My name is Olaf Danielson. I am a writer of tales and travels. It is quite probably true that I should not be writing this story in which you are about to read. In all likelihood, it will have me killed. You see I am now part of the Collective but after sitting in my stuga or cabin hiding, for there can be no better term for it other than that, I came to the conclusion that if I can save others from what I have stumbled upon, whatever happens to me will be inconsequential.
When I was first researching my novel, Marks of the Forbidden, I had been reading old Norse and Icelandic Eddas. I stumbled upon an Edda that served more as a warning than a story. At the time since it had little to do with that project, I read it, put it aside and paid little attention to it. It seems we all get ample warnings about roads one shouldn’t travel. If I had noticed certain commonalities it might have stopped me in my pursuits and it would possibly prevent me from the nightmares and sleepless nights I am currently experiencing.
The Edda was simple enough. It tells of a place between the lands of the Scots and of the Irish, translated is called the land of temptation. This land was fertile and green and filled with people who appeared defenseless but whenever a tribe of the Norse tried to attack they had translated exactly, ‘the life literally sucked from their bones.’ No one ever returned from a quest to this land which consisted of a small part on the Irish side, a small part on the Scottish side and an island in between. The Edda goes on to describe a blood oath that was taken by the Norse so that no leader would ever lead a raid on what they called the temptation lands.
The blood oath continued until 795 when a strange young maiden named Taisie arrived in the Viking camp south of the land along the coast of Scotland. She confronted the chief of the Viking warriors and said to him that if he agreed to her terms she would deliver the people of the island of Wrath as it was called by them into their arms. When asked why she would betray her own people, she exclaimed that the peoples of the island had recently forsaken their gods and stopped their traditions. Such was to be their punishment and they were to destroy everything and everybody on the island. In return, she would ask to be left off at the Mull of Kintyre and from ever more the Vikings would have in any treaty or pact they made with anyone in the local islands that she and her daughters would be the leader of Kintyre. She led the Vikings to the island, they sacked the locals, killed all the people and burnt the church. When the Vikings sailed back to their camp with the plunder along the coast of Kintyre she slipped off her clothing and swam ashore.
The Edda seemed normal enough and It seemed after further research from that point on, a Baroness named Taisie was the recognized leader of the region by first the local kings and queens and then by both the Scottish and the English crowns. Again, I wish I had noticed the significance of all of this but as they say, hindsight is twenty-twenty.
My involvement started innocently enough as I was helping my mother do genealogy research. It seems my great-great grandmother’s life is a bit of a mystery. She died in the custody of a criminal mental hospital in Minnesota. As it turns out, she had a brother with the last name of Swanson who lived in Borlange, Sweden. He had three children, two of which were forever bachelor farmers had moved to Wisconsin and lived on property adjoining ours. It was the third child that led me to my current predicament. The other brother’s son moved to Iowa and had died before my research. I tracked down their lone daughter, she was in a psychiatric hospital in Montana, but as luck would have it, killed herself the very week in which I had located her. Oddly, it seemed quite likely at the time that I may have been her next of kin or at least my mother would have been, as the hospital had not listed the woman as having any children or husband. It seems us Danielsons have always had small families. While at the hospital working on this, I ran into a private investigator from Ireland. He, like me, was researching this family and told me of a son the woman had with an Irish husband. This son was named Richard and was very much alive and well and was living in Northern Ireland.
I let the whole matter drop for a couple of years but I always felt a special kinship with this shirt tailed relative and the fact that I had known so much about his family. Finally I began researching the mythology of Ireland for my novel the Windigo. Since I was going to Ireland anyways I would stop by and visit. I brought all of his family research with and if nothing else it would be good to clean out my file cabinet and it would be worth a story or two.
It is said that all relatives are like fish and they need to be thrown out after three days. Unfortunately, this guideline on visiting was not followed as I found the land where he now lives enchanting, too enchanting to leave. If I would have decided to just give my mother a pretty dish or a trip for her birthday instead of some family history, none of this would have ever happened, but that is easy for me to say now.
It or better described he knows that I am writing this. It is much safer to use a pronoun than his name as he does not like outsiders knowing what he is called. Whoever calls his name out at the ceremony is forever part of the collective and spared, spared from what I do not know, as death sometimes seems better than living and knowing of what I have done, what everyone has done…but whatever it is that I am spared of I don’t want any part of that either. It is too ghastly to really think about may God have mercy on their souls…may He have mercy on mine. Every year, now, I must return and repeat the grim task, or he will have his revenge…but I am getting ahead of myself.
I will start at the beginning. My cousin, four times removed, Richard McClure, told me this story after it was too late for both of us. I hope you heed our warning and understand that some places are just not worth visiting.