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The Saga of the Descent
This poem was written regarding a true event in modern times in the Old Icelandic Saga style of the 10th C. It commemorates the completion of a promise made to my grandfather after his death earlier this year.
Bersarker mourns loss as kinsman is passing.
Hella is called through blot
A deal is made, an easy passing for sacrifice
A challenge is accepted.
To the under-realm through the passage of death,
To Honour a bargain and kinsman,
To Honour Hella, Immortal Grandmother.
Who welcomes us all in the End, God and man alike.
The blot is complete and the bargain struck
Hella will have the trial as sacrifice and thanks
Bersarker prepares for death, mind body and soul.
Preparing for battle.
The Manni draws to full and dusk covers Midgard
Three maids of beauteous countenance
Sup with the Bersarker on this, what may be his final night
Such fair companionship belies the chaos in his breast.
Bersarker awaits the appointed time to begin his quest,
The maids sing the Seidh of unbinding to free Bersarker from past bonds
As fetters fall too through Galdor
The warrior free to face his wyrd.
Once again to rest do the maids and Bersarker return.
Jesting and making light while tense and pacing inside
Bersarker knows not what troubles may await
And worries that the Ulfneider has arrived not yet.
The Valkyerie comes to take the Bersarker to his doom,
And for a while awaits with the Maids.
Ulfneider too enters through the door ready to face this geas with Bersarker.
His Valkyerie stands too by his side.
Two Maids turn to leave,
The Third, that which should be,
Together, Bersarker, Ulfneider, Maid will fulfil the geas.
The Valkyeries lead the way for the Adventurers to enter the path of Helheim.
The Adventurers arrive
The entrance to the descent before them.
The way barred by thorns of steel sharp and twisted.
The final hurdle and first challenge to their quest.
Bersarker charges headlong,
Cloak in hand to confront the thorns which bar his way.
Ulfneider finds the easier path against the Thorns
And the wall of steel thorns and vines is defeated
The companions, Adventurers all,
Enter into the maw of the cavern
Blots are performed and offerings given.
There is only one way they can go with safe conduct or no.
Bersarker takes the point like a worm through an empty eye socket
He seeks the descent beyond.
The maid next comes forth, her light shining brightly.
Ulfneider watches the backs of all.
All must bow who enter Hella's realm as the companions must now.
Darkness and heat reaches out for all but the light of torches leads the way
The smell of dank decay assaults the Adventurers as they set to their task.
Reminding them that this is Deaths way.
Walls of old stone direct their journey as they move.
Enclosing and enfolding them.
Messengers from Helheim fly close to inspect the Adventurers
Then leave to report their movements.
Time and space distort in the darkness and enclosure
The tunnel seems never to end dark stone after dark stone.
The heat purges sweat and impurities from the companions
Breath becomes hard pressed
Bersarker charges ahead determined to clear the way
The Blade Jagdsport loose and ready should the need arise.
He notices the bats, messengers of this under-realm
And wonders who they inform of the progress made.
Bersarker, Maid and Ulfneider notice the blood like ooze
Flowing in from smaller paths left and right spilling onto the ground
Fresh and pink like blood from the lung joining the water becoming dark gore
Which they follow towards doom unknown.
The heat continues as the companions descend.
The passage becomes larger, or do they shrink.
Their way opens to a chamber and a choice must be made.
A larger void to the left to which the bloody ooze does flow.
Smaller void to the right of ancient stone.
The companions follow the Maids intuitive path.
To the left and their quest continues into tunnels
Smooth and corpse grey stone surrounds them
With the bloody ooze beneath their feet and showing their way.
Guardians and guides watch their passage,
Lizards well fed yet bones show through the skin.
Their way is shown by a guide scurrying along the floor
Until it must leave the way it came.
The companions continue on their adventure
Through the corpse grey veins of this underworld
Sounds echo and grow throwing voices unknown
To the ears of the Adventurers.
Ulfneider looses his Sax ready to engage
Bersarker places a hand to Jagdsport in anticipation.
Bersarker is both dreading and hoping for combat.
Lights appear and disappear, false torches.
But all turns to naught.
Enemies and foes exist not in this place except in the companions themselves.
Except the dangers all must face when such a quest begins
The sound of flooding water is heard from to path ahead.
Companions search for safety,
None there is to be found here in the veins of the underworld.
No howling winds and the flood come.
Yet the sound continues.
Bersarker moves towards the sound,
Investigating the disturbance that has halted the quest.
Fresh water, life from above spills to the floor
Mingling with the blood ooze.
The companions continue upon their quest
Light, true light glows in the distance.
It seems so close they can touch it yet disappears at a turn.
As the path became slick and the Bersarker fell.
Drenched from the waist Bersarker rose
Ulfneider laughed out-loud and the Maid shared a snigger.
Bersarker could not help but smile and warn
Of the dangers of the path..
At last Adventurers three reached towards the end of there quest.
Tools of those from long before lay propped against the wall
And from ahead hewn from living stone
The final passage to the light.
Jagged stone red and slick now faces the companions.
Water and ooze lies in puddles of deceptive depth.
Waiting to flow to the world beyond.
Noise here comes to the ears of the Adventurers.
The voices of the messengers of this underworld are thick in the air.
Their scent gives a pungent perfume to nostrils of the Companions.
A wyrm watches with yellow eyes from the cavern roof.
Curious yet annoyed at the distraction from the hunt.
Winged messengers, guides and guardians await above
Watching and talking in noisy clusters as the companions observe from below.
Ulfneider nearly baths in their golden rays as he negotiates their passing.
The Maid walks as an Elf lightly upon the rock.
The time comes to honour the kinsman now past
Adopted of Bersarkers clan and loved as kin and mentor.
The Maid offers her respect in ways unknown to one never met
As does Ulfneider as a warrior should.
Respects paid the Adventurers now move on
Their way to life above seen once more.
Fortress lights reflect on the river outside.
As the wanderers escape the dragons dark maw.
The final test lay in their escape,
Slick and treacherous the walls resisted being breached
To the rivers welcoming arms the companions were forced.
Till a foot-hold was gained and they returned to the realm above.
A moment is taken to collect their thoughts
A smoke is shared by all.
Then to the Hearth they return to warm wet bodies
And recount tales.
Copyright 2003 by Cullyn Ullrson. All rights reserved.
DayPoems Poem No. 2350
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