34. Events Around Poul's Wedding

         We begin with the searchers returning to Brygjafael, with Skallagrim prominently carrying the head of the horned serpent which he killed. Everyone at the homestead is awed by the dragon's head, and they ask many questions about just what it was [1]. Silksif explains to the others more about these creatures, based on what she had learned from Honiahaka of the Redaxe legends. The horned serpents, or "fire dragons", are creatures which fell from the sky. They are cursed to stay beneath the water, which prevents them from burning up the world. However, they are bitter over this curse and will at times drag down people into the depths. They are also related to the death-spirit Gaasiondietha. Honiahaka describes him as a sky-blue monster which haunts the tall tree tops and the high mountain crests. With the face of a wolf, the wings of a vulture, the body of panther, and claws like a hawk, Gaasiondietha wanders in the pathway of spirits, and is sent to the earth to gather souls. At this, Poul broods and avoids his son Maushop as he contemplates the black stain on his right hand from the blood of the serpent.

         The events of normal life then resume, as the guests return to the homes the following day. At Syfjaourholur, Katrina talks with Thorgerd, suggesting that Kjartan really would be happier with Silksif than with his fiancee Thjohild. Thorgerd is convinced by Katrina's smooth talking. Although Thorgerd does not realize this, Katrina is using this in a plan to keep Silksif away from Melnir -- since she wants Melnir for herself. She also comments on Thorgerd's and Arnor's relationship, hinting that they should do more for each other.

         The next day, Arnor tells Thorgerd that his uncle Sjolf has found a farm in Skrámadalur (Scarsdale) which they might buy and settle at. The next day they go out there, and Thorgerd sees that it is surrounded by good pasturelands where horses are being raised. Knowing her love of horses, Arnor had kept this as a surprise for her. While they look over the farm, Thorgerd sees The Perfect Horse, fenced off away from the others. She goes to approach it, but a field hand stops her, telling her "Don't go near that horse, lady. He's absolutely untameable!" Thorgerd naturally brushes past him and tries to go to the horse herself. There is a distant rumble of thunder as she approaches, which she only barely registers as an omen [2]. The horse looks at her briefly, then rears and kicks, then runs to the other end of its area. [CUT]

         At Grimholt, we cut back to Skallagrim's initial return, bearing the horned serpent's head. Borgny takes one look at the awful thing and won't have it in the house. Skallagrim is crestfallen, having hoped for a glorious return as a dragonslayer, but he goes and puts it in the barn.[3] He does realize that the head has been growing hotter and hotter, and decides to keep it in a barrel of water. Vignor's son Runolf, and others, come to hear the story and see the head, but by the time most people see it, it's started to decompose. [CUT]

         Meanwhile, Poul visits Silksif to ask her about the problems he is having with Maushop, asking her about what it would take for Maushop to speak with his dead mother Amagansa. Silksif explains that to visit her would most likely require travelling to the land of the dead. Doing this transforms the traveller, opening his eyes to the spirit world and initiating him as a shaman. Silksif feels that Maushop is young, but she agrees to teach and initiate him if that's what he wants.

         Returning to Brygjafael with this news, Poul gives a speech to his son, saying that this is a major decision in his life, but that if he wanted to train with Silksif he could do so with his blessing. Maushop rather cuttingly replies that he would prefer to wait "until the decision no longer rests on having your blessing". At this, Poul uncontrollably hits Maushop with a backhanded slap with his blackened right hand.[5]

         Silksif foresees Poul's difficulties, and talks with Brynhild, a valkyrie friend of hers -- asking advice on how to get rid of the curse on Poul's hand. Brynhild first cautions against any hope of cure, saying that among her kind such curses are inevitable. If it were so, what Poul should attempt is to die well. Brynhild adds that "Dragons must be killed". However, she notes the fact that Kjartan survived his curse shows that there is hope. Two years agao, the Appalachian buowin Askewheteau had told Silksif of the recovery. The victim must at first be left alone, for like a drowning man, if pulled while he is conscious he will only lash out at his savior. Only after he has passed consciousness (i.e. given wholly over to the curse) is it possible for him to recover.

         Silksif pays a formal visit to Brygjafael and, as wise-woman, advises Poul and Aud on the curse. They ask in Kjartan to describe his experience, which took place over roughly six weeks. With this knowledge, Poul at first considers ways to delay his wedding. In contrast, Aud advises that Poul and Alfdis should get married as soon as possible, and then during the summer, Poul should go off while the curse plays itself out. Either he will return, or Alfhild will at least benefit from being his widow.

         Returning to Tjaraholt, Silksif sits down to talk with Alfhild to break the news of Poul's curse. Trying to lead into the idea gently, she talks at length about Kjartan and his curse. Alfhild is very nice about it and seems pleased that Silksif is opening up to her about her feelings about Kjartan! When Silksif realizes the misunderstanding, she finally tells Alfhild about Poul's curse. Alfhild is stunned, but accepts it. Silksif then told how Poul may survive as Kjartan did, at which Alfhild quietly asks if the curse affected Kjartan's virility. [CUT]

         The following week, families gather at Brygjafael for Poul's wedding. Aud has stepped up the plans for the wedding, by hosting it entirely herself. Silksif again officiates the ceremony as gydja, with families from Syfjaourholur and Groenholt as well as Tjaraholt in attendance. Ivar did not attend, and Skallagrim was not invited (a minor slight, but which keeps up the appearance of distance between Aud and Skallagrim). Again, the couple are prepared separately in the household, then go out to a sacred grove for the ceremony. They prepare to exchange rings and swords, when Ivar walks into the grove, hunched over, unkempt, and alone.[6]

         He stalks up the aisle, heedless of the stares receiving. He walks up to Poul, and recites a litany of Poul's flaws [7]. Poul finds it painful to keep his hand in control[8], but knowing his curse he tries and succeeds to hold back. As expected, Ivar has made a ill name for himself, but fails to blacken Poul's name [9]. When Poul speaks to him mildly, Ivar responds only with a horrible sounding hiss and stalks off.

         The ceremony is then completed and the guests gather at Brygjafael for the feast. Katrina and Hallgerd are catty together, commenting on many others. By quietly mentioning how awkward it would be for Silksif to officiate Kjartan's wedding, they make clear to Thjohild that Kjartan and Silksif had an affair. Thjohild is appalled at them, and asks "Am I really the last person to know about this?" She then stalks off, while Kjartan notices. Katrina and Hallgerd recognize each other as formidable opponents, and therefore, they act as the best of friends. Hallgerd makes some sly references to Brom and Katrina's affair, which Katrina is quick to dismiss.

         The next night, Thorgerd has dream. She is riding through a field, when a small boy comes running out of the woods, pursued by a band of Redaxe warriors. She rides to save the child, and facing the warriors they declare that since she killed them -- they will have their revenge on her and hers (pointing to the child).

         Thorgerd consults her cousin Silksif about this. Silksif explains that there is a destiny on each of Thorgerd's two swords. The first is the sword she received as a from Vigfus (used to chop off Killer-Gest's head) -- it is the sword of vengeance. It empowers the slaying of those who have wronged her, but the souls of those slain by it do not rest quietly. The second is the sword given to her by Arnor in marriage, which turned cold in his hand -- it is the sword of neccesity. It empowers killing when called upon to do so, but it extracts a price in harm to her or her loved ones.

         Four days after Poul's wedding, a longship with twenty men from Raudarbank comes to Tjaraholt. They arrive at the household lead by Melnir the Skeptic. He boldly enters the house with his men, and goes to speak to Silksif. He says to her, "I have come to speak with you directly, since I know that you are a strong woman who commands her own destiny." Going on, he says "There comes a time when I must admit that there are things which I do not understand. For example, I do not understand this power which you have over me. However, when I think about it rationally, it doesn't matter. The fact is, I desire you as my wife."

         He goes on to declare his virtues and his generosity. Most importantly, he declares that he is a man of means, and to show his respect, he offers to support her whole family: parents, siblings, and aunt. He says, "Let your great-uncle Ivar rot here in his lair, childless and friendless."

  1. The result of a "Popular Recognition" card played by Jim
  2. The result of a "Ominous Omen" card played by Heather
  3. The result of a "Acceptance" card played by Jim
  4. The result of a "Moral Dilemma" card played by Bill
  5. This was specified by the GM, to Bill's surprise
  6. The result of a "Inopportune Arrival" card played by Laura
  7. The result of a "Emotional Release" card played by Bill
  8. The result of a "Painful Injury" card played by Liz
  9. The result of a "Horrible Failure" card played by Bill

John H. Kim <jhkim@darkshire.net>
Last modified: Fri May 23 00:10:21 2003