Thank You !
May the Gods bless each and every one of you !
Part 6 : Thorkel Leira : The Executioner !
Earl Eric chose Thorkel Leira to execute the Jomsviking prisoners. Thorkel was a big man, with an evil temper, and a sharp sword, who enjoyed the art of killing. He smiled as the first three men were untied from their rope bindings and brought before him. All three were badly wounded but slaves were picked to watch them just in case they tried to somehow escape. One by one Thorkel cut off their heads with his mighty sword. Thorkel then asked Earl Eric if his color had changed after the deed was done. ( In those days it was believed that if there was a change in color in ones face you were doomed ) Earl Eric replied that he had not seen a change of color, but noted that something had come over him. Thorkel who was not afraid of any man, but was superstitious, and became a little uneasy.
Then a fourth man was released and Thorkel asked this man what he thought about dying. The man replied that he was destined to die the same fate as his father. Thorkel then let his sword of death do its deed. A fifth man was brought before Thorkel and he asked him the same question about how he felt about dying. This man replied that he remembered the laws of the Jomsvikings and would not shrink before his own demise because death comes to everyone. Thorkel then killed him as well. Next a sixth man was brought before Thorkel. Thorkel asked again the question of death, and this time the man said that it was better to die in high esteem with my men than to live in shame like you Thorkel. Thorkel shouted in rage as he lopped off the mans head. The 7th man when asked said that he thought well of dying, and asked that it be done quickly. Thorkel was more than willing to oblige. The eighth man replied similarly to the 7th man, but when he thought the blow would strike yelled Hrut ! ( Ram ) Thorkel was curious, and was just able to stop his blade in time to ask the man why he said what he did. The man replied : "One would not be too many for the ewes you called on the time the earl and you were drubbed by us in battle ! " Thorkel called him a wretch and in an instant his head was off as well. The 9th man was especially brave and asked if he could face the blade, which Thorkel allowed. He also asked Thorkel to watch to see if he flinched as the blade came down. Thorkel placed the blade square into the man's face, and to Thorkel's surprise the man did not flinch. The tenth man asked if he could pull down his pants and do his business before being executed, and they allowed this. He then said that things had not turned out the way he had imagined, and that he had wanted to bed Thora, the daughter of Skagi, who is Earl Hakon's wife. Earl Hakon upon hearing this shouted for him to be killed instantly for his ill thoughts !
The next prisoner in line was a young man with long golden hair. He asked if a man might hold his hair away from his neck so as not to get it bloodstained. A man from the earl's bodyguard stepped foward, and volunteered to hold his hair. Thorkel raised his sword, and just before the blade hit his neck he jerked his head back, and the bodyguard's arms were cleaved from his body. Earl Hakon seeing this ordered that all the remaining prisoners be killed at once because they were unmanageable ! Earl Eric was curious however, and told them to wait. He asked the golden - haired man his name. He replied that he was Svein. The earl asked who his father was. Svein answered " I am the son of Bui. " The earl asked next how old the boy was. Svein answered, " I will be 18 if I live to see the next day. Earl Eric shouted to Svein, son of Bui, " You shall live my boy ! " He saw in him a brave warrior, and accepted this young man into his company. Earl Hakon was less than pleased, but said nothing .
Vagn was next in line to come before Thorkel Leira, and he too was asked about dying. Vagn replied that he was sad that he could not fulfill his vow of bedding Ingeborg, the daughter of Thorkel Leira, but first he wanted to kill Thorkel himself. Thorkel' s face changed color and became bright red with anger ! " That I shall not allow ", shouted Thorkel as he flung himself at Vagn. Bjorn the Welshman, who was next in line to die, kicked Vagn so that he fell foward, which made Thorkel's blow miss. When Thorkel stumbled the sword flew from his hands, and cut Vagn loose. Vagn jumped up, grabbed the sword and killed Thorkel with a single death blow. Vagn sarcastically shouted that he had now fulfilled one of his vows.
Earl Hakon was furious and demanded that he be killed at once ! Once again Earl Eric, who was a shrewd and calculating man, shouted that he wanted Vagn as a replacement for Thorkel. Earl Hakon threw up his hands and shouted that there was nothing he could do if Earl Eric insisted. Earl Eric knew a fine warrior when he saw one, and asked Vagn to join his men. Vagn boldly stepped foward and shouted that he would only join if the rest of his men were also given quarter. Earl Eric agreed to his terms. Eric then turned to his father Hakon, and asked him to give quarter to all the rest of the Jomsvikings. Earl Hakon with a wince of disgust told him to simply do as he pleased.
Through the bravery and honorable way that men like Svein and Vagn faced death, they had gained the respect of Earl Eric, and the rest of the Jomsvikings owed, for the rest of their lives, their allegiance to Vagn and Svein as well as to Earl Eric ! These men lived by a code of brotherhood that not even death could diminish. They were warriors ! They were Vikings ! They were the Jomsvikings !!
Next : The Jomsvikings : Epilogue and Final Thoughts.
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !