Departure

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Chapter 4

I rode out to Yddgrasil with my sister and her dwarf lover. My Sleipnir threw his head up as I fidgeted on his back. “Remind me why I had to come with you?” the dwarf whined.

“This way we know that the Jarl won’t find you,” my sister said. We walked up the twisting cliff face, our steed’s hooves crunched in the snow and slipped as we ascended. I pulled my animal skin around my shoulders and let out a shaky breath, the cold had set deep into my bones and plagued my body. We could see the frozen lake from here, its cracks were now frozen over. The water looked black from up here, the wind whistled and stroked its fingers through our hair and steeds’ manes.

The higher we went the colder it became. The waterfall that used to fall on the side of the cliff face had frozen over, it shimmered like emerald glass and the debris lined either side. We reached the top before a fresh layer of snow could fall; the tree looked as healthy as always. The fire still burned its blue flames, the flames of eternity. We halted the horses a few metres away, the ground beneath the tree was for us North Women only. “Can you take care of the horses?” I asked looking at the dwarf.

“Of course,” he replied taking the reins of our horses. My sister and I looked at each other, we took a deep breath in and walked onto the sacred land. We dropped to our knees and painted our faces with the earth.

“Gods protect me on the journey I am about to take. Thor grant me strength, Odin grant me wisdom and Njord grant me safe passage across the seas,” I said softly. The flames flickered and danced in the breeze. Two ravens sat above us in the tree and cawed loudly.

“Well there’s your blessing,” my sister said.

“Indeed,” I said taking the antler from my side, cut my hand and dripped my blood over it. We stayed there most of the day, spending my last day with my sister. In the afternoon we heard other horses’ hooves, we turned and saw the Jarl and a few guards with her.

“I thought I would find you both here,” she said dismounting her pure ivory stag, icicles hung from its great antlers and its eyes glittered like sapphires.

“What do you want?” I asked.

“As well as your blessing from the gods, I also wanted to personally give you my blessing,” she said and knelt down next to us. She began her prayers to the blue flames, and cut her hand, she squeezed it into the wooden bowl. “As the Jarl of this community, gods hear me. I want you to guard Autumn as she leaves here, to guard her against all and any hostile threats, if she falls take her to Valhalla and be sure her body returns to us.” My sister and I both exchanged glances.

“I think she thinks you’re going to die,” the dwarf chuckled and ran a hand over his beard/

“No, it’s just a prayer for warriors, whenever we leave,” I replied.

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