winter darkness came early to the small town of Glastonbury.
Spread beneath the ancient vastness of the Tor, which
reared defiantly against the oncoming night, the connecting
street and lanes were swiftly swallowed by shadow.
was a freezing December evening. Already the frost
was creeping over the roads, sparkling in the pale
glare of the street lamps and turning the windows
white. The high street was deserted, neither vehicle
nor person skidded or slipped down its sloping length.
It was too cold to venture out and even the public
houses were empty.
interior of every shop was dark, save for the sporadic
flickering of alarm lights which blinked and winked
like the fiery eye of a small crouching goblin.
within the courtyard of The Glastonbury Experience,
a collection of New Age establishments set back from
the main street, alone amidst the surrounding dark,
a sheet of light spilled from a single window. The
cheering illumination fanned out to the far wall,
but gradully the glow grew dim as soft curls of mist
began to roll stealthily into the square.
the narrow entrance it poured, until the cobbles were
hidden beneath a shifting grey sea which whirled swiftly
around the centre, climbing and spiralling upward
- forming a column of seething, swirling smoke.
a fountain of fog this billowing pillar reared until,
gradually, within its clouded depths, a shape began
to form. Indistinct at first, the dark silhouette
quickly assumed the outline of a man swaddled by a
great, enveloping cloak and hood and, when the figure
was complete, it strode from the surrounding mist
to stare into the brightly-lit shop before it.
of the ageless force observing her from outside, the
proprietor of the shop Moonshine busied herself
by clearing the shelves and arranging her new stock
amongst the old.
many bangles and bracelets which dangled from Dulcima
Pettigrew's wrists clattered and chimed whilst she
dusted the display surfaces, and grouped various pottery
figurines and bowls together into what she considered
to be attractive collections.
was going to be a good year, for both her and the
shop. Flicking the duster over the ceramic head of
a squatting earth mother, she grinned as she stepped
back to survey her wonderfully eccentric emporium.
her the door was abruptly pushed inward and the bells
of the nearby windchimes clattered and jangled their
closed!" Dulcie said, annoyed at the unwanted visitor.
"I could have sworn I locked the..."
voice melted as she saw a thick wall of choking mist
surge over the threshold and sluice hungrily inside.
the fog wreathing about her knees, Dulcie shivered.
It was hideously cold to the touch - but that was
not the reason her flesh crawled, or why beads of
icy perspiration pricked over her brow. Standing in
the doorway was the tall, hooded figure. Its cloak
was of darkest green, and from the shadows of its
dank folds which reeked of mouldering death, the chill
grey mist steadily flowed.
do you want?" The woman demanded shakily, desperately
peering into the blank recess of the cowl to catch
a glimpse of the unseen face before her. In the blackness
of the hood she thought she saw a bitter glint as
the intruder considered her, and any nerve that remained
fled before that merciless, stabbing gleam.
call someone!" She tried to threaten, but her voice
was weak and fretful.
you will not," came a harsh, hissing whisper.
felt her throat tighten as though invisible fingers
were clamped about her windpipe and she could do no
more than croak in terror.
what are you?"
live beneath the shadow of Ynnis Witrin yet you fail
to guess? No common wanderer has sought you out this
night. Old as the buried bones in the hills am I.
You know this to be true. The horror which engulfs
you tells you this, you feel it in your fear of me."
nodded dumbly and her thoughts flew to the legends
associated with the Tor, to the myths of King Arthur.
she stammered hoarsley.
foul mocking laugh issued from the hood. "I am the
Allfather!" came a strident hiss. "Yet your words
contain the germ of truth. Was this Merlin not accompanied
by two ravens? So was I remembered, but no more. He
who was the Captain of Askar, who was nailed to the
World Tree and contested the might of the Fates, has
returned from the trackless paths. The time of The
Cessation is near, the Three are failing as was foretold,
and the Captain must command his army once more."
he spoke the figure stirred, and from the deep sleeves
of his cloak his skeletal hands brought out a large
the dead lands I have called them back into my service."
he whispered lovingly. "Yet still they are formless,
awaiting only their hosts."
limbs numb and rigid with the cloying cold of the
churning mist which pressed and coiled about her,
Dulcie could only watch as the cloaked stranger untied
the neck of the bag and reached his bony fingers within.
are they in number," the voice told her, "and each
must find a form before they are restored to their
the sack, the slender hand brought out a curious effigy
made of fabric and held it up for the woman to see.
The image was fashioned into the shape of a doll,
complete with checkered dress, embroidered calico
apron and a spotted bonnet. Yet the head of the small
object was that of a crow, and the feet and hands
were made of twigs.
it," the stranger commanded. "Let it own you. Be the
first of my ancient army to return to me."
grimaced and shook her head. The crow doll looked
evil. She didn't even want to touch it.
"This night the Allfather has come to bestow gifts,"
the hissing voice rasped at her. "Accept that which
The woman begged. "I don't want it."
your agonies will be tenfold," came the assured whisper.
"The Valkyrja shall invade you whether you wish it
she could wonder at the meaning of his words, the
letters stitched upon the calico apron of the crow
doll suddenly blazed with fire and the word "Skogul"
burned into Dulcie's mind.
once the effigy began to squirm and the cloth head
jerked towards her. The fabric arms began to flap
and flail, anxious to escape the grip of its master.
be it," the cloaked figure chuckled. "Be restored
to me my nightmare." With that he loosened his grasp
and the wriggling doll catapulted itself through the
to the woman's shoulder it sprang, the twiggy limbs
crackling as they stretched and grew, clawing at her
neck, hooking into her skin as she vainly tried to
tear it from her. But there was nothing she could
do, against this horror there was no way to save herself.
Upwards the woody barbs spiked, up into her bleach-blonde
hair, raking through her scalp and twisting their
one heard Dulcima Pettigrew's feeble shrieks as the
base spirit seized control of her frail, mortal flesh
and a vile transformation began. Scale covered skin,
whilst bones snapped and splintered as clumps of raven-black
feathers speared from her quivering body.
by this hideous change and coldly indifferent to the
tortured howling, the hooded figure placed the sack
upon the counter and retreated through the door.
the other hosts with care, my Skogul," it hissed.
"Eleven others must be found, and quickly."
answer to his words, a horrific squawk resounded within
the shop, followed by the clatter of mighty quills.
to the courtyard the hooded figure lifted his hand
and, lumbering through the doorway, the apparition
that had taken the place of Dulcima Pettigrew followed.
then," the voice said. "Slake your thirst. But this
grave task of recruitment I am compelled to leave
in your care, for other matters call me.
"Thought and Memory must be roused. The time of Ending
is upon us at last. When all twelve are united, then
I shall bid you. Till then relearn the way of slaughter
There was a flurry of huge black feathers and the
fog scattered to the corners of the yard as a pair
of great, newly-formed wings dragged on the air and
the huge bulk of the monster rose into the night.
in The Glastonbury Experience, the cloaked figure
waited until the raucous shrieks were lost in the
high distance, before the mist returned to wind about
the dark green folds and silence settled upon the
courtyard once more.
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2016. Robin Jarvis. All rights reserved