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Nathan walked over to his desk and plopped into the chair. It creaked from the impact, protesting his lack of care for its wellbeing. He glanced at the mirror propped up on his desk and sighed. Eventually, he had to call someone, find a place to live and a new life far away from his dreams. His warring emotions boiled in his chest. Their energy as palatable as burnt tin in cheap vodka. He envisioned the wheel of subtle energy at the level of his heart turning the force of his feelings into raw energy available for him to put it to some productive use.

Nathan waved his hand in front of the mirror on his little desk. He poured the power mined from his emotions down his arm, through his fingertips into the polished glass. Silvery light wafted from his hand like steam off the top of a boiling pot. He needed to see a friendly face. Darkness swaddled his little room. A solitary table candle carried what little light it could muster into the gloom along with his murmured prayers. The cold air resisted it all. His sense of failure loomed over him like a demon desiring to drag him away to a dank pit where light, warmth, and hope would never find him again.

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The more he gave in to the darker feelings, the less potent his magic. Part of him wanted his powers to dry up and disappear. The faces of his friends and family drifted through his mind. Leaving the path meant leaving them, not that they would shun him or cut him out of their lives, his oath to the giants would cause him to forget his life among them. Besides, a life without magic was beyond his ability to imagine. Returning his attention to the mirror, he focused a call to Rouge through the glass.

He blanched at his own tear-stained eyes reflecting back at him and allowed his urgency and pain to flow like smoke in a light breeze through the reflection into the otherworld beyond.

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His heart wavered for a moment and the image faded, then returned. The image shook, and the sound clicked as they positioned their pocket mirror to talk. He inhaled sharply and forced a calm expression over his pain. He closed his eyes and breathed slowly. He opened his eyes, tears welled up, and moved down his face like a funeral procession.

They carried his dreams with them. It set in for the first time. They expelled him from seminary. He could never be a curate — never serve his people or his ancestors upholding the covenant with the giants. His fifteen minute sermonette burned that bridge forever. What could you say that was so bad? Nathan shrugged and shook his head so slow he felt time grinding to a halt. None of that mattered. Things are changing. Everything else is blasphemy.

His whole body convulsed with sobs. Hie folgiath se sith thara thyrsa. We follow the path of the giants. Those words used to bring him so much comfort, but now they lingered like some distant expression he once recited in Old English. They connected his ancestors, his community, his faith. Now, they made the open sore in his heart twinge like a love letter from an ex-lover.

He wanted to grow cold. His ragged breath shook his body, and he stammered for a moment. Words bubbled out incoherently between his breathy sobs. If the herald wants to be a bytesheip, then let him. A grin crawled across his face, Nathan wiped the tears from his eyes, and drew on every bit of strength he had left. He knew if anyone would have his back it would be Rouge.

I need you to do some things for me. Take the money I have in there and rent us a house. The image on the mirror rocked around as Rouge set it down on a table and adjusted it. He picked up a pen and paper and wrote. Everything I do, including my books , short stories , podcasts , and writing resources are free. If you enjoyed any of it, please consider supporting me on Patreon. Take a seat, get the fireball warmed properly, and Banned from Argo. Project: Shadow.

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Ash Dancer. Dragons of Night. Our Solemn Hour. Voice Message. Wand and Weaver. Nathan chortled. The Viking Age Oseberg burial is the last in a number of Germanic priestess-graves of a kind that dates back to the early Iron Ages in Europe. From about the 5 th century B.

The ancient connection between the wand-witches and the ritual serving of mead is interesting to us, as the male initiation ritual I am going to explain in the second and third part of this book has the mead-offering ritual as a climactic, consecrating event. Some scholars, however, believe that the Wodan figure was developed during the Iron Age and that his character was inspired by one or more certain german chiefs who fought the Roman empire — three of whom were known to be one-eyed.

Whatever the case, Wodan came to be an important god among many tribes during the Iron Age. Through the Sacred Marriage, Wodan is the god-king. The staff-carrying goddess with whom Wodan was depicted is shown as a woman who serves drink in a cup. According to their own legends, the Goths were one Germanic tribe that had emigrated from Scandinavia probably Gotland in Sweden during the first century B. They soon came to bully all their neighbours into submission and dominated large parts of Central and Eastern Europe.

The Goths were reduced to living either as vassals to the Huns or in refugee camps at the borders of the Roman Empire. According to 6 th century A. Jordanes, these were called haliurunnae in the Gothic language. The Goths were the first Germanic tribe to persecute their witches — in this case by expelling them from the tribe.

We do not know why, but apparently they were in conflict with the king, Filimer.

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This is by no means the first or last time in history that a powerful priesthood have been in conflict with royalty. In this case, royalty won, but probably to the horror of many among the Gothic people. The ancestral, sacred position of witch-priestesses in Germanic societies probably meant that the persecution and expulsion of the witches could have been considered a great sacrilege by the pious pagan. The people lost their spiritual guides and mentors. The Goths swiftly developed a new sort of religion in which the king not surprisingly was exalted and in which one primarily worshipped the ansir — the ancestors.

The Goths were also among the very first tribes to accept Christianity and convert. But the expulsion of the witches may have been deeply traumatic to the Goths, an event remembered in myth and legend.

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When the Huns, almost five centuries later, swept in and crushed the Goths, people still remembered the Haliurunnae and believed the Huns to be their offspring ,and their invasion the curse and revenge of the witches upon the people who had disrespected them. In my thesis, I explored the many details of the incredibly important theme of ritual inititation in the Poetic Edda.

The initiation rituals described in these sources are the rituals of males, even if witches and female superpowers played an important part in them as teachers and guides. But there is another and more important layer of meaning in this myth: It follows the basic formula of initiation in every detail. Another possible solution is the fact that the High Hall is also known to belong to Hel, the mistress of the dead.