The old man walked along the beach. at least he appeared to be an old man. Indeed he had been alive for many years but age had done very little to stop him or slow him down. He was wearing a grey cloak that went all the way to the ground and a hood was pulled over his head. In the occasional flash that peeked out from underneath the cloak one could see the glint of a grey chain mail shirt as he moved. In truth if one could see under the cloak one would see a hardened male body, muscled and scarred with many scars.
The one thing that could be seen is his face if one looked straight on at him. It was wise and aged but still very strong. His blue eye smoldered with life and fire. His other eye covered by a patch. He had given it up long ago for wisdom. A grey beard trimmed and braided into two braids than hung down his chest. The other thing that could be seen was his strong right hand which grasped a spear that was a couple of feet taller than him. Made of ash wood and tipped with shiny unstained steel. Balanced to the point of perfection, it could strike a target no matter the skill of the one who wielded it. The man smiled as he recalled this, he had only one eye so this came in handy. More importantly to him though was that no oath swore on this spear could be broken.
The man was after all no man at all – but the Norse god Odin, the All Father. For all the good that did him anymore. Gods are dependent on worshipers for the extent of their power. Odin knew his power was not what it once was when he took on the Frost Giants all those millennia ago. But it was enough that brave deeds were in the world and some men still searched for knowledge. The Norse gods never did expect the fawning type of worship other gods demanded. Just respect and to live bravely in front of them and show that by actions not words. In this humanity still supplied some strength to him and his fellow residents of Asgard.
The place he was walking now had been saved by him centuries ago. He sensed the fall of humanity’s worship toward Asgard. The Religion of the Cross slowly grew in power until it pushed his out. Probably only the fact that the Christians so readily combined Pagan and Heathen rituals and celebrations with their own that he and his fellow gods been allowed to survive. But in those last days where his power still had enough significance, he had created this island. Built by him through sundering a small portion of each of the nine worlds and taking a branch of the one world tree, he was able create this place. This Island where the power of the Old Norse gods was still preserved. He frowned. How far they had fallen.
The specific beach on which he was walking was stunningly beautiful. The blue ice-cold ocean lapping its waves against the sand. The tall forest trees of all types on the other hand. Bushes and other temperate vegetation providing cover for small animals and birds. The beach sand itself was the light tan strewn with pebbles and the occasional rock.
As he thought of this, two crows came down the beach toward him. The were large crows and ancient. Huginn and Muninn, his old companions. Their caws caught his attention for they were signalling that they had found something. One of them landed on his right shoulder and the other perched on his left forearm. It was Huginn on his arm and the bird informed him with its whispers that there was a body of a man down the beach. Odin raised an eyebrow as he got the full report and then raised his head and whistled.
In seconds two wolves appeared. Both of them were huge, standing as tall as a tall man’s waist. One was snow-white with blue eyes – Geri. The other was midnight black with red eyes – Freki. Both of them ran with speed to their master who greeted them warmly. He then sent the down the beach ahead of him to find this body. His voice was strong and commanding as it always was, he being king of Asgard. He told them to guard it until he got there. The Ravens left him and followed the wolves, flying above them.
Odin headed out at pace but he lost sight of the wolves for while as they rounded a curve on the beach. His ravens still circled above the treeline and he could see where they had started to circle over where the body must lay. As he rounded the bend in the coastline, the picture came into view.
Laying face down, spread-eagle was a naked man. Odin could see by comparing his size to Geri who was standing next the man that he was easily as tall as himself. He was also muscular and his hair, cut short, was black but it was salt and peppered with grey hairs along with white temples. An older man who took care of his body apparently. Muninn swooped down and landed on Odin’s shoulder and began to whisper in his ear stuff for Odin to remember. Odin nodded as he approached and listened to the bird.
When Odin reached the body he bent down next to it. It was puzzling and he could not see any stitch of clothing like someone who had during storm had survived it. No this man was clean naked like he had been stripped of it. Only the glint of a silver chain around the man’s neck could be seen. Muninn cocked his head sideways and also looked quizzically at the man. Huginn was still circling overhead and Geri sniffed the body. Freki stood some distance away, standing guard and staying alert.
Odin reached over and turned the man over. The man’s face was also younger looking than it probably should have been. He had a goatee which was black and grey like his hair. His faced was etched with some signs of age but not many. One the chain around the man’s neck was a pendent. Odin took it in his fingers. It was a symbol of Thor’s Hammer. There was something odd about it though.
Odin closed his one eye and then opened it again, Now the eye glowed with a soft white light and he looked at the man up and down. He paid particular attention to the pendent though and then he chuckled the laugh of the old and wise when they discover something they should have seen as obvious, but missed it. He closed his eye again and when he opened it back up it was once again its normal deep blue.
“Not from here are you. You are from the world outside. Now the only question is how you got here? Huginn and Muninn, head back to the cabin and tell Frigg I am coming with an unconscious man who will need her healing hand.”
Huginn and Muninn took off without hesitation heading back the way they had come. Odin laid his spear in the sand and then hosted the man over his shoulder. He then grabbed his spear again in his right hand and stood effortlessly. He walked as easily as if he had before unburdened. His pace was the same. A god’s strength comes in handy at times.
The man was a puzzle to be sure. Not of the Island that was for sure. Odin reflected that he had, when he had created the island, pulled in parts of various Viking clans. This man was not part of any one of them. He had the look of some one with an easy life but one who deliberately put himself through physical activity to keep himself strong and athletic. How long had it been since the last person had gotten through the barrier? Centuries at least.
Odin pondered this as he always did. Ragnarok always was in the front of his mind. The great wolf Fenrir’s face coming at him, the jaws clamping down on him. Not the fault of Fenrir but his own treachery against the wolf had caused that. A mistake in the judgment of the gods. They feared Fenrir too much and it had cost them. It had made them a powerful enemy. Odin had spent his life trying to delay the end of the world that Fenrir would bring about – Ragnarok.
His concern was his dreams and visions had not told him everything. Something as simple as a man arriving from the old world outside the island could be the start of the end. A harbinger of doom is what his man’s appearance could be. Or it could be nothing. The amulet though was not of Viking make, although it was the symbol of Thor’s hammer, and it was infused with magic.
The man himself did not look injured. But his breathing was very shallow and his heart beat very slowly. Odin hoped Frigg would know more. He sighed deeply. So much was lost; and yet, the world he had made here had become loved and familiar to him, He had wandered its places many times. While not as great a joy as the world of the One World Tree, he found it stimulating. He would miss it when Ragnarok actually came. He hoped that now was not the time. But he knew that one time, something would signal the end. As pondered these things, the house he and Frigg called home at times came into view.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.