Excerpt: Thorn-Chapter 13 Iðavöllr

The Story So Far: Odin’s plotting has made it clear to the enemy that he is a cunning opponent, and so the two factions have decided to meet. If they can come up with common ground, perhaps a lasting peace can be brokered. Loki, though, isn’t convinced.

“I am Unn, known to Jotunn as Jord,

And to the People as Beauty and Beloved.

Sister to Blóðughadda, Bylgja,

Dröfn, Dúfa,

Hevring, Himinglaeva,

Hrönn, and Kólga.

Brother to Snaer.

Mother to life from death’s soil and thunder

Milk-mother to Vindler.

Raised in Ran’s Hall, whose passions outnumber the stars.

I am the giver of the mercy of death.

I am gold-haired and sea-brightened

The shaker and the sow

The will of the people

The Lady of the slain.

The spirit of the people

I am Freyja.”

Odin took his place on the High seat, oak staff in hand. Freyja’s people assembled a seat on a platform across from his, equally as high. And from there, she sat, her two cats were unleashed from her chariot and they made their way untended to her throne to circle it and finally rest at her feet.

Odin stroked his beard and two ravens settled over his throne. The cats immediately came to attention. One growled and Freyja stroked its head until it settled down. Odin leaned forward. “We offer the gifts of hospitality, according to the customs of the granchildren of Ymir.” His people came forward with food and drink.

Freyja waved them off. Her people came out with and equal amount and served her. “What do you want, freyr of the aes?”

“What any lord wants, lady of the Wane.”

“Oh, is it to be bedsports then? Well I suppose that is something that can be done.”

A number of people of both sides tried hard not to laugh too openly.

“I raise my staff in appreciation, lady. And I have nothing but respect for the one who brought the thunder. Is there not something to be said, though, for the safety of our people?”

“The world is not safe, aes-lord. Safety comes in the arms of death.”

Odin smiled. “But I worked so hard to make it better.”

Freyja scoffed. “You and your brothers.”

Odin’s eyes narrowed. “Yes. Me and my brothers. And the aes serve to maintain that order.”

“And what of the order of the Wane?”

“There is respect in knowing that what is yours, is yours. And ours, ours.”

“Then we remain apart.”

“There is a way to take the best of both, without profaning either.”

“Marriage? Now we’re back to bedsports.”

Odin snorted in amusement. “What use of it is if only two out of the many get to know each other?”

“You are proposing what, then? An exchange.”

“Two of the Aesir, our finest. For any two you name.”

“They would have to be equal.”

“Of course.”

“What of the wall? What of the sacking of Asgard?”

“Hardly a sack. I was there. But I suppose you’re asking if we want what you took back.”

Freyja toyed with one of her cats’ ears. “I have no interest but other have asked.”

“Keep it. Peace between us is worth more.”

“Then it’s a start. Marriage between me and you. Two hostages.”

“Agreed. Each equal in value.”

Freyja nodded. “For the first, I offer the son of Ran, grandson of great Brimir and my brother, Snaer.” Snaer stepped forward from the host and several of the aes gasped. He was the very twin of Freyja, beautiful in a way that put the world to shame. Golden haired and bright eyed and soft as a springtime rain. “God of the Spring, and rich gifts. Jotunn-bane and leader of the Van Host. Ingunar-Freyr, son of Njordr, God and Kinsman to all the Wane. My precious Yngve. What says the Lord of the Aesir?”

“The Lord of the Aesir finds the gift very precious, and accedes to the spirit in which it is offered. In return, let me offer the son of Bor, grandson of great Ymir and my brother, Hoenir.” Hoenir stepped forward and bowed respectfully to Snaer. “Long-legged, lord of the swollen earth, willfull and full-of-will. World-creator, deliverer of men. Jotunn-bane and lover of Beauty. What says the Lady of the Aesir.”

“The Lady finds the offer passing friendly. Do we continue, Lord aes? Or are you tired from the day’s banter?”

“I find myself refreshed from what has been held between us. As if coming from a night’s sport and finding your partner sleeping in the dawn’s blooming.”

“Then let us continue such delights before my cats grow too hungry and cause a fuss.”

“I’m certain should they stir, we have enough to feed them.”

“Of that, I’m certain, lord. But they prefer people to the tender cuts here. And I’d not see them disrupt the conversation in such a manner.”

“Are you certain my people cannot provide you with a drink? Such boasts as yours must parch the throat?”

“Oh, the brews of the golden lands are succor enough. I would offer you some—world-builder, giant-slayer—but truly such words that have poured from your lips are so old and practiced, I scarcely think they would have provided you with a thirst!”

A servant passed up a horn to Odin. “I must admit though the mead of Asgard is rich enough, I’ve longed to taste the fruits of the Wane’s land again.” He took a sip from the horn. “Perhaps I can offer you a sip from my personal cup in exchange?”

Freyja motioned to her steward to pass her up a cup. She took a sip. “I find this vintage pleasing. Let me pass it to you and in exchange sample your favored drink.”

The two servants took the cups from their respective masters and exchanged them. Odin made a show of taking a deep drink. He let out a sigh. “It truly is as good as I remember. Better, perhaps, with a little age.”

Freyja took a sip. Smiled and then took a second one. “I find the mead passing strange, aes. But pleasant enough.” She passed the cup in mind. “It brings to mind who I offer as hostage to the aes. Should they be able to match it, it is a unique and valued treasure.”

Odin smiled. Passed his cup down. “Offer then, and the aesir shall match it, person to person.”

Freyja motioned and the host parted. And one came down through them. Huge, though familiar, especially to Lodurr. Now that he knew who fathered Hoenir and Odin, the resemblance was obvious. But the last time he had seen this god, Lodurr was only a child. Aegir. Husband to Ran.

“Njorer. Son of Brimir, brother to Eikþyrnir and Bor. Father to the vast seas, to Unn–known to Jotunn as Jord, and to the People as Beauty and Beloved—and toBlóðughadda, Bylgja,Dröfn, Dúfa, Hevring, Himinglaeva, Hrönn, and Kólga and Snaer. Grandfather to the raising world and the thunder. Ward of Vindler.”

For the first time in the exchange, Odin seemed to lose his composure. Freyja saw the blood falling from his face and smiled.

“What have the aes that can match his value?”

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