You Can't Have Forever

The old norse prose piece "Völuspá" re-written as a story. A seeress, Kunnandi, is asked by Odin Allfather to tell the history of the world from when the gods created it to Ragnarök, the battle in which everything will be destroyed. You see the story through her eyes and through the POVs of other gods.

The  woman  stood  alone  in  the  golden  hall,  her  dark  hair  and  sharp  features  making  her  a  contrast  to  the delicate embellishments  that  surrounded  every  inch  of  the  palace.  Her  long  cloak  draped  onto  the  floor,  clearly  advertising every  frustrated  move  she  made  to  command  the  attention  of  the  regal  crowd  gathered  before  her  grey  eyes. 


            “Hearing I ask of you, for even though a holy race you may be, I cannot foretell the future to those who can’t – or won’t– hear me.” Improvising, the stranger began to speak, hoping her words would calm the roar of the aggravated gathering. After all she’d always had a way with words.


            “You are acting like mortals! Although, now I have witnessed so-called ‘Gods’ behaving in such a fashion, I understand why mankind has such raucous and ill-mannered ways! After all, are they not the sons of Heimdall, who I see standing there, spyglass in hand, in the corner of this room?” That shut them up. Growing silent, the folk of legend began to cease their seemingly endless bickering.


            “Odin Allfather, you bade me come, and yet to greet my presence, I find a debate taking place. Would you rather I left now, without giving you any word of mine, or would you rather greet me properly? I do not bow down to you, Odin, and I never will. The ways of the Völva have long been envied by yourself and your followers, and I only offer my services here today because I have something of great import to grace your unappreciative selves with. I have powers you all would die for. And I will not let you forget that fact.” Pleased with her speech, she waited silently for a response.


            “Kunnandi, it is surely out of peacemaking that we invited you to honour us with your presence. As you very well know, we-” Odin began, but the outsider snorted in a rude and downright unladylike fashion. She was beyond irritated now, and Odin was not going to make her back down with a couple of well-phrased sentences.


            “I have had enough of your empty words, Odin. Do you wish me to recite my tales and my visions of the future, or not?” She snapped. The Allfather sighed. He had dealt with this particular prophetess before, and knew of the power that came along with her sharp tongue.


“I bid you to continue, Kunnandi. Tell us in this gathering of our histories, of Yggdrasil, of Chaos and Order. Tell us of our future, be it tomorrow, or in centuries to come. We wish you no disrespect.” At this last statement, the Völva gave a disbelieving laugh, leaving the audience with no doubt exactly what she thought of them.


“If it was up to me, your future would be a short one, leaving these worlds free from the complacent and conceited beings sitting in front of me, and leaving a pure world populated by my elder race.” Forgetting that she was meant to be dignified, Kunnandi spat out the words that she had longed to throw at them for many ages.


But it was her destiny to be here and retell her visions. And as much as she wished it to be untrue, it was written in the stars. And so it was that Kunnandi inwardly cursed her horoscope, and addressed the ever-patient immortal seated in a golden throne opposite her.


“You always were a dreamer,” another immortal spoke out from the silent crowd, amusement dancing in his voice. “But you can’t have forever, Bráðr.”


Kunnandi winced as another of her many names was mentioned. Bráðr, meaning hasty, was a title of hers that few knew. She much preferred her current title- Kunnandi meant knowledge, and she wouldn’t let anyone forget it. How did this joker hear of Bráðr? The last time it had been used would have been when the Giants were still around…


“Who has the pleasure of addressing me with that title?”


“I. Loki, brother of the wise Allfather seated here.” replied the trickster who knew Kunnandi well. Their paths had crossed many times over the past age, although they were never always on the same side in the ages of strife.


Deciding to ignore Loki, Kunnandi pondered where to begin. Her mind raced back through the past, to the very beginning of time. Ah. That was it. She decided to start with how the nine worlds formed- a tale sadly twisted into myth and legend since the truth had been buried for so many long years.


“I was there in the beginning, when Ymir walked the Ginnungap - although the memories I have of that time are hazy and vague, I can still recall enough to let you all reap the benefits. Raised as I was by giants, I can still remember the epic power they wielded, as well as their huge intellect. It was a great heartbreak that most of their race was slaughtered, but-” Kunnandi, swelled with her self-importance, paused for dramatic effect.


Outside, storm clouds began to swell, bringing darkness to the once-bright hall. The Völva, distracted momentarily by the echoes of thunder, lost track of her speech. Heads turned toward the golden ceiling as rain began to pound, the sound reminiscent of a Dwarf mine deep in the Nidavellir Mountains.


“So, as I was saying – the Giants, a race o-” getting back into her role, the Völva broke off as another voice rang out, vibrating clearly around the room.


“And why should we listen to you? What is your role in all of this?”


Kunnandi hissed with impatience, sounding not unlike one of the wildcats that roamed the hills and dales of Midgard. She turned to her adversary, expecting to see a bold god as her challenger, but instead found herself looking at a small, weak-looking goddess. Recognizing her as Sigyn, the prophetess rolled her eyes to the ceiling. She’d heard of Sigyn, of course, she thought grimly, and had a few things to say to the rest of the silent crowd about her supposed innocence. Later, Kunnandi, later. After all, you can’t reorder a prophecy for the sake of one interruption.


Accepting that she would have to convince this immortal, the Völva sighed and began to speak again.


“Sigyn, I accept your… miscomprehension about me, but if you let me explain I will enlighten you as to why I play the role I do. You do not speak to Odin in this way, nor do you interrupt his speeches, as he is your elder and better. And yet it does not cross your oh-so-knowledgeable mind that I am older than the Allfather himself. I was there when the earth that we stand on was formed. So, Sigyn, do you now wish to add something to this discussion?”


Kunnandi sniggered internally as the goddess stared wide-eyed and open-mouthed at her. “Let me begin my tale. Maybe then will you learn to respect your betters? I sincerely hope so.” remarked Kunnandi


“How will you tell us these tales?” The seeress turned again to Odin as he spoke, his voice powerful and commanding, yet filled with a thirst for knowledge.


“Tell you?” Kunnandi let out a cackle of laughter that was so sudden and unexpected that some of the crowd started with shock. “Tell you? You think I would recount my stories with words? No. I will use one of my gifts. I am going to show you Time itself, from the creation to the end of all things.”


Then every god, weak or powerful, fell under the spell of the Völuspá.  

The End

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