37. Poul Contracts for a Potion

         The last session had ended with Skallagrim meeting the assembled men under his command. We begin by reviewing some of the events of the Althing before, especially the actions of Poul -- who had stayed out of the limelight but was still present.

         On the second to last day of the Althing, Skallagrim meets with the council of godi in review. By law, this is open to the public like all official meetings of the godi. He asks the council for what he should do with the men newly under his command. There is discussion of what to do with them. Some proposals are shot down. It is felt that the troops are too untested to send directly against the Redaxes to the north. Also, because of Hring's men and his issues with Hvalrik, it seemed unwise to send them eastward. Vigfus the Proud again suggests that they raid south. Eventually, though, there is rough agreement that they should head west, recruiting tribes who agree to ally against the Redaxes and raiding those who do not. However, they are unable to be more specific than that.

         When Skallagrim arrives home after the council, he finds that his wife Borgny the Sharp-Tongued has arrived. Apparently, news of his appointment had reached her in the past three days, and she says she came as soon as she heard. Borgny immediately takes charge of the situation, and demands to know what has been going on along with what stupid things he has done. Skallagrim relates the events of the past days, over occaisional sarcastic comments from his wife. She is particularly amused by his attempt to convince Vagnhild to go on the expedition. He then makes the suggestion that if Borgy were against the plan, then her Vagnhild might be more attracted by it.

         As they are discussing this, Vagnhild is returning to the camp -- but Borgny overhears her approach. [1] Without warning, Borgny then takes up her husband's suggestions and launches into a tirade about how stupid his idea was. She emphasizes that the point is not for Vagnhild to slut herself out to the men, but that Skallagrim should assess the men himself and pick a suitable husband for her. She goes on even more, when Vagnhild storms in on the conversation. Vagnhild is of course furious. She says that she will go on the expedition, and for that matter sleep with the lot of them. In a particularly vicious dig, Borgny asks "Oh, so how will you decide on your husband: by length or by taste?" Vagnhild storms off. Skallagrim is suitably impressed, and blows a kiss to Borgny.

         Also during the Althing, Kjartan tries to see his fiancee Thjohild many times. Thjohild is pleased by this, but at some point she explains to Kjartan that he need not feel so pressured to court her, since they are already engaged. "There will be plenty of time to get to know each other after we are married", she says. After this, Kjartan expresses his moral doubts over going raiding -- based on his experiences with the serpent's curse. Mistakenly feeling how he is in need of support, Thjohild reassures him that she thinks of him as a real man, and that she is sure he will do well in battle.

         During most of the Althing, Poul has been laying low -- although not hiding per say. He spent much time outside the grounds of the Althing in case he got into a fight, since the plain of the Althing (Thingvellir) is supposed to be sacred ground. In the middle, though, he did come consult with Silksif. Having heard last year that Marie Delort would be coming to the Althing, he sought her council regarding his curse. Silksif agreed to look for her and ask her opinion.

         She finds Marie Delort again near Hring's camp. Marie at first seems insulted that Poul should seek a second opinion, but agrees to help as a personal favor to Silksif. Silksif explains the problem of the serpent's curse, including how the serpent's bite played on in the case of Kjartan. Marie certainly concurs that there is no cure for it per se. However, she does suggest that she could make a potion which would induce the final stage of the curse -- when the violence took over in a fit and the spirit left the body. This stage is inevitable, but the potion would allow them to control when and where it occurred. To make it, Marie asks Silksif if she knows any murderers -- as the blood of a murderer is an ingredient of the potion. Silksif tells Marie about Brom Brontsson, but she doesn't know where he is at present. They part, agreeing to meet with Poul later.

         Later, Silksif brings Poul to meet with Marie at a spot outside the grounds of the Althing. Marie explains to Poul the situation, and the purpose of the potion she will prepare. However, she adds in that she believes that this is a major service that they will be doing for Poul -- and that it should be considered of significant value, implying that he should pay both Silksif and herself. Silksif is torn over what to ask for, not wishing to be too greedy. However, she realizes that as it stands, Poul and his new wife Alfdis stand to inherit all of Ivar the Black's property upon his death. She asks as her payment that upon Ivar's death, the Tjaraholt property be split equally between her family (who are descended from Ivar's sister Herdis) and Ivar's daughter Alfdis.

         For her payment, Marie has heard about Poul's new techniques with steel-making -- with which he made his sword Oath-binder at Camrik. She asks that Poul make her a knife by the same techniques, a knife which she cannot break. The implication here is that she will test the metal herself, which does not seem that challenging since she is only an average-sized woman. However, it might be more difficult than suggested. Poul agrees to the challenge, but he adds that he must acquire fire-rock (coal) to duplicate the technique. She accepts this, and asks that hers be the first weapon he makes once he acquires it.

         That evening, there is a gathering of those who were with Poul and Kjartan in the battle where Kjartan was overcome by the curse: Kjartan, Poul, Skallagrim, Thorgerd, Arnor, and Silksif. They discuss their plans, both for the summer's expedition in general and how to deal with Poul's curse. They agree that they will first go on a scouting expedition to the west, seeking which tribes to target for raiding later. They will return in three weeks and lead the men, who are to be assembled at Raudarbank. At some as-yet-unspecified point, they will induce the fit in Poul for him to pass through his curse -- in some situation where there is a suitable enemy for him to spend his cursed rage upon.

         The next morning is the final day of the Althing, and Skallagrim prepares to go to meet his troops. Melnir meets him as he approaches, and speaks to him confidentially. Melnir says that his huscarl Thorbrand is among the troops -- the Christianized Lagakin warrior who went with them to the Mohican's last fall. Melnir warns Skallagrim not to be surprised if Thorbrand treats him coldly. He explains that he ordered Thorbrand to try to contact those among Hring's men who might try to kill Skallagrim. By acting hostile towards Skallagrim, they might see him as an ally. In short, Thorbrand is undercover.

         Skallagrim then reviews his troops, who are gathered waiting for him. He gives a rough speech, which does not move the men emotionally, but does give them a sense of him as a fellow fighting man rather than a political figure. [2] He then personally inspects them, and assigns positions among them. He meets one among Hring's men whom he knew from Hvalrik: Lief the Unlucky. Lief subtlely warns him of the more dangerous among Hring's men.

  1. This was a failure of a Sneak roll.
  2. A failed Orate roll, combined with a "Silver Lining" card played by Jim

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Thu Jun 19 00:52:34 2003