novel, prose

The Tale of Hjalmar, Sleeping Mathilde, Fourth Letter

July 14th1099

Fated brother Alfhild,

I wake amid a dune, its gold and blood hued sand swaying on the scorching sun. Corpses surround me as they rot below the ball of fire. The hollows of erstwhile eyes are filled with mindless thirst. Ooze, like tears, trickled down them in thin streams, or was it, perhaps, blood?

– But him…I know him, I think… – I looked at a dead man upon whose rotting carcass I was sleeping, dazed and thirsty. His body was swelling up under the chainmail. – He’s breathing. – Totally unexpectedly, the dead man turned on his back. I grabbed a sword and drew it in fear – and hope – of him being a Saracen in disguise…


It was a woman, dressed in armor, with long linen hair which encompassed her captivating face. I stepped back for a moment while, at the same time, I got overwhelmed with desire to touch her face.

– What in the hell is a fairy doing in the desert? Mumbling again, Hjalmar… – Olof would respond had he heard me by any chance.

A smile was slowly appearing from her sensual lips, revealing a row of shining, strong teeth. I looked at her, taken aback, encapsulated by her, comparing her beauty with that of Princess Amira, Iftikhar’s daughter said to be the fairest in the whole world.

– Renounce vengeance, Hjalmar…for you will kill us all.

– Who are you, woman? – I whispered.

At that moment, I realized that the night fell over Jerusalem. So fast? I shook, as if I were awoken from a dream.

– I am the Undead, Mathilde von Bergman, betrothed to your descendant, the bloodthirsty Orian von Amerongen.

Her gentile mien suddenly hardened, and her smooth face turned rough in an instant. I heard her bones crackle and craft a new, powerful jaw, wolf-like. Her face became hairy, covered in red fur, specked in blood – she turned into a man. From the wound on her cheek some blood trickled out. It will scar, that was the thought that came to my mind in a split second for reasons beyond me. Maybe because I knew him, from the time when he walked around, as a ghoul, wearing a king’s gown completely covered in blood of enchanted dreams, that colossus, my monstrous descendant Orian.

He said to me: – Kill, Hjalmar! – He was in the hell of Timelessness, covering both days and nights in a funeral shroud, feasting on bloody chunks of flesh, be it human or animal, shaking from his lechery during the cannibalistic rituals celebrating the Gods of darkness, with blessings from some witch whore that came to my dreams…

– Relinquish the sword, Hjalmar. Leave Ismael alone – the corpse uttered. – In truth, you have cursed us all. Go back to Västerås, damn you! Damn you! – He grabbed me by the throat, while he was breaking my bones hitting me with his other hand, with a heap of cussing and frightening curses.

– You…Exist! – I spoke to the abomination with many a question on the top of my waterless tongue, which barely contained a scream. I shoved him away with my hands. His frightening eyes, hued in serpentine rage, where cruelty pulsated, filled with blood… My soul was overtaken by terror, I was dying, I screamed, and…I awoke.

As I stood among the corpses, stepping over scattered and crushed body parts in heavy lead boots, I was thinking of our father, Alfhild. I am no longer skeptical towards the visions as I once was. They speak…They know.

They were there during our father’s death as well. I remember him clearly. That night when he decided to reveal to me the secret of my shameful lineage, he was knocking off on the big ivory throne, as wise as Solomon. His words were fuming in the air drunk on the scent of rotting flesh, and I covered my ears to avoid listening to him while I was screaming.

– Do not lie, old man! – His lips were opening, knives flew out stabbing me. He did not stop, he spoke, he spoke… While I was curling up from the pain, the suffering and the sweat. Witch’s shades danced around us.

– Kill, kill Hjalmar! – His face was pale, cold and gray, I thought in the moment I removed my hands from his neck, while he managed to rattle the last words with his final twitch – You are not my son…You are…Umar’s…bastard.

His body bent unnaturally as his soul floated above it, on its way to Niflheim, for he had actually died of sickness of the soul which crumbled the whites of his eyes yearning for blood during his lifetime and filled his breath with cruelty and sin. He drank human blood, Alfhild, bowing to Hel, while he was deciding on my fate in place of a God. At that point, our father, not unlike an insatiable demon, got up for a moment from his demise, perched up onto his feet and stared at me like an enraged lion.

– Hel gave me a few more minutes on Earth to take care of you – he went after me. Even though he still spoke, there were no longer any signs of life in him.