Day 7, Svartalfheim "I am a carrier of the hammer's blessing."

smithKeeping in mind the difficulty experience that I'd had in Alfheim, I didn't want to have a repeat of it (only likely worse, as the dark elves are even less nice) in Svartalfheim. I woke up in Jotunheim to a thunderstorm, and when I crossed over, it immediately toned itself down into a grey drizzle that lasted all day. I brought an armload of gifts, and wandered about in the rain a while, looking at scraggly trees and barren landscape. When I caught sight of what looked to be dark little figures in the underbrush, I cheerily threw them chocolate eyeballs. Whatever-they-were squealed in delight. "Santa's here," I called sarcastically as I threw more in other directions.

I was stopped by a tall woman dressed in a strange angular black dress with a full skirt. What seemed to be thin black spikes stuck out from her head like a crown. "What do you wish here, you who bear Hel's mark?" she asked. Suspiciously. Her eyes bored into me. Had they sent down a message from Alfheim? I wondered.

"I'm here to see the duergar," I said, figuring that I'd shift the attention onto the dwarves and away from the svartalfar. I wondered if they had the same teind issues as the ljossalfar. I knew that the duergar didn't; they lived a long time, but got old and died decently. "Give them a message for me," I said. "Tell them that Hel's Own is here to see them." The alf-woman looked significantly relieved, but said nothing. I presented her with the glass apple, and threw the rest of the eyeballs in various directions for her hidden chorus of dark faeries. Then I went back to the field kitchen and ate my breakfast.

In the middle of my meal, they came. I hadn't actually figured out what I would do if they showed up, and I had to think fast. Six dwarves, richly dressed, looking at me just as suspiciously as the alf-woman had. "You wished to speak with us?" the oldest-looking of them asked. "What would Hel have of us?"

I jumped to my feet, trying not to spill my oatmeal, and presented them with the nicest three of the silver coins that the Tashlins had made. They made a comment about how the silver was pure, but the workmanship was, well, substandard. They actually put it a little ruder than that. I told them that I was the king of a very small outlander kingdom, and that we were attempting to revive crafts that had been forgotten by most and practiced by very few, and as they could see by our handiwork we very much needed their help and expertise. If they had any advice, or magic, that they might be willing to give us, we would be most grateful. After all, they were the best craftsmen in the Nine Worlds. And so on.

They frowned and said that they'd think about it. I presented them with the Crown Royal, and they broke out finely chased metal goblets and split it between them, and became much friendlier. Amazing what good whisky can do. After some conferred muttering, they announced that they would be willing to teach me the blessing of the hammer, and that I could pass it on to all the crafters in my kingdom. "It's a small enough magic, but a potent one," the one said.

They made me kneel, and repeat each line with my hand on the hammer that one took from his belt and held out. This was the blessing that they passed to me:

From the mind to the eye,
From the eye to the hand,
From the hand to the hammer,
From the hammer to the fire,
From the fire to the mind,
Close the circle,
Open the door,
And bring forth all creation.

Afterwards, they asked me where I was going next. Niflheim, I told them. They made the usual surprised commentary, and asked where in Niflheim. Lyngvi Island, I said. "Lyngvi's Island?" asked the oldest duergar. "Give him a message, will you?"

I didn't know that Lyngvi Island was really Lyngvi's Island, belonging to a denizen of that name, and I said so, and asked who Lyngvi was. "He's a duergar of my family," the oldest dwarf said, "and he hasn't been home in far too long. Tell him that he ought to come home for a visit. Do him good. Tell him that Dvalin said so."

Before they left, they offered to let me stay underground in one of their caves, so that the svartalfar wouldn't bother me during my sleep. I considered it, but declined; I didn't know where the cave would line up (likely I wouldn't be able to line it up with my treehouse) and I didn't want to spend the night somewhere else. Then the duergar took their leave, a bit unsteadily. I went back to the hermitage and spun a batch of silk thread, charging it with protective barrier magic, and I put it in a big circle all around the hermitage. I stayed there in the rain, which grew heavier again, throughout the evening and night, and wrote in my journal until I ran out of ink.

I woke to Maegen's screaming and the morning light. All four windows were wide open - they're generally jammed shut and not easy to get open - and my stuff was strewn about the hermitage, except for what had been in Bag. Maegen was shrieking and hopping about her cage. I leaped out of bed, but didn't see anything - whatever had invaded my cabin had beat a retreat as soon as I had awoken. I stuck my head outside to see the silk thread snapped in several places. Time to get out of Svartalfheim, obviously. I decided to cross over immediately and eat and wash in Niflheim.