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The Myth Behind the Gard: Odin and Runes

Badaim joins us once again, this time covering the importance of Odin, and to go over the origin of runes!

Odin is a prominent god in Norse mythology who is known by over a hundred names and has domain over a wide variety of attributes like Wisdom, knowledge, battle, poetry, and the runic alphabet.

Odin is often depicted missing an eye, a hooded cloak and an enchanted spear called Gungnir. However, Odin is also known to wear disguises.

Odin's most notable disguise was as a wanderer during his quest to obtain the mead of poetry. While disguised, Odin seduced the giantess princess Gunnlod in exchange for three sips of mead made from the blood of an all-knowing wise man named Kvasir. It was said whoever drank the mead gained the wisdom of a scholar. In some accounts it is believed that it was during this encounter with Gunnlod that Bragi was conceived, even though Odin's wife is often attested as either goddesses Frigga or Freyja. Odin often makes wagers with his wife Frigga, goddess of foresight and wisdom, regarding the outcomes of exploits.

Odin is most well known for the discovery of runes. He did so by hanging himself from Yggdrasil for nine days and nights after which the runes revealed themselves to him upon the bark of the tree. Once he learned the runes, he was able to use their magic to come back to life.

While runes are characters of several germanic writing systems, they were also attributed as magical components as well. Runes tend to have a linear and angular design because they were easier to etch into rock, which was their typical medium. Runes were eventually replaced by latin writing systems after the Roman conquest, but have most notably persisted in modernity as the bluetooth symbol. The symbol is composed of the Runic letters 'H' and 'B', which stands for Harald Blåtand, a Danish king from the Viking age.


Bragi Finds his Muse, Part 4: Old Wounds and New Runes

'No Dad!'

'No son of mine is going to be made-up like some effete faye!' Odin Slapped Bragi's face harshly, scrubbing off the black paint from his face with abrasive vigor. 'What's that you have on your tongue? Have you been using Runes again without my permission?!'

'I made it myself, I call it mus-' Another slap interrupted Bragi.

'I don't want to hear it! I told you not to play with Runes, and if this is the only way to get through to you…' Odin shook his head furiously, peeling the strange Rune off of Bragi's tongue. The Rune hummed like a tuning fork and squirmed wildly between Odin's fingers. He tossed the Rune into his ornate horn of mead, causing it to squelch a squiggling squeak as it became muffled beneath a stream of bubbles. 'There! That will be the end of that nonsense! Now go to your room, and don't come out until you're ready to start acting like a man!'

'Why don't you even try to understand me Dad?' Bragi stormed off, holding back his frustration and tears.

'I'll understand when you decide grow up and stop acting like a child!' Odin exhaled sharply as he collapsed into his throne. His shaking head felt heavy in his hand. A quiver of a shadow caught the corner of his unpatched eye.

'Why must you be so hard on the boy?' Frigga stepped out from behind one of Hlidskjalf's mighty columns. There was no meekness or fear in her tone, but instead a stinging umprice that caused Odin to shift uncomfortably in his seat.

'Life is hard, I would be doing the boy a disservice if I did not prepare him for the weight of this throne. The sapling's roots grow strong when creased beneath a strong wind.' Odin tipped a peek into his horn but set it down to sip further upon his dour. ' Where did I fail him Frigga? I never had to worry about Baldr like this, but Bragi...and don't get me started on Loki…why couldn't they be more like Thor?'

'Is Thor not enough like his father for all your sons? I certainly can't imagine putting up with any more Odin than I already do, and from the looks of it, neither can Bragi.'

'I raised each of them equally, as best I know how. I don't understand why he must insist on being so...different?'

'You have no problem letting Thor be Thor, why can't you be satisfied with letting Bragi be Bragi?'

'How can I excuse this kind of behavior? Look at what he's done!' Odin gestured to his horn that hervated from the dissolving rune. Figga peered at the horn with unimpressed dismissal.

'I see a boy desperately trying to be like his father, just in his own way: must you guard your expertise with Runic magic so jealously? What does the great Odin have to fear from a mere boy?'

'Rune magic is not for blasé experimentation, let alone the development of new ones: who knows what could have happened! I had to hang dead from Yggdrasil for nine days and nights just to discover the Runes we know now. For him to think he could just simply make a new one, and for all things to indulge in his…"hobby" is downright irresponsible! He is lucky to still be alive.'

'Yes, how outlandish of me to think that the son of Odin could possibly surpass his father at anything: especially at the art using his coveted Runes.' Frigga looked coldly into Odin's eye. 'I know he certainly didn't get such talent from me.' Odin's eye narrowed as he twisted his horn of mead between his fingers.

'Then I shall raise my son as I see fit. I wager you that at the bottom of this draught will be the end of all this trouble.' Odin raised the horn to his lips and took a sip, intending to banish the Rune back to Yggdrasil.

Odin blinked in disbelief, even from behind his patch. 'What is it, my lord? I thought All-Father knew best?' Odin twitched at Frigga's jab but could not draw his astounded gaze from his horn.

'This...this is sublime: the subtle complexity, the nuance of the notes, the resonating harmony that dances across the palate, somehow it delivers a full-body of composition within but the teeniest of tastes!' Frigga could see the potent brew seep through Odin's extremities and lighten his limbs with elated animation.

'If his creation is so succulent, then what stays your indulgence?' Frigga faltered a bemused smirk from behind her usual stoicism. Odin almost didn't hear her as he whiffed at the brew's waft before snapping back from his mesmerization.

'This is all there is of that Rune in the world...if I drink it al,l it will be gone forever.'

'Oh? But I thought you said it was so dangerous that such an affront could not be abided?'

Frigga's feigned innocence weaved deftly past Odin's amour propre. Odin had faced perilous beasts, battles, and even death itself; but none of those trials struck him with such severity as the following words he was forced to spit in seething disgust.

'I was wrong.'

'Then go tell him that: You know it would mean the world to him.' Odin Looked down into his horn, clenching his jaw in silent contemplation.

'Is the mighty Odin more beholden to his ego than his own son? Even thralls do not grovel so low to their masters.' Odin flinched again but still could not bring himself to acknowledge frigga's attestation.


'yes, perhaps someday: when you have both grown man enough, you can learn to swallow your pride.'

'Then in the meantime, I hope you can find consolation with this concession.' Odin upturned his horn, spilling the Runic mead onto the throne room floor. The mead sublimated into a wispy miasma that seeped between the seams of stonework and spread throughout the world.

Bragi watched from his autoscopic perspective as the Runic fog permeated into all sorts of nooks and crannies, imbuing each edge it touched with litaneous life, bouncing beats, and harmonic highlights. From brutal chaos sprung structured symphonies that were sown seamlessly into the exotic and everyday.

Bragi flew past the plethora of procreations that were timed to the seasonal tunes of his singular Rune, from scandalous serenades to amorous escapades. Guttersnipe grope-fests backed by grunge fused with celestial snogs accented with cherubic chords. They spanned across every angle of Bragi's vision to sprout forth the blended spawn of such copulations into all conceivable combinations, forming faces of familiar strangers that bid Bragi apt aprobrations with their infantile wails. Among them swirled the newly acquainted Muses, who grew rapidly until they stood before him as they did before his internal journey incepted. It took Bragi a moment to realize that he had returned.

Mel consoled a teary Pan, as it appeared that the experience exposed novel findings to them as well.

'I...I never knew. He never told me...not before…' Xinyi put her hand on bragi's shoulder.

'You don't have to explain anything. We were there with you, as you have been with us then. Thank you. We could not be who we are without you.' The Muses swarmed Bragi and squeezed him in a warm embrace.

'Ah sea ye 'av made ah few muckers 'ere, aye?' Leif strutted in like a proud bantam with a cheery wave.

How did he get hickeys?! She didn't have any lips?! Bragi thought.

'Guys, this is Leif, he was my back-up plan if you weren't planning on being helpful. Leif, these are the Muses.' Leif leaned his elbow on top of Bragi's head and gave the Muses a grinning wink and a finger gun.

'Aye, fooks get reeel accomidatin' 'avter layin' ayes ahn mae leiks! Gla tangs tern'd oot au raite, ahm a wee bit knackered ahter avin bit ave ah spiteful ride wit ah rael woeman, aye?' The Muses looked at each other quizzically.

'He means well.' Bragi shrugged.

'Sow, wats da plan ya toppers 'ave sorted?'

'Oh that's like, not really our area of expertise.' Mel swept his hair back before shaking it out.

'This sounds more like something our manager would handle for us.' Xinyi had somehow rolled and lit another dubious cigarillo and cradled it supinated like a fencers foil.

'And who's your manager?' Bragi raised an eyebrow cautiously.

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