I feared my entry for this month’s WEP/IWSG Challenge would be too late as there were too many interruptions, not least diving down too many rabbit holes... and WordPress being a pain.
Anyway, a writer is never late, nor is he early. He posts precisely when he means to… as the deadline looms.
Having done two Challenge years of Sparkle and Kama tales and having written a romantic interlude for them in December, I felt it was time to give my Norse snow queen another overdue outing. The last one was in December 2019: https://rolandclarke.com/2019/12/11/wep-iwsg-december-challenge-footsteps/
As always, apologies if I’m slow to respond or slow to visit your posts.
Plus, ensure you visit all the other writers in this challenge via:
Gold medals are gifted through divine skills and love.
Tuesday, February 8th
Constant clamour engulfs my ears. The din as Ægir’s dreaded daughters crash against the rocks, sending salt spray skyward.
Seagull squadrons screech and thieve my food as they assault me.
Not what I craved, yet my husband Njörðr expects me to enjoy my days at his Nóatún home beside the whale’s way, watching him play.
Sail-boarding, surfing, and today water skiing.
He insists I admire him showing off his talent. But he won’t teach me, even though as the snow-ski specialist I taught him my arts.
Why did I choose him? Cheated by Loki. Made to decide by selecting feet. Handsome limbs – yes. But not Baldr the Beautiful’s as I desired.
So now, Njörðr believes in this false fetish, saying, “See what this gorgeous god can do, and the skill’s all down to fantastic footwork.”
All I want is real romance. Poetic passion. Epic emotions.
Or escape to frozen-tear drifts. Time to be myself.
Time to leave him for the serene silence of my mountains. I must snow-dance again.
Thursday, February 10th
Silent-fall settles as I skill-slide into the rural resort near Thrutheimr, my alpine abode. The winter-blanket glistens under the silver-face, and I enter the central mead-hall.
Everyone is enthralled by the glowing screen showing the Beijing Winter Olympics. We all have our favourites in the final of the Women’s 10k cross-country, though all have learnt my arts.
But we cheer loudest whenever a Scandinavian competitor poles ahead of desperate rivals, and we toast the shield-maidens’ prowess.
A strong arm clasps my shoulder, and a seductive voice says, “We’ve bred them strong and swift in our lands. You’ve inspired them, Snow-Dancer, see.”
I smile then celebrate with my people as the Nordic countries sweep the podium, taking gold, silver, and bronze.
Then I turn my gaze on the handsome stranger.
He feels familiar even disguised, and I tease the truth.
“Wandering or seeking rings to break?”
He hands me a silver locket. “Will this do, Snow-Stepper? Or do you want something more precious? You’ve already won every gold medal.”
I laugh, louder than when Loki tussled with a goat then cheated me.
“All I desire is love. Is this heart-bait truly given? Or another trick?”
Music drifts across the celebrating crowd as he laughs and offers to remove his boots.
“I know about your foot-fetish. These aren’t my son Baldr’s, but my heart is bolder.”
“Do you seek to hide from me? That footwork was a falsity fabricated by the Mischief-Maker. It’s not the feet but what goes with them – and how you use them and where.”
Oðinn says, “I desire you forever by my side, Skaði, my goddess, giantess, huntress and snow-stealth specialist. Will you be one with me – my Snow Queen? If wished I will break the rings binding you to Njörðr.”
“And what of your other lovers?”
He covers an eye.
“I sacrificed one sight-light for my wisdom and presage. You will be foremost—”
“—and you tell all your conquests that.” I point to my face, then wink. “I’m not snow-blind. Frigg will view me as a threat… to marriage-purity. But I foresee another rival – Freyja, Njörðr’s daughter.”
Oðinn hesitates and I fear my truth-quest is doomed.
His grin captivates as the jukebox plays ‘All You Need Is Love’.
“Freyja shed tears of gold when I left to wander the Earth. Do we expect our shield-maidens to receive lesser rewards if I repent? Our match is fated, so we must commit to—”
“—to Infinity and beyond, heart-caller.”
614 words FCA
Apologies to those who know their Norse mythology and folklore, as I’ve taken a few liberties here. However, with so little from the ‘Viking era’ surviving, and much of it being oral in origin, I’m following in the bastardising bardic tradition.
For those who like rabbit holes, visit:
Throughout the mythology, Freya is associated with gold. When her husband leaves her to wander the Earth (more on him below), she cries tears of gold. Because of this story, “Freya’s tears” became a kenning, or poetic circumlocution, used to represent the word “gold” in Norse poetry. Freya’s golden necklace Brísingamen (“flaming necklace”) appears in connection with the goddess in several Eddic tales. According to Snorri Sturluson, the terms “flame” and “fire” are often connected with gold in poetry of the North “since it is red,” so it should not be assumed that Freya’s necklace was a thing of fire, but that it was simply made of her favorite metal.
Due to numerous similarities, scholars have frequently connected Freyja with the goddess Frigg. The connection with Frigg and question of possible earlier identification of Freyja with Frigg in the Proto-Germanic period (Frigg and Freyja origin hypothesis) remains a matter of scholarly discourse. Regarding a Freyja-Frigg common origin hypothesis, scholar Stephan Grundy comments, “the problem of whether Frigg or Freyja may have been a single goddess originally is a difficult one, made more so by the scantiness of pre-Viking Age references to Germanic goddesses, and the diverse quality of the sources. The best that can be done is to survey the arguments for and against their identity, and to see how well each can be supported.”
[From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freyja ]
As for the Winter Olympics reference, that is based on real events. On February 10th at the Beijing Games, the 10k gold medallist was Therese Johaug (Norway), the silver medallist was Kerttu Niskanen (Finland), and the bronze medallist was Krista Pärmäkoski (Finland) – so, a Nordic clean sweep.
And now for the music: