Day 5 of the World Building Blog Fest hosted by Sharon Bayliss is an excerpt that illustrates world building. This was difficult. Hopefully the world building is sprinkled through the narrative as it becomes relevant, not all in one place. However, maybe this early meeting between Braggi (the Norse god of eloquence) and a thunderbird, guardian of the new land Braggi wants for his people, will give a taste.
Braggi turned slowly in place, taking in the beauty of his surroundings. He breathed in the smells of pine, earth, and water. Plenty of trees from which to build longhouses and ships–and fires to warm his people through the winter. A complete contrast to the steep, winter-ravaged slopes of Greenland. The great river was in some ways not unlike a very long, narrow fjord, but no great ice floes would block navigation for months or longer. The islands in the river would naturally contain the herds of sheep and cattle until fences could be built as well as providing pasture. This place was a perfect new home for his people, if they could secure it. That might not be so easy, which was why the other gods had chosen him–and his gift with words–for the job.
A shadow passed over him and he looked up. A huge bird-like form circled above him. Its wings were banded with colors reminiscent of Bifrost, the bridge from Asgard to Earth, but its long, naked tail reminded him more of the dragon, Fafnir. So this was a thunderbird.
Braggi composed himself as the bird, several times his own size, dove toward him, pulled up, and landed a few feet away. The beak opened, showing a human face inside. The feathered hide folded like a cape to reveal a human form. Finally, the man removed the bird’s head as if it were a hood. The man stood before him, holding the bird’s head under one arm like a helmet. He was tall, lean, and dark–dark skinned, dark-haired, and dark-eyed. Very different from Braggi’s own tall, massive, and blond people.
Braggi nodded in greeting. “Wakiya?”
The man nodded. “I am. And you are Braggi?”
“You asked for this meeting. What is it you want of us?” Wakiya asked.
Braggi drew a deep breath. “I seek a place of safety where our people may thrive and outlast the coming cold.”
Wakiya’s eyebrows rose. “The cold will come here, too. What’s wrong with their own place?”
Braggi made a negating gesture with his hand. “They’ll starve if they stay where they are.”
Wakiya narrowed his eyes and looked into the east. “Some of my people are in that place, too. If they can survive its challenges, why not yours?”
“Our people have different ways than yours. The animals they depend on will die and then so will they.”
Wakiya turned to glare at Braggi. “Why must they come here? Can they not return to their places of origin?”
Braggi shook his head. “These few are the last that are ours. Everywhere else, their kin have turned to the New God. They remember us only as figures in folklore. Haakon is almost the last who remembers the old worship–our worship. His people must survive.”
Wakiya paced a few steps. “I sympathize with your plight, but I must concern myself with my own people. Yours have come here to settle before–and killed mine before they were driven out. How would this time be different?”
That was the trouble. Rich as this land was, his people had never had a chance to really establish themselves here before the more numerous skraelings had driven them off. His Greenlanders were great fighters. If they could just get a foothold, they’d soon be secure against any attack. But, of course, Braggi couldn’t say that. He needed to soothe Wakiya’s fears, not intensify them. “That was generations ago. They have come and gone in peace since then. They trade now with those of your people who live near them, mostly in peace.”
Wakiya’s mouth twisted into a sneer. “Mostly?”
Braggi held out his hands, palm outward, in a placating gesture. “Even brothers may have disagreements. It is not reasonable to expect men of any kind to always get along perfectly.”
“Yours less than most.” Wakiya drew in a deep breath then nodded. “I will let them come. But they must prove themselves and their good intentions to me or I will drive them back without mercy.”
Braggi smiled. “Leave that to me. The messenger I have chosen this time is no warrior.”
“You’d better be right. I will be watching them.”