Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert

PREVIOUSLY (From Book 1, Chapter 31):

(Circa 839 AD)

            “One morning at sunrise Hervor stood on a watchtower

above the fortress-gate, and she saw a great cloud of dust from

horses’ hooves rising southwards towards the forest, which for a

long time hid the sun.  Presently she saw a glittering beneath the

dustcloud, as though she were gazing upon a mass of gold, bright

shields overlaid with gold, gilded helms and bright corselets; and

then she saw it was the army of the Huns, and a mighty host.”

                        Anonymous;  Hervor’s Saga.

Prince Hraerik had left Gardariki in the spring, and it was summer before the crew of his ship, Fair Faxi, returned from Constantinople, without him.  They brought news that Emperor Theophilus had sent their prince and several crew members on a Roman mission to Frankland.  From there, Hraerik was to be allowed make his way to Konogard and King Frodi and gain the aid of the Kievan Hraes’.  Princess Gunwar heard their report but she did not believe it.  She knew that, if her husband had failed to gain the support of the Greeks, Emperor Theophilus would not allow Hraerik to go elsewhere for aid.  Her husband was either imprisoned or, more likely, dead.  All at once a great sense of loss overwhelmed Gunwar and she near fainted.  King Olmar caught her up and helped her to her high seat.  A handmaiden loosened Gunwar’s plate-mail byrnie, then began fanning her with a silk kerchief.

“Hraerik is dead!” Gunwar whispered to King Olmar.  “I fear my husband, your son, is dead.”

“Have faith,” Brother Gregory said, reassuring her.  The Christian cleric and the Slav king exchanged worried glances.

“Take care for the child,” King Olmar said.

For the second time in her life, Gunwar was pregnant, but, with the witch Gotwar out of her life, the baby was expected to go full term this time and was due in the late fall.

“You croon and worry over the baby as though it were your own,” Gunwar scolded.

King Olmar had arrived in Gardariki with a contingent of Slav soldiers shortly after Hraerik had set out for Constantinople.  He brought word that Queen Alfhild was dead, slain by her husband, and that King Frodi had fallen into an abyss of alcoholism and degradation.  In an unexplained fit of rage, he had had all his senior officers hanged, and shortly after that King Olmar had gathered up his Slav troops and abandoned the capital for Gardariki.  The presence of his soldiers had helped ensure that the victorious, but decimated, Hun army retreated back into Khazaria to regroup rather than press on into Tmutorokan.

The day before Fair Faxi had returned, ambassadors of King Hunn and Prince Hlod had visited Gardariki with demands that Princess Gunwar relinquish her rights to Tmutorokan.  The Hraes’ army had been crushed in the Battle of Sarkel, and the Huns believed, once again, that Hraerik was dead.  Gunwar had sent the emissaries home with a firm rejection of their demands and had assured them that Hraerik was still very much alive, drawing his famed sword Tyrfingr from its scabbard and showing them its strange glow as proof of her husband’s escape.  She had then sheathed the sword and sent the ambassadors back to the land of the Huns with reassurances that her husband still lived, but now she was no longer so sure of that claim.

In the early fall, a messenger that Gunwar routinely sent out to try and contact her brother, King Frodi, got through the Magyar blockade.  She managed to gain an audience with the king, and, even more incredibly, she made it back through the Turkoi barrier.  In Gotland, she found General Ygg at the head of a large contingent of Goth troops bound for Gardariki, so, being in the guise of a male warrior, she joined them on the return home.  Gunwar announced that there would be a great feast of welcoming for General Ygg and his Gothic host, but she had a private audience with her messenger.

“It is like Denmark of old,” the messenger claimed, “when King Frodi ruled with his berserker champions.”   She had been a long time with Gunwar’s retinue.  “He is in a drunken and tragic state, and crime runs rampant in Konogard.  All the citizens of note have fled the capital, and a new cadre of young officers control the city with a vile hand.  We can expect no help from your brother,” she concluded.

Gunwar stood up off her high seat and paced.  Age had not touched her at all.  Tall and lithe, she walked the dais, her long blond hair flowing over her plate-mail byrnie, which was loose at the bottom, allowing room for her pregnancy.  She had resumed wearing her warrior’s armour the day Hraerik had left; male warriors viewed a woman in war gear with a certain uneasy reverence, and Gunwar knew she would need all the leverage she could muster in order to hold their crumbling little trading empire together.  Her crumbling little empire, Gunwar corrected herself, as the weight of Hraerik’s likely death came down upon her.  She wished she could die with her husband, but she felt the baby within her and she was thankful.  A small part of Hraerik was growing within her.  Hraerik’s son.  Gunwar felt it was a boy.  Now she had to hold her little empire together for him.

As summer waned and the seasons changed, the demands of the Huns grew increasingly aggressive.  Military units replaced ambassadors in presenting the Hun terms, and these were, in turn, replaced by cavalry regiments.  Finally, in late fall, word filtered into Gardariki, as news often does in a city under siege, that the Huns had raised a huge host and that it was on its way to Tmutorokan.  When the rumoured army failed to materialize, the Gardariki Hraes’ breathed a sigh of relief.  There had been a revolt in Atil, the capital of Khazaria, and the loyal Hun regiments were recalled to put down the rebellion.  Several noble houses of the At-Khazars had attempted to overthrow the rule of the great kagan, and King Hunn, as kagan bek of the Khazars, was forced to return to the capital to rescue his Caesar.  At the approach of the feared Hunnish host, the rebellious At-Khazar forces fled the country to shelter among the Magyars.  There, beyond reach of the Khazar regular forces, they continued to foment trouble for the Khaganate.  But the Hun army was freed up to carry on its campaign against the Hraes’.

Just when the people of Gardariki began to believe that the season was too far gone for the Huns to renew their campaign, that they would be spared from Khazar attack until spring at the earliest, just then did the Hun army penetrate through the Mirkwood Forest.  Thousands of cavalry troops led the way, as the Huns emerged from the trees onto the grassy plains of the Don Heath, followed by many more times their number in lightly armed foot-soldiers, complemented by archers and slingers and support troops.  Trailing back into Khazaria for many miles, the column of soldiers worked its way into the land of the Hraes’.

One morning, King Olmar and General Ygg returned to Gardariki from a scouting expedition and called Princess Gunwar forth to the fortress gate.  From a high stone tower of her city wall, Gunwar saw a mighty cloud of dust rising up on the eastern horizon, obscuring the orient pearl of dawn, the sun, and rolling slowly across the plain.  An aura glowed gold beneath the dusty cloud, evincing glittering armour and bristling raiment, as the fiery mass of the Hunnish host blazed across the eastern firmament.

The sight of such a fine array, or perhaps its dire portents, caused Gunwar’s water to break and she went into premature labour.  She was two weeks early when her contractions began up upon the walls of the city.  Her hand maiden helped her down the stone stairs, across the compound and into her high seat hall.  From the bed in her chamber, Gunwar gave the order to sound the general alarm.  Soon the church bells were heard ringing and there was a great movement of troops as the Slav king and the Goth general rushed out of the high seat hall and rallied their warriors.  The dwarf, Durin, sent for Brother Gregory, and he arrived in Gunwar’s bedchamber just as her baby was being born.

Two of the princess’s warrior maidens were at each side as Gunwar cried out in agony.  A midwife was at the foot of the bed massaging her swollen belly.  Durin stood back a little and watched a small crown of hair issuing forth from between the princess’s legs.  Gunwar was breathing in short gasps and pushing hard.

“Stop pushing,” the midwife said, as the head of the infant cleared its mother, and she untangled the blue-white cord wrapped about the throat of the baby and cleared mucus from around the nose, mouth and eyes.  “Now push!” the midwife said, and the rest of the baby slid out into the cool still air of the room.  Gunwar cried out in pain.  The midwife cradled the baby in one arm and held the umbilical cord in her other hand, feeling for the pulse.  When it ceased, she knew the baby was ready.  Durin watched, in awe, the spectacle of birth.  Brother Gregory saw his premonition come to life from the doorway.  Suddenly, the still body came to life, and it cried.  “The knife,” the midwife said, and Durin stepped forward and cut the umbilical cord with his dagger.  The midwife drew a brand from a nearby brazier and cauterised the cord, then passed the brand to Durin and raised the infant so that Gunwar could see.

“It’s a boy!” Brother Gregory exclaimed, as the midwife passed the infant up to his mother.

Immediately, Gunwar ceased her painful sobbing and, as if by magic, all pain was gone, and a passionate glow overcame her.  “I knew it was a boy,” Princess Gunwar said weakly, exhausted, but radiant with the aura of motherhood.

Just then, King Olmar and General Ygg entered the chamber.  General Ygg surveyed the situation in dismay and said, “The Huns are but a day’s march away, my lady,” but King Olmar went straight to the child in Gunwar’s arms and exclaimed, “It’s a boy!” and he held the child up, proudly, for all to see.

The next day, Princess Gunwar sent King Olmar and General Ygg out onto the plains outside Gardariki and they marked their battlefield with hazel poles and then they challenged the Hunnish host to battle in two days’ time.  This was, of course, done against the protests of all her officers.  General Ygg recommended a general retreat to the land of the Goths and offered Gunwar and the Gardariki Hraes’ sanctuary there.  King Olmar suggested that they sail up the Dnieper and fight their way through the Magyar blockade.  The dwarf Durin was the only one to side with Gunwar in her desire to fight the Huns.  After the battle of Sarkel he had no love of the Khazar army.

After two days respite, in the soft frosty glow of false dawn, the Hunnish host drew up in battle array, their ranks bristling with gilded barbs, their war ponies pawing at the hoarfrost dew.  Gunwar led a smaller but determined force out from the protective walls of Gardariki and onto the field of battle, leaving her new-born son suckling at the breast of a nursemaid.  The dwarf, Durin, rode before her, in the vanguard of the Gardariki Hraes’, with King Olmar leading his Slav troops on the left flank and General Ygg commanding his Goths on the right.  With her long blond hair tucked up under her Greek helmet, and her body clad in her plate-mail armour, Gunwar looked every bit a Roman cavalry officer.  She drew Tyrfingr from its sheath, raised the famed sword above her, and gave the signal for her army to move forward.  The Huns, in turn, began their advance.

First the archers on both sides loosed their arrows, then the heavy infantry hurled their spears, and then the armies merged, two wavering lines blending into one mass, and the fighting began in earnest.  Up and down the main line of battle, the standards danced, first advancing a little, then falling back.  Mounted soldiers and officers fought side by side with foot-soldiers all along the front, while Hraes’ cavalry regiments fought the Hun horsemen on the outer flanks.  A dull clattering roar sounded across the plain and would not stop.

As the sun rose up high into the late fall sky, it looked as though neither side would budge, but a savage blow from a Hun horseman’s lance knocked the helmet off Gunwar’s head, and the force of it stunned the princess momentarily, as her bright flowing locks leapt about the gold gilt mail on her shoulders.  Regaining control of her mount, Gunwar lashed out at the Turk with Tyrfingr and killed him.  All the Huns before the princess fell back and none would withstand the fierce blows of the female warrior and it looked as though the Hunnish host was breaking up before her attacks, when Prince Hlod slinked in from her blind side and pierced his aunt with a bright golden lance.  Princess Gunwar dropped Tyrfingr into the battlefield dust, and she clutched at the lance stuck between her ribs, and she pulled the spear free of her nephew’s grip.  She held the lance ever so gently and she slid from the saddle of her mount, then she kneeled by her husband’s cursed sword, and, like someone grown suddenly tired, she lay down beside the blade and she died.  Durin flew into a great rage and he drove back the cowardly attack of the Hun prince, then leapt down from his mount, but he was too late–Princess Gunwar was already dead.  The dwarf dragged her body into the sheltering ranks of the Hraes’ army, then he laid Gunwar across the saddle of her mount and he tied her in place.  He then gathered up his own mount and he led Gunwar’s horse in trot back to Gardariki.

General Ygg came to the vanguard from the flank and attempted to rally the Hraes’ forces, but their losses were too great and the Hun warriors too numerous.  Soon a general panic came over the Hraes’ army, and everyone began to flee to the safety of the walls of Gardariki.  King Olmar and his Slav troops fought a brave rear guard battle as the Hraes’ and then the Goths fled the field.  Within the walls of Gardariki, calm returned to the troops and they took to the battlements and prevented the pursuing Huns from overrunning the city.  Once the surviving rear guard forces had entered the fortress, King Olmar broke away from the fight, looking for Gunwar in her high seat hall.  He found General Ygg and Durin and Brother Gregory there, all gathered in a semi-circle about the serene body of Princess Gunwar laid out upon her dais. 

“How died she?” King Olmar asked.

“Slain from behind by her nephew, Prince Hlod,” Durin answered.

“Oh, infamous day!” General Ygg cried.  “Murderously early the evil whelp claims his inheritance.  Pray to your God, brother that Hraerik yet lives to avenge her.”

But Brother Gregory did not hear his brother, Yggerus.  He was busy administering last rites to the slain Princess Gunwar, but by her Christian name, Hervor, for she had been newly baptized in the faith.

Outside the hall, chaos reigned.  The citizens of Gardariki were in a panic and frightened groups of women and children thronged in and about the small stone church of the Christians.  King Olmar and General Ygg took joint control of the Hraes’ troops and began to organize the evacuation of Gardariki, placing all the ships in the city on standby for a retreat to the land of the Goths under cover of darkness.  As evening came upon the steppe, the victorious Huns withdrew from the walls of the city and returned to their war camp.

When Brother Gregory had finished his obsequies over the body of Princess Hervor, he looked about himself to find everyone gone.  The high seat hall was deserted and quiet, and even the sounds from without ceased suddenly.  Then Brother Gregory heard the crying of an infant, and Durin entered the hall from the bedchambers carrying Prince Hraerik and Princess Hervor’s baby in his arms.  The child was crying as Durin placed him up to Hervor’s cheek, and the rivulet of a tear from the infant could be seen running down her pale dusty countenance.  “She didn’t even get to name him,” Durin cried.  “She had a name picked out but was waiting to give him a naming feast.”

“What name did she pick?”

“Helgi”, replied the dwarf.  “It means holy.”

“What is to become of the child?” Brother Gregory asked the dwarf.

“Hraerik placed me under oath to protect his household, and, again, I have failed him.  I must take the child across the Nor’Way, to King Hraelauger of Norway, Prince Hraerik’s brother.  The Huns must never know he is alive, for he has a just claim to Gardariki.  He must be raised in the north, safe from Khazar treachery.”

“I shall help you,” the cleric offered.

“I intend to take him in his father’s ship up and across their family’s Nor’Way.  The path will be through Hun lands, long, hard and dangerous.  All would understand if you chose not to go.”

“I give you my word that I shall do all within my powers to see that you fulfil your oath.”

That night, Brother Gregory, King Olmar, General Ygg and Durin buried Princess Hervor in an unmarked grave beside the small stone church of the Christians.  Then King Olmar and General Ygg began to argue over what was to be done with the baby.  King Olmar wanted to take it back to Kiev.  General Ygg wanted it raised amongst the Crimean Goths.  But Durin and Brother Gregory insisted on taking him to Prince Hraerik’s family in Norway.  General Ygg finally relented, so when the midnight evacuation of Gardariki took place, all the ships of the Hraes’ sailed to the mouth of the Kuban River, and, while the rest of the fleet sailed west for the Crimea, Durin and Brother Gregory sailed north in Fair Faxi, bound for the Don River and beyond.

After crossing the Sea of Azov, the dwarf, Durin, and the cleric, Brother Gregory had sailed Fair Faxi up the Don Estuary, with its tiny precious cargo, to the Fortress of Sarkel.  As Prince Hraerik had done several years prior, the dwarf and the monk waited till just before dawn to navigate past the anchored Greek ships and the shore defences of the fortress.  This time there was no sighting and no pursuit as the Hraes’ ship slipped past the Khazar outpost, but, in dawn’s early light, Durin saw a great Khazar encampment outside the walls of the fortress, as though an army had laid siege to Sarkel.  All wondered at the spectacle as Fair Faxi slipped past the fortifications.  They could not even suspect that the Kara-Khazars had fled the might of the Huns and were now travelling west to meet up with their allies, the Turkoi, and begin a great journey into Europe, where the Magyars were to become the Hungarians and the Kara-Khazars were to settle in the land of the Wends, remaining forever faithful to their Jewish religion.

Durin led the Hraes’ up the Don River and into the Khopel tributary, and once they reached its source they portaged across land to the Sura River and on up the Volga to the Kama tributary.  One last portage across to the Northern Dvina and they were soon outside the walls of Arthor’s settlement of Hawknista.  A month of hard rowing and harder living had gotten the Hraes’ there with, to Brother Gregory’s surprise, Gunwar’s baby no worse for wear.

As the Hraes’ beached their ship a large force of Varangians came out from the settlement to meet them.  Arthor, tall, lean and enduringly grizzled, stood out at their forefront.  “Hrae! Durin!” he shouted in cold greeting.  “It has been a long time!”

Not long enough, thought Durin of the man that had captured his father.  “Too long, Arthor!” Durin lied.  “I have with me one Brother Gregory,” he said as the two groups closed together, “a Goth from Gardariki.”

“A Christian?  So far north?” Arthor asked.  “Well, how do you do brother?  I’ve never met a Christian before.  Heard a lot about you Christians, though.”

“Only good things, I hope,” Brother Gregory said, watching the tall Varangian, more or less eye to eye.

“Not a one,” replied Arthor staring back at the monk.  They stood eyeing each other for a time, with Durin wondering what was to become of this confrontation of giants, and then Arthor decided that this Christian was clearly a man of mettle and he warmed to him somewhat.  “But, then again, I have to deal with the blackest bunch of merchants this side of the Nor’Way, so what can one expect.”

“I pray I can prove them all wrong,” Brother Gregory responded gruffly.

“Come into our trading post,” Arthor said.  “We have sweet meats and bitter ales.”

All afternoon and well into the night the Hraes’ enjoyed the hospitality of their Varangian hosts.  To avert any questions as to whose child was travelling with them, Brother Gregory passed the baby’s nursemaid off as his woman and let Arthor assume that the child was his.  He then told the Varangian leader that he had a most urgent and secret message for Prince Hraerik’s brother, King Hraelauger of Norway.  With the infant between them, the monk and the nursemaid spent the night together under the furs of the bench Arthor had appointed them.

The next day, arrangements were made for Brother Gregory to take Fair Faxi across the Nor’Way to Hrafnista.  Durin would not make the journey.  Brother Gregory assured the dwarf that he could complete the delivery without him.   “The Northmen have little respect for dwarves,” Durin explained to the monk.  “I must return to my people.  I have been away from them for too long.”  The two men stood on the bank of the Northern Dvina, and when Durin looked off to the east his countenance had lost its young demeanour and a great tiredness had set upon it.  His youthful adventure had come to an end.  It was time for him to lead his people.  Soon, a dugout boat paddled by dark-haired dwarves came down around a bend in the river and came near, but not up to, the bank.  Durin waded out to the canoe, turned and waved goodbye to Brother Gregory and the Hraes’, then climbed into the boat as many small hands reached out to assist him.  The dwarves then turned around to face the stern of the canoe and began paddling back upriver.  The stern had become bow and the bow stern as the dwarves took their leader back to Giantland.  Durin never looked back.

Soon after, Brother Gregory and the nursemaid took Gunwar’s baby aboard Fair Faxi, now crewed by Varangians accustomed to the rigours of the Nor’Way crossing.  The skeleton crew rowed up the Northern Dvina without incident.  The aggressive Bjarmians were busy with their hunting, not expecting any merchant river traffic until the Varangian expedition in Bulgar was to return home a month later.  The lone Nor’Way ship was travelling early, but its captain anchored the boat in the White Sea for two weeks waiting, what seemed an eternity, for just the right weather for a crossing.  With Brother Gregory growing more impatient by the day, the handsome, blond haired young Varangian took the trouble to explain to the monk the fickleness of the Nor’Way winds.

“While the weather may seem right for a crossing,” he began, “as soon as you head out, sure as Loki is a devil, it will turn on you.  A storm will come up from the other direction and blow you back right where you started, if you are lucky.  If not, a calm will set in and strand you out on the cold Northern sea where you will perish.  We wait for a storm going our way.  A storm to take us all the way.”  And the captain waited and watched the weather until, well into the second week, heavy dark clouds began forming on the eastern horizon.  He then ordered the crew to fasten in place the heavy ox-hide awnings that soon covered Fair Faxi from stem to stern, and they rowed the ship north, out and into the gale.

Brother Gregory had never experienced anything like the fury of that storm.  Huge waves crashed against and carried along Fair Faxi, and it took all the strength the old double braced hull had to hold the boat together.  Three days they rode upon the storm and when it ceased they were past the North Cape of Norway and Brother Gregory was a Varangian.  After rowing a week in the late summer’s calm that followed, the men of Hawknista were near and, with the circling of an island, they pulled into the tranquil blue harbour of Hrafnista.

During the feast that soon followed their arrival, Brother Gregory inquired as to the whereabouts of King Hraelauger.  A powerful young chieftain of Hrafnista, Grim Hairy-Cheek, overheard the monk’s question and asked him why he was seeking audience with his cousin, the king.

Brother Gregory had given his word to Durin to entrust no one with the secret of Gunwar’s baby, so he told Chieftain Hairy-Cheek that he had an urgent message for Prince Hraerik Bragi, if he was still alive, or his brother, King Hraelauger.

“You’ll be glad to know that Prince Hraerik is alive, if you are a friend,” Grim told the monk.  “King Hraelauger fetched him out of Frankland back to Vik Fjord more than a month ago.”

“Are they yet in Vik Fjord?”

“The Prince battles with the Goths against King Alrek of Sweden and King Hraelauger is passing the war-arrow around all of Norway.  They are raising a host to save Gardariki from the Huns.”

“Gardariki has fallen to the Huns, I’m afraid,” Brother Gregory said sadly.  “That is part of the news I have for Prince Hraerik and his brother.”

Grim Hairy-Cheek could see the grief welling within the priest after his telling of the fall.  “Bring your woman and child,” he said.  “You will share the high seat spread with us,” and he introduced his wife, Lofthaena, to the eastern couple.  Though Brother Gregory was very tired from his travels, his deep dark eyes yet compelled people to listen to his words, and, after supper, he told all of the tragic death of Prince Hraerik’s wife, Princess Gunwar, before the walls of Gardariki.  All present at the feast knew Hraerik Bragi and many were related to him in some manner or another, so Brother Gregory’s story of battle in a far-off land affected them all very personally.

The day after the feast Grim Hairy-Cheek offered to take Brother Gregory to find King Hraelauger.  It was an offer the captain of the Nor’Way ship recommended the monk refuse.

“It grows late in the season,” the Varangian captain stated.  “If we are to make it back to Hawknista this year, we must leave soon.”

But Brother Gregory wanted to follow Grim, and the young chieftain persisted in his offer, so a party set out from Hrafnista for Trondheim and an inland journey through the Uplands, in the hope of meeting up with King Hraelauger on his way back to the Vik.  Grim Hairy-Cheek, with his young wife, led the party, accompanied by Brother Gregory, his woman and child and the Nor’Way captain, along with many others, but, at every place they stopped, they learned that King Hraelauger had just passed through with the war-arrow and had left with most of the able-bodied men of that village.  After two weeks of fruitless pursuit, the Varangian captain called for a halt to the enterprise.

“If we head back for Hrafnista now,” he claimed, “we will have a chance to make the crossing back.  If not, we shall remain in Norway for the winter.”  Now the Varangian captain had a wife and child of his own in Hawknista, and he did not relish the thought of leaving them to spend the winter alone in the east.  So, after one more village and one more close encounter at Brother Gregory’s insistence, the party headed back for Hrafnista.

“It is my own fault,” Brother Gregory told Grim, “that now the crossing has become too dangerous.  You must take my child to Prince Hraerik’s family farm in Jaederen and keep him safely there for me.  Protect him at all costs.  You know not the travails of his birth.”  Brother Gregory then took his heavy iron cross from about his neck and he placed the chain around the baby’s neck and he tucked the cross into its swaddling clothes.  “Keep this with him always.  The Prince will recognize it as being mine.  We must return to the east, to the Glassy Plains, but we shall come back to claim him.  His welfare you must guarantee me.  You must pass him off as your own.”

In the short time Grim Hairy-Cheek had known Brother Gregory, he had grown to love him.  “I shall follow your wishes,” he answered, “though it surprises me you can bear to leave such a fine child behind.  He shall be raised in Jaederen and he shall await your return.”

“I feared coming to the west with my sad tale,” Brother Gregory told his new friend, “but you have made me welcome and you’ve assured me that there can be harmony between our realms.”  The two men hugged each other warmly, as the impatient Nor’Way captain watched, and Brother Gregory placed the child into the arms of Lofthaena.

Grim Hairy-Cheek hesitated a moment, then offered, “Your ship is old and not fit for this late a crossing.  I’ve just had a new Nor’Way ship built.  Leave yours and take it instead.  Prince Hraerik will be pleased to get Fair Faxi back, I’ll bet.”  Brother Gregory thanked his new friend warmly and the easterners took Grim’s new ship and they left with the tide and rowed out and around the island.

At the North Cape, the Varangian captain waited patiently, once more, for the storm that would take them back to the east.  But it was too late in the season and the storm never came.  The impatience of the Varangian captain, worried about his wife and child in the east, overcame him and the staunch men of the Nor’Way ship sailed out into the Barents Sea and were stranded in a calm and perished.