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Happy Earth Day from The Fjords of Asgard!

Viking Longboats (art by Richard Benning)

Viking Longboats (art by Richard Benning)

Happy Earth Day 2014 from The Fjords of Asgard!

A.J. Carlisle, The Codex Lacrimae: The Book of Tears

A.J. Carlisle, The Codex Lacrimae: The Book of Tears

Good Afternoon, Everyone:

Celebrating Earth Day 2014 with a description of a personal favorite of locales on this planet: Norway.

Thanks for visiting!

Best,
A.J.

Here’s a description of an imagined Norway, c. 1185 A.D., when my characters, Aurelius & Clarinda, first view the Fjords of Asgard (from Bk. 4, Ch. 19, “The Fjords of Asgard,” in my book, The Codex Lacrimae, Part 2: The Book of Tears http://www.TheCodexLacrimae_2):

… Clarinda started to say, “Let’s run!” but laughed when she heard him shouting the same thing and reaching for her hand.

They began jogging, and she noticed that he kept them on one side of the road, close to a series of large boulders that might offer some scant cover in the barren landscape.

Droplets of rain pelted the pavement and spattered the dirt embankments. Holding the young knight’s hand tightly in her own, they began to sprint and Clarinda kept her head bent downward as the drops became a torrent. They kept moving through sheets of rain and whipping wind until they crested the hill.

Nothing could have prepared her for the grandeur of the sight that awaited there.

Viking Longboat (art by David Seguin)

Viking Longboat (art by David Seguin)

Land of the Vikings (Lofoten Islands, Norway; pic by Babak Tafreshi)

Land of the Vikings (Lofoten Islands, Norway; pic by Babak Tafreshi)

A vast valley lay below them, stretching for leagues from their vantage. Clarinda realized that she was gazing upon a fjord. The air was redolent with the fresh smell of spring grasses whose scent wafted upward, enhanced by the strong rains. The green slopes descended to a bay that intruded into the base of the valley, and Clarinda could see that farther down, toward the horizon, the water was girded by gigantic granite mountains that thrust in sharp, vertical relief from the shoreline. Closer to them, the road ended a quarter-league down the slope in a series of steep stone stairs that descending in switchbacks to farmlands, a Viking village, and small harbor.

Besides the basic comforts of civilization afforded by the sight (how she wanted to take a bath and just lay down to sleep in a cot for a little while!), the twelve boats docked at the piers excited the Venetian girl. The ships reminded her of how much she missed the sea and she simply wanted to get to the three jetties to walk by the storm-tossed water and smell the briny air.

The rain diminished and became a fine mist by the time that Aurelius and Clarinda reached the town of rock-piled pit houses with sod-covered roofs. Smoke rose from chimneys in all the low-lying homes, the inhabitants settled in for evenings of merrymaking, family conversations, and (from the sight of dart throwers glimpsed through a window) playing games as late afternoon edged into twilight here in the northern latitudes.

Clarinda watched as broad, earth-covering shadows moved slowly across the water of the fjord.

They reached the town center as the clouds parted and sunlight burst through. The grass- covered homes were a vibrant green in the aftermath of the rainfall. One large building dominated the village, resembling in its long rectangular frame an upside-down Viking longship.

Land of the Vikings (Lofoten Islands, Norway; pic by Cody Duncan)

Land of the Vikings (Lofoten Islands, Norway; pic by Cody Duncan)

“That must be where the town elders meet,” Aurelius guessed as they passed the structure and kept heading toward the piers.

Clarinda marveled at the number of houses and lanes in the area, and that even a windmill and tannery rested at the eastern edge of the village, past an assortment of smithy and carpentry shops.

“Almost a thousand people must live here,” Clarinda said. “Where are they?”

“Staying dry and warm inside,” Aurelius responded with a slightly surly tone.

She looked at him and saw that he appeared to be as exhausted as she felt.  She was surprised, because for some reason his great stature always made her think that he was invulnerable to any kind of weakness.

Instead, after the events of the last couple days, she should’ve been surprised that both of them didn’t drop in the muddy paths that squelched wetly beneath their boots!

Her head ached with the spiked lancets of pain that she’d felt most acutely in Caesarea.

Viking Village (Sod Huts at L'Anse aux Meadow, Newfoundland, Bicker Stock Photo)

Viking Village (Sod Huts at L’Anse aux Meadow, Newfoundland, Bicker Stock Photo)

“Servius, there’s danger here,” she said distantly, trying to ignore the discomfort and grateful that blood wasn’t yet running from her nose.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, halting as he looked concernedly at her, then warily about them.

“Kenezki. My head always starts hurting when I’m near him. It wasn’t too bad at the camp in Svartalfheim, but this hurts. I don’t want to believe it, but I think that he’s somewhere close.” She looked up at him. “I’m not bleeding from my nose, am I?”

Disturbed by her words, he checked and shook his head. “We’ll be on the lookout. Let’s get down to the docks. I feel too exposed out here — it’ll be something of a comfort to be back in a town with crowds of people.”

She chuckled. “Do you see any crowds down there?”

“It looks very quiet, but the storm probably drove everyone inside.”

She sighed. “Maybe that fellow on the pier will know where we can get some shelter and sleep for the night,” she offered, nodding toward a solitary figure that stood at the end of the longest pier.

“My thoughts, exactly, Clare — I mean, Clarinda,” he said.

“No, its fine — all my friends call me Clare.” She smiled. “My parents did, too.”

Grazie, Clare,” he said, casting a quick glance at her. “It’d be an honor to be your friend.”

She was thankful that the setting sun probably didn’t let him see her blush, and then they were at the dock …

Next time:  Medieval Literature Recommended Reading List, Part 2

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