Estimated reading time: 81 minute(s)

Summary: A true warrior needs no sword. Askeladd would sneer at that first, but then he would graciously admit that it holds some merits. After all, weakness of people did not just lie in their soft greasy flesh. Desire and secret sometimes cut deeper than any swords ever do. Besides, those days, if he really needed to have people to be cut, skewered or torn apart, he always had someone else for the job. 

Until he had to do it himself once again. And again. 

A Chinese translation is available. / 中文翻译戳


Chapter Summary: To fight your enemy, you need to think like them.

Vikings, a young Askeladd once explained to his Welsh kins, had a quite twisted idea of warriors’ code. You would think they fight to defend honors, to protect dignity, and to die happily in the battle. But no, defending honor was always excuses to beat someone up, wounded dignity grew back faster than dandelions, and to die happily in the battle? Those people were just too dumb to tell the differences between this and the sheer joy of not having to use your mind. 

Think: A group of people who supposedly admire the strength and might above everything else, chose the cruel and cunning one Odin as their all-father. Oh the shrewd one would never hesitate to trick or betray if the circumstances demands. It certainly tells you something about their mentality. 

But you are also a Dane. Gratianus sternly replied. What makes you so different?

Hearing that, Askeladd grinned. He was youthful, and just recently carried out his devious plan. His brothers were still busying mutilating one of their own’s dead body for committing patricide, while Askeladd, taking advantage of the on-going mayhem in the family, sailed away with a ship and carried his dying mother across the sea. 

“Other than my loyalty lies in this land, and my loath to the Danes? Sometimes I think maybe not much, Gratianus.” Askeladd shrugged. But to fight your enemy, you need to think like them. To be honest, I am more Viking warrior than some of those Danes ever dreamed to be. Even better, I don’t have to sacrifice an eye in exchange for knowledge and alphabet. I read through man’s faces like opening books. 

He was still young and reckless back then, bright and sharp like a newly forged sword. With both his father and mother, his oldest enemy and his dearest ally respectively, gone, he felt like a scorched land. The rotten old died and burnt, the new waited to be born. He just did not have a clear grasp of what would it be yet. Yet standing on the rocky cliff side in the Welsh country, for once, Askeladd allowed himself to be hopeful.

May you retain that loyalty and wisdom. Son of Lydia. Gratianus simply replied. His expression was unreadable as ever. And may you use them wisely. 

“I will.” He added to himself, now that he has came this far already, he will have plenty of time to figure out. Somewhere, the worthy true leader is waiting for his aid. He just needs to make his way up in this world to meet the man. 

A stronger, hardened, and tired Askeladd grinned back to this mirage of youth. It actually did not take that much of wisdom to read most people. This world twisted most people into three shapes: there were ruffians who only too happy to stampede others for their greed, there were lambs who wait to be plundered and slaughtered, and then there were even more push-overs who just could not decide which brutes they should side with. You just need to know who to push, to shove, to please, to bribe, then who to be dealt with. And by a very, very small chance, if he managed long enough, he would be able to follow the fourth type: a true noble leader, not by his blood, but by his virtues. 

Speaking of a noble leader. Askeladd threw a glance back at the marching band. The coward prince was sitting among them with his face hidden in the cloak. Like a frightened chick lost its hen. 

A worthy leader. How naive and sentimental I was back then. Askeladd watched his miserable little band. They dragged their feet in the muddy snow, shoulder snagged, while death trailed behind them in the shape of a menacing Torkel. Occasionally, he heard Björn barking orders at them. 

Come to think of that, managing an army was like being a shepherd dog. No wonder Christians called their God a shepherd. Balancing the delicate rules of humanity, that usually did the trick. So far I did a good job, far too good than I would like it, Askeladd thought, until I decided to throw the Fate of Wales on the scale as well. 

Askeladd watched the brothers under the bridge. Atili and Thorgrim, thick as thieves. How long have they been in his crew? Probably more than a decade. His men usually did not last longer than that. Yet, judging by the look of Thorgrim, they would probably not stick here long either. Those Danes, Askeladd thought coldly, you ought to be careful with them, just like a swineherd should never fall asleep around those hungry hogs, they might just decide you are better than acorns for dinner. 

Saving Wales with those people seems to be going to swallow all my fortunes. This will either be my death or I will make it. Either way suits. Askeladd beckoned Thorfinn and Björn over, ordering them to ready to flee with Canute. 

“Are you sure?” Björn, for once, sounded hesitant. Askeladd had been careful to not slip his Welsh connection or his true purpose to his band, and he was confident that Björn did not actually know any of it. However, trouble with that man, Askeladd thought, is that he may lack finesse like any bloody Danes, but they are close, and Björn can be unsettlingly discerning sometimes. Still, his loyalty (surprisingly, this sort of thing still exists among those brutes) are just as worth betting on as any other days. Björn will not give a damn about promises of wealth or glory, less than a coward prince. If things go to the forest for Askeladd, that man would save him with Canute without a blink.

“Just do what I said.” He probably could have said something with more style, but he was also too agitated to focus on the two. 

Now the tension in the crowd almost took a physical, tidal form, ready to take everyone down with it. His silver tongue had no hope to turn the tide now, but Askeladd was never too greedy – all he needed just a bit more time. 

“Could I have a word before we say our goodbye? We’ve been together for years. And it seems we’ve gone through so much. We’ve laughed together, drunk together, been to hell and back time and time again.”

Facing his own crew, somehow Askeladd felt like just as the night when he killed his own father: If he failed, the consequence would be dire, but all he cared was that he could almost hear his blood singing in his veins. Mind you, not because of rage. Rage poisoned your mind, clouded your judgment, burnt your sanity away. No, hatred was ought to be used cautiously. One drop at a time. He measured his words carefully. Revenge should always be served cold. 

“But I’ve been keeping something from you, because after all the moments we had through the past decades or so – “

So he allowed himself to think of Lydia, just for a moment. Not just her murmuring words, but also her face. There, she was standing in the snow with her bare feet, looking at him without seeing him. She saw no one in this world in her last few years. 

“I’ve always despised you Danes. You wretched Danes worth no more than hogs to me.”

He swung his sword. Felt the familiar resistance before it cut someone’s head off. No wonder they said truth has a way to crawl out and burn it way through lies. No wonder some naive people continued to be naive as if they didn’t learn a damn lesson at all. No wonder Vikings will continue to be Vikings. 

Because, being yourself felt so good. At that moment, he did not care who was listening. Askeladd threw out a deadman’s hatchet. 

Far away, he heard the horses screeching. 


Chapter Summary: There’s no Valkyries. 

For many Danes, being a Viking was just a seasonal job. You took care of the farms, you fed the cows and chickens, you mended the houses, just like every other people, then when the time came, you signed up to a boat, took your axes and sickles out there. Pillaging, plundering, looting. Make it quick. Get back home with wealth, goods, slaves, and your dear life. Then you shall go home feast and rest through winter. Just like a harvest. 

However, the fresh thrill of being a Viking would soon give way to the boredom after a few rounds. Boredom at sea. Boredom at fields. Boredom at endless waiting. Then action came as swift as it went. Briefer than a nordic summer. It was hardly counted as a fight with those monks and villagers. More like one-sided slaughter. With Viking’s reputations traveled ahead, if your chieftain played his cards right, you would get the money even without a fight. 

All things considered, it was not a hard job. So, Björn, just like many other young brutes of his age, had half-heartily complained that with this rate, they would never have chances to die in a proper battle and be granted a place in Valhalla, instead, they might end up trapped in Hel like losers back home, sharing goat piss rather than real mead. Not to mention meeting the beautiful spear maids. 

He would soon stop those complains.

The trick of a successful raid was the element of surprise. Always act before the enemy had a chance to organize. This applied to both sides. This time, the raiding party Björn with had encountered a well-trained English force. Unlike the monks who could barely lift an axe, those soldiers had longbows that could pierce through chain mails, spears with sharp points glittering like frost under winter sun. Soon people were not people, just dead or moving meat.

“That’s why you should always watch your mouth. Your Norn may listen.“ Later, hearing Björn’s war story, a skald told him on a feast. Askeladd had just became the leader of the band, and had helped some nobles on a small victory with their neighbors. A few people in the band had earned seats on the celebrating feast. Björn turned to see this bold listener. 

The skald was a strong build blonde with a face stern as stone. It was rare to see a court poet back in those days, let alone a female one – a skald was expected to travel and fight alongside kings’ forces, while recorded kings and warriors’ courageous deeds. Björn noticed that her hatchet was as well-used and well-cared as her lute, its edge gleaming by the fire light. 

“I think she did listen to me.” Björn grinned. “I haven’t finished it yet, skald.” 

By the end of that day, the ground became soft as carpet. Not woven from wools, but from entrails. The smells of guts, blood, shits and urines were so repugnant like a fist, knocking Björn of his first blood frenzy. He did not die, not yet, but he heard ravens nearby, waiting for their meals ready. He heard the beating of their wings. He tasted coin and ashes in his mouth. The gloomy sky stared back at him, not malevolently, just impassively as usual. 

A raven landed on his face, ready to peck his eyes out, but soon decided to try its luck on his unfortunate neighbor. Björn did not see that man’s face, did not know if he was friend or foe. He only saw the deadman’s eyeball fling across his eyes. The eye lost its expression when pulled out from its socket. Only a permanent, rotating blue horror trapped on a white sphere, then soon crushed by the black beak. 

“There was no Valkyries.” By the warm and bright candle light in the hall, Björn told the skald calmly. “There was someone else, though.”

A young, battered face was smiling down at him. Björn faintly remembered that face, but could not put a name on it. “Thought you gonna rot here.” The blonde reached out a hand to Björn. “Didn’t realize you had that trick up in your sleeves.” The young man pulled him up, throwing Björn’s arm over his shoulder. He was shorter than Björn, but just as strong. 

“What’s your name, berserker?”

Björn tried to speak, but no sound coming out from his throat. The man did not seem to mind, simply continued, “You can call me Askeladd.” Considering his current state, the name fit him. 

“Björn.” His answer sounded more like a growl. 

“Is it your actual name or what others thought you were?” Askeladd sounded too amused than the circumstance allowed. “You know, with that hair of yours, did you took a stroll in the forest one day, and some kids wandering by, then they started screaming – “

“There was no Valkyries.” Björn repeated. “Only ravens would come for the dead. My brother-in-arms found me.”

“Quite grim perspective for a brave berserker. What kind of afterlife that would be for you without Valkyries?” She replied, raised her horn cup, just sip enough to wet her lips, then she continued, “Or they just don’t wear the faces or forms you usually recognized.” 

“Not in the shape of a bloody raven.” He snorted.

“That’s not what I meant.” The bard gazed back to him, there was something intense in her eyes, “I once heard a song from someone, who claimed to witness Valkyries at their work. It was not a particular celebratory one, so I did not sing it at the feast. But for a good sparring between us, you may hear it.”

Maybe it was her voice, maybe it was her eyes, at that moment, Björn did not exactly see her as a woman. Of course, he had heard tales about shield maidens, and about those female warriors, he did not really believe them. But in the end, sex was not that important for a warrior. The only thing matters is, whether you can fight or not? So maybe he was too bored, or let mead get better of him. 

“Why not?” Björn shrugged, then he stood up. “Fetch your hatchet and shield then, skald.” 

It was a good match. Apparently, the skald’s hatchet was not just for show. The crowd jeered at the duel first, for it would be quite a sight if the berserker lose a fight with a woman. After a few rounds, Björn realized that she had some proper training, and did not lack strength nor finesse. In fact, to a lesser extent, she reminded him of how Askeladd fought. It was not ideal to fight such an opponent with brute force. So Björn continued with his heavy sword. After all, he was more experienced, and fought dirtier. Finally, the skald round shield cracked in half, and the hatchet flew out from her hand. 

“I yield.” She graciously laughed and gulped down the mead passing from the crowd. Then she grabbed her lute, and began to sing. 

The skald’s voice started with a slow, almost lazy tempo. Her hands gently caressed between the strings like lovers’ sighs. 

A man wandered into the wilderness, saw a group of women walked into a house with a weaving room. This unfortunate man traveled far and wide, he was tired and thirsty, so in the hope of seeking water and shelter, he followed them. When he walked down the leafy slope towards the house, he heard distant singing, and the churning of the loom.

Gradually, she picked up the tempo, but her voice was still steady, gentle, like a cat waiting to pounce on its prey. 

The unsuspecting man drew near and near, just before he was about to call out those fair women. Yet, the glints from the tools in the women’s hands caught his eyes – those were swords and arrowheads. Then he realized, with utmost horror, the interwinding threads on the standing loom were not made of yarns, but entrails.

Suddenly, the skald threw her head back, and let her full voice took over. 

“We wind and wind, the web of spears, there where the banners of the bold men go forth; we must not let his life be lost – Valkyries decide who dies or lives – ”

The skald’s eyes locked to Björn, but she did not see him. Now the skald was almost shrieking – 

”Vindum, vindum, Valkyries decide who lives or dies – ”

Bjorn opened his eyes, realizing he was lying in the back of a moving carriage. He was still alive, a mild disappointment he had got used to. His wound had been dressed, but he still felt a dull pain whenever the carriage bumped onto something on the road. And despite his layers of clothes, he felt the cold sweat slowly forming a thin ice shell on his face. Only the gloomy, indifferent sky was always the same. 

“Can’t say which one surprises me more, you are alive or I am.” A lazy voice came from his right. Björn turned and saw Askeladd sitting beside him. He could not help but noticed that the latter’s breeches was soaked with blood. “Probably still the latter, didn’t know that little brat would come back.”A grumpy, half-dead Thorfinn was watching them from his corner, but soon turned away. 

“I am fine. Just a few arrows.” Askeladd noticed his gaze, waved his hand dismissvely. “You looks bad, though.”

“How did you get out of it?” Björn heard himself asked. What he did not ask: What happened to the others? Did you and Thorfinn kill them all?

Silence. Just about when Björn thought Askeladd was not going to answer, he heard the man said, impassively. “Torkel’s men did most of the job.” 

Björn did not say anything. Somehow, he could still hear the skald singing in his head. Steaming, pink and grey entrails snapped, chopped, fallen to the snowy ground. 

”Vindum, vindum, Valkyries decide who lives or dies – ”

So that’s what she meant, Björn thought. Valkyries. It is not about the beautiful maidens riding aurora. Valkyries are the ones who weaved the web of spears, the ones who decided who shall live and who shall die. They are the sisters of Norns, holding fates of mortals in their hands. So that’s what she meant. It took him long enough to understand. 

I’ve always despised you Danes. It certainly came from a long way. Björn already had an uneasy feeling back when they were in Wales, when Askeladd, contrary to his usual cunning self, made all those reckless choices, but the sheer loath in Askeladd’s voice still stung. No way Askeladd was going to elaborate his incentive to Björn, but those revenge stories always had similar elements, robbery, slavery, rape, and finally death – Björn witnessed them enough all those years to have his guess. 

To be fair, Björn did not mind to be at the pointy end of the blade, providing whoever at the other side could really stick it into him. Kill or be killed. Savage, often pointless, yes, but also simple. Killing with revenge and hatred was different. Björn wondered how long had it been for Askeladd nursing that grudge, how long he had learnt to arrange his face not just for others but also himself. 

Maybe it is not so important now. It is what it is. 

Snow started to fall, silently. He turned again to see Askeladd. It was a bit like when they first met on the battlefield. Askeladd was enshrouded in someone else’ battered cloak, with hastily tied bandages and blood splatters all over his body. He had washed his face with snow, but Björn could still see traces of blood stuck in the wrinkles of his jawlines and temples, like delicate spider webs. 

A sudden realization hit him: That man had grew much older since then. What he saw was just a ruins of that youthful blonde. Dignified even intriguing in his own right, but still, ruins. Standing in the wilderness, like it or not, waiting to be weathered into dust. 

“Askeladd, you had asked me why I followed you for all these years.” He said quietly. He knew Askeladd did not sleep, not in this situation. 

“What? Oh, that. Don’t mind that. That was just me throwing rhetoric questions while preparing my little speech.” Askeladd grimaced, “But now you really make me wonder.” 

You were wrong, skald. There’s no Valkyries after all. Björn was about to laugh, but he shook his head instead. Definitely not in the form of mortals. He had not felt this cold for many years. He felt his sight started to darken again.

“You are smart, strong, and a worthy leader, no doubt about that, Askeladd. Yet, however capable and manipulative, in the end, you are just a man who would die like others anyway. Someone has to watch your back.”

Before Askeladd could say anything, Björn had slipped into another fever dream. 


Chapter Summary: If you could not tell the truth in front of death, when could you?

“How is your wounded leg?”

That question ambushed him. Askeladd thought, annoyed. It was supposed to be histechnique, throwing seemingly innocent questions at people, prying vital intelligence out, had promise made otherwise would not before they knew it, not to be used against him like that. On the other hand, with that nasty wound of Björn, he should have seen it coming. It was not going to be his first mercy kill, and would not be the last. So he answered anyway. 

“ … it would not stop me swinging my sword.”

Askeladd did not really care about the idea of having to die on battle to be in Valhalla. There was no Valhalla, Avalon nor Heaven Above, not for people like them. Had some other insolent stupid Danes in the band suggested this, he would snigger and spit at them, then gut them right at the spot. Not that mattered, they were dead anyway. 

“I see. Then till tomorrow.” A relived smile. Somehow that expression annoyed Askeladd even more than the question. Maybe because that man was genuine. It was the face of surrendering. It disgusted him to see that man like this. Also, what about that nonsense on watching my back then? 

However irritated he was, Askeladd also understood the necessity of mercy kill, it is a hunter’s duty to end their prey’s suffering. His prized prey. At least he owed the man this much. He killed enough, one more would not make that much of difference. 

“Alright, tomorrow. ” He agreed, “Till then, allow me to continue my scheming with the prince. Got a busy schedule to keep.”

He heard a throaty laugh behind him, but Askeladd did not turn back. 

Björn woke up early the next morning. For once since he was wounded, he finally had a good night’s sleep. Sweet, dark, dreamless. Just like a little slice of death. A miracle a real bed could work. His fever seemed to recede for now, but he knew better at this point the respite would not last long. So he hurried up as much as possible, but his hands were no longer as steady, and his eyes seemed always deceived him. At last, he put on his coat before the servant arrived. 

The servant wanted to change his dressing, but Björn stopped her. “No need to waste.” She hesitated, but then obeyed. She helped him with the rest of the gears, and finally, passed his sword with her both hands. 

“Where is Askeladd?” Björn took the sword, even its weight started to feel strange. Was it always this heavy? 

The servant told him that Askeladd was with the prince Canute and his bodyguard, just outside of the main camp by the old ruins. 

“Bodyguard? Must be Thorfinn then.” Björn smirked, “Seemed that I had to hurry up to fit that man’s tight schedule.” 

Outside, alpenglow was burning against the blue-grey horizon. The crisp morning air greeted him like a blade’s edge. Surely it would be his last dawn. Björn felt almost contented, but also anticipated, just like when they went out for a raid. He would have his prize, that’s guaranteed, but he also had to tidy up some loose ends before that. He still had one last job to do. 

So he marched. 

Prince Canute could tell that Askeladd was in a particular foul mood this morning. The man did not bother to hide it, either. Thorfinn did not seem to notice though, still insisted for a duel. Canute casts a glance at him. It did not feel right, stubborn as he was, Thorfinn had been always focused, but at this moment, he did not seem to notice anything at all. Not even Askeladd’s head. So Canute felt, with a slight guilt, grateful when Björn showed up at the other side of the hill. 

“Sorry, Thorfinn, wouldn’t take long.” Canute noticed the boy shifted uneasily, like a cornered cat. Björn looked rigid and pale, cold sweat dripping down his face. It was a dying man’s face. Canute thought. So he walked all the way here just to die?

“You may begin.” Canute announced. At least, this one was beyond his intervene. The two opponents briefly nodded to each other, soon got into positions. 

Björn had thought about it on the way. He was never the one with sliver tongue, words surely failed him more often than swords, but there were some fights one had to fight. However, when it came to it, the words actually went easier than he expected. Once it became spoken words, the truth did not even hurt much. 

Then everything went quiet. 

“I’m sorry – I missed the sure kill – “

Had it not been himself at the pointy side of the blade, had it not been he was the dying one, it would be quite amusing to watch this. Björn thought. 

Askeladd, among all warriors he fought, missed his target, and started to fucking apologize like some dumb rookies. Björn would have laughed if not one of his lungs pierced through, his ribs broken, his face twisted in pain.

It did not suit you. It did not suit you at all. Despite all the burning agony, Björn still wanted to tease him. So, Askeladd, did you just let your sentiment get better of you? We’re you just not paying enough attention? Or did old age finally catch up on you? 

Björn narrowed his eyes. Snow made everything too bright. The man was crouching beside him, just a blurry silhouette against the grey sky. Like an owl hovering in the night woods, waiting to land its silent, deadly strike. By the next morning, there would only be a pair of wing prints left on the pristine, deep snow. Death had came and gone. 

Björn felt that piece of cold steel dragged away from his body. Suddenly, in the falling snow, he saw a younger Askeladd was grinning down at him. So what they said was true after all, your life flashed back to you at the final moment. The heart knew it was approaching the end, it decided to play the whole thing again, so when the soul departed the body for some other place, it would remember. 

However, Björn had more urgent matter to attend to than seeing his life flashing by. Askeladd, being Askeladd, would never slipped up, would never shared his true secrets, would never admit his darkness in front of a living soul. And no one can keep a secret safer than the dead, so, if that man was ever going to divulge a piece of his true self, if there was still any … now it was the time. If you could not tell the truth in front of death, when could you?

Askeladd started to move. Sentiment or not, Björn knew that the next time he would not miss. So he fought against the blinding flashbacks, griped the man’s lapel, and tried to focus for one last time. 

“I only want to be your friend … “

Askeladd froze. 

That was supposed to be an outrageous lie. Anyone could see that. Don’t blame me, but what else should I say at that moment? I am sorry but I really don’t know what is like to have a friend? Honesty did not get you anywhere these days. Besides, why the final moment? You would die soon anyway … But maybe that is exactly the point for both of us, my only and last friend

Askeladd swung his sword, splattering a crimson arc on the ground.

The next moment, the king’s ugly head rolled over beside his feet. Askeladd grinned menacingly at the guards, and what about watching my back now? You certainly missed a lot of drama, my friend. The Rightful King of Britannia could use another pair of hands. 

“Hah. That felt good.” He glanced over the shaken crowd, met Canute’s eyes, they were surprised but still composed. Good. There was someone in the room worthy of that crown after all. Rest of them were just fucking brutes. 

“Attack him, men! Cut him down! He has committed regicide!”

I was hoping that it did not have to come to this, after all, these scums are not worth betting my life, but well, too good a chance to miss for going out in style. Now, let me show you, my friend, what is true violence seasoned with finesses. Askeladd grimaced, ready his sword. 

The trouble with the Vikings, a young Askeladd continued to explain to his Welsh kins, is not just that they are bad-tempered or evil. It is the utter stupidity mixed with their unyielding pride. They believed they were calculated and cunning, but they just don’t get the very art of deceiving – the most convincing acts are performed by the truths. 

It was a one-man’s slaughter. Canute remembered when the dead berserker killed with his bare hands like a beast, the prince did not afraid of that berserker back then, but this time, with Askeladd, it was different. It was both mindless violence and mindful malice. Askeladd might look mad, but his eyes were cold, clear, and burning out of measured hatred.

“Why don’t you seek the throne to change the world yourself?”

“You’re joking. Weren’t you paying attention to my story? … I’m nothing but a Viking.“ Askeladd did not look at him, but walked away with the deadman on his shoulder. 

So it became clear as day. Canute thought, It was an act only Askeladd could pull it off. Because he was both the rightful ruler of Britannia and the vengeful Viking, but never the lamb to be shepherded. He thought, Israelites were cursed to wander in wilderness for forty years to reach the promised land, before that, the unbelieving generation had to die, so their children, who never became slaves, would build their own paradise. 

And Jesus said to him. Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.

Canute took a deep breath. Let the dead bury their own dead. So be it. “He must not leave this hall alive!”

“Askeladd!!!” A different voice yelled. 

Last thing I hate about Vikings. A young Askeladd sighed. It’s about death. Death. They bestowed it to those we called enemies and those we called friends equally. Then how could you tell the difference between good and bad death?

Maybe there isn’t. Gratianus calmly answered. Even here, not everyone go to Avalon. For most of us, it is only the other side. You simply go to the other side, just like you enter a cave, cross a river, or walk into a dusk. 

Now it was his turn. Mist started to cover his sights. Thorfinn was still yelling at him like a fool. Annoying as usual. Askeladd pitied him. This little brat still refused to use his mind, still refused to kill Askeladd even at this point, but again, maybe there was something in the little brat after all. 

“Haven’t you give a thought … to what you’re going to live for after I’m dead, Thorfinn? ”

If you couldn’t tell the truth in front of death, when could you?


  1. Odin was the one who exchanged one of his eyes for knowledge and alphabet. He impaled himself, then hanged on the Yggdrasil for nine days, then learnt the secret of runes.
  2. Norns, the goddesses of fate in Norse mythology. Besides the three primary Norns who tend Yggdrasill, some sources also suggest that there were Norns who visited new-born children to decide their fates.
  3. The weaving Valkyrie told by the skald in the story was inspired by The Song of Dörruðr (Darraðarljóð) in Njáls saga. However, you should be aware that the main event (Battle of Clontarf, one of the campaign fought by Brian Boru, High King of Ireland) of The Song of Dörruðr actually happened less than a year after Vinland Saga Series 1. Here let’s just bear with me and assume that the inspiration of this weaving Valkyries already existed somewhere.
  4. Probably inappropriate biblical references.