The First Gēola

The war between the Ése and Éotens began long ago, in the old days after the trees of the worlds bore first fruits. Sorrowful times were had in Middangeard during those long winters brought while Éotens gained ground. The first sign of their presence was a warning chill from the north, and Frīge, Fate-weaver and reader of the Wyrd, knew the lives of Middangeard would not last should the Éotens gain further reach.

Sunne had begun to drift south in search of something to aid those afflicted by the cold the ice Éotens brought, for naught could escape her brilliance, and though she searched further each night, nothing could she find. Following her were all wind-swift creatures whose hearts could not bear the long nights without her warmth.

The chill foretold flakes of feather-down, and soon winter’s blanket had settled over the worlds. The ice Éotens gained ground, snow hardened and became slick, turning to great, frozen rivers that gouged the land, and the earthen creatures sought shelter from the cold. The Ése, battle-wise and glad-hearted, nonetheless felt the chill of their foes.

While Sunne’s search drew long and Mona was left to tend the sky, Frīge watched over her loom and over Ésasele, and saw that it was Sunne’s lengthened absences that were drawing warmth away from the worlds, leaving Frīge with bare firelight to work her loom by, and giving war-favor to the ice Éotens, who were weakened by Sunne’s warm light.

During one such night, the longest of Sunne’s absences, the hearths were burning low. Frīge sent a message by one of the sky-hunters that could fly with only Mona’s pale light, telling Woden that rather than feed ravens, they were needed to gather fuel to feed the fires of home.

The Oscyning knew the strength of the Ése, the gladness of their hearts, and the fierceness of the foes they faced. Woden returned Frīge’s silent-winged messenger with word of the battle they faced without Sunne’s warmth to aid them. He would not bid them leave their task.

Seeing the fires burn lower, Frīge replied, “We have other means to battle. With more hands, we will need but a few days to gather enough for our need and more. Let us raise hope and light in the hearts of our war-weary in the absence of Sunne, and fuel for our hearths in the same stroke. The Éotens will not try Ésaburh while we boast all of our number, the threads show me this. We will call Hama, ever-watching and sight-keen, to keep guard on the Éotens as we feast, and ease the burden of your mind.”

Woden told the warriors of the feast to be had, and the Wyrd Frīge had read. They returned to Ésasele, felling any great trees sap-drained by the killing frost of the Éotens. In one swing, Thunor used Heofonfŷr to fell the largest, a tree with a trunk the width of nine grown men, and splintered it to kindling. Upon their arrival, Frīge greeted them with praise for their foresight, and laughed at the tree Thunor had splintered. “Enough twigs to light the torches of all the worlds,” she said, and took the splinters that were left setting them throughout the hall to light even the darkest corners.

Soon great fires were lit throughout Ésasele, and within Woden’s hall all was warm and merry, with meat and mead and all brought from Woden’s larder. The great feast was had, with Hama watching as the Éotens found troubles in their own camps. Tales of their great deeds and battles the warriors told, and from the homemakers there came stories that sent laughter echoing among the beams. From Sunne’s longest absence they feasted and made merry, until Mona woke from his rest, and even Thunor leaned back with a great belch and pronounced himself… nearly full, drawing more laughter from the hall.

“I will finish my feasting with Hama, who has kept watch these long nights,” he announced, and took two troughs piled high and two great barrels of drink to where Hama stood looking over Frīge’s work and the Éotens beyond.

“Your watch is welcomed, Hama,” Thunor greeted him, and they stood together. Thunor shared some of the stories and tales as well as the food of the feast while Hama kept his gaze turned outward, and when the food was gone they stood in silence.

“Sunne,” Hama said, as her light became visible in the distance.

“Has she said aught of her task?” Thunor asked, and Hama nodded.

“That she heard word from a maid of an herb that will help all through the cold nights,” Hama said, then peered closer. “Her brilliance… This night has not lasted the length of the others.”

“She returns, then,” Thunor said, then took word back to Woden and Frīge, and all those in the hall, of Sunne’s slow return, and the herb she’d sent word of.

This brought a great cheer in the hall, and when the rested warriors took up their battle-clothes again against the ice Éotens, it was with the surety of a victory within reach.

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