Proem: The Warlord

Those who formed the Fellowship of Gailion and wrote the Covenant of Arestel were revealed by Fionwe, the spirit who guards Weathertop, to be the ancestors of the current Wayfarers.  This is the story of Cynewynne’s ancestor, still remembered in Esgaroth sagas as Broddi Bloodsworn.*

The fires burned orange and gold along the wintry shore.  The longboats were frozen  into the fjord leading back into the Greenwood and the people feasted all night on this, the longest night of the year.  His father Rhori Wyrmcup sat drinking mead from the vessel that gave him his name.  The translucent side was chased in gold, the egg of a dragon he had stolen in his youth.  This was Rhori’s hall, and Broddi, his son, was bored.  A woman sat to his left and another to his right.  One was a buxom lass he had got in the raids on the Easterling shores, far downriver in the lands of Rhun.  She had seemed willing enough to make the best of things and keep warm in his bed; he found her charms reasonably free of knives and biting.  The rightmost woman was a brawny lass of his own people, Signi Sorensdottir.  He was attempting to woo her without much success, save to irritate the Rhunic girl.  She hadn’t learned much of his language, but she did know how to curse.  And fight.  He left before their efforts on his behalf spilled his mead.  Why this should bore him, he did not know.  But it was winter, the waters were frozen, and all he could think about was going a’viking when the Thaw came.

Rhori’s hall was hung glittering with the weapons of fallen foes.  There above his great chair was the head of Otkel the Wyrm with its tusks and claws yellowing in the smoking peat-fires of the great hearth.  Broddi knew the name of each chieftain whose shields lined the rafters.  Some were dead, bested in combat.  Some, having surrendered, were even now thralls to Rhori’s will.  Some still had sworn to Rhori’s axe Vigdis and now feasted in the seats of honor.  Seats Broddi could only aspire to.  No, even the only son of Rhori had to earn his place in glittering mounds and faithful warband.  And in midwinter, there was no chance to go out and raid for what he needed: a name greater than his father’s.

Broddi was striding from the hall just as the old bard entered.  His tattered garments were at odds with his carefully kept harp.  Bitter, Broddi snarled, “My father sits in state and already his bard has sung his praises.”

A young man’s eyes twinkled in the old man’s face.  “Perhaps it is the praises of Broddi Rhorisson I come to sing, hmm?”

Respect for the elderly did not stay Broddi’s hand so much as the knowledge that glory never came to those who spurned a guest.  So with clenched teeth, he said, “This Broddi of whom you speak hasn’t enough of a hoard to pay more than a few green rowers with notched axes to sail his leaking boat.  All that is best of his goes to pay fealty to his father, and there are no wyrms to be found.”

The bard laughed and Broddi tried not to choke him for it.  “Shrinking shade dwarfs a sapling in its sire’s shadow.  If Broddi Fate-borne wishes to become brave…”

Broddi’s teeth began to grind.

“Then needs he must a’viking go.  Dark the shores of surly Mirkwood, Eldest elf-dwelt deeps of Green.  Sail the Salmon-road sharply steep, until Beorning banks you reach. Raid lightly, Broddi, as you go; save for yourself a fitting foe.”

Broddi had heard the sagas enough to know when he had fallen into one.  The flaming hairs stood up on the back of his neck and he felt the icy snow, though he was indoors.  He asked, hoarsely, “Will there be a dragon, Elder Bard?”

The bard’s laughter melted into the howling of the night storm as it blew berserking over the frozen lake.  “Your father’s dragon is this foe’s thrall!  Until the Spring, Broddi Bloodsworn!”

Broddi blinked through the vanishing form.  Thrice he tried to grasp it, and thrice it faded until he was unsure whether he saw form, or twisting snow-fey.  To go a’viking in the Feywood… he was a brave man, but he shuddered at the thought.  Wisps and fair-folk and tricks that led a man to doom.  And to this Doom a fey had called him.  He looked back into his father’s hall, then back into the howling cold.  Here he had a normal life, long and bereft of glory.  Women and song and light, easy raiding until his father’s seat fell to him, or to another man with a keener blade.  And out there… glory.  Fame.  Immortality.  Oh, but the fey bard knew him well.

*********

Broddi Bloodsworn, Rhori’s son, Brave of Blade and Bold

With the thawing set his one-sail on the Westward salmon-road…

~ Broddi’s Saga, verses 1-2

*Yet another reason why Cynewynne’s brother was such a disappointment.

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About celeveren

If you're here, you know why.
This entry was posted in Bearing It, Confessions from the Silent World, RP Prompts. Bookmark the permalink.

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