The Northern Way

Angliad

3. BÆLDÆG

As we related above, Woden's son Bældæg became king of the land we now call Westphalia, at that time the domain of the Heathobards. Before this it was ruled by King Heathobard, but Woden and the gods defeated him in battle and seized his kingdom, bestowing it upon Bældæg. He married a local woman, and had two sons by her, Forseta and Brand.

At this time, Heathobard's young son Hætha was being fostered by the neighbouring King Gewar. During a visit to King Gewar's lands, Bældæg saw Nanne, daughter of Gewar, and despite his existing wife, fell in love with her. He set out to the court to ask for her hand.

When Hætha, who was also in love with his foster-sister, learnt of Bældæg's intentions, he went to Gewar.

'I wish to marry Nanne,' he told him.

Gewar looked troubled.

'Willingly would I give you my daughter's hand,' said the king, 'but word has reached me that Bældæg has the same desire. And all know that, by spells, the gods have made Bældæg's body invulnerable to iron.'

'Is there no way we could slay him?' demanded Hætha.

'I do know of a sword that could kill the god,' replied Gewar, 'but it is in the keeping of Miming, a wood-elf who dwells in Halgoland, in the far north.'

Undeterred, Hætha set out to find the sword.

Meanwhile, Bældæg came to Gewar's court. On making his request, Gewar replied;

'Ask Nanne for her own opinion,' and Bældæg did so.

Nanne replied;

'I do not think it is fitting that a mortal like myself should marry a god.'
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After this refusal, Hætha returned unexpectedly from the north, bearing the sword of Miming, and attacked Bældæg. The gods came to Bældæg's aid, Woden with his spear, Thunær with his mighty hammer, and many another. But Hætha fought back, and even took on Thunær, hacking off the thunder-god's hammer haft. With this weapon damaged, the gods fled to Odense, Bældæg with them.

Victorious, Hætha returned to Gewar, and in great pomp he married Nanne. He brought his queen back to his own land, but then Bældæg returned, and defeated him, forcing him to flee to Gewar. After the battle, Bældæg pierced the earth and created a fresh spring for his thirsty troops. But Nanne's absence plagued the god, and each night he dreamed of phantoms of her. He grew so ill that he could no longer walk.

At this time, Hætha had been accepted as king by the Danes. On learning this, Bældæg came after him with a fleet. They fought over the territories of the Danes, and Bældæg forced Hætha into retreat.

Now the gods decided to bring back Bældæg's strength with a magical meal. But before it could be prepared, Hætha returned, and attacked Bældæg's host. He met with Bældæg, and wounded him mortally with the Sword of Miming, and the god retreated from the field. Next day, he returned to the battle in a litter, rather than die in his tent. That night, however, he saw Hel, goddess of the underworld, who promised him that she would soon have him in her embrace.

After three days, Bældæg died from his wound, and his followers buried him in a barrow.
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Woden began to ask seers and wise-women how to avenge his son's death. In the far north he met Horstheof of Eotenhame.

'You must father another son by Hrind, daughter of the giant-king, and this son will avenge his brother's death.'

So Woden muffled his face in his hood, and entered the service of the giant-king. He became captain of the giant-warriors, and won a splendid victory over their enemies. The king lauded him highly, and even more so after he succeeded in routing the foe single-handedly. Now he was so far in the king's favour, he told him of his love for Hrind. Although the giant-king favoured him, Hrind only hit him when he came looking for a kiss.

Undeterred, the next year he returned to the king in the guise of a foreigner, saying that his name was Horstheow, and that he was a smith. The king gave him a great deal of gold, and told him to make rich ornaments for the ladies of the court. Woden offered Hrind an exquisite bracelet and several rings. But again, when he tried to kiss her, she struck him. Her father was angry with her for refusing him, but she said "I will not wed an old man!"

A third time, Woden went to the king, in the guise of a warrior. Again she struck him when he tried to kiss her, but he touched her with a rune-carved stave, and she fell into a fit.

Woden took on the form of a maiden, and went to the giants again.

'I am Wicce, a physician,' he told them.

'Then you must tend Hrind, my daughter,' said the unsuspecting giant-king; and in this way, Woden managed to have his way with the girl.
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But because Woden had brought shame to the gods by these actions, the gods banished him, putting in his place the god Wuldor, who ruled the gods for nine years. Wuldor was a cunning wizard who used a bone marked with runes to cross the sea, rather than a ship. But at last the gods pitied Woden in his exile, and he returned, driving Wuldor out to be slain by the Danes. Now Woden discovered that Wala, his son by Hrind, was a warrior, and he went to the lad, reminding him of his brother's death.

Wala met Hætha in battle, and slew him, but was so badly wounded that he died the next day.

Now Woden told the people of the North that he was returning to Esageard, and that there he would welcome all his friends, and said that all brave warriors should be dedicated to him; now he lives there eternally.

Then began the belief in Woden, and the calling upon him. It is believe that he appears to the people of the North before any great battle. He gives victory to some; other he invites to his hall; both of these are fortunate.

They burned Woden's body, and at his pyre there was much splendour. They say that the higher the smoke rises in the air, the higher in Walhall will he sit, whose pyre it is; and that the more property is consumed with him, the richer he shall be in the next life.

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4. EARENDEL


Garwendel son of Woden ruled over the Jutes, until his cousin Wadolgeat of the Angles defeated him in battle. Wadolgeat established his power over the Jutes, but appointed Garwendel's sons Earendel and Feng as under-kings. Earendel reigned for three years, then decided to win for himself a wife. He heard of the princess Garthryth, fairest woman in the world, who was imprisoned in a tower in Eotenhame, surrounded and guarded over by giants. Earendel set out north with his fleet, bound for the land of the giants, but for three years his progress was hindered by the ice, until finally a storm freed them. Then the fleet sailed on to a land governed by a giant named Bela, who Earendel defeated in a sea-battle.

But then his ship was wrecked, and Earendel came floating on a plank to an island where he was rescued by a man who introduced himself as Yse the fisherman. But Earendel soon saw that the man was no ordinary fisherman; he had a castle with seven towers, and a host of fishermen served under him. In truth, he was the god Thunær, who in the northern oceans had once had the world-serpent on his hook. Earendel emancipated himself from his slavery with gold.

After many other adventures, Earendel came to the Meadows of Neorxena, where Garthyrth was imprisoned. Thunær himself showed him the way. Earendel found Garthryth surrounded by giants and monsters, who spent their time fighting each other, but still waited upon the fair maiden as their princess. When Earendel approached, the giants tried to take his life, and he was hard pressed to defend himself.

But he came at last to Garthryth's bower, where she received him with a kiss and a greeting, knowing that he was to be her husband. Once Earendel had defeated all the giants, they celebrated a kind of wedding, but between them lay a two-edged sword, and they slept like brother and sister by each other's side before sailing back to Jutland.

Earendel had now passed three years in valiant deeds of war, and to win Wadolgeat's favour, he gave the king the pick of his plunder. He married Garthryth, and she bore him a son named Amluth. For many years they lived in peace.

But Feng, Earendel's brother, was jealous at his good luck, and after much brooding he decided to murder his brother. When the chance came to do this, he seized upon it, then married Garthryth, telling the people that Earendel had greatly ill-treated her.

'It was to save her that I slew my brother,' he told the people. 'I thought it was shameful that she should suffer her husband's abuse.' And he was widely believed.
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