The Exile of Brynhild

Excerpted from the first chapter of the novel, Loving Brynhild

By Clarise Samuels

Odin evicted me from Asgard, the heavenly abode, because I fell madly in love with a handsome, young general who was slated to die that day. The handsome young warrior didn't die that day. I saved him, against orders, and it was the old general with the grey hair who died instead and was whisked back to Valhalla by me and my Valkyries. I paid dearly for this transgression. I was to live another life on planet Earth, that festering, violent cauldron of primitive emotions and savage desires. Earth was no place for a goddess. But I had no choice. Odin's orders were issued and there I was, falling through the seven heavens, falling, falling, falling, until I landed on Mount Hindarfiall.

You see, Odin, the Supreme Being, was madly in love with me.

Yes, he had a wife. Odin was severe with his wife, Frigg, who was constantly jealous and suspicious about his relationship with me. She could not leave it alone, and he would order her to cease and desist with her constant questions and innuendoes. She carried on relentlessly when so handled by Odin. She fairly screamed at him, "It's because you would leave me for a brilliant, young beauty if we were human and living down there with the rest of them, wouldn't you? You're always going on and on about how you love all of them. You sympathise with the seducer!"

"Yes, that's right," Odin would scream back, "Because I am the Ultimate Seducer! I am the All and the Nothing, the Finite and the Infinite. They call me God and many other names — All-Father, Grim, Ganglari, Herian, Hialmberi, Thekk, High, Just-as-high, Vakr, Skilfing — as you well know, given the Tower of Babble that humans have devised with their languages."

Frigg's frustration had some basis to it. Odin was obsessed with human relationships. Romance was a particularly brutal area for humans, fraught with pain and misunderstandings. Thus, the need arose for the "secret code" that Odin devised just for humans. The code was based on eye contact alone. Holding one's gaze steadily and directly for a prolonged period of time while smiling or looking content meant, "I desire you." Briefly meeting the other's gaze but then looking away quickly and then lowering the eyes, still keeping the beloved in one's peripheral vision meant, "I'm thinking about it but I need more time." Holding the other's gaze steadily but without smiling and sometimes with a rather grim facial expression meant, "why are you hurting me like this?" And the list went on and on.

It was madness. Divine madness.

Yes, Odin loved me. But Odin and I were bound to have a falling out. I had already strained Odin's patience with a series of minor infractions. Nevertheless, when I finally broke with Odin, it all happened so fast that I hardly knew what hit me.

It was just another typical day in the life of a Valkyrie. I had been sent to the front lines of a significant battle to collect the most honourable souls. The old king, Helm Gunnar, fought that night against the young King Agnar. Odin had promised the victory to the wise and aged Helm Gunnar.

But Agnar was a beautiful man, blonde and bearded; he was the perfect model of a Norse warrior. I fell in love with him at first sight. I had arrived at the scene just a few seconds too early. Victory did not yet belong to Helm Gunnar; Agnar, who was slated to die that day, was still alive and still embroiled in the thick of the battle.
I did the unthinkable. I intervened, and no one had asked me. I interfered with Agnar's agenda. I countermanded Odin's decree. I saved Agnar, and instead condemned Helm Gunnar, the aged and legendary warrior, to an untimely death.

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