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Bysen (Swedish pronunciation: [byːsɛn]) is a legendary gnome-like creature that haunts the woods of the island of Gotland, Sweden. He carries an axe. He is said to have committed a crime, and condemned to walk the Earth forever. He attracts people, making them get lost. Often he meddles with woodsmen, delays their transports, and tips loads of timber over. He often interferes with men in other ways and is accused of all sorts of mischief. The Bys often appears as a stump or an insignificant, little, grey man. Sometimes he wears a red, woven cap and an axe, because one of his tasks is to cut down Gotland's forest. This goes slowly however and sometimes only one tree per century is felled. It's said the Bys is a humanoid who has done some crime within his lifetime, and is therefore sentenced to wander the earth forever. The Bys is also the ward of the forest and nature.
Similar to a Deildegast, some sources say that the Bysar are deceased people who have cheated other men out of their land by moving the markers that separated two holdings. As punishment they get no peace in the grave, and are doomed to go along the faulty border, moving the sticks which stand on the wrong land. It's said that as they walk you can hear them mumble, "This is right, this is wrong" while moving the markers. If a human follows Bysen and moves the wrongly placed sticks to the right places then Bysen will gain peace. On the Swedish mainland the counterpart to Bysen is called skälvrängare or osaliga lantmätare (approximately: unholy landsurveyor).
If Bysen catches sight of you where you are in the forest he will enchant your vision so that you can not find him again. What returns one's vision to normal is to turn a garment crooked.
Etymology and Spelling
The word bys most likely comes from the Swedish word bus, which means mischief or prank.
Its declinations in Swedish with English translations:
|singular form with indefinite article||plural form||definite form with article||definite plural form|
|a bys||bysar||bysen||the bysar|
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