Chapter One

"Race you!" Frigga called over her shoulder at her best friend Freya as she raced across the field on her horse.

"No fair! You got a head start!" Freya laughed as she squeezed her calves together to urge her own mount forward. Frigga laughed and clutched at her stallions mane, and then leaned forward and whispered in his ear:

"Come on, boy. Let's show her how fast you can run." The stallion's ears flicked toward his rider at the familiar sound of her voice, and he let out a small whinny as he accelerated, quickly leaving Freya and her mount far behind. Frigga grinned as she felt the wind whip past her face; the suns rays warm on her skin. She took in the beautiful scenery as it flew past her, and she smiled. Her home realm, Asgard, was so beautiful this time of year. Well, it really was beautiful year round, she reflected, but especially so in the spring.

Frigga felt the horse's powerful muscles tense beneath her, and she automatically adjusted her own weight to prepare for the jump. The horse leapt over a small spring, and Frigga easily stayed on the horses bare back, urging him to continue his gallop when they landed. She cast a quick glance over her shoulder at her friend, waiting to see how she would handle the small obstacle.

Freya tried hard to imitate Frigga's graceful landing, but when her horse jumped, she was thrown forward onto its neck, losing her balance and falling onto the soft grass.

"Oof!" Mildera exclaimed when she hit the ground. Frigga quickly applied pressure to the stallions flank, and the well-trained horse spun on his haunches and galloped over to the fallen girl.

"Freya, are you alright?" Frigga asked as she looked at her friend with concern.

"I'm fine, Frigga. My pride's a little bruised, but the rest of me is okay." Freya assured her with a smile.

"All the same, you should see the healer, just in case. You could have some bruises, or other injuries…" Frigga continued, concern still etched in her voice. Freya smiled. Her friend's almost motherly care and concern could always be counted on.

"Frigga. I'm fine." Freya assured her. "Really." Frigga sighed.

"If you say so, my friend. Come on, let's go back home." She said. Freya nodded and swung back up onto her mares back.

"Sounds good."

After Frigga and Freya had returned to the city, a messenger came running up to the duo.

"Lady Frigga, your father asks for your presence." The little man said, his voice shaking slightly, along with his knees as he looked up at the lady. Her beauty was just as the men at the square had said; enough to make your heart race and your mouth go dry.

And it was true; Frigga's looks were a subject of much conversation among the men of Asgard. They frequently spoke of her long, silky brown hair, her storm-grey eyes, and her beautifully featured face. She was tall, they said. With lips that simply begged to be kissed, and a body that could stop a mans heart. Toned, curved in all the right places, a slim waist, and fine, full breasts.

And yet, she politely refused all suitors who sought to court her. And there had certainly been many. Every young man in Asgard had at the very least thought about asking for the lady Frigga's hand in marriage. To be able to come home every night to a woman who looked like that… that thought alone was enough to make most men's manhood stand stiffly at attention.

"Thank you, messenger." Frigga said in her gentle voice to the man, treating him to one of her lovely smiles. The messenger had to scramble to re-collect his train of thought.

"Y-you're very welcome, my lady." He swallowed hard. "'Twas my pleasure." He bowed low, his nose almost brushing the ground. Frigga smiled once more at him, and then turned to her friend.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Freya. Goodnight!" She smiled and waved at her as she turned on her mount and trotted off.

"Night!" Freya called after her. As Frigga rode towards home, she wondered what her father wanted to see her for. Little did she know, it would be a meeting that would forever change the course of her life.

Across the city, in the heart of the royal palace, Odin Borson was busy practicing his swordsmanship skills on a few unfortunate dummies. His father, the King of Asgard, Bor, watched his son's prowess proudly. In a few short weeks, he would pass the responsibility and title of Allfather onto his only son, Odin, and he was confident that Odin would serve the realm well as king.

The boy was brave, trustworthy, kind, and already wise beyond his years. He would be a great king. Over the years, Bor had watched his son grow from a small boy, into a strong, handsome young man. Odin looked every inch the warrior he was. He was tall, over 6 feet, with broad shoulders, thick, muscular arms and legs, a powerful chest, and an abdomen that was roped with muscle. He had shoulder-length, dark brown hair, and a thick beard covered most of his jaw. Odin had lightning blue eyes, and strong, handsome, chiseled Nordic features.

When he walked the streets of Asgard, women took notice of him. However, Odin took no notice of them. He was far more interested in learning about the realm he was soon to rule. Everywhere he went, he took care to learn about what the people wanted, what they thought, and what he could do to keep his realm happy.

"That will do, my son." Bor said in his great booming voice, as Odin cleaved a dummy in two with his broadsword. "I have matters I wish to discuss with you." Odin nodded and sheathed his sword in its scabbard.

"As you wish, father." He walked up to Bor and followed the king as he strode down one of the castle's long halls. Though his face betrayed nothing, Odin's curiosity was burning. Why did father call me out of practice so early? Bor and his son walked in silence for a while longer, until they reached the throne room. Bor's gaze went first to his throne, and then to his son. Odin could bear it no longer.

"Father, what is it you wish to discuss with me?" He said, trying hard to sound nonchalant. Bor smiled softly at his son.

"My son, you know that soon, very soon, this throne shall belong to you, correct?" Odin nodded. "And you know that you shall be king of not only our home, Asgard, but of all 9 realms." Again, Odin nodded.

"Yes, I know this." He answered, unsure of where his father was going.

"Well, there is another detail that you must attend to before you become king, one I have not mentioned until this day." Bor turned to face his son. Odin cocked his head slightly and raised a brow.

"And what is that, father?" Bor smiled and placed his hand on Odin's shoulder.

"My son, you must claim a woman as your queen." The king said. Odin did not say anything for some minutes.

"Ah… I must, or I should?" He asked. Bor laughed.

"You must. It is Asgardian law, Odin. You must have a female companion to rule at your side." When he saw his son's less-than-enthusiastic expression, he continued. "This woman will also provide you with an heir, when the time comes. And be a useful bed-warmer." Bor winked. Odin forced a smile and nodded. Wonderful. He was going to marry a stranger.

"I see. Well, if Asgardian law requires it, then it shall be done. The only question is, which woman is worthy of becoming Asgard's queen?" Odin pondered. Bor smiled and patted his son's shoulder.

"Oh, you do not need to worry about that, my son. I have already selected a woman for you. Her bloodline is very good, her father and mother both bred from honorable, noble families." Bor chuckled. "And don't tell your mother I said this, but by the Realms, is she ever gorgeous." Odin nodded.

"Always good to know." He smiled. "What is her name?" Bor smiled.

"Her name is Frigga, and you shall be meeting her tomorrow night at the feast."

Frigga dismounted from her horse and patted his flank. She laughed when he gave her an affectionate bump with his nose.

"Yes, you were a very good boy today. I think you deserve a treat…" Frigga smiled and retrieved an apple out of a bucket on the stable floor. She held it out on her open palm, and the stallion gently took it out of her hand, his velvet-soft muzzle brushing he palm. The horse gave his mistress a look of adoration as she stroked his nose and closed the gate behind her, walking towards her family's fine house.

As she opened the door and stepped inside, her mother came sweeping down the stairs to greet her.

"Frigga, my dear!" She exclaimed as she embraced her daughter tightly. "Hurry, come into the kitchen! Your father says he has the most wonderful news, only he won't tell me what it is unless you're here! Hurry!" Frigga laughed at her mother's excitement, and followed her into the kitchen, her curiosity piqued.

As he watched his wife and daughter enter the kitchen, Frigga's father felt his heart swell with pride and love for them both. His eyes settled on his daughter, and he looked at her tenderly. He had always been very proud of his kind-hearted, intelligent, and fiercely independent daughter. However, she was constantly frustrating him with her refusal to take a husband.

"Well, now that you're both here, I suppose I can share my news." He grinned widely.

"Oh, please do!" Frigga's mother cried. "The suspense is unbearable!" Frigga's father chuckled.

"Then I shall keep you waiting no longer, my love." He looked over at Frigga, smiling wide. "I was invited into the royal palace today." Frigga's brow raised in surprise. Civilians, even well bred ones, were hardly ever allowed into the palace, much less invited. Frigga's father grinned again and continued.

"And I spoke with the King." Frigga's mother gasped and Frigga looked taken aback. Why would father have an audience with the king? "He asked about you, Frigga." He said. Frigga's jaw dropped.

`"M-me? Why ever would he ask about me?" She stuttered. Frigga's father positively beamed.

"Well, as you know, his son, Odin, is going to become king soon, and he needed a bride." A sinking feeling started in the pit of Frigga's stomach, and her father continued his happy babble. "And Bor chose you to wed Odin, Frigga! You're going to be the queen of Asgard!" Frigga's mother squealed happily, and Frigga knew her father was saying something else, but she couldn't hear past the blood rushing in her ears.

"So… I have to marry Odin?" She said numbly. Her father nodded happily.

"Oh yes, my dear. There will be a huge ceremony, all of Asgard will attend…." He kept talking, and Frigga's mother burst into tears, clinging to her daughter, sobbing out how happy and proud she was….

"I don't want to." Frigga said suddenly. Her parents stopped talking and looked at her dumbfounded.

"What did you say?" Her mother managed. Frigga shook her head.

"I don't want to marry Odin. And I don't want to be the queen of Asgard." She said firmly. Frigga's father's mouth dropped open, and then he collected himself and frowned.

"Do not be ridiculous, Frigga. Why wouldn't you? Odin is a fine man, and imagine the power you would have!" He said with a smile. Frigga shook her head.

"Father, I don't care about power. I would just as soon be a pauper all my life, if it meant I was happy. And Odin? I've never even met him before! Why would I want to spend the rest of my life with a stranger?" She exclaimed.

"My dear, you must try to be reasonable. Odin is going to be king! As his wife, you'll have more power and influence than you could ever dream of!" Frigga's mother soothed, reaching out to touch her daughter. Frigga flinched and shied away from her mother's touch.

"No! I don't care about power! I'm not marrying him!" She cried.

"Enough!" The sound of her father's hand smacking the table made Frigga and her mother jump. "Frigga, you are clearly over-excited about this news, and not thinking clearly. You will be marrying Odin, and that is final. Now, retire to your room for the evening." He said as he dismissed her with a wave of his hand. Frigga felt hot, angry tears spring into her eyes as she turned and ran up the stairs to her chambers, slamming the door behind her as she threw herself onto her bed and wept.

How could her parents have done this to her? She didn't even know what the man looked like, for the Gods sake! And they expected her to be his wife? Frigga wiped away the tears that were rolling down her lovely face. Her pet eagle, Prince, came down from his perch and gently nudged at his mistress's shoulder with his beak.

"Oh, Prince." Frigga said as she ran a hand down his feathered side. "What am I going to do?" The bird cocked his head and gave a little cry, upset at his mistress's distress. Frigga rubbed her eyes, and then retrieved a pen and parchment from her desk, quickly scribbling out a note to Freya.

Meet me at the old bridge. I have big news, and I don't know what to do. –Frigga

Frigga quickly fastened the note to Prince's leg, and kissed the top of his head.

"Fly, Prince. Take this to Freya, but don't be seen." The eagle cried out once, and then took off soundlessly through the open window. Frigga watched him go, and then carefully climbed out the window, using the drainpipe to lower herself to the ground. She quietly crept across the courtyard, silently slipping into the stables. Her stallion's ears pricked up when he caught her scent, and he gave a whinny of welcome.

"Hush, boy. You'll give us away." Frigga whispered to the horse and she stroked his muzzle. She slipped a simple rope bridle over his head, and led the horse into the moonlit yard. Quickly and quietly, she swung onto his back, and clucked her tongue to get him into a lope, moving quietly through the moonlit night.

At the same time Frigga was sneaking off to a secret meeting with her best friend, across the city, Odin was deep in thought. After eating dinner with his parents and friends, he had declined the offer of his closest friend, Tyr, to go off for a night of wine and women. Instead, he had retired to his chambers, where he now lay, his hands clasped behind his head.

His mind was swirling, thoughts of the woman that was soon to be his wife dancing in his head. What did she look like? How did she act? What did she think of becoming queen? Odin pondered this deeply. Frigga… he had heard that name before, but where? Ah, now he remembered. He had been at a tavern with Tyr, and a few warriors had been discussing her at the next table.

"Aye, that Frigga's a pretty one." One had said.

"Pretty? The woman's drop-dead gorgeous!" another laughed. "What I wouldn't give to have a taste of that." He said wistfully. Another warrior nodded his agreement.

"Aye, I'll bet that pretty mouth of hers would look even nicer with a cock stuffed in it." The men had howled with laughter and slapped the warrior on the back.

"Aye, I'll bet it would! Woman like that needs to be ridden once in a while, to keep em' happy." He grinned. "And I'll gladly do the honors." The trio had howled some more and carried on with their conversation. Odin frowned at the memory. No woman should be talked about like that.

He smiled slightly when he remembered that he would be meeting his fiancé tomorrow night. He closed his eyes and pictured what the meeting would be like in his head... He would be introduced to her, and then kiss her hand. She would smile at him, and she would be stunningly beautiful, a woman he would be proud to call his queen. A smile stayed on Odin's mouth as he slowly drifted asleep, his mind still centered on Frigga.