17. A Mysterious Death in Winter

     The last session had ended at the height of harvest, when Aud had called Thorgerd in to announce her arranged marriage with Arnor Tostisson. In about two weeks, the harvest was fairly complete, the family prepares for the trip to the Westfold thing.

     Shortly before leaving, Aud calls Skallagrim in to speak with him. She asks him a number of questions about the expedition, leading up to the need for more joint military actions in order to deal with the growing Redaxe threat. Aud asked Skallagrim about his politics, to which he had few answers -- which appeared to suit her. She explained that there was need for a military leader if the Vinlanders were to raise an army. However, because of clan politics, there was a need for a candidate who was fairly neutral among the leading families of the region. She praised him that she understood that his speeches rarely offended -- which while true, has been due more to his severe lack of enunciation rather than any diplomacy or tact.

     He correctly surmised that to be a candidate he would need his own land and a family -- which he did not outright object to but seemed confused as to how he would accomplish it. Aud promised that she would speak to some people at the autumn Thing.

     At the Thing, the upcoming marriage of Thorgerd and Arnor was announced. The accusation of murder against Thorgerd lent a certain notoriety to the match, but most who knew the situation were quickly dismissive of it as a technicality which should be dismissed. Various other business was also conducted, of course, and people there began to look at Skallagrim in a new light, he noticed.

     After the Thing, winter quickly set in. The cattle were driven through the narrow pass to there winter stalls at Brygjafael. The extended family settled in for long months of mostly quiet crafts and games, stuck together in the longhouse. The family pulled together, but there was much gossip and comments.

     At around midwinter, a week before Christmas, the Hudson froze over completely. This made an opportunity to visit homesteads across the river, in particular to check in on Tjaraholt to see how Honiahaka was faring. Poul had promised his son regular visits to see his foster cousin. So Poul along with Kjartan, Thorgerd, and Skallagrim set out to skate across the river and make their way up the hilltop to Tjaraholt.

     It was difficult going with the bitter cold, and there were a few skating accidents along the way. Thus, their long trek up the hill was not over until after sunset. After darkness fell, Poul heard the sounds of some animal trailing them -- he thought a wolf. However, they saw nothing and eventually arrived at Tjaraholt where they were welcomed by Silksif and her family.

     The Tjaraholt household was at this point plagued by division. The two halves of the family -- Herdis' and Ivar's -- were silent to each other despite the close quarters. Particularly to the Brygjafaelers, it seemed an awful way to spend the long winter.

     Shortly after their arrival, it was belatedly realized that one of the servants had never come in from tending the horses. Solvi had been gone for several hours (since before nightfall) without anyone realizing, due to the poor communication. When they went out to investigate, they found tracks that he had been dragged out into the snow from the horse barn. Quickly making torches, they followed the tracks out. The tracks lead to a clearing in the woods, where they found the body of Solvi, frozen cold and propped on a tree branch with his guts strewn out into the clearing.

     Upon returning, the guests were quite disturbed and discussed the possibility of there being a hamfarir (shape-shifter) in the household. Certainly they thought no natural wolf would do such a thing. They resolved to make a search of the house for a wolfskin that might indicate a shapeshifter.

     The following morning they made the search, but the only wolf skins they could find belonged to Bront and his son Brom -- who proudly stood by them as trophy's of their hunting prowess. At that point, Bront and Brom announcing that they would start a hunt for Solvi's Bane, which the visitors quickly agreed with.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Tue Jan 7 11:35:07 2003