Thursday, June 28, 2012

At the End of the Ouroboros

*What follows are the only exisiting pages of the journal of a man determined to collect all the world's mythological creatures. Of course, such foolishness leads him into untold dangers...whether or not he survives the proceeding account, we may never know...*

“This is the end of Jormungand’s tail, as we know it,” Hymir said gruffly.

Anyone could have told me that making this journey was a bad idea. Who would ever advise someone to go to the ends of the world to find the place where the Midgard Serpent’s mouth met its tail, poison-drenched teeth locked on its impenetrable coils, in an attempt to capture it? Well, as a collector of the unusual, the ethereal, the monstrous, and the extraordinary, I had advised myself to start pursuing the most exotic wild animals for what would be my Master Menagerie, the Grandest, Greatest, Singularly Most Incredible Cryptozoological Institution in the World.

Hymir the giant (although not quite as formidable as he once was centuries ago), kept a firm grip on the oars of our rowboat. It was not the first time he had made this trip, but I knew he would have rather not made it ever again. “Have you done all the sight-seeing you’ve wanted, or do you want to linger and see if the monster will devour us?”

I confess, Jormungand was a soul-taking, bone-chilling presence. It was almost too colossal to even comprehend that this was an actual creature, a serpentine sentience that could inhale the heavens and swallow the seas with a single sip. Its titanic tail could slice the world in half—and who was to say what extent of the universe could be burnt into papery ash with its foul breath.

“Can we get a little closer?” I asked.

Hymir grimaced, and blanched slightly. “It would be foolish to tempt Fate and risk startling the beast. It would be wiser to yank on Fenrir’s tail.”

I know he said this in jest, but once I had Fenrir in my possession as well, he would be as docile as a pup.

“I thank you for your services, but I believe I can go on from here. If you need to return to shore, you may do so. Here is your payment.” I produced a sack of gold coins from my satchel and plopped it into the giant’s hands. The bag looked like a leather morsel in Hymir’s expansive palm, but it was suitable enough payment for a boat ride.

Hymir blinked in perplexity at me. “What do you mean, ‘go on from here’? How do you expect to go anywhere without my boat?”

I grinned coolly, and extracted a roll of pink ribbon from my pocket. I started unfurling the ribbon, and after a moment it snapped like a whip into life, snaking up and out into the air, curling and weaving into something like a rope ladder towards the lidless red eye of the serpent. Once the ribbon was finished unfurling, I began my ascent upwards.

“You’re mad!” cried Hymir. “Crazier than Thor! At least he came with rod, hook and hammer. What are you planning to do if that monster awakens?”

I didn’t bother to call back, as the churning of the sea below would have drowned out my answer. I fingered the hat pin that I was holding, a slender golden needle about six inches long, with a glimmering green crystal on one end. It was astonishing to think how such a small device would work in ensnaring the leviathan that encompassed the world, but pebbles have been known to defeat Colossuses, so the stories tell us.

As I reached the top of the ladder, Jormungand’s eye, a deep crimson that would put blood, wine and fire to shame, shifted just a fraction, just enough for me to know he was wide awake, and his gaze was on me.

A sudden, frostbite fear seeped into my bones, and it crossed my mind that maybe I had given myself some very bad advice…

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