“When I was young, just a boy like many of you, my father’s father, who was chief at that time, told our village the story of a mysterious island to the west. He called the island Skýeyjan, which means Cloud Island in our tongue. It is said this island is a large mountain and is always encircled in clouds so no one sees the top. This in itself is a miracle, and it is said, if one climbed to the top of the mountain they could touch the moon.” The Chief continued the story of how his grandfather had first found the island and brought back the mystery to share with his village.
There was silence as the story ended. All on this island believe the moon is a man named Máni, and his brother, the sun, is called Sól. Andsvarr, a young man, whose mother and father had recently died approached the Chief and shyly asked, “Is the story true?”
The Chief had a kind heart and cared for his people. He knew this child hurt. He said, “Many would believe it’s just a story. Certainly my father considered it a myth, or the crazy ramblings of his father. I however think anything is possible. Isn’t it better to be happy believing anything is possible, than bitter thinking nothing is?”
The boy smiled. It was nice to have someone share the same sentiment he carried in his heart. He asked, “Do you believe Máni lives at the top?”
“We have many beliefs on this island, and I believe they are all true. Máni lives, and it’s just as likely he lives at the top of that mountain as anywhere else,” the Chief said. The boy thanked the Chief and left for his family home, now empty.
Andsvarr’s father had fished each day providing for his family, and he often joined his father, learning the ways of fishing and the sea. For a boy of only 13, many of the villagers considered him more adept on the sea than his father had been. As Andsvarr approached his house he saw the large fishing boat moored behind it and a plan began to form. Perhaps he could sail to the island in the story and ask Máni for help. Since the villagers died at night, surely Máni must know why.
Andsvarr decided he would leave the island tomorrow, find the fabled island, and ask Máni for help. He packed food, clothes, and maps, everything he would need to sail across the sea. At dawn’s first light he climbed into the boat and slipped out to sea. The water stayed calm for the first day, but late in the night the waves grew and crashed over the small fishing vessel. Andsvarr held on to his bunk as the boat swayed back and forth at the mercy of the sea. He closed his eyes and prayed through the night.
He must have fallen asleep at some point because he awoke the next morning to the sound of his boat scraping against rock. He rose above deck and saw a short, rocky beach that rose steeply into a mountain. As his head continued to rise he saw clouds encircling the mountain in an otherwise clear sky. His heart beat faster and a smile stole across his face. He had found Skýeyjan.
Andsvarr tied off his boat and started to climb the cliffs. Finally he would find the truth. In the foothills the climbing was easy. He kept his pack securely on his back as he walked, slowly rising higher. Doubt clouded his mind as he travelled. Perhaps he had been foolish to come on this journey. Certainly he had been foolish to not tell anyone he was leaving. What if he fell while climbing the mountain? Would anyone find him, or would his body turn to carrion or be carried off into the ocean? He shook his head, trying to clear the thoughts. It certainly did no good wondering such things now.
His ascent gradually grew more difficult. What had started as a brisk walk on the beach had turned into scrabbling over boulders. As Andsvarr looked ahead he saw the true challenge. About 300 feet ahead the earth rose sharply creating a sheer rock face that disappeared into the clouds. The clouds had once held such promise and optimism for Andsvarr, now they only represented danger and fear.
Andsvarr made camp at the base of the steep ascent. The sun had passed overhead a few hours ago and now set on the far side of the mountain. “If Máni lived atop this mountain he would be arriving home soon,” Andsvarr thought. Stars slowly appeared and Andsvarr occupied his mind identifying constellations. He quickly fell asleep hopeful and anxious for the next day.
That night Andsvarr dreamed. He dreamt of the moon and his village. When he awoke the next morning he remembered nothing of the dream except the renewed sense of purpose and optimism he felt.
Andsvarr pulled the rope from his pack and began the slow climb up the last of the mountain. Within a few minutes he had entered the clouds surrounding the peak. Inside the clouds the air grew heavy and thick, and Andsvarr felt he might faint. He climbed slower and slower, hands and feet growing unbearably heavy. The last dozen feet took him several hours to traverse. The moon had just risen when Andsvarr’s hand found grass instead of rock. With the last of his energy he lifted himself onto a plateau; Andsvarr had reached the peak.
He collapsed on the ground exhausted from the climb. He slept for a short time but this high up the air was too cold to sleep comfortably. Andsvarr woke later in the night and slowly rose to his feet, surveying his surroundings. It was perfectly clear on top of Skýeyjan, though he could not see through the clouds to the horizon.
Andsvarr walked the perimeter of the peak growing less hopeful with each step. At the beginning of the journey he had hoped to find a temple or home atop the mountain. Now he just hoped to find an easier way down. When he arrived back at his starting place Andsvarr sat on the edge of the landing letting his feet dangle off. He didn’t hear the man approaching behind him.
“Hello Andsvarr, welcome to my home. It has been so long since I had visitors, at least two generations. I am delighted to meet you.”
Andsvarr turned to see a young man, just a few years older than himself, and stared. “Could this be Máni?” Andsvarr wondered.
The man reached out his hand and asked, “Would you come with me? I still have much sky to cover this night, and I would love your company. This job gets so lonely. We could talk on the way.”
Andsvarr reached out taking the man’s hand, and they instantly flew into the night sky.