She had been chosen. The eyes were compelling her onward, her name was being spoken.
Sigrun Eide, come forward now.
Sigrun could smell the glacial air blowing through the pines in the chasm mere meters from her feet, and hawks cavorted on the thermals, hovering just at the edge before dipping out of sight below. The mountains rose on the far side of the valley, pale blue in the distance, with mist far down their stony slopes. Still she strode forward. She had nothing to fear.
She had almost reached the edge when Freyja, the goddess of the compelling eyes, stepped between Sigrun and the chasm. She was so close that Sigrun could feel the glow from the form she was wearing. Smiling, the goddess held up a single falcon’s feather to Sigrun’s view, turned it in her strong fingers once, then slowly lowered the feather while holding Sigrun’s gaze. The feather brushed along Sigrun’s bare throat.
Sigrun, you are valiant.
The eyes, in turn fierce and soft, blue and amber and brown, remained locked onto Sigrun’s. The feather continued past Sigrun’s bare breasts and down her belly. Sigrun felt herself returning the glow, but kept her gaze locked upon the goddess.
You are strong.
The feather reached its destination, the tip stroking her gently. Sigrun gasped.
“I am not strong, I am weak,” Sigrun whispered. It was true; Freyja had barely brushed the feather against Sigrun before she felt herself glowing. The goddess smiled then, and kissed Sigrun tenderly before throwing her off the cliff.
Sigrun fell in shock toward the glacier far below, before noticing her wings stretched out in front of her. The feather had transformed into the goddess’ falcon cloak, lending Sigrun the shape of a falcon. In a sudden rush of understanding, Sigrun extended her wings into the thermals and rose, rose toward the sun. Freyja laughed as she stood on the edge, unbound hair wafting in the wind from the glacier, and beckoned Sigrun to come to her arm.
Sigrun obeyed, and found herself within the circle of the goddess’ arm as she removed the cloak from Sigrun’s bare shoulders. Once again she held up the single feather. Her arm was warm around Sigrun’s bare back; she held Sigrun’s gaze as she brushed the feather along Sigrun’s body. She laughed as Sigrun moaned with pleasure. The circling hawks’ cries rose to a crescendo.
The birds’ dawn chorus rose to a crescendo in the trees outside the tent, in time with the flapping of the tent above Sigrun’s head. As she came back to her body and the glow from the goddess’ touch dissipated, she could feel wetness under her face. The wind had kicked up in the night and rain had pooled inside the old tent, but she was still warm enough beyond the heat from the dream.
Her injured arm started throbbing. She was sleeping on her side, and suddenly realised she was warm because Reynir was spooned around her. She froze and listened intently. Reynir’s breathing was steady and a bit wheezy, definitely asleep, but Mikkel’s breath as he lay on his back in front of her was suspiciously quiet. He usually kept up a soft snoring all night long. Blast and damn, he was faking sleep! That could only mean that she must have moaned aloud in her sleep, and he had heard her. She wondered if she could blot out that unwanted thought, go back to sleep and be with the goddess again. She closed her eyes tightly and pictured the scene, but it was no use.
She sighed quietly and shifted away from Reynir slightly, trying for Mikkel’s benefit to make it sound as if she was stirring prior to awakening. They were crammed together too closely in this tent; Sigrun much preferred sprawling on her belly. She should have an outside position and the civilian the middle, but her injury and resulting illness from the infection precluded that. Blast and damn.
Mikkel resumed his snoring again and Sigrun relaxed, but knew she wouldn’t be able to fall asleep again, not with dawn so close. She considered Reynir, still lying behind her. Had he spooned her on purpose? She neither could nor would ask him; she decided to pretend it had been involuntary and leave it at that. The warmth didn’t really go amiss; hunter troops back in Norway would often sleep huddled if the weather turned unseasonably cold in the summer. It was practical and bonding.
The Icelandic seers were supposed to be blessed with their abilities by Freyja, she mused. Weren’t they usually women? How had Freyja appeared to this Reynir? Had he gotten the feather treatment from her? Sigrun lost herself in erotic reverie for quite a long moment; she had never thought of the kid quite this way before. And I won’t ever again, she decided, nopenopenope.
But unbidden, the image remained in her mind, until a more compelling one burst into her consciousness. What if Freyja is making me a seer? Maybe tonight’s dream was sort of an initiation? A very nice initiation. And she saw in her mind’s eye all the seers back in Iceland in their big house, all lounging around naked, waiting to be touched again by the goddess. Brushing out and braiding one another’s hair, and laughing. Tracing staves on one another’s bodies with feathers. One skinny freckled boy with unbound red hair appeared among them. Nopenopenope, Sigrun squeezed her eyes tightly shut, trying to dispel that image.
It worked. She suddenly saw herself piling stones on the boy, which morphed into Tuuri’s still face under the stones. Much much worse! And they'd not recovered Emil & Lalli's bodies to even do that last courtesy for them. She couldn't bear where her thoughts were taking her now, time to resort to desperate measures.
“Oy, Mikkel, wakey-wakey,” she poked his arm, “birds are up, time to get up. We’ve got a leak in the tent.” Her head spun as she sat up. How far would she be able to walk today, as sick as she was?