A story to kill time - Laurent Peyronnet - ebook

A story to kill time ebook

Laurent Peyronnet

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A dreamlike travel in the Vikings and Lapps land !Magnus, a ten-year old Norwegian boy, discovers a magic bookcase which enables him to travel in time through Scandinavian history. In the company of Rognetide the troll, Magnus goes off to explore the life of the Vikings in the year 1000. He meets Erik the Red, whom he follows in his different trips across the world.Discover the first volume of Magnus adventures and dive in the nordic culture and scandinavian mythology !EXTRACTMagnus agreed with Rognetide. What else could they do? He was nevertheless terribly anxious. They were lost in this frozen wilderness, alone, with nothing to help them progress in the thick snow. A chain of snow covered hills stretched to the horizon and in between stood vast pine and birch forests. They looked dark and frightening. Now and then the shriek of a raven pierced the air, dramatically increasing the feeling of isolation and loneliness. Magnus had never imagined that you could feel so small and insignificant or be in so much danger by just being in contact with nature. At sundown, when twilight crept in, they heard wolves howling in the distance and later Rognetide picked out in the moonlight the silhouette of a pack at the top of a hill. They were not far, Rognetide remained calm and tried to be rational.ABOUT THE AUTORSLaurent Peyronnet writes novels, tales and short stories. Passionate about traveling, he discovers Norway in 1997 and falls in love with this country. He becomes guide there: during 15 years, he comes along French-speaking travelers. His novel Magnus, A story to kill time is the meeting point between his passion for writing and for Norway.Godo considers that a blank page is full of opportunities and a place where anything could appear. Since his first papers, he builds a world populated by goblins, trolls and dragons. At the present time, he works at the realisation of fantasy video games and a serie of tales (for this project, he will be illustrator, author and composer): Les contes de la forêt d'Orthana.

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This book is dedicated to my wife Anne and my children Chloé, Benjamin and Roxane.

L. Peyronnet

This book is published with the support of the Aquitaine region

© DADOCLEM Éditions

7, rue Jérôme Mauvigney – 33200 Bordeaux

www.dadoclem.fr

Design and layout : Virginie Thomas

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means in any country, without the prior permission of the publishers.

Act 49956 of the 16 July 1949 about youth publications

Copyright, legal deposit : September 2012 - Digital version : December 2015

ISBN: 978-2-916637-48-8

E-pub production: booqlab.com

he bell struck one at the church in Odda. It was raining. Under the school’s covered playground the children were unwrapping their lunches, small bread rolls covered with Geitost1 and smoked salmon that their mothers had prepared in the morning, as usual.

This afternoon an important football game was scheduled in the large gymnasium but Magnus wasn’t taking part in it. His dad had sent a note to the school telling him to hurry back to the inn right after school. A group of party-goers returning from the Lom fair was arriving in the evening and in spite of his tender age, Magnus, who was just over ten, was expected to lend a hand.

“Do your coat up properly,” ordered the teacher. “And don’t dawdle on the way. In such weather I would have liked to take you home myself but I can’t leave the school unattended.”

Magnus was in a very bad mood. He didn’t like having to miss a great football game because of the fair and to make matters worse a storm was brewing outside and he would have to face it alone as no one could drive him home. He closed the gate and left the school grounds. He turned the collar of his jacket up to keep his neck warm. As they say in Norway “We don’t have bad weather... just bad clothes!”

The sky was low and the rain heavy, he couldn’t see more than a hundred feet in front of him. It was a freezing rain that chilled to the bone. By the time he reached the wood he was soaking wet and as if that wasn’t enough, an icy wind had just started to blow, whipping him across the face and forcing him to shut his eyes. Magnus felt dizzy, his ears were roaring painfully.

It was crazy to be out in such weather! But his dad was counting on him so he couldn’t do otherwise.

To go from Odda, where the school is, to the Elveseter inn where Magnus lived, you had to follow a narrow winding road that wormed through the landscape for a few miles and made its way between the cliffs.

In the summer, many tourists enjoy walking along this road but in the winter, travellers are rare and the only public transport going this way is the school bus.

Magnus often walked home this way and the road was very familiar to him. He knew every twist, turn and hollow, here a burrow or a nest, there a clump of stinging-nettles. With his friends, there was always a reason for pushing and shoving one another and messing around in a game of pretend. Further along the road a grove of pine trees often provided perfect hiding places when they played smugglers. But right now in this wretched weather the only thing he had in mind was how to get home as quickly as possible. Home, where he would probably find a mug of hot chocolate and warm clothes awaiting him on arrival!

The storm was raging and Magnus was making his way painfully along the road. He was soon out of breath and had to stop to rest a while huddled against a familiar boulder at the side of the road. He knew he had gone a third of the way, not enough to give up. He was still a long way from home but there was no turning back now. Going back would be worse. So he set off again, the road ahead of him stretching away endlessly.

He soon felt as if he had been walking for hours and was ready to stop once again when, in the swirling greyness of the rain, he made out in the distance, the neon light of his dad’s inn. Gathering what strength he had left, he started to run but was soon exhausted and had to stop again.

Half way along the road that goes from Odda to Elveseter there is an unexpected fork that leads to a clearing. If you take this path, at the end of it, you will see a strange little house made of stone leaning against a tree that is a hundred years old. The house looks shabby and although made of stone, which is rather unusual around here, it gives the impression that a gust of wind could easily bring it down all together.

The children who live around here know the house well. Endless stories, all very strange and frightening, are told about the old man living in it.

Magnus had seen the light in the distance and thought it was the sign at the inn, but in fact it was the light in the old man’s house shining through one of the windows. So, after all his efforts, he was still only half way to the inn and the storm was pressing down upon him. It was getting heavier by the minute and there seemed to be no end to its fury.

Magnus could now see the house very clearly. The old man had come out and was standing on the door step beckoning Magnus to come nearer. Magnus’ parents had warned him not to go near the old man. They thought him strange and, like most people in the village, they were wary of him.

When they talked about him, they called him an old fool and laughed about him.

One day a traveller who had just arrived at the inn had inquired, “Who is that old man?”

“No one knows for sure,” had answered Magnus’ father.

“He has been here for such a long time that we don’t bother about him anymore. In fact, he never comes to the village, seldom leaves his house and if he does, never ventures far from it. At times he stays locked in for days.”

“Has he got a family? How long has he been living here among you folks?” had insisted the puzzled traveller.

“I don’t know for sure,” had answered Magnus’ father. “We don’t know anything about his parents. What is sure is that he was already here when I was born and my dad knew him too. Lots of things are said about him.”

“Really, what kind of things?”

“Well, the old people around here can’t remember him as a child or as a young man for that matter. Just as I told you before, he was already here when my father was a young lad. Out here we are a bit superstitious. We believe in trolls2, spells and witchcraft… it makes no difference after all, that’s the way things are. The old man has always been old.”

Magnus wasn’t sure what to do, he had never met the old man and his imagination was running wild. He pictured a house full of very strange things like hens hanging from the ceiling or misshapen frogs in glass jars and even corpses under the floorboards howling through the night to be given decent graves. The old man himself was probably hiding some torture instruments in his kitchen and if Magnus entered the house he would find himself trapped inside with this old fool whose pale face would most probably show a broad sadistic grin and reveal his rotten teeth.

Magnus imagined him waving his arm around, imitating a spider having just trapped an insect in his web. He was hearing the old man’s high-pitched voice squeal:

“Well boy! you finally made up your mind to come and see THE OLD MAN!

Magnus had stopped in the middle of the path and was hesitating but he could not just stand there. He didn’t know whether he should go inside or ignore the old man. It was not an easy choice. An inner voice was shouting “Go away! Run!” and yet another, far more reasonable, was telling him “The storm is raging, its bitter cold, to carry on would be madness.”

He was still standing motionless when a hand gripped his arm.

“What’s the matter with you young man? Hurry, come inside and get warm. This weather is unfit for any human being and I am too old to be outside.”

The old man’s voice was soft but firm. Magnus took a step forward. He was half frozen, his teeth were chattering. He was now past thinking and let the old man guide him inside the house. A nice warm fire was burning in the fireplace.

“Take off your coat and sit here,” said the old man pointing to an armchair near the fire. Magnus, still apprehensive, was looking at the old man’s face but could only see what to him was just the face of any grand-father, a little sad perhaps but not at all frightening. The fire made him feel much better but when the old man went into the kitchen Magnus got worried again.

“Why is he going in there? What is he doing there?” he asked himself. But soon the old man returned carrying a mug of hot chocolate.

“Drink this, it will do you good, you need it.”

The old man sat down in the armchair next to Magnus, by the fire, and fell silent.

He was giving Magnus time to recover and was just observing him with kindness. Magnus was gazing around not wanting to miss anything of this strange setting. He was quite taken by what he was discovering.

“Wait and see what my friends are going to say when I tell them!” he thought to himself.

The room was cosy, no cracks or cobwebs, nothing like the shabby exterior. It was very much like the lounge in a grand manor house. All sorts of interesting things hung from the walls or were laid on the furniture. On one of the walls Magnus noticed a very ancient map of the world with colorful illustrations showing whales swimming in the oceans.

Then his gaze rested on a curious object on the mantelpiece.

“That is a sextant,” said the old man. “In the old days it was used to determine the position of one’s ship. Have you ever been sailing?”

“Not often,” said Magnus. “During the holidays, there are a lot of people at the inn and I help my dad. By the way, do you have a telephone? I should call him. He must be wandering what happened to me.”

“I don’t have a telephone my boy,” said the old man. “You know that I live alone. Who do you expect would call me? But don’t worry, the storm will soon die down and then you will be able to go home.”

“Would you like me to tell you a story to kill time?”

Magnus, sitting by the fire, felt drowsy and was glad to be inside instead of battling against the storm outside. The old man began his story. He was good at telling stories, his voice was warm and soft. The young boy felt a delightful languor invade him, the rhythm of the words lulling him into sleep. The story was about tough hard men from another age wearing animal-skins. It was about fighting, swearing oaths and treachery and described a tree with an everchanging foliage that told the history of the world. Magnus heard about the shimmering sun that never sets and the northern lights dancing in an endless night. He was feeling very comfortable here.

“Now my boy, it’s time for you to have a look at the rest of the house,” said the old man.

The wall, on which the world map was hanging revolved and Magnus found himself on the other side of it.

“This is my library,” said the old man showing in a circular gesture hundreds of books stacked from floor to ceiling against the walls.

The young boy was really impressed. He had never seen so many books.

“Have you read all these books?” he asked incredulous.

“You may say so … well, almost,” chuckled the old man.