Excerpt: Thorn-Chapter 4 Völuspá

The Story So Far: Loki is passing the time with a pair of friendly travellers, whose names (Oske and Hoenir) translate to Lucky and Crane. Crane, who’s taking a turn telling stories, describes the time a very special woman came to visit the home of the gods.

“The war I remember, the first in the world, when the gods with spears had smitten Gullveig, and in the hall of the High Seat had burned her, three times burned, and three times born, often and again, yet ever she lives. ‘Bright and Clear’, ‘Shining’ they named her who sought their home, the wide-seeing witch, in magic wise; minds she bewitched that were moved by her magic. To wicked women a joy she was. On a great number his spear did Oske hurl, Then in the world did war first come.”

“I don’t know why she brought me into it. I wasn’t even there.”

“The wall that girdled the aesir was broken, and the field by the warlike ones was trodden. Then sought the aesir their assembly-seats, the holy ones, and council held, whether the aesir should tribute give, or to all alike should worship belong.” Hoenir. “I will say that here, the women came between Hoer and the aesir. She had ceased to talk of things that were and was foretelling.”

Both Oske and Lodurr nodded.

“Then sought the aesir their assembly-seats, the holy ones, and council held, to find who with venom the air had filled, or had offered the bride to the risi brood. In swelling rage then rose up the storm. Seldom it sits when it hears such things — and the oaths were broken, the words and bonds, the mighty pledges between them made.

Alone I will sit when the Old One seeks me out, the terror of all gods, and gazes in my eyes: “What have you to ask? Why are you here? Old One, I know where your eye is hidden. Deep in the wide-famed well of wisdom. Drunk from the pledges of brotherhood and trust, each morn, does the wise one still drink? Would you yet know more?”

Hoenir leaned back. “The hall grew dark at that time, and no one present could tell if it was from the foretelling or how long she had spoken, but all feel a shadow creep over their heart. The seidr was far from finished.”

He stirred the flame and continued. “Widely I saw over all the worlds. On all sides I saw the maidens of death’s debt assemble. Ready to ride through the ranks of the gods; Debt bore the shield, and She Who Towers Above Them rode next. War, Battle, Death’s Marker and Spear Shaker. Of these warrior maidens, the list you have heard, Death’s debt ready to ride over the earth.

I saw for the bright and shining one, the bleeding god, the son of divine inspiration, his destiny set: A hall I saw, far from the sun, on the corpse’s shore it stands, and the doors face north, venom drops through the smoke-vent down, for around the walls do serpents wind. I saw there wading through rivers wild treacherous ones and murderers too, and workers of ill with the wives of the people; There he who strikes with malice sucked the blood of the slain, and the wolf tore men; would you know yet more?”

“This is ill-omened.”

“It is.”

“The gygr old in ironwood sat, in the east, and bore the brood of the one who dwells in the mire; among these, one in monster’s guise was soon to steal the sun from the sky. There feeds he full on the flesh of the dead, and the home of the gods he reddens with gore. Dark grows the sun, and in summer soon come mighty storms: would you know yet more?

On a hill there sat, the servant who watches the edge and he crows. He wakes the heroes in the hall of High Seat; And beneath the earth, so do others wake. Now the wolf howls loud before the gates and its fetters will burst and the wolf will run free. Much do I know and more can see of the fate of the aesir. The mighty in fight. Brothers shall fight and fell each other, and sisters’ sons shall kinship stain; Hard is it on earth; Axe-time, sword-time, shields are sundered, wind-time, wolf-time, ere the world falls.

Nor ever shall the people each other spare. Fast move the sons of Mim, and fate is heard in the note. In fear quake all who are on hidden roads. Yggdrasil shakes, and shiver on high. The ancient limbs, and the giant is loose; does the wanderer give heed? How fare the gods? How fare the elves? All Jotunheim groans, the gods are at council. Loud roar the dwarfs by the doors of stone, the masters of the rocks: would you know yet more?”

“Enough.” Lodurr startled. Oske was on his feet. “Enough.” Oske said.

Hoenir looked drained. “There is more.”

“I know. And I would hear of it later, but this is a story of ill will, if exciting enough.”

“Perhaps that is enough for this night.”

“We travel in the same direction, at least for now.” Lodurr offered. “Perhaps tomorrow night could be another story.”

Oske sat back down. “Perhaps one not quite so tied to recent events. Or things that have yet to be of concern.”

Hoenir frowned. “Seidr should not be ignored.”

Oske waved his hand. “It is female magic. There is always a way around female magic. Look at us.” He indicated Hoenir. “We used names to bind the world.”

“That’s a convenient lie.” Hoenir responded. “And you know it.”

Oske nodded. “I do. But it’s a lie that allows me to sleep at night. And right now, I think that’s what I will do.”

They each prepared a place to sleep. Lodurr made sure the fire was properly extinguished. There, at the very edges of his sight, te could see ter mother’s shade. There was a hostility there and a love and feelings te couldn’t understand. A though came to his head. To pick up a rock, bash in his companions heads in their sleep. Restart the fire and burn the bodies. It felt like it would save so much trouble later.

But that was not the kind of person te wanted to be. If te had such destructive appetites, like ter mother, te would find a way to channel them into more productive pursuits than random murder.

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