6. The Haunting

     Thorfinn returns to Brygjafael to a hero's welcome, as his praises are skillfully sung by his cousin Kjartan.

     Two days later, they are visited by a ship from Tjaraholt where Bront Ivarsson and his son Brom come with eight warriors to negotiate over the weregeld for Gest. They are met by Poul and his nephew Thorfinn, along with the huscarl Skallagrim. Poul tells them bluntly that there is to be no settlement and the matter must be dealt with only at the Althing. Thorfinn adds a few words with a smirk, at which Brom suddenly charges him.

     In a brief clash of blows, Thorfinn defends himself and Bront strides forwards and sword-slaps on the helmet with great force. While knocked silly, Kjartan rushes to the scene and scornfully asks Brom whether he will also try to take a hostage like his kinsman Gest. After a few angry kicks, Bront helps his son up, and announces to Kjartan that his words will be answered in a duel (holmgang).

     After returning, Poul speaks to Aud. Aud says that she disapproves of such fights with their own neighbors and kinsmen, and instructs Poul to seek a settlement of the matter. Poul decides to go to Tosti the Golden and ask him to arbitrate.

     The next day, Poul crosses the river to Syfjaöurholur with his nephews and poses his question to Tosti. Tosti is respectful but reserved, and says that he will deliver an answer in the morning. Meanwhile, he invites them to stay the night.

     To pass the time, they propose going on a bear hunt. Tosti's younger sons Finn and Arnor go along with Poul, Kjartan, and Thorfinn along with their man Skallagrim as a tracker. They search until dark and find a set of tracks. Over the night, Skallagrim hears a horseman riding in the dark (a quarter waxing moon) -- and in the morning they find a mysterious set of horse tracks in a circle around the camp.

     In the afternoon of the next day, they sight the bear and fan out to catch it -- a medium-size male brown bear. Thorfinn shoots an arrow into it, at which point it charges him. Arnor Tostisson is closest to him, and sets his spear for the charge. The bear bites deeply into Arnor's leg and is about to maul him when Poul arrived and crushed in the bear's head with his axe.

     While they made a sled to drag Arnor, Kjartan and Skallagrim agree to run ahead and contact Syfjaöurholur. However, they strangely lose their way while returning. Intent on arriving, they cut towards the river to be sure of arriving and march into the night. They follow a feeder stream, but around midnight they hear a horseman following them at a trot. After a short time, the horseman attacks -- though they never get a good look at him. After the third pass, Kjartan takes Skallagrim across the stream and the horseman does not follow.

     Upon rejoining at Syfjaöurholur the next day, Tosti agrees to arbitrate and promises an answer within the week. He says that he will want to speak to the witnesses from Groenholt. Arnor is hurt but recovering reasonably well. Kjartan and Skallagrim agree not to mention their encounter, but over dinner Skallagrim becomes excessively drunk and declares loudly "I will not speak of what I have seen."


(between sessions)

     The people return to Brygjafael and resume their life. The herds are being moved out to summer pastures, which Thorfinn will be introduced to. A week later, a messenger comes from Syfjaourholur with Tosti's decision. He has set the weregeld for Gest at 40 cows. There are some legal scholars who could argue that it is a fair price, but to most people it sounds at least on the high side.

     Within a short time, a messenger comes from Groenholt. Vigfus the Proud extends his invitations for the Brygjafael clan to stay at his holt on Manhattan island prior to the Althing. Clearly he feels bad about having assured that the weregeld for Gest would be small, and is looking for a chance to make up for it.

     The plan in Brygjafael is that immediately after the Althing to send an expedition up the Oddson's river. They should meet with the Tatobem, a leader of the Mohegan tribe there and secure an alliance with them against the redaxes. Probably this will mean joining the Mohegan in a raid against some of the redaxes to cement the alliance. At the Althing, Aud hopes to convince other homesteads to join in this and send men or even longships of their own for the mission.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Thu Jun 27 22:28:46 2002