#WEP/IWSG December Challenge – Footsteps

Time for the WEP+IWSG Challenge and another attempt at a change of scenery and style. DC Sparkle Anwyl is on extended leave so a character from a previous Challenge reappears.

Warning: there are several attempts at literary devices, specifically kennings. For those stumped, I’ve deciphered the head-scratchers at the foot.

Note: A kenning is a metaphorical compound phrase that replaces a single, concrete noun. A kenning employs figurative language to represent the simpler concept, such as using the phrase “battle-sweat” to refer to blood. Kennings are plentiful in Old Norse and Old English poetry and prose.


For other flash pieces in the December Challenge, visit: https://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2019/12/wepiwsgthe-december-challenge-is-open.html

Snowfall Spirit

Threat-cries echo in Nökkvé. The Holy Darkness stretches forever across the winter-blanket. Answering howls on the snow-breath affirm friends travel the self-same path of power.

Silver-face smiles her blessing on our journey granting light as I slide ski-swift over fresh frozen-tears.

Fur-girdled hunters silent-shadow me, protectors – even if of Fenrir’s race. Noble and wise denizens. Teeth sharp from natural prey. Flesh from those facing lights-end. Grim but just. A tooth-claw ending.

Balance. Season’s passage.

Life dies and is reborn.

Our deep-slumber Solstice whisper-sighs our presence.

Sleeping shadows stir and join our gathering. 

Tracks appear, converge. Distant specks arise on the silent-fall, become threads weaving towards our annual heart-call.

I’ve visited time-turning-age to ensure spirit-breaths re-forge the natural order.

For I am Skaði. Goddess, giantess, huntress and snow-stealth specialist.

Size is not the issue. Speed is. The endless-revival needs sentient-life to affirm our faith.

Skadi Hunting in the Mountains(1901) by H. L. M.

Moonlight glistens on a spreading pool. I stoop. A wound-sea but no sounds of battle.

Earth Mother’s blood seeping too soon. Salt-tracks on my cheeks. Stings. My wealth-chambers reel. Is there time to save her?

Foul-howls tear the bleak-black embrace. Hounds baying. Wild shapes thunder past. Asgard-Riders with the Harrier of Hosts driving the fear-spreading soul-hunt.

Most quail and run. I remain tall. The wolf-pack crouch, baring fangs.

Hooves pound and swirl snow-dust as Oðinn wheels Sleipnir around so the spirit—swarm surrounds us.

I confront Slain Tamer, caressing his eight-legged horse. “My Breaker of Rings. What prey tonight?”

Never question the dread Huntsman of the Otherworldly Host, unless your sagas are entwined. But I ignore our wedded bliss.

He sneers and doffs his crooked head-hider. “My Snow-Stepper. You never fear even me. Why have you ceased your journey? For me?”

I shake my head as I kneel on the earth. “You? The Ruler of Treachery holds no fear.” I point to the death-stain. “But this evil does. Jörð, sister-wife bleeds. Blood-steps we need to heal with Solstice song and ceremony”

My shared-husband dismounts. His blinded eye reads the blood-runes staining the snow. “You are my Wise God-bride. This is the sweat-scent my hounds and host pursued. The Earth Mother dies from the weapon-weather man reaps. Will you ride with this harried Horse-wolf to save her? Will the wolves run with the hounds?”

I smile at his heart-bait. “Great ring-giver, you soar above the earth-coat. I will swift ski below matching your hunting pace. Will your hounds join the wolf-pack? It would torment Fenrir further.”

“The Wolf of Winter will be driven away. But healing Jörð must be soonest. Onwards.”

Together, our packs race time to reach the Gathering of the Nine Realms.

Deities and denizens mass around us.

“Welcome, Fenrir-Bane. Welcome Snow-Dancer. Do the shadow-wolves and wild-hounds hunt together tonight?”

Oðinn dips his hat to me. My heart stirs.

“Our Liege-Lord and I follow the self-same battle-sweat trail. Our Mother, Jörð is dying. Abused and abandoned by greed and ignorance within Midgard. Join our healing as we prepare a path for Sól’s return.”

The life-song rises from the Gathering. Deep chords from Oðinn’s male-band. Sky-climbing phrasings from my stepdaughter Freyja and our female searers. Wolves and hounds howl-lead the life-denizens. The voices weave, the Rite resonates, and the Nine Realms pulsate.

Our music echoes throughout Nökkvé. The Holy Darkness diminishes.

The life-bringing light returns as Sól, our golden goddess drives her chariot across the canopy. 

Jörð breathes. Death-dew dissolves from Earth Mother’s flourishing footsteps


Kennings Decoded

Asgard-Riders = The Wild Hunt

Battle-sweat = Blood

Bleak-black = Night

Blood-runes = Blood traces

Breaker of Rings = Oðinn

Death-dew = Blood

Death-stain = Blood

Fenrir-Bane = Oðinn

Frozen-tears = Snow

Great ring-giver = Oðinn

Harrier of Hosts = Oðinn

Head-hider = Hat

Heart-bait = Gift/Temptation

Heart-call = Rite

Horse-wolf = Oðinn

Liege-Lord = Chief, Leader, or Oðinn

Lights-end = Death

Ruler of Treachery = Oðinn

Salt-tracks = Tears

Silent-fall = Snow

Silver-face = Moon

Slain Tamer = Oðinn

Snow-breath = Winter Wind

Snow-Stepper = Skaði

Snow-Dancer = Skaði

Wealth-chambers = Mind & Heart

Weapon-weather = War

Winter-blanket = Snow

Wound-sea = Blood

See also Wikipedia’s List: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_kennings


Word Count 675: FCA

Comments are welcome as usual and the following applies:

49 thoughts on “#WEP/IWSG December Challenge – Footsteps

  1. Very poetic. Imaginative. Your story evoked this in my mind – I can see the fire, the listeners, the storyteller, and hear the winds howl, the flurry of snowflakes, and even smell the wood smoke and roasting meat. Lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful story, and I think you did a nice job of capturing the feel of the Old English tales, with a little more modern sense of character development 🙂 I loved the kennings, though they threatened to overwhelm me in the first paragraph (note that I’m reading at breakfast very early after a rather short night, which in some ways makes me a great editor–my mental function is low, so I’m going to be confused if anyone is :D)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful kennings. Loved to read and figure them out. Like to use them too when dealing with characters from different countries.
    I was completely immersed in the story and atmosphere. However, maybe the kennings weigh down the pace somewhat.
    Startling images, very vivid. I can see, feel and hear the story. Well done.
    I have been following for the past 30 years , a graphic novel series called Thorgal. (36 albums to this date and still counting) A baby from future humans returned to earth is lost during a storm and adopted by a clan of Viking. The stories are set in Viking times, but can happen all over the world with interesting Plot lines, half-historical, magical and sci-fi. Do you know of it ? Artists Rosinski and Van Hamme. Written in French, may have been translated.
    Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi,
    I have to admit that I was somewhere in the past in Viking territory as I read your story. What I enjoyed most of all was the rhythm. The cadence of the sentences was excellent. Your descriptions were strong and drew me in even though I don’t like cold weather. You drew me in with your descriptions.
    Have a Merry Christmas and a great crossover into 2020.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Roland! What a wonderful trip back to an earlier time. Love your use of kennings (I’d never heard them called that). I think maybe you went a bit overboard with so many which slowed your story down. Like all aesthetic devices, less is more. But they certainly added atmosphere and gave the story veracity.

    Thank you for being a regular contributor to WEP, Roland. Your stories have added pleasurable reading to our prompts.

    Again, congratulations for your inclusion in the IWSG anthology.

    Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!


    Liked by 1 person

  6. That was an interesting read, Roland. And, you taught me a new word and concept: kennings. I like the lyrical use of it – the prose was singing to me. Some of it, I understood without the guide underneath. It would have been a bit easier, not to have to scroll down for the meaning of the other kennings, but this seems to be the way these stories work. It was nice to be transported to another era and another climate and lifestyle. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi
    Very innovative, I must say. Though I had to go back a second time, I completely enjoyed it. Specially the lyrical quality. And yes, kennings are new for me. So thanks for that and for the link too. I hope to read more of you. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pleased to say that I decoded some of the kennings without the glossary. I really liked this retelling of this mythology – Norse mythology, or any mythology for that matter, is fascinating to me. Very vivid use of language, lyrical and atmospheric. I feel a smaller sprinkling of the kennings would make this story even more effective than it already is. Thank you for a fab read. And congrats for your selection in the IWSG antho!

    Wish you a merry Christmas and a very happy and creative New Year 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Narrative verse – is it? I’m intrigued you call it that, Samantha. I certainly used devices from Anglo-Saxon and Norse literature – I studied Beowulf and other poems/sagas in my teens so they influenced me.


  9. Interesting tale. The way you wrote your story allowed me to visualize another ‘time,’ place, and other gods. Hope you get some gifts from the Nisse and Tomte. Happy Holidays and a Happy New Writing Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Roland – I’ve been meaning to look at Norse-Icelandic and old English myths and legends … and have a Beowulf (modern!) to read … but your tale captured the essence of those early poets and word mixers – I’ve always enjoyed etymology … another subject I need to study. Interesting read – reminding us of so much – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a fun piece! I had to read it twice to get used to the kennings, but then it all came together. This is such creative use of words. I enjoyed the mythology and appreciated the deeper message. Great use of the prompt. This definitely leaves you considering the state of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: #WEP/IWSG February Challenge – All You Need Is Love | Writing Wings

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