Norse

Norse

A Story by Chases-Lost-Ghosts
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The prequel to Aesir

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This work uses a good deal of old Norse terminology & a great deal of their mythology, for the new reader I present this quick reference in the hopes that it increases your enjoyment.

 

Alf = faerie

All-Father = Odin

Fimbul winter = an intense freezing winter that heralds Ragnarock

Godi = spiritualist

Huginn & Munin = Odin’s ravens, they represent thought & memory -respectfully

Jarl = leader

Jormungandr - midgard serpent

Norns = the 3 fates ( Urd - present, Verdande - past, Skuld - future )

Ragnarock = the end of the world

Skald = bard

Straw Death = To die in ones bed, the most ignoble form of death.

Swan-Maiden - common fae that enter into liasions with mankind, these do not end well

Ymir = giant from whose body all life arose

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   My name is Henrik Wulfere & I write these runes on bequest of our Jarl. Our quest has been long & arduous, we have followed the stars as our Godi reads them. We have trekked from our ancestral lands across the half frozen wastes, barren of all but the smallest of game. Through fell forest haunted by all manner of Alf, we even lost poor sad Brennon the Scot to a swan-maiden, so lovelorn was he that despite our warnings he left with her. We fought unprepared & running through scrub hills against the giants that laid their claim there, boulders chasing our retreat.

   I admit to not being a great warrior, my true skill lies in the talents of the skald, but even I am loath to have retreated from such foes. The axe of my grandfather’s grandfather was designed with two opposing edges & a sharpened shaft for war, not to chop wood, I dishonor it be fleeing from such foul creatures.

But we must find new land & the Godi reads the stars & hears the spirits speak even as we do not. We all seek new lands for our fortunes, for me it is for the start of my family, my wife, Lise, carries my son who must come soon. The seer has spoken of my boy & of the wise & mighty warrior he will be. I must admit it, thinking on it keeps me strong.

   We have traveled for 4 moons now & the tales I tell do little to keep the tensions calm. Oberon chafes to wet his sword & with each passing day seems to care less who might be at the end of it. Soon there will be little my songs & tales can do to dissuade him & the rest from challenging the Jarl, our leader is strong but he grows old & his sword arm slows. Our seer, Viartus, studies the plants & stars, telling us to alter course as the spirits have left signs for him. But few wish to hear him anymore, even I grow weary of this travel, not for my sake but for my wife’s. She has labored this journey in good stride carrying my son even as her belly grows as the moon.

   The wolf howl echoes in the darkness of the moonless sky, it is a poor omen. But we sleep anyway. In the morning two ravens are perched watching our camp & we are elated, All-Father has not forgotten us & has sent Huginn & Munin to look on us! When they fly they go back the way we came, Rolf claims this is a poor sign, but Viartus quells that before it begins by explaining that they return to Odin who is nearer our kinsmen then to us. It is good reasoning & none can argue it, though more than a few look to want to.

We travel for two more days, game has become more plentiful & Viartus claims it is proof that the spirits lead us true. For many it is proof enough, but Oberon still looks for blood, I doubt these signs because my wife needs home & hearth & we have none. The next day the sky opens & gives us freezing rain, we do not travel this day. Old wounds ache & little is accomplished.

   Then comes the day after, aches & pains are pushed aside as we force our way on through icy mud. It pulls at our boots & travel is slow. Everyone curses, some make tale of the Fimbul Winter. I help my wife as best I can, as she carries our child I carry her & curse myself for not being stronger, as I can only carry her over the worst. During the setting sun we see it, a hill with fruit trees to the east, thick forest to the north, a winding river to the west & south with plenty of field land. This shall be our home. We set down our meager belongings & pray our thanks to the gods, while our Godi speaks with the spirits.

   The fire creates a thick smoke from the wet wood, Viartus tosses the herbs from his bowl into the flames & a wolf howls & he is not so terribly far away. Murmurs of Fenris pass & the smoke burns in colors & the world blurs, sounds echo. The spirit takes form& surrounds us. Strange warriors with many death wounds & odd markings bearing crude weapons look at us balefully. Our Godi chants & the warriors move to face us, their voices from his mouth. The echo of a hundred dead men’s voices from but one living man. “Behold you stand on sacred ground. The blood of our fathers, fathers won this land & our children’s children still hold sway here. Leave now while your hearts still beat within your chests, for ours are a mighty people…”

   It is always a fool who interrupts the dead, but Oberon would not remain silent to his own council. “If they are so mighty, why are we here now? Why do we claim this land ours with no resistance?” it was Ulric who silenced him. The Godi begged that his insolence be forgiven, but his pleas fell upon uncaring ears. “Yours are a brash people & this land is cursed to you, you will find not solace here only painful death.” with that they marched off & into the woods to the north. The worst of it was the trail of blood they left, which looked like many bodies had been dragged off into the woods.

   Fitful sleep was all that was to be had that night, as we argued on our fate for hours. There were but two choices, take this land & hold it as our own or to hope to find a better land to call home. The wise choice was to leave, but almost none were for that. Despite the omen we decided to stay, even had we wanted to continue on our supplies had dwindled to almost nothing & it would take a few days here to dry the fruits & catch game to supply us for a further journey. Oberon made tale of how he would hold the land himself if need be. Viartus did his best to convince us to leave this land but he soon realized his voice fell on deaf ears & having exhausted himself with the earlier ritual, he soon fell to slumber. Our Jarl remained silent until the next morning, then he too declared we would stay.

   Apparently this was the fate the Norns had brought to us & so we made the best of it & we began the next morn on cutting lumber for the longhouse. It was decided that we would also build a wall as we knew to expect eventual attacks. Three men stood watch each day in case of attack, & one followed wherever the women & children went. Over the next days we tore at the forest to the north for our wood, while our women & children gathered fruit & grain & cleared the fields of rocks between. From the rocks Oberon made the hearth around which our longhouse was built.

   While we cleared the fields & cut the timber, our Godi made pacts with the land & the beasts. Often in the shadows of the forests were seen the lurking shapes of a large gnarled wolf, a lumbering scar-faced bear & the form of a scraggy molting raven. When evening grew the women & children became fearful of that which moved in the shadows, but Viartus explained they were judging our worthiness. No one thought to ask what he meant.

   In only three days we had the longhouse built & we began on the field & walls at the same time. My wife could hardly stand up on her own, yet somehow she managed to walk & carry a basket to gather fruit. She said it was easy to carry the basket, she would rest it on her stomach & our child would carry it. When there was meat, I made sure she had extra from my share, I would not hear otherwise.                           

 

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   In the early evening of our tenth day here came the first attack. Men came howling from the northern woods, naked except for the swirling blue tattoos, they hurled spear & arrow upon us wielding stone axes & clubs. Apparently they have never faced a Norseman in combat or they would know to wear armor. Oberon laughs as he takes his hip axe & hurls it into the chest of the nearest one, his laughter stops when it doesn’t even slow the lunatic’s charge. Jormungander’s brood has grown mighty in this land indeed.

   Our best warriors held them as a few of us ran for weapons, the stretching shadows from the setting sun made for macabre dance of battle. Upon our return to arm our kinsmen two of ours had fallen & the rest had been pressed back to the edge of the gate. We ran from the longhouse to our kin’s aid & gave their weapons to them, as the women added their aid by hurling stones.

   Unfortunately some of them managed to circle the longhouse & came upon the women from the rear, the cowardly dogs attacked even our women. In the dancing light of our fires they came at our women, I was the only one free of foe & so I ran. But I was out raced by Hamlin’s spear as he screamed for me to get to his wife even as he was struck. My wife & Tinna used raking sticks to defend Morrigan, Hamlin’s wife, from the b*****d’s club, she had taken one strike already & bled from her head as she scrambled on the ground to flee. It was now that my child would come, Lise clutched at her stomach as I ran to their aid. Apparently my son would be a warrior, so eager for battle was he, that he would heed its call even from the womb. I swung my axe & split the b*****d’s club in twain. He tackled me to the ground, my axe falling from my hand as he growled at me with broken, black teeth spittle flying as he did.

   Lise’s water broke as I flailed with this crazed beast, I screamed to the women who were confused as to who to aid “To Lise!” & I slammed my fist into the side of his head, even as he bit into my side. I yelled as he tore free a chunk of my flesh & swallowed it whole, I grabbed his head with both hands & thrust my thumbs into his eyes, they slid past the orbs within which I felt pop out as he screamed & collapsed clasping his face. I no sooner had stood & retrieved my axe than the women screamed warning of the next’s charge, I barley rolled out of the path of his axe. My wife screamed as she began to bring my child into the world, I swore that the first thing my son would see would not be his father falling in battle. I kicked a rake that had been dropped in the chaos at him & he swung his axe to knock it away, which was all I wanted. I brought my axe down upon him, but as I said I am not a great warrior, were I it would have been a killing blow. But I did strike his arm & that is likely why I lived through the battle.

   I could see my kinsmen changing the outcome of the battle as my wife birthed my child. He swung wide & I stepped in, to close to swing an axe properly but the point atop mine need only be thrust, it slid into his belly with ease. He dropped his axe & looked down at me & roared even as his hands found my neck, within seconds he had forced me to my knees. His spittle coated my face as he screamed, as I tried desperately to get my breath but he was to strong I would not break his grip. My wife screamed for me as she suffered through the birthing pains, I felt my life leaving my body. I ripped my axe from his belly & brought the blade violently down across his genitals, his grip weakened for a moment & I seized my chance. I dropped the axe & thrust my arms between his & broke his grip. He stared at me in shock as he fell to his knees. I retrieved my axe & finished him off, it was then I realized there were 2 spears in his back Oberon stood nearby looking at me bloody & exhausted, “By Ymir’s bones I thought he’d never die!” I laughed & went to my wife as the fight continued. She huffed & told me to help the others, as our child knew how to make the journey, it was up to me to make where he came safe.

   I pulled the spears from the corpse & hurled them at these lunatics & made my charge. By the battles end there lay dead 20 of them to 12 of us. I ran to my wife as they fled back to the woods.

   My wife was beautiful, but worn from the ordeal of bringing our child’s life into the world. I took my son from Morrigan, whose head still bled & who looked up at me with eyes wide. The Godi had spoken true, my child was bright with life with golden hair upon his head. But the Norns are fickle, my promised son was an unexpected girl. I wiped the blood, that dripped from my own wounds, from her cheek as she cooed at me. Her eyes shone in the sun & I thought it would not be so bad to have a daughter.

 

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   It has been seven years since we took this land. We have been harassed ever since. We have lost many men to them now, they will not stop. Our hunting parties must be larger than they should in case of attack, this makes hunting harder. So we harden our defenses against them, the wall now provides a ledge for archers & spear throwers.

   Our best warriors have taken the anger of the bear within themselves & Oberon leads these men who wear the bear shirts. I do not trust these men, they often act like the Picts in battle. Yes, we have learned something of our tormentors through those we captured. They are a most vile people & while we have made clear that we would live in peace, they continue their attacks. Even hurling the heads of our dead over the gate as they gloat over killing another hunting party.

   I see no end to this, they attack us, Oberon leads the raiding party to their village for revenge & then the cycle repeats. I know I should go mad from this state of things if not for my child & seeing her grow. She is only seven summers old but she runs with the best of the boys & fights like one too. Lise is not pleased with this, as she feels Caollan should be learning to sew & care for a home. But she shows no interest in these things & only when she swings the wood sword high does her smile glow & here, when all I see is death I need to see her smile.

   But you who read these runes likely wonder why I write, surely you must think, he does not waste our time with such fancifuls. No, I write now about the cost our Godi sold us to. Viartus passed twelve days ago from wounds gained while out searching for more herbs & roots. He told me, while I tended his wounds after the nurse-wives had left, that our people would fall to their ways, the three beasts would take those they felt worthy & grant them strengths even as they embodied their ways. This was the price of living here.

   Perhaps because he always felt I should have followed his path is why he told me, perhaps because he need to let his guilt go before entering the halls of Valhalla, whatever it may have been he told me. The bear had taken Oberon & his men, the wolf had the hunters as packs & raven held us few who survived through wit & cunning, & he looked at me so hard as he said this I would swear he looked through me.

They will take our people as theirs until they find the one who exemplifies our people, till they find the best of us. To that one they will give three boons, but no gifts. One each & then they will leave us to live & grow on our own. I could not believe he would do this to our people, but he said he had no choice, without their aid we would not have survived our first winter here. He then fell into a sleep that he never woke from. We would be without a Godi, none would speak to the spirits on our behalf. We had become a cursed people, as Viartus’ son was but five summers & was not ready upon his father’s passing to become our spiritualist.

                                      

   So now you must question, why did he wait twelve days to write this?

                                  

   It was two days ago during the hunt, there were 20 of us & we had taken the older children. Many jokes were made of how I was taking my ‘son’ out & how she is growing into a fine man. She has always had to endure this & she knows she always will, but it does not keep the sting from her heart, or the pain from her mother’s eyes.

   It was a bright crisp day, luck was with us we had injured a stag & were chasing it down, as usual my daughter & I were at the rear of the hunting party to watch for ambush, when my daughter stopped. She had heard something as did I, I mouthed the word ‘rabbit’ to her & motioned at the swaying bushes. My daughter leapt at the far side of it to scare it toward me, & that’s when what we believed to be a rabbit turned out to be the strangest moment of our lives.

   What leapt out of those bushes, I must admit scarcely having words for it, it was a young girl but also an animal. She could have been my daughters age, but she was covered in hair & dressed in scraps of rags & fur. My daughter fell backwards as this panicked child stood.

   She was obviously feral & in poor condition, I tried to speak to her but she did not understand our tongue, though she did seem to understand some of the Pict’s language. She crouched low in the bushes, her eyes never leaving me with a look that said she was prepared to fight. I was set to let her go her way, as if our paths had never crossed, but my daughter offered her dried meat & drink.

   The wolf girl was wary but she took the food, she must have been starving, she barley chewed. It was now that I got a better look at her, only her lips & palms had no hair growing on them, otherwise her body was covered, in a dirty matted light brown fur of various lengths. After she choked down the meat Caollawen offered her the water gourd & she stared at it, when my daughter poured a bit of water from it she seemed to understand & took it quite readily, gulping.

   Then came the sound of people, obviously our kin looking for us. The girl looked panicked again & hid in the bushes, a look of terror upon her face. I told my daughter to say nothing & as Rolf & his two sons, Inge & Gustav, neared I hailed them, the girl looked even more frightened & when I wove a suitable lie of chasing what we believed to be a rabbit & it turning out to be a bird, she grew even more fearful as I spoke. They believed it, thankfully, I told them I would follow with my child shortly as I wanted to be certain there was no rabbit burrow here. They laughed at us & made their joke about our hunting ability as they left.

   My daughter was upset with me to say the least, she wanted to know why I didn’t tell them. Explaining the tendencies of others is the hardest thing to do with a child, but my girl is sharp as a blade & understood. The wolf girl peered from the bushes, looking warily at me. I explained, as best I could in Pictish, that we wouldn’t harm her & I do believe she understood. We then left her then returning to the hunting party.

   We did not speak of the girl until we were home & my daughter took the teasing & taunts of the day well. She is always taunted by the boys & even the girls, for wanting to fight & hunt. But today she did well & never said a word until we were home, then the need to tell broke her silence & she told the tale to Lise. She was so excited she vibrated as she told about the strange girl, her mother on the other hand grew worried. That night after we put our daughter to bed my wife told me of her fears that this creature was but an ill omen that would spell bad tidings for our family.

   It was the next day that I saw her again, watching our camp from the distant trees of the north. As the day passed & we finished our work in the fields & made my way out as if to inspect the field from the distance & near a small tree I dropped a bag containing fruit, dried meat & some hard bread.

   When I came back the next morning it was gone. Caollawen was asking if I’d seen her constantly. It was late in the day when I saw her again hiding in the woods, when she realized I could see her she held up a deer skull & thrust a stick through its eye sockets, then she vanished. It was a poor sign, I had Oberon ready his people & they looked at me for explanation & all I could give was the forest felt off. They laughed at me, but I think my words made them look at the forest a bit more than they would have. It was hours later that the Picts came, but since they were seen early we were better prepared. We drove them off with no losses on our side & many on theirs & after it was over everyone looked at me & the whispers began.

           

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   It has been over a year since my last writings, much has changed. My daughter sneaks away to play with the wolf child & brings her food & supplies. The wolf girl has warned me of attacks & I have prepared our warriors for them, they now they think I am a seer, like Viartus, a Godi. But I am not & I fear they will trust in me too much. Especially now that the fevers have come.

   Our people grow sick with fevers that cannot be cured. No herb or root found holds a cure. People turn to me, even as my wife grows sick.

                   

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   She held on for six months. I don’t know what to do anymore, I am hollow. Only my daughter keeps me going. She hunts as well as any boy & she tells me how she teaches the wolf girl.

   The only good there has been is that my Lise was the last to pass from the fever.

        

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   I feel this record should go on, I have not the way with words my father did, but I will try. He has fallen in battle against the Picts. I cannot be angry at them as my father has not been himself since my mother died five years ago. I am only happy that he passed in battle & did not die the straw death, he deserved to be remembered as the strong man he was.

   He had scarcely told a tale or sung a song since her passing & never with his heart anymore, but he went on. Not for himself, but for us. He kept our people together in spirit. May those who feast with him in Valhalla know the great man who sits next to them.

   Our Jarl, Oberon, prepares a war party to attack our enemies &, as he says, end them once & for all. He is at a loss since my father has passed, Oberon had grown close to my father & now he placates his sorrow with rage, even as he tries to marry me to his oldest. My place is not in the home, no matter how I try I cannot be happy there & I am sorry for all the trouble & shame I have caused my family.

   Verdande, who you know from these writings as the ‘wolf girl’ has taken the name of one of the Norns from the tales I have told her, to honor them. She tells me that I was meant for other things. She does not say what these things are. She says that there is coming a time when our people will leave this place. When I will truly be alone. She speaks in dark riddle, ominous prophecy & with a cursed certainly.

                                   

   She says there will be blood… & all I can do is Pray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2008 Chases-Lost-Ghosts


Author's Note

Chases-Lost-Ghosts
As always be polite.

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Mysterious, authentic and thought provoking as well as rich with details. This reader was sorry to reach the story's end.

Posted 7 Years Ago


One word - Wow!

I really like the definitions you have given for this write.
It helps build up the write so the reader understands.
I like your story you can carry a theme and i like that.
You are also very creative and talented.

Who wouldn't be polite about this story. This is amazing
and so wonderful. Like your story alot.

Posted 11 Years Ago


It was great i loved it

Posted 11 Years Ago



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Added on October 9, 2008
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Chases-Lost-Ghosts
Chases-Lost-Ghosts

Brooklyn, NY



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Having escaped Arkham I melded into the vast city scape of New York & now my mad scrawlings can be found across the city penned in dark alleys, park playgrounds & anywhere else that took my fancy, wri.. more..

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