Music in the Water: The Deadly Song of the Nøkk

By Sarah Czarnecki

Music in the Water: The Deadly Song of the Nokk

A wistful harmony of violin and voice drifts from the depths of a pond. The pine forest is quiet except for the ethereal music. The despair is palpable; a wave of sorrow washes over anyone who hears the watery song. As soon as it reaches their ears, the listener feels a great compassionate sadness. The listener is compelled to walk to the edge of the murky pond, still and green with algae. They step forward, lilypads lapping at their ankles. Deeper and deeper the listener walks, louder and louder become the wails of the violinist. With tears in their eyes, the nøkk’s audience drowns to the melancholy tune in the water. 

Supernatural Sadness

The sorrowful song of the Norwegian nøkk is unlike anything else on Earth. It produces such exquisite music from its enchanted violin that no one can resist the temptation to approach the monster lurking in the water. Men, women, and children are all delicacies for the nøkk. It preys upon poor swimmers, fools, and empathetic music lovers with its hypnotizing violin. With a song in its heart, the nøkk drags its hypnotized kill to the bottom of the pond.

As it plays the slow, sad melody on its violin, the nøkk hums along with its otherworldly voice. Its stirring music tugs at the heartstrings, encouraging the broken-hearted to end it all and for the kind-hearted to offer compassion to the creature. The doleful nøkk cries out from the depths of his pond, sobbing inconsolably. Bound to its pond, the nøkk weeps as it sings. It weeps for lost love, it weeps for its cursed soul, it weeps for sacrifice. The nøkk’s infectious sadness gives its listeners their final push towards death as they follow the captivating serenade. 

The True Form

The musician himself appears as an arrestingly handsome young man when enticing young women to the water’s edge. With its dazzling beauty, the nøkk bewitches those few who failed to be lured by its song. Sometimes the somber monster wears elegant clothing while it plays the violin. Its jeweled clothing is made of the finest fabrics and is sewn with golden threads. Other times, the nøkk is nude, its flawless skin shining in the murky water, long shining hair floating among the weeds. 

Shapeshifting nøkken take whichever form they feel will be most attractive to its prey. Sometimes they take the shape of a stump where unsuspecting fishermen may rest. Shining golden sunken treasure coaxes swimmers to dive under the water. Resting as a floating log allows the territorial nøkk to stalk its prey unobserved. When a victim approaches the water’s edge, the disguised nøkk snatches its prey from the shore if it hasn’t already decided to drown itself.

Often, the nøkk appears as a moonbeam-white horse shining through a thick fog over the water. Its seaweed mane drips muddy pond water as the stunning horse trots along the shore, beckoning foolish humans to ride on its back. Riders are dragged into the water, where the nøkk’s true form is revealed as it devours its victims.

A sodden mound of muck and seaweed comprises the nøkk’s aquatic body. Inside the mass of twigs, hair, and filth is a row of jagged black teeth, stained with blood and rotted. The decayed skin of the nøkk is bloated and mottled, similar to that of its drowned human prey. Clawed webbed hands part lilypads at the surface of the water and glowing yellow eyes peer out of the pond, scanning the shore.

Playing the Nøkk’s Game

Despite their intensely beautiful outward appearance, nøkken are in the family of trolls. Killing and eating humans for pleasure is a hallmark of the vicious species. Like all trolls, nøkken are repelled by steel. If you dare to fish in a nøkk’s body of water or pick its lilies, arm yourself with a packet of common sewing needles. Tossing the needles into the pond will prevent the nøkk from beginning its hypnotic song. If you happen to know it, speaking the true name of the nøkk will kill it instantly.

Humans sometimes attempt to love a nøkk in its seductive humanoid form, enjoying the sad, sweet music together. But such a union can never last, even with the most benign nøkk. Without its watery home, a nøkk will die of heartbreak.

If the haunting song of the nøkk does not inspire you to drown yourself, you may wish to learn its musical secrets. Pay the troll a toll of blood, alcohol, or black animals to gain access to its talents. Though no human may ever truly match the nøkk’s skill, just one lesson from the creature is enough to produce a world-class violinist. Giving in to the temptation to learn from the nøkk is ill-advised, as most encounters with the malevolent creature end in tragedy. 

Most drownings are attributed to accidents. While they may not originally have been intentional deaths, mythological nøkken may have a hand in dragging their bodies to the depths to join it. With its spellbinding voice, otherworldly music, and blinding appearance, this shapeshifting seahorse coaxes sorrowful humans to their graves at the bottom of a murky pond.

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