42. Forging a Knife for Marie Delort

         The session begins at Melnir's stead in Raudarbank, where a group have gathered after the slaying of one of the swamp devils. Melnir credits Skallagrim with the slaying, who is now developing a reputation as a slayer of monsters. With Melnir's permission, he takes the head of the swamp devil with him when he leaves. Skallagrim makes sure to share credit for the slaying with Bjarni. At a feast in Raudarbank, Kjartan tells the story of the prophecy of the devil.

         Meanwhile, back at Brygjafell, Poul is trying to forge an unbreakable dagger for Marie Delort. He fasts for 3 nights, praying to Thor, and tempers the blade in water mixed with the blood of himself and his kin. His intent is to bind the blade so that it cannot be used against himself or his family. The blade holds true, and he waits. About a week later, Marie Delort shows up, arriving in a small trade boat with five men. She reminds Poul of their bargain, that it must be a blade which she cannot break. Poul gives her the blade, and she stands by the testing stone for fifteen minutes studying it. She then holds it high over her head and brings it down on the stone, where it cracks through. She tells Poul that it was crafted with skill, but there was a flaw in it. She diplomatically tells Poul that the forging of a blade is like a marriage -- you can't go into it and hold back.

         Two days after this, the campaigners return to their homes. Skallagrim comes back to Grimholt, bringing the head of the swamp devil, his share of booty, and a captive Mohawk woman. Borgny welcomes him. She says that Hrapp has been lazy, but that overall things have been well. Skallagrim suggests ideas he has been thinking of: building a palisade, negotiating with the local tribes (the Wappinger), and buying land from Ivar through an intermediary. Borgy asks about Vagnhild and the trip, which leads to a conversation steeped in sarcasm. They discuss Bjarni as a match for Vagnhild. Skallagrim praises Bjarni's prowess in battle, noting that he is skilled in swordplay and wrestling... Borgny sarcastically adds, "Well, that will be useful." She proposes that Vagnhild should be kept far away from Brygjafael and Bjarni while they negotiate with the parents.

         Poul, Bjarni and Kjartan discuss the dagger. Poul seems a little bit paranoid. His nephew Bjarni is mystified, asking "Why are you afraid of giving a dagger to a woman? It just doesn't make sense." Kjartan tells Poul he is right to fear the power of the gydja, but that Marie has not done anything to make us distrust her. He adds that Poul must accept that they are powerful, intelligent and dangerous -- there is no getting around it.

         Kjartan also brings up a larger religious question -- suggesting that Brygjafel has received help from the Bear, the Turtle, and other Lagakin spirits or totems, and should seek to be under their protection. In other words, we need a totem for our clan, and need to find out how to effectively worship the new world gods along with Thor and Jesus. Poul seems interested, but very obsessed with making sure that his dagger will not be used against him, since it carries some of his personal power.

         In the end, Poul agrees that he must simply forge the dagger as best he can. He asks his son Maushop that he should pray as well to the local Lagakin spirits to make the blade strong, but leaves vague what that means. He considers talking to his brother-in-law Kitgari, but reasons that the magic of ironsmithing would be beyond him. The night after they begin on the second blade, Kjartan hears the boy slipping into the house pre-dawn after a night spent outside. Unbeknownst to any, it seems that he has made a bargain with spirits -- but in an act of spite, they have made the blade a reversal of the first. It will act to harm the descendants of Aud. [1] [2] The next day, the coal fires run unusually hot with seeming ferocity. Poul fears that the blade will turn brittle, but despite extra effort, the blade will not break. [3]

         During this time, Marie Delort travelled to Raudarbank to visit Silksif. They catch up on events. Upon hearing of the swamp devils, Marie asks to see the carcass. With her husbands' bemused permission, Silksif brings the body. As she examines it, Marie explains her magic some. "Truly, there is magic inside all living things. Birds have their flight, cats have their stealth, and so on. The trick," she says as she begins to dissect the body, "is finding exactly where it is." With some care, she extracts the monster's gall bladder filled with black bile and keeps it in a jar. She then speaks more about her craft, showing Silksif how to make lucifers (matches). They discuss each others' ambitions. Marie asks Silksif for advice on how to deal with the Narragansetts. Silksif advises that the Hvalrik people stop trying to convert them to Christianity, but instead find some other means to co-opt them politically.

         Skallagrim visits his godi, Vignir, to discuss buying land from Ivar. He brings up his spiritual concerns. He is worried because of killing the swamp devil: Are they messengers of God? Would he have to pay weregeld of some kind? Vignir reassures him somewhat, telling him to trust his instincts in doing what is right. He advises to seek a gydja to negotiate reparations, if any. Vignir also agrees to buy land from Ivar, with a cut for his own profit.

         A week after the first testing, Marie Delort returns to Brygjafel to test the second dagger. There is considerably more interest from the household now, as Marie goes to the stone to test the second blade. Poul comments, "If you can break this one, I'd like to learn that art." Marie replies amusedly, "It would take a long time for you to learn it. Perhaps... in some other lifetime." Kjartan diplomatically suggests that each has their own skills: "Some are skilled at forging, others at breaking." Marie again studies the blade for a long time and then looks at Maushop with surprise -- perhaps with approval or respect. She again holds the blade high, and brings it down on the stone, catching the sun's light with a flash as it descends. The blade sparks off the stone, but holds true and unmarred.

         A name for the blade is discussed, but Poul has no inspiration for one. Kjartan tells Marie, "Such a blade should have a name, but should earn it." Marie predicts, "It will tell us its name through its actions."

         Kjartan tells Marie his experience of the swamp devils and their prophecy. Kjartan suggests various explanations for the danger from the East. Marie says coyly, "I hope you don't think its me?" Kjartan blushes, and suggests it might be contact from the old country -- from Europe. Marie fears the plague in such a case. They agree that if such contact were to come, unity would be best. However, Marie says that clearly the Commonwealth would not accept being ruled by her husband, even under an external threat. And the Earl would never accept being merely a landowner under the Commonwealth. Kjartan says that even without a threat from Europe, it would be good for them to be closer allies. Marie responds, "I would certainly want us to be closer..." They are clearly flirting, reviving the rumors in Brygjafael that they had an affair.

         That evening, there is a feast with Marie and Silksif as the guests. Silksif and Poul mutually wish that Ivar would die so they could split the inheritance. Ivar is discussed for a while -- Ivar's wife Edny and Bront's widow Sigrid are still living there along with half a dozen thralls and two huscarls. However, nearly a quarter of the Tjaraholt flock died the winter before last. They might have a difficult winter. Aud asks, "But do we really care?" Kjartan responds, "It won't impress anyone if we let a neighbor, even an enemy, suffer in winter." Aud concedes this, and says that after snowfall, we will send someone to check on them to see if they need help.

         Borgny visits that same evening, and is surprised but happy to find the other company. Borgny bluntly proposes a match between Bjarni and Vagnhild. Everyone makes snide references to Bjarni's near-disembowling of his uncle. His might in battle is praised, but he appears quite naive about women. Bjarni seems agreeable to marrying Vagnhild, though he is surprised at Borgny's claim that she really likes him. Kjartan teases Borgny, saying "Some men would be afraid of such a mother in law, but Bjarni is not afraid of anything under the sun." (This also made fun of himself, since he did not try to marry Vagnhild.)

         Bjarni's mother Helga the Peaceful says that it should not be rushed into. She says that a storm is good because it brings rain to plants, but sometimes there can be too much of a good thing... She asks if those who know Vagnhild have an opinion. Kjartan praises Vagnhild's intelligence and industry in making the Redaxe dictionary, says that she should not be kept in domesticity, and predicts that she will be happy with any situation where she gains a measure of independence. When asked where Vagnhild is, Borgny lamely suggests that she is home with a cold. Bjarni does not know what to make of this, but also does not seem to be scared off. At this point, Borgny pokes him, loudly adding "Did I mention she has a really substantial dowry?"

         After the feast, Poul quietly questions Maushop in a rather accusing manner -- asking why Marie Delort gave him that look as she tested the blade. Maushop simply answers that he tried his best to make it a strong blade, as they had agreed. Poul accepts that for the moment, not knowing the true nature of the blade he has just given away.

  1. The result of an "Malice" card by Jim.
  2. The result of an "Erratic Behavior" card by Heather.
  3. The result of a "Unintended Consequences" card by Bill.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Mon Sep 15 23:07:02 2003