Nøkken : The Water Spirit
Another Death, Another Sorrow
Sefa had never been alone before. She sat up all night long with three oil lamps blazing brightly. The night, which had never frightened her before, seemed to be closing in upon her from every direction. The only protection she had from this dark and lonely nightmare came from the light from the oil lamps, and with sleep out of the question Sefa huddled around them as though they were her only friends.
The moment the sun peered over the Smalhaugen hills Sefa ran out to the barn, saddled the swiftest horse they owned, and rode across the hills to get help. The nearest place, a small farmstead owned by the parents of her only friend Vigarr, was less than three miles away, and she quickly found herself dismounting just outside their front door.
Petr and Marta had moved to Smalhaugen a year after her parents had begun farming at Lillebekken, and Sefa had gone to school with their son Vigarr for two years, until her mother died and her father told her to leave school and stay at home to help with the farm. Sefa was sure that Vigarr's parents did not like her family. They did not come to her mother's burial, and they seemed to resent her friendship with their son. They were, however, the nearest people, and she needed help now !
Sefa did not understand the looks Vigarr's parents gave each other when she told them what had happened, or their initial reluctance to come back to Lillebekken to help her look for her father. Vigarr was also puzzled by his parent's coldness towards Sefa and her plight, but after he told his parents that he would go by himself to help his friend, Petr and Marta, finally agreed to go as well.
For hours they searched everywhere on the farm. No possible hiding places were overlooked, and no stone was left unturned. Petr even lit a torch and checked down the well. As the morning turned into afternoon Sefa gradually grew more and more desperate, and fearful that something horrible had happened to her father.
Then, just as the sun began to descend across the evening sky, Petr, who was searching around the dam, called out to his son.
" Vigarr ! Take Sefa into the house now ! " he ordered his son.
Sefa and Vigarr were looking for signs of her father in the woods near the barn when they heard Petr's disturbing warning. They both came running out of the brush together, but when Vigarr saw his father knee deep in the pond he grabbed hold of Sefa, and would not let her go any further.
" What is it father ? ! " Vigarr asked already knowing the answer.
Petr pointed to the house and repeated himself.
" Take Sefa into the house ! "
Petr then turned to Marta, who had turned white as a ghost, and said softly :
" Go and stay with Sefa,..... and tell Vigarr to come out here. I will need a hand carrying Lifsteinn's body to the barn. "
Marta opened the front door and slowly disappeared into the house. Moments later Vigarr emerged with a stunned look upon his face. As he walked toward the dam he felt as though he would be sick, and the shame kept him from looking into his father's eyes as he waded into the murky water. Together Vigarr and Petr dragged the dead and bloated body of Sefa's father out of the pond, and carried it to the barn where they laid it gently down on some hay. Then, with heavy hearts, they left the barn and went to the farm house to see how Marta was faring with Sefa.
From the flowering lily pads, known as Nøkkeroser, the Nøkken watched with little or no interest as the corpse was removed from his watery home. The Water Spirit had taken the essence of the human, and now that it was satisfied the creature had little concern for the empty shell that floated upon the surface. He could now rest, for he would not need another human soul for years.
For the Nøkken killing was a way of life, and one that had gone on for many millennium, but to humans death is a tragedy. The sorrow began when Sefa saw her father for the first time lying in the barn among the hay. The pain then multiplied many times over at the funeral, and despite the condolences of those who attended, Sefa felt as though her heart had been crushed and drained of all warmth and joy.
Sefa's life quickly became a mess of tangled confusion. She tried to run the farm by herself, but it was too much for her to handle. She asked around but no one wanted to work on the " haunted farm " no matter how much she offered them. Sefa kept up the garden, but it was all she could manage. The only consolation for her daily misery was that it brought her and Vigarr closer together, despite his parent's warnings.
When Vigarr came to visit he always brought Sefa a small gift, and he did his best to bring cheer to her hard and lonely existence. After Vigarr went home, and she was left with only silence and solitude, the pain of losing her parents washed over her like an ocean wave. Sefa often would leave the farm house and sit for hours on the dam weeping. Being at the place where her father died was a double edged sword. It gave her a sense of closeness that satisfied her need to be with him, while at the same time adding to her sadness.
Sefa thought she was alone down by the pond as she grieved for her parents. Lost in her sorrow, she could not see the threat that lay dormant just beneath the surface of the water. The Nøkken, however, could see her all too well, and he watched her the way a predator eyes it's prey when it is hungry. Unlike the mortal human, who grieved up above in the world of air and sunshine, the Water Spirit had all the time in the world. He would lay dormant until the time was right, and then he would strike again !
- End Chapter 2
- Next : Chapter 3 : The Proposal
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.