The Spirit Tamer
The Sleep Watch
Alva wanted several of the king's warriors to aid her friend, but Naddoður quickly dismissed such a plan.
" How can they help me kill such an evil creature when they cannot see it ? What if they get in my way and prevent me from vanquishing the monster ? " he asked the little elf.
Alva could not argue with his logic, and yet she feared that alone he would not be able to take on the creature, which might in the end kill him. It was then that she decided that she would not allow the creature to harm the one she loved. And although she did not tell him of her intention to help him, she was more than willing to risk her life for Naddoður.
The king was not pleased with the plan, but much like Alva and Naddoður, he could not see any other way to kill the creature and break the witch's curse. Guards had been watching over his father, mother, and wife, and despite their best efforts they could not kill the invisible beast that rode them to death.
Night after night Naddoður sat up closely watching the king as he slept. Armed with a spear, sword and several knives, the Shaman felt confident that he could defend himself, and the king against the Mare, and hopefully kill it before it disappeared.
At first the king had trouble falling asleep. It was stressful enough to have a creature after you while you slept, but to know that someone was watching every breath you took as you tried to sleep was a bit much for Magsefni. For the first few nights the king conversed with Naddoður for hours before weariness overtook him and his eyes closed to the unstoppable pull of sleep.
Several times a night the king would become restless, suddenly awakening dazed and confused. Naddoður always calmed the king with a pleasant smile and reassured him that it was only a bad dream and not the Mare that had disturbed his sleep. The Shaman was always careful not to use the term ' Nightmare ' , because of the connection that the word had to the beast that wished him dead.
Every night for a month Naddoður guarded the king the way a mythic dragon protected it's hoard of gold. And every morning he left, to return to his hut, disappointed that the creature had not come to fulfill the witch's curse the night before. Unfortunately there was little the Shaman could do but wait.
King Magsefni was not as patient however. Every night that came and went without a resolution to his problem added to the stress and anxiety that pushed down upon him like a great weight. And every morning that more weight was added to his overwhelming burden, he relieved his stress by taking it out on Naddoður.
" I brought you here to lift the witch's curse, and to kill the beast that haunts me, but still you have done nothing to help me ! My patience is wearing thin, and if you cannot do the job at hand I will have to find someone else who can ! " he would shout angrily at the Shaman.
By the end of the month his frustration had evolved into threats.
" If I am ridden to death by the Mare, you will be trampled to death under the hoofs of every horse in my army ! " he screamed at him on the last day of the month.
It quickly became apparent that his current strategy to kill the beast was not working. The one thing that Naddoður had not considered when he began was that if he could see the Mare, then maybe the Mare knew that he was being watched for, and that could be why it was staying away.
One morning, after being berated once again by the king, and before going to bed, the Shaman sat up and spoke with Alva to get her thoughts on the matter. The Elf put herself into the mind of the Mare and came up with a new perspective.
" You may be right Naddoður. The beast may know that he is being watched for. This also could mean that the Mare is watching you, and would be able to hear you if you threatened it . " she told him.
" I see ! If I tell the creature that he will never be able to fulfill the curse, possibly he will go away. " he said almost as much to himself as he did to Alva.
The fairy shook her head and flew up onto his shoulder.
" I do not believe that would be the result of your threat. But I have a plan,....... she told him.
That night, as King Magsefni slept, Naddoður walked about the room speaking to the Mare.
" Every night, for the rest of my life, I will stand guard over the king, and you will never be able to harm him Mare. " he whispered into the air.
" And I know how badly you wish to kill him ! However, to do so you will have to kill me first ! " the Shaman added with a grin.
As Sunna's glorious rays reached under the door of the Great Hall King Magsefni woke to another day of still being shackled to the curse of the Numadalr witch. The king was too distraught to even yell at Naddoður this time. He merely pointed to the doors to indicate that he wanted him to leave.
Naddoður returned to his hut not knowing whether the Mare received his message, or if it had even been in the Great Hall that night. As he took his boots off with one hand, he shook his pocket gently with the other.
" I did what you asked. Let us see if this produces any results ! " he told her before lying down.
Alva waited until Naddoður was asleep, and then flew out to kiss him on the cheek as she had every morning for the past month. She watched lovingly for a moment as his chest went up and down with each breath, before returning to his pocket home.
As the heat of day began to fall upon the little hut Alva suddenly had a great feeling of dread come over her. Carefully, but quickly, she poked her head above the rim of the pocket to take a look around. What she saw made her eyes widen, and her teeth clench in anger. For there, sitting on top of Naddoður's chest with it's back to her, was the ugly hairy Mare.
The Mare looked about ready to ride the human when it suddenly began to look all around the room nervously. The creature swung it's head to the right, and then quickly the left, trying to spot the being who had it in it's sight. It was about to give up and begin it's ride when it heard a buzzing sound behind it.
As the creature slowly turned it's body around it saw in the smoky air of the hut a tiny insect floating above it's head. With a great roar it slammed it's hairy hands together where the annoying bug had been. The creature grinned as it opened it's hands, but when it saw nothing there the Mare nervously searched the ground to see if it had fallen there. Slowly the beast looked around to find the insect. What he found instead both terrified, and angered the creature.
Alva stood ready to do battle. She abandoned her fairy form and began transforming herself into something the size and strength of a being that could match up to the Mare and possibly defeat it. As the Mare prepared to attack her she finished the transformation into a being as fierce as the one she faced. The being she chose to be was a Mare !
The wild roar of great beasts doing battle could be heard throughout the village. King Magsefni quickly gathered up his guards and ran from the hall to the hut where the noises where emanating from. He was not surprised to find out that it was Naddoður's hut. As the warriors eyed the door of the hut it suddenly smashed outward into a thousand splinters as if it had been hit by a great force. And there in the doorway stood the Mare !
" Kill it ! Kill it !! " the king screamed.
The king's guards drew their swords and warily approached the beast. Before they reached the creature, however, Naddoður staggered out of the hut and stood in front of the creature as though he were defending it.
" NO !!! This one is with me !! " he shouted so loud that it startled the guards into inaction.
King Magsefni was shocked by Naddoður's behavior.
" Have you gone mad ! Kill it !! " he shouted again.
Naddoður pointed at the king and screamed back :
" Have you forgotten that you cannot see a Mare ! " he reminded the king.
The Shaman turned to Alva.
" Did you kill it ? ! " he asked nervously.
" Not yet ! " she replied in monster form.
Alva walked over to her right a few steps and knelt down. Not knowing quite what to do the guards retreated an equal number of steps. With claws as sharp as any knife she reached down and grabbed hold of something that the others could not see. A moment later she held up a still beating heart.
Slowly the real Mare appeared on the ground for all to see. With it's huge mouth, filled with sharp fangs, distorted into a grimace by it's death throes, and it's chest ripped open it made for quite the gruesome sight. As the king and his warriors gazed upon the dead Mare Alva transformed back into her fairy form. She tried to fly, but she was far too injured, and simply buzzed along the ground until Naddoður picked her up. Before returning her to his pocket he gently kissed her on the forehead. Despite her pain she could not help but smile, for it was the first time he had ever shown her affection.
Naddoður walked over to King Magsefni and addressed him almost as an equal.
" Your nightmare is over ! But my journey is never ending. I will be leaving as soon as possible ! " he informed the king.
King Magsefni took another look at the Mare before replying.
" Go with my blessing ! I will reward you handsomely for your fine work ! " he told the Shaman.
Naddoður nodded, turned, and went back to his hut. Sleep, the thing the king had feared for so long, was now something that the Shaman needed very much to do. Naddoður slept peacefully all day and all night, while Alva recuperated in her little pocket home.
- End Chapter 13
- Next : Chapter 14 : Sailing To Kvenland
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.