Excerpt: Thorn-Chapter 14 Eikþyrnir

The Story So Far: After helping broker the peace between the vanir and aes, Loki has retreated to the home of his family. Unfortunately, circumstances beyond his control are about to intrude in the most unpleasant way.

The howls were what wakened Lodurr from his sleep.

At first he thought it was Gif and Geri. But it was more. It was if the entire house was shaken. He was barely into clothes and out the door when two grim alfr appeared and bodily picked him up and threw him back into his room.

They wouldn’t listen to him, any of his questions, his shouts. He could have opened the door, even locked like this. But without any kind of context as to what was going on, it felt safer to wait.

Time went on. Food was shoved into his room each morning and evening; some leftover gruel and water. But that was it. On the third day, he heard the sound of more voices. Many more voices. People were starting to arrive at the House of Thorn. Who was able to get past Fjolsvith and his hounds and his trapped gate was questionable. They had to have been invited.

Finally, someone came for him.

They were alfr. No question about that. Both had their faces veiled, as if in funeral shrouds.

Lodurr was taken to the center hall.

The assembled throng was weeping.

There were many there from Alfheim. Lodurr recognized Frost, Worth Many, Glitter, Cutter, Eager, Glimmer, Borer, Calm and the Glory Horse. He saw Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri. He spotted Brokkr and Sindri from the great forges. Alviss and the other sons of Ivaldi. Idunn, Mimir’s brewmaster.

But equally there were the people of Thyrmheim and Thrudheim. Jotunn all, and important ones. Þjazi was there, and Iði and Gangr but not their families. Lodurr was dragged in front of them all and forced to kneel before the High Seat. On the platform was Bestla, her hair rent and her clothes in ruins. And beside her, Sinmara, who looked absolutely devastated.

Bestla looked down on Lodurr and her expression was one of cold fury. “My brother is dead.”

Lodurr looked to her and then to Sinmara. “Olvaldi…” the words could barely leave his lips. “How?”

“The vanir.” The words came from Sinmara but they sounded like a curse.

Bestla stood and her voice boomed across the rafters of the high hall. “Listen to me all assembled because this is the story of the death of wisdom. He is your father and your husband and your brother-in-arms and your light through the times that were. He sacrificed many of his freedoms for peace in the land, placed a vandr in charge of the dream lands so that his people would be taken care of while he shared that wisdom with the people of Vandrheim.

But you know him well; he cannot stay to one place. He has responsibilities throughout the nine realms. Duties in Thyrmheim, trade in Thrudheim, his family and people in Alfheim, and even duties to the House of Thorn in Jotunheim. He left only with the permission of the vanir. And he left behind my son, Hoenir to guide them during the times when he could not be there. A mere pittance of time.

But Hoenir cannot speak his wisdom well. His tongue fumbles in his mouth. And the vandr knew how to lead their own people. They would ask Hoenir’s counsel and he would respond ‘As you will’ leaving them to own ways. My son was respecting the wishes of those people in whose hands he was hostage.

The vanir decided that perhaps the bargain was unequal. That Hoenir, despite all the tales of his deeds and proof of his legacy, was perhaps enfeebled and left in their care as an infant of a man. So, they decided to put their petty fears to the test.

They took my brother, Sinmara’s love, the love of nations, and they took him when he arrived out back of their great hall and beheaded him.”

The entire hall erupted with shouts of fury and the screams of the bereaved were almost as loud as the calls to anger. Bestla waited until it subsided just enough for her to speak again.

“If that was all, then I swear to all of you that the House of Thorns would lead the forces of Alfheim and Jotunnheim to wipe the vandr off the face of the world. But there is more. Oh, there is more.”

She was shaking with rage.

“I wept at the loss of my beloved brother, and when I heard, I sent word to return the body to his home.”

She went silent and nodded off to the site. Two jotunn and two alfr brought in a litter with a covered body on it. The crowd again burst into emotion as it was carried in and set before Bestla.

“This is what they returned.”

She tore off the funeral shroud.

Mimir’s corpse was missing its head.

There were gasps as people were trying to take it in.

“The lord of the aes returned this and refused to return the head. The vanir don’t have it. My son does. My son has the head of my brother.”

There was anger, but also shock. Lodurr looked around the room. Just as many people who were calling for war was people who were bitterly expressing caution. Vanheim alone was a task. But the hosts of Vanheim and Asgard? That would be a slaughter.

Lodurr found his voice. “Why?”

Bestla fixed her gaze on him. “You think I know? I begged my son to return all of him and he simply turned away. Turned on me. Told me it was important to preserve the future. To preserve the wisdom. And then said no more.”

Lodurr found himself chilled.

“What am I doing here?”

“I can’t seize hold of my son, who is protected by the aes. Nor my other son, who is with the vandr horde. But I have you.”

Lodurr shivered.

“You, who traveled with them. Who found and spoke to my brother and convinced him to be the hostage of Vanheim. You, with your clever tongue. I should cut it out from him.”

A blade was in her hand. She gripped it hard, even if only for a moment.

“But I will not. Go, Lodurr. You are no longer welcome in this House. You are no longer welcome in the lands of the alfr. From this day on, you are exiled.”

She threw the blade so it was buried at his feet.

“May the fates have pity on you because we do not.”

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