The Verðandi Item in Araea | World Anvil

The Verðandi

Listen closely

Make four cuts on the palm that meet in the center. Anoint with incense, then bleed into the bowl. Mix it with mercury and be ready - the truth is in reach.  
— 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 remain in a state of perpetual decay without ever rotting away. Most notably, the tongue remains, blackened, bloated, and slimy like a slug. Parts of the skull have been replaced or plated with metal - bronze, black iron, and brass. Gemstones have replaced most of the teeth and have been embedded across the cranium. Even with the adornments, the Verðandi is significantly heavier then one would expect.   Lights dim around the Verðandi. No matter how much illumination is brought near, it will never rise above a gloomy twilight.    

Waking The Voice

  The Verðandi whisper secrets, to those willing to pay the price. Dark tomes speak of sacrifice and rites that will stir the dreaming mind of the Verðandi. Some claim the Verðandi's tongue reaches out to devour the offerings, others say it must be poured into its mouth. Once fed, it will speak.  
To those bold or desperate enough to chance it, the Verðandi tells of arcane secrets and dark prophecy, sometimes offering advice or warning. At least once, it has offered nothing but an earth-shattering scream that killed the supplicant.   To others, it has been their initiation into the dark arts of Thaumaturgy, while others claim to hear whispers from the long-dead in its voice. Everyone hears something different, and the Verðandi rarely repeat itself. When it does, it is to deliver dire omen.  
Some whisper that failed some have been eaten by the Verðandi. Many who invoke it are never the same,
  For this reason and many other, the Verðandi is sought after by many who know of it. A few wish to destroy it, but most seek to tease some hideous secret from the skull - a fragment of immortality, a cipher for the Key of the Black Star, the last words of a loved one, or a cure to Desolation. The myths are as many as those who chase after them.  
Who - or what - the Verðandi is remains unknown. It is unclear when the head of Verðandi first appeared or how it came into the possession of its first owner. The age and name of the being once decapitated is unknown, as is the means by which it cheats final oblivion. The head has never shown any signs of higher thinking or personality. Questions about its name or nature never yield answers.   It has changed hands many times, usually violently, and with every decade the truth slips deeper into the shadows. The first mention of the Verðandi is at least two centuries old, but most believe it is far older.
by MrZarono
  Even the name "Verðandi" is only a guess. 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.  
On occasion, the Verðandi has opened its eyes and spoken unbidden, and it has always been a terrible truth.


Every attempt to destroy the Verðandi has failed. Greedy thieves have tried to dislodge either jewel or metal without success. Blows to the skull have at most created cracks and fractures and fire shy away from the bone.   These blemishes never last for more than a few nights, knitting close when no one is watching. Ever so often, the Verðandi exacts vengeance for the damage done to it.  

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 More About the Key of the Black Star  
by Orm-Z-Gor

Cover image: by Kim Van Deun


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Jul 20, 2018 17:24 by Malkuthe Highwind

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?

Jul 21, 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?

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Jul 20, 2018 17:55 by Lost Carcosa

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

Jul 20, 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

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Sep 23, 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.

Feb 12, 2020 12:17

Let me know how that goes :)

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Sep 23, 2018 19:48 by Atena Luna

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 ^^

Sep 24, 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. :)

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Sep 23, 2018 23:41 by Dryant Feywright

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.

Sep 24, 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

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Sep 24, 2018 11:31 by Tobias Linder

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

Sep 24, 2018 13:10

Syyyyyyyyymbolism! :P

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
May 1, 2020 18:52 by R. Dylon Elder

As always Q, great work! It's been a while since I read your work. love the images and of course the creeepy stuff going on here. Not sure how i would react to the tongue. That's what got me lol both its description and the fact that it moves XD   I noticed something that confused me a bit.     "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."   I got confused cause with the adornments, I would assume it would be heavier than expected. It made me wonder if you meant even without, or the presence of the latter half of the sentence is meant to imply it is even heavier, indicating the weight is not the adornments but something inside based on the center of mass. I hope that made sense. I just wondered what it means.     Can one ask the head questions or is its information random and determined by only its will, since the death scream seems to imply that. I ask cause I wonder if anyone bothered to ask its name.

Aug 22, 2020 10:57 by Sloqush

Sometimes one just has to talk to a skull to get ahead in life :D   I am starting to feel like a parrot here but you once again did a great job Q and created yet another truly awesome article <3   P.S: I am willing to bet a soul -meaning not mine- that its name is BEN :p

Author of Cenorad ; a bleak-dark sandbox of creativity.
Aug 23, 2020 08:56

Ahahaaha, I hadn't thought of that but maybe! Maybe it's actually the head of some CEO from Megacorpolis, and all it's really saying is like marketing/motivational slogans :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Aug 23, 2020 10:28 by Sloqush

Hahaha, that would be awesome :D   Also, does that make the Key of the Black Star is just an eldritch EULA ^_^

Author of Cenorad ; a bleak-dark sandbox of creativity.
Aug 22, 2020 21:15 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Most notably, the tongue remains, blackened, bloated, and slimy like a slug.
Ewwwww.   These sound terrifying. I wouldn't want to come across one. I really like how they seem to suck in the light and make everything dimmer. D:

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Aug 23, 2020 08:47

There's only one, and not the kind of thing you really stumble into, so you are in luck. ;D   Or.. Are you? :O Ohnoitsrightbehindyou

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Sep 21, 2022 00:38 by JRR Jara

"At least once, it has offered nothing but an earth-shattering scream that killed the supplicant." AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAA

Creator of Hanzelot and many more.
Sep 21, 2022 15:02


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.