In the woods on a snowy evening: [livejournal.com profile] true_writers 16.A.1

Oct. 27th, 2009 08:37 pm
foreverwarrior: (Miranda (looking down/soft smile))
[personal profile] foreverwarrior
When: Early First Century AD
Where: Nærøyfjorden, Norway
Name: Freyja Gundersdøttir



The blanket of glittering white cast a spell across the forest, but it was a spell that was quickly broken by boisterous, joyous voices. Tomorrow was Winter Solstice, a time of celebration on the darkest night of the year, and the traditions of her village held that the fathers and eldest, unwed daughters of each family would go into the woods surrounding the settlement to fell a tree for their Yule log.

The tree would be felled and then dragged by a team of four sturdy fjord ponies back to the mead hall. Each father would cut branches and sections of the trunk to bring back to their own homes with the largest part of the trunk to burn in the meadhall. Celebrations would continue day and night until the last of the Yule log had turned to ash. And, aside from nominal chores, no one worked.

So, on that night, her strawberry-blonde hair hidden by a reindeer-pelt hat, thirteen-year-old Freyja followed her father and the others through the darkened forest. The light from the fathers' torches glimmered off the snow-covered boughs as the other, older girls whispered stories of snow spirits who would capture anyone who ventured too far from the torchlight. Underneath her fur-lined cloak, Freyja could feel the comforting weight of the antler-handled knife her father had given her for her thirteenth birthday. Usually, such a weapon was given to the son of the house, but since Freyja was Gunder and Sigrùn's only child, she was treated as both son and daughter. And she was proving to be an avid hunter much like her father as well as a skilled healer like her mother.

A chill wind pinched her cheeks and brought her back to the task at hand. It was tradition that the youngest to pick which tree to use for the Yule log. She looked at the expectant faces of the others before roaming quietly around the sacred clearing where past logs had been felled. She took her duty very seriously, and did not want to disappoint the others.

Hearty firs could not be burned. Their soft needles stayed green throughout the long winter and were better used as decoration rather than fuel. Though birches made for good carving, they wouldn't provide enough wood to last two days, much less the hoped for week. Oaks were sacred, and no one wanted to encur Thor's wrath. Finally, she paused at the trunk of a great ash.

She remembered climbing through its branches during the bygone summers and was sad to discover that its outer branches were slowly dying. It was an old tree, and one that had spawned many offspring during its long years. It was one of her favourites in the forest and she would miss it come summer, but it was time the old ash served another purpose.

"This one, Fader," she said finally.

Gunder, a great golden bear of a man, approached the tree and ran his enormous bare hands across the rough bark. A faint smile played on his lips as he looked at the strange girl the goddess Freyja had chosen for his daughter thirteen springtides ago.

"I once played in its branches, too," he said softly, remembering his own childhood. "He was a grandfather even then. He has given many years to this forest and I do not think he should wither away like an old man."

Gunder rested a paw on Freyja's slender shoulder, and turned towards the rest of the group. The mindless twittering of the other girls as well as the gruff undertone of the men slowly died into silence.

"Freyja has made her choice," he started. "And it is a good one. Most of us have enjoyed this tree. It was here that Sigrùn and I met, and he has weathered many a storm as much a warrior as any of us. He should not be condemned to die an old man's death, but should have a hero's pyre."

The other fathers nodded in agreement and everyone moved to stand in a solemn ring around the trunk of the great tree as they all intoned the hero's prayer. Then, the daughters would all stand with the ponies to ensure they wouldn't spook as the tree crashed to the ground. As the men worked with their axes, they sang not the songs of Yule and the coming of warmer, brighter days, but warrior songs of battle and glory.

Finally, with a groan that almost sounded to Freyja like a sigh of relief, the great ash tumbled to the ground. They all then began to reduce the felled giant to smaller, more managable pieces. It would take them, all told, ten trips through the dark and bitterly cold night to bring the old ash to the village.

Each time they returned, more villagers ventured forth to watch them bring home boughs and branches for their individual homes. Everyone knew which tree Freyja had chosen, and all had fond memories of the ash, and knew it was time to celebrate the tree's great life.

Dawn was nearly breaking when they at last reached the village with the enormous trunk in tow. The fathers, the daughters and especially the ponies were exhausted from the long night trekking back and forth through the snow. A grand breakfast was prepared for the loggers, and after which, they all went to their respective homes to sleep until evening set in.

As the sun set on the longest night of the year, everyone gathered in the darkened meadhall where the families would bring a spark from their own home fires to light the great Yule log. Only after the log was fully aflame could the celebrations begin. This was Freyja's true test. If the log failed to catch fire, not only was it a bad omen for her and her family, but it didn't bode well for the rest of the village.

But she was soon rewarded as the wood began to smoke and then flames began to gnaw at the bark. Before long, the meadhall was awash in firelight and warmth representing the waxing days of sunlight to come. Everyone cheered as mugs of mulled mead were passed from table to table and the roast haunches of venison were brought forth.

To everyone's amazement, the log continued to burn for an unprecedented two weeks. Those who had been against Gunder and Sigrùn adopting this strange girl of unknown parentage, began to think differently. Some even wondered if she just might even be a child of the gods. But all agreed that there was something special about Freyja Gundersdøttir.



Quinnleigh Kincaid
Freyja Gundersdøttir
Highlander OC
1105 Words

Mun Commentary: This was one of those times when the muse takes the idea and runs with it. I have no idea if the actual traditions mentioned are true, but I'd like to think so. This is also one of the few times that Quinn Freyja has talked about her life before her First Death.
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