Black Metal Circle Saga (Fragment)

February 14, 2013

McSweeneysI was on tour in 2009 when McSweeney’s contacted me about contributing something for an issue they were doing on extinct literary forms and said they wondered if I might be interested in writing something in the style of a Norse “Fornaldarsaga.” The Norse sagas represent some of the earliest written fiction and they’re pretty incredible. Purporting to document true events in Scandinavian history, they’re actually breathtakingly violent, quirky and fast-moving adventure tales that are still fun to read today. They also happen to be what Wagner based the Ring Cycle off of, as well as Tolkein’s main inspiration for Middle Earth (a term which originates in the Old Norse “Miðgarðr“.) When the published McSweeney’s issue came out, I realized that a lot of the writers had decided to write their old forms (the Graustarkian Romance, the Consuetudinary, the Biji, the Nivola, and on and on) in a modern style. I guess I went the other way, trying to write about recent true-life events using the (English-translated) style of the original sagas. This piece – the version they published – is actually a small fragment of what I wrote (I went a little nuts writing this story and a friend of mine actually has a crazy color-coded flowchart I created at a particularly low point hanging on his wall as a sort of outsider-art decoration) and I’m currently heavily revising that piece and trying to turn it into something even longer.

******

Øystein Aarseth—better known as Euronymous, a guitarist in the Norwegian black-metal band Mayhem—perished on August 10, 1993, from twenty-three stab wounds to his back and neck. Police quickly arrested Varg Qisling Larssøn Vikernes, who performed under the name Count Grishnackh in the rival black-metal band Burzum. The high-profile murder, along with a spate of church burnings in Norway, helped bolster record sales by both bands and launched the so-called black-metal scene on its path to international infamy.

—OC Weekly, April 17, 2003

 

I. VIKINGLIGR VELDI

There was a king called Gullinguð Four-Sticks, the son of Steina, who reigned over the kingdom of Vingulmörk. Gullinguð was married to Járnkarl, the daughter of a king named Góinn, and their sons were called Blóðlauss and Blóðstjarna. One afternoon as the two boys were fishing, Blóðstjarna grew jealous of how many more fish his brother had caught, and struck him in the head with an oar. The blow dented Blóðlauss’s skull and he fell to the bottom of the river and drowned.

When he saw that he had killed his brother, Blóðstjarna ran into the forest and lived there for several years, seeing and talking to no one and eating wild birds and animals, until his hair grew long and his voice became a growl and he didn’t know if he was a man or a beast. But after some years had passed, Blóðstjarna said to himself, “If I stay in the forest, all anyone will say of me is that I killed my brother, the greater of my father’s sons.” He resolved to go back to his father’s hall in Vingulmörk.

When he returned, Gullinguð would not see him. But Járnkarl convinced the king to let Blóðstjarna guard over their tributary lands in Skíringssalr, and Blóðstjarna reigned there as an under-king for many years, acquiring a reputation as a wise arbiter in disputes, though everyone called him Blóðstjarna Venomous. When Gullinguð fell in a battle with Leifrvíg, a Swedish king, Blóðstjarna avenged his death and then took his crown. He married a maiden named Skuld, and they had two sons, Eirð and Forfaðir. It’s said that they were both strong and hearty young boys and that Forfaðir, with his long blond hair, most resembled his dead uncle Blóðlauss.

 

II. BLOOD ON ICE

It is now to be told that, after some years had gone by, a creature came to Vingulmörk and began devouring the cattle there. No one had seen any beast that resembled it, and it was considered an unusual thing and a blight on the kingdom. Several of Blóðstjarna’s champions tried to attack this creature but returned filled with fear, saying that its hide was so tough no sword could bite it. The creature wandered around Blóðstjarna’s kingdom, killing cattle and men as it pleased, and then it disappeared. It returned one year later, and again Blóðstjarna’s champions tried to kill it and none could, and again it disappeared and returned a year later, and did this for three years.

In the year that Blóðstjarna’s son Forfaðir turned fifteen, it happened that he was walking in the forests on the western side of Víkin just after sunset when he saw a flickering light between the tree trunks. Approaching, Forfaðir saw an old man sitting by a fire, a wide hat covering his face. Forfaðir felt afraid, but the old man asked the boy to approach, speaking this verse:

You find me at this fire, Forfaðir, waiting for you.
I’ve walked a long way, from where there’s no time or space.
A vast green valley—very soon you’ll travel there.
For you I have a fine gift, and foresee greatness.

Forfaðir could see that the old man had only one eye. Before he could say a word, the old man uttered a second verse:

I see you on a stallion, snow-bright, arrow-swift.
I see a slashing sword, steel, fire-forged.
Slicing sinew and bone, sealing victory always.
You will father a family, future legends all.

When he had finished speaking, the old man rose and pulled a branch off the ash tree above him, thrusting it into the fire. The branch caught flame and the old man gave it to Forfaðir, pointing him to the mouth of an icy cave in the side of a hill behind them.

Forfaðir trembled with fear, but he walked into the cave, lighting up the walls with the burning branch he’d been given. Inside, after some minutes, he found a long wooden box. He opened it and, within, wrapped in bearskins, saw a sword glinting. When Forfaðir took hold of the sword, all fear left him. When he came out from the cave, the old man had gone and the fire was dead.

Forfaðir called this blade Svartmálmr, and it was said that it could hew through any armor no matter how strong, and that its bearer was always assured of victory. When the creature that had been plaguing Vingulmörk returned, Forfaðir went to it alone with the sword Svartmálmr, puncturing its tough hide until it streamed blood and hacking off both of the creature’s heads to bring as gifts to his father. The heads were preserved in large jars of salt.

Word spread that Forfaðir had no fear of man or beast, and everyone called him Forfaðir Hammerheart.

 

III. EURYNOMOS

Some time passed and Forfaðir’s brother Eirð left the kingdom of Vingulmörk. He explored as far as the Dumb Sea, and then went on to settle in Kaupmannahöfn, in Denmark. In time he became king there, and he is out of the saga. Forfaðir, meanwhile, married a woman from the nearby kingdom of Hringaríki; Silfrvængr was her name. Their son, Eysteinn, was born on a morning in early winter, and the saga says that Forfaðir took his son when he was first born and walked outside where for the first time the light struck Eysteinn, and Forfaðir held the child up to the sky and then gently swayed him over the flames of a small fire before cleaning him in the first snow that had fallen on the ground. Eysteinn was a very beautiful child and his parents knew when they looked at his eyes that he would outshine all other men.

When Eysteinn grew to be nine years old, Forfaðir’s old friend and ally, whose name was Sjómaðr, sent his son Vargrækr over for fosterage, as was the custom in those days, and the two lived together in the same chamber. Vargrækr was a lively child, quick-witted and full of schemes and plans. Forfaðir loved them both and the two did everything together, always riding side by side and even dressing and talking alike, until people began to think of them as brothers in blood. At night Forfaðir would sing songs and tell the children tales about his travels, about his slaying the creature that had plagued the kingdom, and about the valley where time and space do not obtain.

One morning, when Forfaðir was out hunting with the two boys, an old man dressed in a cloak and a wide-brimmed hat came into the court at Vingulmörk. He met Blóðstjarna there, and asked to speak with his son, telling Blóðstjarna he had gifts to offer. Blóðstjarna didn’t know the old man, who had one eye only, and thought he was a beggar. The old man took great offense, but he offered his gifts again, and asked again to speak with Forfaðir Hammerheart. But Blóðstjarna told him, “What gifts would my son accept from an old blind beggar?” and turned him away. Blóðstjarna didn’t tell Forfaðir about his encounter with the old man, and time passed as before.

 

IV. WAR PIGS

It is now to be told that there was a man called Hjassi who was the son of Leifrvíg from Áttundaland, whom Blóðstjarna had slain some years before. It happened that Hjassi gathered a great host of warriors and marched on Vingulmörk to avenge his father. Blóðstjarna and Forfaðir saw them coming, and they gathered their own army and met Hjassi in battle. Father and son fought side by side, and for a while it seemed as though their small army might be able to overwhelm Hjassi’s, but then suddenly Forfaðir notices a great boar, larger than any he’s ever seen, fighting alongside Hjassi’s army. The boar attacks Blóðstjarna and Forfaðir’s warriors, flinging them into the air and battering them to pieces. Forfaðir then says to Blóðstjarna, “The favor that I once saw has now gone against me. This is bad for us, and I think we will die here.” Blóðstjarna and Forfaðir fight bravely, but without Forfaðir’s former luck Hjassi’s army is too great for them, and both men fall there, along with their warriors and their whole court.

Forfaðir’s wife Silfrvængr, though, had taken the children Eysteinn and Vargrækr when she spied Hjassi’s men in the distance, and sent them to Forfaðir’s ally Sjómaðr with the sword Svartmálmr. Hjassi took Vingulmörk for himself and slaughtered all who were faithful to Blóðstjarna, including Silfrvængr. In some men he cut the Blood Eagle, slicing their ribs from their spine and pulling their lungs out behind them so that they died. But he couldn’t find Forfaðir’s son, though he looked for him throughout Vingulmörk.

 

V. INNOCENCE AND WRATH

Eysteinn and Vargrækr grew up together at Sjómaðr’s great hall in Björgyn. The two foster brothers trained as fighters, eating and drinking with Sjómaðr’s champions and fighting alongside them and growing skilled and powerful through many battles and skirmishes.

When Vargrækr reached his nineteenth year, he was very eager to march to Vingulmörk with Eysteinn to kill Hjassi and avenge the deaths of Blóðstjarna and his foster father Forfaðir. He told this plan to Álfr, the greatest hero of Sjómaðr’s court, and Álfr replied, “I had a dream last night that we lived not in this court but in a distant time, and you and I and Eysteinn were marching in the rocky fields of Horðaland, armored in an old-fashioned manner and bearing in front of us the standard of Forfaðir Hammerheart. As we walked, the standard began to bulge and swell in size and our armor grew heavier around our arms and legs and our helms grew in size and covered our eyes until we were as little boys in great suits of armor and we could no longer walk forward even one step. And the standard grew so heavy that it slipped from our hands and tumbled onto the rocks and burst, and entrails and black blood issued from it. I believe this dream means that to march on Hjassi’s kingdom at this time will bring about grievous consequences for us.”

Álfr’s mother had been an elf-maiden, and because of that he was only partly human. He knew runes and could see and know some things before they happened, and he could also understand the speech of birds. Álfr was a very wise man, beautiful to look at and with many mistresses, but he was melancholy, and it seemed as if he lived not entirely in the world of men.

Despite what Álfr told Vargrækr, slaying Hjassi was always in the foster brothers’ thoughts. Eventually they convinced Vargrækr’s father Sjómaðr to raise a great army, and Sjómaðr himself rode out, with all his champions, and Álfr went with them, too, his face painted to resemble a corpse so as to frighten his enemies, and the whole company marched

across Norway to Hjassi where he sat in the court of Vingulmörk. Hjassi saw them coming from afar and gathered all of his army together to meet them, and there they had a tremendous battle, with Sjómaðr’s giant army against Hjassi’s, which was just as large, and many great and brave deeds were done there, and many lives lost, and many dead bodies littered the ground as food for eagles and ravens. Hjassi’s best champions were slain, and many of Sjómaðr’s best warriors died also, and in the middle of the tangle of hurled spears and the clatter of swords against armor a Finnish Berserk named Staurask struck Vargrækr’s father Sjómaðr so that his sword cleaved through his throat and his chest and into his heart, and Sjómaðr died right there. When they saw this, Eysteinn and Vargrækr fought even more viciously, and when Eysteinn reached Hjassi he swung the sword Svartmálmr over his head and lopped off both of Hjassi’s hands at the wrists. But before he could kill Hjassi, Staurask came up and struck Eysteinn, and in this time Hjassi snuck away. Álfr then came to Eysteinn’s side and plunged his spear through Staurask’s belly even as another of Hjassi’s men slashed Álfr across the back with his sword, and Álfr fell down amongst the dead but did not die, and was carried away. This man who had come against Álfr was himself struck down, and the fighting lessened, and Eysteinn again took hold of Vingulmörk.

Hjassi fled north in secret, to Sogn. After losing the battle and all of his warriors, along with both of his hands, he changed in some ways. He no longer went conquering other kingdoms but remained in Sogn and became a follower of Olaf the White, and he accepted the Christian faith which was new then in Norway. To honor the new Christian god, Hjassi built the finest church in Sogn at that time, constructed out of great staves of oak. And he fashioned metal fingers for himself to replace the hands that had been mangled by Svartmálmr.

 

VI. WINDS OF FUNERAL

As for Vargrækr, the death of his father caused him deep grief. When the battle had finished he didn’t say much, only that he felt rage that Hjassi had escaped from Eysteinn’s sword and was still alive, and that if Vargrækr had been fighting Hjassi he surely wouldn’t have let him escape. Vargrækr’s mother Bora was grieved as well, and she never smiled or was happy thenceforth.

Twelve champions bore Sjómaðr’s body back to Björgyn, where they laid Sjómaðr in a mound with all his weapons, on a high hill overlooking the western shore of Horðaland, and bent ash branches over him. You can still see traces of this grave, which ever since people have called Sjómaðr’s Mound.

After Sjómaðr’s burial, the company stayed on in Björgyn for some months, and Vargrækr was silent and mournful. Then, after some time, Vargrækr finally spoke and said to Eysteinn, “With our fathers slain and us the only remnants of our line, we are more like true brothers then ever before. Let’s ride out to Vingulmörk, our home.” The two friends went with their men back to Eysteinn’s court and lived there together and reigned together. Eysteinn married a woman called Vigdís and had a son named Verrfeðrungr. Vargrækr married a woman named Sif and they had two daughters, Signý and Skjaldmær. The two men loved their children and told them stories of the legendary men that had come before them, their fathers Forfaðir Hammerheart and Sjómaðr, and Eysteinn’s grandfather Blóðstjarna Venomous, and his great-grandfather Gullinguð Four-Sticks.

 

VII. LET’S FUCKING DIE

It happened one morning that Álfr had a dream that he was leading an army against a great force of frost giants. Every time his sword clashed against a giant’s shield it made a melodious tone as of music, and every time he slew one of the giants another one would rise up in its place. And in the middle of the battle, a beautiful woman approaches Álfr on the field and says to him, “You don’t belong here, warrior. Your blood is not the blood of these men. You should be fighting on the other side of this battle.” Álfr asks the woman how to join the other side of the battle and she tells him, “To release the soul one must die. To find peace inside you must be eternal.” When Álfr awoke he went downstairs into the warriors’ hall at Vingulmörk, where an ash tree grew out through the ground and into the rafters, and he hanged himself upon this tree, and died.

That day Eysteinn and Vargrækr had been out hunting together in the forests to the east of the fjord. When they came home and found Álfr hanging dead from the tree, Vargrækr was very distraught. He said to Eysteinn, “This is a sorrowful blow, to lose such a noble warrior and friend.” Eysteinn told Vargrækr that he would cut down Álfr’s body and see to the burial.

When Vargrækr left, Eysteinn reached for the sword Svartmálmr to cut the rope around Álfr’s neck, but as soon as his hands touched the steel of the sword it was as if a voice spoke and told him what to do. Eysteinn cut down Álfr and took his body outside and built a small fire. Then he took Svartmálmr and hacked open the top of Álfr’s head and cut his brains out of his skull and roasted them on the fire and ate a part of them.

As soon as Eysteinn had eaten some of Álfr’s brains, he could understand the speech of birds as Álfr had. There was an eagle that had alighted on a branch by him, eyeing Álfr’s corpse. The eagle sang to Eysteinn, saying, “There lies the fallen famous half-elf, half his head gone, no more than a tale now. His powers are yours. Take the shards of his skull and make a necklace from them. While wearing this necklace, none will be able to harm you and all armies will fall before you. You will be more famous than all other men, and your name will never be forgotten in the Norse tongue. But your fate will also be Álfr’s, and the hour of your death will be nearer than it is for those you love. You will be called Nás-Eysteinn.”

Eysteinn decided that he wanted to be powerful and famous more than he wanted a long life, so he did as the eagle told him and took pieces of Álfr’s skull and threaded them on long hairs from Álfr’s head and made a necklace from them. And Eysteinn buried Álfr in a certain valley on the far eastern side of the castle, next to a stream near a petrified forest.

 

VIII. WE’RE GONNA BURN THIS PLACE TO THE GROUND

It happened just like the eagle told Eysteinn. He became the most famous man in the region, harrying and conquering all around him and putting much of that part of Norway under his rule. And his friend and foster brother Vargrækr was beside him.

One afternoon, Nás-Eysteinn was eating with his men when the same eagle that had told him to make the skull necklace flew to the window. None of his men could understand the eagle’s ancient language, but Nás- Eysteinn heard these words:

I flew far across this country, finding a church in Sogn.
Perching on a steeple-point, pecking for food I saw him.
Here handless he hides, Hjassi your foe.
Crowing and crying of the Christian god men worship.

When he heard the eagle’s song, Nás-Eysteinn went to Vargrækr and said, “It is an embarrassment to my fame and to the honor of us both that this cowardly Christian, Hjassi Handless, is still alive, and I have discovered where he is hiding. Let us ride there together and finally finish the task of avenging our fathers.”

Nás-Eysteinn and Vargrækr called together their champions and gathered their army and drew men from all around the region, and they marched to Sogn. Hjassi held an army there too, and they fought back fiercely. Vargrækr himself was cut many times and grievously scarred and wounded, but throughout the battle no one could hurt Nás-Eysteinn. Arrows missed him and swords glanced off him, and he hacked to bits many of Hjassi’s soldiers. Finally the two foster brothers pursued Hjassi into his hall at Sogn, and Vargrækr burned Hjassi alive there with all his followers and his whole court. Nás-Eysteinn and Vargrækr then burned down the church Hjassi had built and burned all the churches in the region down into ashes, which was forty-six churches in all. And they tore down and crumbled all the crosses there, until there was no trace left of Hjassi Handless or his followers or his god.

After the battle, Vargrækr said to Nás-Eysteinn, “Foster brother, you led this battle and you are clearly the greater man between us two. Will you give me Hjassi’s lands as my own as compensation for the death of my father Sjómaðr?” But Nás-Eysteinn told him that because he led the battle and because Hjassi had also slain his own family members, he was going to keep Sogn for himself.

 

IX. COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN

Now the saga says that, after some time had gone by, Vargrækr’s mother Bora went to him and said, “Why is it that all around Norway people talk of your foster brother Nás-Eysteinn and they don’t talk of you, when you have done as many great deeds as Nás-Eysteinn and when you yourself killed Hjassi Handless, lighting your torch to his hall and burning down all of his churches? It seems to me that whenever you do some great deed people only talk of Nás-Eysteinn having done it. And why is it that Nás-Eysteinn reigns over all of Vingulmörk and Sogn and you have only the town of Björgyn, which is less than half the size of his land? You were raised as brothers and loved equally by Forfaðir as by Sjómaðr and myself, and you should rule as brothers and share the same power and land equally. Go to Nás-Eysteinn again, and ask him for land of your own to rule over.”

So Vargrækr went again to Nás-Eysteinn and asked him, “Foster brother, that you have more wealth and fame than I is disputed by no one. I humbly ask for just a small portion of the vast lands over which you rule since defeating Hjassi.”

Nás-Eysteinn replied, “You are my dearest friend, but I simply cannot give you this.”

When he heard Nás-Eysteinn’s words, Vargrækr became angry at him for the first time, wondering why he would humiliate him by denying this one small request. He decided to leave Vingulmörk at once, gathering his wife Sif and their daughters Signý and Skjaldmær. When he saw Vargrækr leaving, Nás-Eysteinn thought twice about having refused him land and offered him anything to stay, but Vargrækr told him it was too late.

 

X. AN OATH SWORN IN BJORGVIN

Vargrækr returned to Björgyn and stayed there for some years. He heard daily of Nás-Eysteinn’s exploits and of all the land that had fallen under his rule and all the verses and songs that had been composed about him, and daily he grew angrier at his foster brother for not allowing him to share in his land and wealth.

One day Snorri Thorns, the champion of Nás-Eysteinn’s court, came to Björgyn to visit Vargrækr, and Vargrækr held a feast to welcome him. After they had been drinking and talking for some time, Snorri asked Vargrækr if he’d heard tales of a necklace Nás-Eysteinn wore in secrecy, which gave him magical abilities and insured no sword could bite him. Vargrækr told Snorri he hadn’t heard of such a necklace, and Snorri replied that no one had known of it until one night Nás-Eysteinn had been boasting of it while drunk. “And here is the reason I am telling you,” Snorri said. “I have always believed you to be a greater man than Nás-Eysteinn. I think that the power this necklace confers should be held by you, the warrior who slew Hjassi, and not by one who would lie and conceal his advantage. Nás-Eysteinn has become legendary while wearing this necklace, but if you were to wear it they would make legends about you.”

Now the saga says the two made an oath to take Nás-Eysteinn’s necklace from him, and Vargrækr traveled with Snorri Thorns from Björgyn to Vingulmörk, and when they arrived there Nás-Eysteinn welcomed them warmly, thinking Vargrækr had forgiven him. The two old friends and foster brothers drank together late into the night, remembering tales of their fathers and grandfathers and their battles and conquests together, until Nás-Eysteinn, having drunk more than Vargrækr, retired to his chamber to sleep. Vargrækr remained awake for a little while and then, so that no one would recognize him going into Nás-Eysteinn’s chamber, he put on a blue cloak with a heavy hood. He tells Snorri, “Wait outside in the hall for me.”

Vargrækr entered Nás-Eysteinn’s chamber to see him asleep wearing the necklace made from Álfr’s skull. He slipped the necklace from Nás- Eysteinn’s neck and took a small sword from his belt and stabbed Nás- Eysteinn many times, and Nás-Eysteinn awoke and threw the wolf-skin he was sleeping under onto Vargrækr and tried to fight him but he had no weapon, and Vargrækr stabbed him twenty-three times in all, and when he was finished he sang this verse:

Good morning, my foster brother. Meet the face of death.
Sword in hand I’m smiling, seeing your guts stream out.
I first brought war to Hjassi; I burned him alive. Brazenly you stole my deeds.
Now I steal your necklace and your life. No one will ever miss you.

“Well, we all must die one day, and you will too. Valhöll, I am coming,” answered Nás-Eysteinn. And, bleeding to death, he made this song:

I shut my ears to women’s sighs, seeking instead blood, fire, and death.
I looked away from light and joy—legends and fame were what I sought. No light of new morning will come. Even now I’m too old.
I smell that stench already, my soul going as my body rots.

I do remember it, as if from a dream. Darkness grows and eternity opens. We lifted glasses and laughed, Álfr and Aska and Þræll.
Helhamarr and Helalmáttigr. Bárðr and Ódáinn.
Battle-thirsty Thor Innards-Field, Snorri Thorns (just outside the door).

And, slain by Staurask, Sjómaðr your father who raised us.
My father Forfaðir fallen too. Far-off Eirð also gone.
Blóðstjarna and his brother Blóðlauss—both together now,all wrongs forgotten.
Father of my father’s father, Gullinguð. And my foster brother, you, Vargrækr.

In the circle of stone coffins, we are standing with our black robes on.
Everything is cold in the corner of this time, clotted-up and stopped.
But how beautiful life is now, buried by time and dust.
My flesh is a feast for hawks, and flocks of ravens can sip my blood.

When he finished these verses, Nás-Eysteinn died.

 

XI. RAINING BLOOD

As Snorri Thorns stood guard outside Nás-Eysteinn’s chamber, he heard a terrible peal of thunder and the sky broke open into a deafening storm. He ran to the window and looked out to see that what appeared to be rain clouds was a procession of warriors charging across the sky, and so many were their number that the air was almost black, and the rain that fell was blood-red. In the middle of the procession he sees an old man with a wide- brimmed hat, galloping on a black horse with eight legs, and there are naked and bare-breasted women riding at the front of the procession, and birds of prey swooping beneath it. And near the front of this procession Snorri sees the dead warrior Forfaðir, wearing a helm of gold and silver and beating a drum made of human skin. Snorri was so frightened by this vision that he ran downstairs and into the halls of Nás-Eysteinn’s sleeping champions and woke them all, telling them that Nás-Eysteinn had been murdered by Vargrækr and pretending to have just discovered the crime.

When Vargrækr heard Nás-Eysteinn’s champions running up the stairs after him, he leapt in fear from the window of Nás-Eysteinn’s chamber, dropping the skull necklace as he fell so that it shattered on the ground below. Word was sent out that he was to be hunted as a killer- wolf, and he spent the rest of his life in the forests, far from men, and no more is told of him.

All of the Northlands mourned the death of Nás-Eysteinn, and for his funeral he was attired in armor the same gold color as the sun, and laid with the sword Svartmálmr in his hands and a gold shield by his side and placed in a ship, and his champions pushed the ship out to sea, with Ódáinn leading them, also dressed in gold armor, and they set the ship on fire. And Nás-Eysteinn’s body burned until all the flesh on it burned up and rose into the grey skies and all that was left were bones, and those bones slipped through the burning planks of his ship as it crumbled and fell apart, and they drifted to the bottom of the same sea that held the bones of his great-uncle, Blóðlauss.

With Nás-Eysteinn murdered by Vargrækr, rulership of Vingulmörk fell to his son, Verrfeðrungr. Verrfeðrungr ruled for a very long time, much longer than the rule of Nás-Eysteinn, or Forfaðir, or Gullinguð, or any of their line, and he did many things, but there is no need to record them. When he died, after a great many years, not in battle but from old age, everyone said that he had ruled the land ably, though it was agreed that he was not as great of a man as his father.

 

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4 Comments |

4 Responses to “Black Metal Circle Saga (Fragment)”

  1. Chris

    Will,
    Having read through many sagas in a vikings history class and being an Okkervil fan I was greatly excited when I saw this piece. After reading I was not disappointed as it seems true to the style and as entertaining as the best of them. Awesome.

  2. Megan

    Very impressive all those lovely Norse names. How did you come up with all them and keep them all straight? you reminded me why I loved Tolkein so much when I was younger, but also why I struggled at reading The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series – very foreign terminology to a 12yo. Still, absolutely magical. thanks, Will!

  3. elizabeth

    I feel like I’ve looked out and seen the ‘Dumb Sea’. Is that wrong?

    I purposefully put off reading this until one in the morning when I knew I’d be able to read it all in one go. Bits made me wince- though I am sure I was reading each sentence with an inane sense of over-seriousness because any talk of kings and kingdoms usually inspires that in me. I seemed to cheer up and settle down at the roasted brains on the fire and skully necklace juncture, to be sure. And who doesn’t want to be buried ‘next to a stream near a petrified forest’, when you get right down to it.

    Then I had to google the Ash Tree. There was something I couldn’t remember that was bugging me. Then as soon as I read it, I remembered reading it before. It was the fact that ash has been used for some Fender stratocasters and Telelcasters.

    This comment is now indecently long. The last thing I’ll say is that the last paragraph really struck me. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a generation of Verrfeðrungrs. That’s all. And yeah, despite all the truly horrific alternatives, it can feel like a terrible fate.

  4. Anna

    Will,
    I am curious, as you mention that your original draft is much longer, about a couple elements of the saga that are merely touched upon in this abridged edition. Is the beast that Forfadir slay’s meant to have any symbolic relation to Blodlauss, his uncle? Also, is there any further development or mention of “the valley where time and space do not obtain?” I found this very intriguing.

    Overall, I a very enjoyable read. Thank you for sharing it!

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