The Rune Stone
Muspelheim And Niflheim
Terje could feel the heat and oppressive humidity pressing down upon him like an invisible hand. He did not tell Bente what he was thinking, but he was sure that this was not a place that they could long endure. If the heat did not kill them, the smell of rotten eggs punctuating the air that they were breathing, which surely was sulfur, certainly would end their lives.
Everywhere Terje looked he saw great mountains spewing forth ash, and below in the valleys he witnessed an almost impossible sight. Where on earth rivers of cool mountain water would normally flow, here, wherever this place was, lava flowed down the valleys and out into a great ocean of molten rock !
As Terje tried to scientifically process everything he was seeing the top of a mountain in the distance blew apart sending cinders far up into the heavens. Like stars in the night sky they danced around before slowly disappearing out of sight. And then the shock wave hit forcing them both to their knees.
" Hold on ! This is not going to be good ! " he shouted as the whole world seemed as though it would shake itself apart.
Unlike earthquakes back on their world the extreme tremors did not last seconds, but instead continued on minute after minute. When the quake finally subsided Bente rose to her feet and pointed to a light that flickered on and off in the distance that seemed to be coming closer.
" What do you think that is professor ? " she asked nervously.
Terje followed her finger to the point of light and raised his eyebrows as he replied.
" I do not know, ...... but it flickers and burns like the sun ! " he told her.
As it came closer the details of the image became more and more clear. Terje took off his hat, placed it over his heart, and began to shake as he spoke to Bente.
" We should run ! " he told her.
Bente looked around.
" There is nowhere to run to professor . There are volcanoes erupting all around us, and lava fills every valley below . This mountain ledge appears to be the only safe place here . " she explained calmly to the professor.
Terje was only half listening to his student as she spoke. His mind was incapable of processing what his eyes were seeing, and what Bente was saying at the same time. And this was all caused by what Terje could now see coming swiftly towards them. The image that shouldn't be real, and couldn't be real, and yet was real, scared the hell out him !
" Do you see what I see ! ? " he asked Bente.
Bente calmly looked off into the distance.
" Do you mean the Giant with burning hair, who is riding an ash colored horse that is breathing fire,.... oh, .... and is that a flaming sword he has in his hand ? " she asked in return.
Terje nodded .
" Yes ! I believe it is ! " he replied.
As the fiery figure pulled his horse up in front of them Terje closed his eyes expecting to die at any moment. When nothing happened he opened one eye to take a peek. What he saw up close was much worse than he could ever have imagined. And then it spoke !
" How dare you come to my fiery realm ! " it bellowed.
The Giant's words echoed through the mountains like an explosion ! Terje began to shake so badly that he could no longer stand up. The professor, the atheist, closed his eyes, fell to his knees, and began to pray for his life.
" Your God will not help you here in Muspelheim ! " the Fire Giant told him.
The flaming monster raised up his sword as though he were about to strike, but quickly brought it back down when he took a closer look at the female human.
" I see ! You will leave the way you came or I will come back and kill you both ! " the Giant screamed violently before reining his horse around and trotting away.
Bente helped Terje to his feet, and reached into his pocket, pulling out the notebook he had used at the Eggja farm.
" The words from the rune stone,... the charm,... you must say it again ! " Bente told him with a new urgency in her tone.
Terje, confused and in a state of shock, barely managed one word.
" What ? "
Bente placed the notebook in his hand and lowered his head.
" Read the damned words before Surtr comes back ! " she yelled.
Terje looked down at the words scribbled on the page, and then off into the distance. The Fire Giant had swung his horse around as though he were waiting to see if they would leave. With his hands shaking badly he managed, in a hoarse voice, to say :
" Froem, Bynar, Willop, Danira, Pistil, Mistil, Kistil. "
The ground shook beneath them and there was another great flash of light. This time Terje did not see the bolt of lightning because, out of fear, he had closed his eyes. What he could not see, he could feel. For the air had gone from hot and humid to dry and freezing in a matter of moments.
When Terje opened his eyes he was still shaking. Now, however, it was not fear, but from the extreme cold which clung to him like a layer of ice, that was making his body tremble uncontrollably.
Bente shook the professor out of his stupor.
" We must keep moving ! " she told him.
Terje gave her a confused look.
" Go where ? I mean where are we ? " he asked.
Bente pointed off into the distance.
" We are in a colder place than over there ! See how the rivers are frozen here, but in the misty distance they are still flowing ! " she explained.
Terje's mind filled with hope.
" Yes ! Yes ! I see it ! " he yelled out with excitement.
Then Terje looked closer and could not believe his eyes.
" And is that a bridge spanning that river ? " he asked.
" I believe that it is professor. " she assured him.
As Terje looked at the bridge he saw sparks filtering down in the distance beyond the span, and he whispered to himself :
" Could those be burning cinders from Muspelheim ? "
It took several days for them to walk across the barren frozen plains to reach the bridge. Terje was thankful that Bente had a sweet tooth, and had quite a few candy bars with her, which she gladly shared with him. And as it turned out their timing was perfect, for they had just finished eating the last of the candy when they reached the bridge.
Terje looked down at the running water and breathed a sigh of relief.
" If there is running water there may be fish to eat here. " he told Bente.
Their attention quickly shifted to the other side of the bridge where they heard the boards creaking under a great weight.
" On one side of this bridge is Niflheim, a world of ice and snow, and here on my side of the bridge sits Helheim,.... and nothing lives here ! " she told them bluntly.
Terje's heart sank down into the pit of his stomach.
" And who are you ? " he asked timidly.
The female Giant grinned.
" I am the battle maiden Modgud who guards the Gjallarbru. And I alone decide who crosses my bridge ! " she warned them.
- End Chapter 7
- Next : Chapter 8 : Helheim and Jotunheim
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.