23. Projects in Camrik

         We ended last time with Silksif's talk with the earl's wife Marie. Marie had offered Silksif the possibility of a cursed gift which she could give to her greedy cousin Ivar, which would bring down doom upon him. Silksif's response is that she does not wish to kill Ivar. However, she would like to put him in his place -- to teach him a lesson to change his ways and especially not to mess with her and her family. Marie respects that, and thus lays aside the thought of the sword which grows more thirsty the more it drinks. She offers instead a formula for fool's gold, a illusion which makes an item seem immensely valuable and desirable, but only to the greedy. The less greedy will doubt its worth, and a man without greed will see it for what it truly is. However, a greedy man who takes it will suffer only ill for the taking.

         Later that day, Kjartan goes to find Eldgrim and Skallagrim. The previous day, the Earl had expressed interest in Skallagrim -- to which Kjartan replied that while of course the outlawed Skallagrim had not come with them, there was a man named "Dark Helm" travelling with them who was very close to Skallagrim. The Earl Thorvald expressed great interest in meeting this "Dark Helm". Thus, today Kjartan sought out Skallagrim to arrange an incognito meeting with the Earl. Kjartan meets Busla (Skallagrim's sister-in-law), and shortly find Skallagrim about the neighborhood. Since he is legally an outlaw in this city, Skallagrim is nervous about a meeting but naturally agrees to it. He suggests to meet on the green south of Beacon Hill.

         At the meeting, Thorvald comes with two of his men. He expresses pleasure at meeting "Dark Helm" (which he says with a smirk). "Dark Helm" says that Skallagrim is now independent and has a modest plot of land. Thorvald then suggests that there are expansive plots of land here in Hvalrik, which would be granted to victorious leaders like Skallagrim. They go on to discuss different aspects of life in Hvalrik, thinly maintaining the fiction of talking about Skallagrim in the third person. Thorvald claims to be turning out such fools as the commander that Skallagrim maimed. Skallagrim is polite and thinks well of the Earl, but privately is not at all tempted. It is the independence of life in the Commonwealth which attracts him.

         That evening Kjartan also talks to a poet of the court, named Svafnir. He is trying to find out the real story behind the hostilities with the Narragansett. Unfortunately, he gets few answers from Svafnir, who seems to know little from outside the town except what he hears from others.

         The next day the visitors leave to go visit Camrik. Marie offers to accompany them, as she has business there as well. They take a ferry north to Carl's town, and there ride to Camrik. Ingjavald accompanies them, but Thorgerd and Arnor stay behind to deal with the sale of their thralls. Eldgrim also stays, but he assures his brother of his intentions to come out to the farm. In fact, he says that he has a few messages to deliver before leaving -- but Skallagrim strongly advises him not to piss off his bosses until they are actually sailing out of town. When they arrive at Camrik, they find it quite different from what they are used to. There are five longhouses, but rather than being broken up into five clans each house has a dedicated purpose. There is the master's hall, a cloister of sorts where older scholars live and work, a barracks of mostly young men, a house of crafts with mostly women, and a farm house. A man comes out to meet them: Thrain Havardsson, who shows them all hospitality.

         At dinner that night, all of the Brygjafaelers try to sit near to Skapti the Priest to hear his views. He describes his missionary work, how he has succeeded at converting many of the Massachusetts individually but that their leaders are resistant to change. When Marie leaves, however, he openly criticizes the former Earl (Thorvald's father Styr) for making war with the Narragansett.

         The following day, all the visitors go out to visit the workshops of Hrut Ironskin, the master smith. As they approach the main building, suddenly there is a sound of rushing air and a scream. A young man runs towards the door with his arm on fire. Poul catches him and gets him to roll on the ground to put out the fire. Silksif and Marie then tend to his burns. They then meet Hrut, who looks at the youngster and scoffs, saying "Hmf. I've had worse than that all the time."

         Poul introduces himself and tries to inquire about Hrut's techniques. Hrut quickly clams up and puts off the questions, until Skallagrim (?) points out that they are here with the Earl's wife. He suddenly becomes more polite, and soon is talking deeply with Poul about steel-making. Poul lays out his case openly and offers to work together with Hrut using the knowledge of this manuscript.

         Later that day, Marie and Silksif have another talk as they near completing of the formula.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Fri Nov 22 13:20:12 2002