The Sea - Draugr : A Tale Of The Undead
The Lowest Bidder
Bragi rubbed his forehead thoughtfully. " It seems apparent to me that Jarl Vigfus made a fine choice when he chose Thorir to captain his ship to the new world. " Bragi told Aegir. " I sense that Asmund, that little ship' s carpenter, will have a role in this " competition " for the right to build the Jarl' s new ship ! " Bragi added with a sly smile.
Aegir laughed and patted his friend on the shoulder. " You are so right my friend ! " Aegir told the God of poetry. "The Jarl' s ship was just what Asmund was hoping for......"
" The moment that Asmund heard of the competition for the ocean going vessel, that Thorir would captain, his twisted mind began to quickly come up with a plan to get rid of Thorir forever. Asmund was certain that he was not strong enough to kill Thorir in a fight, but he was skilled enough to build a poorly made ship that could do the job for him. All Asmund had to do was underbid all of his competitors, and the fate of Thorir's life, and death, would be in his skilled hands. Asmund did not care how much money he lost building the ship that the jarl was commissioning. Rannveig was worth any price, and the only way that he could have her was to kill Thorir.
As Asmund entered Jarl Vigfus' hall he smiled and hid away his shyness. At least for one day, this day, he would be as charming, and charismatic as Thorir. The little ship's carpenter had dressed in his best clothes, and he had taken out of storage his father's sword and strapped it around his waist as if he were true warrior. When he walked down the hall to where the jarl was seated on his high - seat, he strutted as confidently as any brave warrior. The carpenter, however, was not aware that the sword was too long for his body, and that the weapon nearly scraped the floor of the hall as he approached the jarl.
Jarl Vigfus thought the ship' s carpenter an odd looking man, but he was amazed when Asmund showed him the plans for his new ship. It was a large, yet sleek vessel, with room for 32 oars, 16 per side, and a huge sail. It looked to be a fast ship, with or without the aid of wind, and on vellum at least it appeared to be of a very sturdy construction. Most importantly, this strange little shipbuilder promised that the vessel would be ready by the first day of spring.
The jarl did not take long to make his decision. Jarl Vigfus let it be known to all those in the surrounding villages, who were men and women of prominence of course, that they were all invited the following Thor's Day, to partake in a great feast he was holding at his great hall. The jarl also invited all of the local contractors who had entered bids to build his ship. His plan was to announce the awarding of the contract during his feast, if for no other reason than to lessen the dissapointment of those who lost out. Vigfus had discovered over the years that good food and plenty of ale would ease the pain of disappointment among his subjects. And many of the shipbuilders would be displeased by his decision.
The feast wound up being a very lavish affair. So many people attended in fact that the jarl had to have extra tables and benches brought to his hall. And even then he had to sit some of his " lesser guests " outside the hall under torchlight. The jarl was fortunate, however, as the early autumn night was actually quite pleasant.
Many cattle were sacrificed to the Gods for the feast, as were several wild boar that the jarl himself had captured. Still the jarl feared he would not have enough food to fed everyone. He need not have worried, however, because as the night wore on it was the liquid refreshments that his guests were most interested in.
At the jarl' s table, sat the honored guests. The chieftain of Vest Agder, Bardi, sat on one side of the table, while his wife Ingibjorg, and daughter Rannveig, sat on the other. Thorir was seated next to Rannveig, a placement the jarl had arranged to please his new captain, and across from Thorir and Rannveig sat Asmund, and his brother Vilgeir.
Earlier Asmund had been introduced to Thorir and Rannveig, and it took all of the ship carpenter's inner strength to be pleasant, and not show his anger. When Asmund was told that Rannveig was Thorir' s, " soon to be bride ", the pettiness of the little carpenter came to the surface. Asmund merely nodded, and quickly walked away sulking.
Asmund did not stay long after the jarl made the announcement that he had won the right to make the mighty ship that would sail to the new lands. The sight of Rannveig and Thorir together was too much for his angry heart to stand. His brother Vilgeir stayed and drank until morning, but Asmund made his apologizes to the jarl, and left feigning an illness.
As soon as Asmund arrived home he began to calculate just how many ways he could weaken the jarl' s ship so that it would sink in rough seas. The little ship' s carpenter sat at his table, and by the light of a flickering candle, laughed hysterically every time he discovered a new way to sink Thorir's vessel.
Vilgeir returned home the next morning to find his brother still sitting at his table hard at work. He had obviously been there all night because the candle had burned down to the end of the wick and there was wax all over the table top. Although Vilgeir was quite drunk the look in his brother' s eyes scared him when they met his.
Asmund knew all too well that his brother was not as smart as other people, and this dumbness, or slowness as some called it, made him very gullible to what people told him. Asmund was sure that he could trick his brother into helping him build the jarl' s ship.
The little carpenter sat his brother down, and told him to listen carefully. He reminded Vilgeir that their parents had told him to take care of Vilgeir because he was " special " . Then Asmund slowly and carefully explained to his brother that Thorir was an evil man who had come to Vest Agder to spread trouble and misfortune. Asmund also told his easily swayed brother that Thorir had stolen from him Rannveig, the woman that he loved, and was forcing her to marry him.
Asmund grinned an evil grin when he realized that he had turned Vilgeir against Thorir. It was then that he told his brother about his plan to get rid of their great enemy. He carefully explained that they would not make the ship as good as they usually did, and then Thorir would simply sail off and never return to harm anyone in Vest Agder again.
Vilgeir did not fully understand why his brother wanted to make a ship that would sink, but he loved and trusted his brother, and thought it best to do as he said. Despite both brothers being very tired, later that morning, they went down to the shipyard and began to pick out the trees that they would use for their ship. As they worked it scared Vilgeir that Asmund was smiling from ear to ear. For he had never seen his brother this happy before ! "
- End Chapter 3
- Next : Chapter 4 : The Voyage Begins
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2015.