The Spirit Tamer
" We Must Give Them What They Want "
As the morning light shone in from a small opening at the bottom of the doors a collective sigh of relief rose up from all those inside. Logic told Naddoður that those left outside the Great Hall should have been killed during the night, and yet when the great iron doors were opened the village itself, along with all of it's inhabitants, had escaped the wrath of the Draugr unscathed.
Naddoður needed answers, and as he discovered the night before he would not get them from King Vigsterkr. The king seemed to understand the situation even less than he did himself. And yet the Shaman felt that the king knew much more than he was telling him. Instead of relying on the king for information, which he seemed unwilling to share, Naddoður decided to question his new friend Nokkvi.
With Alva sleeping peacefully in his pocket, Naddoður followed Nokkvi down to a stream to bathe. As they undressed Naddoður could sense that the warrior was still suffering from a form of shock brought on by the night of terror. Only when the cold mountain water hit Nokkvi's naked body did he seem to be able to shake his fears. And as he bathed it was almost as if Naddoður was watching him wash away everything that had happened the night before.
Naddoður waited until they left the water, and were drying themselves off, before asking the warrior any questions.
" If I am to help you I need to know more about these Draugr. " he told the warrior.
Nokkvi finished drying his hair before responding to the Shaman.
" I am not sure what I can tell you other that what you have already seen and heard. " he replied.
Naddoður pulled on his pants as he asked his first question.
" When did the Draugr first arrive here in Numadalr ? " he inquired.
Nokkvi thought for a moment before answering.
" It was five years ago. We had just suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of King Ostarki of Hringariki. Shortly after we returned to Numadalr they began to haunt us every night,... and not all at once. In the beginning there were only a few and then more and more came in the mist. " he explained.
Naddoður allowed a moment to pass before he asked his next question.
" And why do you think the Draugr do not destroy the village or harm your folk ? "
Nokkvi's face turned to stone for a moment as all emotion bled out of his face.
" Because they want what is in the Great Hall, not what lives in the village itself. The king, early on, thought that these walking dead wanted to reside in the hall. So one night he mounted his warriors in the courtyard, and left the old hall's doors open. But they didn't go into the hall at all ! They chased us all through the night until Sunna rose in the sky, and they vanished. If we were not on horseback they would have killed us all ! " he explained to the Shaman.
Naddoður looked puzzled for a moment before asking :
" Is that how you built the new stone hall ? By riding away each night and building it by day ? "
Nokkvi took a deep breath.
" We had no choice. As the number of Draugr grew they came closer every night to breaking into the old hall. It took us four years to build what to us has become a prison every night. " he explained.
Naddoður stroked his chin several times.
" That is very interesting. " he replied.
Nokkvi finished dressing and then turned to the Shaman.
" If you wish to know more ask the king . I am going to bed ! " he told Naddoður.
The Shaman grinned.
" No, my friend ! Tonight I will ask the Draugr instead. " he told the warrior.
Nokkvi shook his head.
" Then you will be dead by morning. For you stayed in the hall, and the Draugr will sense that you are a warrior also and they will kill you ! " he informed the Shaman without emotion.
After the warrior walked away Alva poked her head out of Naddoður's pocket.
" Are you really going to try and speak to the Draugr tonight ? " she asked.
" Why ? Are you afraid of them ? " he asked in return.
Alva pretended to be hurt by the insinuation.
" No ! But the king may not allow you to stay outside of the Great Hall . " she speculated.
" Point well taken, my little friend. I think tonight we shall hide out in the forest until darkness brings the mist back to Numadalr, and the dead once again roam this land. " he told her with a wink.
Naddoður found a suitable place to hide about a mile from town in a small cave. Really it was nothing more than a deep crevice in the rock, but it served the purpose he needed, and it hid him from the warriors that King Vigsterkr sent out to find him. And there he lay in wait until Sunna rode her chariot over the distant mountains. As daylight turned into twilight the Shaman, with his little companion, crawled out of his hiding place, and began to walk back to the village.
By the time they reached the the center of the village, where the Great Stone Hall stood like a great memorial to death, the mist had begun to cover the ground, and he could hear the first cries of the Draugr off in the distance. When it reached the height of a man Naddoður began to see shadows moving within the mist.
For a moment Naddoður held his breath. He was fairly sure, but by no means certain, that the Draugr would ignore him. As they passed him, however, the walking dead did not even turn to look at him with their dead black eyes. The Shaman could see that these restless souls were single - minded in purpose, which was further confirmed by the vicious way they attacked the doors of the Great Hall. Naddoður watched them for several moments, placing in his memory how incredibly determined they were to get into the hall. When he had seen enough, he walked a little closer, and shouted above their agonizing shrieks.
" Who among you leads these Draugr ? " he asked.
He received no response the first time, so he tried again.
" My name in Naddoður. I am a Shaman and I wish to help you end your misery. Will not one of you speak to me ? " he asked.
Slowly, and at first imperceptibly, one of the dead broke away from the others and stomped over to where Naddoður stood. For a moment the two looked at one another. The dead eyes of the Draugr stared deeply into the blue eyes of the living with a look of menace seldom seen in Midgard. Naddoður feared that the Draugr might attack him when suddenly the creature stumbled backward a few steps. Out of the corner of his eye Naddoður saw the reason.
" Your wing seems to be healed. " he said calmly to the fairy.
Alva flew around the Draugr like a fly pestering a cow. The decaying human spirit swatted at her several times but was too slow to hit her.
" My friend Naddoður would like to ask you a few questions. If you answer them truthfully he might be able to unchain you from this world, and allow you and the other lost souls to continue your journey to the afterlife that was meant for you . " Alva told the dead man with a pleasant smile.
Naddoður did not know what to expect next, but he surely was not anticipating the Draugr to begin speaking in a voice that was easily understandable.
" I was once known as the warrior Thorvin. I, along with all of my fellow comrades, were sacrificed by the cowardly King Vigsterkr in a hopeless attack to gain him time to escape the Hringariki army. We were betrayed, and left to be slaughtered by our enemy, so that our cowardly king could live. Now we have come back to bring King Vigsterkr to the land of the dead where he belongs. And we will not leave until he is with us once again. " he told Naddoður.
Alva fluttered up in front of the dead man's face and looked deep into his soul. She saw nothing but darkness.
" Do you want all the warriors in the Great Hall, or only King Vigsterkr ? " the little fairy asked.
Thorvin looked past the fairy, as if he were looking into the future.
" We have no quarrel with our living comrades in arms. They did not betray us. We want only King Vigsterkr. " he explained.
Alva flew over to Naddoður, and gave him a little grin.
" To set them free, we must give them what they want ! " she told him.
- End Chapter 10
- Next : Chapter 11 : A Decision Too Hard To Make
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.