The Halden Cache


The Halden Cache:
A History of the Foundation Stone,
and Translation of the Accompanying Text
By Douglas Summers

In the winter of 1899, while travelling in Norway, I met a dishevelled wild man who called himself Galar the Red. The man had recently taken possession of a tiny hamlet, setting himself up as lord of the inhabitants living there. He was a cruel tyrant, demanding tributes in flesh, both to satisfy his lust for women and his literal taste for human meat.

Galar the Red was no ordinary man. He was, as am I, a member of the Pack – a shapeshifter. He had reached an extraordinary age, even by the standards of the Pack. Upon my revealing myself to him, he laid claim to being a direct descendant of the First Generation, that group of shapeshifters descended from the Old Ones who were first cursed and who could not return to their human forms.

Whether the claim of close descent is true or not, Galar the Red gave me sufficient reason to believe he was quite old. He had recently, he said, left a life of primitive seclusion deep in the mountains of Scandinavia. His hermitic life ended after a visit by two dark-skinned people who claimed to be from a New World. It was a man and woman who visited him. The woman already possessed the Gift, showing that she could become a fierce wolf. They demanded Galar give his Gift to the man so that he, too, could wear the shape of a great bear.

Galar the Red agreed to this on the condition the woman lay with him, which she did. He would not say if he honoured his vow and passed on the Gift to her companion. I spent two months with the man and learned much about the ancestry we shared, but he offered no explanation of what became of the two dark-skinned foreigners who visited him. Having witnessed his behaviour toward those he ruled in the village, I can only suspect he killed and ate them.

It was through Galar the Red that I learned the rumoured Halden Foundation Stone did, indeed, exist. The Stone had become a thing of legend among living members of the Pack.

Galar the Red claimed to have forced the Gift on a Viking warlord named Bjorn Halden, attacking him on a hunting expedition. Halden was known as Wolfslayer because of his victory in battle over a French nobleman who was also a werewolf. Galar the Red told me he thought it would be fitting to pass the Beast Gift, as he called it, to Halden as just reward for his killing of the French werewolf.

Galar the Red marked Halden with the Othala rune and left him in the cave. Halden escaped and became a pupil of the Gift, eventually building the Foundation Stone as a meeting place for the Pack. The Foundation Stone, according to Galar the Red, was a wide circle of flat stones with a carved obelisk standing at the centre. The flagstones at the base of the obelisk were carved with runes and images of men, wolves and bears. The Pack would gather in the circle, with the speaker standing at the pillar.

It may well be suspected this design had other uses Galar did not comprehend, but, if so, they are lost since we do not know the location of the formation or what, exactly, was carved on any of the stones other than the fragment now in my possession.

Through those who gathered around the Foundation Stone at ten-year intervals, Halden came to learn the details of the Gift.

Galar the Red told me that during these years he remained hidden in the mountains, where he stayed until after the visit by the couple from the New World. But he gathered news in his own way. He would not say how, but it is not hard to guess that he had allies in the Pack who attended Halden’s gatherings.

For what must have been between two hundred and three hundred years, members of the Pack gathered at the Foundation Stone at the appointed time each decade, until the death of an Old One set members to fighting one another. Bjorn Halden, himself, is lost to history after that. Galar the Red could say only that the Viking ceased hunting him and vanished, some saying to the desert of the south, some to the Far East.

At any rate, when the gatherings had ended, Galar the Red made a journey to the Foundation Stone. By chance, he claimed, he discovered a hallowed space beneath one of the engraved flagstones at the base of the obelisk. He pried up the stone and removed a clay jar sealed with soft wood and wax. He then destroyed the meeting place, toppling the obelisk and scattering the stones. He took the jar and a carved flagstone he believed possessed special power with him and returned to his cave.

The jar, he said, contained nothing of importance – only marks made on dried skins. He suspected the marks were a record of who attended the gatherings.

These are the most important things I learned from the man. Beyond this he was interested only in the vilest debauchery to make up for his centuries of isolation. He was ignorant of many things that had transpired in the industrial world, including the invention of firearms.

I shot Galar the Red as he prepared to kill a young boy offered to him as sacrifice.

Immediately afterward, using the information I had gained, I went in search of the cave where he had lived for so long. After a dozen years of searching the mountains and questioning villagers about man-eating bears, I found it. The place was littered with bones still, and devoid of almost anything that would have revealed human occupation. Only animal skins used for blankets and a few tools made of stone and bone assured me I had found the correct cave. I began excavating beneath the place where it appeared the cave’s occupant had most often slept.

There I found the broken flagstone taken from Halden’s Foundation Stone, along with the jar Galar the Red had claimed. The jar had not been resealed properly and the document within was decaying. I carefully examined it on-site and was shocked to see it was written in Latin. I returned the document to the jar and brought it home to England, along with the damaged flagstone.

History says that Bjorn Halden was unlike most Vikings. In the years when his father ruled, Halden explored the known world, learning many languages and bringing home many exotic items. This stopped when he married a Welsh noblewoman captured in a raid. The flagstone bears the Othala, or Odal, rune of ancestry that is well known to all members of the Pack, surrounded by the moon in its cycle, with a man at the apex and a wolf at the base. Why Bjorn Halden chose to use runes and symbols on the stone while writing his hidden document in Latin is as big a mystery as why he used a wolf in the symbol instead of a bear, as would seem reasonable according to the dictates of his own strain of the Gift.

The only explanation I can fathom is that Bjorn Halden was a man who looked to the future. Even in his time we know that shapeshifters with the Gift of becoming a bear were becoming fewer, just as the language and writing of the Vikings was being replaced by Germanic and romantic languages. I believe Halden saw that wolves would come to make up the dominant majority of the Pack and that languages derived from Latin would become more common. To pass on what he had learned, he appealed to the vulgate that would come after him, hoping to make his knowledge accessible to future generations of the Pack.

With that, I hope I have helped him in his mission. I offer here my own translation of his original document. Alas, the damage caused by Galar the Red’s poor handling has left gaps where the original media was damaged beyond legibility. I have done the best I can. Where the manuscript was damaged beyond any hope of reading I have indicated the missing text with […]. Where the text was damaged but intact enough that I could denote the meaning of the phrase I have rendered it <as such>. My own editorial notes appear (in parentheticals).

May you learn from this cache and prosper the Pack.

— Douglas Summers
May 19, 1938

Wisdom Shared at the Foundation Stone

These are the words of Bjorn Halden, son of Olaf, written here so that what has been learned may not be forgotten. This is what I have learned in the years since being […] Beast Gift as it […] called Galar the Red.

In the year of the Christian God 1045, a year after the death of Olaf, I was chief of my village. The winter […] harsh […] hunt for meat. In this time I was called Wolfslayer because it was I who slew a werewolf called Delmore Le Chevreaux, a marquis […] southern France. Le Chevreaux had <abducted> the woman who would be my wife. Because I […] Wolfslayer, others who shared the Beast Gift knew of me. Galar the Red was one who knew my name.

Though it was winter, I found the tracks […] bear […] snow. I <followed> […] and found a shallow cave where slept a great brown bear. He had not heard my approach, I believed, and so […] to attack.
But this was not a bear. As I rushed the beast with my spear, it stood and […] my spear with the hands of a man. With the great strength of a bear he threw me […] cave wall […] When I awoke I was bound and […] naked man.

“I am Galar the Red,” he declared, pounding his great chest with a thick fist. “I carry the Beast Gift. You […] Wolfslayer. […] show you […] to be a bearer of the Beast Gift. I will <pass the> Beast Gift <to> you that you may know the lusts and power of the brother you killed.”

By Thor’s hammer, Galar the Red then changed his form and <became> a true bear before my eyes. This was not the frenzy of those who are called Bear Shirts who carry the fury of a bear into battle but retain their form as men. This man became a bear.

The bear’s teeth […] my side and he licked at my blood with such abandon that I was rocked where I lay on the floor of the cave. But he did not seek to devour me. As I was to learn, he was <ensuring> that the Beast Gift was <transmitted> to me.

For seven days I was as one dead. Galar the Red tended the wound he himself had inflicted. On the sixth day, he said that I would live. Then he bound my hands and feet once more and took up a knife and carved Odin’s symbol on my left shoulder.

“You are one of us now, and shall be until the end of your days,” he told me. “As Mani waxes and wanes in the night sky, so shall the Beast Gift <wax and wane> in you.” Then he cut the cords binding my hands, became the bear once more […] away.

I freed my feet from their bindings, but was too weak to leave the cave. […] that still had scraps of meat. Two more nights passed me in the cave before I began the journey home.

I was greeted by my wife, Morwen Angmire, and our son Uther, but Morwen carried bad tidings. […] and many others who were old and sick had died of hunger. Some said I had abandoned my people, others that I had <been killed>. I took up my son and carried him through the village to our longhouse. That day Lars and his hunting party returned […] bringing with them deer and other small game.

That night I lay with Morwen and she became with child. But before I was to know that, I had my first affliction of the Beast Gift. When Mani had returned to the same position she had held at the time Galar the Red passed the Beast Gift to me, I endured much pain that sent me fleeing to the woods so that Morwen and my people would not see me suffer. There I became a bear and lived thus for five days and four nights before the agony overtook me […] returned to my human shape.

In the […] moon of her <pregnancy> Morwen screamed in pain and tore at her belly. She said she carried a demon in her and that it tried to tear her from the inside. She then fell into a fever and never again opened her eyes. I buried her and […] carried in the earth, as was the custom of her Christian forefathers.

From that day, Lars and his wife became like parents to Uther. I returned to the forest in search of Galar the Red. I would […] his blood as […] Morwen. Long did I hunt the fiend, but there was no spoor to be found from him. […]

[Several lines made illegible due to staining.]

But in time I was found by one who called herself Lena. She […] Beast Gift in the form of a wolf. Together we hunted, bear and wolf, and she told me of others who shared the Beast Gift. I determined I would build a gathering place so that all […] Beast Gift could assemble and share their knowledge.

Thus it was I returned to my village while Lena went <into the forest> to spread word of the gathering to those others she knew. I <employed> many men in the carving and moving of stones to a hilltop a day’s journey north. There, I myself placed the flagstones and assembled the Foundation Stone to stand as a marker to those who would come.

On the night of Yule, two score and two gathered round The Foundation Stone. Man and beast danced around a great fire and there was meat and mead and other food and drink. For a fortnight we remained and shared that which we knew about the Beast Gift.

At this time I learned that those who carried the Beast Gift were blessed with long life. […] There […] methods of killing those with the Beast Gift. […] severing the head, poisoning with the plant wolfsbane and inflicting a wound with a silver weapon. Many agreed they had seen that these means were effective.

[…] determined a like gathering should be <convened> every ten years. As brothers and sisters, we parted and went our separate ways.

And so the Pack gathered at The Foundation Stone for many generations of men and during this time much knowledge was shared. One who said he had seen three generations of his sons live and die after he received the Beast Gift told that he had been afflicted by an Old One, one of the first of our kind. He told a story that found echoes in the dreams of all those gathered. […] relate it here because those who share the Beast Gift also share the vision <of> Nadia the witch cursing our forefathers.

Those who were cursed by Nadia came to be called the Old Ones. It was learned that those who survived a bite of the Old Ones would then become a beast for a time each month. People who were passed the Beast Gift by an Old One came to be known as the First Generation because they were the first shapeshifters. It is not known […]

At the third meeting of the Pack at the Foundation Stone one came who called herself Ingmar. She had been given the Beast Gift as a young woman and came to live with she who afflicted her, a woman named Ymir who was of the First Generation. Ymir was the companion and lover of Deitrich, an Old One. Ingmar told how Ymir was an old woman when they came together and that Ymir had been given the Beast Gift five generations of men previous to that time. Ymir aged and finally died and that is how we learned that the Old Ones seem immortal while those of the First Generation and beyond are blessed with long lives but eventually must die.

On the occasion of the tenth gathering at the Foundation Stone, Deitrich himself came. He was the first and only Old One to come to the meeting place. Deitrich took in his mouth an arrow tipped with silver from the quiver I carried and, finding a gap in the flagstone, he set the arrow so that the tip pointed toward the moon. Then he threw himself onto the arrow so that it pierced his breast.

Those of us gathered at the Foundation Stone […] amazement as Deitrich took the form of a man. As the blood and breath left his body, spilling over the flagstone carved with Odin’s rune, he told us his name.

“I have not been a man, nor have I spoken to men, since the world was young,” he said. “Only at the moment of death can Nadia’s Children return to the shape they once held. My heart aches with the loss of Ymir and I will not endure it longer. I will give my children a riddle before I die, however.

“I see a time when the world will have grown old and men will be without the gods for they will have abandoned them. Many generations from now a woman will come to the Pack and she will bear a son. Not through the blood of a wound, but through the natural means of childbirth she will become the Mother. The Pack will gather around this son and he will become your king. Those who are unfit will be destroyed so that […] will not suffer weakness. He will […] men. He will be […] ravenous […] and yet […] blood.”

And so Deitrich breathed his last and died in peace.

My brothers and sisters of the Beast Gift fell to arguing then over the meaning of Dietrich’s words. No one present understood <their> meaning. Some said he was crazy with grief and saw only evil in the world. Others that he spoke of a time when those with the Beast Gift would rule men. Some argued a Beast King would be too cruel a ruler for normal men.

Deitrich’s body was prepared for funeral, but in the night someone came to his byre and ate his flesh and scattered his bones. […] power […] of the fallen Old One.

There was war in the Pack then. Much blood was shed. Most fled into the woods, others pursued and many died. It was the end of the gatherings at the Foundation Stone.

It has been fifty years since a gathering was held. In that time, only I have returned to the Foundation Stone at the appointed time. I have come to believe there will not be another such gathering in my lifetime, no matter how many years I am granted. There is much to see in the world, and I would see it. This manuscript I will seal and hide beneath the carved stone where Deitrich spilled his blood to share his vision. Whether it be true or not is of no consequence to me now. Perhaps in time […]

(Manuscript is torn here and several lines are damaged beyond reading.)

[…] Uther is an old man now and his health is failing. His sons and their sons are hail, and so the bloodline of Bjorn Halden and Morwen Angmire will continue and I […]

(The lower edge of the manuscript had become brittle and crumbled when touched. The last lines of text are lost.)

Advertisements

One thought on “The Halden Cache

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s