Ancestral Pride

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

My unedited story about a man who journeyed to find his ancestors blade. Inspired by Norse myth and ritual burial. (Partially Unedited)

The ocean air was thick atop a calm sea, a lone dreker slowly made its way toward a misty island. The norse ship slowed to a stop as the shore line grew close. The hooded passenger approached the pilot and asked why they had stopped. Even these hardy warriors refused to lay anchor near such an island. The passenger argued that the barrow was not even in sight, but they knew all too well of the wights that guard the tombs and how ruthlessly they dealt with any intruder that dare disturb their less than humble home. The sun fell from the sky resting just above the isle. Their argument ceased with the pilot reluctantly agreeing to send him to the southern shore in a short boat.

As soon as the man stepped from the boat and into the depthless foam the oarsman made fast back to the long ship. With no concern the adventurer continued on his trek from the beach to pale pasture, thinking solely of his quest ahead. The search for his ancestors sword. Since he was a boy he had heard tale of its mighty steel and the blood path it has carved delivering worthy warriors to Asgard.

Just ahead stood a gaunt man among a small herd of sheep. Removing his hood the man approached the shepherd, through a thick black beard he asked the thin man direction to the sepulcher. With blank, expressionless eyes, the herder pointed to the north.

“Take mind to avoid the posts.” he muttered. Sheep quietly followed as their guide led them into the distance. The traveler looked on as the stranger and his herd faded into the mist. Shaking his head, reassuring his sanity he looked out at the setting sun, which matched the fire in his eyes. Turning north he set off for the tomb of his ancestor.

As night came over the bluff the adventurer could make out the barrow just across the field. He lifted his hood, shielding his face from the cold, and hastened his walk. Not minding his footfalls the inattentive man tripped and stumbled. Looking back a single wooden stake leaned from its place in the earth. Before he could find his bearings a voice prodded the back of his mind.

“You’ve loosened it.” The voice whispered. “Now, just removed.” It asked kindly. The man's eyes widened, he stepped back as the voice begged for release. Turning the frightened man saw many posts similar to the one he knocked loose. He carefully avoided each as the voice grew louder, as if drilling into his skull. “Do not leave me here!” It yelled. “Do not leave me here in the dirt!” Shaking his head the adventurer tried to ignore the angry voice. There had been tales of those who came across such posts, restless spirits pinned down into the earth with a wooden stake driven through their hearts. Any who dare touch the stakes holding these malevolent spirits were assaulted with eager voices demanding freedom.

With stone sepulcher in sight the traveler quickly made for the entrance. Sealing the heavy stone door behind him the voice ceased its tenacious invasion of the conscience. With heavy breath the man realized the uninviting stale air as a warning. These halls are not meant for lively souls but reserved for the honored dead. As he ventured through the dampened halls he passed rows of dead, tucked neatly into black stone shelves. Ornate tables held both ceramic urns and dusty embalming tools. The bodies pale and dry, as he walked deeper into the tomb the bodies became more skeletal, all flesh and muscle fallen to dust.

Chopping away at cobwebs with a dull dirk the humbled man entered a grand room. In the center a single stone coffin.  A large throne sat before it, surrounded by ceramic pots on stone shelves. Lined with weapons, gold and silver adornments, and a jagged crown crafted of silver and bone sat upon the thrones arm. He thought to himself of stories his father told, they did not give justice to the awe this room inspired. He sheathed his dagger and gently moved his hand against the side of the cold stone throne. Carved in vines and swords pointed to the sky, decorated with gold leaf which shined even in this dull torch lit cavern. Oddly little dust gathered on the ancient seat.

Standing before the black ostentatious coffin, he called out the name of his ancestor, respectfully pleading with him to wake from his rest and bear his sword, so he may pass it on to his heirs. His loud voice unsettled long idle dust but brought forth no spirits. Once more he beseeched his ancestor: “I come to you Agmundr, with honor and pride in hand. I pray of you, wake, convey your blessing. I ask for your blade and in return my own. I wish to carry your name and legend through my sons.” As he uttered this final word the room grew still and the black coffin before him seemed to draw breath.  Dust shot into the air as the stone slab holding his ancestor to the grave shifted and fell to the floor. Inside lay a motionless skeleton, its ivory bones caressed in rustic armor. A sword shined in the dim firelight, it lay across Agmundr’s chest clutched tightly in his mighty grip. Before his heir could even think to reach for the blade, the skeleton began to glow a pale white. Stepping back from the coffin the adventure stood in awe as a translucent figure  rose from the bones of one long dead. It calmly walked from its resting place and to the throne where he took seat. Following closely the man looked upon his ancestors vivid spirit.

“Einarr, my son.” The spirit said. “Waking the dead is a mad mans feat.” The fires around the room gave little warmth, for looking directly into a soul was a chilling task.

“I come to ask for inheritance. Your sword. So I may pass legends of valor unto my sons, your kin.” Einarr answered.

“I must warn you my son. One does not simply take from the dead. Removing this sword from my cold hands will not be as difficult as removing it from these catacombs.”

“And I must insist ancestor. I have not come all this way for nothing.” At this final plea the spirit nodded. He returned to his coffin and gently plucked his sword from himself. Handing Einarr the blade he smiled, pleased with his successor. After a nod Agmundr returned to his rest, laying with his bones. The glow slowly faded. In this proud moment Einarr examined his prize, but before leaving he delivered his blade to his ancestor and returned the stone seal to his coffin.

Warmth quickly returned to the tomb as Einarr took his leave. He was careful in sheathing his ancestors sword, not knowing the damage time has done. Adverse to what Agmundr warned, no barrow-wight did awaken to impede his heir and Einarr was able to make a hasty escape.  

Returning victorious his father praised Einarr on his bravery, throwing a feast in honor of their kind-hearted ancestor. Einarr told the tale of his adventure and the wondrous catacombs of the nordic barrow. The intricate carvings, the gold and riches that lay alone, but he spared no detail when describing his meeting with Agmundr.

After his tale and a mighty feast, Einarr met a woman. Her hair dark as night and her face livid with beauty. Katherine, her name echoed in his mind. After a short month they were wed. She bore the newly Jarl two strong sons. As they grew their father told them of his journey and the legend of their ancestor Agmundr. They became hardy warriors and handsome men. After his father the eldest became Jarl and he soon passed the same blade onto his sons, and theirs sons passed it onto theirs. The sword traveled as a symbol of honor and bravery for many generations, inspiring the same in many men. But soon, the dead would come to retrieve their blade.

Submitted: July 18, 2013

© Copyright 2021 Tucker Haase. All rights reserved.

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