51. Ivar the Black is Outlawed

         We begin with Kjartan, Poul, Maushop, Silksif, and Skallagrim returning from the serpent's cave.[1] The river just now being clear of ice, Silksif leaves to return to Raudarbank. As she is leaving, Thjohild privately draws her aside to ask a question -- she has just missed a period, and wants to know if she is pregnant.[2] Silksif tells her that she will have twin boys, and then leaves.

         Spring passes and planting and herding begins anew. As neighbors once again are talking, stories are exchanged. Over the winter, Kjartan has composed an epic song describing all of what has happened -- including his spirit journey and the history of Steinthor which he learned from the Tree of Knowledge. Of course, this amounts to a scandalous tale about both Tjaraholt and Hvalrik with no proof to its assertions. But it is generally well-received as a good yarn.

         Meanwhile, Skallagrim has returned to Grimholt after his visit. There he and Borgny eventually decide to name the new baby "Helga", after Skallagrim's former employer at Brygjafael. They then discuss Skallagrim's plans. Borgny suggests that they need to get all their ducks in a row -- which essentially means bribing the neighbors to agree with killing off Ivar. Agreeing, Skallagrim and Borgny go to visit their godi Vignirthe Bald, and then their neighbor Tosti the Golden. They will ask each to support them in a lawsuit charging Ivar of witchcraft.

         He decides to give Vignir the fine black cloak which he received from Earl Thorvald of Hvalrik; and he decides to give the Swamp Devil's head to Ari the Learned along with a present for Tosti himself. In the end, both of them agree to support him. Notably, Tosti in past years has essentially been Ivar's only ally -- speaking out that he should be tolerated in the name of keeping the peace. However, after hearing about the intruder, Tosti is finally moved to outrage and agrees to take Skallagrim's case at the Thing in late spring. He further asks his foster-nephew Ingjavald to testify about the dark magics related to Tjaraholt.

         It will be some two months yet until the Eastfold Thing, which is held at Hvitavellir (White Plains). So having secured his case as much as possible, Skallagrim goes about his business. He has no trouble from Tjaraholt during that time, and seeks none.

         Meanwhile, spring passes. In Brygjafael, Maushop works according to the serpent's instructions to build a hammer for his father Poul. The hammer he forges comes out ugly and misshapen, with a mottled and scaled texture. However, grasping it Poul finds that he can indeed hold it with his otherwise-useless right arm. He begins plans anew to secure steady access to the fire-rock and to sell his technique to the clans of Raudarbank.

         In Raudarbank, Melnir renews his questions about finding a totem spirit for his own clan. He expresses most interest in the wolf as a totem, though he defers to Silksif's judgement on this issue. (He sees war and politics as his business as husband, but religion is clearly Silksif's field.) The wolf was ruthless in opposing the Brygjafaeler's quest, so Silksif has some trepidation. Questioning him, she realizes that his tendency has nothing to do with identifying with the animal as a concept. Rather, he favors it as a political move which could help ally him with Rowtag -- the new grand sachem of the Mohicans.

         In late spring after planting is well over, the time for the regional Things arrives. By this time, Kjartan's poem has been widely heard in the Eastfold. Ivar does not come. Skallagrim states his case simply and plainly -- the Ivar had inherited cursed goods from Killer-Gest, and indeed openly placed a curse upon his neighbor Poul. Evil manifestations near his household (i.e. the horseman) can only mean that the witchcraft has indeed been done. Vignir the Bald is chosen as judge, while Tosti takes up lawspeaking in favor of the case. Ingjavald testifies, but his testimony does not go over well. However, this is taken by the crowd that he is holding back from the dirty work that must be done.[3] Tosti puts the case in legal terms, but he too does poorly. In principle, the local Thing has no jurisdiction to fully outlaw a man. He justifies that they can at least force Ivar out of the Eastfold, but it is on shaky legal grounds. Despite this, however, Vignir holds in favor of Skallagrim's case -- and no one speaks a word against it.

         So Ivar is legally outlawed for witchcraft. By tradition, he has two weeks after being notified to leave the region (technically only the Eastfold). After the Thing is over, Vignir and his men go along with Skallagrim and his men to inform Ivar of the decision. They find Tjaraholt strangely silent. Indeed, Skallagrim realizes that there are no tracks at the gate: i.e. they have not taken out their animals since the spring thaw. They announce themselves, and after a time Ivar replies. He laughs at their threat, and says that they will have to force him out. Satisfied, they start to leave. However, Matunaaga hears an odd sound as Ivar closes the door -- a dragging sound more like a beast of some sort than a man walking.

         With nothing to be done, Skallagrim waits the two weeks and then prepares to attack. The night of Ivar's final day, Matunaaga arranges to be by himself. In his tradition, he holds a vigil and paints himself with war paint. In the dead of night, he then takes a burning brand to hurl into Tjaraholt to presage their assault. With his axe, he climbs the palisade and then hurls the torch onto the hall, calling out an insult on Ivar. As he descends from the palisade, though, he hears the sudden trampling of a huge beast -- and suddenly the gates of Tjaraholt jar off their hinges with great force from the inside. With some panic, Matunaaga runs soon pursued by a huge beast of some sort. He tries to escape through brush and stream. As the beast hits the stream there is a scalding and hissing sound, and then he hears Ivar's voice. He calls back "Ivar?" The beast replies in Ivar's voice, "Ivar is in here, as are others, and you will soon join them." With renewed urgency, Matunaaga continues his flight -- eventually losing it and returning home to Grimholt. There he tells the news that Ivar has turned into a dragon.

  1. The previous session was not well documented due to moving, so we picked a starting point based on what we could remember.
  2. Liz requested a roll to check whether Kjartan's wife Thjohild had gotten pregnant during the winter (an arbitrary chance), and the roll turns out an 11. i.e. a "critical".
  3. The result of a "Double Jeopardy" card by Jim, specifying that after a failed Orate roll, Ingjavald comes across as weak -- i.e. holding back.

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Tue Apr 20 22:38:12 2004