Nøkken : The Water Spirit
The Lillebekken Farm
Nestled in between the Smalhaugen hills in Eastern Norway sits a small tract of land known as the Lillebekken farm, ( The Little Brook farm ). Other than the fact that it was located in an isolated area, there is nothing particularly unusual looking about this farm. For decades they had grown hay for the horses, cereal crops such as barley, oats and of course wheat and potatoes. Surrounding the farm house on three sides, almost from the time it was built, was a large vegetable and herb garden to supplement their mainly grain diet.
The Lillebekken farm was home to several animals over the years as well. The large barn, built by the second owners, had room to house horses, several milk cows, chickens, goats, and a few pigs were often kept in a pen that was attached to the outside of the structure. The owners also kept several large dogs on the grounds to keep away predators, such as wolves and foxes, from their livestock.
Lillebekken was an ideal picturesque location to live. Surrounded by beautiful hills, babbling brooks, scenic waterfalls, and flowering meadows, it attracted many settlers over the years. The soil was fertile, irrigating the fields was easy, and it seemed whatever was planted grew twice as fast as other farms in the area.
Yes, living in the valley below the Smalhaugen hills should have been a paradise on earth. And yet almost no one stayed in this beautiful farmland for more than a few years. Farm houses were built, land cleared, fields cultivated, and then the inhabitants just disappeared, abandoning the property, and allowing nature to reclaim what the humans had taken away.
Those who came to the valley to visit quickly came to the conclusion that the whole area was haunted, and that the farms were never truly abandoned, but were instead now inhabited by the ghosts of those who had disappeared by means of some sort of evil that lurked in the forests, or the brooks. Some thought it the work of Trolls, while others, because of the many streams and brooks in the area, thought it to be menaced by a Nøkken ( Water Spirit ),or Bäckahäst ( Brook Horse ) . All agreed it was a nice place to visit, but they did not want to stay here for very long. All that is except one family.....
Seventeen year old Sefa was placing flowers on her mother's grave when she heard her father calling to her.
" Sefa ! The garden needs tending ! " he yelled from the small dam he had built at the brook.
" Yes, father ! " Sefa replied as she pressed the soil down around the roots of the flowers she had just planted by her mother's grave stone.
As she walked to the garden, on the east side of the farm house, Sefa looked around and remembered how five years ago they had been passing through the Smalhaugen hills on their way north to visit relatives when they spotted the overgrown farm. Her father Lifsteinn, and her mother Rinda, had immediately fallen in love with the farm, and when they inquired about the abandoned farm down by the little brook they were shocked and pleased to hear that no one claimed ownership for any of the abandoned farms in the valley below the Smalhaugen hills, and that it was theirs for the taking.
Her father quickly repaired a few damaged boards on the barn, replaced some of the shingles on the roof of the farm house, and in less than a month they had moved in. Twelve year old Sefa loved her new home despite all the additional chores she had to do every day. The playful little girl spent most of her free time in the meadow picking flowers, and having fun with her two Elk hounds Geri and Freki.
Sefa was very happy at Lillebekken, but happiness can be fleeting, and it can transform from a warm and bright feeling, to a cold and dark nightmare in a matter of moments. And much like the season's change from Autumn to Winter a bleak darkness fell like a cloak over the Lillebekken farm during that fourth year in the valley.
It began a year ago with a cough. Her mother had assured her that it was nothing, but after three days of sweating and wheezing, she could not get out of bed on the fourth. Her father left her to care for her mother while he took one of the horses and went for help. When he returned the next morning with the doctor, however, her mother had already passed away.
Sefa wanted to bury her mother down by the brook, but her father was adamant that there was something in the brook that had killed his wife. Sefa thought it odd that her father would blame the brook for her mother's death. She had learned in school that contaminated water can make a person sick, or even kill a person, but they had a well and did not drink from the brook. Lifsteinn would not change his mind, however, and he buried his wife near the edge of the meadow near the house.
It saddened Sefa to remember that day. The funeral was held at a church some twenty miles away, and only four people came back to Lillebekken to attend the burial. The clergyman, the Reverend Jacobsen, her father, her friend Vigarr, and herself. No one else would venture into what the reverend called " That God Forsaken Valley ! "
As Sefa began to pull out the weeds that seemed to be especially prevalent this year in the garden, she glanced over at her father, who was taking boards off of the small dam on the brook to irrigate his fields. It brought a tear to her eyes to think of how happy he had been before her mother had died, compared to how very sad and miserable he was now that she was gone.
With a deep breath she wiped away her tears and then grabbed hold of a large weed with both hands. It took all of her strength to rip the intruder out of their vegetable garden, but when she finally had it in her hands Sefa held it up to show her father.
" Father ! Look at the size of this.......
Sefa stopped in mid - sentence. He was gone ! Her father, who had been standing next to the brook only moments before, was gone !!
" Father ? Father ! FATHER !! " Sefa called out with increased urgency.
- End Chapter 1
- Next : Chapter 2 : Another Death, Another Sorrow
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.