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The Tests of Tartarus

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Many years ago, the Vikings of Scandinavia discovered a mysterious and far away island. This island was seen to have no prior inhabitants, so the Vikings promptly began to settle the new and beautiful land. They named it Ísland, which translates to Iceland in English. This is a story of a strange happening in the early days of Icelandic settlement. Indeed, it is such a strange occurrence that the Norse historians feared to write it in their fabled history books. Now, read on, my friend.

The son of an explorer by the name of Ferguson Ædenír died on the ship while sailing to Iceland with his single, outlaw father. Ferguson was grief-stricken by his sudden loss, but decided to continue on the journey to Iceland with his shipmates. After a horrendous trip across the North Sea and toward the Arctic Ocean, they finally arrived. Ferguson nearly immediately held a small funeral for his son, promising on his grave to shape a successful new colony and create a new family. 

Work was hard, long and unforgiving in this new colony. Many Norsemen, women, and their children fell ill rather quickly after settlement began. Death was a slow process for most. Sickness began with a nagging cough for about three days, followed by the ejection of various bodily wastes for about a week. During this time, victims of the sickness would also begin to increasingly lose mobility. People's final months consisted of wasting away on crumby beds in incomplete houses. Some were said to smell like death weeks before their actual demise.

For Ferguson, this created an even more heart-shattering experience. Ferguson, however, was a strong man, and took the vow he had made to his son very seriously. Even when more months went by—and not many people were left—and food was scarce to the bare minimum of survival, Ferguson would not give up. He had finally created a complete house and engaged in a relationship with a surviving single woman. However, as promising as this sounds, the situation took a turn for the worst. 

No food was left. Absolutely none at all. One by one, the settlers slowly began to die of starvation. Ferguson was a resourceful man, he even chopped off one of his hands with a cleaver and cooked it on the stove, for him and his lover to eat. It kept them alive for longer than any of the other settlers. Alone and with each other—Ferguson and his lady—who simply went by the name of Elsnèr, married to each other in a short ceremony, and consummated their marriage. By then, however, they had already lost their sterility to conceive a child; and even if they were able to, it would die in the womb with its mother from starvation. Ferguson and Elsnèr died in their sleep at about the same time, ending the failed colony on the northern coast of Iceland.

That is not where the story ends, but where the legend begins. Ferguson, wanting to complete his promise to his late son; and wanting to have a proper relationship with Elsnèr, asked his afterlife guardian for another chance at life. He was denied, time after time. Ferguson would not accept this denial. So, finally, his afterlife guardian gave Ferguson the only choice he had for a new life among the living. He explained to Ferguson that he would have to complete the "Tests of Tartarus." Ferguson would have to take a journey to Hell's dungeon, Tartarus, and endure an unimaginable number of horrors. If Ferguson was able to get through all of it with his sanity intact, he would be granted a life of his choosing. If he failed, however, he would have to spend his eternity in the trenches of Tartarus. Ferguson promptly agreed, not understanding what he was putting himself to.

He was quickly sent to the torture chambers of Hell's dungeon, where he was burned on a roaster with hellfire for days, months—even years at a time without breaks. He was subjected to cruel sexual acts by demons and imps. He was even forced to be slowly crushed by moving walls over and over again. 

Time in this place wasn't measured, but if it was, it would perhaps be equal to five centuries that Ferguson was put through these sick "tests." The day of reckoning, though, had finally come. Would Ferguson pass the trials? As the legend goes, he did not. He was insane, unstable and a mess. He was sentenced to be placed in Tartarus for eternity. 

It is such an unfortunate and terrible story of a hard working, dedicated man meeting his eternal demise. What is even more sick, however, is the fact that Ferguson's guardian of the afterlife knew that the tests could not be passed. The tests, in effect, were simply a trick to torture souls of strong individuals. The reason that the guardians of the afterlife wanted strong souls to be tortured, was because they wanted to demonstrate to their superior gods that the dungeon of Hell they had built was very effective.

It came at the cost of a good man being subjugated to suffering for all of time. So, the moral of this story to the readers; be careful of your decisions in the afterlife, for even higher beings can be deceitful for selfish reasons.

Otherwise, you might be put through the Tests of Tartarus.

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