πειρασμὸς ὑμᾶς οὐκ εἴληφεν εἰ μὴ ἀνθρώπινος: πιστὸς δὲ ὁ θεός, ὃς οὐκ ἐάσει ὑμᾶς πειρασθῆναι ὑπὲρ ὃ δύνασθε, ἀλλὰ ποιήσει σὺν τῷ πειρασμῷ καὶ τὴν ἔκβασιν τοῦ δύνασθαι ὑπενεγκεῖν.
The dusk set in as a fatigued collier threaded the woods, his body bent by the weight on his shoulders, a semblance already burdened by years of hard labour. His footsteps cracked an eerie silence that was seldom punctuated with the sounds of nightly creatures or unfamiliar sighs. Slowing down as he approached a small glade, he then proceeded to load his kiln with the logs he was carrying - not forgetting to pass by a large stone near the river, where he would always leave a fruit, a flower, or a portion of his harvest before setting it afire. A longstanding tradition passed onto him through generations, as the people who had known those woods were well aware of its dwellers and keepers. The token served as a proof of recognition and ensured the wanderers a tranquil night’s sleep - for whatever eyes could pry on them from the dark, would just as equally guard them.
But this was to be no ordinary night. And thus, as flames turned to ember, as flesh became tender, the man was shook from his slumber. Something uncanny he had heard, or sensed, looming in the twilight around him. Eagerness got the best of him, and he found his feet walking cautiously in the direction of an indistinguishable, entrancing hum.
Suddenly, his eyes managed to see it - a handsome Huldrekall, lying on the boggy bank just ahead, chanting an ancient, unheard melody. “Fear not”, the hulder said calmly, “I want you to be part of my kin”. The young collier sat across him, mesmerized by such unearthly presence. He inhaled deeply, absorbing the damp air now filled with fragrances yet unknown to him. The brume around them seemed to thicken, becoming almost palpable - and he asked himself whether he could still find his way back, should he ever want to. “Come closer” - a swirling veil of opaqueness. He thought he felt an embrace. And even in and out of consciousness - as if in the sweet daze of a long recurring dream - he could swear he ran his hands over the coarseness of a bark covered back.
Eventually he would be found - gaunt and quivering, his voice an endless mutter as he intently eyed the river. “Insane,” they deemed him. “Huldren. Ensnared by the charms of the huldrefolk”. But while he was dragged out of the forest that harboured him for what now seemed an eternity, the young man realized what he’d really become: estranged… an unbelonger. And had his rescuers cared to listen, perhaps they would have caught the glimpse of an ageless yearning in his whispers:
Såg eg ein gutt av trærne;
Jeg følte kaldt,
Han ga meg din varme
Såg eg ein gutt av trærne
Den tok meg vekk,
Sang meg ein rislande bekk…