Alone, But Unafraid
Alrekr's father died not long thereafter, a broken man who had lost all hope. His mother Gauthildr passed away the next winter. Alrekr was told she died of consumption, but he believed she died from a broken heart. Her last words to Alrekr were as simple as they were poignant :
" I am very sorry to leave you all alone, but I want you to know that I will always be with you so do not be afraid. " she had whispered in between her last breaths.
Alrekr was alone, but he was now fifteen, and almost as strong as most adults. He managed to find a job as a ship's carpenter, despite not knowing much about the trade. At first he was used only in the cutting of the rough logs, and to haul the wood down to the docks, but slowly, over time, Raeginmundr, the master ship's carpenter, took a liking to the young man and began to teach him various skills of the ship building trade.
Alrekr was a hard worker, but only a mediocre carpenter. He simply did not have the ability to make his hands perform the skills necessary to finish the tasks to a high enough level of quality to be acceptable. Raeginmundr wanted the boy to succeed and become his apprentice, but unfortunately he was not good enough.
One day, while he was planing some planks down at the docks, two workers got into a scrap over which of them was the rightful owner of a tree saw . Both men quickly drew their swords, and the sharp clanging of steel could be heard throughout the shipyard. Raeginmundr ordered the two ruffians to, " Stop at once ! " , but both men were locked in battle, and were well beyond reason.
Alrekr glanced over at Raeginmundr, and with a look of determination on his face said calmly :
" I will stop them . "
Alrekr grabbed a long piece of wood that was soon to be made into the handle for a rudder, and quickly walked over to where the men were sparing . With only a piece of wood to defend himself against hardened steel, Alrekr quickly disarmed both men with a series of jabs, and quick swings of the board to their groins and jaws, which knocked them both to the ground.
This calm, likable, but very dangerous fifteen year old, then made the two men walk over to Raeginmundr and apologize for making such a scene. When both men asked for their swords back, Alrekr told them they could pick them up at the end of their work day. The men, still obviously in pain, had no objections !
Raeginmundr was very impressed with the boys confidence and fighting skills. He realized right there and then that Alrekr did not belong in a shipyard hauling wood around. No ! This young man was destined for much bigger and better things.
The next day Raeginmundr brought a man to the docks to see Alrekr. He was a big man. A very big man ! He stood well over six feet tall, and was built as solid as a tree trunk. His curly blonde hair flowed all the way down to his waist, where it rested on one side against the jewel encrusted golden hilt of his sword, and on the other against not one, but two, long handled axes !
Alrekr had never seen such a warrior in his whole life ! He stood taller than the Berserker Valdarr, and he looked as if he were much stronger as well. He wore a coat made of wolf pelts, and as a hood, covering the top of his head, he wore the head of a wolf. What Alrekr could not help but admire, however, were the three solid gold arm rings the warrior wore proudly on his arms.
Alrekr prepared himself to meet a mean and very angry warrior, but from the moment the huge man smiled at him, he was very surprised at how outgoing and pleasant a fellow this warrior turned out to be.
" I am Domaldi, the commander of the Úlfhéðnar,.... and I hear that you are quite the little warrior boy ! " Domaldi told the lad.
The commander grabbed the boys forearm in a greeting that Alrekr had seen the Berserker do many times back in Vestfold. He in turn grabbed hold of the warrior's massive forearm and squeezed hard. Alrekr tried to tolerate the pain for as long as long as he could stand it, but eventually he had to admit defeat and agree that Domaldi was much stronger, and bowed to him. Domaldi released his grip on the boy's arm and laughed heartily.
" You have a great endurance for pain young warrior .... and quite a firm grip for someone your age ! " he complemented the young lad.
Alrekr grimaced a little as he swung his arm back and forth to get the blood flowing again.
" Úlfhéðnar,...... The Wolf - hides, ..... I have heard a little about them. You are much like the Berserker,.... the Bear - skins,... right ? " he asked.
Domaldi smiled and proudly pounded his large fist against his chest.
" We of the Úlfhéðnar are of a very special breed. My men and I are Odin's warriors, and just as Geri and Freki will gladly fight and die for their master, we will honor Valfather with our lives as well ! My warriors wear no coats of mail into battle or other armor of any kind. And we howl like mad wolves and bite at our shields to invoke our animal powers before going into battle. With the help of Odin's magical elixir, neither the iron of weapons, nor fire thrown at us can harm my warriors ! " he explained to Alrekr as if he were proudly selling an item that he had handcrafted himself.
Then Domaldi smiled at the boy.
" So ! Tell me boy, would you like to redden your sword with the blood of our enemies ? " he asked with one raised eyebrow.
Alrekr glanced over at Raeginmundr, who smiled and nodded proudly back at him.
" When I lived in Vestfold I would often go down to the Berserker practice field and watch the Bear - skins honing their skills against each other. I dreamed of becoming one of them,.... So,.... Yes ! I would very much like to join the Úlfhéðnar, and fight side by side with fine warriors such as yourself ! " Alrekr told the commander.
Overjoyed, Domaldi slapped his hand onto the boys shoulder, nearly knocking him to the ground.
" Good ! " the great warrior shouted.
Domaldi turned to Raeginmundr, and smiled.
" He looks like a fine young warrior ! Send him to the Úlfhéðnar compound first thing in the morning ! " Domaldi ordered more than asked.
Raeginmundr nodded to Domaldi.
" He will be there tommorrow morning ! " the master carpenter announced proudly.
" Good ! " Domaldi bellowed.
" Then tomorrow we will see what the boy is really made of !! " he added with a smile before walking away.
- End Chapter 2
Next : Chapter 3 : A New Determination
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.