The Verðandi

Listen closely.

Make four cuts on the palm and be certain they meet in the center. Anoint the smoke of the Desah incense, then bleed into the bowl. Mix it with mercury and offer the container to the Verðandi.  
    • Excerpt from the Rites of the Verðandi
The Verðandi is a severed human head of indeterminable age. Most of its flesh has become mummified, though some remains in a state of perpetual decay without ever rotting away. Most notably, the head's tongue remain, bloated and blackened. Parts of the skull have been replaced or plated with metal in uneven segments of bronze, black iron and brass. Gemstones have replaced the teeth and stud places of the cranium. Even with the adornments, the skull is significantly heavier then one would expect with the center of mass being reported at the center of the skull.   Light dims in the area around the Verðandi. No matter how much illumination is brought near, it will never rise above a gloomy twilight.    

Waking The Voice

  The head is not always still and dead. If the correct rites are performed and when offered a mixture of blood and mercury, the face will begin to move, the jaw will open and the tongue will extend up to twenty centimeters to lap the blood sacrifice. Once it has fed, it will speak. The Verðandi tells of arcane secrets and dark prophecy, sometimes offering advice or warning. The exact nature is unknown and in at least one recorded instance, it has offered nothing but an earth-shattering scream that killed the supplicant.   Reports of the corpse being eaten by the Verðandi remain unconfirmed. But more than one owner have suddenly gone missing.    
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    The Verðandi is highly sought after for the secrets it whispers. The age and name of the being once decapitated is unknown, as is the means by which it cheats final oblivion.  
The skull has proven resistant to destruction. Attempts to dislodge either jewel or metal have failed, while blows to the bone have at most created cracks and fractures. These blemishes never last for more then a few nights, knitting close when no one is watching.
 
  It is unclear when the head of Verðandi first appeared or how it came into the possession of its first owner. Since then, it has changed hands several times, usually violently. It is known to to have been around for at least two centuries, but most believe it is likely older. The head has never shown any signs of higher thinking or personality. Questions about its name or nature never yield answers. It speaks any language the one who feeds it can understand, but not always about things that are within their ability to grasp.   Even the name "Verðandi" is guess-work, at best. Some speculate that the head belongs to the original author of the Key of the Black Star while others argue that the head belongs to an entity far more ancient; perhaps, not even human.  
Once, the head opened its eyes on its own accord and spoke.
Item type
Unique Artifact
Rarity
One
Weight
80-100~ kg
Dimensions
Circumference of 50~ cm

Price of power

  The secrets whispered by the Verðandi make it a priceless artefact for anyone who cares to listen. Many seek the head and for much of its existance, it has been kept hidden far away from jealous rivals of its whoever owned it.   The Verðandi has not always content to remain hidden, however.
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  A ritual knife, created to the specification of the Ritual of Waking the Voice
 
 
Key of the Black Star   The Key is a tome of arcane secrets and occult knowledge. No matter how many times it is destroyed, it always reappears with new chapters written by authors unknown. The first mention anyone can find of the word "Verðandi" comes from a fragment of the Key.   Read about the Key of the Black Star    
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Cover image: by Kim Van Deun

Comments

Author's Notes

Special thanks to Tikal and TheOriginalFive. Go check out their stuff!   (In particular, check out Tikal's entry for this day's prompt here: https://www.worldanvil.com/w/swordsfall-solkyoshiro/a/godheads-article but go check out TOF's too!)


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20 Jul, 2018 17:24

Oooooh. I love this. It's creepy. It's eldritch. It's filled with secrets. It's almost like an item that would make it onto the SCP catalog. :3. Well done! Could we perhaps get a sample of the whispers that the skull has provided in the past?

21 Jul, 2018 20:45

SPC was a definite inspiration. :D   I'll try to think of some good whispers. What kind of details do you reckon would be interesting?

20 Jul, 2018 17:55

OOh, the last line was pretty creepy! Getting SCP vibes from this! Seconding what Malkuthe said -- it would be nice to get a sample of the skull's sayings

20 Jul, 2018 18:00

The SCP foundation is something I am a huge fan of, and it has been an inspiration not just for this article but the entire world. It's just a great thing and everyone should go check out the foundation. :3   I will think about what kind of saying could be added. Right now, I've no idea for specifics; more like forbidden arcane secrets stuff. :D

20 Jul, 2018 18:14

oooooohhhh deeaarr.... that’s. kinda creepy, that’s for sure. i can think of many a merchant king or emperor searching endlessly for it’s secrets, only to be screeched to death like that one guy... but i can also imagine a teenager just. asking it what the next big meme is,, good job!! super creepsie!!

21 Jul, 2018 20:47

It's probably going to a bit out of the price-range of your average teen. ;)   Thnks for commenting! Creepy is definitely what I wanted! :D

23 Sep, 2018 15:13

I really love horror literature, and this is no exception. I can't really find anything to criticize here--its fleshed out, there are no spelling, grammar, or style errors, and it's no longer than it needs to be. Might have to steal this for a tabletop rpg at some point in the future.

23 Sep, 2018 19:48

When I opened the article, the head did spook me xD. A nice touch I must say. I like the mystery behind the head and how creepy it is. Very, very interesting and fun.

Is it known by other names?
What happens when it is given anything but blood and mercury, does it activate, does it remain still?
What kind of whispers and prophecies does it say?
Does it hold an actual conversation or only keeps talking until it has nothing to say?
Is there a chance that you could mention some important owners?

A great article! Keep it up ^^

24 Sep, 2018 07:20

The answer to most of those are a "maybe/probably", but I think it's better served by leaving it as a vague mystery: in these kinds of stories, the specifics are rarely as interesting as the idea itself.   I do like the idea of maybe mentioning a couple important owners, so I might try to squeeze that in there (aw my beautiful exactly lined up formatting).   Thanks and I'm glad you liked it! The header picture is a commission from the very talented Kim Van Deun and she did a killer job on that one. :)

23 Sep, 2018 23:41

YAAAAS! This is the Cosmic Horror, Eldritch creepiness that I like to see! This skull is something that I could see having whispers that could raise more questions than answers. You, sir, shall get a favourite and follow from me.

24 Sep, 2018 07:22

Haha, thank you kindly, sir! :D   I'm glad you liked it: eldrich/cosmic and SCP type of weirdness is definitely my jam and a huge influence on this world. Check out the Key of the Black Star. I think you're going to like that, too. :D

24 Sep, 2018 11:31

Verðandi? I see someone's been inspired by norse mythology. ;)

24 Sep, 2018 13:10

Syyyyyyyyymbolism! :P