Threats Hereafter Book 2: Valhalla or Bust!

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Chapter 5 - Erad

The afternoon sun was sinking overhead as the world began to settle into the dark night once again. At the local burger place once again, this time sat inside, was Aiden typing away at his laptop, helping himself to the burger place’s free wifi and charging sockets.

Emilia had gone to university, way across the country. Aiden hadn’t seen her in years and according to Galanthon University’s admissions department, neither had they. She had never attended nor enrolled. Another dead end. Aiden had spent the whole afternoon reaching dead end after dead end. Still, it was better than thinking about whatever was going on in that house.

Just one thread to pull… I just need one…

One the main social media sites Aiden made ne profiles. They were very empty, just his name, location, a terrible portrait shot of his face and nothing more. A beacon perhaps, h figured if any of his family were out there, lost and confused like he was, they could find that and contact him there. It was a long shot, but that was all he had for now.

Just one thread to pull…

What if they weren’t out there? This town, where Aiden’s family had always lived, and that weird culty book… where had that been, what had it been doing years ago, just lying dormant with that cannibal caring for it? Aiden being here in this town and that book being here too… and that cannibal seemingly thinking Aiden was the book’s gift to him…

Aiden shut his eyes, resting them and rubbing them against his hand as he took a big gulp of his milkshake… It was insanity…

It was a thread…

Against his better judgement, Aiden opened a new tab but what to search? ‘Evil book’, there’d probably be a million results with every sci-fi and horror franchise since Lovecraft having one. Desperate to connect some dots, Aiden took a gamble.

Viking symbols

The search yielded results, countless wiki articles, magazines, scholary articles and even pictures filled the screen. Aiden flicked to the pictures first and was staggered by how quickly he found it. Straight away pictures of rocks with carved letters, parchments and even direct alphabet translations to various versions of the language were right there! They were the exact symbols that had been written in that book, written on the walls in blood or carvings, written around the cannibals murder sites, some ancient language called Futhark!

What on earth is some Viking magic book doing here making cannibals immortal?

Aiden read through some of the definitions of the symbols, or runes, that he remembered. About the basement where the cannibal did his ‘Consumption Ritual’, Aiden didn’t know what words he spoke but the symbols were apparently known as Kaun or Scar, a violent battle themed one, Madur or man, meaning well… a person, Naud or need and then Ar or plenty. Those repeated in a circle around the area, along with whatever incantation the cannibal spoke plus whatever magic he had learned, apparently allowed him to heal and grow young from consumed human flesh, all with that book presiding. Aiden didn’t know why but that obviously seemed key.

He tried to think of the other ‘writing’ he had seen. Apparently the symbols, as well as standing on their own, can litterly translate into words when put together. They even helped form most modern alphabets. The letters carved into the living room wall, four then a gap followed by two translated to something Aiden should have guessed.

Face me

Aiden closed his eyes trying to rememeber, the ones on the wall in the basement, the ones that appeared just before he left… what were they?

Aiden grabbed pen and paper, scribbling down roughly what he thought the runes were, their odd angular lines proving difficult. Finally he finished and found the closest matching symbols to his memory, though it didn’t seem to translate to a word.

Fritjof

Was that a name? A quick search confirmed it indeed was, meaning ‘thief of peace’.

Of course it does…

Searching for that name alone revealed little more. He needed to make another leap, another assumption to confirm or deny, it seemed to be the best way to make progress.

Fritjof Cult

Still responses came but they seemed to just be pages mentioning that name, nothing majorly relevant. Aiden paused, both in thought and as a small family walked by his table. His fries were going cold, he stuffed a mouthful as they passed and continued.

Historic Scandinavian Cult Fritjof

Of all the results, one held answers.

Cult of Erad, dated earth 8th century, was a pagan cult based in modern Finland…

…engaged in erratic practices including animal and human sacrifice and slaughter…

… rituals often involved tributes of a violent, sexual or sacrificial nature…

…stories reported members of the cult prossesing unhuman abilities, likening them to witches, with abilities such as curses to manipulate weather or crops, fortification of strength, the eradication or conception of disease…

… believed to converse with and even raise the dead…

The page went on for some time.

… based upon the belief in the pagan deity Erad, a seemingly equally disinterested yet malevolent god who would return such supernatural favours upon his followers…

…strangely bares striking resembelence to cults found in Egypt, c2600BC, france C3800BC, modern USA C900AD, and even Britain C200BC-44AD…

It seemed this Scandinavian cult was lead by a man named Fritjof, well he lead it for a few years before handing leadership to someone else and going off raiding, pillaging, usual Viking stuff.

… stories from the time seem to belive the Fritjof the Undefeated gained supernatural strength and vigor in battle from his actions, time and blessing from this cult…

Undefeated… Looking more into Fritjof himself, it seemed he was something of a monster. He sailed across all of Scandinavia, seemingly uninterested in any political struggles, he would just find affluent towns, villages or camps and slaughter them, with very few followers, taking whatever he wanted, food, wealth, women, mead. He’d then make merry for a week or two on their corpses, often in these pagan, evil ritualistic ways, then move on to the next one. Even royalty would send warriors to hunt him down, they would never be successful. Fritjof never lost a single fight since his time with the cult, hence his name. It seems there was no story of his death, nobody knew how he died. Assumed old age, Aiden supposed. Fritjof was described as having a bald head with a thick blonde beard…

Back on the page detailing the cult, Aiden couln’t help but read a little more, what was a book from this cult doing here? Several of the cult’s memebers apparently said they had visions of their god, this ‘Erad’ character. They described him as appearing to them as a giant spider, some several miles in leg-span, with body of a giant, hollow, human skull sat atop an infinite number of legs of varying thickness and thinness. The skull was said to not have two, but millions upon millions of tiny eyes, starting either side of the nose and reaching back over the temple and around the back of the head like a crown. Aiden simply raised his eyebrows upon reading this description…

I’m not going any further down that rabbit hole…

He paused to consider the facts, if any of this could be called that. Some book from this ancient Scandinavian ‘Cult of Erad’ was here, for some reason. Maybe the cannibal was older than even Aiden thought? Knowing nothing about this Erad thing, Aiden couldn’t deny what he had seen, the cannibals powers and this viking ghost who was cleary this Fritjof guy. Why had he turned up now? Or rather, why had his ghost now turned up?

The book will test you…

Those words rang out in his head again. According to the internet, members of this cult were hand-picked by this Erad, however the cultist knew who the god wanted was beyond Aiden, but they then had to pass some initiation that seemed to be indefinite. For some, beautiful young women, they simply had to betrothe themselves to Erad, to the cult and… well… service a member… others, men and women, had to fight or bring the cult something useful… some were even expected to kill themselves as their initiation…

Aiden closed his eyes, reality didn’t make sense anymore. This ‘Erad’ couldn’t be real, but that cannibal was and this Fritjof?

Aiden opened his eyes again. He was still sitting in that burger joint with those horrible web pages open. He turned off the laptop, slamming its lid before stuffing it into his laptop bag, slinging it over his shoulder, clearing his table and leaving.

The tossed the bag gently into the back of his car before climbing into the driver seat but stopped before putting his key in the ignition. Where was he going?

The sight of a cop car stole Aiden’s gaze. Frozen though, he watched for a moment. They pulled up in the car park and got out, two cops laughing to each other and striding towards the door of the burger place. A bald man with a blond beard approached them. Aiden gasped as his stomach dropped. The bald man turned, standing far across the car park, and looked straight at Aiden before drawing the sword from his back once again and, with a roar, charging towards the officers. The officers drew their guns and Aiden reached to grab his from the glove box. He did and looked out to the front again. All three, the two offices and Fritjof, had disappeared, leaving only a small flurry of snow trickling down where they had stood.

“Face me!” came Fritjof’s ethereal voice again, much more slowly and demanding now.

Gun in hand, Aiden scrambled out of the car, slamming the door shut and locking it as he ran to the spot where the officers had been stood.

Screw it!

“You wanted me?” Aiden bellowed, “Here I am! Fine!” Aiden primed his handgun “Lets do it!”

Swinging the gun out infront of him, sweeping across the cars and burger place, Aiden turned around and found himself standing in a field. Freezing cold wind struck him to the bone as the burger place and cars had vanished.

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