The day has been windy, a breeze that is chill, though not yet bitter, not here. The treetops move in the darkness. Inside we have heat and light, but it is chilly even so. I put on a sweater and enjoy the feel of the wool, close my eyes and breathe in… and out… I follow the familiar way to the hilltop on the mountainside. The path winds away, pale in the darkness. It is even colder and windier here.
But as I move downward, the wind remains in the tops of the trees. On the path it is protected and a little warmer. I come out onto the plain of Midgard and call to Raven. Together we take flight, up and over the rainbow bridge, feeling its colors vibrate through our feathers. At the gate, I take my own form again, the form of Heidhveig, and greet Heimdall.
“Is there a party tonight?” I ask, “And may I observe?”
“Go to Vallhall,” he answers me, “but I cannot say what you will find.”
This is a road I know well. The great doors are wide open, but I do not see men feasting. Instead, the courtyard is full of horses and men, tightening girths and checking saddles. The einherior are preparing to ride. One by one they are mounted, the horses pawing and snorting, eyes shining in the torchlight. They grow still, and silence falls, as a horse greater than any of theirs moves forward. In the darkness he seems black, and big, larger than any ordinary steed. His legs are a deeper darkness, a moving shadow. His eyes glow. He bears neither halter nor bridle, but there is a saddle cloth. Huge, and terrible, with large teeth that gleam. He is a creature of terror, clearly of giant kin. He turns his head, and the gaze of everyone present follows the movement. Odin is standing on the steps, or rather it is Ygg, helmed and armed and cloaked in black. He looks around the courtyard, counting the heroes, then goes to Sleipnir and leaps lightly to his back. The stallion arches his neck and stamps. Ygg’s gaze finds me, and he laughs.
“This riding is not for you, lady, not now, not yet, but I will give you vision to follow us part way.” And then, of a sudden, Sleipnir leaps forward. The great gate opens, and the Wild Hunt streams after him like leaves blown by the wind. I climb to the top of the wall and see them rushing onward, out through the gate of Asgard and away across Bifrost bridge. My vision lengthens and I glimpse their wild ride across the fields of humankind. Where that wind passes, even those who have never heard of the einherior will lock their windows and bolt their doors.
Where they pass the air is set in motion, swirling, shimmering, each atom awakened. The changes of weather bring change and growth, to remain still is death. Rising and falling they speed across the land, and as Sleipnir rises, Mani’s light touches him and for a moment he is blazing white.
Then I can see them no more. I return to the gate and bid Heimdall farewell, take raven form, and follow my friend to the base of Yggdrasil. From here I know the way well, up through the tunnel of trees and back through darkness scarcely less dense and windy, and from there to the chill air of this room.
I breathe in and out, stretch my stiff neck, blink and return.