45. Finding the Legacy of Stein the Cruel

         We begin with Silksif talking with Hring at Groenholt two days after Kjartan's wedding. Before the wedding, she had spoken with a disir of her clan.[1] From what it said, she inferred that there was a connection between her great-uncle Stein the Cruel and the house of Hvalrik from which Hring and the Earl Thorvald come. Believing that this is a key to the swamp devils' prophecy, Silksif asks Hring about his relatives, thinking one of them might be Stein the Cruel.

         Hring then tells her about his ancestors. His father was Styr Ravens-friends, the former earl who died in a shipwreck two years ago. As Silksif knew, Hring was passed over by the council of nobles for succession to the earldom. His grandfather was Thorstein, who had a younger brother, Steinthor, who would be the right age for Stein the Cruel. Steinthor was 14 years younger than his brother the Earl Thorstein. The family tree would be:

                   |          |            |              |
        Hild = Thorstein    Thyra = ?     Kara = ?    Steinthor
             |                    |            |  
    Thrand          Styr = Eyfura
     Gullrond = Hring        Thorvald = Marie Delort       Asta
    Agnar          Geirrid

         Hring describes that his great-uncle Steinthor went into exile after the death of the Earl's son Thrand in 1347. At that time there was a war with the Massachusetts, ignited over the newly-founded French colony at Salem. Steinthor was only six years older than Thrand, and they were apparently close. They went into battle together, but Thrand died. Apparently because of the circumstances, the Earl blamed his brother Steinthor for Thrand's death. Steinthor left Hvalrik later that year.

         Silksif is interested by this story, but senses that there are things that Hring is holding back about the story. She tells Hring that she believes that Steinthor is the same as Stein the Cruel, who married her great-aunt Svala. He is interested to learn that they are possibly relatives, and asks about the history of Stein and his family. Stein's only son Gest was killed and had no children, so there are no blood relatives remaining, but his son's widow Bara now lives with Silksif.

         Hring takes the news of this in stride. He has a moment of grief for his losses, and Silksif consoles him.[2] He tells her that his wife Gullrond was a strong woman, like his mother Eyfura, who knew what she wanted. He says that Eyfura would have nothing to do with Steinthor after the death of Thrand, and that she was probably right. Silksif digests the implication that Thrand and Steinthor were both interested in the same woman, who later married Thrand's brother.

         Later that day, the wedding guests begin to go home their different ways. Hring stops by to congradulate Kjartan, and they talk for a time. Later, on his way to his ship, he meets with Skallagrim. They exchange some concern over the state of affairs between Atli and Vagnhild. Skallagrim mentions that sometimes arranged marriages are a part of peacemaking, thinking of Poul and Alfdis. Hring says that they should wait until after Vignir the Bald has decided on a settlement before any discussions. However, Atli overhears this, and in an argument tells Hring that he will do what he likes regardless of the settlement.[3] Atli vows to do something rash.[4]

         As Skallagrim prepares to go, his wife Borgny tells him that she is going to Grjotvogur (Rockaway) for the winter. He remembers that she was going to go away from home to have her baby, because of his family curse. Thus, she has arranged to stay at Grjotvogur, the family of Ingjavald the Crane. She has a long list of advice for him before she leaves, naturally.

         Kjartan leaves for Brygjafael with his new bride. They have talked about his plans for a college to be built at the site of Brygjafael. Thjohild expressed interest in the prestige of being leaders of this, rather than any intellectual pretensions. Kjartan secretly worries that she will push him to more practical pursuits, as opposed to his poetry and studies.

         Silksif leaves with her husband Melnir, but decides to pay a visit to Tjaraholt to see her great-uncle Ivar before returning home. The discussion with Hring has made her think of her relatives, it seems. (Ivar suffers painful injury of some sort.)[5]

         When she reaches the palisade, Ivar calls from the house with the gates closed and turns them away. After a pause, though, he asks if Silksif still has the necklace that she brought from Hvalrik. [6] She replies that she has it on her, and he sends a carl to open the gates for them. As he conducts them to the house, the carl complains to them about the awful state of affairs at Tjaraholt.

         The stead is a shambles, and the house rather dark when they enter -- with windows blocked for insulation. Ivar receives them sitting on his seat on the platform. Silksif offers the necklace to him as a present, and tries to see how he is doing. He is glad to receive the necklace, but she notices that he avoids her and stays in the shadows. Afterwards she quietly talks to his wife Edny. She says that he has been unwell ever since he was wounded by Skallagrim. Silksif offers for her to leave, but she says that it is her duty to stay.

         While he is escorting them out, Silksif suggests to the carl, Gudmund, that he could go to work for Skallagrim -- who is in need of carls. He immediately takes her advice and tells them to wait a minute, then goes into the house and returns with his belongings. [7] As they walk, though, Silksif notices he is hiding his left side under a cloak. Melnir confronts him and sees signs of fresh blood on his knife. Gudmund explains that he had a fight with Ivar as he was leaving, but only wounded him. Silksif goes back to check, but Ivar angrily turns her away.

         Silksif and Melnir return to Raudarbank, satisfied but disturbed. Gudmund goes to Skallagrim's stead, Grimholt, where he is accepted and shown the ropes by Matunaaga -- who has been taking on a senior role among the carls.

  1. A disir is a female ancestral spirit, who protect their clan but also punish misdeeds and lack of respect.
  2. The result of a "Pity" card by Bill.
  3. The result of an "Internal Conflict" card by Liz.
  4. The result of a "Rash Impulse" card by Jim.
  5. The result of a "Painful Injury" card by Heather.
  6. The result of a "Greed" card by Jim.
  7. The result of a "Lasting Impressions" card by Jim.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Sun Nov 9 23:10:03 2003