So It was at the dawn of the world that the first war ended with the victory of the Aesir over the Vanir, and Njord went as hostage unto Asgard as Hoenir went to Vanaheim in return. So it was with the pride of Vanir warriors slain upon the field that Freya the Shining wept bitter tears for the loss of her people. She wept for Njord of the Sea, whose sons save Frey were now dead upon the field, and he away to Asgard as hostage. Where she wept her tears upon the sea, so did they turn to amber. She wept for Nerthus of the Earth, who turned her face from all the worlds now that the strong sons she bore were now wrapped in her embracing earth, not striding boldly upon it. Where her tears fell upon the land, they turned to gold.
Mighty was the magic of Freya, she called Gullveig Thrice-Burnt and unconquered, yet mighty too was the magic of Odin, and the might of Thor, Tyr and Heimdall were too much for any save mighty Frey to stand against, and so her folk, like her tears were fallen. As she wept she felt a magic tugging gently at her powers, weaving slowly and deeply in and beyond the worlds. Looking down she saw four dwarves, two called Dvalinn and Alfrik who searched the mountains and valleys, and two called Berling and Grer who searched the shore and the sea bottom, to gather her tears.
Deep in the bones of the worlds where Nerthus kept her silence sounded the hammers of dwarves four, each blow weaving in soil and stone, rock and tree, seed and stalk. Beneath the waves chimed the song of the anvil, from the hags of the mere, the selkies of the shore, the weed of the deep sea swayed to it, and the salmon in the streams leapt to its call. Freya heard the song echo in her father’s crashing waves and her mothers deepest silence, and in it was the ache of her own tears, the whisper of her own lusts, and the thunder of her own passions. Moved at last to curiosity, she cast her cloak about her, and on falcon’s wings followed the sound of the hammers down to the caves.
Casting off her cloak, as a witch wrapped in the shadows of the dark did she stalk the caves until upon the forge of the four did she come. Runes of power to bar even Loki from walking, or Heimdall from seeing barred her from walking unseen among them. Casting aside the darkness she had gathered, she walked before the four clad in the splendor of the Queen of the Van.
Dvalinn, Alfrik, Berling, and Grer raised high in triumph Brísingamen, a necklace forged of Freya’s tears, of the amber of her father’s realm, and the gold of her mother’s. Where the necklace joined shone a jewel as bright as Sunna. Power shone from it that called to her, fire of the sun, passions of the dark, fury of the blood, terror of the bone, secrets of the dead, and renewal of life. All that was sundered in the world by the war that was could be set right, all that had been overthrown might be reborn, and a need to own this Brísingamen burned in her as had passion for no man nor god.
“I will cover you four with gold beyond counting, each to hold the price of my brother’s sword, will you yield that necklace to my hands” Boasted Freya proudest queen in nine worlds.
Dvalinn sneered at her offer and his strong hand wrapped around the necklace like iron.
“No good did his smith get from it, nor your tribe, nor all the nine worlds. No weapon will we forge for your wars, not for all the gold that sleeps beneath the mountain. While I hold this necklace, I feel the sun upon the mountain glen, hear the cries of eagles, and know the whispers of every word carried upon the wind. I am cold and lonely beneath the earth, with naught but the song of the hammer to sing me to my rest, and naught but forged metal beneath my palm. Nay goddess. It is no gold of yours I covet”
Freya let fall her mantle and stood in the firelight crowned in the gold of her flowing hair, skin painted in the dancing firelight, raising her arms in invitation as she sang to him softly.
“See the firelight dance upon my skin like a lover’s hungry hands, would you trade the hunting cry of eagle for the falcon’s scream of joy? Would you know the whispers of a hundred thousand secrets, or the tender whispers of a night of love”
So it was for a night Dvalinn danced in the embrace of the fire of life, heard the falcon cry of release, and wept burning brine tears as he it was who whispered love and devotion unasked and unreturned to she whose love burned all consuming. In the morning Dvalinn knelt to her and bade her hold the necklace for all his claim.
Alfrik shook his craggy brow, and tugged his iron beard, unmoved by her beauty. His words were the sound of millstones grinding.
“When I hold the necklace I feel every seed sleeping in the earth, every blossom yet to open do I scent, and each nut shows me the tree it dreams. While I hold it, though I walk the deepest snows, still will I see the fruit hanging on the branch, smell the apple blossom in the snow, while I hold it goddess, no darkness or hunger shall ever find me. What could you offer me more than freedom from want?”
Alfrik turned his back to Freya, that her sight not sway him, and she pressed her body to his hard and gnarled one like a the shroud upon a corpse. Whispering to his ears like wind in the summer branches, she let her soft hands run along the hard and bitter muscles of his arms and chest. Her belly she pressed against his back as her tongue flicked at his ear and she whispered hot and hungry like a fever in his ear.
“Want I offer you, endless and wanton. Hunger that can never be satiated, thirst that can never be quenched. Desire that will unmake and destroy you. No mead will touch your lips but you don’t think it bitter sea water compared to my kiss, no fire will warm your bones that you do not think it corpse cold compared to my sweet embrace, no gold will shine in your eyes like the sweat on my skin, nor any bower rest you save my once shared arms”
So it was the Alfrik gave himself knowing to her taking, and for every heartbeat between sundown and sunrise did he know the bliss few gods dare, and broken and weeping did he yield to her the necklace when she left him.
Berling shook his shaggy head as Freya stalked him at the forge. He held hard to Brísingamen and its bounty, denying Freya in her glory. He knew well the gifts it brought him and named them for her so she would know he could not be tempted.
“With this I know the name of every salmon leaping in the stream, I can bid the waters of the earth to burst forth from the stone bright and pure, or boiling and foul, bid the swamp to firm to farming field and the river to spill its banks in fury. What can your arms offer to that, bright goddess?”
Dancing around him, ribbon trailing from her fingers Freya chanted.
“I offer why the salmon leaps the raging river, why proud stags die for kingship, why the rabbits dance the spring and wolves dance death itself”
Turning around and around the dwarf of the deeps, Freya sang the song of the cycles of the earth, the dance of the Maypole and its Queen. Binding him with ribbons spun from her own shift, she danced him bound and her naked. Dancing the soft grace of summer’s plenty, the gentle turning of autumns glory, the rising need and hunger of the long dark, and at last the madness and ever renewing passion of the spring.
Deep beneath the earth where no sun rises or moon turns, where no season touched, nor age could bite she danced for him the cycles of the year, the cycles of birth and death, of hunger and plenty. She danced herself Queen of the May and bound him as her May consort, bound to the pole, bound to the earth, bound to the cycles, bound to the dance of life.
Like a rutting stag he took her, and laughing she urged him on, meeting passion with passion, Queen of the May binding the lord to the land, the renewal of life, and the foretaste of death. In the sunless lands where age cannot touch, did Berling dance the wheel of the year, and the cycle of life. She wove for him a crown of flowers drawn from the earth, and he bound the Brísingamen to her throat. Bound he was when she left him to she that he could never have again, and cycles no dwarf could ever join.
Ger waited in the cold of the forge. His eyes were stone no fire could melt, no beauty could turn. His blood was cold as glacial stream and no thing that lived could move him.
“Do not waste your breath you wanton goddess. I am not the fool of my brethren. With this necklace in my hand do I see the roots below the world and trace the roaring of the mother of waters to the trackless depths where Ran binds in silence all those she cast for upon her seas. I know the secrets of every world the waters touch from the Hvergelmir to the gates of Hel I know what any that lives may know, and nothing you have may tempt me”
Freya stalked now naked and proud, but her hands she turned, and gloves of fine catskin cloaked them. Throwing back her head, she laughed, and shadows lapped at her body like dark waves upon a midnight tide.
“Ger the far seeing, you are called, Ger the long living, are you named”
The darkness flowed from Freya’s eyes, and in them a hunger burned that was not sane, was not safe, was not survivable. Weaving her hands as she danced the wild dances of hunt and kill, of stalk and slaying, of butchery and blood. Wild and wanton she danced not the coupling of love but hunt, war, and red handed murder.
“Dwarf of the worlds forging I offer you death! You see from the first wave to Ran’s dark net, but not where she drags down her prey. You see the river’s lap upon Hel’s shore, but not her hall. You who were born at the worlds forging know no birth, and will know no death as man and god may know. You who are not tied to time may not know death, save through my arms, may feel no grave save through my bower, find nothingness only in me”
With a wordless cry Ger reached for the goddess of all dark passions, with a will he drank her kisses as she took him down into death a hundred times that night, a thousand by the morning. Broken and screaming, weeping, silent with wonder, laughing in joy the goddess of all the passions taught one who existed beyond life and death about the end of all things. When the morning came, he begged her to take Brísingamen from him, but would not raise his eyes to see her leave.
Laufey’s Son did see her stalk from the cavern with Brísingamen bound upon her breast, and Loki mocked her for the getting.
“Sold yourself to four crawlers of the earth, proud Gullveig thrice-burned now four-swived for a trollp’s treasure! How the Van-Dis is shamed, as broken as your tribe”
Loki’s charge should have driven her into a rage, yet beneath the sun did Freya stand.
Raising her arms, she called out a joyous cry, and was answered. The bones of every mountain rang like bells. Sleeping seeds gave whispers promising endless fields of heavy grain, great stags and shaggy wolves gave voice to summer’s song in the heart of winter, and the sleeping trees burst forth with blossom that no frost would touch.
Slow measured steps she danced around Loki’s snarling visage and stag and wolf danced death for her eyes, and sweet Sunna whose light barely touched the rim of the world shone now from Freya’s necklace like May Day’s promise of springtime.
Bowing to Loki gently, she trailed a hand across his shoulder as she passed him upon her way, saying simply.
“I have what I have, I paid what I paid, and I am what I am, all that I am, and all that I will be. Brísingamen’s mistress, the unbound, thrice burned, Van-Dis, and delight of dark witches.”