Eaters of the dead - ".
In 922ad the vikings started an empire. A sea fairing people who had no problem sailing to, and exploring all corners of the unknown world. Were there was water, they would go.
By the year 1000ad 78 years later this empire was thriving, the vinland wine was traded to the local natives for goods which were then taken to the markets of erope.
This story, told by michial criton in earters of the dead, is just one of the experienes a small band of vikings and companion experienced during the birth on this empire. The manuscript of Ibn Fadlan an emisary of bagdad Relating to his experionces
with the northman. in the year 922ad
In the great hall of Rothgar, a mighty feast was held, and Bulwif and his
warriors joined in great celebration.at one time or another i saw them glance at the ropes
of seal skin and the dwarf daggers. the mother r of the wendol is very old and she lives
in the caves of thunder. These thunder caves lie in the rock cliffs, not far from here.
The caves have two openings, one from the land and another from the sea. But the entrance
from the land is guarded by the wendol, who protect their mother, so it is that we cannot
attack from the side of the land, for in this way we would surly all be killed. Their for we shall attack from the sea. Before the brisk pink tweaks of dawn
lighted the sky, Bulwif and his warriors, myself among them, rode out from the kingdom of
rothgar and followed the cliff edge above the sea. We rod briskly, skirting the border of
the cliffs which on all this coast are high and forbidding, and sheer, in a sheet a of
gray stone they drop to the turbulent sea below.In some places along this coast line there
are rocky beaches, but often the land meet the sea directly, and the waves crash like
thunder upon the rocks. Heger said to me. on this morning, we attack the mother of the
wendolin the thunder caves. this we will do by attacking from the sea , as I have told you
yesterday.While I rode , I looked from my horse down to the sea, which smashed upon the
rock cliffs . Do we attack by boat? I inquired of Herger.No, herger said and slapped his
hand upon the sealskin ropes. Then i took his meaning to be that we should climb down the
cliffs on the ropes, and there by in some fashion make an entrance into the caves. now i
sank into despairing , and said to herger, I cannot do this thing. If you force me to do
this thing I shall surely die Herger said how shall you die? I said I shall lose my grips
from the ropes. Herger said to me : "Buliwyf says that you shall lose your grip only
if you release the ropes from your hands, and only a fool would do such a thing. Buliwyf
says you are an Arab but no fool."we rode onward for a goodly period of time, until
the sun was high and bright in the sky, Then at last Buliwyf gave the signel to halt, and
all the horse men dismounted, and prepared to enter the thunder caves.I
looked at the precipice of the cliff below us , my heart twisted over inside my
chest,Verily , the cliff was absolutely sheer, lacking the least grip for hand or feet, .
Verily the crashing waves were so far beneath us that they appeared as miniature waves,
Yet I new them to be as large as any wave on earth, once one descended to that level far
below. In due time we had two such ropes that reached the side of the cliff face. Then
Buliwyf spoke to his gathering: First i shall precede, so that when i reach the bottom all
shall know that the ropes are stout and the journey can be accomplished. I await you at
the bottom, on the narrow ledge you see below."I looked the this narrow ledge. to
call it narrow is to call a camel kind. It was in truth , the barest strip of flat rock ,
continually washed and pounded by the surf. When all have reached the bottom,"
Buliwyf said, we can attack the mother of the wendol in the thunder caves. Now here is the
manner of his decent, which i found remarkable, but the Northmen account it no particular
thing. Herger told me they use this method for gathering of sea bird eggs at certain times
of the year.As Buliwyf went down , becoming ever smaller to my eyes, I saw that he
maneuvered with the sling, the rope , and the stick very agilely. At length he reached the
bottom and stood on the narrow ledge with the surf crashing over him.In truth, he was so
diminished we could hardly see him wave his hand, in signal that he was safe. Now the
sling was hauled up: and also with it , the oaken staff. Herger turned to me , :You shall
go next. Now all the warriors of buliwyf made their decent: and all were safe, Ecthgow
being the last to come down, by brute force of his arms , and when at last he stood , his
legs quivered withouyt control as a man shudders with a death throe: we waited some
moments until he was him self again.Then Buliwyf spoke : we shall descend into the water
and swim into the cave. I shall go first. Carry your dagger in
your teeth, so your arms shall be free to battle the currents. Thus I took my dagger ,
which I jammed into my belt, for my teeth rattled to severely to grip it in my mouth.
Buliwyf watched the movement of the waves, choosing his time, and then he leapt into the
surf. I hesitated , and someone _ I have always believed it to be Herger_ pushed me. I
fell deep into the swirling sea of numbing coldness; verily I was soon head over feet and
sideward also; I could see nothing but green water. Then I perceived Buliwyf kicking down
in the depths of the sea; and I followed after him, and he swam into a kind of passage in
the rocks. In all things i did as he . this was the fashion:Upon one moment the surf would
tug after him, trying to pluck him into the wide open ocean, and me also. At these
moments, Buliwyf gripped onto a rock with his hands to hold against the current; this also
i did. mightily I held to the rocks, with my lungs bursting. then in an instant the surge
ran opposite. and I was propelled with frightful speed forward, bouncing off the rocks and
obstructions. And then agian the surge changed, and tugged backward as it had done
previously; and I was obliged to follow the example of Buliwyf and cling to rocks. Now it
is true that my lungs burned as if afire, and I knew in my heart that I could not continue
much longer in this icy sea. Then the surge ran forward, and I was flung headlong, knocked
here and there, and suddenty I was up and breathing air.Verily , this transpired with such
swiftness that I was so surpassed I did not think to feel relief, which was a proper
feeling; nor did I think to praise Allah for my good fortune in surviving. I grasped air,
and all about me the warriors of Buliwyf set their heads above the surface and gasped
likewise. Now here is what i saw: we were in a kind of pond or lake, inside a cave with
a smooth rocky dome and a seaward entrance through which we had just traversed.Directly
ahead was a flat rocky space. I saw three or four dark shapes squatted about a fire; these
creatures chanted in high voices. Now also I understood why this was called the cave of
thunder, for with each crash of the surf the sound in the cave reverberated with such
power that the ears ached and the vert air seemed to shake and press. In this place , this
cave, Bulwiyf and his warriors made their attack, and I joined with them , and we killed
four of the demons in the cave. I saw them clearly for the first time, in the flickering
light of the fire,whose flames leapt madly with each pounding of the thundering surf ;
they appeared to be man like in every respect but not as any man on the face of the earth.
they were short creatures, and broad and squat, their faces were very large, with mouth
and jaws large and prominent, also their heads were larger then the heads of nominal men.
their eyes were sunk deep in their : the brows were large, and not by virtue of hairy
brows, but not of bone; also their teeth were large and sharp. Now Bulwiyf serveyed these
4 creatures, then we heard a ghostly , echoing chant, a sound rising and falling in time
to the thunder pounding of the surf, and this sound came from the recesses of the cave.
Bulwiyf led us into the depths. There we came appon three of the creatures, prostrate upon
the ground, faces pressed to the earth and their hands raised in supplication to an old
creature lurking in the shadows . Bulwiyf alone fell upon the suppliants and killed them
all, while the mother- creature moved back into the shadows and screamed horribly. Then
Bulwiyf attacked her, and she gave a fearful scream as he plunged his dagger deep into
her. Then at laet she toppled, and lay dead, and Bulwiyf turned to face his warriors. Now we saw that this woman , the mother of the eaters of the dead,had
wounded him. A silver pin, such as a pin for hair, was buried in his stomach.Yet he did
not sink to his knees mortally wounded, but rather he stood and gave the order to leave
the cave. This we did, by the seconed and landward entrance; this entrance had been
guarded, but all the Wendol guards had fled before the screams of their diting mother.
Bulwiyf led us from the caves, and back to our hourses.
this legend can be found in the book
"Eaters of the dead"
by Michle Crition
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