The Spring Troll
The Archbishop Threatens !
Sister Magdalena sat patiently waiting while Elina washed the mud off of Alffina, and put her into a clean dress. As she cleaned up Alffina Elina questioned the nun about why Father Lefvini wished to see their daughter. Sister Magdalena, however, remained tight lipped and refused to say more than :
" The priest will explain this to you when we arrive at the cathedral. "
As they slowly walked up the path and over the " Troll Bridge " Elina and Hafr had the distinct feeling that they were in a funeral procession. The feeling was very solemn, and no one spoke as they made their way along the winding roads toward the church. During their short journey Sister Magdalena walked five or six paces in front of them at all times. Elina and Hafr could not decide whether this was because she was in a hurry, or if she did not want to be associated with them. Either way the nun would not allow them to catch up with her. Looking back, from time to time, she quickened her pace to match or exceed those who followed.
Alffina was not sure exactly what was going on, but she had figured out, through the mean looks the sister had given her, that she was in trouble. And judging by the worried looks on her parents faces she was in a lot of trouble. Despite the day being sunny and fairly warm, to Alffina's worried eyes the world looked gray and bleak. This perception became even worse when the cross atop the cathedral appeared in the distance.
Hafr could not help but notice that the look on Archbishop Birgisson's face had changed much since their last meeting. On the steps of the cathedral, when he had helped to arbitrate the dispute between himself and Father Lefvini, he had been smiling, friendly, and kind. Now he stood on these same steps with his arms folded across his chest and a look frozen somewhere between anger and dismay carved upon his face.
Without even so much as a polite hello Father Lefvini ignored Hafr and Elina and spoke directly to Sister Magdalena.
" Take the parents to the chapel while we speak to the child ! " he ordered the sister in a harsh tone.
Without saying another word the priest roughly took Alffina's hand and began to pull her into the cathedral, followed closely by the archbishop. As their footsteps echoed through the cavernous heights of the great hall, Alffina cried out :
" Mommy ! "
Elina placed her hands over her mouth as she held herself back from crying. She pulled them away, however, long enough to say something reassuring to her daughter.
" It will be alright ! Mommy will see you in a little while ! " she shouted before breaking down in tears.
Hafr placed his hand on the shoulder of the nun, and asked in a not too pleasant tone :
" Where are you taking my daughter !? "
Sister Magdalena looked down, with a harsh look upon her face, at Hafr's hand as if to remind him that she was a servant of God. She did not answer him until her removed his hand from her shoulder.
" Your daughter has been telling lies to the other children that are considered blasphemy against the church. Our priest and archbishop simply want to know where your daughter heard such nonsense ! " she replied after brushing off her shoulder as though Hafr's hand had left it's filthy residue upon her.
The sister then turned and began to walk to the entrance of the chapel that was adjacent to the cathedral. Hafr and Elina had no choice but to follow her like two scolded children.
Father Lefvini picked up Alffina and placed her on his upholstered chair. For a long moment both the priest and the archbishop stared down at her as though she were an oddity to be examined closely. Finally, it was the archbishop who spoke first :
" Do you know why you are here Alffina ? " he asked.
Alffina wiped her eyes, and fidgeted on the huge chair, before answering.
" I don't know . " she answered meekly.
Father Lefvini grabbed hold of both arms of the chair. and leaned down, placing his face very close to Alffina's nose.
" Oh, I think you know very well why you are here young lady ! " he replied with anger tainting his tone.
Bishop Birgisson leaned forward and gently pried Lefvini's hands off of the chair and pushed him away. He then gave the priest a look of consternation before addressing the child himself.
" Alffina,... it has come to our attention that you have been telling the other children stories about the Old Gods,... such as Odin, Thor, and Freyja. Is this true ? " he asked in a much calmer, friendlier tone.
Alffina looked over at Father Lefvini, who had a mean scowl upon his face, before answering the archbishop's question.
" Yes,... my friends like to hear the stories about the Old Gods. " she told him with a hint of reluctance.
Father Lefvini's eyes widened as he waggled his finger at the child.
" You see ! She admits that she is a heretic, and has blasphemed our church, our God, and his son Jesus Christ ! " he bellowed.
Archbishop Birgisson decided that he had had enough of his priest's theatrics, which he was sure was merely meant to impress him. With a stern look upon his face he pointed to the door.
" Please leave Father Lefvini. You are scaring the child, and making it more difficult for me to discern the truth here. " he told the priest firmly, but in a quiet tone.
Once Lefvini left the archbishop turned to Alffina, and in a pleasant tone asked her to tell him all she knew about the Old Gods. Alffina was more than happy to oblige !
Jon Birgisson sat there with his mouth wide open, and in a state of utter shock, at what the little child told him. How could someone so young know so much about the old religion ? The archbishop was horrified when Alffina recited, as though she were reading from the holy scriptures themselves, everything from the creation of the worlds to the twilight of the Old Gods known as Ragnarok.
As he listened one thought kept racing through his mind as the child went on and on :
" Where did the child hear all of these stories ? "
When Alffina began to tell individual stories about the lesser known Gods, including Kvasir, who he had never heard of, the archbishop put an end to her recitation by interrupting.
" How do you know so much about the Old Gods ? Who, or what, has taught you such things? " the archbishop asked.
Alffina, who was proud of how well she had remembered what she was taught, giggled before answering.
" I met a Troll under the bridge that crosses the river. He told me these stories ! His name is Sirik, and he is my friend ! " she told him.
The archbishop turned his back to Alffina, and whispered under his breath :
" A witch ! This child has been visited by a witch !! "
The archbishop went to the door, flung it open, and told Father Lefvini to bring Alffina's parents to the cathedral. He also informed the priest to bring back Sister Magdalena as well. Father Lefvini grinned as he turned to leave. The look on the archbishop's face told him that he had come to the same conclusion about this child. They now both believed that Alffina was possessed by the devil himself.
The archbishop of Nidaros remained silent while he waited for Alffina's parents to return. He had heard enough from the child and had nothing left to say to this bedeviled little girl. Jon Birgisson was also trying to formulate in his mind exactly how he was going to explain to her parents, what he, in the name of the Catholic Church, now felt compelled to do.
Hafr shook his head in disgust, while Elina screamed and nearly fainted, when the archbishop told them that their daughter would be taken to the Bakke Abbey to be looked after by the nuns. He assured them on the one hand that they would be allowed to have visitation rights, while with the other he threatened that their daughter would not be released until the " witch's spell " that had been placed upon her by this " Troll " was exorcised.
When Sister Magdalena came into the room, the archbishop ordered the nun to take the child to the abbey immediately. Alffina, however, did not go quietly. As she was dragged from the room Alffina screamed over and over again :
" Mommy ! Mommy ! Don't let them take me ! I am so sorry mommy ! " she pleaded .
- End Chapter 8
- Next : Chapter 9 : The Child Becomes A Wife And A Mother
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.