24. The Kidnapping of Busla and Swanhild

         As the week goes by, the projects in Camrik develop. Poul is hard at work in the forges, working with Hrut the master smith on his secret formula. Marie and Silksif have completed their gift -- a necklace which seems to be gold, more to those who are greedy. Meanwhile, Thorgerd and Arnor have arranged for the sale of their redaxe captives. They give one of the five to the Earl as a gift. Meanwhile, Eldgrim is tying up his affairs and says that he will meet them on the following day.

         Thorgerd and Arnor leave for Camrik on the fifth day. They are expecting Eldgrim and his family the next day. Near sunset on the sixth day, however, the body of Eldgrim is brought unconscious to Camrik. He soon recovers, and reports that he was attacked by a party of Lagakin raiders. He killed one of the ten attackers, but was beaten unconcious by their war-clubs. His wife Busla and baby daughter Swanhild were captured and taken.

         Three bands set out in search of the raiding party, one of which is the Brygjafaelers. Poul says that he needs an hour and that he would ride out to meet them, bringing with him Eldgrim who needed some rest after his wounds. Poul goes out to the forges and tests the sword which he and Hrut had forged over the past three days. With a mighty swing, it broke the testing stone. Hrut, however, is there and objects to Poul's taking the sword. Poul then names the sword Oath-Binder and swears upon it to Hrut that they would forge its brother when he returned. Hrut reluctantly agreed, but added to the bargain that he would choose which of the siblings to take.

         The Brygjafaelers take up the most immediate trail of the raiders, while the other bands move to cut them off. They followe the tracks to the edge of the woods, but it is only a quarter mooon and there is no way to follow into the forest. They sleep, and in her dreams Silksif seeks out the spirit of the man whom Eldgrim slew. She finds the spirit of a dead man sitting by a stream, where a turtle sits on a rock. The man is a Narragansett warrior, who claims that they were there to raid farms, and only attacked Eldgrim when he got in their way. The turtle also talks to Silksif, and is impressed by her respectfulness and manner. The turtle tells her that the captives are being taken to Pettaquamscutt.

         The next morning, the band discusses the odd coincidence of Eldgrim being taken by a raid. Skallagrim suggests that it could be that the Earl wished ill of Eldgrim, possibly for his outlaw brother. Such a raid as this is uncommon though not unknown. Unfortunately, they were overheard by a scout from one of the Earl's bands who had come out to join them. The Earl's nephew Agnar was leading this band, and he was quick to rebuke the Brygjafaelers. They narrowly avoid a fight, agreeing to seek out the raiders. Skallagrim tries to kick dirt on Agnar as he rides off, but by accident the horse kicks Agnar's leg and then bucks Skallagrim. They then very nearly have a duel on the spot. Poul attempts to hold it off by asking them to swear on his sword to duel after the present hunt. Agnar agrees, but Skallagrim refuses to swear -- not because he did not want to duel but because he would not commit to put off violence until after the hunt. Skallagrim then abruptly rides off, and they part with Agnar on ill terms.

         They pick up the trail but eventually it goes cold. They then visit a nearby Massachusetts village for information. The village sachem is named Nootau. He says that his people knew nothing of the raid, and directs them to the trader Chogan for information on the Narragansett. Chogan is helpful to them. He has traded with both the Vinlanders in Hvalrik and also with the Narragansett. He thinks ill of the Narragansett, whom he calls a "godless people", but admits that his own tribe would be divided whether to help Hvalrik on a war against them.

         That night, Kjartan has a dream where he is hunting in the woods. He takes aim with his bow at a bear in a clearing, when suddenly the bear sits down and speaks to him. The bear tells him that it's name is Machk ("bear" in Algonquin) and found him by the signs which he has shown of his passage into the other world, nodding at the scars on his left arm. He is amazed, and then further amazed when Silksif walks into the clearing and greets him and the bear. Kjartan tells the bear that he would like peace between the Narragansett and Hvalrik. The bear then asks him, "Do you know how to do that?" The bear then hits him across the head with its paw. He is dazed but stands fast and does nothing. The bear then turns towards Silksif. Kjartan flinches but does nothing. The bear rears up and raises its claws, but then sits down, satisfied.

         Kjartan and Silksif both wake in the pre-dawn. Kjartan then takes Silksif aside and declares his love for her. He says that he could never have trusted any of the grand-daughters of Vigfus the way that he trusted her to deal with the bear. He says that it is her strength that draws him.

         They then rode south towards the Pettaquamscutt. They camped on the edge of the Great Swamp. The following morning, they began to head through the wetlands. They spotted a band of Narragansett warriors. They openly call out to them. Three of the band hang back, while eight of them approach to meet. The leader of the war band is named Matwau. He agrees to accompany them to Pettaquamscutt, and gives a hand signal to the three of his band in the distance who then leave.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Tue Jun 10 12:19:24 2003