25 Mar Fantastic Fridays: Goldjilok
This week, Fantastic Fridays brings you the first pages of a powerful retelling: Goldjilok and the Bruinstorms. Spun by the eloquent Roberta Cottam, as part of the Fabled collection, this tale evokes mystery and intrigue…
… and finding your fate in the hands of rogues.
Lev found her washed up on the rocky shoreline at dawn. At first he thought her a chunk of ice broken off from a passing berg, its crystalline facets winking in the cool morning sun. But when he drew near, he saw that the object’s shimmering appearance was not that of jagged ice, but rather layers of silken nightclothes frozen solid with seawater. Golden hair spread like a fan around her pale, sea-battered face.
Lev ran home to the ice cave to tell his brothers Kul and Fyr, who returned with him to the stony beach.
Fyr prodded her with the toe of his boot. “Does she live?” he growled through the frost lacing his bushy red beard.
Kul shook the ice out of his own black beard and placed a paw-like hand on the girl’s chest. Her breast lifted like a sail filled with wind. “She breathes.”
Lev nodded his yellow head toward the dazzling hair splayed over the rocky shoreline, as if the Sun Disc itself had fallen from the sky and landed at their feet. “Brothers, do you not know who this is? Quick! Take her inside.”
The three brothers lived in a snow dome made of ice blocks that stood over twelve feet tall and was twice its height in diameter. Tapestries of longships and sea dragons decorated the ice-brick walls. Dozens of polar bear pelts padded the snow floor. Brass lanterns smouldered with narwal blubber and at the centre of the snow dome a sizzling fire vented through a diamond shaped opening in the roof of the dome. Fyr stoked the fire with precious shards of wood. Beside the crackling flames the brothers laid the frozen Princess Goldjløk.
Lev suggested they strip her, that her nightdress would dry and her skin warm twice-quickly. Fyr and Kul agreed — Fyr that they might take a look at her naked body, and Kul that he might take her riches. And so it came to be that Goldjløk was laid bare — whereupon Fyr grabbed a tit and Kul her ruby rings — and wrapped in a shroud of white polar bear fur. Lev counted her eyelashes while he waited for her eyelids to lift.
When her eyes opened at last, she sat up with immediacy, pulling the furs tight about her. It was evening and the brothers gathered about the fire pit eating their dinner. Their enormous shadows crawled up the ice block walls, towering overhead like the great black bears of Goldjløk’ s homeland. Her lips moistened at the aroma of seal pup soup.
But Goldjløk asked for nothing — neither nourishment nor her nightgown. She kept her mouth shut and her eyes open, for knew where she was.
She was in the den of the Bruinstorm Brothers, infamous burglars and murderers. Nearly ten years ago, fleeing from her father’s Chiefdom under punishment of death, the Bruinstorms had set sail never to be seen since. Her father and all the subjects in his Chiefdom presumed the brothers dead.
But not so. Here they were, far into the northern archipelago, as tall and hairy and grizzly as legend told. Goldjløk watched with keen eyes to see what these men — if like all men — would do.
Fyr was the first to offer her drink.
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