Running Up the World Tree : Gefjon’s Story part 3

Posted: July 21, 2013 in Deities & Wights, Gefjon, Jotnar, Stories
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Part 3: Dancing For King and Land

 Njord’s ship brought me back, once my plan was made, to the lush world of Vanaheim. He’d asked for no fee, thus making me blush, “Gift for a good cause”  he’d said on the pier. Not used to free rides, not even from kin – what I had I earned with my sweat.

There in the fields I worked over summer, to buy me a green linen gown – fit for a princess, embroidered in gold, and also I gathered some herbs. That fertile land walked I barefoot across, with my precious package in hand, till Billing’s Harbor I reached late in Fall; paid passage with work as before. Last of the harvests were ready to load; a month of toil they made for me.

One of his workers gave me a fur coat to cross Jotunheim’s snowy paths. I quite was grateful, for it took some weeks to reach Midgard’s small mountain pass. I barely fit through, which is why only small Giants are seen by humans. From there to Hleiðra[1] where king Gylfi ruled, just in time for Midwinter’s feast![2]  I made sure to wash my feet in the lake before putting on the fine dress. T’was easy to kick through a foot of ice to get to the water below, so for fun I splashed around for a while, and so washed the rest of my skin.

Guards saw no threat and no weapon in sight when the palisades I approached. A lady in furs seeking fun at feast, what harm could I be to their king?

“What business have you to come to our town?” said the sentry whose spear I stroked.

Coyly I said, “I come for a man such to leave a smile on his face. If worthy of me, he’ll love my embrace, and come dawn will have no regret.”

A grin the men shared, they let me come in… then noticed that I wore no boots! The snow trampled road to the center led where a large mead-hall awaited. My father would have stood inside with ease, so large was this building for men. Eight horses at once could pass through its doors, and iron bars belted their wood. A tall slanted roof overhung all sides, it rivaled the Aesir in wealth: T’was gleaming with gold, made blindingly bright by the sinking sun on my left. It rung with laughter, which lit up my face, from this far could be heard their joy.

Between houses there many were milling, staring at the stranger I was. Bejeweled ladies with precious stone strings dangling on their chests shot me glares. In colorful cloaks the men paraded as well on their way to convene. And why you might ask did they not exclaim “A Giantess! Sound the alarm!” ?

I’d made myself look much smaller in size to avoid scaring the humans. The waif belt I wore, elven charmed treasure, made me seem a malnourished runt. It served me well when at market I was to drive prices down as I wished. Three rows of holes went around the wide belt to select the size I wanted. T’was glamour of course, not truly a change, though I saw myself at their height.

The hall’s wooden steps protested a bit, not used to bear one of my might. The doors were ajar, though I had to pull wider to allow my true size. Within a man sung, stood in the center, holding a horn he was mocking – from faraway land – a miserly king, and the people all sang along. On benches men sat, with women and beer, so many yet with room for more. Long trestle tables were laden with meat, which they banged along to the beat. Evergreen branches were hung on the walls, bright ribbons drooped from the rafters. On pillars that held painted shields were hung to honor the boldest of them. I smiled as I saw good cheer and children; this was not so different from home. One man spotted me, stumbled off his bench, to welcome me in with a horn. I took and I drank it all in one gulp, surprising him with my great thirst. “My thanks to you, lord,” I said and gave back – it wasn’t a very big horn. He stared at me then, quite puzzled he stood, I bowed and reached into my pouch. From there extracted two bracelets with bells, bent to bind over my ankles.

I danced to this song, feet singing I stomped, more eyes turned to me as I moved. I had to alter my usual style: full footed steps made the walls shake. Much daintier steps I made myself take, with single toe I struck the ground. Delighted I danced, between them beckoned, seductively head tilted down. To each side I glanced, then back to my chest, gyrating and swinging my hips. My shoulders they rolled, arms swaying as snakes, approaching my good prey: the king. Men gaped as they clapped in time to my bells, ignoring the women they had. Clever ladies then to copy me tried in doing my curious moves. Good for them, I thought, let them learn how we great women in Jotunheim dance. They will not learn how with sufficient speed such as to deny me my prize.

The tune ended then, one started again, with a gal who blew in a horn. I caught the king’s eye, the high table near, as I reached the end of the hall. I slowed to half-speed while looking away, then drew his sight down to my breasts.  There my gaze lingered, then to my fingers, directing his eyes with my own. Like falling leaves swayed, his senses to charm, till all he could see was my form. When the singing ceased, and with it my feet, he made space for me at his side. I accepted with grace, then feasted and danced for much of the night till he asked:

“My lady you seem all alone tonight, and lacking for want of a bed.” He said it sweetly with a cocky grin, “I’d offer you mine if you wished.” Golden in tunic, studded with silver, a handsome man with a blond beard. Bit scrawny he was, humans often are, but charming and fair to behold. Pretending to weigh his words I looked up, till finally made up my mind. Pushing bones away, leaning on elbows, seductively squinting I spoke: “Let’s wait no longer, I’m eager for bed, there’s more dance left in me tonight.” Catching my meaning and raising his hopes, with a hand he led me away. He liked ever more the dancing I did for most of the night in his arms.

______________________________

Come morning we danced once more without care, nor had we to step out of bed. I wore but my belt, him nothing at all while twisting a curl of my hair. He offered a gift, “What prize would you like?” as on the red blanket we lay. “What favor could I, for pleasure you gave, give such a fair maiden as you?”

“Some land I would like, to plough for my needs,” said I gazing into his eyes.

“Indeed I shall give you such as you ask, a field you can work for your food.”

I smiled and then said: “I would not want to take more than such as I can use. This simply I ask : as much land as I can plough with four bulls in a night.”[3]

He nodded and smiled: “A fair woman are, this boon that you ask I shall give: as much land as you can by yourself plough from sunset to sunset is yours.” He swore it would be, so kissed him in thanks, and soon dressed was I on my way.


[1] Hleiðra is the Old Norse name for the town of Lejre on the island of Zealand, translating to “the place with the tents or huts.” It was the capital of the Lejre Kingdom in Iron Age Denmark, ruled by kings of the Skjöldung dynasty. It is assumed to be the location of the royal mead hall Heorot, mentioned in Beowulf and other stories set around the year 500 C.E.

[2] Thorrablót: the feast and sacrifice in honor of Thorri, Frost Giant and God of Winter.

[3] Scandinavians counted time in nights as we now count in days. “Night” meant either a twenty four hour cycle which started at sunset, or just the dark part of it, while “day” was only the bright half of a “night.” From this we get the term “fortnight” for two weeks.

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Comments
  1. lofnbard says:

    This whole section was originally a single paragraph in the story. But as I went to post the next part, I got “what, a single paragraph for the sexy scene?!” and so it got expanded instead of simply edited.

    Also, can anyone tell me what’s different about the writing for this section? 🙂

    Like

  2. Teka Lynn says:

    You changed your rhythm! Your stress patterns are similar to the meters used by the Old Norse poets, and you have some nice alliteration going.

    I’m very stoked to see this version of Gefjön’s story, and am so pleased that you are writing out the Goddess’s stories. I’ve been waiting for this!

    Like

    • lofnbard says:

      I’m so glad someone caught it, thank you! YES! I used Ljóðaháttr meter. I’m not strictly following the alliteration rules, because to do so would force it out of looking like prose and I want it to work as both, but I’m sticking to the rhythm. Because this chapter is all about her dancing, having a rhythmic retelling seemed to fit better, and it’s fun to practice this old form in my writing to see how it works out. 🙂

      “The odd numbered lines were almost standard lines of alliterative verse with four lifts and two or three alliterations, with cæsura; the even numbered lines had three lifts and two alliterations, and no cæsura.” (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliterative_verse)

      “Ljóðaháttr, (known also as the “metre of chants”), because of its structure, which comprises broken stanzas, lends itself to dialogue and discourse. Fornyrðislag, “the metre of ancient words”, is the more commonly used of the two, and is generally used where the poem is largely narrative.” (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Norse_poetry)

      Like

  3. The meter change was something that I noticed too, and began to read aloud like I love to do with songs from the Eddas. It’s lovely! I’m loving this story so much, Gefion is amazing.

    Like

    • lofnbard says:

      Glad you liked it! Writing in meter vastly increases the time it takes to write a story, but the point of it was to facilitate memorization. This was an oral tradition after all. One day, I may make poems of all the Ladies’ stories for recitation. But that day is not today, I still have a lot of prose to churn out. Prose is a lot easier for modern readers to relate to, and my goddesses want people to be better able to relate to them. Cause two sentences each is rather pathetic.

      Gefjon is pretty amazing, yeah. Very good to pray to for job searching, something that requires her optimism and stamina to succeed.

      I really appreciate your commenting, Laine. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • No problem! I like to comment on writing that I like – I wrote for years online and very rarely had any sort of feedback, and it always made me wonder if people were really appreciating my work. I am definitely appreciating your work and the Goddesses who are inspiring it, and will comment whenever I have something to say about it!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. sonyjalerulv says:

    I noticed the rhythme change but could not have explained how it was changed. Thanks for the explanation!

    Liked by 1 person

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