THE TENTH WORLD
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK
DUE FOR RELEASE IN LATE 2018
He is standing on a cloud of swirling snow. Motionless and silent. Like a frozen giant. Or an ancestral god. The wild dance of the northern lights, not so high above him, is reflected on his silver horned helmet and his golden beard. His eyes, of a nearly incandescent blue, pierce through the night and light up the surrounding winter darkness. The muscles on his bare, pale and almost hairless upper body resemble a sculpture carved out of raw ice. Heavy droplets of sweat are running down his chiseled chest and abdominals, like a mountain spring cascading down summits, plateaus, and valleys, following a treasure trail of gold to rugged wilderness. His legs are covered in wolf skins and layers of ice crystals shining in the twilight.
At his feet, a man is kneeling, unrestrained, naked, and vulnerable. He is shaking, at times, uncontrollably. Behind him, in the gloom of the winter night, the shining blade of a knife slowly cuts through the skin on his back. He is not making a sound, and not even his labored breathing is interrupting the absolute silence of the Norwegian winter.
Slowly, the frozen giant, Áskunnr, appears to be awakening. The ice crystals on his legs are breaking in a melody straight out of Ālfheimr. He takes a knife from his waist, resembling a sword to the common mortal, lifts his arms over the naked man, and carves the Þurs rune in the palm of his own hand. Drops of blood are falling on the back of the kneeled man, blending with his own blood, and slowly dripping down his spine.
Another man quietly appears from the blackness of the boreal forest. Like the frozen giant, his legs are covered in wolf skins, his muscular and defined upper body is bare, and he is wearing a steel helmet with steel horns, contrasting with his red beard. He wipes the blood from the naked man with his hand, uncovering a freshly engraved Þurs symbol on the upper left of the man’s back. With the man’s blood now mixed with that of Áskunnr, he starts drawing the Úlfagaldr with his index finger.
He sketches two Þurs, back to back, together forming a circle. He is soon surrounded by more men, similar in stature and appearance, but distinct from each other by the color of their beards. Like their bróðir who started drawing the stave, they are as well protected by wolf skins from the waist down, with their upper bodies completely exposed, showing a impressive display of raw masculine force and power. They are now combining their own blood in the drawing of the forneskja symbol, so ancient that it preceded the beginning of times. They add two more circles, followed by eight branches, forming overall an elm.
The men are positioning themselves on each side of Áskunnr to form a perfect ring around the naked man. In a deep, assertive, and cavernous voice, as if coming from the deepest realms of the earth, Áskunnr slowly starts speaking the sacred words: Ek sver í fóstbrœðralag. The kneeled man rises. His skin has become gray like stone, and he has stopped shaking. With great difficulties, he repeats the words spoken by Áskunnr: Ek sver í fóstbrœðralag. Swearing brotherhood by mutual oath. One after the other, every man in the horde repeats the solemn words.
The naked man is standing in the snow, the blood stave shining on his back. The other men have closed up on him, and their body is now in direct contact, skin to skin, with every single inch of his frigid being. He can sense the warmth of his pack radiating throughout his soul, and he is beginning to be alive again. He can feel and smell his warm blood, mixed with the blood and sweat of his brœðr, spreading all over his body. He is one with them, and part of the pack. For life and beyond.
He looks up at the north star, the rugged surrounding mountains, and the auroras. All witnesses of his rebirth and awakening. The immeasurable extreme strength, ultimate physical fighting force, and wisdom of his fellow warriors are now part of him. All of a sudden, he understands the division and separation of all things, and the potentially destructive power of Áskunnr. His body, mind, spirit and soul have become one. He has become one with his brœðr. He is a Úlfheðinn. He is a hamrammr. He is a wolf. He is invincible.