Excerpt: Thorn-Chapter 15 Óðrœrir

The Story So Far: Lost and without a purpose, Loki wanders back to the place of his birth, only to find the seidr witches waiting for him. They have some news to tell… and it doesn’t look good for the child of Odin.

He was no longer a child when Lodurr returned to the place where he had been born. The place where his mother’s home once stood had been reclaimed by the forest, but not by the jotunn village nearby. It was considered a place of bad omen and would remain so for generations unless someone volunteered to cleanse it.

Lodurr simply felt sadness standing there.

In his memories, Birch played in these woods, with his brothers, young and old. And those brief times were a source of solace. They were also times long gone.

Without the help of his people, Lodurr rebuilt the house. It was slow but sure, as he took all he had learned from the dveargar and turned in into a home. Time passed and time went and, for brooding, it was a proper place.

Mud and dung and straw for walls. Thatch for a roof. There was hardly even need for a door. Inside was simple. A raised bed for him to sleep. A hearth. And a place to prepare for simple meals.

After going to far, it was a relief. Perhaps, after everything, this would be how he would spend the rest of his life. Far from the madness of a heritage he scarcely believed in, let alone wanted to live. This would be to what he would resolve. Jotunn-born. Jotunn he would remain.

There was some surprise, then when a young girl came to fetch him on an evening when the winter moon had just begun to rise.

She didn’t say a word but merely beckoned him, urgently, to follow.

The grove that she led Lodurr too was familiar and gave him chills.

It was the one his mother had taken him too when he was a child, for a foretelling.

It was the grove that the seidr used.

And he was in the center of it.

The women appeared from the forest, robes dark as the midnight ocean, blank faces shining like the moon. Blades held openly, they approached them, and as they spoke, with each sentence, they cut him.

“How should one untangle the life of the Tangler?

Call him son of lightning and tinder, or of needles.

Brother of the calm of the storm and of the lightning’s flash.

Wicked companion and bench-mate of the mad poet and the aes.

Thief of risi and gýgr, Kinsman of the slippery one.

Forger of the wicked.

Even the sons of people not yet conceived sing of the end.”

They stood back away from him and his shirt was in ruins, blood trickling from the shallow cuts and they began to circle him.

“Through you eyes, your eyes, we see. The aes had a dispute with the vandr.

And they appointed a peace-meeting

And established peace in this way:

That each went to the cauldron and spat their spittle therein.

Then at the parting of the two people, the spittle became a child.

And that one is called Kvasir.

So wise that none could question him concerning anything

But that he knew the solution.

He went up and down the earth.

To give instruction to men

To learn of the world.

And there he came across two in travel.

And they are known.

Fjalar and Galarr of the alfr.

And with them he went.

Companions on the road.

Fjalar and Galarr, these two

The jotunn know them. The risi see them.

Gillingr came to visit them, his risi by him.

Before Kvasir did meet them.

They invited Gillingr to row upon the sea.

But far from the land, they rowed into the breakers.

Capsized the boat. Gillingr drowned but they returned.

His wife spent grief, in the jotunn way. Loud were her wails.

But Fjalar tired of it.

Begged her to look upon the sea.

At the spot where Gillinger died.

Told his brother when she looked away.

To drop a mill-stone on her head.

The weeping was wearisome to him.

Or so he said.

And so was it done.

Fjalar and Galarr.

These two were the ones who walked with Kvasir.”

“What happened?” Lodurr cried out. “Are these things that have occurred or are they yet to come?”

The seidr women started to circle him, like crows searching for a feast.

“They took him to the halls of the alfr. To the places where the brewmasters of old made fair their trade and they asked the wisest of wise ones if he recognized what he saw. And upon his oath, Kvasir told them: I see the fires to set the pots, I see the pots to set the mead. There the honey to make the mead. There the water to make the brew. And there the herbs to start the brew.

And that? They asked, pointing to something above the mead. For a moment, Kvasir paused. He’d seen such a thing before, but not in a brewhouse. That he said is to bleed the boar or the goat or the lamb. Blood to flavor the drink.

Yes, said Fjalar

Yes, said Galarr

And the two seized him and hung him and bled him out above the vats.”

Lodurr left out a cry of rage and despair, feeling like the world was ending. He dropped to his knees in front of the seidr.

“Mixed round and round the brew, with his blood. They did. Two vats and a kettle did they fill. The kettle named Ódrerir, and the vats Són and Bodn. Charmed the very nature of it. Created a mead so potent it could imbue the divine madness in anyone who drank it. Sealed it and set it so that they could go home.

And when the brewmaster asked what happened to the guest, they claimed Kvasir had suffocated from an abundance of his own unsufferable wisdom.

Know this tangler, deceiver, skin-shifter, son of High and Third. The treaty child is dead. The exchange of realms’ wealth broken. The war once settled threatens to rise and swallow the world.

Only woe do we see for the children of Asgard.”

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