Wednesday 1 February 2023

A New Dawn by Linda Flynn, mead in horn

“It feels like the end of the world!” Astrid slumped her yarn over the spindle whorl.

            The wooden bench shook as Asgerd sat beside her and began combing out Astrid’s hair. The movement was soothing alongside the earthy smell of the flickering firepit and the gentle baying of cattle settling at the other end of the longhouse. “Thorberg has been more of a father to us, and he’s a better farmer. Our grandparents didn’t know this when they arranged the match and now our mother is entitled to reclaim her dowry and get a divorce.”

            Astrid shook her head. “Why does there have to be a change?”

            In the glowing firelight Asgerd’s eyes glinted, her hair curling around her face like smoke. “Change brings transformation. And rebirth. Have you heard about Ragnarok?”

            “What’s that?” Astrid leaned against her sister.

            “It’s the end of the world, when even some of the gods will perish.”

            Astrid turned to look at her, “Even the gods?”

            “It’s true,” Asgerd nodded. “Once there was a man called Lif and a woman called Lifthrasir. They travelled through the nine worlds to the sacred tree in Hoddmimis Holt woods to escape the Ragnarok. There they stored up food and fuel, sipping on the sweet morning dew.

            “The heaviest snow storms began on earth, with the deepest drifts and harshest frosts ever seen. Snow piled upon snow, thicker, colder, higher. People fought for scraps of food. Swords mercilessly clashed with the crashing axes, igniting sparks of rage.

“Spring did not ease into her season to offer any release, only another winter, followed unrelentingly by another winter, with nothing in between. Rivers and lakes froze solid, dagger-like icicles hung from trees instead of fruit.

            “A sad, sonorous horn summoned the gods to fight a valiant battle, which for all their strength they knew they could not win.

            “Valleys echoed with howling. The silhouettes of the wolves Skoll and Hati ascended the sky as they chased and devoured the sun and moon. Darkness dropped. Stars stopped their glimmering lights.

            “The earth trembled. Streams of rocks gushed down mountains. Trees toppled on top of each other.

            “Jormungandr, the sea serpent coiled his body inside the swollen sea. He reared his pointed head above the frothing foam and spat venom. The writhing sea turned putrid green, the soil and land leached colour to a sickly yellow.


            “Amidst all the crashing and smashing, the sea roared. The swelling waves reared up, cascading over the land. The ship Naglfar, made of finger and toenails from the dead, tugged against its mooring, until at last it wrenched itself free. The frost giant Hrymr stood straight and proud at the helm. With a toothy grin he steered the vessel across the flooded land.

                        “As the water devoured the fields, the wolf Fenrir escaped from his chains. He flung himself forward with flashing blood red eyes, nostrils ablaze and his tongue lashing fire. The faster he ran, the greater his anger, the louder his growling. His mouth opened wider and wider, like a deep, dark cavern so that his upper jaw swallowed the sky and his lower one gouged out the earth.

            “In a thunderous explosion the sky cracked in two, shattering the rainbow bridge into shaken, fallen droplets of colour. Ridges of fire snaked up the mountains, spewing out cascades of burning, frothy bubbles that charred the ground. Steam rose, wrapping the earth in a cloud.

            “Silence. All hope had been drained from the land, its strength seeped away. Lif and Lifthrasir crawled weak and shivering into the stillness. They pointed upwards at a pale halo, the sun daughter, as she began to rise in the sky. Dark pools appeared in the snow from the dripping branches, revealing grassy tendrils below.

            Asgerd stroked Astrid’s hair back and laid her on a soft sheepskin hide along the bench. She watched her gentle breathing and whispered, “When you wake Astrid, it will be a new dawn.”

About the auhtor 

Linda Flynn has had books published for children and teenagers, six with the Heinemann  Fiction Project, as well as twenty-nine short stories, mainly written for adults. In addition, she has written for a number of newspapers and magazines, including theatre reviews. Her anthology of short stories, I Knew it in the Bath was released in September 2022 with Bridge House. She can be found at:


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