April 2017 my novel Elfland, The Ylfetu story will be published. The following is the beginning of the first chapter.
In the morning of the day that happened to be the first day of summer, the so-called 'Young Maidens Day' - the first day of the month of Harp according to the old Nordic calender - tourists staying in the national park
of Skaftafell noticed that huge quantities of snow and ice had fallen from the top of the tallest peak of Iceland. Cliff walls, which had for more than 500 years been covered with steel- blue ice, were now totally exposed.
The tourists quickly observed that the tors at the top
of the peak resembled medieval castles, much like ones seen in many European countries and elsewhere, but did not exist in Iceland. The first photographs, of what one of the staff members of the Information Centre was quick to name 'The Elfen Castle
of Hvannadalshnjúk', appeared on Facebook that afternoon.
The brothers Gunnar and Kári Ársælssons, both experienced mountain guides, decided right away to walk onto the glacier the next day, to investigate the area, and to check whether if would be safe
to bring tourists onto the peak, as they had done so many times before. The journey up onto the glacier went well, for both knew the way like the back of their hands, though it still could be dangerous to those who did not know it. Around noon, they reached 1800 meters, and were on the ridge of Öræfajökull. The snowy dunes of Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe, stretched as far as they could see, to the
north, west and east, while below them, to the south, the black glacial tills cutt Skeidararsandar to shreds and, of course, the dark blue Atlantic that kissed the sky on the horizon.
A short distance away rose Hvannadalshnjúk and
its now snow less grey peaks. They stood silent for a while, mouths agape and did not believe their own eyes. On the top of the ice filled fire cone, where they had sometimes seen patches of grey riolite cliffs, in the middle of the ice and snow chunks
which had fallen from it, there arose what appeared to be a real castle. They walked cautiously towards it and, in each step, they attempted to get clear pictures of it on their cell phones, but no matter how much they tried, all the pictures came out misty
The closer they drew, the more an uneasy feeling overtook them, though they did their best to control. Both found it difficult to verbalize their thoughts and therefore said little, other than
confirming that they were both looking at the same thing. They knew that no such buildings were known to exist in the land, either new or ancient. They knew the history of the nation well enough to know that, throughout the centuries, Icelanders, with extremely few exceptions, had lived in lowly, cold and damp hovels made of mud, sod and stone which, with a lot of goodwill, could be called 'Turf Houses'.
In the ecclesiastical and administrative
center of Iceland for seven centuries, the seat of the Bishops of Skáltholt, locaded in the south of Iceland, the largest wooden structure in the Northern hemisphere, had once
been built. It was omething modern historians wondered much about, because at that time, Iceland was totally deforested. Many of them speculated how this land, in the first part of the 16th century, considered at that time the poorest country in Europe, could have afforded such a structure.
But, of course, the building of that great church was financed by the tithes of the diocese, money contributions of chieftains, voluntary work by the poor and acts of atonement for sins committed by the peasant farmers of the surrounding
But Icelanders NEVER built castles out of rock, or anything like the structure that appeared in front of them now.
It was no wonder that their minds sought alternative
ways to explain what they now were looking at. Both Gunnar and Kári were well acquainted with the lores and legends of the land, and the conviction of their fellow men, that in Iceland there existed beings that were superior to them in every way.
They lived in beautiful cities and citadels, sometimes named after the entities that in them, dwelled - Elfen Burgs.
Late that evening the brothers came down from the glacier to their base camp. They
were unusually quiet and sombre. When they sat down with their colleagues to recount their journey, their account became more and more incoherent.