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The Aesir

Asgard, a far-northern mountainous nation in Nordheim which lay to the north and east of Cimmeria beyond the ice-capped Eiglophian Mountains, was permanently glaciated, and was home to the blond-haired, blue-eyed Aesir, a virile and rough-hewn race of hunters and axe-wielding warriors who fought by day and caroused by night. Like the Cimmerians, the Aesir were hunters and gatherers who possessed no central government. The Aesir lived in tribal units that each had their own king, who presided in timber-roofed Great Halls. Asgard, like Vanaheim to its west, extended as far north as any man had ever roamed, into vast and inhospitable tundras.  All Aesir worshiped Ymir, the King of the Frost Giants, whom they shared with their hated Vanir neighbors. They were the blood enemies of the Vanir, the red-haired Nordic barbarians of neighboring  Vanaheim. Eons of feuding ensured that there would never be an easy peace between these two peoples.  The Aesir relished battle, but only to loot and pillage, not as a means of expanding their borders. Given their lack of agricultural knowledge and experience and their disdain even for the raising of animals, the  Aesir would not have known what to do with new lands if they had conquered them.
 
 At the close of each  winter, the Aesir began their yearly raids, riding south on horseback to pillage townships of their cattle,  wealth, and women. Men who surrendered to Aesir warriors were usually spared. Those who resisted were slain in a gruesome fashion that produced as much pain as possible. The Aesir rarely burned a village they plundered, preferring to leave their targets fairly intact to allow the survivors to rebuild and provide another lucrative target in the future.
 
In battle, the Aesir preferred the iron (more rarely steel) broadsword or battleaxe. Additionally, they relied upon their chain-mailed shirts, horned helmets, and wooden shields to protect them from the  weapons of their enemies. Many Aesir learned to use the throwing axe, but most refused to learn the throwing spear or bow, weapons they believed were cowardly.
 
Only by dying in battle, with sword or axe in hand and courage in the heart, could an Aesir warrior find his way to Valhalla, the paradise of the afterlife sought by all the warriors of Nordheim.
 
 The Aesir lived by conquest. When two Aesir fought, the winner took his choice of the loser’s  women, children, and animals. Aesir men had only one wife at a time, but Aesir women had few legal rights and were treated more like chattel. When an Aesir warrior tired of his present wife he either killed her or sold her to another, and obtained a new female more to his liking. If a woman was unfaithful to her  Aesir husband, she was most often killed by a ritual called “the Wheel of Axes,” where all who disbelieved her claims of innocence hurled axes at her bound body. Any man caught in adultery was stripped of his belongings, and forced to cross the snow plains naked. In this way he froze to death and never gained his chance to reside in the Halls of Valhalla by dying in glorious battle. Only a legitimate wife could commit adultery or expect her husband to be faithful, and thus an Aesir man could be frivolous with as many unmarried women as he wished.
 
 Asgard was one of the few nations never subdued during the wars of the later Hyborian Age. The creeping glaciers of the North that grew as the climate cooled at the end of the Hyborian Age ultimately forced Asgard’s people to migrate to the south.

Names:  Nordheimir names tend to be Scandinavian and Germanic. It is likely that many of the Norse gods share names with the Nordheimir. Examples: (male) Bragi, Gorm, Haimdul, Hialmar, Horsa, Niord, Wulfhere. Suggestions: (male) Balder, Forseti, Frey, Grimnir, Heimdall, Hermod, Hodur, Honir, Lodur, Loki, Magni, Modi, Odhinn, Odur, Thorr, Tyr, Uller, Vali, Ve, Vili; (female) Erda, Eyra, Freya, Frigga, Fulla, Gefion, Gersemi, Hlin, Hnoss, Iduna, Lofn, Nanna, Nerthus, Nott, Ran, Saga, Sif, Sigyn.