I went through the Prologue and added my comments throughout the chapter. My comments are marked with quotes.
“How fare the gods? | How fare the elves?
All Jotunheim groans, | the gods are at council;
Loud roar the dwarfs | by the doors of stone,
The masters of the rocks: | would you know yet more?”
– The Poetic Edda 48th stanza
This quote was pulled from the 11th century Icelandic manuscript written by Snorri Sturluson. I wanted to deliver a feeling of ancient Nordic mysticism as quickly as possible to set the tone and plunge the reader into the story. To do this, I felt nothing was better than the Poetic Edda itself. I chose this passage for its reference to the elves, Jotunheim, the dwarves/dwarfs, and the gods. “Would you know yet more?” Is foreshadowing book #2, Lorlenalin’s Lies.
“Think back to the oldest era your mind can fathom, back beyond everything we can remember, when gods were still men who had not yet lived the deeds that would deify them.”
I love that line. For me, it is just epic. I love opening my books with dialogue.
Gudrun’s aged gold eyes peered from behind her curtain of long, silver hair. “Think back before the time when the Aesir and the Vanir were still men who had settled here on ancient Earth, ages before their war.”
Note the gold eyes. And the “Aesir” were the Norse gods: Odinn, Thor, and Siv. The Vanir were the Norse gods: Freyja and Freyr. “Their war” refers to the Aesir-Vanir War. No information has ever been found on this war except that there was one. It was between the two clans of gods. The Aesir won and the clans were then united.
“Back when the Earth was new?” Kallan asked, looking up from the vellum scroll before her on the table. The tips of her tapered ears poked through the brown hair she had tied back to avoid the candle’s flames.
“Was it?” Shadows flickered over Gudrun’s face and shelves full of jarred things. All sorts of unusual jars of powders and exotic roots had been crammed into every available corner. Dried herbs hung from the crossbeams. The light from the candle and small hearth fire mingled and added a heavy thickness to the room that smelled of boiled heather and sage. “The Earth was still very old by the time the gods found it,” Gudrun said. “By then it was already ancient soil, which stirred beneath their feet. Can you see it, Kallan?”
The girl closed her eyes, an iridescent blue like the lapis stone, and thought back to the earliest memory she could recall, back before the Great Migration, when the gods lived in the Southern Deserts and the Land of Rivers. Back before the Great War between the Aesir and the Vanir.
“I can,” Kallan said.
The old woman kept the dry sternness in her voice. “These are the antiquated stories that predate the empires of men. We have studied the Vanir and their ways, their medicines and herbs. Now think of the gods of our gods, the gods so old that we have forgotten. The gods our gods once taught to their young. And think of their ancient stories and their myths, the legends they once revered before they themselves became myth. And think of everything now lost to time.”
My first passion of study was Pompeii, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and the ancient myths of Greece and Rome. I always imagined living there. What it was like, and I try to recreate this society in my head. Not the senate, the Roman legion, the Aqueduct, and Colosseum, but… I mean… a child on a farm, living day to day who lives in the shadow of the Empire. What stories was that child told? I’m sure the family worshiped Athena, perhaps. But what about their myths? I’ve always wondered this. What 2,000 year old stories and dead religions did they tell their young, I wonder? And what about pre-ancient Greece? What did they believe? Before Romulus and Remus were birthed? Before Greek was a society. Before Hammurabi wrote his code. What religion did they believe? And what ancient mythical gods did they tell their young? This is how far back I wanted readers to imagine.
Kallan nodded. “I see it.”
“The Seidr is older still,” Gudrun said. “Like veins, it flowed from the Great Gap, spreading through all elements of the Earth, stretching out, threading itself into the waters, the air, and earth.”
Kallan opened her eyes as she drew the connection to the tri-corner knot enclosed in a circle hanging from the chain on her neck. Gudrun smiled, confirming that Kallan’s conclusion was correct.
Triquetra (/traɪˈkwɛtrə/; Latin tri- “three” and quetrus “cornered”) originally meant “triangle” and was used to refer to various three-cornered shapes. It has come to refer exclusively to a particular more complicated shape formed of three vesicae piscis, sometimes with an added circle in or around it. Also known as a “trinity knot”, the design is used as a religious symbol adapted from ancient Celtic images by Christianity. It is similar to Odin’s symbol, the valknut. – From Wikipedia.
I originally used the Valknut:
But did not like the Nazi and Cultist references I was finding and also, *grin* Kallan’s knot came from Eire’s Land and not Scandinavia. There is further reading on the German usage and Celtic usage here at Wikipedia.
“Your mother’s pendant,” she said. “Na Tríonóide: the three united. The Seidr fused itself to the elements, until it lost itself inside the Earth, becoming a part of it, flowing with the waters, churning with the soils, and riding on the wind through the air. The Seidr is still there sleeping, waiting for us to remember.”
Na Tríonóide is Irish-Gaelic or Old Irish for “Trinity Knot” (Honestly, I can not remember which language it is).
Kallan shifted forward in her seat.
“When the Vanir found the Seidr, they recognized it. In secret, they honed it and mastered it. They hoarded it, keeping it concealed from the Aesir.” Sadness hovered in Gudrun’s tone. “Afraid the Aesir would learn of their treasure and exceed them in power, the Vanir refused to divulge their secret.”
“What happened to the Vanir?” Kallan asked.
Gudrun visibly fought back the bitter sting of tears. “They died.” Her voice was low. “Doomed to be forgotten, and living only within the ancient stories now nearly extinct.”
When I first wrote the line “Doomed to be forgotten, and living only within the ancient stories now nearly extinct.” I wrote “Doomed to be forgotten, and living only within the ancient stories now extinct.” A beta reader argued that “If the stories were extinct how is she telling them now to Kallan?” I added the “nearly” but… BUT… I just realized… The stories are extinct. Gudrun only knows that there were stories, but because the stories are extinct, she can not tell those stories. She can only tell how there were stories… once. I regret changing it now and it will probably be changed back in the second edition.
Kallan bit the corner of her lip as if biting back a question.
“Deep within the earth, beyond the sea to the west, they met their end,” the old woman continued. “Some say they perished far beyond the western-most reaches of the world where the beginning formed.
She’s referencing Ginnungagap here.
There where the Seidr emerged from the life source and fused to the elements and life itself. The Seidr now resides dormant in all of us. However, for most of us, it sleeps, available for the host to use, but never awakened, its keeper unaware of its presence.
“But don’t think its power is lost,” Gudrun said. “Even dormant Seidr, ripped from its host, will destroy the life line that has formed around it. It lies sleeping within every man born to Midgard. Just as the races of Men have it, we elves have it—”
“Elves?” Kallan repeated.
“Alfar,” Gudrun clarified, forgetting the word was foreign beyond the Ocean Isle where she had lived for the past three hundred years. “The Dvergar, the Svartálfar. Even the Ljosalfar—”
Alfar is the Old Norse word for Elves. I had too many beta readers come back to me saying that they had no idea that there were elves in the story. I added Gudrun’s slip to communicate that to the reader. Ocean Isle is the United Kingdom and Ireland.
“They have it?” Kallan interrupted. “King Tryggve?”
Gudrun nodded. “King Tryggve and King Eyolf—”
The name of her father sharpened Kallan’s attention. “Father has it?”
Gudrun continued, not daring to encourage the princess’s interruptions.
“As do the reindeer that migrate across the valleys of King Raum in the north and the elk birds that fly across the southern realms of King Gardr Agdi. The sea worms that swim, and the pines that grow tall in these lands. However, among us all, Men and the three races of the Alfar, only a rare handful are still aware of its existence. Of those precious few, only some can waken it. Fewer still can wield it.”
After concluding her lecture, Gudrun spoke faster, more sternly, leaving behind the mysticism of the storyteller.
“To wield the Seidr is to pull on the lifeline that has formed within the confines of your center. To master the Seidr is to pull on the threads that have woven themselves within the elements. Find it!”
As if suddenly aware of the stuffy room, Kallan narrowed her eyes to better see the Seidr that was somehow there suspended in the air.
I still see seven year old Kallan squinting through an incense/smoke filled room trying so hard to see a corporeal “thing” of something she isn’t aware is visible to the naked eye.
This time, Gudrun’s smile stretched across her wrinkled face.
“Start small,” she said. “The Seidr around us has not conformed to the order of a path and goes where the elements take it. Try to find the Seidr within you, at your center. That is where it sleeps. That Seidr will know you and be the first to obey you.”
Slouching, Kallan nodded and closed her eyes, then changed her attention to the center of her body.
“Once you master your own Seidr, you can reach out to the Seidr in others. It won’t be as willing to obey as your own, but it too has adapted to the confines of a living being.”
Kallan opened her eyes, eager to collect the knowledge that always seemed to pour out of Gudrun. “Is it within the fire you summon?”
The old Seidkona shook her head.
Seidr is Old Norse for “Magic.” Kona is Old Norse for “Woman.” Madre is Old Norse for “Man.” Seidkona and Seidmadr is Old Norse for Witch and Wizard. I didn’t want to complicate the language anymore than it already was so dropped “Seidmadr.” The “r” is silent, by the way and the word is pronounced, “Say-th-mad.”
“Fire is not an element, but a reaction, like when the cook blends stews or when I mix spells.”
So… I married a chemist 🙂 My husband has a masters degree in Organic Chemistry with a minor in Physics. He is a Physicist and was adamant to review Dolor and Shadow for Science errors. (You should watch Big Bang Theory with him! He not only understands ALL the science discussed in BBT… he not only can read and translate their white boards… but he argues—literally argues—with Sheldon. It’s a process. He pauses the show, provides his argument, calls Sheldon a moron, and proceeds with the viewing. I take great delight in this). During the writing, he became my “Science Consultant.” All the science, the chemistry, the metallurgy, was checked by him. He was not happy about my calling fire an element when it is clearly a chemical reaction.
“Like bubbling water or brewed tea?”
“Exactly,” Gudrun said. “Fire is only present when other actions bring it out, whereas soil, wind, and water are always there, maintaining a permanent state that defines the Seidr.” As she listed each element, Gudrun pointed to each point of the pendant hanging from Kallan’s neck. As she finished, she traced her finger around the circle enveloping the knot. “The elements don’t require fuel. However, Seidr is living. It is a life form made of pure energy. Compress enough Seidr, and it will release heat. Compress it more, and it will become hot enough to produce flame.”
“And hotter still produces your lightning.” Kallan grinned.
I originally used “Elding” to describe lightning. Elding is the Old Norse word for “lightning.” But the image was not coming across to readers so I changed “Elding” to “lightning.” I loved the word “Elding” though and decided to use “Elding” to describe an aging stage of the elves. When elves reach full maturity (20 to 22) they stop aging. When this happens, it is said that they have “reached their Elding.”