|Posted by toby_newton on July 27, 2013 at 2:10 PM||comments (0)|
That morning Dawid's eyelids flinched before gradually opening as he felt the warmth of a new sun creep its way through the open barn door and up his bare back until the cloud was completely gone and he was bathed in soft morning light. His eyes stung from the previous night and he could not lift his head, heavy as it was from the all too familiar excesses of yesterday. Still though, it weighed less upon him than the sorrow burdening his heart.
For one hundred or more nights Dawid had yearned for release from the shadows which tormented his every waking and sleeping hour. He was cut adrift in his sea of troubles with nothing but demons to keep him company. He caught fleeting glimpses in his dreams of a damsel aboard a long boat travelling north to set him free only to be crestfallen each day break with the realisation that despite his desperate attempts to manifest her, she had not arrived to rescue him from his reality. He felt sure instead that Skadi would grip him in summer too, and that her touch would be even colder then.
Yet the sun was strangely comforting that morning after a night that had felt like a century of darkness. Still lying flat upon his fur cloak, he stared at the twinkling embers and tiny wisps of campfire smoke as they spiralled and danced upwards into the dawn air. Then he heard something he had never heard before: A female voice, singing in some unknown tongue, but so softly that it melted him to his core. It was coming from down by the stables and, suddenly intrigued by something for the first time in years, he dragged himself up and forced his beleaguered body to function...but he did not get far.
Still adjusting to the brightness, Dawid was greeted by such a vision of sheer natural beauty that he feared at first that he had not woken from his dreams. But what moved before him was far too visceral to be a dream, too radiant to be of the dark, and too joyous to allow the presence of creatures of the night. Love instantly leapt from some unknown prison in his heart and rose up in him, electrifying his very soul. The pure and strange sensation pulled at him as he strained to see the sprite like figure. She danced away through the fields ahead of him as the sun glowed behind her.
Everywhere flowers were blooming as she passed, twirling her arms gently, and brushing them as she moved. She was spreading happiness over the shattered land but seemed blissfully unaware of her magic. That sombre scene he had mournfully surveyed last night before succumbing once more to the delirium of the Agaricus, was now teeming with life and vibrant colour. Three small rabbits scampered brazenly past him and the dawn chorus was growing louder than any birdsong he could ever remember.
Dawid's senses had been heightened last night as he entertained the heathen Berserkers who had forced entry to shelter in his barn before passing out after consuming all his best wine and rarest fungi. The state of mental and emotional arousal he found himself in now though was induced purely by what he was witnessing and it was incomparable to anything he had ever experienced. Surely not even Odin himself could have conjured up such a wondrous vision for a man.
The south wind ruffled her white dress as she came to a stop at the edge of the meadow, turned and smiled at him. A smile like no other. His body and soul were powerless in the face of such happiness and he stood there transfixed until that smile slowly spread to his own lips. his sorrow was washing away amid the streams of sunshine. He was remembering joy...and then she was gone.
Never seen again in the village, rumour had it that Dawid's inspiration must have been the Kyfling girl, Sondra. She was said to have travelled from the Eastern Baltic, summoned at the behest of the Goddess Freya, who had herself been trapped by Skadi and kept out of the sight of humans. Sondra was a mortal girl, sure enough, or so the legend went. Every village she had passed through had sung songs lamenting her loss and calling for her return. She was as unknowing of her destiny and her mission as she was of her own great beauty. Herself inspired by she knew not what to travel to new lands that May, what she could not possibly have known was that only her willingness to love could inspire a transformation in the rule of the Gods, replacing Skadi's vengeance with Spring's sweet caress.
She knew as he smiled back at her though, that it had surely inspired him.
Toby Newton - May 2013 (and published in August's Sync City magazine).
|Posted by toby_newton on May 9, 2013 at 4:55 PM||comments (6)|
The luscious green of the fields and forests had long since been replaced by the pale and weary image of a land stricken by Winter's frosty breath: the soil hardened by her icy chill; the trees lonely and lifeless, bereft of leaves, berries and bird song. Both were longing for the protection a blanket of snow would surely bring, but it was too cold to snow. Instead they remained exposed, lamenting the loss of the sun, as if awaiting the end of days in mournful resignation that Spring would not return to save them this time. For without the snow there was nowhere to hide from Winter's freezing winds. Winds that forced even the brave to recoil.
Mounted astride her prowling white wolf, Winter surveyed the field of battle, the taste of victory almost upon her blue lips. She was visible only to the animals and they quaked as she passed but humans too felt her presence and were wary of her wrath. Like Medusa, she could freeze men with her gaze. Huddled safely around their fires in their cosy huts, and merry with ale, the Norse people called her 'Skadi' and sang about her past. Out in the open though, the trees were not concerned with her story. For she was still ruthless after all these years, and often set upon them at night while they were sleeping, their stubborn resistance broken in the darkness after too long spent on a futile front line without rations, without hope. The streams that had been their supply lines had long since stopped in mid flow. Even the lakes and rivers were beginning to succumb to Skadi's diabolical will. The fish below could only wait in the dark, the roof of their world encrusted with ice and even the air above was now threatened with frozen stasis. Not even the mighty oak trees could properly shield the hibernating creatures hidden below their boughs. Their branches looked solemnly at each other, as if questioning who might be the first to fall to the ground in surrender and open the way for Skadi to finally claim control of the earth over which they presided.
Along came the robin. A tiny minstrel sent to stir the troops, to remind them what they were holding out for. Hopping erratically from one gnarled root to another as she sang in the face of danger, spreading joy with her splash of bright red breast in a world without colour. Her tiny frame demanded protection, and being serenaded by her cheerful voice, none of the trees could remain sullen for long. After the timely arrival of Spring's first inspirational messenger, suddenly it was less difficult to notice the other signs of life in this barren realm. The snowdrop and the crocus were as oblivious to Skadi's blight as the robin. Exhilarated, the stronger trees renewed their oaths to stand firm until their children could spring up and eventually stand alone to take their place as guardians of the vale. From frozen souls to warmed hearts, there would always be love in this place.
Then it happened. The sun emerged more strongly than it had for a hundred mornings, spreading light across the land and turning the grey into sparkling white. A solitary Norseman stumbled out into the brightness, shielding his bleary eyes and marvelling at the wonderful scene that greeted him. He swallowed; his mouth was dry and his head was pounding from the hedonism of the night before. He pulled his fur coat tightly around his neck and strode out towards the stables, then suddenly stopped dead in his tracks. But it wasn't Skadi who had frozen him, it was something far more powerful.
Toby Newton - December 2012 (and published in July's Sync City magazine).