Thursday, 15 December 2011
A Yule Story by Blaiddwolf
King Holle stalked the Great Hall. In his wake, the Midwinter celebrants felt the chill of his passing. Not that he was an unkind ruler: not cruel, as such; not harsh, as such. He was merely not sentimental, he did what needed to be done. A man in the prime of life, his hair as white as the snow that covered the ground outside, was tightly braided. his beard precisely trimmed. Cold silver adorned his brow and his shoulders easily carried the huge weight of chinking chainmail.
The merry making was in full swing now. The apple trees had been wassailed, flattered and pleaded with to provide a bountiful crop the following year. Now men, women and children revelled in the warmth from the massive fireplace, specially kindled from the scorched remains of the previous Yule-fire. Winter's chill temporarily chased from their bones.
The tables here were laden with the Midwinter feast, meats, breads, fruits, delicacies especially saved for this very day, the day that had kept the people going through the harsh, dark days. The preparations for this day had occupied many a mind for weeks before hand, there had been no room for despair. The drinking cups were full to brimming, and by the end of the night, the floor will have seen its fair share of mead, cider and ale.
The rafters of the Hall were decked out in winter evergreens, the scent of the pine competing with those of the feast. The red and white berries of holly and mistletoe contrasting in the firelight, more than enough good luck talismans to last the year.
Around the settlement, particularly outside the doors and windows, were lined boots, all stuffed with hay. Offerings to the Lord of the Wild Hunt and his mounts should he choose to pass by that night. Perhaps if he did, he would look favourably upon them all, and turn his attention elsewhere.
Upstairs, the Queen laboured. The child was coming. Soon now.
Holle's circuit had brought him back to his throne. He sat, and gazed upon the faces. Whilst tonight, hope would return to the world, it would depart from his own. He would not live to see another summer.
He stood, all eyes turned to watch him as he raised his cup in salutations. Suddenly, he felt the wave wash over him. He staggered slightly, and made the effort to drain his cup. As the cheers echoed around the room, he slumped back into his chair, overcome by the unaccustomed weakness.
The Queen gazed down into the face or her golden-haired, new-born son. Already he was so strong. Duir, she whispered, you shall be named Duir.
(c) Blaiddwolf 2011