|Feast of Eagles fragments
Author: Nate Davis Volsungassonnr PM
Some disjointed fragments from a historical fiction peace I'm working on. Feast of Eagles, the story of a Danish outlaw fighting under the Lodbrok brothers against Wessex in the 800s AD. T for blood, and lots of it.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Spiritual - Chapters: 3 - Words: 3,312 - Updated: 09-03-11 - Published: 08-28-11 - id: 2947449
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
III. The Ritual
"A spirit lives in this hill," said the witch. "This spirit is neither Elf nor Dwarf, it is not a goblin or a troll or a dead man, nor is it one of the sidh-folk. This spirit is a truly ancient thing, older than the land itself."
"A giant?", asked Wulfgar.
"One of the Etin-folk, as surely as I'm standing here. And what's more, this is an Ice Giant, one of Mother Skathi's own sisters. She will help us if we placate her." The witch turned her face away. "You, of course, shall have to do the placating; this spirit is female."
"Let's get this over with, then."
By the light of the moon, the Saami witch gathered up stones from the ground and arranged them in a circle. In the center of the circle she thrust Wulfgar's sword into the earth; she took an ancient, yellowed human skull from her bag and placed it over the pommel.
"Anyone I know?", asked Wulfgar.
"My grandmother. A mighty witch and a great friend of Mother Skathi."
The witch took a wineskin and a wooden blessing-bowl out of her bag and filled the bowl with a thick, pungent black liquid from the skin. She drank half of it and gave the rest to Wulfgar.
"Tastes like shit," he observed.
"That's what the mushrooms grow on."
They each sat at opposite sides of the circle and waited. After a few minutes, the witch started chanting in the Saami language; at first it was slow and barely a whisper, but it soon grew faster and rose to nearly a scream. She shook violently, but not in a convulsive way; rather like a tree in a windstorm. And her voice carried a violent edge, not of pain or anger but of an almost sexual ecstasy. The chant continued, and on some deep, instinctual level, Wulfgar could understand the words.
"Mastered by desire impulsive,
By a mighty inward urging,
I am ready now for singing,
Ready to begin the chanting
Of our nation's ancient folk-song
Handed down from by-gone ages.
In my mouth the words are melting,
From my lips the tones are gliding,
From my tongue they wish to hasten;
When my willing teeth are parted,
When my ready mouth is opened,
Songs of ancient wit and wisdom
Hasten from me not unwilling."
And so on.
Wulfgar looked around and saw that the world had changed profoundly. Outside of the circle, all looked like a shadow of a shadow of a shadow, dark and immaterial, a mocking reflection of its usual self, and in the constant swirling windstorm were strange, ineffable things lurking just beyond the edge of reason.
Suddenly the chanting stopped, and Wulfgar could hear the raging windstorm; it sounded like a thousand voices whispering in a language just beyond his understanding, trying to tell him things which he would rather not know.
The witch shot to her feet and cried out, "In this blasted wilderness of stock and stone I raise up my voice so that all may hear! To the East and the West I beckon! To the North and the South I raise up a sign proclaiming: Death to the weakling, wealth to the strong! By the greatest power in the Universe, within and without, do I make this declaration. In the name of Mother Skathi, great queen of the frozen northlands; in the name of Ing-Freyr, the wealth-bringer, the horn-warrior; in the name of Freyja, strong in war and magic; in the name of Ran, Aegir, and Njorth who rule the seas; in the name of Nerthus who is mother to all; and in the name of Ymir, He who Is; I declare, ye Dwellers in the Other World who would help us in our quest, step ye now into the circle. You will not be harmed."
A massive, snow-white wolf leaped into the circle. It licked Wulfgar's hand and then started pacing the ring of stones nervously, a perpetual snarl on its lips as though it could feel something menacing just beyond the understanding of human beings.
After the wolf had made its eight lap around the inside of the circle, Wulfgar felt a presence truly older than the stones themselves press into his consciousness. The wolf snarled fiercely and snapped at the air. The presence receded, but the wolf started whimpering in pain as it bit and clawed at the circle's edge. After a while the wolf, still snarling though it was well past exhaustion, collapsed onto its belly and seemed to slide back out into the darkness.
"That was your last defense," the witch said. "Prepare yourself."
The alien presence returned with renewed vigor, though this time it didn't press so directly; it poked and prodded at Wulfgar's mind as if looking for weak spots. He focused all of his concentration inward; he was sitting alone in the circle, and he could see tiny blue whisps of living smoke poking and prodding at the stones, trying to move them enough to break the circle.
Wulfgar jumped to the circle's edge, grapped one of the tendrils, and shook it violently.
And somewhere in the distance, he heard his woman scream.
"Do not fight her!", the witch demanded. "If you try to keep yourself apart from her, she will destroy me! Give in! Placate her!"
The witch screamed again, and Wulfgar released the tendril, stood up, and kicked away the stones, breaking the circle. The ancient presence rushed in, and suddenly he was aware that it felt distinctly feminine and rather desirable. He raised up his arms and let the blue mist envelop him.
For the rest of his life, no matter how deeply he meditated, Wulfgar could never figure out exactly what happened after that. The next thing he remembered was waking up inside the circle, feeling sore and beaten all over, yet at the same time wonderfully refreshed.
"You pissed yourself," said the witch.
Wulfgar yawned. "What the hell happened to me?"
"We went deeper than deep, into the heart of the Other World where time isn't counted, wherein dwell beasts that would shatter your mind if you looked at them, such is the horror of their very existence. Even the gods fear such beasts, for when Ymir was newly-born, these beasts were already ancient."
"Why would we go to such a place?"
"So that we could be on a more equal level with the giantess. You're alive, aren't you?"
"Normally, when the giantess captures a Masculine who can meld his mind with hers, he resists and destroys himself just as a bird would destroy itself flying fast into a stone wall. You let her have her way with you, and so she rewarded you, for it has been an age and an age since last she was placated."
"What of the spirit-wolf?"
"A friend of Odin, I imagine. He defended you valiantly, but is effort served no purpose beyond angering her."
"Do we know where Toki's horde is buried?"
"I don't know. She stopped speaking with me when she learned I was your woman. Do you know where it is?"
Wulfgar closed his eyes and searched his memories. To his surprise, he found that he knew exactly where the old Swede had buried his silver.
"I do. Let's make to it quickly; his sons won't touch it if they don't suspect danger."