tirsdag den 1. juli 2008

Nidlongdir Prologue

Author © 2009 Marianne Mathiasen
Photography © Marianne Mathiasen
and Camilla Mathiasen
Illustrations© Marianne Mathiasen

The fairest of all the Gods was Idunn, she was the goddess of springtime and youth, and dearly loved by all the other Gods. They loved her for her beauty and her magic apples. 

Idunn kept her ripe, sweet and rosy apples in a golden basket, and each day, at dawn, Idunn would go to the table where the gods sat and feasted together, to give those who wished a taste of the magic fruit.

Everyone who had tasted the magic fruit grew fresh and young again, however old and weary he had been before. For even the Gods of AAsgard would grow old and weary sometimes; and then nothing would make them young again but the Apples of Youth. Idunn looked after the apples with the greatest care, and never let them out of her sight for a moment, and however many she took out of her basket wherewith to feed the gods, there always remained just the same number as before.

It was only to be expected, of course, that the fame of this magic fruit would spread, and as nobody like to grow old, many of the giants, as well as the little dwarf people, gathered outside the gates of AAsgard, and begged Idunn to give them a taste of the apples. In return they offered her the richest gifts they could think of.

One day Odin grew weary of watching his heroes feast and fight in Valhalla, and was determined to go forth and seek an adventure elsewhere. So he called for his brother Hoenir, the clear-eyed Asa, who first gave hope to the heart of man, and Loki the mischievous fellow, who yet by reason of his fun was no bad travelling companion, and asked them accompany him on a journey.

They went over the Rainbow Bridge called Bifrost, and came down to the world below where they found themselves in a desolate region of mountains and moorland, through which they wandered for a long, long time without coming across any kind of human habitation. At last they felt very hungry, they began to look about for food, and presently saw to their great joy a herd of oxen feeding upon the mountainside. It didn’t take them long to kill a fine bull and to kindle an immense fire; after which the Gods hung up the animal to roast and, sat down to wait till it was done. But though the fire flamed bravely over the logs, it made no difference whatever to the meat, which remained raw and cold. Heaping on fresh fuel, the three Gods put the carcass still nearer the flame and waited hungrily. All in vain; but the meat remained uneatable. Looking at each other in dismay, the Gods exclaimed: "There is some magic spell at work here." And at that very moment they heard the loud croak of a bird in the tree above them. Hastily searching the branches, the Gods soon found an immense eagle perched there and looking down upon them with an evil expression. "Ho!" cried Odin, "is it you who has bewitched our food?" The eagle nodded and croaked maliciously again. "Then come at once and remove the spell," cried Hoenir.
"If I do so, will you give me as much as I want to eat?" asked the eagle. At this Odin hesitated, for he feared a trick, but Loki's stomach growled from hunger and he called out: "Yes, yes, anything you like if you will only let the meat to be cooked." Then the great bird swooped down and began to fan the flame with his huge wings, and behold! In a very few minutes the gravy began to run, a delicious smell of roast beef filled the air, and there was the meat done to a turn.
Just as the three gods were putting out hungry hands to seize their portions, the eagle, which had been hovering overhead, swooped down and seized more than three-quarters of the animal, leaving barely enough for one of the gods. This was too much for Loki. With a great roar of rage like that of an angry bear, he seized a great stake that stood near and struck with all his might at the greedy bird.

The eagle shook himself after the blow, but instead of dropping his body he rose slowly into the air. And then, to Loki's dismay, he found that one end of the pole had stuck fast to the body of the bird, the other to his own hands, he couldn’t let go, and so found himself being dragged along over stones and bushes, while his arms were almost torn out of his body. In vain he begged and implored the eagle to let him go; it took no notice of him whatever, but flew on and on just a little way above the earth, Loki felt he couldn't endure no longer, so he promised the bird anything he asked if he would only release him.

Then the eagle spoke, telling him that he would set him free on one condition only, and that was that he should manage by some trick to tempt Idunn out of AAsgard, so that he could obtain possession of her and of the magic fruit. He told Loki, moreover, that he was the Storm Giant Thiassi in disguise, and told him to beware of the consequences if he broke his solemn promise to one of giant race. By this time Loki was ready to promise anything to save his life, so he agreed to the eagle’s terms.

Bruised and turned he made his way back to Odin and Hoenir, by whom he was closely questioned concerning his deal with the eagle. But Loki never hesitated to depart from the truth, and, knowing that it would not do to tell what he had promised, he told them, that the eagle had captured him by mistake for someone else, and that when he found out it was Red Loki himself, he had set him free, with many expressions of sorrow for his error.
So the three Gods returned to AAsgard, and from that moment Loki did not cease to plot and plan the means by which he could entice Idunn outside the gates. And indeed this was no easy matter, for the Apples of Youth were so precious to the gods that Idunn was well guarded by night and day. Sometimes, however, even the Gods were off their guard, and that was the opportunity for Loki to abduct her, but he didn't do it on his own. Loki had plotted this abduction with his friend Thjaz in order to turn her over to the storm giant Thiassi.

During Idunn's absence from the God’s table, the Gods began to age without the magic of her apples, prompting them to press Loki into the task of rescuing her back from the Giant Thiassi. The God Freya had a magic falcon skin that could disguises him as an falcon, so Loki borrowed the falcon skin to be able to retrieved Idunn back from the Giant, by transforming her into a nut for the flight back. Idunn was rescued and the Gods were happy that she once again could offer her magic apples at the God’s table.

On the day Idunn was abducted by Loki; she accidently dropped one of her apples out side the gate of AAsgard. A little later a mischievously fairy by the name Blue Fungi Nose picked up the apple simply because it was there, and because he was hungry. He had just been thrown out of Alfhiem (now known as Alfenheim) by the God Freyr for stealing seeds from Freyr’s sunflowers, assaulting a fairy maiden while she was taking a bath, and drinking to much blue fungi brew. He looked at the apple, and decided to cross the rainbow bridge called Bifrost before he would take a rest, and eat the apple. From the top of Bifrost he could see a nice spot to eat the apple. If he turned left just after the bridge, there was a nice hill overlooking the sea, so he went there to sit down. He took out his knife to cut the apple into slices. The apple was very tasty, but he couldn’t eat all of it, and he could feel a sudden change in his body. He started to age, and in a few hours he was so old that the moss had started to grow on him. He had no idea that it was one of Idunn’s apples he had been eating, and little did he know that eating her apples after crossing the Rainbow Bridge Bifrost would cause him his death.

The seeds from the apple started germinating. Some years went by! The seeds had grown into big strong apple trees there on the hill, and one day the apple trees started to bear apples. At the time the apples was ripe and sweet an old woman went by the trees, and decided to take a rest in the shadow under the apple trees. She picked an apple from the tree she was resting under, and cut the apple in two half. Much to her surprise she found two small fairy babies inside the apple. It had been her misfortune in life never to get any children, so she started to cry of happiness when she saw the babies. She picked all the apples from the apple trees and carefully cut them into half, to see if she could find more babies. At the time she had finished slicing all the apples in half, she had twelve small fairy babies! She wrapped them in apple leaves, and created tiny cradles from twigs, and then she gathered the apples from the apple tree, and carried them back home to her cottage, where she made a lovely sweet apple juice to feed all the babies.

The babies grew fast, and became beautiful and strong fairy knights and maidens. They build a castle in the apple tree that they named Apple Hold. The old woman died of old age and happiness, and was laid to rest under the apple tree by her mourning children. For every teardrop they fell a new flower bloomed, and an enchanted garden grew under the apple tree. Apple Hold was built with love and it is said that; inside the Rainbow Tower of the castle, you will find a bowel of apple seeds. The seeds are placed there so those who are in despair can have a seed to grow their own apple tree of love. If the tree is looked after with tender care, it will bear the apples with fairy babies inside, for you to love!

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