NaMoDesMo 9 Huldrefolk: Huldra

When most people speak of the Huldrefolk, they are lumping together at least a dozen different groups who see themselves as separate peoples. They are one of the Underjordiske, the hidden peoples, and they share many traits with other members of that family. The Trolls, the Alfs, the Elletfolket, the Svartalfar, the Vittra, and the Tomte are all frequently referreed to as Huldrefolk by those who don’t know the difference. The assorted Underjordiske are generally resigned to the lack of knowledge and thus respect that most of the men of scandinavia show for their peoples, though they can get a bit tetchy from time to time. Thus, it is safest to refer to the Underjordiske by a generic name or even “them” if you don’t know exactly what sort they are. No matter which of the underjordiske you are dealing with, it is always good to be polite to them. Rudeness is likely to turn their questionable sense of humor dark and occasionally violent. It is also vitally important to remember that no matter how friendly they are, they are not human, and they do not have human motivations. The first of the Huldrefolk we will look at is the classic Huldra.

The Huldra are a female branch of the Huldrefolk, generally beautiful or at least capable of taking on a glamour of beauty when they wish. They look like young maids, often in the traditional dress of a milk maid or other idyllic laborer, with the exception of their tails, which they generally try to hide. The Huldra are generally skilled in a few magics though which powers a given one possesses varies wildly. They are one of the most frequent of the Underjordiske to interact positively with humans and many of them have fallen in love with woodsmen and farmers through out the years. They have a reasonably positive relationship with the artifacts of the New God, and are not harmed or made uncomfortable by things such as church bells and crosses. On the other hand, they do appreciate it when a human goes out of their way to avoid discomforting them. They often wish to live as humans and find it unbearably rude when someone directly points out their failure to adequately disguise themselves. On the other hand, if you are friendly and discrete about the notice, a young huldra may grant you a boon of some sort. If a huldra’s tail has snuck out of her dress, directly telling her that this is so will do nothing but embarrass and anger her. One might, instead, tell her that her petticoat has become disarrayed, which will allow her to save face while readjusting her disguise. As in the case of most of the Underjordiske, a Huldra is slow to forget kindnesses done or insults given, though their approach to revenge and reward is often somewhat roundabout. A huldra who is treated well by a human who knows what she is is often especially appriciative and so long as she is not ill used, she will often devote a great deal of energy to the wellbeing of such people. They do not have a high oppinion of the awareness and sensibility of male humans, given how many of them have borne a human several children before he ever noticed that they were not human. If a huldra is married in a church of the New God, she will lose her tail and become mostly human, though she maintains her strength and knowledge of magic and lore. After exchanging vows and losing a tail, a Huldra will often become incredibly ugly for a time, as a result of the transformation to humanity. A man who rejects his new bride because of this will often come to regret his hasty actions. The fury of a scorned huldra is slow burbning and strange. On the other hand, if he stays with her, eventually the transformation completes and the ex-huldra regains or surpasses her original beauty. A man who passes this final test is said to live a happy and nearly trouble free life, though it would do even one such as that not to overly irritate a wife who can straighten a horse shoe with her hands and who knows the old blessings and curses.

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