Where They Disappear, Hungry Cannibals


The gods ate their children,
from the underworld to the height of the sky
Chronos, like a griffon, giant in blue steel
quiet as a childhood dream and cold as the whisper of death
(putting the devil-turned-coin in thy pocket near the cross),
and while the Greek papyri scarcely go beyond Salome’s laughter.

O this beautiful male born of demon king Ravana,
raise thyself, dimensions, visions…
silver through strange patterns of the deeper argent,
carne vale (Eng. here’s meat).

Samhain is here, the life of Sylla while dying they cut their hair,
the paperwork of death her presence seen;
eternally lost children for the monsters that greeted them,
a world that has flown backwards,
the illusoriness of what it requires,
ephemeral ways to get closer to ambiguities,
all the fires extinguished in the hearths,
all the dead who believe they are coming into this world lives equally,
all Irish legends and darkened blacksmiths,
toys are in the palm of the Chronos,
where witches go riding into which holes they go,
from the bales of fear my private lunatic changes me.
Where they disappear, hungry cannibals,
banished in defeat by the hands of their children including Zeus
to Tartarus in the underworld.

CATS, theatre play, CHARACTERS acca Dramatis personae, Scene 1


CHARACTERS acca Dramatis personae

Living Beings:

ŽELJKO: The Butcher. He is about 40-year-old

JANA: high school girl.  Željko’s daughter, 17-year-old

SRĐAN: a driver, contractor, delayed student, his mental age is still that of a 17-year-old, but he is now 30-years-old

DRAGUTIN:  Jana’s history teacher, about 50-year-old

IKONIJA: A computer expert and a clever astrologer. She keeps her ages a secret.

Sphere Spiriticus Beings:

SAINT PETER: a head of the Eden Administration, Combatant versus Evil Forces. Under his leadership, Eden has boomed economically.

EMANUEL: a hell of the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx. a latent kleptomaniac

THE HOLY PARAMORE: A saint, Protector of expectant mothers as well as a feminist

LILITH, a fallen angelina

ALMIGHTY, also known as El, Creator of Heaven, Earth and Hell, blessed be he

LUCIFER, the infamous ruler of Hell.

 

CATS – Ghosts or ancestral spirits (Disguised actors)

SAINT JOAN OF ARC,  also known as The Runaway Of Paradise

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, famous French military leader of blessed memory. A firestarter. He sets fire to the Hell, regularly, as a memorial to The Battle of Borodino

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE: famous English poet, playwright and actor, of blessed memory, in mourning for his son, Hamet, who passed away too soon.

MARY TUDOR usually appears to drunkards as Bloody Mary

VOICES:

Voice Of Almighty

Voice of Lucifer acca Bad Man With a Forktail

poto__ferryman_of_river_styx_by_cocokat-d39vaen.png

SCENE 1

RIVER STYX

(The stage is illuminated by the spooky light. An apparition like the Commendatore of Mozart’s Don Giovanni is placing coins in the mouth of a dead,  simultaneously taking cash from spectres, surrounded by phantasms and grotesques)  

Grotesque: Am I at the centre of the underworld?

the Commendatore: You don’t have to look no further. This here is a swamp, which sometimes is also called the River Styx.

Grotesque: I was told to take a boat that crosses the Styx rivers.  Ask the psychopomp to guide you across the rivers Styx, Acheron…

the Commendatore: (interrupting Grotesque mid-sentence) You have to pay me to take you! Or you could get stuck on the shore.

Grotesque: Fair enough. Take your coin.

the Commendatore: Your money’ s no good here.  We don’t take nor obols, nor checks. Euros only.

Grotesque: You took my intention the wrong way.  I want you to take me back to the place I was before. Could you tell me how much this would cost?

the Commendatore: Too much to receive a payment in a currency you don’t hold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleeping Mathilde, Chapter Three, The Shaitan Horse (complete)


With this chapter, titled “The Shaitan Horse”, I will temporarily pause sharing the material from the book of Mathilde which is currently being translated. I hope that the introductory passages piqued your interest. Mathilde will soon be available on Amazon. You will be notified in due time. Thank you for reading.

PREVIOUS CHAPTERS:

Sleeping Mathilde, Chapter One, A TALE OF ORIAN VON AMERONGEN

Sleeping Mathilde, Chapter Two, THE HÄSSE CASTLE

The Shaitan Horse

“It’s hard to maintain friendships under the steep mountains whose sklents they spread like Icarus spreads his wings towards the icy sun in an attempt to touch the gods. Sun-scorched tops delve deep into the soul of the locals of Norrbotten. It’s hard to maintain friendships, because the abyss is indestructible here. Sven Olof, on the other side of Norrbotten, did not fear the trip. His name was described with a wondrous strength of myth.

“As he was riding on his horse across the slope with no discernible fear of any kind, hoarfrost covered the sven’s eyelashes. Cold shades danced on his cheeks long ago burned by the Norrbotten sun. He got off his horse and observed with his beady eyes the eternal chill of Hornavan.

“When I saw him, I left the solar running, crossed bridges that connected the towers, all the way up to the watchtower where I could see him swing under the swipes of the winds. It appeared as if he were supported by the light piercing through his massive body. He turned his face towards me and gave a wide grin, exuding all of his beauty, to me unbearably all too familiar, a mixture of fear and impending doom. We were looking at each other like two misbehaving boys after a dangerous game which they weren’t caught for, sensing Lindworm’s tongue standing between us like a beast, and the Fjalar hill behind it as well as the abyss whose bottom was paved with the crystals of winter. I was looking at the cracked eternal darkness of ice and felt like Olof was included in my thoughts as well. He removed his gloves and looked at me, mouth agape like with a skinned fox.

“He wore a black silk shirt with a laced collar and sleeves covered in multicolor tapes, a velvet robe and a huge cloak which cast even darker shadows on his already darkened face.

“I had rough wool trousers on. Boots, with rolled up top edge, reached up to my knees. Beneath a fine leather tunic, with corduroy edges and embroidered crosses of silk, peeped a collarless linen shirt. I wore an earring made of darkened silver, and a signet ring with a lion paw engraved on it on my hand.”

Orian lifted his hand and had a good long look into the distance. He memorized every detail. He dipped the quill in the inkwell and continued:

“In the inner yard of the castle we were smitten by a gaze of a female eye. It was my beloved wife Mathilde. Beneath the fine smooth plush dress one could make out the cotton and silk edges embroidered with a silver wire. She had a leather hat adorned with pearls on her head. The see-through organdy scarf floated above her head like a halo, and fell back all the way down to her slim waist. A silver filigree earrings with dark river pearls shaped like tears gave her face a particular beauty.

“Mathilde and Olof’s eyes crossed paths. It was then that I felt all the weight of an unclear feeling smoldering within me like an unspoken suspicion and a secret unrest during every single visit of Olaf to the castle. That force of feelings can only be triggered by an injured self-love. Rage grew within me. A cold, suppressed rage. Why was I being silent? Did Olof rule over me with the shackles of friendship?

horse

“I pushed the servant away and took Olof’s horse to the stables. Sunlight was following me and casting hot flames onto the unlucky face of the one who neither loved nor was loved. I pulled the horse with one hand. The wind was an enemy to me, a fierce companion who scooped up lumps of earth and with its icy breath threw it in my face.

“I pulled on the reins. The horse revved and tried to pull away. I opened the stable door and drove him into the box stall.

“What exactlt did I see?

“A muffled, female laughter in the background. It was Mathilde thinking Olaf’s remark to be humorous.

“No, no doubt that he wants her! I am aware of the fact that this is the last time I’m talking about this, about the misunderstanding, about the kisses that didn’t happen. My gut feels wrinkled up… I heard a murmur and steps of serfs who started genuflecting to Olof. He, as if in his own castle, started walking up the paved trail bounded by oak trees with light steps towards the mistress of the castle, towards Mathilde.

“I made my way to the castle entrance. The vile suspicion burned in my heart threatening to crush me.

“A vast room of magical beauty stretched well into the castle. It had been an enormous chamber magically lighted by thickly arranged torches. Above the entrance there was a richly done façade with a big window shaped like a horseshoe (a gift from an Indian architect whom I had killed for a bad joke at the dinner table, or for the remark that we serve tasteless meals in Hässe, I’m not sure). Down the hall stretched a row of chambers which flowed one into another. The solar could be reached via stairs from each of them or via the porches and terraces built in the Oriental style, right into the lavish garden of Hässe.

“From a gelded, richly adorned throne, set at the bottom end of the hall, I would stare at the pane, resting my nude feet on the stone statue of a prostrate lion with a human head. Befitting my dark being’s tastes, the imposing ceiling, supported by a forest of columns, was adorned with complex, dark frescoes. Gigantic tapestries warmed the cruel stone walls. The castle floor, Greek style, was adorned with black and white pebblestone mosaics, and if the observer would take a good detailed look at the painting, he would notice the many-eyed Argus, the All-seeing, surrounded by wolves with their maws agape. My eye did not miss a single solitary detail. It was the temple of my curse, carved in the living flesh of Hässe. My inner being, my soul, whichever you prefer.

“I chiseled the sweet venom of battle into the walls. I invested a lot into paintings. The fresco above the very entrance of the Hall (this was my pet name for the enormous hall of Hässe, a rare architectural jewel in an eerie wasteland of the surrounding nature) was presenting a head of, one would say, a beautiful woman. Eyes full of fright and tears were chiseled into her visage. Opposite to her, at the very end of the Grand hall, the fresco above the throne was presenting the merciful eyes of a man, who bore a scepter in his hand. The fresco was hiding a secret passageway, and the passage hid – mortuary statues. I would often open the secret door as the nobles were engulfed in merriment during feasts, followed by the merry music of the manor minstrel.

“’Master Olof’– I nervously paced the Hall – ‘I do not recall ever taking you to see the castle. My servants have covered the floors with a new material’ – I grinned like a wolf, nonchalantly toying with the silver earring in my ear. I was tapping on the floor with my boot, giving the terror a beat. – ‘Approach the throne, master Olof’ – the boot tapping increased. Olof’s gaze paused with admiration on the walls which were adorned here and there with gelded carvings and unavoidable arabesques.

“’Come with me and see the castle, my friend. Delve into my soul, and then we feast’ – I approached him and put my arm around his shoulder. I caught Olof’s gaze directed at Mathilde’s cross which hung from the stained glass. – ‘You are impressed by the cameos of the pious Mathilde of Essen? I brought it from Cologne as a gift to my god-fearing lady.’

“’Fascinating…’ – Olof mumbled. – ‘Really… you built a shrine in the castle, master Orian. Your care for the proper upbringing of lady Mathilde is touching almost as the care for her soul. I thought you would corrupt her with your gods.’

“I looked at him with bloodlust in my eyes, but I did not erase the wolfish smile off my face, quite the contrary, I grinned all the harder.

“’You see, Olof… The architecture I am inclined to lately is a strict and monumental one. Vast wall structures are without a single opening. Soon I will wall off all those tiny light windows through which you’re looking.’

“He gave me a funny look. ‘By the by, where is thy lady? She was here a moment ago’ – he took a good long look around him. She was here all along, right next to the two of us, silent like a shadow, peaceful like a sword resting in the sheathe. She seemed as if she were suppressing laughter.

“A frightening silence suddenly fell upon the castle.

“’Approach, Olaf!’, I yelled for a serf. His shoulders shivered.

“’Here I come to my master to obey his command!’, he dared not look at me.

“’You see, Olof, how faithful my serf Olaf is to me? If the king would weep, he would weep along with him. If the king died, there Olaf would be howling for him, such is the love of serflings of Hässe to its ruler. Is this not so?’, I embraced my serf. His lips were quivering, and teeth aclatter. ‘I re-reckon it’s cuh-cold, Guard, let me get the fire going.’

“’I want you to take us through the secret door’, I gave off a bloodlust-laden grin and took a good long look at the hump under his tunic. ‘Look at him, Olof. Is he not like a statue which speaks? Good old Roman Pasquino , a damaged sculpture, of course, but well spoken, because when it hears the vile tongues say ‘Even Amerongen can’t reign forever’ – a prideful look on his face – Olaf would cuss and say ‘Let me find the coward in the shadows! And if I don’t find him, you, master, will blow into him the icy breath of death and the bastard will fall only because he wanted my master to die.’’

“Olof raised his eyebrows and said ‘Incredible.’

“’Brave lad’ – I patted the serf on the hump under the tunic which stuck out a bit crookedly. ‘You do not fear the secret door?’

“Olaf rose the steel chin to me, grinned and revealed a severe lack of dentures: ‘I am loyal, milord. My name is Olaf and all live long day I eat and drink profusely and in the name of my prince I would…’ He was deep in thought for a while. I waited patiently enjoying the whole thing. Something almost like a thought sparked in his pupil. ‘I can do this. I can go through the secret door. I will be the guide. I have heard that master Olof is going sightseeing.’

“’And if the doors are sealed?’, I laughed.

“’I will knock them down with my head.’

“’Is he an idiot?’ Olof giggled pointing to the wee hunchback. Olaf laughed with him, and his whole face went dark. He clenched his fists. ‘I will crush the door, here…with these hands!’

“’I actually believe you…’ – I paid no heed to Olof’s jab – ‘Peace be upon the kingdom, Olaf.’

”’Long live my prince’, Olaf lowered his gaze and knelt before me.

“Olof coughed uninterestedly, while strength raged within me.

“’Come with me…’, I took a few large steps and stood in front of the secret door

“’I don’t see how we can pass.’ – Olof wondered. – ‘Perhaps…’

“’Quiet,’ I frowned. ‘I wanted to show you this.’

“I stood on a precisely marked spot, which was the Eye of Argus on the mosaic, and used my weight to start up the secret mechanism. The door squeaked creepily, rising upward, while Olof stood in tense expectation – what is on the other side?

“His astounded facial expression amused me. He hesitated for a moment or two, and then carefully came after me along the tight pass. He was in the state of complete horror, while we crawled by grotesque gravestones. Soon we arrived at a big room whose stone walls were adorned with a low, narrative relief, similar to Assyrian ones.

“There was little to no furniture in the room. Two chairs and an oaken table colored red took up the middle of the room. The table was covered in a pile of parchments and unusual object, one of which was my fancy – shaped by the hands of Mathilde – a miniature replica of the Kraken. The rest of the furniture was colored green, with a figure of a three-headed dragon Buné engraved onto it, as were many other pagan symbols. A fresco was on the wall above the fireplace, a fresco which, according to my instructions, was made by Mathilde. It was an all-black monstrosity, a smirk on her face gnawed to the bone, my protector Yambe-Akka, the angel of death.

“Not paying attention to an astonished and terrified Olof, in a knightly stance I knelt before her horrific visage.
Heed my prayer, Yambe-Akka

Habituate my eyes to the blade of vengeance

Let me hold it in my hand

Let my hand not quiver when vengeance recognizes the cause!

Let the bowels howl in fear, bowels of all those

Who wanted you unmade from your way!

 

“I got up unladen, breaking the silence reinforced by Olof being quiet.

“’Impressive, no?’, I said self-lovingly.

Olof shook from unease, and his face wrinkled.

“’I come here to enjoy myself… The room is full of objects which bring me peace’ – I paused – ‘There are all sorts of things here, from Iram, Ubar[1]…’- as I was saying this, I picked up a crooked J-shaped sword from the table, “a cursed Arabian knife”, a gift from Ubar. ‘Whomsoever has it in his hand, he must…’, I looked at Olof, and his eyes were aflame bloody-red.

“’My friend, I see that my dark humor upsets your soul. I’m afraid that I must stop doing that. You’ll lose your appetite,’ I mercifully added and pointed to the direction of the spiral staircase.

“’They lead all the way to the balcony, and from there on…you’ll see…’

“’You surprise me in a horrific way, Orian…Let’s go…’, Olof added nervously. And so, over the balcony, we found ourselves in a hallway, adorned with numerous columns. The end of the hallway was crowned by an arch, made in an Arabic style.

“’Down the hallway, keep going straight, you will reach Mathilde’s solar’, I said wickedly.

“’Let’s go back’, Olof felt uncomfortable.

“’My solar is on the opposite side. We can visit it as well?’

“Our conversation was suddenly cut off by a female voice. ‘Hässe, including the secret passageways, has at least fifty-two rooms. It is a monumental complex, master Olof…’

“When he looked at her, light jolted in his eyes. I was looking at him grimly.

entrance

“‘Come along, with the second staircase, Master Olof. Orian has shown you his favorite spot in the wall. And now we dine.’ Olof obediently followed Mathilde.

“We were back in the Main hall. Mathilde moved away from us, decisively walking towards my throne, and sat on it!”

“Orian set aside his quill, stood from his table and walked along the solar, trying to gather his thoughts. – No, that’s not how it happened, it really wasn’t! Mathilde’s throne was right next to mine. The Evesham craftsmen made a throne for the queen… – He roamed around the room like a ghoul, distraught – I must say it all the way it was. I will glue the truth to this parchment like sweat…But – he looked over his shoulder – if I pour my soul into a horrific description, I swear… – Orian returned to the table and wrote this sentence, saying it out loud.

“…I swear that I will pull the rust out of its roots. Mathilde did not sit on my throne, but her own. And I did not managed to show the damned man the corpses behind the secret wall. Actually, those were no longer even corpses, but bones that are swarming in worms in the honor of the gods for a long time…too long. And maybe this is all just make-believe, maybe I killed no man. And if this is too tight of a space to pour my pathetic spirit onto it, may the readers of upcoming centuries forgive me, I am not well versed in the quill, eh, what can you do…“

The story became too hard for Orian for a moment so he took one more stroll around the solar. – I am a walker along the dungeon, tomb, megaron[2] of the pitiful…

tumblr_inline_mpj30ytbwv1qz4rgp

And he wrote:

“I feel like describing Mathilde’s solar. I knew how it looked down to the last detail, thanks to the network of spies which I crafted in secrecy. It was her membrane, her hiding place from the rot which she would shut herself in for months in order to avoid my demonic advances. This pathetic fool Olof could not understand such a concession to a woman.

“The solar ceiling was reinforced with wooden beams, while the floor was made of red polished marble. Stone walls were covered with lavish tapestries adorned with horizontal geometric and herbal ornaments, encircled with a green Viking braid and the warrior woman Atalanta[3] as its central composition. Silk pillows were carelessly tossed all over the floor.

“A fine carved wooden writing table with legs made of minted iron, next to which was the statue of Bastet[4], was placed under the painting with a gelded wooden frame. Next to the inkwell, on the table, were also a short sword, a pile of parchments and a silver candelabra. A simple chair with a green and white back reminded one of the chair in the chapel of chaplain Larsen. In the corner of the solar in a chest reinforced by minted iron wedges she kept her private-most things. Above the chest was a tilted whole length mirror, where she could look at herself from every angle.

“On the wall across the canopy bed Mathilde brought her frescos over from her solar in Regenstein – it was a sea of body, of female flesh where her gaze would most often lose itself. The solar also contained a dining room (with wooden cupboards containing cups, pots and teapots), a wooden chair with a kitchen scale, a turquoise salt shaker and silverware, a fireplace, before which there stood a wooden chair with a skin-sheeted back where she performed her morning dress-up.

“Once while resting from my presence, she would go back to her solar more wonderful and adorable than ever, saying ‘Oh, how good the solitude feels.’ This is how I courted her heart, because my absence made her happy. As a return favor, she would grant me two nights with her as compensation. Those nights would drain her like a serious disease. Still, she would remain with me in the castle, in my solar, until the latest escape.”

– I am not pleased with this. I’m tired, like a dry log, weak. But the fog is slowly sliding away from my mind and the veil parts from my all too tired eyes. I remember every detail, in spite of insanity and oblivion – Orian Amerongen said out loud and continued his tale with in tune, confident swings of the quill.

“We spent the afternoon in light conversation. The hall was bathed in sunrays. A tall table, akin to a stand with legs, covered in linen cloth was packed with food served in dishes of silver. I sat next to Olof, on a wooden bench, while Mathilde cozied herself into the chair sheeted in deer hide, adorned with lion heads on its arms. She was of cold bearing and an icy smile. I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself during the dull prattle of Olof which lasted for several hours of his namesake grandfather’s heroics. He spun the dislocated version of the legend of Jerusalem, of my ancestor Hjalmar the Bloody, which was, simply put due to Hjalmar’s illiteracy, written down by the chaplain Larsen.

“’Chaplain’s fancies’, I waved it off, using the opportunity and said: ‘Impressive, master Olof, but I would rather dash towards the throne in order to have some fun.’

“‘Fun? Are you bored in the company of your lovely lady, my friend? Does the tale of our ancestor’s wars and their unending friendship not make you happy?’, he looked me dully and asked how will I entertain myself to which I mercifully replied: ‘I will stare into the pane.’

“I got up from the table, sat at my throne and…fell asleep on the spot. I have no idea how long I was napping on it, but when I awoke, I jumped from it horrified, staring at the darkness filled with candlelight. They were burning with strength, passion. I slept of the next few hours.

“I lifted the chainmail collar, wanting to cover the redness of my cheeks which pointed to tumultuous feelings, because I had found my wife and my friend in an intimate conversation.

“Icy suffering covered my face.

“’Enjoying yourself, Olof?’, I sat back at the table. Olaf the serf brought the candles, approached the fireplace and reignited the fire. I observed the hump under his tunic.

“’Indeed! Do divulge the secret of this mead’, Olof said, turning to Mathilde, ‘We do not have wine like this on the south!’

“’If I am not mistaken, during your last visit you said that you have land in Toulouse as well, right?’, Mathilde spoke coquettishly.

“’You can come to the south as well…the south of Norland, I mean…’ his words were ringing in my ears. It was a confusing scene. During the conversation he cursorly followed my game. His eyes glistened. He barely took his eyes away from the sword which, had I unsheathed it, would have cast a bright light all around.

“’What do you do when boredom assails you, my lord?’, she continued. I reproachfully looked at her. She did not look back.

“A horse revved in the distance. A howl of wind broke out. I waved my hand off wishing to drive off the howl. Both looked at me in surprise.

“’What is this foolishness you exhibit?’, it was her turn to be reproachful, signaling this with her eyes.”

[1] Historical lost cities

[2] Hallways in Greek temples

[3] A Greek heroine

[4] Bastet, a cat-goddess of Ancient Egypt, solar deity and goddess of war

 

 

Sleeping Mathilde, Chapter Two, THE HÄSSE CASTLE


Sleeping Mathilde, Chapter One

 

Sleeping Mathilde, Chapter Two, THE HÄSSE CASTLE

 

“In order for you not to take my manuscript as an excessively modest gift, I must tell you more of the Hässe castle.

“Beyond distant clouds, on the moist ground of Norrbotten, there was the Og lake, speckled with tiny islets. On the Naki island, closest to the coast, the Hässe castle sprouted and grew.

“Once, when I was returning from a campaign, over the frostbitten hill, I saw a castle in the distance, towers which, akin to dancing topaz-color-caped silhouettes, were holding a pierced, pale human being on the tips of their spears. The castle reflected me. That being had been me.

“The road was winding along the hill by the coast, flowing into the bridge which tore the sky asunder reaching for the hilly islet of Naki.

“The stone-cold road not unmade by salt, flimsy and steep, was swallowing the travelers from the North tumbling them down the sharp skin of the Fjalar hill or casting them, wind-bound, in the icy grotto of Hornavan, where their deafening screams could be heard from.

“The travelers who would survive Fjalar would pause in front of Lindworm’s tongue with bulging eyes and mouths-a-shiver, they would turn their horses back and fled meeting the sky herald Gná. The braver ones, clenching the reins, would continue walking towards the abyss of Hornavan. The road was encircled by the desolate surfaces of lakes, as unreachable as whirlwinds, crowned with the snowy soil of Norrbotten, and only in certain places with pine and birch trees dipped in hoarfrost.

“The marble carpet lead to the main gate of the Hässe castle (piercing through a vivid garden, a kind of garden few can boast to possess in this part of the world), over which, branching out, the bridges were connecting the tall towers, therefore I could have entered any part of the castle from the main tower without descending down into the garden.

“There was many a varied seed in the garden, from the date palm which my ancestors brought from the Middle East during the Crusades, to the lilies, hyacinths and other, exotic plants unfamiliar to the climate of Norrbotten. The enchanted seed of death was handled by the gardener woman Hilde, known to me for her conversing with Vidar embodied in the greenery and the woodlands. From the God of the Forests she drew her magic and poured it onto the flowers which had no place in this lifeless land. When death is tangled with life and the course of nature changes, the root unleashes the power of the venom deep, changing the essence of the soil. Both the land and the men have venom sprout from within them. The seed of death revivifies. Creating upside-down tulips which adorn my home, and which Hilde kept warm day and night, stoking the fire in enormous kettles.

“On the double leaf oaken gates which hid away the entrance to the main fort, there was, painted in golden strings, the crest of the brave and gluttonous house – a lion’s paw. It could also have been found on blue banners which were waiving born by the wind up high on the Hässe towers, grasping for the heavens. The windows were guarded by marble manticores, born in the early days of Hässe, threatening with their sharp stings soaked in rainwater.

“When the Lindworm swallows the newcomer, it shows them the ghastly yard in front of the castle. Upon entering the main gate guarded by the maw of the Lindworm, the traveler would note the beaten pathway that leads into the yard and the stalls in the very center of Hässe.

hasse

“The road, vaulted by guard towers speckled in guardsmen, lead to the altar and reeked of cow entrails. The altar, above which the tall defense towers of Hässe lorded over, lay on the dry land, tucked into deerskin and adorned with raven skeletons. In the middle of the altar there was a platter with the pre-read, rotting entrails. ’They feed the vultures of darkness’, I would often personally explain it away to a visitor of my empire who shivered in fear and to whom the dread crawled up the spine… The altar, inflamed in cypress and sandalwood from which the messages meant for the Goddess of Death were smoking, was lined with cracked skulls of those who did not bow. The stone thighs of the altar were sprinkled with blood, some of it animal, some of it human.

“The ritual usually took place at night, when the holy Altar burned ghostly in the middle of the yard. Around it would dance, covered in blood, nude witches, keepers of the scourge. They had in long, thick, blonde hair onyx crystals or raven feathers entwined within them. The head-priestess  would wear a crown of deer antlers. The witches, while chanting a mantra, would dispense soil from the graves around the altar.

‘Oh, Yambe-Akka, all that we offer may now be thine

And no man else’s

Oh Yambe, Goddess of the Underworld, take this gift,

Offer him to your peasant spouse, the God of Death,

So it may be his and no man else’s!’

“Thus the three beautiful witches would chant until they fell to the ground in ecstasy. Then I would approach them, cloaked as if in a pupa, surrounded by a procession of swarthy torchbearers and claimed them, upon which the ritual continued; the tribute would be brought over, completely nude, from the lower chambers, the torture chambers – it is their blood I would drink upon the ritual’s conclusion. Oftentimes I would, when in shortage of manpower and the fear which paced ahead of me like a shade, drink up horse blood in honor of Yambe-Akka.

“ ’Oh Yambe-Akka, let me behold the cruel patterns of the past and the future.’

“ ‘Oh, Yambe-Akka, do not let the premonitions dry up!’, I would utter in an official tone of voice, raising my scepter with both hands. After I had had my fill of the meat, I would take a sharp athame in my hand, doused in blood. Upon the palm of the victim I would personally carve the hagalaz rune, and the Goddess would snatch away the dried away, dead bodies, storing them in the chest of gifts. The vultures of darkness would then disperse on the sky of Norrbotten, chased away by the spirit of the Goddess…

“’’The blade was laid in the carved bone which might have once been an arm of a faithful servant’ – I would tap the traveler on his shoulder – ‘and the altar, an ancient image of divinity’ – I would proudly point towards the extinct altar – ‘will speak the tongue of bones tonight’. Bone-chilling words I would direct at a wealthier yeoman or a more ambitious Brit, who would come as was his duty, quivering like a leaf, to bow down to me and ask for my blessing.

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“The stranger who made his way to Hässe would get a pitcher of wine and a place at the stables to spend the night. I would often, if they hadn’t been of noble birth or ilk, convert them to servants. The nobles received all the comfort of this home and its glimmering guest hall, where they would dine along the tune of the lutes. There had also been the undefeatable ones, who were met with whipping to the death, oftentimes torn limb from limb tied to four horses, and other types of torture which I was coming up with while drinking up the blood-red wine at the dinner table. I would inject vinegar in noblemen’s bodies by means of needles, I tightened their limbs, poured hot tar on them, and from time to time I would toss them in the jail-cells atop the tower where they would die of hunger. Fear of others and their complete despair, oftentimes madness as well, filled me with lechery. The rotten road I walked along, as a man who had within himself made a pact with nature, as well as savagery, stretched onward into infinity. And still the travelers, in a maniacal run, would come to the doorstep of the richest sven, bearing gifts to the master so that he could protect him from vile natures of his subjects and himself.

“Of my rage I could speak a multitude, of the true tendon of evil, the shade of accrete sensuality within my infected blood.

“Thoughts of human nature occupy my mind until the late hours of the night when my thinking faculties wane, up until the early morn when they spark up anew: how much fealty did I really accrue, and how much am I actually bound by fear of the vindicators’ wrath? To what extent had I become the Supreme deviser of the horrific power which always emerges from the blackest night in all of this? I ended the invasion of conscience with bloody campaigns and have thus removed her permanently. It was a shameful act which ate away at me. From my bloody dreams I was woken by the raw explosion in my heart of all the memories of the murders committed. I held them, crucified in my chest, with an occasional squeal of conscience which erased the breath that followed. Understanding the transience of the soul and the motion of time through the howl of the wind, which reached the very distant tops of Norrbotten shackled in eternal ice like an echo, I yearned for eternity, and it had been the light of my dwellings and my cruelty, and because of which I had eventually lost my wits. I had been hot-tempered. Perhaps insane. But, I had been a lord.”