Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert
(Circa 912 AD)
“The snake will strike, venom filled, flashing from
the time worn skull of Faxi.”
Princess Eyfura and Hervor waited through the spring trading season without a sign of Oddi. They were hoping he would have visited Kiev and his father, but he had sent word that he was rebuilding Berurjod in Jaederen Province and would arrive in Kiev after the spring trading season. Prince Hraerik was waiting on the main quay of Kiev, when Oddi sailed up in Fair Faxi. He saw his father, Hraerik, and leapt onto the dock. As they embraced and hugged below the dragonhead of Fair Faxi, a slight hooded figure approached and pulled a long blade out from under a cloak. The spectre thrust out the blade at Oddi, who instinctively blocked it with his wrist band, and he smashed the figure down to the dock and the spectre curled up in pain and lashed out with the sword again, and the edge bit Oddi’s ankle to the bone. Then the sword went flying across the dock and clattered on the boardwalk and Hraerik saw right away that it was Tyrfingr. Oddi pinned the assailant to the decking and pulled back the hood to expose Hervor, dazed but still breathing with a black bolt of lightning painted across her grey stained face. Hraerik threw his fur cloak over Tyrfingr and saw Eyfura approaching from the longhall, so he rolled the sword into the fur and kicked it into the river. “The water will protect us from the rays of the blade,” Hraerik explained to Oddi as his wife drew near.
“I saw Hervor quickly leave the hall,” Eyfura said. “What has she done now?”
They returned to Oddi and Hervor. Hraerik inspected Oddi’s wound while Eyfura revived Hervor. Hraerik tore the white silk shirt from his chest and tore off a strip of it to tie around Oddi’s left leg. He then stripped his belt of his seax and used the sheath to twist the silk strip tight around Oddi’s leg. He pulled out the seax and told his son, “Your leg has to come off at the knee!”
“You’re mad!” Oddi cried, pulling his leg free of his father. “This limb isn’t going anywhere.”
“The sword she cut your leg with is Tyrfingr. The blade is poisoned. If I don’t take it off at your knee, you’ll be dead within hours.”
Oddi sat down on the dock, hugging his legs to his body. “I know. I saw what it did to my friend, Hjalmar. It’s probably too late already.”
“Let me take off your leg, son. Please. We can fit it with a prosthetic.”
“And I’ll join one of your Special Centuriatas?”
Eyfura had fully revived Hervor by then and both women watched the father arguing for the life of his son.
“No, father,” Oddi continued. “It is too late. I can feel the poison at work already. I think the hours you gave me may have been overly optimistic.” Oddi remembered watching Hjalmar die and he realized he was sitting just as Hjalmar had been sitting. “I want to die with us holding each other in our arms.”
By now all Oddi’s men had come from Fair Faxi, gathered round their captain and began clamouring for Hervor’s head. Eyfura huddled over Hervor as if to protect her from the throng. Oddi ordered his men to respect the fine blood of the women and sat down on a bench below the forestem of Fair Faxi. Hraerik sent for some camp chairs and fine wine from King Frodi’s highseat hall and they sat in the warm spring sunshine as Oddi’s strength waned.
Hraerik helped his son into a camp chair from the bench. “Is there anything I can do for you?” he asked.
Oddi asked him to record in Latin the Death Ode of Arrow Odd and then said this:
1st (c. 912)
“Listen to me, to what I must say,
you witnesses of my friends long gone.
No need to hide it nor conceal the way
this forest ash could not take fate on.
2nd (c. 840)
I was fostered early by my father’s wish,
to be brought up at Berurjod;
I felt no loss of love or bliss,
and took what Ingjald could offer Odd.
3rd (c. 845)
We both grew up at Hraegunarstead,
Asmund and I, through childhood,
spear shafts shaping, and ships a building,
children fletching arrows of wood.
4th (c. 852)
A witch said, ‘You will burn here at Berurjod.
Venom-filled snake shall sting you,
from below the skull of Faxi,
the adder will bite just above your shoe.’
5th (c. 852)
The seeress read true runes to me,
but no way could I, would I, heed;
Asmund and I buried Faxi, Ingjald’s best horse,
a visit to my father’s estate we’d need.
I was given a ship called Fair Faxi
by my fathers both foster and true.
We followed the fleet of Hraegunar Lothbrok
on the Mediterranean blue.
7th (c. 855)
Asmund and I and our ship of boys
trailed up the rivers of Moorish Spain.
Hraegunar took Seville by sheer will,
but lost men on the way back again.
8th (c. 856)
While Asmund my friend did often say
he’d travel the Nor’Way whale road;
I told Ingjald that we’d both go away
and never come back; but I’ve broken my word.
9th (c. 856)
We hoisted our sail, but we sat on the sea;
till Hrafnistaman-like we raised our hands;
we sailed a fair wind to that steep cliffed isle
where Grim once had his longhall and lands.
10th (c. 856)
We got to the longhall and were blithely greeted,
till Grim welcomed the boys of Berurjod.
He gave Gusir’s Gifts shared his arrows of gold,
before I, the Nor’Way whale road trod.
11th (c. 856)
In spring I had heard of the plan to raid
the silver howes of the Bjarmiars;
at once I told Sigurd and Gudmund
I wanted to wander the ‘Way with these warriors.
12th (c. 856)
My two kinsmen were capable men,
great leaders and warship captains;
their brave crews wanted to claim
the silver offerings of the Tyrfi-Finns.
13th (c. 856)
In my Nor’Way ship we made the crossing;
Asmund and I were Varangians now.
we ravaged the Bjarmar with fire and flame;
and their slave led us to the howe.
14th (c. 856)
He showed us where to find plunder,
in that place we gathered a hoard;
but that countryman saved from being a slave,
turned us in hoping for a reward.
The Bjarmians came, quick to defend
the silver howe, of their dead;
we brought down mighty warriors
before the Tyrfi-Finns fled.
16th (c. 856)
We quickly marched down to our ships,
but the slave brought the Bjarmiars back;
we traded their silver and gold weapons,
for our iron blades, grey and black.
17th (c. 856)
I quickly kindled a blaze in the forest,
a burning beacon upon the land;
it brought back my two relatives
and their ships, just as planned.
18th (c. 856)
We saw splendid ships, hasten to land,
richly clad rowers racing to shore,
happy they were, it showed clearly,
my kinsmen coming to greet us more.
19th (c. 856)
Forced to leave our lives to fortune,
we let our ship sail it would where:
we carried silver soil in sacks on deck,
river washed sacks of sand, till we saw it not there.
20th (c. 856)
We came upon an island beyond steep cliffs
in late summer, then reefed our sails;
making haste we hauled up ships
upon rollers and whisked them onto trails.
21st (c. 856)
We raised awnings, and camped in our ships.
With Gusir’s Gifts I hunted dread bear;
And on Varg island we lit a good fire
in the mouth of the dead bear.
22nd (c. 856)
Then a giantess came and threatened to throw us
off of the island; and into the waves;
I shot that giant through the mouth of the bear
right in the eyes and chased her to her caves.
23rd (c. 856)
We feared none when we stayed there,
we weren’t afraid of anything;
some of us stacked on the cliff above
a mighty log wall; in a ring.
24th (c. 856)
I went out hunting with Gusir’s Gifts
for the giants’ cave, just to find strife;
I shot in the eye the king of the trolls,
but in the heart, I shot his wife.
25th (c. 856)
There I got a byname, that I craved,
Arrow Odd through the crags they wailed,
Arrow Odd, Arrow Odd, give him wind by god,
and with a fair wind we all sailed.
26th (c. 856)
Some sailed back Hrafnista bound,
but Odd sailed upon, the Nor’Way;
through Permian lands and Volga strands,
to the Don and the great Azov Bay.
27th (c. 856)
In Tmutorokan Odd became a rich man,
trading silver Bjarmiar swords;
for their weight in gold, then
he met Prince Hraerik, the Gardariki lord.
28th (c. 857)
On my way home I met a vulture,
it flew with me ‘cross Giantland,
until it came to its nest on the crag
and let me rest with its chicks near at hand.
29th (c. 858)
Then came Hildir to save me,
that giant enslaved me, took me home,
he let me stay for many months
his daughter let my steed roam.
30th (c. 858)
I helped Hildigunn ride my steed,
winsome girl, she rode it well.
A fine brave son she carried for us,
as I bartered my way out of Giant hell.
I promised Hildir a big bear as a dog,
and on Varg Island he grabbed hold.
The bear made him king of Giantland,
and next spring he gave me much gold.
32nd (c. 859)
The wealth that I made in Bjarmia land,
with my Nor’Way ship gave me fame,
but the Romans were brewing up trouble
in Khazaria once again.
33rd (c. 860)
I was given a ship called Fair Faxi,
by my fathers both foster and true.
We followed the fleet of King Hraelauger
on the Mediterranean blue.
34th (c. 860)
Asmund and I and our ship of youths
saved lives while fighting the Romans.
Constantinople won’t fall because of its wall,
but the treaty we made gave good omens.
35th (c. 861)
We Varangians still ruled the Nor’Way,
but the Southern Way fell to the Slavs.
King Frodi lost Kiev, retreated to Zealand,
for refusing to stop selling slaves.
In the Vik I met Gudrun, she took my heart;
Asmund met her sister, Sigrid was his delight.
Both were in the Freedom Movement,
and brought us trouble, when captives took flight.
37th (c. 861)
We met Halfdan, a slaver at Elfar Skerries,
many folk had he murdered or enslaved;
with three ships against his thirty,
we cut him down and his captives we saved.
38th (c. 861)
with our sisters of delight.
They wore us down just out of town,
Then found us our next fight.
39th (c. 861)
We next met Soti a slaver off Skane,
many folk had he murdered or enslaved;
with five ships this time against thirty,
we cut him down and his captives we saved.
40th (c. 861)
Back in the Vik we lingered again,
with our sisters of delight.
They taught us things to do with swings,
Then found us our next fight.
41st (c. 861)
We next sailed south along the coast,
all on watch for Hjalmar and Thord;
searching for plunder, in lives of men,
we scoured the Elfar Skerry fjord.
42nd (c. 861)
Found at last off the Swedish coast,
two great champions, Hjalmar and Thord;
they soon asked which we’d rather,
to fight or to choose friendship as reward.
43rd (c. 861)
We fought a bit then counselled together,
Thord thought it foolish fighting over our wealth;
a band of Norse and a band of Swedes thought
to band together seemed the best stealth.
44th (c. 861)
But Hjalmar set some Viking laws that all
agreed to follow: No uncooked meats,
no robberies, and on pain of death,
no women taken on ship against their entreats.
45th (c. 861)
We sailed our ships to any shore
that promised a chance of plunder;
we fought in our ships, chieftains or kings
and tore other warships asunder.
46th (c. 862)
Prince Hraerik of Gardariki convinced the Slavs
to call back the Hraes’ and King Frodi left Liere;
but he wanted my head in his hall,
before going to Kiev, before leaving here.
47th (c. 862)
Raging and wrathful when Frodi was gone,
we went to Zealand, found five berserks there;
I killed the five with Gusir’s Gifts,
and Hjalmar took the berserks’ six knarr.
48th (c. 863)
We were in the Vik when we heard the news:
It came out of Angleland came out of York,
King Hraegunar ‘Lothbrok’ Sigurdson had died.
There was talk of snakes, there was talk of pork.
49th (c. 864)
King Hraelauger of Norway took me aside,
and warned me that King Frodi still wanted my head.
He sent me away to green Ireland to
find Saint Brendan’s Newfoundland instead.
50th (c. 864)
We sailed from the Vik west in speeding ships,
across the Irish whale road, and
when we went there, the folk fled away,
terrified, out of their houses they ran.
51st (c. 864)
Exploring on land were Asmund and I,
when a bow did thrum and an arrow did fly,
and it hit Asmund deep in the chest.
He died in my arms and I asked myself why?
52nd (c. 864)
I rushed along a wide wagon road,
towards where the arrows were doled;
to have Asmund back I’d give all my wealth,
I would gladly give all of my gold.
53rd (c. 864)
I saw them at last, the archers gathered,
stout men standing by their wives;
so I showed all four how to really shoot,
and helped them to lose their lives.
54th (c. 864)
There I caught the hand of Princess Olvor,
and she promised me a plate-mail shirt;
that would keep me warm and above water,
and would keep me from getting hurt.
55th (c. 864)
Unlike a byrnie with steel blue rings,
ice cold about my iron sides;
was on my flesh a padded silk shirt
sewn with gold next to my hide.
56th (c. 864)
I began my mission for my king,
And with Olvor I read what Saint Brendan planned;
she wanted to come but her brothers were gone,
so I set off to find the newfound land.
57th (c. 864)
In eight hundred and sixty four,
we sailed across the ocean blue,
New Ireland, Scotland, and Angleland,
Brendan’s newfound land was true!
58th (c. 864)
I met a native princess there,
she helped me to explore,
when I brought her home with child,
her kingly father showed me the door.
59th (c. 864)
Back in Ireland, Olvor had a girl,
and Hraegunhild she was named.
Olvor said after Hraegunar Lothbrok,
my grandfather, she claimed.
60th (c. 864)
We sailed south for the Anglish Sea,
in King Hraelauger’s fleet of twenty ships.
Looking for slavers we found Skolli there,
with forty ships but no captives or whips.
61st (c. 864)
He swore before eight witnesses,
he was offshore to avenge his kin,
killed by King Edmond for farming land.
He was there to fight and with help would win.
62nd (c. 864)
Hjalmar and Thord agreed with me,
so we took the field and battled three days
before Edmond fell and we made Skolli king.
He gave us thanks and we parted ways.
63rd (c. 865)
Off King Frodi’s Danmar we found our slavers,
Hlodver and Haki setting off to Kievan Hraes’.
Ten ships came at us, they had twenty more,
but hard it was to send ten to the eagles’ claw.
Out came twenty more, warships all,
chock full of warriors, fearsome as hell.
We weren’t after slavers they were after us,
we won but were so few one ship served us well.
65th (c. 865)
With Denmark after us, we met Ogmund Eythjofsbane,
half giant at Tronuvagar, with two ships in full array,
under black awnings we fought all day ‘til only
three of us remained, and of them, nine sailed away.
66th (c. 865)
Ogmund warned me King Frodi wanted my head,
and everyone around me would wind up dead.
Later we were crushed to find Thord Prow-Gleam
slain, and out his side stuck Ogmund’s arrowhead.
67th (c. 865)
We searched for Ogmund but could find him not.
In Uppsala the barrow of Thord we built high;
but back in Sweden we found there was fear,
Ingibjorg had been wooed by Prince Angantyr.
68th (c. 865)
Princess Ingibjorg loved Hjalmar the Brave,
but Angantyr and eleven berserk brothers,
bairns of Prince Arngrim and Princess Eyfura,
King Frodi’s daughter, cursed her as promised to others.
69th (c. 865)
Holmganger on Samsey is what they challenged,
we met the tainted berserk brothers;
and while Hjalmar battled Angantyr,
I killed eleven of the coupler mothers.
70th (c. 865)
But Angantyr was strong and carried a poison snake,
Tyrfingr, a famed blade, a biter of the brave;
it hacked Hjalmar’s byrnie sent poison to his heart,
but Hjalmar gave the prince the death he so did crave.
71st (c. 865)
Bury the berserk brothers I did as we’d agreed,
Tyrfingr with Angantyr, blade gone gave some relief.
Took Hjalmar to Sweden and he shared his howe,
with his Ingibjorg because she died of grief.
King Frodi did not take too long,
after hearing his grandsons were dead,
to attack Norway and then Angleland.
Before his armies we all fled.
73rd (c. 866)
Men thought me a gallant warrior at the rain of spears,
when battle sweat flowed at the Bravellir bestad,
and Stikla was shieldmaiden, center of the wedge, when
Odd the Way Wanderer first led the Battle of Stiklastad.
The shield maiden, Stickla was at my side, when
I led an army in the Nor’Way north and
we stopped Ogmund his foremost man,
so after me they named Halogaland.
75th (c. 866)
But in Angleland we couldn’t stop Frodi,
his armies were too great to withstand,
we fled across the Atlantean Sea,
to try our luck in the newfound land.
76th (c. 866)
We sailed past New Ireland,
we had no chance to pause,
we sailed up the Gitchee River,
chased only by the Kievan Hraes’.
77th (c. 866)
We visited the village of the Algonquin tribe,
there I saw Watseka and finally met our son,
her father, Ahanu welcomed me inside,
I warned of King Frodi coming to kill everyone.
78th (c. 866)
We learned that the Hraes’ of Tmutorokan
sailed past New Scotia to New Angleland;
the two fleets were separated, so to
attack the Kievan Hraes’ is what we planned.
79th (c. 866)
We took the fight to King Frodi,
we almost kicked his royal steed,
we hid our ships, sank them in the Gitchee,
and rowed our boats for better speed.
80th (c. 866)
We left them downriver, the Kievan fleet of ships,
but they gained on us, on a Gitchee lake with squalls,
it turned back into a river before they could overtake,
and then the fast river became the Gitchee Falls.
81st (c. 866)
Watseka and her people met us at Nia Gara,
and helped portage our boats past the raging water walls.
The Kievan fleet of Frodi was not so nearly blessed,
when gitchee dragonships came against the Gitchee Falls.
82nd (c. 867)
We wintered in the newfound land,
Watseka and our son showed me the Mississipp,
and the valley of the mounds, then
we raised our fleet and made our return trip.
83rd (c. 867)
Before we got to Europe, we saw an island called Iceland,
discovered by my Floki, after our first trip to the west.
There I found my son, Vignir, I had with Hildigunn,
And he told me where Ogmund Eythjofsbane was at rest.
84th (c. 867)
He said: ‘he’s waiting at a newfound land fort,
I can’t see him missing you, being half warlock’.
So back we went to New Ireland,
and we fought Ogmund Tussock.
85th (c. 868)
Ogmund sent a whale to destroy our ships,
but Vignir steered us through his beast.
I clubbed his eight men to death, for steel didn’t bite,
but Ogmund killed Vignir then ran for the east.
86th (c. 868)
I visited with Olvor in Ireland,
and spent some time with Hraegunhild,
then went with kin to Aquitane,
and avenged a bishop who was killed.
87th (c. 869)
In Paris I visited a nun famously saved from slavery,
In Flanders she showed me my half-brother,
Norseman and the Nun, none saw that one coming.
In Rouen I was with Duke Rollo, Norway’s Hraelauger.
88th (c. 869)
Frankly, I found Frankia boring as Christian hell,
so Odin sent Raudgrani to hone Odin’s hawk,
he sent me the Vikings, Gardar and Sirnir,
To help fight Ogmund, the fierce warlock.
89th (c. 870)
In Angleland we found a Finngalkin of his,
and we killed the beast with Gusir’s Gift well shot,
then we searched for Ogmund Eythjofsbane,
and in Giantland we finally fought.
90th (c. 875)
In Geirrodargard we found him in shaggy cape,
woven from the beards of tributary Baltic kings.
Warlock cloak we thought, and giants came to aid him.
Geirrod the giant fell first, Gusir’s Gift death brings.
91st (c. 875)
But his wife, Geirrid, then took Gardar’s life,
so I shot her down when Gusir’s Gifts twirled.
Ogmund tried escaping so I grabbed him by the beard,
and ripped his face off as he fled to the underworld.
92nd (c. 880)
After, I thought it fitting to take my brother, Baldwin,
to Gardariki, so Hraerik could meet his secret scion.
As King Frodi of Kiev was still looking for my head,
I thought it best to go via the Mediterranean.
93rd (c. 881)
My life laying low was again getting boring,
So I planned once more the Nor’Way to fare.
I started by visiting Duke Rollo in Rouen,
and went by my name of Bjorn Ironside there.
94th (c. 882)
I went to Ireland to see Olvor and Hraegunhild,
I went to York to see another Hraegunhild and bring
Princess Blaeja bad news: the curse of Hraegunar Lothbrok
still endangered all AElla’s offspring.
95th (c. 884)
I saw foster-father, Grim, before I went to Giantland,
with bad news for Hildir and his daughter, Hildigunn.
I had to tell her our son, Vignir, died in Helluland
at the hands of Ogmund Tussock Geirrodson.
96th (c. 884)
Hildir was angered, and Hildigunn was hurt.
She still loved me she said so we played games,
childish games, and she watered my steed at her
well of life and we talked of daughter’s names.
97th (c. 884)
I told her that I wanted to Way Wander for a while,
and search for Ogmund as I kept Nor’Way slaver free.
Since my head was wanted by the king of Gardar,
she sewed a birchbark suit, so people couldn’t see me.
98th (c. 884)
I went to Gardariki, got stone arrows from Jolf,
I knew Sigurd and Sjolf thought they were the best;
they knew not who I was when I said I was Barkman,
so in Olmar’s highseat hall they put me to the test.
99th (c. 884)
I shot bow better than those two hunters,
as Ingjald and Ottar gathered up my deer;
then I outswam those two swimmers,
and Olmar’s daughter, Silkisif, gave a cheer.
Prince Hraerik returned from Novgorod, when
they challenged me to a bragarful.
I outdrank them both as we recited our tales,
Mine were bright and theirs were dull.
101st (c. 884)
I asked King Olmar, grandfather of the Prince,
If Hraerik and Gunwar had a baby and he said yes, just one.
So I told him I was Helgi Bjorn Arrow Odd,
Prince Hraerik’s long lost son.
102nd (c. 884)
I asked King Olmar to help me tell the Prince
that I was his long lost son, and he was spellbound.
Back in Frankia, my uncle, Duke Rollo told me that
Prince Alf, King Frodi’s son, had a fleet snooping around.
103rd (c. 885)
The trading season done, King Frodi led a fleet to Rouen,
three hundred ships strong, and all well-equipped.
We took our ships up the Seine and rowed right past Paris,
We tried to warn the Franks, but the gate locks were tripped.
104th (c. 885)
King Frodi and Prince Alf laid siege to the city of Paris,
Hraegunar Lothbrok sacked the city forty years past,
so now it had high walls of stone to keep the raiders out.
But the Kievan Hraes’ and Danes were twenty thousand vast.
105th (c. 885)
King Charles and Count Oddo had two hundred fighting men,
so they were more accepting of our help,
when they had gone through half of them,
so wintering in Paris, were Duke Rollo and his whelp.
106th (c. 885)
King Frodi grew concerned about the men upon the walls,
for no matter how many died, their numbers never fell,
so, come spring trading, he returned to Konogard
with the Kievan Hraes’ merchant fleet from hell.
107th (c. 886)
I told my Duke of Rouen that my blood snake had a lust,
And my dragon wished to travel along the Southern Way.
Fair Faxi was a ship of men at the quay of Kiev, when
I wounded Ogmund Tussock and King Frodi I did slay.
108th (c. 886)
I fled the quay of Konogard as fast as oars could row,
and ran the Dnieper rapids in a ship, the first time ever,
then we sailed to my father in Gardariki, Tmutorokan,
and told the Prince the king was dead forever.
109th (c. 887)
I travelled to Baghdad still laying low, then west
until I reached the City of Jerusalem, unnerved
I was taken to the water, dipped in the River Jordan,
and then I saw clear how Christ might best be served.
110th (c. 887)
In Gardariki, I asked Prince Hraerik how I might best
earn the right to ask for the hand of King Olmar’s Silkisif.
He told me to finish what I had started in Kiev,
to end King Frodi’s son, King Alf, end the bloody tiff.
111th (c. 887)
I was given a legion of Tmutorokan Cataphracts,
and we went to war on Kiev and King Alf.
His son, Prince Vidgrip, sallied forth to meet us;
I took his head and captured his army myself.
112th (c. 887)
Felled by my sword were many a warrior
when we fought Alf before the Kievan gates;
I shot Alf Bjalki there with three stone arrows,
I beat the gate beams with stones of great weights.
113th (c. 887)
Queen Gydja used magic to defend her gates,
she shot arrows from each finger just as Alf had done,
she fled into a temple and I stoned her from the roof,
the Kievan Hraes’ fought well but finally we won.
114th (c. 887)
We returned to Gardariki, to find the king was dead,
so Prince Hraerik offered me her hand instead;
I married Princess Silkisif King Olmar’s daughter,
And together we ruled, all Hraes’ we led.
115th (c. 888)
But with all the men lost in all of the fighting,
we couldn’t hold Kiev, it fell to the Poljane,
and the Slavs who fought against slavery
trusted us not, and who can blame them, the Danae.
116th (c. 890)
We worked out a deal to share Kiev with the Slavs,
and end slaver traffic on the Southern Way journey,
but a new king had arisen in the north called Quillanus,
so I with an army went and had a jousting tourney.
117th (c. 890)
Quillanus, like Frodi, wore a mask upon his face,
we competed for three days and jousted to a draw,
so we agreed to part our ways but first I had to see his face,
and when he showed it Ogmund Tussock is who I saw.
118th (c. 890)
Instantly the war was on, and his vassal kings fell to me:
King Marron of Murom and King Rodstaff of Rostov
King Eddval of Sursdal and Paltes Junior of Holmgard,
Prince Kaenmar of Kiev, and Prince Chermal of Chernigov.
119th (c. 890)
But again I couldn’t beat Ogmund Eythjofsbane Tussock,
the half giant, Geirrodson, he was my nemesis.
He gained the name Quillanus Blaze,
all of Novgorod was his.
120th (c. 890)
Quillanus sent me gifts of gold and
took Staraya Russa, leaving Novgorod free,
sent offerings of peace, and he told me he was,
Vadim the Brave, that was good enough for me.
121st (c. 896)
Silkisif gave me a son, Asmund he was named,
and Prince Hraerik and Princess Eyfura had a son.
They named him Eyfur after her, and all lived in Kiev,
while I ruled in Gardariki, Silkisif gave me another one.
122nd (c. 907)
In nine oh seven we laid siege to Constantinople,
Fighting Romans for our trading rights, we portaged ships
around their harbour chain, tacked a treaty to their gates,
which they signed, it kept our, slave and duty free, trips.
123rd (c. 911)
In nine eleven we laid siege to the Romans once again.
Without slaves to row their ships, they kidnapped our men it seems,
our ships that foundered on their Black Sea shores,
soon found our sailors rowing in the bellies of their triremes.
124th (c. 911)
The siege was amicable, for a siege, that is,
trading carried on still, while dragons belched their fire.
Finally, after weeks, our men were released,
And maritime laws to which all nations could aspire.
125th (c. 911)
After the siege I told Silkisif,
I wanted to return to Hrafnista and get,
the wealth I had buried there, and see who lorded,
over my family’s northernmost islet.
126th (c. 911)
I went up the Nor’Way in Fair Faxi and a knarr,
And I tracked down the dwarf Durin, and told him
who I was, and thanked him for helping my mother, Gunwar,
he told me I was Hraerikson, a well-earned patronym.
127th (c. 911)
Next, I went to Varg isle and visited Giantland, where
my Hildigunn had a baby and she called her Hraegunhild,
after my grandfather and her father, King Hilder,
she was beautiful and we were thrilled.
128th (c. 911)
Next was Hrafnista, and I met Gudmund there,
we dug up all my treasure and I shared it with my friends,
we feasted for a fortnight, then people brought me gifts,
we loaded up the knarr with silver, gold and gems.
129th (c. 911)
Then I visited Olvor, in lovely Ireland,
and saw my daughter Hraegunhild, all grown,
and then I went to Frankia to see a nun in Paris,
her Baldwin in Flanders and Duke Rollo in Rouen.
130th (c. 912)
Next, I stopped in York to see Princess Blaeja there,
her Hraegunhild was all grown up, but she had
a young son, Hraegunar, that looked a lot like me,
I called him Little Ironside he was a happy lad.
131st (c. 912)
In spring we sailed to Jaederen Province,
and I saw Berurjod and Hraegunarstead,
they were deserted and destroyed, so I left
a crew to do repairs, bring them back from the dead.
132nd (c. 912)
On down to the fjord, on the eroded bank,
I saw Faxi’s greying skull where Asmund and I had
so deeply buried her, to see if a snake was there,
but nothing showed at all, Heid’s prophesy was bad.
133rd (c. 912)
So we headed off to the quay of Konogard,
My father waited for me with his bride and youngest son,
Queen Eyfura and Prince Eyfur, but her grand-daughter, Hervor,
slunk onto the dock with Tyrfingr in her homespun.
134th (c. 912)
She lashed out with the poisoned blade,
and I knocked her down, but as she fell,
she nicked my leg with the blood-snake, Tyrfingr,
its poison’s in my body, my blood doth start to jell.
135th (c. 912)
My father offered to amputate my leg,
but I just said no, the poison’s going to my head,
I just saw Angantyr, he warned his daughter,
about the blade and tells me she’ll soon be dead.
136th (c. 912)
He’s asked me for a favour to bring her to Valhall,
my shield maid can enter the warrior’s paradise,
she can watch us battle, then bring us our sweet mead,
Asmund’s there, he does swear, I see it and it’s nice.
137th (c. 912)
I know I took the faith of Christianity,
but I had fingers crossed when in waters they dipped me.
Promise me young Hervor, for you are soon to die,
you’ll come with me to Valhall in a burial at sea.
138th (c. 912)
I bid you farewell father and love you in my heart,
And love you Prince Ivar, Eyfura, you’d your chore.
To Silkisif send love and to my sons also,
send them all my greetings, I’ll go there no more.”
“Angantyr came to you?” Princess Eyfura came up close. Prince Hraerik was transferring Oddi onto a great bearskin one of his men had laid upon the dock.
“Yes. He came to me and added a bit of verse,” Oddi said weakly. “Angantyr wants me to bring Hervor to Valhall with me.” While Hraerik and Eyfura were attending to Oddi, Hervor was tearing off her clothing and she laid herself naked beside Oddi. She hugged him and tried to be him and she whispered, “I shall treat you so fine in Valhall, this I promise.” Prince Hraerik could see a grey pallor to the skin of Hervor and it was a grey he had seen before. He knew she was not long for this world.
Oddi took Hervor under his arm. “Finally,” he said, “a shield maiden to my liking,” and she hugged him. “If you ever go to Ireland, Father,” Oddi began, “could you stop and visit with my wife and daughter in Dublin? Tell them both I love them and was thinking about them at the end.”
“Anything else?” Hraerik asked, as more wine was poured.
“Yes. Give my scale mail shirt to little Ivar when he gets old enough to fit it. It has saved my life more than once. Sigurd Hrae and Hraegunar left it with the king of Ireland and I got it from his daughter.”
Oddi’s forty picked men sat about, watched and listened. They all knew they were witnessing a most famous death, a death foretold.
“Your brother, King Hraelauger figured the prophecy out,” Oddi said weakly as he savoured the wine as if it might be his last. “When the witch Heid foretold your future, Father, she said your son would die from the bite of a poison snake that crawled out below the skull of Fair Faxi. Because Hraegunar was in the room with you, everyone thought she was talking to him and that the son was you. When I was twelve, you and Grim gave me your ship, Fair Faxi, and that same witch foretold that I would die from the bite of a poison snake below the skull of Faxi. In Heid’s first foretelling, she was talking to you, father, not to Hraegunar. It is your son dying under the skull of Fair Faxi.” And Oddi looked up at his ship and laughed, bravely. “Tyrfingr, your arrow of the gods, is that poisoned blood-snake that crawled out under the skull of Faxi. I am, indeed, dying below its weathered skull. It has all been preordained. Fate is all. Of the great things we have done, this will be the most famed.” Oddi laughed again, but then he coughed and then coughed up blood. He quickly drank more wine and this time it was his last. Below the skull of Fair Faxi, from a poisoned blood-snake bite, he died.
Hervor was crying at Oddi’s side and Princess Eyfura was trying to console her. She got up, naked, and began walking back up the quay toward the main gates of Kiev and when Eyfura followed and tried to cover up Hervor with a blanket, she pushed it away. Hraerik had his men carry Oddi’s body into the hall and laid him out on his highseat and covered him with the blanket. He went to Hervor, standing naked in the hall and he stroked her hair. “Where is the scabbard?” he asked gently. “We must sheath Tyrfingr. The water will shield us from its poison, but it is still dangerous.”
“The scabbard is in my room under my bed,” Hervor blurted. Hraerik and Eyfura led the shield maiden to her room and Hraerik recovered the scabbard while Eyfura put Hervor to bed. Hraerik went out to the dock and into the river to sheathe Tyrfingr. The blade glowed dangerously until he got it in the leaden scabbard. Trapped under the bones of Angantyr, the blade’s power had grown.
“Quiet, child,” Princess Eyfura whispered, as she tucked Hervor into bed. “We wanted revenge and we got it.”
“But he died so bravely, grandmother. And I feel so bad. It’s all so sad.”
“It was our duty to avenge our fathers. And we did it. I’m proud of you, Hervor,” she said, hugging the girl.
Later, in bed, Hraerik told Eyfura that he suspected Hervor may have been overly exposed to Tyrfingr’s poison.
“How overly?” Eyfura asked.
“She will likely be dead in two days.”
“I don’t know what caused her to do all that,” Eyfura said. “Angantyr’s sword. The lightning bolt painted on her face. She stained her body grey. It’s all so sad.” She rolled over and went to sleep.
Hraerik watched the beauty of her form as moonlight filtered into the room. The faint light glistened on her shoulder and followed along her side, dipping under the blankets to her waist and thrusting up to follow the curve of her hip then tapering down her shapely legs. Perfection in form…if not in substance. He wondered how much of the blade Eyfura had been exposed to.
Duke Rollo of Normandy woke up in a sweat. His wife was beside him asleep. He listened for the sound that had awakened him. It came again….a low whisper of wind, a sound without effort, but, still, a sound. He rose out of bed and wrapped a robe about himself. It was spring but it was still unseemingly cold. He went to the door that led to the balcony and he opened it a crack. Her figure seemed a wisp of smoke, beautiful as ever. She never seemed to age. Always as young as she had been when she’d fallen in battle. The moonlight caught up in her hair and she looked toward him. He hadn’t seen her in years. He was married now, with children, but it mattered not. He shifted the door and slipped out on the cold stone deck.
“He is dead you know,” she said. “My son is dead.”
“I know. I had a dream of his death,” Rollo replied, then checked himself. “Was this still the dream?” he thought.
“Angantyr’s daughter, Hervor, cut him with the blade, Tyrfingr, and its poison killed him under the skull of Fair Faxi, as prophesied.”
“It was preordained,” Rollo responded, as if those words might help.
But they didn’t help, so he held her as she cried. He stood and he held her for hours and he cried with her and he kept holding her as if he held her long enough, she would stay. In the morning, Duke Rollo’s wife told him he had been sleep walking, that she found him standing on the balcony, frozen and shivering and wet and she’d led him back to bed.
Two days after Oddi’s death, Hervor joined him. She had bequeathed her only possession, Tyrfingr, to her son. Hraerik prepared a great feast and funeral for his son and Oddi and Hervor were burned together in Fair Faxi on the Dnieper River in a stone ship burial at sea. Two months later, Prince Hraerik left for Gardariki and Princess Eyfura and Prince Ivar remained in Kiev to rule in her father, King Frodi’s name.
The Saga of Helgi ‘Arrow Odd’ Hraerikson .
The End .
To be Continued in: .
The Varangians, Book 3, “The Saga of Ivar ‘The Boneless’ Hraerikson”