22. Meeting the Earl of Hvalrik

         The day after Thorgerd's marriage, the families return to their normal lives. Poul is still very angry over the insult which has been paid to him by Ivar the Black. However, with hindsight and a hangover, he reflects that he did severely misjudge Ivar's mood. Where he thought that Ivar was grieving and looking for someone to talk to, Ivar was actually questioning those he considered suspects in his son's death. He opts to leave things as they are. Over the next week, he prepares for a trip to Hvalrik. He outfits a Brygjafael longship (one of three), and takes three servants including the huscarl Amundi who is known as a good ship's captain. It is loaded with cargo for trade, to make good use of the journey.

         The ship picks up Thorgerd, Arnor, and Ingjavald from Syfjaourholur. Ingjavald expresses concern about sea monsters, especially given the lack of experience of the crew. Thorgerd and Arnor load the four thralls from the Redaxe war along with a large load of wool. Silksif had privately conferred with Kjartan that she wished to go on this voyage, so she went down to join them accompanied by her brother Harkel and her sister Lofthaena. However, she receives word from home to wait. A half hour later, Harkel and Lofthaena return helping their grandmother Herdis to see Silksif off. Herdis says with certainty that she will not see Silksif again in this world, and wishes to see her off. She urges her to continue in the path of being a priestess, and warns her against marrying too soon. (This is a reference to her mother Ingrid and her late aunt Katla, whom Herdis believes in hindsight had focussed too much upon their families.)

         In preparation for the journey, Skallagrim tells them some about Hvalrik and the Earl as he knew them when he was outlawed eight years ago. The Earl is Styr Ravensfriend, a warlike man in his late 50s who was known for his warlike ways but also for his hospitality. If he had a fault, it was for being partial to the friends and family who frequented his court.

         They sail up Longeysund sticking close to the coast. They have a short and uneventful stop at the stead of a family known to Poul, but they then sail straight on around Cape Cod. Kjartan tells some tales of naval battles and also of sea monsters, confirming his suspicions that Ingjavald is rather overly superstitious and nervous about supernatural threats. They lose sight of land for a day when rounding Cape Cod, but recover it by nightfall. They then approach Hvalrik harbor, where they stop at an island to request a pilot who will guide them through the flats to the city wharfs.

         When they arrive at Hvalrik, Skallagrim immediately goes off in search of his older brother Eldgrim, accompanied by Kjartan and Silksif. They go to the barracks where his brother used to live, and Kjartan and Silksif ask the soldiers there where he can be found. It takes some questioning, but they eventually found someone who knew where he had gone. They find he has a tenement of sorts, where he is living with his wife and their young baby. Eldgrim is shocked to see him, but greets his brother warmly. He soon brings him up and introduces his wife Busla and his two-year old daughter Swanhild.

         Meanwhile, at the wharfs, Poul asks Thorgerd to see about finding them a place to stay. Before she gets far in doing so, though, a man arrives bearing an invitation from the Earl.

         They approach the hall of the Earl. This is a very tall wooden structure. It has a great hall in the center, perhaps 25 feet high. The rest of the building in divided into three sections: the earl's private rooms, the kitchen, and the armory. As they approach it, a tall man comes to greet them. He introduces himself as Thorvald Styrson, the earl and younger son of the previous Earl who died last summer. Thorvald knows of the Brygjafael family and has heard of the events of the previous summer. He welcomes them to his house and invites them to dinner that evening.

         When Kjartan and Silksif arrive, they are greeted by the Earl's wife Marie Delort -- who guides them to Poul and Thorgerd. She is a Frankish woman, although her accent is faint. She speaks to them eloquently, welcoming them to her household. Silksif seems particularly interested in her for her views on magic, and they agree to go riding the next day.

         That night there is a feast where Kjartan makes his speech, telling the tale of the Appalachian war of the previous summer. He emphasizes the joining of forces of the Mohicans, Appalachians, and the Vinlanders -- and how Hiawatha's forces were defeated by their lack of unity.

         Later that day, the Earl speaks with Poul and Kjartan. He says that he was intrigued by their cooperation with the skraelingar, and suggests that he would like to do something similar with the neighboring tribes who also dislike the Narragansett. Poul asks him if they could talk to the elders of the the neighboring tribes. The Earl requests exactly if he could do so, telling them of the Redaxe war and bearing the message from him that he would be open to a similar arrangement.

         The next day, Silksif goes for a ride with Marie to see the city and countryside of Hvalrik. Unsure of what to do, she freely describes her family situation and desires to the Earless Marie. Marie is intrigued by this. At first she suggests marriage to a wealthy man, but Silksif rejects this. Marie accepts that simply, saying "Ah, so you are not of that persuasion". Silksif explains that she does not want to go so far as to kill her relatives, but she wants to get her extended family away from them. Marie suggests that there is a gift that one could give to the relatives which would be catastrophic if misused. Silksif agrees almost immediately to this morally questionable plan, but then reflects more seriously when Marie asks more about her moral views.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Wed Oct 30 00:09:46 2002