47. Skallagrim's Daughter is Born

         We begin as Poul, Maushop, Kjartan, and Thjohild prepare to leave Melnir's stead at Raudarbank at the end of October. They make plans to meet again later in the winter. Silksif says that she will again speak to the spirits in the coming weeks, to contact the mustang. Thjohild has been feeling a bit left out by this lofty spiritual planning, and envious of Silksif's important position even though she feels secure in her marriage.[1] Thjohild talks to Silksif, asking what practical importance this religious change will have (with a tinge of cynicism). [2] Silksif explains that the mustang spirit will grant power in the real world. Thjohild asks incredulously, "So this will make Kjartan more like a stallion?" Silksif responds to the cattiness, saying (approximately) "No, he doesn't need to be any more like a stallion."

         After this, they leave. Silksif has a parting prophecy for Poul. She says that he must make 3 axes. One will be for himself. One he knows the friend whom it will be for. The third should be double-headed, and the person whom it is for will show up. Poul takes this thoughtfully. Melnir agrees that he and Silksif will come to visit Brygjafael at midwinter.

         Back in the Eastfold, after his encounter with the intruder, Skallagrim goes to Brygjafael to ask advice on seeking revenge against Ivar. At first he speaks with Arnkel the Quiet, who advises against a clash. He points out that Skallagrim has no proof that his intruder had anything to do with Ivar, and that if he takes preemptive revenge against Ivar then he may be judged even more harshly as before. Kjartan and Poul return to Brygjafael during Skallagrim's visit. They join in a feast, and afterwards they hear about his troubles and voice their own opinions. They similarly advice him to challenge Ivar legally during the next Thing.

         Before returning home, he also visits his godi Vignir the Bald. Vignir suggests that even if Skallagrim is successful in a suit against Ivar, Ivar will likely not give up his dwindling possessions to pay a fine. Thus, whatever action he takes against Ivar, Skallagrim had better be prepared to finish it -- which could mean wipe out Tjaraholt and take any repercussions.

         Meanwhile, while Skallagrim is away from Grimholt, Hrapp is approached by a man while he is going out to check the traps. It is a huscarl of Tjaraholt, named Svafrlami. He offers Hrapp gold, asking him that in a suit he should say that Matunaaga told him to graze cows on Ivar's land.[3] Hrapp then counter-offers, trying to persuade Svarflami to steal what he can from Ivar and come to work for Skallagrim. Svafrlami is clearly tempted, and agrees to meet Hrapp in two days time.[4] However, it later turns out that he never shows up.

         Upon returning, Skallagrim is dissatisfied with the advice to wait until the Thing. He rides out with his men to Tjaraholt and calls out to Ivar. He accuses Ivar of witchcraft, calling things from his family's grave. Ivar counters that he will die before he allows Skallagrim to violate his ancestors. Hrapp throws in further insult, saying to Ivar that he already took much from his ancestors for himself (referring to the previous fall when they opened the grave on the suspicion that Gest's ghost was rising from it). Further insults and threats are exchanged, and eventually they part.

         Back at Raudarbank, Silksif again journeys to the spirit world perhaps a few weeks into November. The disir of Brygjafael had told her that she should speak to a totem spirit that had touched her, and she realizes that it meant literally. The bear spirit is the one which touched her, when she and Kjartan asked it how to avert war with the Narragansett. She seeks it out, and asks for its help in finding the mustang. The bear brings her to a meadow where a mustang is grazing. It comes when she offers it food, and speaks to her. She explains the offer. The mustang is intrigued, saying "The people who once tamed me now want to be tamed themselves." It agrees in principle to the deal, provided that each of the male leaders of Brygjafael faces a test. Silksif asks what they must do, and the mustang ominously answers "Whatever is most difficult for them."

         Later, as midwinter approaches in December, Skallagrim begins his long journey by ski South through the Eastfold territory to see his wife Borgny in Grjotvogur (Rockaway). He is traveling with Matunaaga and Hrapp. Meanwhile, Melnir and Silksif are traveling North from Raudarbank through the Westfold up to visit Brygjafael. This is in midwinter, with deep snow and temperatures dipping to -30 Fahrenheit at night. Still, they are hardy folk and make it through.

         Skallagrim arrives at Grjotvogur to find that his child has already been born two days earlier. The baby is a girl and seems to be doing fine. However, Borgny is now deep in fever from infection. She is largely incoherent when they find her. Matunaaga has always privately said that Borgny is the real head of the household, and decides that he must take a risk to save her. He fasts through that day and then heads out poorly dressed into the forest as evening approaches. He is trying to contact his totem spirit, the turtle, through a vision quest like the one he once did years ago.

         He eventually is successful. Delirious in the woods, he sees a turtle in a patch of bare green ground in the snow. He immediately apologizes for waking the turtle (which sleeps during the winter), but then goes on to explain his problem. The turtle advises that she (Borgny) must be made to seek her strength. He says to put her in the cold (incidentally reducing her fevered temperature), and to draw on her strength.

         While Matunaaga was outside, Skallagrim had been restlessly following news of Borgny's condition. Matunaaga returns with odd advice and partial frostbite, and tells Skallagrim of his vision. Skallagrim immediately implements it, going to the hut where Borgny is and laying open the windows and doors. After nearly an hour, Borgny stirs and cries out "Goddamn it, won't somebody close the door. It's freezing." Encouraged, Skallagrim goes on to tell her that he is here and what he did in her absence. She groans at his idiocy, and weakly attempts to nag him that fiscal responsibility is more important than posturing for vengeance.

  1. The result of an "Envy" card by Liz.
  2. The result of an "Added Animosity" card by Bill.
  3. The result of a "Moral Dilemma" card by Heather.
  4. The result of a "Greed" card by Liz.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Thu Jan 1 13:29:41 2004