Description: Rowan and her friends have been playing Lost Ages MMO for years. Upon completing the final quest in the game and defeating Morpheus the Imposter, the group finds itself transported to the real world of Lost Ages, south of the world tree Yggdrasil. Rowan and her friends are tasked with finding stolen Edda texts that were written by ancient skalds. In the first part of this series, The Awakening, Rowan finds herself in a surreal situation with an odd elf king, a servant of Freyja, a drunken gnome, and, finally, her lover from Scotland, who is now not himself. Look forward to the rest of the series, including Part II, The World Tree, which will rediscover many old world myths and magical natural environments as Rowan and her friends collect stolen and lost literature from all over the world and piece it back together for the sake of preserving truth and finding the mysterious path to Utopia.
Then he went on to explain her mission. “In the 13th century, in your world, a writer named Snorri Sturluson wrote Prose Edda. I’m only mentioning it because of his allusion to trolls in Gylfagninning. In the 12th stanza it is mentioned that the moon’s devourer comes by troll’s disguise. In the 43rd stanza, there is reference to Thor journeying to the east to fight trolls. The point is, the narrative paints trolls as bad, similar to earlier narratives. I’m telling you this to help you understand why the trolls would steal the earlier manuscripts.”
“Because they don’t want to be the bad dude?”
“That. And because, why else are sacred texts stolen? Either to obscure the truth or to simply make up a new truth. Happens all the time in modern history. Truth is thrown out in favor of imaginary facts that sound better, for whatever reason, to the thief.”
“I thought you said that there is only one truth in your world.”
“Of course,” said the king a little uneasily. “But it is up to the earthly people to find it and reclaim it if it is stolen.”
“I see,” said Rowan, not really sure she did see it.
By and by, the king brought out her horse, a white stallion. Why couldn’t I see that coming, thought Rowen. The horse stood a good 20 hands tall, but his height didn’t seem to take away from his agility. He pranced about gracefully but wildly.
“Uh, where’s the saddle,” Rowan asked.
“There is none,” the king said. “Don’t worry, elven bodies are made to fit on a horse. Your particular people are from horse country down south. I’ll help you up.”
Despite the fact that she was evidently built for riding a horse, Rowan immediately slid off the horse after two clumsy attempts to mount it.
“I can’t imagine I will be very useful on this thing,” she said. “I don’t see how I can even climb up on it without your help.”
“You are the worst elf. And the worst druid.” King Olafr seemed impatient for her to get going. “You’ll have to use that thing up there called your brain if you want to figure these things out. Hint: Druids utilize things in nature. There are rocks, tree stumps, and so on to help you get up on this horse, if you fall off. And by the likes of you, I can bet you’ll fall off this steed twenty times alone just today.”
“Thanks for your vote of confidence.”
The king made her get back on the horse, by giving her a foot hold with one of his large hands, and Rowan slid off once more before finally finding a way to sit correctly without completely losing her balance again. Meanwhile, as she sat up on the fidgety horse, taller than the king now, he told her about her day’s mission.
He pointed to a trail leading into the woods north of the tree house. “Follow that trail north. About mid-day, you’ll come across a bridge, which crosses the lower Fjörm River.”
“Hey! I know that river,” said Rowan. Now she knew where she was. “I remember in game, the river flowed west to the sea. And this place.” She looked up to the tree house. “It was in the game, I suppose, but looked different. Yes, I know the place. North of the river are the ettins, right? It’s pretty snowy up there, and if I recall, a witch roams the path up there. Don’t tell me I have to deal with a witch while I’m on top of a slippery horse and ice trolls who could rip me apart. That reminds me, what kind of weapon do I get?”
“Ah yes. The gaming map. I suppose it’s close enough to our world, but you will find some surprises along the way. There are, as I recall,” King Olafr said, almost deceitfully, “völur who roam the area. Not to be feared, usually, though very powerful, so you won’t want to mess with one. Speaking of the Prose Edda, Snorri wrote in Skaldskáparmál, that a witch, or, more accurately a völva, named Gróa, the wife of Aurvandil the Bold, tended Thor and helped heal him from a wound. So, you see, they’re not all bad.”
“In the game, she was called a witch and would strike people riding through with her wand.”
“Another corruption of mythological truths.”
“That sounds like an oxymoron.”
“Not necessarily. Anyway, you asked for a weapon?” He handed her a backpack.
Rowan managed to stay atop the horse while rummaging through her pack, and found some stale bread, hardened cheese, flask of wine, and a floppy hat. “There is no weapon here,” she complained.
“Put on the hat.”
Rowan did as told.
“See what’s under the cap? That’s the only weapon you’ll need today.”