The Saga of the People of Hrútafjörður

Session 7 - First Summer
Viking Raids, Leader's Death, White Christ

And so the men of the Hrútafjörður set forth on the tides to go a viking. They were led by Heimsgir Nirnsson, the wisest of the fjord and their goði. Next was Thorolf Bjornsson, who had healed from his wounds and was stronger than all the men of the fjord, and with his missing ear, was a terrifying sign for enemies to look upon. Also there was Ottar Hrafnsson, who had taken up Arinbjorn the Ironarm‘s daneaxe. Next was Skum Heggsson, the farmer, looking to return to his lands with plunder so he could survive the coming winter. With him was his brother Koll Heggsson, levelheaded, experienced in raiding, and the blood-brother of Thorolf. Finally there were Hrafn Heggsson, the quietest of brothers, and Sigurd Heggsson, who’s blood boiled for adventure and the seas.

With them came Thurid Vailisdottir, the shieldmaden of the Shattersword clan, who had fought Sigurd in a duel to accompany the men on their raiding. Though she was a woman, she was the most skilled warrior of them all. And though her sword had been shattered, she was skilled with her bow, and could take a man in the eye from 200 paces.

With the morning tide the vikings set forth into the harsh seas of north Europe. In their small longship they traveled south, with Sigurd navigating by sun and stars, and their course was true, for they reached the shores of Ireland in nine days. All made the voyage well but Heimsgir, who, not used to the sea, was struck by the sickness of the waves, and could barely eat.

With the morning sun they saw land. The rolling green hills of Ireland, the land of the Celts. They took shelter in a cove and made land, eating and resting from their hard voyage. Koll came to Heimsgir and spoke, “Heimsgir, there are no towns here. You are the one to lead us. Where would you have us go?” And Heimsgir, weak from the journey and untrained in the ways of raids asked Koll for his advise, as he was levelheaded, and had viked these shores before.

“Ah, Heimsgir, I would take our longship and sail along the coast. There should be towns for us to raid, and the towns on the coast will be rich with trade and fat for the taking.”

And so the raiders of Hrútafjörður took to the coast, and under the high sun saw a town in the distance, and heard bells from a high tower. Thorolf made his ideas known, “if we wait until the sun has set behind the hills, it will be dark, and we can come upon this town in secret, and they will not know that we have come for them until it is too late.” And all agreed that this was a good plan, so they waited until dusk, and then rowed into the port.

On a pier stood a man, and seeing the longship approach he called out, “Dia duit strainséirí, tá tú anseo chun trádáil,” but the Icelanders did not speak the tongue of the Celts, and it sounded like gibberish to them. Thurid stood, her wolf head cloak hiding her face, and struck down the man with an arrow to the throat. He fell in to the water with a splash, but the town was silent. The raiders tied the longship to the pier, and saw other, larger ships abound, but none were worthy of sailing the open seas, for they were trading ships for the coasts.

Thurid and Sigurd went off into the night to make a distraction, while most of the men set off towards the large stone tower deep in the town, for that is where an Icelander would hide his plunder if he had such a fortress. Thurid shot many men with her bow, and gathered up some straw to set it ablaze, and fired red arrows across the town. Soon there was shouting across the village, and people ran about yelling, “dóiteáin! Faigh uisce!”

Thurid hid in an alley and shot at those who passed, and killed a young boy. The boy’s father, seeing his son’s murder, charged Thurid with a knife, and cleaved the maiden’s shield in two, but Thurid put her shattered sword deep in his gut. She and Sigurd set out plundering the houses nearby, and all the acts that came with their viking.

Across the town, Heimsgir, Thorolf, Ottar, Skum, Koll, and Hrafn reached a stone wall surrounding the strange fortress. Ottar began swinging his daneaxe, but the thick wooden door held fast. Heimsgir saw that the wall was not so high, and he was not laden with armor. He climbed the rough hewed stone and lifted the heavy wooden bar from the door, which only two men would have been able to lift.

The men kicked down the door to the fortress, but found no warriors, only small men in robes, the tops of their heads shorn, and with no beards. These monks shouted at the sight of the Icelanders and fled to the other doors. Heimsgir, seeing the sign of the White Christ on the wall, knew that these were priests of the false god who had been taken up by his mother, Volgard Leifurdottir, and went into a rage. He fell upon the backs of the monks, slashing and stabbing, felling many of the coward followers of Christ, until a young monk struck him on the head with a heavy stone, and Heimsgir fell to the ground.

Seeing his goði fall, Thorolf skewered the murderous monk upon his sword, and the other men fell upon the monks, and killed all who had not escaped, until the floor was slick with the blood of Celts. The Icelanders took all the silver in the monastery, but left the books, for they had no worth. Thorolf took Heimsgir up into his arms and they made for the longship.

All having returned to the ship, the raiders of the fjord set off, for the many Celts were putting out the fire and were fighting the small party of raiders. Heimsgir lay on the boat, looking up at the new moon, and knew he was dying. Thurid said that Heimsgir would be fine, and kissed him, for she had always loved the son of Nirn, but he died in her arms.

Heimsgir saw wings come form Thurid’s back, and the valkyrie took him up the sky, and he saw the great hall of Asgard, and he was content with his death.

With their goði dead, and their small ship filled with silver, the men rowed back to Iceland. When they returned, all in the fjord came to the beach to see the raiders return with sacks of plunder, and Moeid Nirnsdottir stood with her mother Volgard, waiting for Heimsgir. Thorolf came with a body wrapped in cloth in his arms, and Thurid and Ottar stood beside him. Her head was covered by her wolf cloak, so that she looked like a beast. Moeid said, “Thorolf, I see that you have returned with great plunder, but where is my brother, who led you on this most successful raid.”

And Thorolf spake, “Heimsgir is dead.”

Ottar proclaimed, “your brother fell in glorious battle, in the best tradition of Thor. He fought dozens of Celtic warriors, and fell only when a coward stabbed him in the back!” But Volgard could not hear Ottar, for she wept the tears of a mother who has lived past her son. Volgard pushed aside the cloth to see her son’s face, and with her thumb marked the sign of the cross on his brow.

With a flurry of movement Thurid burst forth from her cloak, spear in hand, and stabbed Volgard in the throat. A shower of blood sprayed forth, and Moeid jumped back, while Thorolf stood in shock. Volgard slumped to the ground, and the life went out of her eyes. Skum and Koll came running, and brought Thurid to the ground and held her there, but she did not fight back, and you could see tears running down her face.

“What have you done mad woman!” shouted Ottar. “I was to ask Volgard to wed me, and my plunder was to be a dowry. You are a maniac, and you have killed my love for no reason!”

Thurid, whose voice was tight with sorrow and fury, replied, “Volgard made the sign of the White Christ on her son. She desecrated the body of Heimsgir, our goði. It is no crime to kill a Christian.”

Ottar choked on his outrage. “You are a murderer still, and all here saw you strike a woman down. I declare that you should be tried before a Thing, and be made a full outlaw, banished from Iceland for all time.”

Thurid agreed, “I would leave these lands, but who then would keep Hrútafjörður free from the Christians?”

Ottar declared, "if you left our island, I would defend the old gods from the Christians, for that is the obligation of the goði, as Heimsgir did. I am wise and just, and I shall be goði now and protect our lands.

With this Thorolf scoffed, “you would be a most terrible goði, Ottar. You are nothing but a rich farmer. You have no wisdom, and could not protect us from any Christians.”

“You dishonor me Thorolf, son of Bjorn,” proclaimed Ottar, “and in three days hence, when we have recovered from our arduous journey on the sea, I will duel you, to prove I am the man to be goði.”

“Duel me now,” retorted Thorolf, “or are you a coward who needs rest?” And with this Ottar drew his daneaxe and charged Thorolf, but Thorolf, who was young and strong as a horse, blocked the blow and cut deep into Ottar’s leg. “Give my regards to those in Valhalla.” And Thorolf cut Ottar’s throat.

Skum and Koll had released Thurid, and stood, watching Thorolf. “What of you two, friends and brothers,” questioned Thorolf. “Will you stand with me, and release Thurid?” And Koll spoke, “Thorolf, you are by bloodbrother, and I would follow you to the shores of Hel.” And Skum added, “I never liked Ottar. He was arrogant and would have been a poor goði.”

And so the six survivor of the raid took back much silver to their homes. Moeid took the body of her brother and burred him on her lands. Thurid returned to her land, but stood guard each day at the beach, asking all who came to Hrútafjörður if they followed the old gods or the White Christ, and killing the followers of peace. Sigurd came to her many times, as he wished to make her his wife, but he could not accept her vigil, and married another.

Thorolf returned home, and found his wife giving birth. Thus was a new generation of people, born of Iceland and not of Norway, brought into the land.

Session 6 - First Summer
Failed Crops, Viking Meeting, Grim's Body

In the first Spring of this saga, it was known that many people’s crops would not grow as in the years of the past. The winter had been hard, and the ground took many months to thaw.

Thorolf Bjornsson, who had been wounded in his battle with Arinbjorn the Ironarm, and further harmed in the hólmganga with Olaf Sirtson, could not leave his bed for many months. His wife, Beara Nightwolf, was heavy with child, and could do little work on the farm. His son, Jornunn Thorolfsson, was young, and could do only his chores. And his slaves, celts all, could not do the work that needed to be done without their master at their sides. His land stood idle, and there would be little food come the winter.

Moeid Nirnsdottir, whose husband Ulf Heggsson was dead, and who only had one thrall, was a woman who knew little of the hard work of farming, for she had tended the house while here husband was in the fields. She worked hard to plant food and raise animals, but she too would be hungry in winter.

It was known that only the lands of Thurid Vailisdottir were well planted. These lands, that had belonged to her brother Orm Vailisson, were fertile, but the ground had not thawed. It was only with Arinbjorn the Ironarm’s strong arms and a heavy plow that she broke the soil to plant, for this was before Arinbjorn was slain by the maiden Beara.

And so with the coming of Summer, knowing that the crops did poorly and the herds were skinny, the goði of Hrútafjörður, Heimsgir Nirnsson, called all the able bodied men to his hof, so they could speak of going a viking in the summer.

Knowing there would be a raid, Jornunn, son of Thorolf, adopted when his parents had died in the sailing from Norway, came to his father and said, “honored father, though I am only 10 Summers, I know that you are wounded, and my mother is heavy with a child. I wish to go a viking with the other men, and bring back spoils so that our family may live through the next winter.” And while it was not unknown for a boy of this age to take up the sword, Jornunn was small, and was not yet trained to fight.

Thorolf took the sword of this father, Bjorn, who had been a great warrior and fought in the war against Harald Fairhair. Placing it in Jornunn’s hand, the boy could not lift it but with both arms. “Son, you honor me with your words, that you wish to provide for our family in these hard times. But you are young, and do not know what it is to go a viking. When you can wield this sword with grace and skill, you may come on a raid, but for now I cannot say yes.”

And so the men of the fjord came to Heimsgir’s hof. There was Ottar Hrafnsson. richest of the community. There were the sons of Hegg, Skum Heggsson, the farmer; Koll Heggsson, who owed Thorolf his life; Hrafn Heggsson, the silent; and Sigurd Heggsson, who was like his brother Ulf Heggsson and known for his anger. Thurid Vailisdottir, of the Shattersword clan came, for she was of a line of berserkers, and was a skilled warrior. All brought sacrifices for a blót, so that Thor would bless a raid with good winds and strong arms.

Finally, Thorolf came with his family. And though times were hard, and all had brought small things for the blót, Thorolf brought one of his goats, which was a great sacrifice to the red god. Though Thorolf had shamed himself in the duel with Olaf those months past, his gift to the gods brought him honor in the eyes of those there, and they did not shun him, but embraced him as a brother.

Heimsgir spoke, “brothers! Our crops this year have been few, and our herds eat little and do not grow fat. We cannot survive a winter on what will come of our Spring plantings. But, the fjord can go a viking, and bring back spoils, and slaves, and livestock. With those, we can survive, and thrive!” All knew that this was a good plan, for Heimsgir was wise in many things.

Sigurd’s voice arose, “yes Heimsgir, this is a good plan. But who shall build and lead a longship. You are wise, but young, and have not led a raid before. I, Sigurd, have been on many a raid before I came to Iceland. I would be the natural choice to lead this voyage.” Heimsgir knew there was truth in what SIgurd said, but Sigurd was new to the fjord, and was unknown by many. Heimsgir told all that he would organize the community to build a longship, and would lead the raid. Thorolf, friend of Skum and Koll, the brothers of Sigurn, raised his voice, and said that Heimsgir would be a good choice for all to follow. Sigurn agreed that if Heimsgir could build the ship, he would follow the young goði.

With this, Ottar made himself known, “but how shall we divide the spoils. For I am the wealthiest man in our lands. Would I not be expected to provide the most to build our ship? Should I not then reap the most from our spoils? Why should I not build my own ship, and leave you all to your own attempt?” But Heimsgir, wise as he was, knew that Ottar had been shamed by his drunken and lecherous ways at the feast in the spring, and had been brought low in the eyes of the people. The goði spoke, “Ottar, of course all men would be expected to provide an equal share to our ship, and thus would have an equal share of the spoils. Do you not wish to be a valued and equal member of our community? It would be wrong to not help our community now it it’s time of need.” And this shamed Ottar, and he was quick to agree that he would help build the ship, and all men’s spoils would be equal.

When all the men of the fjord joined their hands to pledge a bond to each other, Thurid put her hand it. Sigurn turned and said, “a woman cannot pledge a sacred oath to Thor. Those who cannot make such a vow of brotherhood cannot take a place upon the longship.” But Thurid replied, "would you, son of Hegg, deny the strongest arm in our lands to this venture.

“Nay, I would not deny a strong arm in our raid, but no woman has a stronger arm than Sigurn.”

With this Thurid challenged Sigurn to a duel, to prove her strength and skill, and they agreed that if Thurid won she would come a viking with the men, but if Sigurn won Thurid would wed him, for he was looking for a wife and preferred women of passion.

In the first bout Sigurn’s sword rang true, and split Thurid’s shield in two. Again they exchanged insults and blows, but Thurid’s blood boiled and she charged Sigurn with a berserk rage, throwing him from the ring. A third time they clashed, and with a crash, Thurid’s blade shattered, but she took the hilt drove it through Sigurn’s shield, cutting his arm, and winning another bout. With this she had won twice and he once.

In the final bout, Thurid had no sword, and charged Sigurn with reckless rage, swinging her shield like a club. With a crack, both their shields burst to splinters, and she had won the duel. Sigurn had done her many wounds though, and she lay there bleeding. All were worried that she would not stand, and those many cuts would be her death, but the Norns had not said that she would die this day.

Thorolf turned to his wife and said, “Beara, though your family and the Shatterswords have fought for many generations, we cannot leave the shield-maiden Thurid here to die, for she will if none tend to her. Would that we take her to her lands and you tend to her wounds.” Beara agreed, but only if Thurid were to pay for the aid, for Thorolf’s family could not afford to care for Thurid and not work the fields.

Skum, the brother of Sigurn, came, and said that he would care for Vailisdottir, for she had shown great skill and courage in fighting his brother, and Skum wanted this maiden with them on their voyage. And so they took Thurid to the longhouse of Skum, where he bound and dressed her wounds. But he did not look upon her bosom, for he was a man with great honor, and would not take advantage of an ailing woman.

As Thurid awoke, she knew not where she was. “What manner of afterlife is this?”

Said Skum, “no afterlife. You are in the longhouse of Skum, and I am the brother of Sigurn, who harmed you so. I am sorry that my brother hurt you, and you may stay as long as you need to heal, and then you shall come a viking with us, for you won the duel, and it is right to honor the terms.” And so Thurid stayed a week at Skum’s home, and they had great respect for each other, but did not lay as man and woman.

After the meeting at the hof, Thorolf grew worried about his friend Grim the Black, for he had not been seen in many months. Thorolf traveled to Grim’s house, in a small wood inland. Seeing there was no smoke from the hearth, Thorolf grew worried, and hurried into the longhouse. There was a great stench, and Thorolf’s eyes fell upon the body of Grim, dead for many months. His body had the look of one who had died in battle, and Thorolf knew that his friend was in Valhalla. With Jornunn, Thorolf collected wood, and lay Grim upon his bed. Thorolf set Grim’s sword and shield with the old woodsman, and lit a fire. And all who looked into the night’s sky and saw the smoke knew that a great warrior had died.

Later, those men who would go a viking met to discuss the longship. Thorolf told Heimsgir about the death of Grim the black, but they had not evidence of who had killed him, so there was little they could do. Heimsgir stood and spoke, “we must build a longship before we can go a viking. The hull, the mast, the sail, and the anchor will all be made by the people of the fjord, and we will know that we have put our blood into this ship, and all will contribute to it. Thorolf, the smith, shall build the anchor. The wives and daughters of our men will sew the sail. The sons of Hegg shall craft the hull and mast. Thorolf has agreed that we may use his wood, for Grim the black is dead.”

With this news no one stirred, but Sigurn again made his thoughts known. “Why should Thorolf have the lands of Grim the Black. They were not family. Grim had no family and was kind to no man. This land should belong to all the people of the fjord, for we all have need of wood.”

Thorolf disagreed, “Grim was like a father to me, for he fought in the war against Harald Fairhair with my father, and we came to Iceland together. I burned Grim’s body, and took his tools and his land as my own, for it is right that his memory be honored in this way.” With this, all turned to Heimsgir for his decision.

Heimsgir knew that there were many sons of Hegg, and the safest path was to make the woods a land for all of the fjord. Heimsgir also knew, though, that the path of honor was to split the land for Thorolf and the fjord. And he declared, "the woods surrounding Grim’s home shall be Thorolf’s land, but the woods further away, these shall be lands for all the people of Hrútafjörður. And all agreed that this was a fair decision.

And so the men went out and made the longship. The sons of Hegg built the hull and the mast, but there were few tall trees in Iceland, and they could only build a small longship, which would be hard to sail in the rough waves of the northern seas. Thorolf made a masterful anchor, but he had searched his bog for many miles, and dug all of the iron from its peat, and the bog, cleared of trees as it was, would be of no more use to him.

And so it was that the longship was prepared, and the men of the raid were to gather a week hence to sail.

Session 5 - First Spring
Arinbjorn's Death, Ottar's Feast, the Þing

With the Spring planting underway, and there being peace and prosperity in the Hrútafjörður after the long, hard winter, Ottar Hrafnsson invited all the peoples of the community to his longhouse for a feast a week hence.

After a long absence from Hrútafjörður, Volgard Leifurdottir returned to the lands with the two thralls she had taken from Orm Vailisson’s farm. She returned to the hof of Heimsgir Nirnsson, her son, who had killed Orm, her betrothed.

To her son Volgard said, “Heimsgir, though you have killed my betrothed and burned his longhouse, the White Christ is a God that commands that we be at peace with our neighbors. You are my son, and we cannot be parted by this.” And with that she placed her hand on Heimsgir’s head and forgave him for his murder. And so Volgard asked that Heimsgir, the wise goði that he is, forgive her for disowning him, for it was said in anger, and she wished him to be her son. With this, Heimsgir forgave his mother.

At the longhouse of Ulf Heggsson, dead these past two seasons now, Moeid Nirnsdottir worked the fields with her last slave. Though this was man’s work she plowed the lands, for her husband was in the ground. Along the path came a stranger, and he hailed her and asked if this was Ulf’s home. And Moeid said, “yes, sir, but you will not find him here. Ulf has been dead since winter, and I am his widow.”

The stranger proclaimed, “I am Koll Heggsson, brother of Ulf, and I am saddened by my brother’s death. Tell me, what killed my kin?” Moeid told Koll that it was Grim the Black that slew Ulf. Koll said, “you are my brother’s widow, and thus like a sister to me and my brothers. We are new to this land, and do not know Grim or where he lives. Tell us, and we shall take our vengeance upon him, then provide for you, as you have no husband to protect and feed you, and all will want your lands.”

Moeid denied this to Koll. “Grim the Black is more family to me than any son of Hegg, for Ulf laid hands upon me, and it was right that he be killed.” And Koll admitted that Ulf was a violent and boorish man, little loved among his brothers, “but he was my brother, and honor demands that I bring vengeance upon his killer.” With this Moeid and Koll parted, for they could not come to terms.

With the sons of Hegg had come a skald with the name of Sigurd of the Fjord. He had gone a viking with the brothers in Ireland, recording their deeds in verse and telling great tails of heroes past. He came to Iceland, and Skum Heggsson told him of a wealthy man, Ottar, who was holding a great feast and would have use of such a poet.

Coming upon the longhouse of Ottar, Sigurd saw a tall, strong man, with many tattoos and marks of battle. This was Arinbjorn the Ironarm, huscarl of Ottar, and the best of all the warriors in Hrútafjörður. Sigurd asked to see Ottar, but Arinbjorn had no regard for the skinny stranger, and made fun of Sigurd and his quill. Ottar emerged from his home, and Sigurd told a story of Thor, and with his words wove the lands of Ottar and his many flocks into the tale. Ottar was greatly impressed and invited the skald to stay with him, but Arinbjorn was angered, and threw his dane axe at Sigurd. The skald slid aside, and brushed the axe with his quill, and thus shamed Arinbjorn.

From here Arinbjorn traveled to the smithy of Thorolf Bjornsson, for Ottar had asked Thorolf to make him many tools for his farm. While looking upon the tools, Arinbjorn saw Thorolf’s flock, and recognized a scarred sheep, which Arinbjorn himself had shorn and marked so. Crying out, Arinbjorn declared Thorolf a thief, and without honor. He left, and said Ottar would hear of the theft.

Thorolf went to his wife, Beara Nightwolf, who had taken the sheep while she was a viking, and they spoke of what to do. Beara, who was a shield-maiden and skilled with a sword, said that she would kill Arinbjorn to protect her husband’s honor, but Thorolf said that they would take the last two sheep and one of their thralls, the Celt named Connor, as recompense for Ottar.

Coming upon Ottar’s longhouse, Arinbjorn stood outside, his huge dane axe nearby. Arinbjorn shouted, “be gone thief. You have no honor, and thus no place here,” and this drew the attention of Sigurd, who began to watch. Thorolf stood his ground, and asked to see Ottar, who he wanted to repay for the theft. Again Arinbjorn called out that Thorolf was a thief, and should be gone, but now took up his axe. A third time Thorolf asked to see Ottar, but now with seax in hand, and a third time Arinbjorn denied him, but now the warrior charged Thorolf and Beara.

Arinbjorn swung wildly with his axe, and it struck Thorolf, taking off his ear. Arinbjorn stood back, but with his seax, Thorolf sprung up and tried to stab the huscarl. They wrestled, but Thorolf was pushed aside, a knife in his gut. The smith was alive, but needed caring to. Thorolf was in pain, but said that his wife should slay Arinbjorn, and she tool up her sword and shield, and with one strike took Arinbjorn’s head off. SIgurd had seen this, and saw Beara as a valkyrie, and asked their names for his tale. When Ottar found his man dead, the skald told him the tale of the brave farmer and his wife against the foul Arinbjorn.

It was many days later, and it was the day of Ottar’s feast. Heimsgir, goði to the people of Hrútafjörður came first, and Ottar asked his help to bring suit against Thorolf for the murder of Arinbjorn. Heimsgir would think upon it, but Ottar asked what to do if Thorolf came to the feast, for it was the funeral of Arinbjorn, and it was not good for his killer to be there. Heimsgir ruled that it was a day of celebration, and all invited were to be welcomed, and that the next day, Ottar could move against Thorolf, and Ottar agreed that this was a wise course.

Moedi and Volgard both arrived, and Moedi brought drink after drink to Ottar’s hand, for she wished to get him drunk. Moedi and Heimsgir both thought that Ottar had killed their father, Nirn Aransson, when coming over from Norway, but they could not prove it.

Finally, Thorolf arrived, for he moved slowly with his wound. He had brought the sheep and slave again, but Ottar knew not of the theft, only of the killing, and Thorolf sent them home. Ottar declared that on this night, they would all drink to the spirit of Arinbjorn in Valhalla, and that tomorrow he would bring suit upon Thorolf for the murder.

The feast was good, and all the people of the Hrútafjörður were there, such as Skum Heggsson, Olaf Sirtson, and Osk Gunnardottir. Volgard, finally seeing her daughter after many months, came over to her, and begged her forgiveness for the harsh words that were spoken on the terrible night so many months ago. And this argument grew heated, and many began to listen, and Heimsgir came and gave council to save family matters for another time.

With Moeid serving him, Ottar became very drunk, and he stood, and came to Heimsgir’s side, proclaiming him the wisest of goði. Then Ottar spoke to all, slurring his words, and told all of how great his own self was, and how he should be goði, for he was the wisest in the fjord. Heimsgir tried to stop Ottar, for Ottar was very drunk, but Ottar vomited on the floor, and all laughed at him.

Then Moeid, who knew of Ottar and Osk’s affair, whispered to Ottar, “I, Osk, am leaving with my true husband. You will never have me, for you are a drunk and a fool.” With this Ottar rose to his feet and shouted, “Osk, you will come into my bed, for I am your lover, and your husband is not worthy of you.” And with this the people grew silent.

Olaf demanded to know if this was true, and Ottar repeated it. Olaf, who could have killed Ottar while he was in his cups, instead asked Heimsgir for a Thing, for all the men of the fjord were at the feast, and they could pass judgement on Ottar. Heimsgir took all the men, and had them swear upon their rings to the god Thor to tell the truth, and he took the holy oath of judgement.

Olaf asked who else had heard Ottar proclaim his unjust sex with Osk, and Thorolf said that he had heard it. Olaf asked that Ottar be branded a lesser outlaw, and leave Iceland for three years. In this time Olaf would watch over his lands, and return them when Ottar came back to the island. Heimsgir judged this a harsh penalty for laying with a man’s wife, and proclaimed the penalty six marks of silver. Olaf and Ottar both agreed to the fine.

Thorolf, however, proclaimed that six marks was no just fine for an adulterer, and Olaf had not protected his wife or his honor properly. Olaf replied, “I have brought this crime before the justice of our people, the Thing, for this is right and our tradition. Would you have me kill Ottar for his crime? Apologize, Thorolf, for your uncalled for insult, and I will forgive you.” But again Thorolf insulted Olaf for not pressing the matter against Ottar more, and this time Olaf could not bear the shame, and demanded a hólmganga from Thorolf the next day. Thorolf, wounded as he was, stood, and announced that he would fight right then, but this show of strength tore his wound, and he began to bleed from his side.

The room was cleared, and Thorolf and Olaf were given their three shields. Once, they sparred, and Thorolf kicked Olaf’s legs from under him and cleaved his shield. He won the bout, but was booed by the crowd for his dishonorable move. Again, they sparred, and Thorolf struck Olaf’s side with a fist and forced him out of the ring. Again, he won, but again he was booed by the crowd, for a man does not fight like this. Lastly, they sparred, and Thorolf took his shield and brought it down on Olaf’s knee, so that he would not walk again. Thorolf had won, but had lost honor in the eyes of all there.

Olaf lay down, and asked Thorolf to end his life, as Olaf could never hope of reaching Valhalla now with a shattered knee. Thorolf put the sword to Olaf’s neck, but pulled it away, taunting the fallen warrior. With this insult, Olaf stabbed his sword into Thorolf’s bloody side, and gravely wounded Thorolf. Heimsgir declared the duel over.

Then Ottar demanded the Thing continue, for Thorolf had killed Arinbjorn, as Sigurd had seen. Heimsgir agreed, but Moeid, helping Thorolf, pressed upon his wound, and he cried out and spit blood. The goði, seeing the man in such pain, declared the proceedings over, and Ottar swore to bring suit against Thorolf at the next Thing.

Session 4 - First Spring
Sons of Hegg, Ottar's Gift, Missing Slave

The winter had been good to Thorolf Bjornsson. Skum Heggsson paid Thorolf to help build the new farm, and with this silver Thorolf had finished his smithy, so he could forge metal for the people of the Hrútafjörður.

Skum paid Thorolf to make him a good ax, but with only a little metal collected from the bog, Thorolf, new to smithing, could not make the ax. So Thorolf took Jornunn Thorolfsson out into the bog to collect more iron. Once in the bog, where the fog was thick, they saw a group of men coming from the distance. Worried that these may be vikings, Thorolf told Jornunn to run home and warn Beara Nightwolf. Thorolf ran towards the sink hole, and the men followed him, shouting.

When Thorolf reached the sink hole, one of the men chased him, but sank into the bog. He cried out for help, and the other men circled the hole, not wanting to be sucked down. Seeing their swords in their sheathes, Thorolf thought to save this man, and threw him a rope and pulled him free. This man was named Koll Heggsson, and he was the brother of Skum Heggsson, Thorolf’s neighbor. Koll sword a blood debt to Thorolf, as Thorolf had saved him from the bog, and all those present knew this to be right, for a man who saves another’s life is owed a great debt.

Koll and his brothers Hrafn Heggsson and Sigurd Heggsson, along with three slaves, had just come to Iceland from Norway. They were looking for their brother’s farm when they became lost in the bog, and they understood why Thorolf ran, for there were vikings about. Thorolf invited the men to his longhouse for a meal, as it is right to be hospitable to travelers.

At his longhouse Thorolf had a great meal for his guests, and all were happy. As the sons of Hegg left for their brother’s longhouse, they all swore a great friendship with Thorolf, who had save Koll and treated them well.

On her lands, Thurid Vailisdottir was tending to a garden, as her brother Orm Vailisson was dead and his slaves were gone. Thurid did not know how to farm, as that was men’s work. Upon the road came Ottar Hrafnsson and his huscarl Arinbjorn the Ironarm. Ottar was a wealthy and influential farmer who lived close to Orm, and they had traded grains and were friends.

Ottar came and gave sympathy to Thurid, for her brother had died in a fire. Ottar was sorry that he had not come during the winter, but his wife had died and he was in mourning. He knew that Thurid was a great hunter, and as a gift he brought a falcon. This bird was from Miklagarðr, the great city of Constantinople, and had come to Ottar in trade. Thurid did not know how to hunt with the falcon, and Ottar said he would show her, while Arinbjorn watched her lands.

In the forests, Ottar spoke plainly with Thurid, that she, even as a shield maiden, would not be safe on her lands without a husband to protect her. As their lands were close, if he wed her, they would have a great holding and could become prosperous. He would treat her well, as she deservied. Thurid thanked Ottar for his honesty, but she would not wed him. She offered that Moeid Nirnsdottir and Volgard were both widows with land.

Ottar said that this was true, but he did not know the family of Nirn. He said that he would hold a great feast, and that all the people of the Hrútafjörður would come. There Thurid could introduce Ottar to Moeid or Volgard. Thurid agreed, for then Ottar would not pursue her. Coming back from the hunt, Ottar said that Arinbjorn, his huscarl, was a better man than any, and had eyes for Thurid. Thurid said that the Shattershields were a family with a long history, and only a man who could best her in combat would be worthy of her. So Ottar proposed that Thurid and Arinbjorn, who was known as Ironarm, would duel at the dinner, and all would be entertained. Thurid agreed, for she wished to duel the man.

Moeid, who’s husband Ulf Heggsson had died in the first winter, was not able to keep up the house well without a husband. Her scissors were missing, and her clothes had become shabby. One morning her slave, Hoef, who was a Celt, ran off. Moeid went to see Grim the Black to ask for help, and she enticed him with her feminine ways. Grim, though, saw Moeid as a child, and did not want her as a woman. He grew angry with her, for she kept asking things of him. Moeid left, for Grim told her to seek out her brother for aid.

Heimsgir Nirnsson had not seen his mother since the night of the fire, many months ago. As he tended the hof and praised the gods, his sister, Moeid, came to him, asking for help to find her slave. Heimsgir agreed, and while he searched for many days, he did not find the slave. Any who had seen him search would have said that his try was honorable.

Session 3 - First Winter
Friendship of Farmers, Death of Orm

Heimsgir Nirnsson, having heard from Thurid Vailisdottir that his mother, Volgard, had forsaken the gods and was worshiping the White Christ, was conflicted as to what to do. Heimsgir asked Thor, the most awesome of the gods, if Thor approved of what Volgard had done, but the thunder spoke that Thor was against the new god. Heimsgir asked Thor for strength, but had no sacrifice for the mighty one.

Thusly Heimsgir and his sister, the widow Moeid Nirnsdottir set out from the hof to their mother’s longhouse.

At the longhouse of Orm Vailisson, Thurid the shield maiden returned from a hunt with a few hares. Volgard, who was now betrothed of Orm and had moved in with her lover, presented Thurid with a gift of a hare-fur wrap, to keep warm.

Volgard asked Thurid if she had considered the White Christ during this, their first winter together. Thurid said that the new god was not her god, and she gave praise to the old gods of the ancestors. Thurid told Orm that their family had always followed the old gods, and he should not forsake them, but this angered Orm. Orm declared that he had listed to Volgard, and she spoke the truth that the old gods brought war upon Norway, and that the White Christ would bring peace to the lands. He spoke that, come spring, he would go to Reykjavik, the largest town in Iceland, to find a priest to baptize him. Then he and Volgard could be wed before the new God.

During the winter, Thorolf Bjornsson had met his new neighbor, Skum Heggsson, who was a brother of Ulf Heggsson, who Skum knew to live nearby. Neither Thorolf nor Skum had heard that Ulf, the eldest son of Hegg, had died.

Skum had invited Thorolf, his wife Beara Nightwolf, and his child Jornunn Thorolfsson to a dinner, as it was right to be hospitable to your neighbors. Skum killed a chicken for the meal, and they feasted on meat and mead long into the night. Skum revealed that his family, the Sons of Hegg, were coming to Iceland when the ice melted and the ships could pass. They would bring the spoils of their viking raids, including slaves. Skum could sell slaves to Thorolf for a good price.

Thorolf said that two slaves would be good for his farm, but Beara asked her husband for three slaves, as she was with child and would need the help. Skum said that three slaves would cost three handfuls of silver, but that if Thorolf paid two handfuls of silver now, Skum would still give him three slaves. Skum knew that his brothers would honor the deal come Spring.

Thorolf wanted the slaves for his lands and his wife, but said that he did not have the silver to pay Skum now, in the winter. Skum said that Thorolf, who had many sheep and goats, could pay him one handful of silver and three sheep for the slaves. Thorolf agreed for this was a good deal, and they clasped hands and swore this agreement upon their rings and the gods.

Looking for their mother Volgard, Heimsgir and Moeid arrived at her longhouse, but they found it cold and empty. Heimsgir still was not sure what to do with his mother, but Moeid convinced him that it was not right for her to worship the White Christ, and that it brought shame upon their family. They set out to Orm’s longhouse to find their mother.

At the longhouse of Orm, Heimsgir came into the house without invite. He demanded his mother tell him the truth about her worship. Moeid stood in the door and watched the fight.

Orm stood, telling his betrothed to be silent. Orm declared that Heimsgir, the goði, had violated the old traditions by coming into Orm’s home uninvited, and that he had no honor. It was plain for all to see that Orm was correct, and the goði had ignored the laws that all knew to be right. Heimsgir would not apologize, and demanded to speak with his mother. Thurid, who had eyes for Heimsgir, brought her brother to the back of the longhouse, to let the family of Nirn speak amongst themselves.

Volgard spoke truly, that she had accepted the White Christ as her God. Moeid and Heimsgir were angry, and they said that Volgard brought shame upon the family or Nirn. Volgard grew angry with her children, as her son, though a goði, had no wife and no lands of his own, and all he did was tend to the hof. Her daughter was with a husband for two years, and yet had no children. Volgard, who was to be wed to Orm, was the only person in the family of Nirn who was going to continue the family line. Under the old traditions, it was Moeid and Heimsgir who were bringing shame on the family. There was much shouting, and Volgard said that Moeid and Heimsgir were no longer her children.

Orm then said that he would never follow Heimsgir again, as a goði who did not follow the old traditions was not worthy of praise. Heimsgir heard this, and it put a great anger in him. His eyes filled with blood and he became a berserk, for he grabbed Orm and plunged his head into the hearth, holding it there until Orm was killed. There was much screaming from Volgard and the slaves, and Thurid kicked Heimsgir, but her brother was still dead. The flames began to burn the house, and the slaves grabbed hold of Volgard and dragged her from that place. The children of Nirn and Thurid ran from the house, and all of Orm’s wealth and livestock perished in the fire, but for two pigs.

For the rest of the winter, when people came to give comfort to Thurid, she said that she did not know how the fire had started. Moeid and Heimsgir spoke not of the murder to anyone, but Heimsgir’s hand was badly burned.

Session 2 - First Fall to First Winter
Beara's Proposal, Ulf's Death

One a morning in late fall, when the chill had begun to bite in the air, there was a knock on the door or Thorolf Bjornsson’s longhouse. Opening the door, it was Beara Nightwolf who stood before him, with six sheep behind her. Though he was confused by her presence, he invited her into his home, as it was right to be hospitable to guests. Baera stated that the sheep were a gift to Thorolf, as part of her proposal of marriage. Thorolf had no answer for her, so Baera said that he had until the turning of the seasons at first snow to answer her.

Moeid Nirnsdottir traveled to visit Osk, the wife of Olaf Sirtson, a rich farmer. Moeid knew that Osk was sleeping with Ottar Hrafnsson, another man of influence and wealth in Hrútafjörður. Moeid and Osk agreed that they would have someone kill the other’s husband, so nothing could be proved and they would be free of the man they were wed to. Moeid then returned to her farm.

Thorolf, was visited by Grim the Black, a friend of Thorolf’s father during the wars in Norway. Thorolf told Grim of Beara’s offer, and Grim challenged Thorolf’s honor, that a woman would propose to a man! Grim told Thorolf to travel to Beara right then, to make her his wife and take her into his bed. Then Thorolf would be a man again. Grim promised to look over Jornunn Thorolfsson until Thorolf returned.

Thurid Vailisdottir, a powerful shieldmaden and hunter, returned from a long trip, bringing rabbits to her brother, Orm Vailisson. At Orm’s longhouse she saw Volgard, the widow of Nirn and mother of Heimsgir Nirnsson and Moeid. As a widow, Volgard had the choice of who she would marry, and she had been courting Orm for many months.

Volgard spoke with Orm and Thurid about the new god, the White Christ, who preached peace and love for all. If the Norwegians had worshiped the White Christ, then there would have been no war in Norway, Nirn and his family would not have come to Iceland, and Nirn would not have died during the journey. While Orm was silent about the White Christ, Thurid defended the old gods, and gave praise to them.

Thorolf left his longhouse and traveled far to Baera’s hut. Along the way, it began to snow hard, and the snow was up many inches when he reached Baera. There he opened the door and proclaimed to the startled Baera that he would take her as his wife. He lifted her into his arms, and carried her the many miles back to his longhouse. There, Grim saw Thorulf and Baera and praised their union. Grim took Jornunn from the home, for he was young. Thorulf threw Baero down upon his bed and took her in a manly fashion. And after this Baera was with child.

After time had passed, Grim went to visit Heimsgir, the brother of Moeid and a wise Goði. There they spoke of Ulf Heggsson, and Heimsgir confirmed that Ulf had laid hand on Moeid. Grim and Heimsgir spoke long, and finally agreed that Ulf should die for his crimes against Moeid.

Heimsgir and Grim left the hof and traveled to the longhouse of Ulf. It had begun to snow very hard, and it was difficult for Heimsgir to keep up with the old warrior, but the Goði managed. At Ulf’s home, Moeid tried to speak sense to Grim, that the murder of Ulf would bring punishment down upon him, but Grim was a great berserk in the wars and now saw nothing but blood. Drawing his sword, he opened the door and cut Ulf’s head off in one stroke. Throwing Ulf’s head in the hearth, Grim, Moeid, and Heimsgir stood in the falling snow.

Heimsgir returned to his hof, and saw that Thurid was there. Thurid knew that Volgard had taken the new god, the White Christ, and had cast aside the old gods. Heimsgir grew angry, and thanked Thurid for telling him.

Session 1 - First Fall
Thorolf's Goats, Moeid's Ale, Beara's Sacrifice

The sun rose on a fall day in Iceland. Jornunn Thorolfsson, the adopted son of Thorolf Bjornsson, ran into his father’s longhouse, shouting that Thorolf’s prize herd of goats had gone missing. Thorolf and his son set out, and discovered a hole in the earthen and stone fence that surrounded his pastureland. Thorolf and Jornunn set off into the bog to search for the missing goats.

Across the land from the bog of Thorolf was the household of Ulf Heggsson. Here, his wife Moeid Nirnsdottir prepared the mid-morning meal. Her husband, coming in from a morning working at harvesting their crops, demanded some ale with his meal, but Moeid had none for her husband. Ulf grew angry, and told his Moeid that there would need to be ale on the table for dinner, or he would take her into their bed and make a child with her, as Moeid had not wanted to lay with her husband in some time.

By the sea, the local Goði, Heimsgir Nirnsson, brother of Moeid, had awoken and was preparing his hof for the worship of Thor. Beara Nightwolf approached the hof, and asked Heimsgir for aid in sacrificing a goat that she had found to the appropriate god. Beara wished to attract the attention of Thorolf, but he did not look her way. With the help of Heimsgir and the gods, Beara sacrificed the goat, and left the hof.

Back in the bog, Thorolf climbed to the top of the largest tree he could find, and heard the bleating of a scared goat nearby. Jornunn, young and full of life, began running ahead to save the goat, headless of the dangers of the bog. Thorolf caught up with his son before Jornunn brought harm upon himself. Coming upon the goat, they found that it was sinking into the mud of the bog. Laying his cloak out upon the mud, Thorolf had Jornunn lay on the cloak and grasp the goat’s neck. Thorolf pulled them both from the muck. With his great strength, Thorolf saved the goat.

Moeid had traveled far, deciding to visit Grim the Black. Grim was an older man, who faught against Harald Finehair and his war to unify Norway. Grim lived near the few woods in the area, and collected wood for building and carving, as he was skilled in these things. Moeid spoke with Grim about Ulf, who she said had laid hands on her in anger. Grim, angry that Ulf, who he disliked, would hurt his own wife, vowed by the gods that he would kill Ulf to avenge Moeid. Moeid’s father Nirn, had died while traveling to Iceland, and could not protect his daughter.

Moeid urged Grim to speak with her brother Heimsgir first, for Heimsgir was the Goði and wise in many things, even for his young age. Grim agreed to speak with Heimsgir about the matter, but swore that he would kill Ulf if Heimsgir agreed. With this, Moeid returned home, purchasing ale from a local farm for her husband.

After the bog, Thorolf had followed the trail of his herd along the coast, and came to the end of the track by Heimsgir’s hof. Sending Jornunn home with all but the last of the herd, Thorolf went to speak with Heimsgir about his missing goat. When Heimsgir confirmed that a goat had been sacrificed at the hof earlier in the day, but refused to say by whom, Thorolf grew angry, and challenged Heimsgir’s honor. Heimsgir refused to be angered, and shamed Thorolf for his brash words. Heimsgir the told Thorolf that Baera had sacrificed the goat, but only after Thorolf had promised not to harm her, as it was not known if Beara had found the goat, or stolen it. Thorolf discovered Baera’s shield at the hof, and returned home with it.


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