, as they were driving away from the bakery, asked : " Peter, do you think we still have time to go to the florists today ? " Peter gave her a look that made her change her mind, and she said instead : " Well, maybe that was enough for one day. Why don' t we go and have an early dinner back in Johnson's Mill ? " Peter was starving and quickly said eagerly : " Yes ! " Caroline giggled a little, and then added to Peter's dismay : " The florist is open on sundays anyway so we can go tommorrow. " Inside Peter's mind he screamed : " No !! "
The ritual ran longer than usual on Thursday night because at the beginning of every month the kindred held a special ritual for the innocent victims of violent crimes. Peter had started this ritual in honor of Richie Benton's first victim, Diane De Carlo, and every month thereafter the kindred honored an innocent victim of violent crimes from their area, or from a national, or international tragedy. Unfortunately there always seemed to be plenty of victims to honor. The list was very long tonight because of a mass murderer who took the life of over 70 victims in Norway.
James, Dag, and Lisa sat quietly and patiently at the back of the temple, on the visitors benches, until they were finished. James and Dag were fairly calm, but Lisa could not believe that she was actually sitting in a Pagan temple watching an actual ritual ! She had performed many rituals with her brothers in the woods behind their house, but it was nothing like this. This was special ! This was real !! This was incredible !!!
As the ritual ended Peter asked the Wollfmen's to join them for a meet and greet in the circle of friends. Fran Denton, and Joanne Lindeman acted as hosts, and put out snacks and soft drinks, as the three sat down and joined them . Peter gave the floor to Brian Kingman to introduce the Wollfmen's because he was the one who knew them best. Brian stood up and said in a proud voice : " I would like to introduce to all of you three new members for your consideration. First James Wollfmen, also known as Wolf, Dag Wollfmen, or Dragon as he is called, and Lisa Wollfmen, who also goes by the name of Serpent. Lets give them all a warm welcome ! " After a rousing wave of applause, Brian sat down, and Peter introduced himself. " Welcome to the Johnson' s Mill Kindred my friends . My name is Peter Hansen and I am the Godi of the Temple of the Triad. We are all very happy that you have decided to join us here tonight, and hopefully you will want to stay and become members for years to come. " Peter said happily. Raven then moved foward, and said in her best friendly voice : " And my name is Raven, and I am the Godia here at the temple, and I too welcome you three to our humble place of worship." Raven then looked over at Peter before saying : " Before you are officially accepted as trial members we need to ask you a few questions first..... If you don' t mind ? " James, who was the oldest, and seemed to be the spokesman of the family, thanked Peter and Raven for this opportunity, and added that they did not mind answering a few questions at all. Peter then added : " If you are accepted as new members, after a one year trial period you will be made permanent members of our kindred and temple."
The question and answer period went on for well over an hour. Some members, like Peter and Raven, wanted to know about their background, and their attitude towards Christians, and other faiths. Peter made a point of telling the Wollfmens the entire story of what had happened over the last year. He wanted to make sure they understood that it had been a hard road to get to where they were now, and that it was important not to do anything to jeopardize what they had worked so hard to accomplish. Raven asked what their relationship was to the Triad of Gods that they most honored at the temple. John Svensen was particularly interested in why they had chosen a Heathen religion over one of the Five Faith religions. When they each in turn answered that it had been the old Gods who had called to them, and that the God of the Christians had never spoken to them, everyone clapped politely. The answers that the kindred members received were perfectly acceptable, and after some of the members started to ask about their hobbies and what sports teams they liked, Peter and Raven realized it was time to wrap up the meet and greet.
At the end of the meeting Peter told the Wollfmens that the kindred members would vote next week on their membership, and that he would personally notify them as to the results. Peter and Raven thanked them for coming, and wished everyone a good night before locking the temple, and leaving themselves. As Peter was walking down the steps, Raven turned to him and asked : " They seem alright don' t they ? " Peter shrugged his shoulders before replying : " Yes, they seem as though they will make nice additions to our kindred, but only time will tell my friend. " Good night Raven ! " Peter added. " Good night, Peter ! " Raven responded as they went in opposite directions.
Peter set his alarm to wake him an hour earlier that next morning, and quickly made himself a cup of coffee. Caroline had already warned him the night before that they had another busy day ahead of them. As Peter dressed he kept telling himself that it was less than a month until the wedding. He had waited 30 years to spend the rest of his life with the right woman, so he decided he could wait one more month. Then he whispered to his reflection : " Yeah, but the next 30 days will be like Hermod' s ride to Niflheim ! " Peter then looked out of his window before saying to himself : " At least Hermod got to ride Sleipnir, all I have is a Chevy ! "
Caroline was 15 minutes early, something she had never done before he proposed, and was just as excited as she had been the weekend before. She talked non - stop about the wedding all the way over to Peggy Thompson' s house. Peggy was coming along today because they were picking out the wedding dress, the maid of honors dress, and Peter's tuxedo. As they drove over to the bridal shop Peter was glad that Peggy was with them because she was acting as a buffer between himself and Caroline. Though the occassional high squealing laughter bothered his ears from time to time, at least he didn't have to sit there saying " Yes dear " and " Sounds good " , every couple of minutes.
Peter sat out in the showroom while Caroline tried on her gowns, his mind flashing back to a year ago when Detectives Steele and Moore were interrogating him over the murder of a young woman he had never even met. " How things have changed since then, " he thought to himself. " Last year I thought it possible I might spend the rest of my life in prison for a crime I did not commit, and a year later I am getting married to a wonderful and beautiful woman. " He smiled as he thought : " Life is very strange indeed ! "
Peter had already seen several of the dresses that Caroline modeled for him, so he knew the routine pretty well. First Peggy would open the curtain, and introduce the bride, and then Peter was expected to look astonished, and say how beautiful she looked in the dress. Peter took a deep breath as Peggy made the announcement, and decided he would do his best to look excited. Then Caroline walked out from behind the curtain wearing a tight fitting wedding dress. One that did not have a long train, or frilly stuff all over it. Peter stood up, and said in a clear and honest voice : " In that dress you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen ! " Peggy and Caroline were very surprised by Peter's reaction. They both had noticed that Peter was getting bored, and were shocked by his sudden interest. Caroline asked : " Do you really like it ? " Peter answered with a big smile : ' Yes ! Very much so ! " Caroline who liked the way the dress showed off her figure, turned to Peggy and said : " Yes, I think this is the one ! " Peggy looked at Peter's face, and laughed before saying : " Oh Yeah ! That's the one ! "
Picking out the tuxedo was much easier ! On the way over to the tailor shop a much more interested Peter, discussed with Caroline which tuxedo would go best with the wedding dress, and they decided a traditional black tux would be best. While Peter was paying for the tux he overheard Peggy ask Caroline about going to look at the Maid of Honor's dress later in Berkeley. Peter turned around and gave them both a blank stare, which made both women laugh. Caroline giggled as she said ; " Don't worry Peter we won't drag you there as well ! We girls will take care of that. " Peter breathed a sigh of relief, and then finished paying the tailor.
Peter and Raven welcomed the kindred members as they walked into the foyer of the temple. Everyone was in a good mood this thursday night, because after lasts weeks ritual they voted to accept James, Dag, and Lisa Wollfmen into their kindred as trial members. When Peter had called them, and told them they were voted in, they seemed very happy. Especially Lisa who was truly excited about becoming part of something that she never thought she would ever see in her lifetime. As the Wollfmens walked into the foyer Peter and Raven welcomed them very warmly, and told them that they were very glad that they had decided to join their temple.
The ritual was much the same as usual except that on this night they were honoring Arminius, the great Germanic warrrior as well. Peter passed the horn around to the first half of the circle of friends while Raven re -filled the horn from a pitcher. Then as they started the second half of the circle Raven passed around the horn while Peter filled it. This night there were many toasts to warriors, and many War Gods and heroes as well. As Raven neared the end of the ring she handed the horn to David Beery who proudly stood up and shouted : " Hail, Tyr great warrior, and God of battle . May I learn from his courage, and become a person worthy of his companionship ! " Next it was Wendy Ronson's turn. She stood up, took the horn from Raven, cleared her voice, and then recited nervously :
" Within the dark, I see his light,
It is so stark, it glows so bright.
His glory shines, shows me the way,
His goodness binds, with each glowing ray ! "
Wendy looked nervously around before saying : " All Hail Balder ! When everyone gave her a hearty : " All hail Balder ", in return, she sat down with a big smile. Raven nodded to her, as she took back the horn, in appreciation of her poem, and then handed the horn to James Wollfmen. James took the horn, stood up, held the horn high, and then said in a loud firm tone : " Hail Fenrir ! The mightiest of beasts, and the offspring of Loki and Angrboda.! " For a moment there was only stunned silence as everyone who sat in the circle stared in horror at the brash new member.
Raven, who seemed to be the first one to come out of her state of utter surprise, grabbed the horn out of James' hand, and said in an angry tone : " What the hell do you think you are doing ?! How dare you honor the evil offspring of Loki in our sacred temple !" James looked over at his brother and sister, before looking back at Raven and replying : " We honor everything from the nine worlds including, the Jotuns, Loki and his children ! " Then he added while shrugging his shoulders : " Why is that wrong ? " Raven stared him straight in the eyes before yelling back at him : " If you don't know then maybe you don' t belong here ! "
Peter seeing that this was getting out of hand came up behind Raven and said softly to her : " Pass the horn to the last two members, and lets finish the sumbel, and not dishonor the Gods. " " I will not give our sacred horn to these Jotun lovers ! " Raven shouted angrily. " Then give the horn to me, and I will finish the round. " Peter said as he held out his hand. Raven looked Peter in the eyes, and then dropped the horn on the floor. " I will not ! " she screamed as she walked away. Peter picked up the horn, re - filled it, and then handed the horn to Dag, who honored Jormungand, and then to Lisa who honored Hrungnir. The reaction from those in the circle of friends was about the same as when James honored Fenrir. There were gasps, and then stunned horror. Peter then finished the ritual by himself.
As soon as Peter had finished, Brian Kingman turned to James Wollfmen and yelled at him : " This is the way you repay me ?! I went out of my way to bring you three into our temple, and you repay me by dishonoring our temple? ! You don't belong here ! " Dag jumped up out of his seat, got right up in Brian's face and screamed : " We wouldn' t have wanted to join if we knew you were this close minded ! " Ulf then jumped in between the two and told them both to shut the hell up . Peter, seeing that the situation was quickly getting out of hand, told everyone to calm down, and then said in a sharp but even tone : " I think we should let this cool down for a few days and then have an emergency meeting on saturday so that we can discuss this rationally, and without so much yelling and screaming. Does anyone object to that ? " No one did, and they all agreed to come to the emergency meeting on saturday to air their feelings on the subject of honoring Jotuns, and Loki's offspring.
As Peter locked the temple, and started to walk down the steps, he noticed that Raven was standing in the shadows. Raven met him at the bottom of the stairs, and glared at Peter before saying in a harsh tone : " Peter ! What the hell was that ! How could you let the sumbel continue without throwing out the Wollfmen family ?! " Peter took a deep breath before replying in his usual calm voice : " Raven, the Gods come first, and our petty differences always come a distant second. Finishing the sumbel was the right thing to do, and besides yelling and screaming will not change what happened. You did not stay until the end of the ritual so let me tell you that I have called an emergency meeting for saturday evening at 7 o' clock. Then and there we will discuss how we should handle this situation and go foward . " Raven had calmed down somewhat, Peter's words always seemed to have that effect on people, but she still said angrily as she walked away ; " Fine ! But I really don't see what there is to discuss ! If the Wollfmen family wants to honor Loki, his offspring, and the rest of the Jotuns, they need to do it somewhere else, and not in our sacred temple ! " Peter said : " Good night ", as she walked away, but received no acknowledgement from Raven in return.
Peggy Thompson ran to the phone when she saw the headlines in the newspaper, and called her friend Caroline Decker in a panic. When Caroline picked up the phone she was still a little groggy, she had only finished half of her cup of coffee, and had to tell Peggy to calm down and talk slowly so she could understand what she was trying to say. Peggy took a long dep breath before repeating slowly : " Caroline, what are we going to do ?! There was a fire at the Luxury Inn, in Berkely, and the picture in the paper makes it look like it has been destroyed. " Caroline no longer needed any coffee. Her adrenaline level jumped up to maximum overdrive, and she shouted back into the phone : " Oh No ! The invitations were sent, the caterers have been paid for, and everything is set for the 7th of October ! There isn ' t time to change locations ! " Caroline thought for a moment before saying : " I am going to call Peter, and then we will come by and pick you up in about an hour and go see for ourselves what has happened ! Is that O' k with you Peggy ? " Peggy replied at once : " I' ll be ready Caroline ! " As soon as she hung up, she called Peter and gave him the awful news.
As they turned onto Main Street, where the Luxury Inn was located, they could see that it wasn' t good. When Peter parked the car, and looked over at Caroline he could see that she was crying. Peggy started to cry as well as she tried to comfort Caroline. The closer they walked to the building the more it became obvious that they would not be having their wedding reception here. The fire had burned through the roof, which had in turn collapsed into the building. Their beautiful wedding hall was now nothing more than charred wood and ashes.
Peter helped Caroline to a bench on the sidewalk, and put his arm around her. He wiped away her tears and then said in a soothing voice : " We will figure out something Caroline. " " No ! The wedding is ruined, we will have to postpone the wedding until next year. " Caroline said through trembling lips. Peggy stroked Caroline's hair and tried to sound cheerful as she said : " Oh, come on Caroline. It is not the end of the world ! " We' ll find another place. " she added as they walked back to the car. Before getting into the passenger seat Caroline glanced back at the Luxury Inn, and started to cry all over again. It was a very quiet ride back to Johnson's Mill.
Peter was not in his usual good mood as he stood in the temple's foyer greeting the members for their meeting. After they had dropped Peggy off at her house, Peter had mentioned to Caroline that he didn' t care about a big wedding. Then he made an even bigger mistake by telling her that it would be fine if they were married in his backyard by a Justice of the Peace. Peter was surprised by the angry look Caroline gave him, and even more surprised when she told him that she wanted the wedding to be something special that they could cherish the rest of their lives. Peter tried to make her feel better by assuring her that he loved her very much, and just wanted them to start their lives together. Caroline, however, simply replied that she wanted it to be memorable. Then she said something that made Peter feel very uncomfortable. She said that when she got home she would send out letters telling everyone that the wedding had been cancelled.
Peter was distracted by his personal problems, but he was still aware enough to see that as everyone sat down they seemed to be seperated into three distinct groups. As he listened to them talk he could tell that the first group seemed angrier than the rest, and overheard them saying that the Wollfmen's had to go because they had dishonored the Gods, and their temple . This first group was lead by Raven, and consisted of Ulf, Fran Denton, David Beery, Tess Jeffersen, Marty Rustovich, Wendy Ronson, and Brian Kingman. The second group seemed to be talking about allowing the honoring of Jotuns as long as they did not dishonor the Gods and Goddesses. They were lead by Patty Anders, and consisted of Hakon, Joanne Lindeman, Jeff Rosser, Lisa Kane, Timothy Martin, Brett Gerritsen, and Jon Bradbury. The final group was apparently lead by John Svensen, and they wanted the newcomers to have a seperate altar, and a different day to honor the Jotuns. This group seemed to include William ( Wild Bill ) Hightower, Ted Christiansen, and Johan Wetzel. Although it was the smallest group it was also rather vocal because of Wild Bill. the Wollfmen's sat off by themselves and seemed rather nervous especially Lisa. Peter stood there shaking his head, and feared that there was trouble ahead.
As Peter called the meeting to order he was surprised that Raven did not stand and join him, but instead decided to stay and sit with her group. Peter cleared his voice and layed out the topic of the meeting. " We are here tonight to discuss the issue of honoring Jotuns, Loki, and his offspring, during our rituals, blots and sumbels. " Then Peter looked around and asked : " Who will open the discussion tonight " Peter was not surprised at all when Raven was the first to stand, but he was concerned that she had written down what she was going to say. Normally Raven just said what was on her mind, sometimes to everyone's dismay.
Raven turned around slowly and looked at the other members who were seated in the circle of friends. " On thursday night, during our sumbel, right here in our sacred temple, we were forced to listen to a disgraceful display of disrespectful utterances from our newest members. These newcomers, James, Dag and Lisa Wollfmen dishonored our Gods and Goddesses, our ancestors, our temple, and its members. We who have signed this petition are calling for the expulsion of the Wollfmen's from our kindred." she said fairly calmly. Then Raven looked at the Wollfmens and shouted ; " Nothing short of this will satisfy us ! " Raven handed the petition to Peter and then sat back down.
Peter smiled as he called the next speaker to stand and give their views, because he knew that altough Raven strongly believed what she had just said, she had not written the speech or the petition. Patty Anders stood next and faced the members. " I have not come here tonight to demand anything, but to discuss in a rational tone the events of thursday night. " Patty said as she glanced over at Raven who glared back at her. " Yes I was as surprised as anyone when I heard Loki's children being honored, as well as the Jotuns here in our temple. I feel that the way that we handle this will say a lot about this temple, and its members. Speaking on behalf of some in our kindred I think that we shaould allow these toasts of honor as long as they do not dishonor our Gods." Thank You for your time. " Patty smiled broadly as she politely finished.
Peter was surprised when John Svensen rose and took the floor instead of Wild Bill. John spoke in a strong voice as he stated : " My colleagues and I believe that these new members should be allowed to stay and honor the Gods, Jotuns, or whoever they want for that matter, but not on the same night as we honor our sacred Gods and Goddesses. We feel that a seperate altar should be made for them to use outside of the circle of friends as well. When we re - built this temple it was to honor the Gods and Goddesses, our ancestors, martyrs and heroes, we never thought that this issue would come up. It has, however, and we feel that a policy of seperate but equal is the best way to go foward. "
Many of the other members spoke as well but their views only seemed to mirror the views of one of the three groups. Some were respectful, some were nervous, and a few were a little rude and loud as they demanded this or that, but by the end of their speech they fell within one of the three main groups views. After about an hour and a half no one else wanted to speak so Peter decided it was time to call for a vote. He called for a show of hands and much as he expected 8 members voted for expulsion, 8 members voted to allow the honoring of Loki and his children, and 4 voted for a seperate altar, but a different night for those who wanted to honor the Jotuns. Peter then said : " It appears that we have a tie my friends. " Ulf stood up and said with a touch of sarcasm : " You can' t get off that easily Peter. What is your vote ! " Peter looked around the room, and realized all eyes were on him. He took a deep breath before saying : " I vote to let them stay and honor the Jotuns, Loki and his children as long as they do not dishonor our Gods. "
Raven went ballistic when she heard that Peter voted to allow the Wollfmen to stay and honor the Jotuns. Raven walked up to Peter and went nose to nose with him, and started screaming at him. " How could you do this to me ! she shouted. " How could you allow these Jotun lovers to dishonor our temple, and our Gods ! I will not be a part of this blasphemy ! I am leaving ! " she screamed as she walked away. Patty Anders tried to talk to her as she left the circle of friends, but Raven just kept going. Ulf, who was right behind her did not see little Patty, and hit her with one of his elbows knocking her down. Even before Ulf could reach down, and help Patty up, Hakon grabbed a hold of Ulf and pushed him away from Patty. Ulf then pushed Hakon, which didn't do much because trying to move Hakon was like trying to move a tree. Hakon then grabbed Ulf and threw him up against the statue of Odin, knocking both Ulf and the statue to the ground. As the statue fell the edge of Odin's arm broke off which made everyone gasp in horror. Ulf got up swinging, and Hakon stood toe to toe with him exchanging blow after blow. Others began to push and shove which lead to more fist fights, and before it could be stopped it turned into somewhat of a saloon fight like the ones you see in those old westerns.
Peter looked around in disbelief at the spectacle his kindred members were making of themselves. And then Peter did something that was very uncharacteristic for him, he screamed at the top of his lungs ; " What the hell do you all think you are doing !! This is a temple ! A sacred sanctuary for those who honor the old Gods ! Get out ! Get out of here all of you right now !! " Everyone froze and stood there stunned ! They had never heard Peter raise his voice, let alone scream so angrily. Then Peter turned to everyone and said somewhat softer : " This has gotten out of hand tonight ! I think we should all just leave until we calm down enough to talk about this rationally, and without violence ! "
As Peter locked the temple he realized that what had just happened might divide his temple, and that there was a chance that the Jotun issue may do what the Christians could not do, which was to destroy his kindred, and close down the temple. He thought about going to see Caroline, but decided he was better off alone to think things out. Peter walked to the park, and sat by the lake wondering to himself what had gone so very wrong !
Peter woke feeling horrible ! Last week he thought the temple had hit its lowest point when Hakon and Ulf started a brawl in the circle of friends, but last night Raven and the seven members of her group did not show up for the Thursday ritual. As Peter dragged himself into the kitchen he wondered how he would solve this crisis that was tearing his temple apart. He also wondered if he would ever marry Caroline. Since the fire at the Luxury Inn Caroline had been depressed, and did not really want to talk about the wedding. In one horrible moment of unhappiness she even said that maybe it just wasn' t meant to be. Peter shook his head in disgust as he poured himself a cup of coffee. He just couldn' t understand why a big wedding was so important to Caroline.
Peter had just sat down when the front door bell rang. Peter took a deep breath and tied his robe as he walked slowly to the door. All Peter could think of was : " What now ! " As he opened the door he was stunned to see Elizabeth Van Allen standing there with a very cross look on her face. " Mrs. Van....... Elizabeth, what are you doing here..... and so early in the morning ? " Peter said groggily. " I came down here to find out why I received a cancellation notice for your wedding Peter ! " Elizabeth said sternly. Peter looked at Elizabeth with a puzzled look before replying : " Please come in and I will explain the whole sad situation. " Peter then added : " Would you like a cup of coffee Elizabeth ? " " That would be very nice Peter. I had a very long flight this morning. " Elizabeth said still with that same stern look on her face.
As Peter was pouring Elizabeth a cup of coffee he looked at her and wondered to himself : " Did she really fly all the way here, from Gods knows where, just to ask him about his wedding ? " Peter then sat down and told Elizabeth Van Allen the whole story from his proposal, to the fire. He explained how Caroline had wanted the wedding to be perfect, and how they had been arguing continuously over almost every little detail since the fire. He mentioned to her that he wanted it to be a dual ceremony with a Christian minister and a Godi, but Caroline thought it impractical . He told Elizabeth that they had looked for another place to hold the reception, but with only a few weeks left until the wedding date they could not find anyplace suitable and had to postpone the wedding. Peter ended by saying : " I don' t care if we get married in the town park by a Justice of the Peace ! I just want to start a new life with Caroline ! "
Elizabeth Van Allen looked at Peter, and chuckled as she put down her coffee cup. The stern look on her face was replaced with a motherly smile as she said : " Peter, the wedding experience is the most important event in a woman's life. Only having a child is as important. Some women dream about their perfect wedding from the time that they are a little girl, so I can sympathize with Caroline. The fire must have crushed those dreams ! Peter you need to comfort her, and make her feel better, not argue with her ! " Elizabeth suddenly pounded her fist on the table and said with an excited tone : " A Park Wedding ! That would be grand ! " Peter frowned at Elizabeth's excitement before saying : " I mentioned it to Caroline, but we agreed it would be way to expensive. " Elizabeth took a final sip of her coffee, and then smiled, a sly smile back at Peter, " Oh, no, Elizabeth you don' t owe me or Caroline anything! You have done way too much for us already ! " Peter said quickly. " The seventh of next month . " Elizabeth muttered under her breath. Then she stood up. and asked almost as an order : " Can you meet me in the park tommorrow at noon, and bring your friends, and Caroline's friends ? " Peter only managed : " Elizabeth ! ", before she walked out the front door with her cell phone glued to her ear. The last thing Peter heard was Elizabeth telling her lawyer Mortimer L. Johnston to come to Johnson' s Mill immediately.
Peter had just finished calling Hakon, Peggy Thompson, and Patty Anders to invite them to the park when Raven walked into the reality office. Peter could tell by the look on her face that she was still very angry. Peter tried to be up beat as he greeted Raven. " Hello, Raven, how have you been ? We missed you at the ritual last night " Peter said with a weak smile. " I am fine Peter ." Raven said curtly as she handed him a paper. " I am here to deliver this petition to you. Myself and some of the other members wish to use the temple on Wednesday nights as our ritual day, and break away from the rest of the kindred. " Peter looked Raven in the eyes, folded the paper, and handed it back to her before replying : " I will never agree to that Raven. " As Raven stepped back from his desk, Peter noticed that she was wearing her favorite necklace, with a bow and arrow charm on it. It was then that Peter came up with an idea to solve the crisis at the temple. " For old times sake will you do me just one favor Raven ? " Peter said in a pleading voice. " If I can, I will Peter ." Raven said slowly. " Let' s have one more meeting on saturday at seven O' clock to see if we can iron out our differences. Will you do that for me Raven ? " Peter asked hopefully. Raven, who didn't hate Peter just the situation, said reluctantly : " O' k Peter, but I don't see what that will change ! " Raven then turned abruptly and left his office.
Peter, Hakon, and Patty arrived at the park at ten minutes after twelve, and as they walked through the entrance they noticed that Elizabeth Van Allen was talking to several people next to the gazebo, They also noticed a florist truck, and a catering vehicle in the parking lot as they walked by. When Elizabeth spotted them out of the corner of her eye, she motioned for them to come over. Elizabeth Van Allen said hello first, and then introduced the people she was talking to. " Everybody, this is Donna Lane, a wonderful caterer, who provides world class food. " Then Elizabeth turned to the gentleman on her other side, and said enthusiastically : " And this is Walter Jones, who is better known as ' the florist of the stars'. " She then added with a tone of excitement : " Both Donna and Walter have worked on some of the biggest weddings in Hollywood ! " After they were introduced, Peter, Hakon, Peggy and Patty just stood there amazed as they listened to the incredible plans that Elizabeth, Donna, and Walter were discussing. Peter felt like an outsider listening in on someone elses wedding plans as Elizabeth went back and forth from Donna to Walter with idea after idea. Peter quickly came to the realization that this was no longer his wedding, or even Caroline's for that matter, but was now totally in the hands of Elizabeth Van Allen, and her cohorts. Hakon and Patty didn't say much, but Peter and Peggy did manage to get in a few words here and there.
Just as they were finishing up their plans Mortimer L. Johnston walked up behind them, and after saying hello to everyone addressed only Elizabeth. " I have been to their borough hall this morning, Mrs. Van Allen, and everything has been taken care of. The park is ours for next month on the 7th. All permits are secured, and I assure you maam that all the I's are dotted, and the T' s have been crossed. " Elizabeth smiled at her old friend, and replied in a somewhat giddy voice : " That is wonderful Mortimer ! Thank You so very much ! " My pleasure Elizabeth ! " Mortimer said with a friendly grin.
Then Mrs. Van Allen looked at the two women and asked : " Which of you is Caroline's best friend ? " Peggy smiled and raised her hand as if she were in class. " I am Maam. " Peggy said cautiously. Elizabeth suddenly grinned like the Grinch who stole Christmas before saying : " My dear, can you keep a secret ? " " Yes, why ? Peggy replied. " Because my dear, we are going to keep this a secret from Caroline until the morning of the wedding ! " Elizabeth said giggling. Everyone just stood there for a minute looking at each other, including the caterer and the florist, with a bewildered look on their faces. Peter thought to himself : " How do I not tell Caroline ?! " Elizabeth then continued : " Peggy I need you to call the dress shop, and hold her dress. I also need you to make appointments for her at the hairdressers, manicurist, etc...., but you must keep this a secret from Caroline ! " Then she turned to Peter and said : " I need you Peter to keep her away from the park on the 6th. " " Can you do that for me Peter ? " she asked. Peter nodded before replying : " I' ll find a way ! " " Great then ! This is going to be just wonderful ! " Elizabeth shouted like a little school girl.
The meeting started at exactly seven o' clock, and Raven as promised attended and brought her entire group back with her. Peter started off the meeting by thanking everyone for coming, and asking everyone to please be civil towards each other. Then Peter looked at everyone slowly one by one as he said : " I would like you all to hold your comments until I am finished speaking. l wish to make my points without being interrupted ! Agreed ? " Everyone muttered " agreed " or just nodded in agreement, but they all sensed that Peter was up to something .
Peter took a deep breath, and then asked Raven to stand up. Raven looked at Peter and said curtly : " I am no longer the Godia of this temple, and I will not stand beside you as one now ! " Peter smiled, and in a coaxing voice asked : " Please Raven, do this for me . " Raven reluctantly stood up, but instead of standing next to Peter she stood in front of her seat. Peter walked around Raven like a prosecutor around a defendant before asking : " Raven, why do you where a necklace with a bow and arrow charm ? " Raven looked puzzled as she replied : " To honor the great huntress Goddess Skadhi of course ! " Peter stopped and looked at Raven with a perplexed expression before asking more forcefully : " Then why do you sit with these people who will not honor Jotuns ! " Raven snapped back : " What the hell are you driving at Peter ?! " Peter shrugged his shoulders and calmly answered : " Well, we all know that Skadhi's father was Thjazi, a Jotun ! The only reason she was allowed to become accepted by the Aesir and become a Goddess was because the Gods killed her father, and to compensate her for her loss she was allowed to marry a God of her choosing. She made a mistake and chose Njord instead of Balder, but non-the-less was accepted into the Aesir as a Goddess even though she is a Jotun ! " Peter paused before saying again : " So I ask you again Raven, why do you honor a Jotun ! " Raven, who seldom was held speechless replied meekly in a confused voice: " Because she was the first Goddess who spoke to me . " Peter shook his head in disgust before saying rudely : " Thank You, Raven. You may sit ! " Raven looked around and realized everyone was staring at her as she sat back down. She had never known Peter to act this way, and it scared her a little.
Peter then called out " Fran Denton ! Please stand up ! " Peter walked over to Fran, and looked her up and down before asking ; " Fran you were called by Freyr' s wife Gerd, were you not ? " "Yes ! " Fran said with her head lowered . Peter then shouted : " Why do you honor a Jotun in a temple of the old Gods ? " Fran looked up at Peter and answered : " For the same reason that Raven honors Skadhi . Gerd married Freyr and is now accepted by the Aesir as a Goddess. " Loki is a blood brother of Odin but you refuse to honor Loki, and yet you will honor the daughter of a giant?! Very interesting Fran. I guess you just pick and choose which Jotuns you wish to honor and then justify it with the stories from the Eddas ! " Peter said getting up into her face.
Without even dismissing Fran, Peter yelled : " Tess Jeffersen ! You are one of the few who have been called by the older Gods. Why do you honor Bestla !? " Fran knew where this was going but answered anyway : " Because she is the mother of Odin, and grandmother of Thor. " she said as confidently as she could. " Oh, I see, so we have another member who honors Jotuns ! " Well, why don' t we just change the name of our temple to the Temple of the Jotuns ! " Peter said with a sarcastic edge in his voice.
Peter could sense that he was on a roll . " David Beery ! Where are you my friend ! " " Here ! " David said as he stood up . " Who are we told in the Eddas is the mother of Tyr who you so proudly honor ? " Peter shouted like an evangelical minister. David looked around before saying: " Well, ah.... there is a line in the Eddas that says she has nine hundred heads. " " Nine hundred heads ?! " Peter shouted. " Is his mother a Jotun, or a monster ? And isn' t his father the Jotun Hymir, David ? " " Well, ah.... yeah, I guess he is Peter. " David said hesitantly. " Thank You, David ! " Peter said as he turned his back on David.
Peter then turned around and pointed dramatically at Marty Rustovich, and asked Loudly : " Marty, how did the Gods create the world we now inhabit ,and call Midgard ? " Marty was quite startled by Peter's question, and answered slowly : " From the bones, flesh, blood and other remains of the Giant Ymir, Godi . " " Then why do you honor a world made from those dirty Jotuns, Marty ? You hate them, so why would you honor anything made from their very essences ?! " You do honor our great world don' t you Marty !? " Peter asked angrily. " Yes, Godi ! " Marty answered like a soldier.
Peter then stepped back and looked around slowly from one end of the circle of friends to the other before carefully saying : " People......, friends, this is a difficult issue with many different opinions and intracacies, but it is one that we can discuss rationally and compromise over. We do not need to split apart over this divisive issue, but we do need to find a solution that is acceptable to everyone in the kindred. In one way or another we ALL honor Jotuns my friends. " Peter walked over to Raven and said softly, but loud enough for all to hear : " I love Skadhi as much as you do. I hear her voice as clearly as any in Asgard, and will never stop honoring her. The fact that she is, and will always be of Jotun blood, and stock, makes no difference to me ! "
Johan Wetzel stood up and asked ; " Why don't we just have them " Johan pointed at the Wollfmen trio, " honor their Jotuns on a different night as John Svensen brought up at the last meeting ? " John Svensen, William Hightower, and Theodore Christiansen, all chimed in their approval of such a measure, before sitting back an waiting for Peter's response.
Peter thought for a moment before answering : " Because seperation, and isolation, over time creates anxiety, anger, resentment, and eventually hostility. The Christians fought over their differences during the Thirty - Years war, and we see this hatred and violence today between the different sects of Muslims in the Middle East. No ! It is better to tackle the issue now than to deal with it later when feelings of hatred have developed, and run deep throughout the Asatru community." Peter looked at Raven before finishing : " We can not make the same mistakes as those other religions ! We are better than that ! I know we are ! " Peter said with an emotional quiver in his voice.
To everyone's surprise Raven stood up, and walked over to Peter, lowered her head and said quietly ; " Then we compromise. " Peter smiled at Raven, kissed her on the forehead, which shocked Raven, and then said : " I propose the following guidlines to be adhered to during our rituals, blots and sumbels :
1. When honoring the Gods, no Jotun is to be dishonored.
2. When honoring the Jotuns, no God or Goddess is to be dishonored.
3. Jormungand and Fenrir may not be honored here, but if you want I will set up a seperate altar and night for you to honor them.
4. Loki and his daughter Hel may be honored, but without references to Ragnarok, or any evil acts that are written about them in the Eddas.
Peter looked around the room before finishing : " This is the way I would like us to handle this situation, but I am open to other points of view. Everyone in the room either shook their head in agreement, or agreed verbally. Peter asked if anyone had an opposing view. James Wollfmen stood up and said bitterly : " I will not remain if I cannot honor Fenrir ! " Lisa jumped up and grabbed her brothers arm immediately, and said in an angry but pleading voice : " Everyone is compromising to be a part of something greater ! They aren 't telling us we can' t honor Fenrir and Jormungand ! Just not on the same night ! " James looked at his little sister as if he was seeing her for the first time before asking : " Are you going along with this ? " Lisa quickly replied : " Yes ! These are good people who are willing to change their sacred rituals just to include us into their temple. We need to give a little too, James ! " James was shocked that his little sister had stood up to him. Looking for support he asked Dag : " What do you say my brother ? " Dag looked up thoughtfully and said haltingly : " They could have just thrown us out. I think most places would have . I am staying for the sake of unity. Besides I like these people ! " Realizing he had no allies James quietly sat down. Peter called out to James : " What say you James Wollfmen..... In or out ! " James looked over at his brother and sister before answering : " In ! " Lisa yelled out a loud " Yes " before hugging her older brother.
Peter then looked over at Raven before calling for a vote : " With a show of hands, how many of you vote for adopting my guidlines. " Peter expected that a few of the members might vote it down, but one by one they slowly raised their hands until everyone's hands were raised but one. Lisa stood up and shouted at her brother : " Raise it or leave, James ! " James who was trying to be a little defiant was shocked at his sisters boldness and quickly raised his hand, while Dag quietly laughed at James' discomfort. Peter then took off his Thor's Hammer and asked that everyone step foward and take an oath to the Gods upon it to honor their committment to obey the new guidlines. After each member finished Raven thanked them for their cooperation. Peter then oathed Raven, and Raven oathed Peter to end the pledge rite. Peter smiled and said with relief : " I believe ladies and gentlemen that this meeting is adjourned, and I hope to see you all here next thursday. May the Gods be with you all ! " As they were leaving Peter turned to Raven and asked : " Are you sure you are all right with this? " " Yeah ! It will take a little getting used to but I' m good Peter . Thanks ! " Peter said: " Goodnight " , as Raven was walking away, and to his delight Raven turned, smiled and replied : " Good night, Peter ! "
Peter had been nervous all week wondering how the ritual would turn out. Everything had gone smoothly as they honored their ancestors, and heroes, but when it came time to start the sumbel you could have almost cut the tension with a knife. Peter started off, and honored Thor. He then handed the horn to Raven who boldly raised the mead horn over her head and shouted : " To Skadhi great Jotun / Goddess of the hunt ! " This seemed to ease the tension, and everyone relaxed, that is until they got down to the last three members. Lisa took it first and honored Tyr for his bravery. Dag surprised everyone by honoring Gullveig, and her wonderful seidr. Then Raven handed the horn to James, and you could have heard a pin drop. James raised the horn high and shouted : " To Loki "....... the pause seemed to go on forever before he smiled and finished : " Oathed blood brother of Odin, and traveling companion of Thor ! " You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief that went through the temple as James finished.
As Peter and Raven were saying goodbye to the members, James walked over and said with a huge smile : " Yeah, it 's not so bad here ! " Peter put out his hand, and James took it as Peter replied : " Thank You, Wolf ! We are very glad you decided to join us." James was deeply honored that Peter had remembered his nickname. From that moment on James, Dag, and Lisa were called by their Asatru names, Wolf, Dragon, and Serpent. After everyone had left, Raven and Peter talked for a few minutes before locking up. Peter wasn't sure how to ask so he just came right out and said it : " I would like you to be in our wedding party Raven as one of Caroline's bridesmaids. The wedding is in just a few days so you will have to get together with Peggy Thompson to get fitted for your dress." Raven laughed as she answered : " For most people the answer would be no. I hate getting all dressed up ! But for you Peter, what the hell, I' ll go see Peggy tommorrow. " That' s great because I already asked Patty, Hakon, and Ulf to be up there with us. " It will be nice for me to have all my friends with me on such a special day. " Raven laughed as she said : " You are such a sentimental son of a bitch Peter ! " Then she added more seriously : " But you are a good man Peter Hansen ! "
After he left the temple Peter went over to see Caroline at the rectory, and was dismayed to see how depressed she was. No matter how many times he changed the subject, she always brought it back to the wedding which would have been in just nine days. She had gotten past the crying stage, but her intense sadness worried Peter. He was also worried that in her present state of mind she wouldn' t want to go away for a few days. And he had to get her out of Johnson' s Mill for a few days so they could get the park ready for the wedding. Peter took an oath before the Gods that night that he would never again keep anything from Caroline, then when he thought the moment was right he mentioned that Patty and Hakon were going to New Hampshire to do a little hiking, and they had invited them to join them. At first she did not seem to want to go, but after a little coaxing he was able to get her to agree. " Maybe it would be better to get a way for a little while." Caroline told Peter. We will be back before sunday morning right ? " Caroline asked. " Of course we will ! " Peter said in a reassuring voice. " We will be back on friday night, I promise ! " Peter added. " Oh, but what about your thursday evening ritual Peter ? " Caroline asked. " Raven is a very capable Godia, she won' t have any problem holding the ritual. " Peter said with a smile.
The mini vacation was the perfect medicine for Caroline. They stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast, paid for by Elizabeth Van Allen of course, that sat at the foot of the White Mountains, and spent time hiking, riding horses, and doing one of Caroline' s favorite hobbies, shopping for antiques. Caroline and Patty bonded on the trip and their laughter made Peter feel better about keeping the wedding secret from Caroline. Though he was worried that Patty, who talked incessantly, might spill the beans, she kept the secret, and made Caroline very happy.
On the way back into Johnson' s Mill, Hakon deliberately took a back road to the rectory which bypassed the road that the park was on. As Peter kissed her good night he was glad that Caroline was happy once again. As he turned to leave he smiled from ear to ear realizing that she would be even happier tommorrow. Before going home Peter, Hakon, and Patty stopped at Ulf ' s to talk to Raven, and see how everything was going with the wedding preparations. Ulf told them that the weather was going to be perfect tommorrow. The weatherman promised low 70' s under clear blue skies. Raven sarcastically replied : " And you believe a weatherman ! " Raven then told Peter that the ritual went off without a hitch, and that while he was fooling around in New Hampshire she had gotten the Odin statue repaired. Peter smiled at her and replied : " Thank You, Raven ! For everything ! " " Don't thank me Peter ! You are the glue that holds the temple together ! " Raven quickly told him. They talked for almost an hour about the wedding, and the transformation of the park, before Peter looked a this watch and said finally : " Well, it is getting late, and I have a big day ahead of me tommorrow. " Hakon offered to drive him home, but Peter politely declined saying that he wanted to walk home to collect his thoughts.
As Peter walked by the police station detective Catherine " Cat " Steele came down the steps, and met Peter on the sidewalk. " Hello Godi Hansen ! How are you this evening ?" she said with a silly smile. Peter looked at her, and smiled back before saying : " A little nervous, but I am o' k . " Cat then lowered her head and said apologetically : " I still can' t believe that you don' t hold a grudge against me, or the town in general. " " You were just doing your job, and trying to get justice for a murdered woman, Catherine. I don' t blame you for anything detective. " Peter answered. " Still, I thank you for understanding . " Catherine shot back. As Peter was turning to leave he added : " You are coming tommorrow aren' t you Catherine ? " " Yes of course Peter ! The whole town is coming. " Catherine replied. Peter just stood there for a minute stunned. " Didn' t you know Peter ? Mrs. Van Allen invited the whole town ! " Catherine said with a laugh. There could be as many as a thousand people there tommorrow. " Catherine added. Peter didn' t say a word just nodded and walked home. He kept saying to himself over and over again: " A thousand people ! So much for a small intimate wedding. "
Caroline glanced over at her alarm clock, saw that it was seven o ' clock, and decided that she wanted to sleep a little longer. Today she felt she had a right to be lazy because today, October the 7th, was supposed to be her wedding day. She felt that she had no energyto get out of bed, and she was still tired from the ride back from New Hampshire, so she rolled over, and curled up in the fetal position to go back to sleep. Then the door bell rang ! Caroline decided she was too warm and cozy to get out of bed, so she took a deep breath, and closed her eyes again. Then it rang again..... and again !
Peggy Thompson had been up since five A. M., and was running on adrenaline...., and three cups of coffee ! After ringing the bell a third, and then a fourth time, she said to herself : " Come on Caroline ! It is time to get up, and start your new life ! " Peggy tried not to smile too hard as she heard footsteps coming towards the door, but she just couldn' t help it ! She was bursting with energy and excitement, and wanted so much to get this day started that finally she decided to keep her finger on the bell and let it ring continuously.
When Caroline heard the bell ringing like a siren in her head, she tied her robe and said to herself : " Well that is just annoying ! " Caroline opened the door just a little and peered out into the early morning light. She flung the door wide open when she caught sight of who was causing such a cacophony of noise at such an early hour.
" Peggy ! What in the world are you doing here this early in the morning ? " Caroline said with a twinge of anger. Peggy who had a smile on her face like the Joker in the Batman movies tried to sound casual as she said : " There is something that I just have to show you this morning Caroline. C' mon get dressed ! " Caroline wanted to just shut the door in Peggy's face, but knew that her position in the church, and the fact that Peggy was her best friend, would not allow her to be rude and do this. Instead she looked pleadingly at Peggy, and said as politely as possible for seven in the morning : " Not this morning Peggy, please ! " Peggy just stared at her with that crazy smile and said mysteriously : " What if I told you that you are about to see something you have never seen before, ..... and probably never will again ! " It' s really that incredible ? " Caroline asked as she yawned. " Yes ! I promise you that if you miss this you will be very sorry ! " " Caroline sighed as she said : " O' k, but you owe me a cup of coffee ! "
Caroline got dressed and came out as quickly as she could. " Where are we going Peggy ? " Caroline asked. " Just into town : " Peggy answered. " Oh good, then you can buy me a cup at the coffee shop there. " Caroline added as they left. As Caroline watched Peggy pay the man at the counter she noticed that she was still grinning like a school kid who did something wrong. " This must be really good for Peggy to be acting this silly ! " Caroline thought to herself as she took a sip of her coffee.
As they got closer to the entrance to the park Caroline noticed that something was going on inside . When she looked into the park entrance she saw arches, and flowers and tents everywhere . " Oh my ! Everything looks so beautiful ! " Caroline said as she took in everything. " Are they having a Fall flower festival Peggy ? " Caroline innocently asked. Peggy smiled from ear to ear as she replied : " No Caroline, a wedding ! The most beautiful wedding I have ever seen ! " Caroline looked at Peggy with angry eyes as she scolded Peggy : " Well that's not fair ! Why would you bring me to see this ?! And who is getting married ?! " Peggy bit her top lip to stop from laughing as she answered : " A beautiful woman named Caroline Decker ! " Caroline stood there in stunned silence and said nothing. Finally Peggy said : " That rich woman Mrs. Van Allen did this all for you and Peter, and she paid for everything ! All you have to do my friend, is say I do, and live happily ever after ! " It was then that Caroline' s brain caught up to the reality of the moment. " I can' t get married today ! I have no dress ! I have no shoes ! I don't have anything ! " she whispered as if someone was listening. Peggy looked at Caroline with confidence before saying : " I had the dress held for you, and altered of course....., and I bought those shoes that you said you couldn' t afford to go along with it. " And then the questions came fast and furious from Caroline : " I need to get my hair done ! I need to get my nails done ! I have no bouquet ! " Caroline fired off. Peggy thought for a second and then replied : " Appointment at 8 o' clock, appointment at 11 o ' clock, and all the flowers have been taken care of including the brides bouquet. Oh, and I squeezed in a facial as well this morning ! " Peggy added still smiling confidently. " We have no minister !" Caroline shouted. Peggy sighed and said : " The Baptist minister Lucious Wyndham is going to preside. " Caroline :" Caterer ! " Peggy : "Done ! " "What about the invitations ?!" " Everyone is coming Caroline", Peggy said, and then muttered under her breath, " And I mean everybody ! " Then in a panic Caroline yelled : " What time am I getting married !? Peggy replied calmly 4 o' clock . " " Well that is not enough time ! " Caroline shot back. " It is if we leave right now ! " Peggy answered as she grabbed Caroline' s hand, and started to pull her to her 8 o' clock appointment.
Peter arrived at the park with Hakon and Ulf at about seven forty - five, and watched as Peggy and Caroline were running out of the park. Hakon looked over at Peter and said with a chuckle : " This is going to be one wild day my friend ! " Peter shook his head and replied : " I can' t argue with you on that one Hakon ! " The three of them just stood at the entrance of the park and were amazed at how beautiful everything looked. There were wonderful white arches every ten feet all the way up to the gazebo. The arches were covered in colorful flowers and green vines, as was the gazebo itself. There were several large medieval looking tents set up at the edge of the park, with tables and chairs set up inside. By the lake a stage had been set up, and lights had been strung amongst the trees to indicate the dancing area. Then Ulf looked over at Peter and asked : " Are those gondolas in the lake, like they have in Venice ? " Peter just shook his head and said : " You know, I think they are . "
Caroline' s morning was a complete blur ! She was no longer in control of her life. Peggy, Patty, and now Raven were escorting her from place to place making sure that everything was just right, and that Caroline looked perfect for her special day. Caroline was pleasantly surprised when she heard that Patty and Raven were going to be her brides maids. Peggy was the only real friend she knew since coming to Johnson's Mill, and she had moved so many times in the past she did not have time to really make any close friends. She was even happier when she heard that Ulf would be an usher, and that Hakon would stand next to Peter as the best man. She smiled as she thought to herself that Hakon would always be by Peter's side, just as Peggy would always be by hers.
At two forty - five a stretched limousine pulled up to the bridal shop, and a driver walked into the store. Caroline was expecting to hear that Mrs. Van Allen was here, but the driver said he was here to drive her to the park. After a few more minutes of getting everything just right she stepped out into the bright sunshine with her maid of honor and bridesmaids, and was helped into the car by the driver. As they drove away Caroline said to herself, but out loud : " It is a shame we didn' t have time to plan a honeymoon. " Everyone laughed as Peggy explained : " You are going to Aruba for 2 weeks. I mentioned it in passing to Mrs. Van Allen that you always wanted to go there, so as she always does she made it happen ! " Why would Mrs. Van Allen do all this for Peter and I ? " Caroline asked. Patty answered first : " Because to her Peter is her son now, and she wants to do everything for him that she can' t do for Richard, the son she lost. " Patty and Raven were quiet the rest of the way to the park as they remembered Richard Van Allen, who they had known so well. Caroline just sat there terrified as the reality of what was happening finally caught up to her.
As the towns people started to arrive Peter began to get more and more nervous. This wasn' t just a few friends and family, this was the whole damn town ! Lucious Wyndham, the Baptist minister, came over to the tent where Peter was preparing himself to say hello, and see how he was doing. Reverend Wyndham was a jolly older man whose belly, and red face made him look a little like Santa Claus without the beard. His voice was hard to mistake for anyone elses. He had a way of bellowing when he spoke that made you smile. The reverend saw that Peter was a little nervous, and assured him that this was a normal response to a high stress situation like a wedding. He told Peter that he had just come from Caroline's tent, and she was just as nervous. He added with a wink that she was very happy as well.
As Peter was saying goodbye to the minister he heard what sounded like someone speaking with an icelandic accent ask if Peter Hansen was here. Hakon, who was standing by the flap of the tent, directed the gentleman over to Peter,and introduced him. " Peter, this is Iceland' s Allsherjargothi Svein Johannesson. He has come from Iceland to perform the Asatru part of the dual ceremony. " Oh, did I forget to tell you he was coming ! " Hakon said with a huge smile. Peter just stood there in shock, and said rather unimpressively : " Huh ! " The Allsherjargothi held out his hand, and Peter shook it which brought Peter partially back to reality. " Nice to meet you Allsherjargothi Johannesson . My name is Peter Hansen. " Peter said, his voice tinged with awe. Peter, after a moment, regained his composure and said : " Thank you for coming all the way from Iceland ! That is an extraordinarily wonderful gesture my friend ! " " Normally I would not perform an Asatru marriage ceremony that is not legally binding, but your friend Elizabeth Van Allen is very persuasive ! " The Allsherjargothi replied. Peter smiled, and said : " Yes, she is ! "
Peter spoke to the Allsherjargothi for about 30 minutes before Svein had to excuse himself to get ready for the ceremony. As he was leaving Elizabeth Van Allen walked in and greeted Peter warmly. " Are you a little nervous Peter ? " Elizabeth asked. " I think I am a little closer to scared to death. " Peter replied. Elizabeth looked around before saying : " I wish Richard could have seen you get married Peter. He spoke so highly of you . " " I wish he were here too Elizabeth. He was a good man ! " It is a shame that my parents, and Caroline' s parents, did not live to see this day either. My mother in particular wanted me to get re - married and be happy ." Peter replied . Elizabeth held back tears as she said : " Some things just are not meant to be Peter . But today is not about the past Peter. Today is about the future, and according to my watch it is time for you to get married ! " Peter took a step foward and kissed Elizabeth on the cheek before saying : " Thank you for everything Elizabeth ! " How can I ever repay you ? " Elizabeth could not hold back the tears this time as she replied : " Live a very happy life Peter ! Live the life my son should have lived, and that will be more than enough for me. " Hakon, who was standing in the shadows, stepped foward and said : " She's right old friend ! It is time to get you married ! "
As Peter stood in the Gazebo, with Hakon and Ulf by his side, the organist began to play the wedding march. Patty and Raven were the first two to walk through the arches followed by Peggy. As Peggy took her place in the Gazebo, Caroline started to walk throught the first arch towards the gazebo. The mayor Charles Barnett had her arm, and was walking her down the aisle. Charles had known Caroline' s father and was honored when Elizabeth Van Allen had asked him to give her away. Peter could not believe how beautiful she looked in her dress, and felt himself the luckiest man in the world.
As Caroline entered the gazebo she was offered a chair to sit down in . Peter saw the surprised look on her face and gently said : " It is for the Asatru ceremony. " She nodded and sat down. The Allsherjargothi stepped foward, and with a large Thor's Hammer consecrated the gazebo from each point of the compass. He then laid the Hammer on Caroline's lap. Caroline smiled and looked at Peter with a questioning look. Peter chuckled and said : " Thor's Hammer will ensure fertility and makes the wedding binding. Caroline turned red with blush when she heard Peter say it was for fertility. The Allsherjargothi then called to Frigga and her handmaidens to come and witness the wedding of Peter and Caroline, and asked Odin as All - father to consecrate the joining of the two bloodlines.
The Allsherjargothi then spoke in a booming voice so all could hear him. " Our ancestors believed under Icelandic law that the bride and groom be evenly matched and suitable for each other. They called it the Jafnraethi in days gone by, and I have never seen a more equal match than I see before me today. Today we will join together in oath, and honor two individuals of differing faiths who have found a common bond in love. At this time I call forth the kinfolk, or friends of the couple, to give proof of their love and financial arrangements." Hakon stepped foward, bowed to the Allsherjargothi and began to speak : " I have known Peter Hansen for many years and he is a good and honorable man. He runs his own real estate business right here in Johnson's Mill and will be a very capable provider for his new bride. Peter also owns his own home to be shared with the bride. I have also witnessed the relationship between Caroline and Peter blossom like a flower in the spring, and develop into a love that is as strong as Donar' s Oak. " They are ready to be married this day Allsherjargothi, of this I am sure. " Peggy then stepped foward and pulled out a paper which she had written down what she was to say to help her with her speech. " I have watched my friend Caroline who was once lonely, and wrapped up only in her work for God, become a happy person who radiates her love for Peter out to everyone around her. She is a working woman, who although she does not own a home, brings into this marriage one hundred thousand dollars of wealth . " Caroline and Peter both looked at each other shocked, and then gave Peggy a questioning look. Peggy just lipped the words, " Elizabeth Van Allen " , before placing the check on Caroline's lap.
The Allsherjargothi then looked over at Raven and asked : " Do you have a gift for the bride ? " Raven answered immediately : " Yes, Gothi. " Raven pulled out a beautiful amber necklace and placed it around Caroline's neck as she said : " To symbolize Freyja' s tears I give to my friend this Brisingaman necklace. " The Allsherjargothi then turned to Ulf and asked : " Do you have a present for the groom ? " Ulf stepped foward and replied : " Yes Allsherjargothi ! I have a gold arm band to honor his warrior spirit. " The Priest then reached over and took a beautiful sword off of the altar, and placed it upon Caroline's lap. " Take hold of the sword Peter Hansen, and repeat after me : " I pledge to defend Caroline Ann Decker's honor with my life, and will protect her from all harm. " Peter grabbed the sword, and looked deep into Caroline' s eyes, which were full of tears, and repeated the Allsherjargothi's words. The Asatru Priest then looked at Caroline and asked her to grab hold of the gold arm ring. He then asked Peter to grab the other end. " Please repeat after me : " I pledge an oath of loyalty, love, and respect from this day foward." Peter and Caroline repeated his words as they looked into each others eyes. " As this ring encircles your hands, so does the oath you have taken encircle you, and bind you to the Gods and Goddesses of our faith. This oath will be kept for eternity by Var, and binds you together. May the bonds of this ring never be broken ! " Peter Hansen do you have a gift for your bride ? " The Allsherjargothi asked. Yes, I do ! " Peter answered. Peter reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring full of keys . " For my bride I give her the keys to our household,......, and also to my heart ! " Peter added. As Caroline accepted the keys you could actually hear the audience say " Aw " . Before the Gods and as witnessed by all of these people you are now united as one. You may kiss the bride if you so choose.
As Peter and Caroline kissed the onlookers cheered wildly. Caroline did not quite know what to make of the Asatru wedding ceremony, but she thought it was very beautiful, and moving. Caroline could not stop the tears of joy that fell down her cheeks as the Baptist minister stepped foward, asked Peter and Caroline to rise and said : Dearly beloved we are gathered here today ..........
Glenn Bergen, Copyright , 2012.
Not the end, but just the beginning.
The trilogy continues in : ' A Child of the Gods '