The VanderHeyden Kids and The Old Norse Code

By Maskedhero100

Chapter 2: The Runestone Tablet

Royal Alberta Museum, Edmonton: August 21st, 2017: 10:15 AM

Standing on the edge of the river valley drop lies the Royal Alberta Museum.

And standing at the top step of the stairs of the museum at the main entrance is a man about 43 years going now, with a bushy grey hair, mustache, and big round glasses and wearing a green overcoat that despite his best effort to clean it this morning still had faint traces and aroma of chalk from the classroom.

The man is none other than Professor Aiden Archival.

Professor Aiden Archival smirked in amusement as Ashlyn and her Siblings climbed off the bus that had brought them from the suburban city of St. Albert to the museum in the middle of the province's capital city of Edmonton.

She had called ahead with her IPhone to inform him that she had experienced 'car trouble' and both herself and her brother and sister would be taking the bus to get to the exhibit.

Judging by the look on her younger brother's face as well as hearing Ashlyn declare to her brother upon stepping off the bus "You owe me gas money!" …it was safe to assume that her car trouble had something to do with a gremlin of sorts tinkering around with things.

He wondered what he had done THIS time…and would it be worse than the time he had 'borrowed' her car battery to run one of his experiments?

Ashlyn was the first to approach him, "Sorry we're late Professor…" she apologized, and then glared at Mitchel with narrowed eyes, "there was a leak in my car's fuel tank."

"Well, you made it here, only thirteen minutes late…better late than never after all" Professor Aiden Archival reassured her that he wasn't cross with her, "come along, we have a lot to see before the day is over."

Professor Aiden Archival stopped for a moment, and sniffed the air "Do I smell burned gasoline? How bad was that leak?"

Ashlyn sighed in defeat, "Mitchell siphoned the gas out of my car to run his experiment."

"Oh right. The alternative fuel source experiment. So how did that go?" Professor Aiden Archival asked curiously.

"I don't want to talk about it," Mitchel said silently in embarrassment and disappointment.

Professor Aiden Archival looked at Shelly for more clarity on the subject, and when she made the 'kaboom!' expression with her hands, he understood what had happened.

"Well, cheer up young man," he said encouragingly, "Even Thomas Edison went through trial and error before he finally made the lightbulb work."

"Thomas Edison never blew up his two-room flat during his experiments" Ashlyn pointed out.

"Okay, okay!" Mitchell said to his big sister in frustration, "me down, you kicking!"

Once inside the museum, the VanderHeyden kids marveled at the sight of the exhibit's artifacts.

Norse mythology tapestries, battle armors, information on the history of the Norsemen, all kinds of cool and interesting things.

But the most interesting item to be found in the exhibit was a large stone slab with runic symbols carved into it.

A Runestone to be precise.

"Wow, look at that!" Shelly said in awe, "Looks like a big tombstone. What do those strange symbols mean?"

"That's a Runestone, Shelly" Prof. Aiden Archival said, "those strange symbols are letters, the letters of the runic alphabet. Chiseled into the rock the way we'd write on a piece of paper. Back in ancient times, runes were used to write the words and testimony of various German languages before the eventual adaptation of the Latin alphabet."

"I've heard of these…" Mitchell said, "the Kensington Rune Stone comes to mind."

"Very good example Mitchell" Prof. Aiden Archival commended, "been reading those books I loaned you, have you?"

"What's the Kensington Rune Stone?" Ashlyn asked genuinely curious.

"The Kensington Runestone was a stone tablet just like this one that was allegedly discovered in central Minnesota in 1898" Prof. Aiden Archival explained, "It was found by a Swedish immigrant named Olof Öhman, who supposedly unearthed it from a field in a rural town called Solem in Douglas County before it was later named after the town of Kensington which was nearest to the find. Ever since its finding, its authenticity has been the subject of debate, the scholarly consensus classifying the stone as a hoax while a devoted community remains convinced of the stone is a real record unearthed. Despite the debate, the stone is currently kept on display in the Alexandria Chamber of commerce and Runestone Museum in Alexandria Minnesota in the United States."

"So then…" Shelly wondered, "What's the story about this stone tablet?"

"Well, this tablet was found in 1920 by a Newfoundland Farmer in his field after he had tilled the ground to plant a new crop" Prof. Aiden Archival answered, "It was named after the farmer, and like the Kensington Stone, the Hynes Stone is a subject of debate."

"Why?" Ashlyn wondered, looking at the stone slab on display before her eyes "It looks real to me."

"Indeed, and the carbon dating on the tablet confirms it to be from before the eighth century, perhaps even the seventh century" Prof. Aiden Archival agreed, "but the runic writing is the cause for some to wonder if it is real or not. The tablet has been translated numerous times, and according to expert runologists, it's nothing but gibberish. But the question remains: why an authentic runic tablet was written in nonsense and gibberish? The translation is on display right there on the exhibit display plaque."

The VanderHeyden siblings looked at the plaque showing a detailed display of the stone tablet's history, as well as a translation of the runic text.

The professor was right, it all looked like gibberish.

Words and numbers that didn't match up with one another at all.

"Looks like it was made by someone who had dyslexia" Ashlyn said, perplexed by the jumbled letters of the translated runic text.

"Why would someone carve something like that?" Shelly asked in confusion, "That's like drawing a crossword puzzle in a journal page and calling it a record!"

"Only this 'crossword puzzle' doesn't match up with any of the surrounding letters in any direction, not even with the numbers" Ashlyn added in agreement, "indeed, why would someone carve such nonsense?"

"Well…" Mitchell shrugged, "Maybe 'trolling' was a thing back then as well?"

"Maybe…" Prof. Aiden Archival conceded, and then he smirked in bemusement 'Who knows, maybe this is the runic tablet of a cave troll. Ho! Ho! Ho!"

The VanderHeyden kids laughed at the absurdity of his joke.

The professor having had his laugh beckoned for them to follow "let's continue, we have lots more to see. The rest of the exhibit is in the next room down the hallway."

While his sisters and the Professor headed off to the next room, Mitchel stayed behind to gaze at the stone rune tablet with genuine curiosity, while also looking at the translated text on the display.

"Gibberish?" he said to himself, unconvinced "I swear there is something more to this stone. You wouldn't spend your time carving letters into rock with a hammer and chisel just for the fun of it, but why? Why write an incomprehensible text? Hmmm…I wonder."

Shrugging his curiosity off, Mitchel pulled out his IPhone and took a picture of the rune tablet and the translated text plaque.

He was about to head off to join the others when he caught sight of something else that immediately caught his attention.

Off in the left corner of the room, viewing a tapestry, was a tall well-dressed gentleman in a dark blue suit with sharp grey hair, glacier ice blue eyes, and carrying a long swordstick cane that had a golden hawk as its handle.

Stranger still was that he could see a tattoo of some sort on the side of the gentlemen's neck barely hidden behind the man's hairline and his coat collar.

No, not just a tattoo, an emblem of some kind.

A sword whose blade was surrounded by ribbon, or maybe a bent sword blade, and both were encompassed by a circle lined with runic letters.

How very strange.

"Mitchel!" Ashlyn called from the adjacent room down the hall.

"Coming sis!" Mitchel called back, and then he took another picture of the stone tablet just in case he accidentally deleted his original picture tonight when he placed the IPhone's data into his computer.

It had happened to him before.

Having done so, Mitchel VanderHeyden hurried off to catch up with the others, leaving the strange gentlemen alone in the room.

Once Mitchel was gone, the strange gentleman turned his attention away from the tapestry to eye the Hynes Stone.

He then taped an earwig he had hidden in his left ear with his left index finger, he then spoke in German "Es ist hier, bereiten Sie Ihre Männer vor, Alfonse. Ich will das Tablet bis morgen früh in meinem Besitz haben."

"Jawohl!" a male voice responded on the other side of the communicator earwig.

Satisfied, the strange gentlemen grinned, eyeing the stone tablet.

"After untold millennia of myths and legends…" he mused, in a refined English voice "the secret of the Aesir will be unlocked!"