In the beginning, in the darkness of the void, Odin and the Æsir were birthed from the giants and old gods. Slaying Ymir and taking Asgard as their home, the Æsir ruled over Valhalla, the hall of the valiant, in the land beyond to mortal realm. Many and varied where the creatures that lived beyond Middle-Gard: the elves, the dwarves, the trolls and jotunn; from time to time these beings would deal or clash with the gods, and on strange days they would come to Middle-Earth itself, to become involved in the works of men.
Odin One-Eye, lord of the slain and necromancer, came to Middle-Earth with his valkyries to find warriors of valor. Among the dead they would pick and choose, taking up the most skilled and courageous to stay in Valhalla, where they would feast and fight until Ragnarok came to claim the gods and shake the world. With spear and runes Odin walked through the fields of the dying, seeking the warrior who would slay the jotunn and forge the destiny of the new world after Middle-Earth's end.
On the fields of one terrible battle Odin found a warrior of great strength and tenacity. Cast out by his family for his rage, this berserk drew about him a loyal band of housecarls who shared his fortunes and fought with him in all things. But wounded in war, laid low by evil spaework and telling blows, they were scattered dead across the plains of battle, where blood stained the earth like red iron. Only the lone berserk still lived, his outlaw body refusing to heed the call of Heimdall's horn.
For vitality and skill Odin marked the dying warrior; coming low upon the man, he whispered to the man's dying spirit, asking his name so he could adress him in Valhalla. "Canarl, I am named" gasped the outlaw, "Called the bastard, for my family disowned me. I have fought many fields of battle ever since, but by the rune-mark on my forehead I may never die." Odin looked upon the man's head and saw there the mark and knew his words where true. Then, with seeing from his one eye did Odin read the threads of fate, and cast the lot of Canarl.
"As your valor stands against death, so shall you stand against the ravages of time. Your skill is mighty but by my hand it shall be mightier. your blood spilled on this field makes the ground red; I shall turn my blood to you, and through it you will know my strength. Be strong the thews of your legs! Be mighty the grip of your spear! By the rune-mark on your forehead you shall never be touched by age: by the arts of war shall you rule!"
As Odin spoke he brought his spear, Gungnir, down to face Canarl, and from its tip did run the bright red blood of the god. Three drops fell upon the lips of Canarl, and he was struck with battle-frenzy; his body twisted and his lungs choked, and he died yet lived! With the mighty pronouncements of fate and the power of his blood, Odin gave Canarl eternity, but fate demanded satiation. Odin's eye stared again into the ways of the future and he intoned the demands of the Norns.
"With this bond in secret made you must ever hide from discovery, and so shall you shun the light of the sun and fire. No meat contains the potence to sustain you, no mead can intoxicate you; only the blood of men can bring warmth to your breast. From the lifeblood of the strong is your puissance multiplied. Blood you have spilled, and more blood still shall you spill; and only by coming closer to my blood shall your house know greatness."
At length, Odin spoke a final time, this time slowly and with deliberation, saying, "But if you scorn the ways of war, if you take up the mantle of the Vanir, then you shall stand beside them in the final nights; put aside spear and axe and you will know no peace from brethren but those whom you will find in Vanaheim. In the words of the Vanir you will survive with the gentle while the warriors know glory and death at Ragnarok."
Odin drew back from Canarl, drew up his spear and called for his ravens. Canarl rose from the ground, and to his left he placed his wounds on the mouth of Ivar, his thegn, who then rose; and to his right he placed his wounds upon the mouth of Odindisa, his wife, who then rose; and before him he placed his wounds upon the mouth of Eyjolf, his skald, who then rose. And they gathered to them the sacraments of the dead, and built there a city raised to Odin.
So say the einherjar of the Norse.