Saturday, January 16, 2016

Suggestion Box, Vol. 3: "One Thousand Words" List #25

Suggested by: Me

The List:
-Hjordir Falkborg
-Autumn Equinox
-Living Room
-Signet Ring

The Result:
"The Viking and The Lore-Master"
("Soul Mates" Part 9/"Serenity's Light" Part 4)
"Agnes! There's a body back here!"

Kenneth crashed through the bushes and knelt by the unconscious form. He wore a wool tunic under a leather jerkin, and a heavy wool cloak. He had thick stubble over his chin and the makings of a large goose egg forming on his head. Whatever had happened, it had been recent. 
Standing so close to him, too, as Nakoma and Agnes crossed the yard, Kenneth realized several things: the body reeked of dirt, sweat, and complete lack of personal hygiene; he was very tall and likely extremely heavy—and he was still alive.

"Good heavens!" Cried Agnes. "Where did he come from?"
Kenneth nodded to the fairy-bells that had been crushed by the man's fall. "My guess is he came through the Rift."
"But—but he's not Fae!" The old woman spluttered, fingering her earrings.
Kenneth shrugged, "Well, we can figure out where he came from when we get him inside the house, right?"
Agnes sighed, and Kenneth read in her expression that her duties as Guardian-cum-Hostess of Fairy Rift was turning out to be more than she bargained for. 
"Fine," she murmured.

In the end, Kenneth finally heaved the body of the man much taller than he over the back door threshold and up onto the couch in the living room, where Agnes and Nakoma had spread an old bedsheet Agnes didn't mind staining with dirt and blood. They wiped away most of it from the face and hands, and endeavored to get the dirty outer garments off, at least. 

Once done, Kenneth stepped back to survey their victim, observing the intricate, primitive tattoos on his chest and shoulder, and the rough, tribal haircut. He also had many scars, but in groups of threes, more reminiscent of an animal attack than a battle among people.
"Likely early Scandinavian," he mused. "Maybe Viking."
"Viking?" Agnes muttered. "You're telling me the Rift allows time travel now?"
Nakoma leaned close and sniffed the man's hand. "Has been in Duirfin Forest," she concluded. "Many portals to other realms and to history from there."
"So..." Kenneth mused, "Somehow a Viking from the Middle Ages found his way to a portal leading to a tiny island off the Irish coast and wound up in modern-day New York—" His eye fell on the signet ring as Nakoma dropped the hand. "Wait, I know that symbol," he said, examining the raised markings and loops etched into the metal. He stepped over to the computer and began searching the Internet. "Let's see—what was the name of that... There it is!" He clicked on the link, while Agnes came up behind him to watch. The crest at the top of the article was a perfect match for the ring worn by the mysterious Viking. 
"No way!" Kenneth breathed.
"What is it?" Asked Agnes.
Kenneth turned to stare at their unexpected guest with wide eyes. "The crest he wears belongs to a tribe that all but died out: the Falkborg clan. Typically tribes took care to keep meticulous records of their histories, but this one seemingly vanished after they rose to prominence near the end of the sixteenth century." He stared at the burly man sprawled on the couch. "And we have one of the clansmen right here with us!" He grinned.

Just then, the Viking stirred. The man's face twitched as he regained consciousness. Kenneth, Agnes, and Nakoma all tensed, wondering what he would be like when he awoke. The brow wrinkled and smoothed a few times before the eyes opened in a series of slow, squinting blinks.
The Viking stared around warily, not daring to move as he tried to make sense of his surroundings. His eyes moved from the plaster ceiling to the wood (and not-wood) furniture, the carpet, and finally to the three people (assuming that the small one was a person) watching him expectantly. He went to take a breath, but his throat was too dry. He could not utter a word, but gestured to his neck. 
The old woman nodded and shuffled away, leaving him with the man and the short one. The man pulled one of the strange stools over and sat upon it. The woman returned with clear water in a clear vial. The taste was sweet upon his tongue.
"Hello," the man said in the Viking's own tongue.
"Where am I?" asked the Viking. "Have I traveled to another fairy realm?"
The man frowned and glanced at the short one. The Viking deduced it was female, by the sound of her voice as she and the man conferred in another language. Finally, the man nodded.
"Thou art in Earth still," the man said. "But many age after. I am named Kenneth. She is named Nakoma. And is thy name?"
His name... The Viking frowned. He glanced at his hands, wondering how a man could forget his name and wake up in another time. He wore his clan's signet ring, but what—
Something tickled at his mind, and the Viking looked up as Kenneth pointed to the ring again. "Clan Falkborg?"
The Viking took a breath. "Yes," he said. "Falkborg is my clan. My father Hjordir gave me this ring. He is the clan leader, and had intended that I be  I am Jens Hjordisson." There! Jens felt relief in the midst of the most confusing moment of his life. His name have him a tether to cling to, some semblance of security when he could fathom nothing else in the world.
"Jens Hjordisson," said Kenneth. "Whence came you?"
Jens wagged his head. "I cannot say. All that I know, I have gained only since I awoke here and now. What is the name of this place, and what time, if indeed it is Earth?"
He waited while Nakoma translated the parts that Kenneth did not know. Evidently, the man only knew a very formalized form of the Norse dialect, so Jens' conversational vocabulary escaped him.
Finally, the answer came, "It is a place called New York, and the age has passed two thousand and fifteen years." 
While the Viking vainly attempted to digest this profound revelation, Kenneth stared at Jens again, asking Nakoma a question. She answered him, and he pointed to Jens' exposed chest.
"Whence came the scars? Some animal attacked? Perhaps more than one?"
Kenneth pointed to the still-pink scars, and Jens felt the gesture brush against his skin, as if Kenneth had actually touched him, when the man was still several inches away. 
A snarl echoed in the Viking's ears, and the attack of the wolf pack returned... But why had they not killed him? How had he survived? Someone had been there—perhaps she had... No!
Jens gasped as the skin in the palm of his hand stung. He grabbed his wrist and grit his teeth against the cold metal bite of the memory on his skin. 
Kenneth leaned forward with a face full of concern. "What is it?"
"I... The wolves... The forest... They attacked—" As Kenneth drew closer, Jens realized the memories were getting stronger. He leaned in, as if trying to see past the shadows in his mind. 
"I found a cursed crown on the night of the Autumnal Equinox Festival, Mabon. The note said that it bestowed eternal life on whomever touched it. A pack of wolves attacked me and I survived. A woman came to me, and told me of three relics, she sent me through a portal into a fairy world, and there I encountered a Fae with a sword, and when I went through another portal and found a man who carried an enchanted necklace—"
Excitement burned in Kenneth's face. "Yes? The necklace, what power did it have?"
Jens opened his mouth to answer, but his mind remained blank. All moments leading up to it had become crystal clear, down to the taste of the ale he had drunk after beating the Spaniard—but the fate of the necklace, and indeed the other relics, remained a mystery.
"That I do not know," he answered Kenneth. "I could not even tell you what it looked like."
Kenneth still stared at him strangely. "Perhaps that is its power, then?" He asked quietly. "A necklace that can restore memory—and take it away." He looked very sad at this last idea.
Jens searched his newly-restored memory for anything that could help the man who had just saved his life. "The woman who told me of the relics, she said they could never be separated for long, they would always find each other. She said I would need to find..." His voice faded as he saw that Kenneth was only following about half of what he said. 
It occurred to him that if he was indeed several centuries in the future, there would not be many people who spoke his language—but here was a man who could make himself understood. A man who knew of his clan, a man familiar with the nature of relics...

Jens gasped. "Are you the Lore-Master?"
Kenneth frowned at the term. "I am one who... learns of... ancient times," he responded with some hesitation.
Jens grinned. "In my culture, that is what we call 'lore.' Perhaps you are the one intended to help me reclaim the relics. If I have been brought here, they cannot be far."

At this point, Agnes trudged into the room with her hands full of letters, brochures, and magazines from the mailbox.
"What have you found, Kenneth?" She asked.
He turned slowly and blinked at her, his brain struggling to switch from Old Norse back to modern English, after the conversation he just had. He never even noticed when she left.
"Well, his name is Jens, and he claims I am a lore-master, and there are three relics I am supposed to help him find."
"Is that the 'Y Rhoddion' stuff from the letter I read?" Agnes asked.
Kenneth shrugged. "Maybe; it does make sense, because 'rhoddion' is the word for 'gifts.' He said there was a crown, and a sword as well, and they would all be togeth—"
He stopped talking as his eye happened to find the very thing he was talking about. He slid the brochure out of the pile of mail. "What?" He gasped.
The Museum of Fine Art in New York was announcing the opening of several new displays—and one of them was an anonymous donation of a golden crown, a silver sword, and a bronze collar! 
"Agnes, look!" Kenneth cried, showing her the brochure. "We've found it! It's the Collar of Cuimnhe! It's right here in New York!"