The Sea - Draugr : A Tale Of The Undead
The Journey Back
" I must admit I was quite unaware that Ran had such power over life and death ! " Bragi told Aegir in a surprised tone.
Aegir gave Bragi an amused smile. " The Gods control the heavens, and much of what takes place on Midgard. However, no one, not even myself, holds sway over the great oceans as does my wife. She, and she alone, is the final judge of life and death for all those who sail upon her waters. " he told the poet proudly.
Bragi raised his eyebrows in surprise. " That is a great responsibility ! " the God of Poetry exclaimed. How does she choose between those who will live and those who will die ? " Bragi asked.
Aegir took a long deep breath. " My wife does not kill out of malice. She receives no thrill, nor does she consider it a game that she plays at her own will. Those who are taken were fated to die in the depths of the ocean. " he told Bragi.
Bragi scratched his head. " Then why did Ran allow Thorir and his crew to come back to the living world, albeit as sea - draugr ? " Bragi asked.
Aegir gave Bragi a wicked grin. " Occasionally the will of the individual is so strong that not even a God wishes to stand in their way. In Thorir' s case his will to live was driven by his strong desire to exact revenge against those who killed him and his crew. " he explained.
Bragi nodded. " I see ! " he replied. " Now please continue, for I must tell you that I am most eager to hear more ! " Bragi told Aegir with a hint of excitement in his voice.
Aegir smiled. " Yes ! It is all about the story isn't it . " he replied. " Well,.......
" The deceased Thorir never felt as alive as he did standing at the great rudder of his ship steering it through the waters off the coast of Iceland. This ship was not beautiful, nor was it graceful as it plowed through the water. Its angry bow slammed into the waves, pushing them aside, rather than cutting through them the way Hoof - Flourisher had. The ship was filled with worm holes, and the rotten bottom, below the waterline, was thickly covered in barnacles. Their blood red sail was nothing more than a collection of rags sewn together, and yet this tattered mess propelled the ship faster than any that Thorir had ever sailed before. Thorir smiled as he shouted to his men : " My fellow sea - draugr, I think that it would be appropriate to name our new ship The Avenger ! " The crew all stopped what they were doing and cheered their ship' s new name.
The captain and crew were of one mind, and extremely determined in their mission of revenge. Unlike their first sighting of Iceland, this time they were not in need of shelter, food, or water. Being dead had its advantages. They did not feel pain, nor did they get hungry or thirsty. And unlike their living counterparts, they never needed to rest or sleep. They would not stop until they had avenged their deaths !
Around midday Thorir spotted a ship leaving the coast of Iceland heading east, presumably for Norway. The Avenger, sailing at great speed passed by closely, and as it did Thorir and his crew waved to the smaller vessel. They received no response. What Thorir quickly discovered was that their ghost ship could not be seen in the light of the day.
Thorir decided to put this theory to the test and pulled hard on the rudder turning the ship around. He then steered his vessel directly at the other ship. Surprised by their captain's actions the crew braced themselves for a hard impact. It never happened ! Their ghost ship sliced harmlessly through the other vessel like mist through a forest. As they quickly outpaced the other vessel, the crew of The Avenger laughed uncontrollably at this exhilarating new experience. They all felt totally free of all inhibitions for the first time in their existence.
Despite a severe calm over the next few days, their ship sailed on as fast as it had before, their bow pounding the waves like a hammer hitting an anvil. It was as though the ship created its own wind to sail in, and even the mighty waves seemed to fear their death ship.
Then one moonlit night, as they were sailing around the Faroe Islands, they spotted another ship off their starboard side. Thorir, wanting to have a bit of fun, turned their ship hard once again and set his vessel on a collision course with the other ship. This time as they approached, however, the men on the other vessel began to scream : " Draugr ! Sea - draugr ! " they shouted as the ghost ship quickly came at them. Thorir realized at that moment that at night his ship and crew were visible to the living.
Thorir and his crew then had a second unpleasant surprise. Moments before The Avenger was about to crash violently into the other vessel, all hands on the other ship jumped overboard. The Avenger then sliced through the other ship, cutting it in half ! All of the sea - draugr watched in total disbelief at the incredible horror that they had created.
As The Avenger quickly sailed away Thorir looked back at the devastation they had caused. Thirty or forty men were splashing around in the water trying to find anything to grab onto to stay afloat. A few had managed to secure a piece of the broken ship to cling to, but most were losing their fight with the sea. Thorir looked away, for he could not bear to watch, when he saw one of Ran' s daughters take under one of the struggling swimmers. Before they sailed out of sight of the devastation Thorir' s eyes met the eye's of a sailor who was clinging desperately to a barrel. Thorir could see the fear in the man' s eyes, and felt a great remorse for what he had done. Thorir and his crew fully understood now that death did not take away their feelings of regret and sadness.
The crew had been talking and laughing before the unfortunate incident off the coast of the Faroe Islands, but now they were quiet, and reflective, as their ship plowed forever forward. They realized now that in the light of the day they were nothing more than specters that had no form or substance, but at night they glowed like the moon, and could be seen, heard, and cause harm to the living. At night there were consequences for their actions !
The Avenger quickly sailed south past the Shetland and Orkney Islands. Then Thorir turned the ghost ship's rudder, and pointed the ship south east. As the ship swung around to face the rising sun Thorir began to think of Rannveig. He recalled each and every moment they spent together. The kisses they shared....and that one moment of indiscretion behind the chieftain's longhouse. Thorir felt within him the love he once shared with Rannveig, and wished that his emotional pain had been taken away with his physical senses. The more he thought of Rannveig the angrier and more vengeful he became. As he looked around Thorir could see that his men shared his anger !
- End Chapter 7
- Next : Chapter 8 : Revenge !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.