Turning of the Wheel

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The Ice Field of Korovasi was laid, tales tell, by the ancient Jotunn King of the same name, Laufey-King's own Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather, a lover of sport and, above all, justice, had instituted with rigorous standards the ritual of Holmganga. Not invented it, no, but he refined the concept that it may better serve as a form of resolution between conflicting Jotunn. At that time, Gastropnir was only a small village and had no real significance within Jotunheim until Korovasi arbitrarily chose the central city as the head of the Jotunn's judicial administration. Thus began Gastropnir's gloried past as a bureaucratic city and now it was exalted even more as Laufey-King's favoured seat within the Realm.

The Ice Field, a wide stretch of property to the east of the Palace yet still within the city's walls, was flat, hard and, with its thick ice covering the black soil perpetually a dull grey-white. Round about it, various stumps of ice were scattered for Elders or important dignitaries while the rest of the audience were forced to stand or sit on the ground.

On this particular morning, the entire field was surrounded upon all sides by the King's Court as well as other important merchants and officials who had caught wind of the news in time. Servants and other staff leaned out of the nearby King's Tower, the battlements of the city's wall or other dwellings erected round about. Tall Jotunn, lean Jotunn, short Jotunn, stout Jotunn - each of them unique in colouring of style of carriage. Younglings, not yet molted or showing signs of horns, were cradled in the arms of a few faetha, squealing in high-pitched voices as they flailed about in the usual rough tunics carefully sown for them. Loki, walking past the outer ring of spectators, kept his eyes steady and straight in a vain attempt not to notice the lucky youngsters.

-Elska with a needle, grumbling as he struggled to sew the torn edges of the rough sacking in a straight line-

-no no no-

-don't think on it-

Heavily scarred Jotunn Elders, remnants of the Lengi Ofrithr, sat while around them crowded other older Jotunn, wrinkled and roughened from signs of difficult life-long labour.

-Elska's still form did not respond when he had woken up the next morning-


What brings on such memories? Loki wondered viciously as he walked down the wide path which had been left empty by the Jotunn in preparation for his arrival, who quickly closed ranks behind him. More than ever, the young Jotunn was aware of all the eyes which glowered down upon his dark head. Animosity now safely revealed. Shades of Utgard, Loki thought grimly, damn them. Damn them all to Helheim.

Then Byleistr was at his elbow, tugging on his wolf cloak in a poor attempt to straighten it further. Loki sighed as the second Prince recounted all the possible rules of engagements: the Glima'ganga (can you wield a blade, Smar'brothir?), the Brandr'ganga (do not choose that one â€" you will not, right?), the Vit'ganga (this is the best, I think, for you), the Frothleikr'ganga (you could choose it, I suppose -  but it would not be considered fair and you would lose honour), the Almror'ganga (archery or throwing knives -  can you do either well, Smar'brothir?) or the dread Dauthr'ganga (that means no holds barred, the most vicious form of holganga!). He knew them already and his mind was already decided, but Loki relaxed a little as Byleistr babbled on.

Elska, he mused, perhaps there are a few of you yet. Hluti... Elder Skoll... now, Byleistr.

"I know what I am doing," Loki smiled.
"Yet, Smar'brothir, you have never fought holmganga."
"True â€" but I have -" Loki paused as memory of the battle pits of Shax rose before his mind's eye. Toh. Xaxor. Shiva. All the dead who had bled before him on the sand. "I have fought before."
"So you keep saying." Byleistr was still not convinced.

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