“Well, we’ve come this far, let’s go in”. Nigel wanted to assume the role of leader from the outset. Two years ago when their university research team uncovered the manuscript in an ancient, Viking jar, the other three just followed him so as not to have an argument. Two of them, Terry and Kevin, were already thinking about getting back to the village and tasting those well-earned ales they’d seen earlier in the tavern. Only Sally, smitten with Nigel to such an extent that she would gladly follow him into any folly, crept behind him as they entered the final dark, dank cavern.
Terry opened the side panels of his ‘Day-into-Night Master’ lantern to illuminate the vast, empty space. Except for a sole item inside, a sparkling, crystal formation that over time had taken on the appearance of a chair. Not the sort of seat that would invite you to try its wares after a gruelling six miles up a mountain and two miles inside it but, nonetheless, a chair, better than the floor, just.
Nigel began reading. He skilfully focused his flashlight onto the parchment, allowing the others to bask in the knowledge he furnished. Terry wondered how he had managed to end up on this miserably, gloomy mission with someone who the Vikings would have referred to as an utter prick.
“The Throne of Baldur...” Nigel began theatrically.
“He’s reading like Lord of the sodding Rings again” Kevin murmured to Terry in an aside that made a mockery of whispering.
“...is a mythical rock endowed with powers that have made it both adored and feared. Forged out of the mountain by the great Norse God of life and rebirth: Baldur! It is said that whoever sits on it, will attain the knowledge of the exact moment of their death. Who would dare to behold such information? If you knew exactly how much time you had left, would that inspire you to live every moment to the full? Or terrify you into preserving every minute until your last breath?”
He looked up and pointed. “And there it is, Baldur’s Throne! Who’s first?”
“No way” said Sally, before thinking and searching Nigel’s face for whether it was a good idea prior to committing.
“I mean, would you?” said Sally. “Imagine it said next Tuesday? You’d want it to say 48 years from now, and then you’d be, say, goodness, I’d be 88. I’d take that. But what if it didn’t...” she worried.
“What if it says you live for another 50 years?” Terry interjected. “You could break your back getting out of here and spend it in a hospital in traction. You could get run over and spend half a century connected to a ventilator. I’d prefer next Tuesday”. Terry paused. “Let’s get out of here and get a beer”.
Kevin simply moaned, “If we don’t start moving towards the surface, and the bar, soon I can tell you the exact moment of your death. And you won’t need the Throne of Balda”.
“Bald-UR! Like Midge Ure.” barked Nigel. “How many times have I told you! I want to know. I’m going to sit on it.”
Sally took his arm and begged him not to. Nigel was an out-of-shape university professor who’d enjoyed 30 years of smoking cigarettes. Sally admired him more than her heart could bare and hoped it was all mere fantasy.
He ignored her and moved towards the throne.
“Start filming” he ordered Kevin.
Nigel sat on the throne, looked down and read from the manuscript.
“According to this, all you have to do is announce:
“Oh furnish me Baldur, with my future;
Let whisper on your breath, the date of my death”.
He looked up.
“I feel something!” he exclaimed as his heart stopped.