The Spirit Tamer
" I Will Not Kill That Which Has Not Harmed "
In the seventh week of the voyage Halldorr announced that they had reached the Boelva River, which would take them to Lake Seljord. Naddoður and Alva felt encouraged that they had almost reached their destination, but Ossurr, who had never been so far from his home, felt uncomfortable in a land that was foreign to him, and told Naddoður of his concerns.
" It will pass my friend. Soon you will see the whole world as your home. " the Shaman assured the warrior.
Sailing up the Boelva river proved to be difficult, and the oars were soon deployed to help carry them up river against the current. Ossur, who was bored by the long trip, asked if he could man an oar to help pass the time. Halldorr was more than happy to oblige him with a seat.
" If stretching your muscles will make you happy, my friend, then you are more than welcome to pick up an oar and row with my warriors." he told the Berserker.
And row he did ! For the two weeks it took to reach Lake Seljord Ossurr relinquished his seat only to sleep. By the time they beached their ship on the muddy banks of the lake he had gained back much of the strength that he had lost during his long illness.
One of Halldorr's crew, a man named Usvifr, had been this way before and led them through thick woods, and grassy meadows, towards the king's Great Hall. Later that same day they entered a large clearing in the middle of a huge forest. Here, in this most unlikely of places, sat the village where the king had built his hall, and where those closest to the kings
of Þelamǫrk, and their families, had built their homes and farmed for generations. Here, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, many of the people of Þelamǫrk, fished, and hunted, and lived their lives in almost total obscurity. And yet their guide Usifr told them that they were happy and prosperous in their isolated little kingdom.
King Asmundr was very happy to meet with the Kvenlanders, and most especially the Shaman. He immediately decreed that there should be a great feast in their guest's honor. Naddoður tried unsuccessfully to learn more about what the people called the Seljordsdormen, but the king insisted that there would be plenty of time for all that during the feast.
" Besides, what kind of host would I be if I did not go hunting with my warriors and bring back a deer or a boar to honor my guests ! " he told the Kvenlanders with a huge smile.
The king was wrong about being able to discuss the creature during the feast. There was singing, story telling by Skalds, juggling, and all manner of drinking and eating that took place in the hall, but little time for discussing the monster. All the king would tell them amid all the frivolity was that it was a sea serpent, and that it had been seen several times out in Lake Seljord by reputable folk. When the Shaman pressed the king for more details he deflected the questions by saying :
" Enjoy yourself tonight ! Tomorrow you can go out and explore the lake ! " he shouted over the cacophony of noises.
Naddoður gave up, and along with Ossurr, and Halldorr, enjoyed King Asmundr's hospitality.
The next morning, while most in the village, including Halldorr and his men, were sleeping off the effects of the feast the night before, Alva, Naddoður, and Ossurr, packed themselves some food and water, and went down to the lake. There they found a small boat sitting on the shore, and borrowed it to explore the lake. Ossurr and Naddoður rowed the rickety little craft out to the middle of the lake and once there pulled in the oars and let little the little boat drift at the whim of the breeze.
For hours they watched the surface of the water closely for any strange waves, or ripples, that might suddenly occur without good reason. They saw nothing. Noon came and went, and by evening Ossurr began to question if they would find this creature at all.
Alva giggled at the warrior's impatience.
" We will not find the creature,... the creature will find us ! " she corrected the warrior.
As Mani's crescent face rose up over the many trees that surrounded the large lake on all sides, the God's reflection in Lake Seljord suddenly became distorted.
" Do you see that ? " Ossurr asked Alva and Naddoður a bit too loud.
" Shhh !!! " Alva told him. " Of course we do ! "
Without warning the creature broke the surface. First it's head extended above the water, and then it's long neck and body glided by their drifting boat. As it passed them they could clearly see humps upon its back while the rest of it's body remained submerged.
" Well ! What we do now !! " Ossurr asked in a low whisper.
Naddoður grinned at the warrior.
" We follow it ! " he told his anxious comrade.
" But we have no weapons !! " Ossurr pointed out to the Shaman.
Alva smiled politely at the Berserker.
" I am not certain that we will be in need of defending ourselves tonight. " she told him.
Ossurr sat down on the opposite side of the small craft from Naddoður and as quietly as possible began to row in time with the Shaman. As the creature came in closer to shore it raised it's head out of the water and began to feed on the many varieties of water plants along Lake Seljord's edge. While Naddoður and Ossurr sat in stunned silence Alva flew over to Naddoður and giggled.
" It is not even a meat eater ! " she pointed out to Naddoður.
The Shaman nodded.
" Yes ! Obviously that is why the king was in no hurry for us to come out here. The people may fear this harmless creature, but I think the king knew that it will not hurt his people. " he told the fairy.
Ossurr put down his oar.
" Then why did King Asmundr send a messenger all the way to Kvenland to ask us to come here ? " he asked with a confused look upon his face.
Naddoður looked up at Mani and smiled.
" Possibly he wanted to be sure it was harmless, or more probably his people did not believe him, and he wanted a Shaman to assure his people that this creature was no threat to them . " he surmised.
Naddoður patted his friend on the shoulder and pointed to the shoreline.
" We can row back in now, but let us give the great serpent a wide berth. I do not want to scare the poor thing. " he told the warrior with a laugh.
Halldorr, Naddoður, and Ossurr were awakened the next morning by a pounding on their door. Ossurr, who was tired from rowing the night before, and thereby not happy with having his sleep disturbed, stumbled out of bed, shuffled over to the door and threw it open.
" What do you want ? ! " the Berserker demanded to know.
The Þelamǫrk warriors looked at one another before the bolder of the two finally announced :
" King Asmundr wishes to see you, and the Shaman at once ! " the warrior told him.
Naddoður had just sat up on his bed when he heard the warrior tell of the king's command.
" We will be there momentarily . " Naddoður replied.
Before the Þelamǫrk warriors turned to leave the outspoken one added :
" The king will be waiting ! "
Halldorr was not happy that the king had not asked for him as well. It was bad enough that he had overslept and missed their expedition to Lake Seljord to see the creature, but to be ignored by the king was intolerable. Naddoður sensed that Halldorr was upset and insisted that he come along as well.
Halldorr, Naddoður, and Ossurr dressed quickly and walked over to the Great Hall. Two guards opened the doors for them while a third inside walked them up to the king and announced :
" The Shaman, and his warriors, are here my Lord ! "
The king nodded to the warrior, who bowed and walked back to the entrance. As Naddoður looked around the hall he could not help but notice that there were hundreds of people packed into the hall. Why they had all come he was about to find out.
" I understand that you, .... appropriated,... a boat and went out on Lake Seljord yesterday. Did you see the monster by any chance ? " the king asked hopefully.
The Shaman nodded.
" Yes, my Lord ! " he replied.
King Asmundr pointed around the room.
" Everyone from miles around has come here this morning to hear whether the creature is real, or merely a figment of my imagination. Tell them that I am not crazy ! Make them understand that I saw this creature with my own two eyes ! " he shouted angrily at the Shaman.
Naddoður suddenly realized why they had been summoned to Þelamǫrk. No one else had seen the creature but King Assmundr, and his subjects apparently thought that he had lost his mind. The king was looking for someone, anyone, to confirm that the creature was real and did exist.
" Yes, my Lord, what you saw is a real sea creature, and it does appear to live in Lake Seljord. " he said loud enough for everyone to hear.
A collective gasp rose up from those gathered in the hall. When the shock of the moment wore off the king's people began to chant " Kill the monster ! Kill it !! "
King Assmundr looked both relieved and happy that he had been vindicated by the Shaman. The king raised his hands high over his head to quiet the hall down. When the shouts became murmurs, he placed his hand on Naddoður's shoulder.
" What say you Shaman ? Should we kill the serpent in our lake ? " he asked for all to hear.
Naddoður looked around the hall angrily several times before answering.
" I will not kill that which has not harmed ! " he shouted to the people in the hall.
Then he quickly added :
" The creature appears to be quite docile,.... a plant eater,... and is therefore no threat to you or your kingdom ! " he explained.
The king suddenly pointed to his people and went into a rage.
" I told you that the creature existed ! And I made a point to tell you that it was not dangerous ! But would you believe your king ! No ! Will you now take the word of this Shaman who has dealt with many spirits and creatures over the years, or will you call him a liar as well ! " he shouted to all those in the hall.
The people of Þelamǫrk hung their heads low and began to murmur that they were sorry for not believing their king. Many begged his forgiveness, and all agreed that they had wronged their Lord.
The king quickly calmed down and looked over at Naddoður.
" And what do we call this creature ? " he asked.
Naddoður raised his eyebrows, and shrugged his shoulders.
" I think your word Seljordsdormen suffices . " he answered.
Ossurr, who was becoming tired of this show, quickly and sarcastically added :
" You can call it Selma for all I care, .... it is harmless,... just a big fish ! "
The king did not appreciate the humor, but he hid his displeasure from his people.
" Selma, hmm,...Well, Selma it shall be ! " he shouted to the crowd which erupted into cheers.
Alva, who heard it all while tucked safely away in his pocket, shook her head and laughed.
" Naddoður must be fuming ! What a waste of time this was for a Shaman ! "
- End Chapter 18
- Next : Chapter 19 : Off To The Land Of The Saxons.
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.