Written by AJ
Hello! My name is AJ and I’m 11. Here is a story I wrote called “The Sacrifice” that I would love for you to publish on the “Your Stories” section of the website. It is supposed to take place 1,000 years ago, but it might not be very historically accurate. I did my best! :)
I am Freya. I lived in Runde Island, which was in Norway. It had many mountains and hills. Every day, I would go do my chores—get them all out of the way—and then play in nature with my friends.
I was taking a break between chores.
“Freya! Come help me with the crops!”
“Yes, mother!” I jumped off from my spot on a tree branch.
I raced off to the golden line of wheat growing towards the bottom of the hill next to a trickling stream. I picked up the water can, tipped it slightly to the side, and watched the water dive out of it.
“Freya,” my mother said, “you seem awfully distracted. I daresay you have been spending too much time with the slaves.”
“No, mother,” was all I said. I continued to water the crops. After a short while of tending to the wheat, I set down the watering can and looked up at the cloudless sky. Then I quickly brushed my red hair out of my face and set back to work, watering the wheat and pulling out the weeds.
My mother grabbed my arm. “Freya, do not hurt yourself. Take a break.”
“No, mother,” I said again.
My mother looked at me concernedly. “Are you quite all right, dear?”
“You have been spending too much time with—“
The truth was, I could not look at the slaves without feeling like I was a rotten vegetable—ready to be thrown away. Especially when I saw the one from Russia, Dmitri, who had always been kind to me.
“Go play with Frey,” my mother demanded.
“No, mother.” My prepubescent stubborn streak was acting up today.
“Freya, do as your mother says. I daresay if Thor was acting this way toward his mother, she would whack him with the stick.”
I snorted. “Then it’s good I am not Thor, mother dear.”
My mother took a deep breath. “Freya, you have not acted this way since you were five.”
“My five-year-old self must have been quite lovely, then.” I turned on my bare-foot heel and ran back up the hill and climbed onto my previous perch on the tree branch.
“Freya’s kittens,” I cursed. “Oh, I wish I had kittens. Blue ones, just like the goddess does.”
“Freya! Freya! Come on!” my twin, Frey, called. He was leaping up and down in front of me.
“Oh no,” I said, “Did Balder try to swim in the lake, again? I thought he learned his—“
My brother rolled his eyes. “No, sister, he arrived.”
I leaped off the tree branch. “You mean—“
“Yes, sister, him.”
I laughed, which was something I did not do very often. Then, I realized something. “That means we can free them!” I cried.
“Free whom? Oh, you mean the fairy?”
I smiled and said, “No.”
I raced over to the house and found the man that I had missed so much. His back was facing me. I tugged on his coat—hard.
The man turned around. “Whoa there, let go of me coat,” he said, patting me on the head.
Frey jumped out behind me. “G’day, Cap’n!” he said in his best pirate voice.
“G’day there, lad,” the man said.
Balder then came running into the house. Balder was my little brother.
“Papa, papa!” he giggled.
My father lifted Balder onto his shoulders. “Y’know, son, you are quite a Balder. Balder, the god, was very handsome, and very funny—just like you.”
“The god was unbeatable, too! Nothing in the universe could hurt him! That is...” My dad wiggled his fingers. “...if ye stay away from mistletoe darts.”
“Mistletoe darts!” Balder laughed.
“Yes, indeed, mistletoe darts. See, the god Balder started to have dreams of his death, and so his mother, Frigg, got assurances from everything, from diseases to random objects to animals, that they would not hurt Balder. But she did not get an assurance from one thing: mistletoe. She was tired and thought that it would not be able to hurt Balder. After she had been promised, the gods had a celebration. They threw weapons at Balder, but nothing hurt him. So Loki, the god of evil and mischief, got some mistletoe and turned it into a dart and gave it to his brother, Hod. Loki promised to help Hod throw the dart, which made Hod happy because Hod was blind and was not able to join the fun and throw objects at Balder because Hod could not aim. The dart hit Balder in the chest and killed him.
“The gods were all very sad that Balder had died. Well, except Loki, of course. They tried to bring Balder back, but in the end, they could not.”
“Oh no! Oh no!” Balder, the one who was my little brother, cried in alarm.
“You have told that story many many times,” I said to my father.
“Yes, me have,” he agreed.
“Father,” I whispered, “we can free the slaves now, right?”
“Let’s talk about this later,” he whispered back.
Then he said in his deep booming voice, “It is time! Let me get ye presents out!”
“Presents? Presents!” Balder squealed.
“Yes, yer father’ll bring yer presents!” Frey cried, still in a pirate accent.
“What is going on in here? I daresay the goddess Hel can hear you!” my mother laughed as the door swung open and she walked inside.
“Papa is giving us presents!” Balder said.
“Yes, ye will fancy them quite!” my father said.
“Now, now, Magnus, do not get their hopes up,” mother said.
“Me won’t. Me won’t, indeed. Now, here ye are.” My father handed Frey, Balder, mother, and me objects that he had kept in his coat pockets. My present was...
“A necklace! Thank you, father,” I said.
The necklace had a silver kitten pendant. Mother got a golden bracelet with a raven charm—ravens were Odin’s animal. Frey got a book of Norse myths hand-written by a friend of his father, and Balder got a wool hat with “Balder” sewed on it.
“I am BALDER!!!” Balder shouted.
“Yes ye are!” father agreed heartily.
Then Dmitri walked in, a scared look on his face. “Sir! It is a great honor to finally get to meet you. Did you enjoy your travels?”
“Yes, quite. Now, what did ye come ‘ere to tell us?” my father replied.
“Gudrun’s son is badly injured. It is an emergency,” Dmitri explained.
Mother and father exchanged worried glances.
“What does Gudrun need?” mother asked.
“A healer, but also”—Dmitri paused, steeling himself—“...a human sacrifice for the gods Frey and Freya so that they will help heal Gudrun’s son.”
Gudrun’s son was Thor—the one my mother had mentioned when she was scolding me for my so-called “attitude.”
I was going to try my very best to stop my parents from sacrificing one of our slaves. It was not fair! Why should someone sacrifice themselves to someone they have been serving.
I took a deep breath then said, “But Ma, surely you cannot—“
“You have been rude to me all day. I daresay if you make one more rude retort I shall explode, ” my mother interrupted.
“Fine by me,” I muttered.
My father glared at me, as if saying, be polite or else. I glared back.
“Stone shall be our sacrifice!” mother proclaimed.
Stone. Not stone. Stone was that kid who always told jokes and lightened you up even on your darkest days. He was also my friend, along with Dmitri.
“No!” I screamed.
“What has gotten into you lately?” Frey said. “Stone is not good for anything. I daresay a rat could do a better job than him.”
What Frey said gave me an idea. “Then he is not a worthy sacrifice! We need someone better,” I declared. My heart sank as I realized what that meant. “But of course we cannot sacrifice Dmitri. He is too helpful and kind,” I added, trying to undo what I had just said.
Dmitri, who had been covering his face in his hands looked up and said, “Please do not sacrifice me.”
My father shook his head. “Ah, now, now, ye are the perfect sacrifice! And it shall be a quick and painless death!”
I looked at my father, incredulous. “I thought you were going to let the slaves go!” I shouted at him. “I thought you said the slaves had been punished enough for their stealing!”
“Me changed me mind,” father admitted.
“Dmitri does not get to be freed. Dmitri did not steal anything. He did not need a punishment,” added Frey.
“Which means he deserves to be freed more than any of them! He did not even do anything wrong!” I yelled.
“Freya! Enough! I am bringing out the stick!” mother announced.
I chuckled, said, “Good luck catching me!”and ran off and out of the house.
The next day, my shoulders were covered in bruises. It was not that my mom was too fast for me, but I let my guard down once when I thought I had found a secret hiding spot. But, apparently, it was not good enough; my mom found me and, well, let us just say the stick got a good using.
“What happened to Dmitri?” you probably ask. My parents were discussing his fate with Gudrun. The unjust thing about the whole situation was that Thor’s injury was not lethal. It was a broken arm, but the bone was not sticking out through the skin. The healers could have fixed it up almost completely. Thor was sixteen, so his arm might have stay a little crooked forever, but it was nothing to worry about. Gudrun did not need Frey and/or Freya’s help.
I had just finished my oatmeal breakfast when Dmitri walked into the kitchen. I said, “Hello. I am so sorry. It is so odious I do not think I will ever feel happy again. What did Gudrun say?”
Dmitri’s hands started shaking. “I will be the sacrifice.”
It is perplexing how only five words can make you cry. I did not cry when I twisted my ankle when I was five or when I had fallen from a high tree branch when I was seven. But I cried when I heard those five words.
I managed to say, “Why? Why! It is a broken arm! Odin’s ravens—I did not think my-they...”
“Why?!” I shouted again.
Dmitri sighed. “Calm down, Freya. It is not so bad. At least I will in honor.”
“In honor, indeed! You have never cared about honor, Dmitri. Run away! Run away, I tell you! This is why I liked you Dmitri, you had a fierce spirit. But now, WHERE HAS IT BEEN?! Are you going to surrender, helpless? I will not allow it!”
“Freya, look at yourself. For days on end, you have been quite downcast. Lately, it seems as if your fierce spirit has left you. And now that spirit is getting out of hand.” Dmitri sat down in one of the seats next to the dining table.
“That is only because of you, Dmitri. You work much too hard! You work harder than any other slave I know—and for what?! To be hit with the stick because you forgot to say ‘sir.’ That is what!”
“Freya, you know that the harder I work, the nicer they are to me. That is the way of it, Freya. The cat tries to catch the mouse, and the mouse tries to run away from the cat. The cat tries to find something to play with; the mouse tries to not be killed. The cat will always be better off.”
“Yes, Dmitri. But that does not make it fair! That does not mean the mouse should surrender!”
“The mouse’s only goal is to not be killed, Freya. As long as it succeeds at that, everything will be fine.”
“But you have not succeeded at that! Don’t you see?”
“Freya, there may be a way out of this. Gudrun said that I could make something that would replace me as a sacrifice. But it has to be perfect and finished before sundown tomorrow.”
“Could you do that?”
“I know how to carve wood. If I could have a thin metal chain, I could make a necklace with a wooden pendant for Freya. And I could carve a helmet for Frey.”
“I’ll get you anything you need!”
After I finished all my chores, I gave Dmitri an axe so he could cut down a tree for wood, the sharpest knife in the kitchen, and a thin metal chain which I got out of my mother’s room. (She used it for jewelry making).
At the end of the day, he had finished the necklace for Freya and was a third through the helmet for Frey. The next day, he finished just in time. He ran to Gudrun and presented her with his sacrifices. They looked, well, perfect. A blue cat pendant hung on a silver chain—Freya’s necklace—and Frey’s helmet was painted yellow.
I watched as Gudrun inspected the gifts. Finally, she announced, “These will do.”
“Thank you, thank you!” Dmitri gushed.
Gudrun collected people from all over the village and gathered them in the valley and around a campfire that was built by her husband. Everyone did their prayers silently, and after that was done, the sacrifices were put into the fire.
“For Frey and Freya! Please heal Thor!” everybody chanted.
And it was done.