Swords for Sale
SYNOPSIS: Finland (986-8). Ethelwulf the Wanderer's band hire out their support to Gotland merchants but rapidly the contract collapses so they retire to Finland. Here they join the Kainuu exploiting the Sami in the Arctic, realise their mistake and move on to Aldeigjuborg, under threat from native tribes. Hostility follows them and they have to pay compensation for injuries inflicted in a multiple-duel. That doesn’t end the matter so they have to escape to Russia.
With extensive Factual End-Notes.
EXTRACT: 'There was a shout and, turning to his right, he saw Thorgrim had made no effort to slow the pace of his attack by arming his crew. ‘Hresvelg's Child’ swept past his own longship at full speed heading for the exposed starboard side of Thorfinn’s vessel, just to the rear of the mast. Typically his giant companion was calculating the ferocity of his approach, combined with the strength of his stempost would be enough to smash his way into the side of the enemy. Had he fully recovered from his wound was the question flitting through Ethelwulf’s mind, for a fit Thorgrim would have delighted in leading the assault with ‘Blood-Drinker’ raised on high? The stempost looked strong enough but Ethelwulf doubted if he’d have risked such a manoeuvre. Some of Thorfinn’s men must have realised Thorgrim had no intention of stopping and panicked; half-armed warriors leaped overboard rather than wait for the impact. Others launched a battery of arrows and javelins to discourage the attack – fools that they were!
With a horrendous crash ‘Hresvelg's Child’ smashed into the abandoned oars of ‘Dragon-Fly’ and then, as if infuriated by such petty obstacles, drove deep into the side of its prey. Not even the strength of oak seemed to do much more than slow down the thrust of ‘Hresvelg's Child’ just behind the kerling, which might have brought the onslaught to a halt. ‘Dragon-Fly’ was simply cut in half by ‘Hresvelg's Child’. For a moment there was a pause as Thorgrim’s men saw there was no point – and certainly potential danger – in trying to board the enemy. Indeed Jomsvikings, fanned either by a madness driven by hate or sheer panic, struggled to clamber on to the intruder. Fortunately there were very few of them as most survivors of Thorfinn’s crew, including himself, had preferred to try their chances in the sea. Even so Thorgrim screamed at his crew to put the ‘Hresvelg's Child’ in reverse and frantically they tried to force their way out of the carnage they’d created. Only when the leading rowers realised their oars were more useful to repel the attacks of Thorfinn’s crew than to force themselves away from the dying longship did Thorgrim’s longship start to escape from the ruins of ‘Dragon-Fly’, thanks to the efforts of the rowers seated in the last three-quarters of their vessel. As Thorgrim’s longship swung clear ‘Dragon-Fly’ gave up the struggle and sank beneath the waters, carrying with it the remnants of the crew. Other Jomsvikings threshing about the sea were ignored by Thorgrim as he ordered his crew to alter course and go to the aid of Ethelwulf.'
END-NOTE EXAMPLE: 59. The Sami pantheon was headed by four deities: the Mother, the Father, the Son and the Daughter (Radienacca, Radienacce, Radienkiedde and Radienneida). Radienkiedde was the Son of this group and a creator of the Earth.
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