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Keeper of the Dead


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Centuries stood between now and the last time her feet had touched Iceland, yet it wasn’t as different as she’d expected. There were settlements, sure, that were expansive and modern and full of people. But the countryside still boasted the untouched terrain that left it wild and beautiful. Mid-January meant the lush greenery was hidden beneath a weighted blanket of snow, and Gyldi ached to feel the biting cold again.

The further they went from civilization, the more familiar it felt, until she was recognizing landmarks and connecting the paired memories. Strangely disconnected, her heart only grew heavier.

When they arrived to their destination, the dog halted, transfixed by the scene before her. So many beings wandered the land before them, the land that she’d grown up on, yet none of their feet left imprints in the snow. All at once, Gyldi realized who she was in the company of, and the camaraderie she felt towards her only intensified; they were one in the same, after all.

Death’s keepers.

Astrid continued downward, for that’s what the terrain required. They had stood overlooking the well-used cairn, filled with her - their - kin. Standing stones dotted the inverted mound and her eyes followed them toward the center, to a stand-alone cottage, homey and inviting, at least from the spectral dog’s perspective.

At a much slower pace, Gyldi followed, staring up into the face of every ghost that she passed. Some offered a nod, other didn’t seem to notice her at all. She wondered then if these were dejected souls, like her, or just those wishing to glimpse their homeland once again. The place was inviting to a waylaid ghost, silent as the grave it was.

She was pulled from this reverie when one of the spirits, a woman dressed in garb from a much different time, stopped in front of her, halting her step and calling her gaze upward. They met at Gyldi’s eye level, the being having knelt in front of her, and she found herself face to face with a kind smile. A hand reached out to cup the side of her furry head, and the girl heard a yearning sound emanate from her own lungs, unbidden. The touch was oddly warm, and before Gyldi could take a step back as her proud gut insisted, the incorporeal woman laid her cheek atop her head in a show of understanding and affection and acceptance.

When she would open her eyes again, the woman would be gone, but her touch still lingered.

Descended fully into the burial ground, she sat back on her haunches, staring forward and seeing nothing. She couldn’t decide if this was a cruel game or the best she could get. If she were to be a guardian of the dead, at least it could be for her own family. But guilt, strong and loud, reminded her that her family wasn’t buried here, where they belonged, because of her.

It was a long time before she turned her head to meet the slated gaze of Astrid through the front-facing window. There was a sadness in her eyes that she could never convey to the woman, grateful as Gyldi was to her. With a huff, she pushed herself up and forward, intent on roaming her home until she’d felt everything she was meant to.

Her travels led her straight to the lake that held the most memory. It was said that here in the quiet of the misty forest, by the water’s edge, one could speak freely with the gods. She’d come here herself, time and time again, sometimes to do laundry, others, to regale the children with a story of heroism and impossible feats. She’d felt them then; she didn’t now, and it was her own doing.

She remained there by the frozen lake in the misty forest for days. Astrid could’ve called her back at any time...

But she didn’t.
January 18, 2019 01:33 pm
Actives (11) Fresh Blood (0) View All The Fallen (2) Graveyard
Dominique Alvarez, Kyla, Elessar, Eloise Buchanan, Alice Barbour, Raze Wraith, Averly Amoret, Gyldi, Mystic-husky, Ronan Boru, Mallory Quarters    Naoto Nishida
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