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fwyion jlock
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Please do not put me in your circles, if you do not have the intention of EVER going to my page! I don't really see any reason for you doing so, if that's the case? I will not include you in mine, if you don't. And over a passage of time, I will remove you from my circles. Thank you.

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NIFELHEIM - A PAGAN STORY; 580 lines. written by fwyion jlock.
                               (A pagan story)

In The Equinox Of The Sun.

      At the top of the snows last falling. Come to meet the spirit of his dead brother. And under the sparkling blue sky, for a short moment, to bring their mutual blood together. Between the deep snowcovered mountains. In the icy waters of the frozen lakes and rivers, and through the abandonment of the dead trees. In the air's cold breath. And in the warmth of his own breath..
    Floating on the wind, but not it's ruler, on black wings: Followers of Death, old and feathered: The ravens fell under the clouds above him. They ignored him, his travel through the mountains white frost.
    Einar Bloodhand, in the valley of his ancestors, as so many before him, and others will come after him, till the day everything is dead, and the world has been laid barren..
    But there is time for that still. Time now is for him and his brother to meet again. And for a final farewell. Before the winds takes him forever..
    Nifelheim, Kingdom of the Dead, hidden behind eternal fogs of coldness. Towards the coldest north, behind the highest mountains. Where no bells has ever tolled in the wind.
    The air's frost smothered him, drained him of oxygen..
    Through the snow.
    Like dead iceclad fingers, the trees stretched their branches to the heaven. From a ground of snow and ice, covered and virginally untouched.
    Darkness prevented his passage, and the nights cold, that was the worst, forced him to seek cover. He lit a fire, hidden in a small cave. Drank the snow..
    Odin's one eye was guarding him. The Death God would not let him die here among these massives of ice, the whitest hell he had ever visited. He would reach his target, Nifelheim. Within a few days..
    The next day the wolves found his trail. Under the thin, white veil of cirrustrattus clouds, they came, snarling and barking, wild and hungry to the visibility of their ribcages, running for him, the exposed teeth of their open mouths screaming for his blood. They were a big pack, by those he could see, the rest was probably hidden, quiet and awating in front of him to lure him in to a trap. The hard, frostbitten bark of a large oaktree guarded his back, when he drew his sharp broadsword, and prepared himself to confront them, or his own death. Maybe his last voyage would end here, maybe his last travel would not go to Nifelheim, but to all warrior's legendary home, Valhalla. He saluted his Gods, bid them to take him, was he not strong enough. And if they wouldn't take him now, he would stain the pure, white snow with the wolves' blood. 
    They came, too starved and bloodhungry to care about the danger from his shining sword, that the frozen sun had filled with light and power. And he opened the throat of the first in the middle of it's wild jump. It fell, dying, with it's red, warm blood gushing out into the snow. They came, from behind him, he saw them out of the corner of his eye, even though they were silent and slower in their attack. But the tree protected him. And he cut through the head of the next, so it's brain spattered out together with it's wild, beating blood.That made the rest of them stop, though their mouths were still open wide and their snarling and loud barking was because of their hunger and not over their two dead fellows. His raised sword dripped red.. They stayed away.
    He left their dead, they would feed on them instead.
    They didn't follow him. The snow would show him their tracks, if they had sneaked up upon him.
    Light snow sprinkled from the trees cold sleeping branches behind him, as he disappeared between their dense standing, in thick, deep snow..


    For many days he travelled under the cirrus clouds of incredible beauty and indifference, the frayed ice clouds; through the mountains cold lonely landscape, where the frostwinds blew over the barren wide open spaces with dusts of snow that blinded his eyes and froze his breath, so he couldn't breathe. Only carrying his weapons and stash, drinking from the snow. His sword and knife frozen in their sheaths, the lubricated grease no longer capable of separating them; only his axe was free. The furs and skins that he wore, still kept the cold out.
    When the winds blew and howled and swept over everything like sharp scythes, he sheltered next to rocks or behind trees against it's tearing rampage. Until they went away again, back to the mouth they had come from, and the God or fiend of the Underworld they had been born from. And everything again lay quiet, reborn in a pure, clear nightmare of white, resting blindness..
    Even though he couldn't sacrifice anything, except his blood, he prayed to Odin, of safe passage, and of victory. By the sight of his warm blood falling from his hand, he asked for reunion with his brother.

    On a mountaintop with snow covered trees and dripping water from melting clear icicles, that fell from the protrusion of some rocks to his right and left.. in the silence that was all around him, he could hear the weak constant dripping of their slow thawing.. he saw a thick mist of fogs surround a mountain where only the icecovered tip was visible, the rest was hidden behind the thick, drifting fog. This fog was thicker than a usual fog and didn't seem to seep away, but remained around the mountain in a constant flow. He heard no voices tell him, that this was the place he had sought through the passing weeks coldness and hardship, but he knew that he had arrived, he had reached his goal.
    Kingdom of the Dead, Nifelheim.
    Mountain of Fogs.
    "It is not a place you can enter on hands and feets."
    A high, thin shape suddenly stood a bit from him. It was a man, but his voice had allready told him that. In a long black cloak with the hood upturned. His skin was white as snow as if it was the frost itself that lived in his blood! But his eyes were normal, cool blue, as the heaven above.
    Even though he grabbed for his axe, he very quickly felt he would have no need for it. Or that it would be useless. And he let go of it.
    He said, "Who are you? I have come to seek my brother. I am Einar Bloodhand Asgeirson, son of Egil Asgeirson."
    "I know who you are, and why you are here." Breath disappeared white from his mouth. So he was alive and not a ghost.
    "Who are you?"
    The white face looked away, towards the foginshrouded mountain he knew was the Kingdom of The Dead. And was silent. Was he himself a spirit from there?
    "I demand to know who you are!"
    Then the other man looked at him. First his eyes seemed distant, then they widened, and his hand streched towards him. And before he could do anything to stop it, the hand, who was as white as his face, touched his forehead! He felt it's coldness, that there was no warm blood behind! Then it disappeared from his face, and the dark shape moved away.
    The blue sky shone. 
    He was gone.
    He looked, first to the left of the tall rocks on his sides, then to the right. Icicles dripped from the rock's cold stone, into the slowly thawing puddles that lay with frozen ice at their feet. Then he observed that their were no footprints in the snow, where the thin man had stood. Or maybe he hadn't been real?
    A messenger from the dead, a spirit..?
    The fogs rose, embraced and flowed, but never left the mountain. And didn't answer his silent questioning words.
    The melting icicles dripped. It was warmer here, it wasn't fogs of ice that surrounded the mountain.
    The man from before, his white deathlike face appeared again in front of him, but only his head in the black hood, it was like it had stepped out of the air, it was enraged! Then his words sounded in the cold air and the silence from the mountains, high and resounding! They were aimed at him, the white face hanging just a bit above him, shouted a warning to him,
    "Be prepared! Death rules here! This is the Kingdom of sorrow! Don't think you can just walk here as you please! There are other shadows here, than those cast by spirits!" In a long screaming rage the face disappeared, it's blue eyes stared through him, widened and terrible, like a warning of haunting terror that would come.. Then there was only the sky's blue and the floating fogs left.
    He disappeared in to the fogs..

Dead Warriors.

    When he had wandered for a while, only surrounded by grey, slowly whirling, thick fogs it was impossible to see through, he stopped. He didn't know in which direction he should go, the sky above him and everything around him was covered and hidden by the fogs veil, that spread and became thinner the closer he got to it.. only to flow back again, covering and hiding, behind him.
    Human skulls and skeletons of humans was lying in the snow, all with their weapons and belongings.

    For three days he wandered around in the fogs and the snow, without finding anything, and the bitternes grew in his mind. The fogs never left him. His food supply was running out. He began to suspect that he was walking in a circle. But he never saw his footprints in the snow again! He had crawled up on a rock, so high up he could, but had not been able to penetrate the fogs and see what was lying behind them. He had even, in a fit of rage over not being able to find that he seeked, tried to puff the fogs away with his mouth! When he laid out tracks of stones, or pieces of wood from dried out treetrunks laying on the ground, he never found them again.. He was lost. Or maybe he wasn't supposed to find it!

    The fourth day the voices began to talk to him. They told him the place would be his death, that others had seeked the same as him, but only found death; their bones now lay scattered around. His would lie there too. They taunted him. He shouted, in the fogs, that they should tell him where his brother was! But they continued to taunt him.. Finally he only shouted his brothers name, which was Rune. But the only answer that came, was the ever present sound from the quiet wind behind the dense fogs..

    What did he do wrong?! Why didn't he succeed? Didn't anybody succeed?! He pondered many things over and over, in his rage and embitterness. But couldn't come up with anything. Then he, after a long time, came to think of the skeletons he had found, they had died here: What had they lacked to do? Hadn't they been strong enough? Hadn't they worshipped the Gods? No, he couldn't believe that.. He thought: They had been lying with all their possessions like one should when one was dead. Had they killed themselves, and gone to Valhalla? As brave men? 
    It struck him with deep regret that he too might had to do that. And he raged in his mind, that he shouldn't succeed in getting to there where he wanted!.. 
    And he thought of killing himself with his sword. And drew it. And felt disgust.. Then he thought: All the skeletons he had found, had had their sword by their sides, or in their sheeth. He thought about sacrificing his blood. But they would have done that too. What was it they hadn't done, so they could have gotten away from this place?! 
    The fogs flowed past him, the little corns that could seem so dense, when one was a bit away from them, and so insignificant when one walked right through them..
    Arrh, he couldn't..! No matter how hard he thought and twisted his brain to solve it, it just wouldn't come to him!
    And he struck his sword out in rage!
    And felt, before he heard it's steel clang on rock, that he had hit something, a big stone or a rock, close by, that he hadn't even known was there, that the fogs had hidden, which they did all the time. He could have broken it--!
    Broken it, he would have been defenceless without it, even if he managed to get away--!
    A warrior without a sword. Leaving the fogs before Nifelheim without a sword, would be certain death--?
    The steam from his breath left his face.. 
    Was that it?!!
    Had he been himself, he would never have done what he did now.
    After a short moment of hesitation, he swung his broadsword against the rock, with it's flat side, to hit it, so it would break. Which it did. With a high clinging that continued for a long time in the silent wind. But nothing happened. But now he was filled with an eagerness and a belief in what he was doing, was the right! After a while he found a niche in the rock's surface, where his knife could pass through. And broke it's blade. Then he broke the shaft of his axe. And waited.
    Nothing happened..
    Nooooo, the Gods couldn't be that mean?! Loke had helped him to see what he should do, no one was as cunning as Loke, maybe it was even his cunning that had created this?! How could he fail him now!? Noooo..
He stepped forward. There had to be something.. Loke was so clever..
    Then it was like the fogs cleared a bit further up ahead, light came down. It spread..
    By sheer eagerness and joy that he had succeeded, Einar forgot, like everybody before him, something that he could feel disappear from his memory, something that he had thought the moment he broke his weapons, but which was now leaving his mind, as falling sand from a hand..
    Like everybody before him. 

In Hel's Kingdom.

    His brother had died from sickness of an incurable disease to the stomach. He had been a greater warrior than him. He would tell him the last words, he hadn't told him before he died. And then he would himself die. These words tormented him, and had done so for many years. When he had said them, and embraced his dead brother, he would finally have peace. It wasn't the peace of a peasant he sought, that he could have lived without, but an absolution of something he hadn't done. Words that wasn't spoken..

   The hoarfrost, the crystallized dew from the moistness in the air, covered the rocks around him. It was a cold, grey and humid place. But warmer than the icehell he had just left.. He loosened his skin hood and exposed his long hair for the first time in many days. Pushed his bearskin cloak behind his shoulders.
    He heard waves strike against a coastal line from beyond the rocks in front of him: a powerfull roar from an ocean pounding on rocky cliffs. He walked, towards the sound.
    And soon found sand under his feets. Beachreeds grew almost alone in the sand or in more densed almost grasslike lumps all across the windblown dunes around him.. The roar from the ocean grew louder, the closer he got to it. He couldn't see anybody, and the fogs, who was much thinner here but still obscured his vision, didn't allow him to see very far. He hadn't expected any one.. He reached the top of the dunes and looked beyond towards the foaming sea. That was all there was, no birds or people, only a bluewhite frothing eternally attacking, moving massive of water. That came towards him, and could flush him away, like a insignificant fluff, if it reached him. But it's raging was prevented by the cliff's bolwark. He walked along the dunes. And down from them again.. until he came to a beach. Here the sea's raging had been turned to peace by the cliffs, and only arrived in falling, dying waves that rolled up on the beach' sand; just to withdraw again in a never stopping, repeating cycle.
    Even the smell from the ocean was sad in this place.
    His breath disappeared white from his mouth.
    Even the ocean was dead.
    Then a raven, black as coal, flew over him. It gazed at him, with red eyes, coloured like blood. And descended on the sand a few meters from him. A wind blew in it's black feathers, and in his beard..
    The raven gazed at him with it's bloodeyes, that wasn't a beast's.
    This was sejd!
    Odin was in deep sleep!
    He almost fell to his knees, his eyes seeking attention from the solitary raven with the gazing red eyes, that wasn't human either.
    Then he spoke, "Oh, Odin, show me the way to my brother's house. It is important that I find him. I have something to tell him. It is more important than my life!"
    Looked at him with eyes that were neither a beast's nor a human's. Then it ascended on it's feathered wings, flapped them, and flew past him, and didn't look at him any more.
    He turned, followed the raven with his eyes:
    It flew in a straight line across the beach. And then over a high hill of sand a bit away. And down on the other side of it.
    That was the road, he should take!
    He hurried after the bloodeyed raven. Ran through the heavy sand. But though the beach was hard to run through, the hill was even worse to ascend in. But he managed to struggle himself up to the top of it. And he looked beyond. His eyes widened:
    Below him, in a deep recess, almost a small dried out lake - the bottom of the dunes here was far deeper than the place he had started his ascend from on the other side - placed a good deal of distance from the ocean: a big dark castle of stone! It seemed lost and was old and looked dilapidated. In the time he had raided big cities, he had never seen a castle build with stones of this size, they were five to six times the size of normal stones! The wind must howl through it, through it's rotted doors and shutters, if it had ever had that.. It didn't look like it, he determined with himself.. It seemed ancient, older than anything else he had ever seen! This was clearly the work of Gods! Not build by humans! Or made for humans to live in! It had never been the intention, it should have had doors and shutters, he agreed with himself, even though there was openings like windows all over it. Gigantic walls rising towards the sky with longboat sized swinging curved chains of large stones; and folding vaults made for giants to pass through! And inside it, through it's entrances, there was darkness, deep and threatening..! Above it across the sky the fogs, oddly thicker here, covered it's top, so it was impossible to see where the castle ended, and it's real size therefore was hidden; that was why he hadn't seen it from the beach.
    The solitary raven flew towards the castle, who was just a raven to those who didn't know, but who was mightiest of all! In ham, disguise, as an ordinary bird. Odin! It showed him the way.
    Below him: he would have to walk slowly to get down from the hill, he couldn't risk a fall, even though it was sand. He started to hump his way down the slope.
    The raven flew in through one of the castle's entrances, and disappeared in it's darkness..

The Second Gate.

He had been right: This was never meant for humans to live in. Maybe Gods. It was dark and moist. Water ran from somewhere above him, and unto the stonefloor, and further down, through deep holes in the floor, but he couldn't see, in the darkness, what it stemmed from, or where it ran. It could be the walls? Could be melted ice. He had recognised the deep echo from the dripping water when it reached unknown depths of pooles below him, by hearing it before he knew the origin of it. The floor was too dark for him to see.
    He moved carefully. He fell down there, that would maybe be the last time he ever reached anywhere. So he was on his guard. As he had been all his life. He missed his sword and his axe..
    Through large halls, the ceiling was so far away he couldn't see where it ended, and it was dark, some places the shadows were so deep that he couldn't se his own hands in front of him. But it was still day outside, or he suspected that what was outside, was still, what was called day in a place like this.
    The raven was gone.
    It was like there were no rooms or aisles in the castle, like it was all just halls that led in to each other. And they changed, first there was one to the right.. then, a bit further down, there was one leading to the left, or maybe there was one on each side, and then there could be one to the right, or two straight out..
    It took some time before he realised, it was a labyrinth he was walking in; by then he had come to two closed halls, and had gone back, when he hadn't been able to proceed any further. It was then he suddenly discovered he didn't know which way he had to take, to get back to where he had come from?! Of any of the three halls that was now in front of him. But there had only been two halls when he came out of the first.. The right..? Then that would be the one in the middle. He remained. Then he went through the one on the left. And struck immediately on steps. A stairway leading up; he looked up: light from the outside seeped in to the left, five to six meters above him: That had to come from one of the openings he had first believed to be windows. That meant, he thought, that you could ascend in it? There were floors, you could move up in, like in a normal castle. That hadn't been visible from the outside. Something in him restrained him from going up the stairs. He thought: But it would make it easier for him to keep a count on where he was, cause then he could look out the openings.. But the further up he got, and in to other halls, like those he had just come from, the more the castle's walls and corners, it's deliberate construction, shadowed his vision to look out; when he was on a stairway, or moved through a hall; he couldn't see nothing but the greywhite flowing fogs, no horizon, no hills, or anything else he could measure distance with or use to figure out where he was. Only the damned fogs! 
    In a hall that had two entrances facing each other, he thought again of going back and to get out of the castle, by following the path he had started from and that had led him astray - and that would maybe even take him further away, which was maybe actually the whole plan? Maybe there wasn't any path through the castle, maybe it was just a trap? And it was so huge. So he thought of going back, and to do that he had a method that was practically infallible: From where you wanted to begin going back, you put a hand on the wall you were next too, in the direction you had to go, and then you held it there, on the wall, and followed it. That would inevitably take you back to where you started, the place where you came in to the labyrinth. A wise man had once told him that. And he was about to start doing that, when he just wanted to see what was behind the two entrances in front of him. They would be the last, before he started going back. He would start with the one on the left.
    Water still ran down the walls, and had done so constantly since he entered the castle.  He had tasted it, on his finger. But it was a normal taste: ice and stone. So it was melting water. It ran down to the stairs, and then through openings between the walls and the stairway's construction, and all the way down to the ground floor, running or dripping, and from there in to the deep below the floor; it never dripped or ran on the stairs. But that would mean if there was that amount of ice on the castle's top, that the castle reached in to the sky, and that the further one got up in it.. the more everything would turn to ice! This was in truth a castle for Gods. For the first time he thought that it could be Hel's castle, the Mistress of Nifelheim? Maybe he was wandering about in her castle? And decided that, that was the truth.  
    The two entrances were, like every other place he had been in the castle, a bit ajar of each other, so you couldn't see through the second when you passed through the first. He noticed that the greyish light that seeped in from the outside, didn't reach down to where he was with more than a tenth. He thought of making a light, but forgot all about it when he saw something move in front of him some meters away---!
    Again he cursed that he didn't have his sword!
    What had moved was again motionless. In the faint light, he couldn't see what it was. But it was standing still in front of him.. When he moved, it moved too. He became enraged, that he couldn't attack it! What audacity!
    In the dark, his words sounded, "Who ever you are, show yourself like I do.. Maybe we are not enemies..?" Over the sound from the eternally dripping water from the walls, his voice slowly died out, echoing down through the halls and the darkness..
    But no reply came.
    Now he felt fear. But also rage. The last won.
    "You coward creature of the darkness, I will tear your head off, you that can't use your tongue for anything anyway!" He approached. Still it didn't answer! But moved!!
    Then he realised it was his own mirror image.

    A bit later he touched it, carefully, with his fingers, while laughter was growing up through his throat. It was cold and smooth like all mirrors. He saw his face, his eyes, like he used to see them in his sword or in the surface of water, and that a smile was beginning to shine through it. He noticed that the mirror was build in to the wall. Then the smile vanished, and instead his face, in the mirror, began to talk - but it wasn't him who was doing it!
    "Einar," it said, but though it was his own mouth, it was not his own voice! "you should never have come here." It was the thin man in the black cloak! it was his voice!
    He stared, he knew his eyes were widened and his mouth open. But the face in the mirror, that was his, was calm.
    "You have now passed the Second Gate. When you pass the Third, you will no longer be in your own body. Then the choice is no longer yours."
    He stepped back, horrified: It was his face, yet it was not him! In the mirror he stept back too, and in the mirror the same eyes stared back at him. Until the darkness hid them. He waited. Then he stept forward again. When he saw himself this time, he could feel that it was him. There wasn't any sejd in the mirror anymore. He could feel it. Everything was normal again..
    He left the closed hall with the mirror in the wall. And stood, awaiting in front of the entrance to the other. Looked at it's dark, open mouth.. The running water on the walls looked like pearls in the dim light.. Dripping, all the way down in to the lakes below the ground floor. He felt the fragileness of the castle, the stairwells thin construction , through his body. Saw how they floated in their stone fundaments, as if the internal stone walls were gone, and everything that was left, was the stairs that seemed to float freely in the air!
    He passed through the other entrance.
    He hadn't walked for very long, before he saw light from a descending staircase. When he looked down it, he could see what was lying outside the castle, Through the fogs outside the castle, he could see a road that led away from it.
    He hurried down the stairs.

Fingers Of Death.

    The branches stretched towards the grey heaven above them. Below them, parted by the lake's surface, the trees thick gnarled roots forced and swung in different directions, as if guided by madness or confusion, without leaves or buds; the only true bearing being the impregnation where their life juice had it's origin.. The surface of the water was calm; only small, weak repercussions distorted it's mirror of the sky; below, the lake's sinister indefinability was hidden.. 
    Iceclear, cold water..
    The fogs hang silently over the lake, moved only slightly. Small branches zigzacked the surface..
    The branches stretched, fingers of death..
    And dead faces opened, spoke,
    "What are you seeking here?" From out of the fogs that swept around the lake, the spirits came, white as clouds, their speaking was low, their appearance distant as if they were in sleep, even though their pale eyes were open. His was too, by horror. Would this be his brothers skin?
    "Oh spirits of the lake, even though I have not known you, or your families, I ask you a favor. I want to see my brother. Do you know where he is?"   
    With a thousand years of sleep in their voices, "Why do you want to see your brother? What do you want here? Begone, and do not look. Hide your eyes behind a cloth, and go that way," a whiteclad arm slowly rose, a white finger pointed, "follow the lake till it ends; tell the one you meet there, that nobody knows you here. But do not remove the cloth. And then begone."
    "It means everything to me, to see my brother again. I was the cause of his death!"
    Then they were silent. As the fogs. As the repercussions in the lake's surface. As the stretching of the dark trees black hands of death. Infinitely waiting mirrored their eyes. Only to loose. And they told him where he could find his brother.

Metal Skin.

    Where the fogs ended, the rain began. Fell on his head, his hair. But not on the ground around him.. And it was here he finally met his brother again. As a shadow made of falling raindrops, the water ran and dripped from, he came out of the rain; the light behind the fogclouded heaven shun grey and blue all around him and in him, like dark metal.
    Rune, I was the cause of you coming to this place. I held your hand back, when it would open your blood. I
prevented the Winds in taking you with them, so you instead were embraced by cold hands.. I couldn't bear to see you do it.. But since then I have not been able to find peace..
    He searched, in the eternal eyes in front of him, for condemnation. But didn't find it.
    And heard his voice, "Einar you never needed to come here.."
    The drops from the rain ran as tears from his brothers face.
    Then he left him, walked silently in the wet grass, that wasn't made wet by the rain..
    The tall, thin shape came slowly towards him, the face still white as snow. When he reached him, he stretched out his thin arm, so his long white fingers touched him on his shoulder. His brother was still walking, he would follow him, they would allways be together now, Rune would never blame him anything, he was a man of honor, they were brothers. The long, thin fingers entered his body. He didn't turn to look. Entered his body..
    He saw, that Nifelheim was a labyrinth surrounded by the ice hell. Then he felt a violent pain.
    And a red spiderweb penetrated everything.
    When he died. 

                                                copyright by fwyion jlock.
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