Saturday, June 29, 2019

Part 3: And So It Would Be War

And so, for many hours did they feast and were they joined by more and more of them. Fríða [1], she a skald of some reknown about this time, played on her antler-bone kantele and sang the words of Oðin [2] well:

A bird of Unmindfulness flutters over ale-feasts.

To pass the day and night imbibing of strong drink disgraces none of these, the pagans of the Jarl-home regions then. This custom, to be brazen all the day and night, is passed upon the Vikings of the Norselands even now, as you have heard and seen. And were, in times like this, when all the greatest war-chiefs of the land, and all their bodyguards, did gather up together in one meeting place as here they this night did, no quarrel fought was made to pretty eft with mere abuse. Nay, did the several men (and some the women too!) turn quarrel up to bruise and bloody up each fellow; ere the reason why the axe and shield be hung upon the entryway.

The liquor would they drink was brewed from barley, malted, forted with the strength of wine. This they callèd veig. Vikings sometimes brought with them as booty from their travels wines and beers and other drinks from other realms, but here within the Jarldom Coast, every person drank the barleywine. T’were stronger than the drinks are favored down in pretty Normandy!

Those with weaker constitution, such as crones and babes, would drinketh up from beor. This a drink of cider made from pears or apples. Were it thick, but nary would it have intoxicating punch. And none of this, the softly low ambrosia did they drow.

Servants brought to them, perhaps a score and hundred men, a feast of moderate complexity. The mark of it were all the great and hearty vastness of the meats; delectable, the meal was surely not. There was dried wild fruits, fresh game of many kinds, and curdled milk in place of cheese. That were it all: a very simple feast. But on and on it went, and no man wished of he himself to be the first to settle up, so on they ate for hours, did it seem.

And at appointed hours’ time, Thorir Hund himself addressed the council, he himself, the grievèd party, for he’d lost his nephew to the Christian lords:

“If we wish to live without Viking spear betwixt our rib, we shall need a greater king to bring the Jarls together under one, a greater flag.”

Jarl Geirr of Romsdall scoffed, “Yea, would ye give up sovereignty to Danes? This is our land, my goodly brothers! The Danes neh beggars and theh take it, sure as any Viking Norse.”

But Thorir then were adamant, and his good passion carried them that day, before the Jarls of all the petty realms. Held he up for all to see the broken spear that killed his Liefr ere a month ago. “What the Danish want of theh? This land, the softne Southerners, would bay it kill 'em, Cousin. Neh, the Danes need spear to fend the Norse from eft the Southern coast. We shall be their spear! And so win back our’s freedom and make safe our land. Our land be gift of Od!” And shook then the broken spear he did up at the gods and all the men attends. “And keep the Christians also from our kin!”

[1] Ðð, Eth. The voiced, or vibrating, “th” sound in English. In this case, “FREE-thuh.”
[2] Hávamál (Sayings of the High One) – a song said to be originated by Odin himself, counseling against drunkenness; in this instance, sung blasphemously.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Part 2: The Jarls

January 1028, Western Scandinavia

The Jarls

Thorir Hund and Arnvithr came upon the home of Hallbjörn,[1] he the Jarl of Thorir’s Jarldom, that they called it Namdalen. Thorir, he related this, the tale of Leifr’s murder, at the hand of Christian men. And demanded he of Hallbjörn that he call the several Jarls together, in their councilways. “No more will these Christians of the South of Norway rule us, take our lands and children from us!” And so Hallbjörn did assent and called the Jarls together in good council.

The Jarls, each an ealdorman of many, many families, entered he within the long, broad, wide house that was the custom of the time. As we would call it here, it were a tent, perhaps, with roof of skins stretched tight across a skeleton of faggot sticks. A child’s toy, but all the Jarls would manage in the harshness of the truly North.

It were naught past mid-day here, Apollo reaching up and just above the horizont to bid the realm good huntingtime. Each the petty Jarls then entered, ducking low to enter through the door, and followed he then by his heathen retinue. These all be pagans of the North, and followed they the Old Religion that we sometimes say. And each the men would hang his shield, bitten, war-beaten, marked with Jarl’s own heraldry crossed ere with his, his own; and each the men would strike upon the shield with axe or sword, and make a loud report! And skalds would then announce each Jarl and say then who his father be, and his father’s father be, and what lands does he rule, and battles had he fought, and how many were his warriors, both with him in attendance, and at home.


The common dress of men were made from worsted wool in patterns twill or linen cloth, and earth-tone colors were they in the main. Rather then, they wore them as they came right from the bolt, or add them dainty colors to the wool through simple dyes they had. Jewelry for dressing was the purview of the womenfolk. Viking men would wear a clasp to keep their cloak, and some would wear the beaded sleeve- or collar-ring, but rarely would then greater in their ostentations be. Metal were for war, and that is how the men would use it up.

The outer garment worn by men about this time is called the kyrtill, which means overtunic. Every kyrtill made was made from wool. It is surprisingly complex in its construction, for the seamstress must cut up the fabric into many pieces, and then sew them back together into shape. The kyrtill tailored fast to hug the chest and arms, without constricting movement of the limbs. Also did the skirt of it well demonstrate, by length, the wealth of he who wear’d it, for no beggar could afford the wasted fabric as it hung.  The skirts were tucked into the belt on warmer days.

The tunic had no fasteners adorning down the front; but rather did it have some braided cuffs and collars appliquè. Marry up again: the complication of this beading-work did well to shew the wealth of he who wore the thing. Jarls and other wealthy men would have their tunics made up with some beadwork, rather than the braids, and also would they have the lower hems adorned to show their greater wealth.

Undersmocks were made from linen. These were shaped in the manner of the kyrtill, but longer were they, once again to demonstrate the wearer could afford him such a thing. These were stitched together ere from any bit of linen left, for linen costed dear to Viking men, and were they often ragged.

Over this, when out of doors would travel to and fro, were coats or jackets, long were they, unto the ground, but only closed from neck to waist, for movement were allowed the legs, to get from place to place. Jackets, were they similar, but tied instead of clasped, for poorer men to wear. In either case, they came with cowl and without, depending on the maker, and what owner would expect from weather in that time and place.

Trousers were of two kinds then. One were like the pumphose knickers underlaid with hose and tied off at the knee. These were loose and baggy, and were like unto the kilt of Pictish men (but with the proper dignity intact betwain). This short baggy knicker, were it meant for Summer wear. The other kind were long and narrow, tailored to the man who wears them, and would cover up the foot entire, side and bottom and the back. Over these, the men would add some woolen socks, and then atop, the boot. Men would also wrap around these trouser legs with woolen wraps for warmth in colder climes.

Hats were of two kinds as well. One was like unto bycoketine[2] and made of silk with beadwork all around. The other was a skullcap, like the ones we see in southern lands, but lined with fur to keep the ears and head from freezing off entirely.

The colors women then would use (and men as well, at times) were red, from madder; blue from woad; and yellow, come from weld. Also did they use a violet dye from onions, and did overdye they then with several ground-herbs to make darker dyes as well. Green came up from weld as well.

[1] Öö – Called an “O-Umlaut.” Most similar to the soft “oo” in “book.”
[2] pointed at the top, as in a hat.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Norway Stories Part 1: The Spear

Approaching the Peak by ThemeFinland

13 January 1028, Western Scandinavia

The Spear

It was with resignation Thorir Hund dressed up that night. The reindeer had come back into the paddock when the wind came up, but that was hours ago. His nephew, called he Leifr, was it strange, he wasn’t seen. He didn’t come to home with them, the reindeer herd he was enshepharding. Marry: something hap’d to him. In these times, things would hap to people when they were about. Some by gods be done, and some by Christian men.

Thorir’s farm house, common for the time, was raised up on a berm, for better drainage. The entryway, a little room at north was set apart, to better hold the heat within. The long, low peated dwellingplace had room for Thorir’s family and all their animals as well. To the southern side, across there from the entryway, two does and ere their buck were cloistered in three stalls. Down then to the east, the living quarters were. Along the southern side, there was a bench inset, upon which all the living chores were wrought. The firepit lay along the middle of the house, to warm each part of it enow. Along the eastern part were one partition off for all the family find it there, their Màni-temped[1] repose, on straw and woolen blankets down they placed.

The house were empty now, for were it only Thorir and his brother’s son, for Leifr’s ma had come succumbed to pox, in Wintertime, two years ago.

Thorir left his home and set a signal fire, clearly to be seen across the ridge to Arnthvir’s farm, a league away, next door. And trod Thorir, once seeing fire light, out to the old, low fence marked by the standing rocks, to meet his neighbor there, when chance he saw it too.

“Arnvithr, please come,” called Thorir Hund across the fence between their two low homes. Thorir Hund approached through the biting wind. He wore a parka with a hood made out of reindeer hide and fur, with mittens made alike. His legs were covered likewise, and wore he tassets made of reindeer too. His feet were covered up by seal and walrus hide, and lined again with fur, to keep the ice from stealing life out of his feet in this, the northern Wintertime.

Arnvithr then came, dressed the same. He carried him a little lantern; just a toy in face of jolly Skathi’s[2] graupel-games. That’s all they had.  They set out in direction of the grazing-lands, where reindeer found their nourishment for them, and even in this season well.

A league from there, the men came on the Christian sheriff of the land and some his men. His name was Asbjørn Selisbane, and he had quarreled regular with Leifr over grazing rights and boundaries. Christians, did they not respect the olden ways, nor olden boundaries. Asbjørn was without his spear, unusual: a mark of station and, may say, oppression of the heathen men.

“My lord,” called Thorir, “have you seen my brother’s boy? He did not turn return withacht his herd this afternoon.”

“Me seen? Yes, seen. He owes of me up a newly spear. He’s eaten up my last.”

Just then, the lantern first illuminated up the longspear, sticking down into the snow. Thorir ran up and saw his kin, his brother’s son, lying bloodied, with the spear stuck in his neck, through where the place his beard would someday grow, the most exposèd place for men who dress so thick in this indifferent place atop the World.

He was quite dead and frozen up.

“Your boy won’t took be grazing out upon the Christian lands no more, old man. Take this thing away. Or leave him. He shall keep. Ere, I’ll be back for my money for to buy me my new spear in a few days.”

Thorir Hund watched helplessly, for he was cowed by Christian numbers, and his reflex numbed by chill. Asbjørn Selisbane[3] turned to his men, and back the Christian settlement a league away, through cursèd forest risen to the East, they rode upon their dwarfin ponies.

The spear had broken near the tip, it’s true. Hund thought he could repair the blade. But naught would bring the boy back to contemporary breath.

He did decideth then: It would be war to wage.

It was the week that followed that, the deadliest of deadened Winter nights, when Sunna slept beneath the rim of mountaintops and made the way for Skathi to ply up ensorcelment across the lands, both day and night, when Thorir had repaired the spear and took up in the cursèd wood in search of blood and guile. Hunted he a bear of matting brown, of some proportion monstrous, and wounded it with Asbjørn Selisbane’s own spear. The bear pursued ere Thorir to the edge of Christian lands, where Asbjørn’s men were known to him to tarry when they on patrol were meant to be.

The Christian men, now zaggardly[4] with strong and brightened spirits, were no match for Thorir’s monumental bear; Once the men were wounded mortally, did Thorir take from each of them some of their furs and each their nubbing-cross,[5] as marks of victory. The last man did he strip was Asbjørn Selisbane himself.

He set off to the home of Hallbjörn, ere an ealdorman he knew.


[1] Màni - Norse moon goddess.
[2] Skathi - Norse giant associated with Wintertime and Winter sports.
[3] Øø – Called an “O-Slash.” Most similar to the hard “oo” sound as in “double-u”
[4] Drunk.
[5] At the neck; a necklace.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Harold at Stamford Bridge


HAROLD: The peal of blessed Peace shan’t ever be
and never had it been, made up by men
of kind civility. It is not kept
by men of letters nor by men of throt’ling
witlore, nor by those benighted, set by love
of God. ‘Tis made by men who ken a brace
of states: the two known natures of a man.

Men are only of two dispositions:
at your throat, or at your feet. The fewer
they the former, better can civil
-ity be kept.

The motives of the world
are not the weal of weaklings, nor the whims
of misers in their castles hid. Those men
who do no harm are merely decorated
props to backdrop Mankind’s dirge vignette.

Contempt, dark acrimony, viciousness,
hot tyranny, barbarity, shaled blood,
belligerence, abusiveness, insult,
bland cruelty,  enspitefulness, banal
and crimson carnage wrought, indecency,
cruiddity… I could go on! ‘Tis these:
these motives move the World. Dear Peacefulness,
the dearest of the comities we wright
for this, our dearest realm, descends from those
two fore-kin cleven up together, known
as Violence and Suffering.

 that field, we will so do that violence.
These ticks from Northern ice, these backwoods boobs,
Ere, their part is the suffering, as well
you know it! We shall pluck them from the breast
of Albion! And sacrificing blood,
A dainty peace be known throughout this realm.

You suffer in this life so that the land
we keep is kept through perpetuity.
That always there will be an Anglestad
for distant fore-kin, hold they fast to it
and dear portfolio for them it be.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Not twenty minutes after he’d submitted his report on the secure server to the Phoenix office, his phone rang.


“Not happy, Special Agent Tucker,” was how it started.

“How are you, sir? Nice day out there.”

“Never mind that. Looks like you left something out of the report you just filed.”

“What’s that, sir?”

“The part where I sent you out to canvass that neighborhood and bring me back evidence of a hate crime,” said the boss. “I’m coming down. Don’t go anywhere.”

“Sure thing,” said Elias, but Butterfield was gone. Dial tone.

Elias sighed and let Valentine know. He started the Keurig and tied his tie up again. It took an hour before his superior made it down from Phoenix.

Butterfield came in. “Sit down, Tucker,” he said. He was tense and wound up, almost hopping. Elias sat. Butterfield didn’t. That was the only way Butterfield could seem taller so he could talk down to people.

“SA Tucker,” he said with a sigh, looking up at God, “you’re somehow now untouchable. Washington won’t move you and won’t let me discipline you. Did you know that?” The last part, he looked Elias right in the eye, hands on hips.

Elias shook his head no.

“…Officially,” said Butterfield with a gleam in his eye. “Nothing on the books.

“But I promise you,” he said with a finger in Elias’ face, “you’re going to bring me what I want. You’re going to do what I want. Because if you don’t, I’m going to have you on litter patrol all summer long. Outdoors. On foot.”

Elias suppressed a laugh. “Sir, it was a noise complaint. You can see in the 302 that the residents clearly stated that that’s all it was. Noise, not racism.”

Butterfield stopped for a moment for effect and then spun away. Like a dance step. “When a man enters the military, they spend months yelling in his face. Breaking him down. Making sure he knows that above all else, he must follow the orders of his superiors. Then they can build him back up into a lean, mean fighting machine. And point him at the enemy.

“And do you know why, Tucker?”

“No,” said Tucker. “Why?”

“Because when the bullets and flying and bombs are falling, it’s very easy for a man to lose his head and do something stupid. He needs loyalty to the chain of command or else all is lost.

“We don’t have that luxury, Tucker, to train new agents properly. So for some of them, there’s a distinct lack of loyalty. They freelance. And freelancers are very dangerous.

“Above all, Tucker, we demand loyalty. What you did to Assistant Director Wolf brought shame and dishonor to the Agency. You hurt us, Tucker. You hurt us all. You did that. It’s nearly unforgivable.

“And now you must be broken down. Broken and made to be loyal.”

Elias was shocked. He’d uncovered a government conspiracy which killed thousands of people for the benefit of a very few. And this was the thanks he got?

He set his jaw. “I won’t apologize for good police work,” he said.

Butterfield’s eyes narrowed. “So be it.”

And then he walked out of the office. Elias let out the breath he was holding and relaxed.

Then Butterfield marched in again and threw a leather strap down on Elias’ desk, shuffling his paperwork and sending some to the floor. It was a shoulder holster.

“Tucker, you’ve been keeping your service firearm on your hip. Bureau regs clearly state you must keep your service firearm concealed in a shoulder holster. From now on, that’s how you carry. And be happy I let you keep it at all.”

“Is that all, sir?”

“You wish,” said Butterfield. And then he left for good.