The Spirit Tamer
Their friendship had quickly grown into an unbreakable partnership, with each of them bringing a unique perspective and talent into their spirit taming duties. Each had great confidence in the other, and each knew that their back was always protected. And although it was never spoken of, the admiration the two had for one another was slowly turning from respect to love.
Alva was not surprised when Naddoður suddenly turned east and headed toward the land known as Hringariki. She was, however, a little concerned to be entering a kingdom that had been at war for years with the realm they were leaving. The little Fairy wondered how they would be received by King Ostarki, who had defeated King Vigsterkr several times in the past. As it turned out she would not have to wait long to find the answer.
Naddoður stopped when he spotted the riders up ahead. Normally he was always acutely aware of his surroundings, and was seldom caught by surprise, but the Shaman had been deeply contemplating the concept of the Earth being flat as opposed to curved when he stumbled upon the riders. As he poured over his options he realized that this was not just a patrol, or a few scouts, that blocked his way, but it was in fact a small army led by a well dressed warrior obviously of some eminence.
The fact that none of the horse soldiers drew their weapons as they approached was comforting to Naddoður. Of course with an army of horsemen this size they could simply trample him to death, but the expression on the face of their leader told a story of fear, and not one of agression. As the leader pulled his horse up in front of him he raised his hand.
" Hail, stranger ! I am King Magsefni of Hringariki. " the man introduced himself.
Naddoður bowed slightly.
" My Lord, I am honored, .... but I understood the king of Hringariki to be a man named Ostarki. " he replied.
King Magsefni dismounted and walked around Naddoður, looking him over from head to toe.
" My father, King Ostarki, was killed by a Mare, which rode him to death. This ' Mare ' was conjured up by a witch who was in the service of King Vigsterkr. I traveled to Numadalr to kill Vigsterkr, and avenge my father's death, but I was told that a Shaman named Naddoður allowed an army of Draugr to kill the king for being a coward. Before leaving Numadalr I made a peace agreement with their new king Nokkvi, and then I rode back to my kingdom to wait for the Shaman who speaks to spirits. " he explained to the stranger.
Naddoður smiled at the king of Hringariki.
" Do you wish to praise or kill this Shaman ? " Naddoður asked.
King Magsefni turned and gave him the same fearful look he had seen moments before.
" Neither ! I need his help ! This Numadalr witch has cursed my family ! My father is dead,.... my mother is dead,... and my wife is dead,... all killed by the evil creature conjured up by that witch. If you are Naddoður you must help me, for I am it's next victim ! " he begged the Shaman.
Naddoður could see in this man's eyes the fear of the unknown that he had seen so many times before. A brave man is not afraid to die if he has a chance to fairly fight his enemy. But when you are faced with something unknown you cannot defend yourself, which causes terror to overcome your common sense. As he studied the panic stricken king the Shaman realized that his fear had opened up his soul to the Mare and made him vulnerable to attack.
" I am Naddoður . And if you are correct, and this creature is a Mare, then we must act quickly. " he told the king.
" Is your hall nearby ? " the Shaman asked.
King Magsefni managed a weak smile as he responded.
" My hall is about four miles to the north. " he told the Shaman.
The king then turned and gave orders to his men.
" Eirikaer ! Turn the army around ! We are heading back to my hall ! " he commanded.
" Allvaldi ! The Shaman will ride with you ! " he ordered before mounting his own horse.
A huge warrior rode up to Naddoður and reached out his hand to him. With a strength the Shaman did not believe possible for a human, he was lifted onto the horse as if he were nothing more than a sack of potatoes. As they rode north Naddoður patted the warrior on the back and shouted over the noise :
" I hope that I am as spiritually strong as you are physically powerful ! " he told the warrior.
Allvaldi turned his head slightly and yelled back :
" If not both you and my king shall die at the hands of that evil creature. "
After visiting the Great Stone Hall in Numadalr, King Magsefni's hall was a great disappointment. Judging by the rotting timbers, and the rusting hinges on the unevenly hung doors, the hall had been built many years before, and was badly in need of repairs. Naddoður assumed that years of war with Numadalr, and the recent attacks by the Mare, had put the repairs on hold.
The inside of the hall was little better than the exterior. Damp, smoky, and with a slight hint of mildew lingering in the air, it did not seem like the abode of a king. There was one thing that this hall did have that the Stone hall in Numadalr also had. Everyone in the hall had that same look of fear etched upon their faces, and hopelessness shone from their eyes.
King Magsefni led the way, and pointed to the bench nearest to his high - seat.
" Sit. We will talk. " he said weakly.
" Dagmaer ! Bring us meat, bread, and horns for ale ! " he commanded a serving maiden who was standing nearby.
" Yes, my Lord ! " she replied before hurrying off.
The king wasted no time in getting to the point.
" How do we kill this creature, and break the curse ? " the king asked, as Dagmaer placed two horns on the table and filled them from a pitcher of ale.
Naddoður picked up one of the horns and toasted the king.
" Skal ! " he shouted as he raised the horn.
" Skal . " the king replied slightly less enthusiastically.
Naddoður took a sip of cold ale and thought for a moment.
" I recall a story, ages old, of a king from Uppsala named Vanlandia Sveigthisson. He was cursed by a witch named Hulda, who was hired by his wife Drifa, whom he had abandoned. Vanlandia had been asleep only a short time when he complained that a Nightmare had ridden him. When his men held down the king's head to secure it from harm the Mare rode his legs breaking them. As the king screamed in pain his warriors held his feet to protect his legs. It was then that the mare crushed the king's skull under it's massive weight killing him. " he explained to the king of Hringariki.
King Magsefni drained his horn, and slammed it down on the table.
" Yes, yes ! But how do we kill it !! " he shouted angrily.
Naddoður nodded that he understood the king's impatience.
" The point I was making was that the king's men could not see the Nightmare. Once the Mare is dreamed only the dreamer can see or feel it. " he told the king.
Magsefni grabbed his hair as though he was about to rip it all from his head, and out of sheer frustration screamed :
" How can warriors kill something that they cannot see or feel ?! "
Naddoður took a long breath before answering.
" They cannot,... but maybe I,.... as a Shaman, can see the creature and stop it . " he informed the king.
The king's eyes widened in terror.
" Maybe ?! " he shouted.
" I have never faced anything as fierce as a Mare. I cannot say for certain how this will exactly play out. The one thing I have learned from working with spirits and demons is that they do not always do what you think they will do . " he explained.
The king gave the Shaman a disappointed smirk before getting up and walking out of the hall.
" Do your best ! " he shouted as he exited.
As Naddoður nibbled on the food brought by the serving maiden, he felt a stirring in his pocket.
" What do you think Alva ? " Naddoður asked.
Alva put both of her arms over the edge of the pocket, and held herself there while she thought for a moment.
" I have great faith in your abilities, but a Mare sounds like a very dangerous adversary ! " she told him with a hint of concern in her voice.
- End Chapter 12
- Next : Chapter 13 : The Sleep Watch
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.