Herred of the Viking Society

The Poems and Sagas of Torstein

In our camp we are blessed to have a young wordsmith,a Skald, a warrior poet, Torstein.

 

Tales and sagas are told over the camp fire with a cup of ale and glad company.

 

Here is written, Torstein’s Poems and Sagas.

 

Tale of flag fen aka meikrfenatal
We marched, we slogged our battle forest moved from noble Norvic to travel to the fen of the banner as our breaker of rings bade us. We arrived at the camp of our liege lord, the warriors and the followers. Fires were stoked, staves were raised and shelters draped. We ate and drank the froth of the horn into the night, ready for the events of the next sun. Telling tales of great deeds and not so Great deeds we slept well and happy as any man ready to die for his lord should. In the morning the summons sounded, horns blew and unto us the enemy flew. The lines of battle drawn, spear pointers and lord of the sword all. Our king telling us to go forth without fear, I glanced to my sides and many good men did i see. grimbol the tanner and fiscbrut the fishermen and to my right, Egil, our champion and Alfred the elder. I trust this Alfred not , he has a nidingrs look. The lines crashed, the storm of swords began and the din roared. We fought well but our line was quickly being pushed. I saw Egil, as I was engaged, he was fighting alone against four hulking strife makers, Alfred was watching, waiting for something but not relieving our champion, I knew vengeance would have to be taken for Egil as he was struck down by the wave of blades. Our lines regrouped, and as we were to make our last charge, Alfred turned on us and slew as many noble warriors of Norvic as he could, hoping to save himself and change sides. in my country treachery like that does not go unpunished and I would not let it go as such. The dwarf sidestepped me and I crashed through there line. One axe wielder came weapon high, I dealt him a blow, he fell, another I slew, he had joined the gods before he touched the warm grass. I stood alone now, I cast aside my shield, it slowed me down. One great helmet staff stepped from their encirclement of me , an easterner as I could tell from his ridiculous trousers. He congratulated me on my valor, told me i deserved a fair fight. Had he given me one it may have gone differently, his trickery caused me a great wound and the battle was lost.
Alfie Francis Redmond

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Poems

 

The dead tree
Noble ash, once stood tall
Now is left to fall
Lack of life’s ale and light
My Shield
When you see this shield
Know I’ve slain fair few foes
Always I’ve been the better
One with the wall of men
Many times now and then
Always I’ve been the better
Aelfinasdrapa
1. My lady Aelfina fair
2. Norvic is hers, noble Norvic.
3. A ring-giver she is
4. Most generous she is.
5. Hears all in her domain
6. Hers is the power pure
7. From Sprowestuna to Conisford
8. All are loyal an loving
1. Wreathed in sea-flames trinkets
2. She walks, fine fabric swaying
3. Those who would end her journey
4. Her warriors are slaying
5. The jewels of her face, bright
6. See all, wise men know her might
7. There are those who try, test her right
8. Her grave hasteners see them through the night
1. A ring giver she is
2. Most generous she is
3. Arm-serpents to her followers
4. They would follow her into the road of hel
5. Her hoard earned by the fish road
6. It brings sea steeds to noble Norvic
7. They came from the salt
8. And they will sell on the market until she calls halt
1. She knows the weather of weapons
2. As good at the politics of steel as any other sort
3. Her warriors fight with vigor, never falling short
4. From the house of words come her commands
5. Many lords I’ve served
6. None as generous as she
7. The way things are is good enough for me
8. After I came, across the sea
Torstein’s own saga
 I am Torstein Sigvardrson, some call me blund and others call me the white, I was born in Norway to my father Sigvard, a rich man who was for a time one of the king’s jarls. Sigvard was the son of Keitil, who was the son of Thorgrim who was the son of Kol the Haggard who was the son of Harbard far travelled. Sigvard was raised on his father’s estate in Norway with his 5 brothers, Sigurd, Sigtrygg, Saemund and the younger two one of which was a half brother from his mother’s previous marriage, Torstein and the half brother Hjalti. Keitil Thorgrimsson instilled in his children a sense of ambition which he needed to raise himself to his status, he unfortunately didn’t teach his children the importance of family (probably because of his slaying his father to take his lands in the first place). Keitil was one of the king’s men with many followers and much riches, Sigvard always told Torstein that he always had at least 40 men in his hird at all times. When Keitil died, his lands and riches were to be distributed amongst his sons, with the eldest getting the most and then going down the line. However, once the talks had been done and all was handed out to each brother according to the law and all seemed content with their inheritance, the second eldest brother, Sigtrygg slew Sigurd and took Keitils lands and inheritance as his own. They had never got on. When Sigvard heard the news, he his brother Torstein and half brother Hjalti were travelling through winter after having gone on a trading mission to the Saami in the North East, they were headed to Saemundsby, where their brother lived. When they got there, Saemund Plies them with mead and food and much merriment and when he told them the news of Sigurd and Sigtryggs fight,the three brothers swore oaths to avenge their father and fairly share the inheritance between the remaining brothers but Saemund turned on them, seeing this as his chqnce make himself a powerful warlord. He managed to slay Torstein with the first hew of his axe, killing him instantly. At once his companions, who Sigvard and Hjalti did not notice were now armed and ready for battle, turned on them immediately. They managed to fight them and Saemund off, killing a few between them and managing to escape, though Hjalti received a wound which would plague him until his death. They fled to the west to Sigvards kinsman, Uff , who had young come into property and was well off enough to winter them there. During the winter they convinced Uff to join them in avenging there father, this was easy because Uff knew both the brothers from raiding and battles from the past, and would continue to be the best of friends until their deaths. They fought many battles and did many exploits and deeds worthy of note before their father was avenged. Sigurd had killed Saemund in a clash between them and each others companions and was now in full control of the land. Though, Sigvard, Hjalti and Uff each had together nearly 150 men, and the king was sympathetic to their cause, and after they had spoke with him and given him their friendship the king promised that any action they took in their brother would be permitted by the kind, but he would prefer if they would try to settle the matter peacefully first. The three of them went to the althing in that year, and they engaged in a fierce legal battle with Sigurd, he had nearly as many followers as the Sigvard, Hjalti and Uff and both sides had powerful backers. Neither party could get an upper hand in the legal case and the matter stayed unsettled. In the winter, at which point the three made a move against Sigurd. Sigurd still had many followers though some had returned to their own lands for the winter, the three companions all had all their men and attacked Sigurd at their father’s estate. The fight was fierce, all three of the friends survived and slew many men, Sigurd was killed by Sigvard, and in the confusion of the fighting the longhouse and many of the sheds were burnt down. Sigvard and Hjalti split up the remaining riches between themselves and also included Uff in the sharing of inheritance as he had helped them so greatly. Sigvard moved to the north and made a new longhouse, Hjalti lives with him and died two years after the new estate was built. Sigvard became rich from his trade with the Sammi and in Finnmark and with his raiding of the baltic coast. He married a highborn woman by the name of gudrid gold neck who was the daughter of a powerful jarl. They had many children, their firstborn was me, I was named for Sigvards brother Torstein who was slain by his brother Saemund. The second oldest was Karl, two years my younger. I also have 4 younger brothers and sisters, Svanhild, Magnhild, Thorgrim and Thorfinn. Sigvard was one of the king’s men for a time and managed the taxes and tribute from the lands to the east. In my youth I wanted for nothing, I spent my young years having adventures, playing with my brother’s , learning the manly ways of weapons and war, bending bows and becoming s woodcarver in my spare time. I also learnt the ways if the Skald and became skilled in poetry and reciting the tales of our god’s and ancestors. because of my father’s position in society Inside not have to work my lands to eat, as we had slaves tondo so. My father always taught us to respect our slaves and take good care of them, he also taught us the importance of family so that what happened to him and his brothers would never happen to his sons and daughters. We enjoyed many feast days and happy times together, I remember when I first laid eyes on the girl who would become my wife in later years, Sigrid, the daughter of Uff who is my father dearest friend. It was during the jol feast, we met eyes across the hall and instantly a game of hide and seek which lasted hours commenced, Sigrid being the victor as her small size allowed her to hide in the best of places and her wit and intelligence trouncing mine whenever I was close to finding her. We grew older and I became a man, I began to court her when I would see her on visits to Uff with my father and love was blooming between us. When we became men, our father outfitted us suited for raiding and battles, me and Karl set of to the Baltic lands and made a name for ourselves as raiders and warriors. We also traded and raided with the people of Finnmark and Karl married the daughter of a Saami chief who offered her TO Karl in return for wintering there and helping him to protect his lands. When I was very young, but a boy, I remember an issue my father had with a warlord called Cort Sigurdsson, he had arrived at our lands and, despite my father being one of the king’s tax collectors, he demanded the tribute that had come from Finnmark that season, when my father had refused Cort had attacked. He and his men had my father and his trapped in out home, but luckily Uff was not far behind my father and came from the rear tonrout Cort and his men, nearly all were killed but Cort and his closest companions managed to escape into the wilderness, to be forgotten about. It was winter, and I was wintering with Karl in his lands in Finnmark when one of our slaves from back home came riding to us bearing Ill news. My father asked for me and Karl to return home with much haste as Cort had recently come back to the country and my father had reliable witnesses that claimed he planned to attack our lands. Me and Karl at once mounted up with 10 of Karl’s companions and headed to our lands in Norway. We rode west two days at full gallop, but we’re too late. We arrived to find our lands burnt, our fathers corps laid low Infront, cut to ribbons, he had died a warriors death even in his old age. We searched the ruin, but recovered little but two small chests of treasure hidden beneath the floorboards. We did not know for sure what had happened to the rest of our family, though we found charred remains of at least one of our younger brothers with weapon in hand so we sunmise that Cort had slain them all. I took my father’s sword from his body, it had been his fathers and his father and his fathers before him. Me and Karl put aside our sadness and anger, we swore to find Cort and avenge our family to full effect. I vowed to go to the west and Karl would go to the east to track him down. We parted ways that day and I have not seen him since. I must admit, though my mind at first was on the task at hand, when travelling alone for a while, my sadness quickly overtook me. I headed straight for Uffs estate, and when I came there he already knew what had happened and took me in for the rest of the winter. That winter I negotiated terms with Uff, as my father could no longer do it for me, and arranged the marriage of me and Sigrid, giving Uff the treasure I had brought from home. We were married, in the old custom afore Odin and Frey, and for a while I was happy. Instill yearned for vengeance though, my wife told me she would follow me anywhere and would help me slay Cort personally if I asked, as any insults or wrongs against me were now hers too, so she said. Uff advised me to go to the King, Haakon, the son of Harald Finehair. He gave me back the treasure I had given him for Sigrid’s hand and equipped us for our journey to the king. I gathered some of my friends, and they agreed to accompany me as long as I would need. We went to the king, and I told him my situation. He agreed to help, given that my father had served him and his father one and even helped him to displace the previous king Eirik Haakons brother, on the condition that I stay in his service for as long as he deemed fit as his poet and one of his Hird. I agreed through gritted teeth, and I could feel Cort slipping through my grasp and out of Norway. Joining the king’s retinue was also my first introduction to the new religion, Christianity. Haakon would not help me unless I took the cross, and his “baptism” ceremony seemed rather simple to me, so I did it. Though I still honour the old god’s away for the prying eyes of Christians, I can see the attractions of this religion, it encourages peace, which my country is certainly lacking.. after a while in his service, I asked the king on the status of Cort, and he told me that he had recently heard he had set sail, but not knowing for where, at this I became angry and demanded leave. The king understood my anger, and he bade me leave to go, thanking me for my service and giving me 15 men to accompany me. He advised me to go to the Orkneys and to speak with the earl there who was a good friend of his. We sailed for Orkney, when we arrived there we were welcomed by the earl. All he could tell me of Cort was that he had stopped in Shetland, done some minor plundering and then was seen headed for York, under the rule of Eirik bloodaxe. We stayed the winter and when the winds were favourable we sailed for York, docking in the harbour in late spring. I went to the king, Eirik. Unfortunately he had heard of me, and not only for my good points but that he knew if my father’s resistance to him in the great battle, and my service to his brother Haakon, who deposed him. It took much praise and convincing to save the lives of my wife myself and my men, and even more convincing, one poem in honour of Eirik and promises of service to see me accepted into his retinue. After my time with Haakon, I realised that I could not be straightforward with this king, even less so than with Haakon, and I decided (though it was against my nature) that I would have to go behind the king’s back to find my quarry. I found a number of men who were part of Courts warband, and after getting them drunk enough to tell me where he had gone to, killed them all as they had also told me of their conquest of Sigvards wife, my mother, when she was in the hands of Cort. At once I gathered my men and my wife, and prepared to head south were Cort had. However one of my men betrayed me, and reported my plans to the king. He sent men to kill me where I was staying, though they killed the last of my men I managed to fend them off, and me and Sigrid mounted our steeds and rode south. We kept riding, when we made it to the boroughs, we stopped in a tavern, feeling more lost and hopeless as ever. A traveller by the name of Osric was singing the praises of his lord, and when I asked him, told me in his drunken stupor that I should head there myself as his lord is always looking for able men and women. The town he spoke of was Norvic, in the land of East Anglia, it was ruled by Saxons. We rode there, and came to the great hall to be welcomed by Osrics “lord” who was in fact the lady Aelfina. I told her my situation, and though she firmly told me that her lands were Christian and any vengeance would ahve to be run by her and the lord first, she would have me in her retinue as a poet and warrior, she would not have had I not “converted” under Haakon. And here we have stayed ever since. The lady demands me and Sigrid to take a Christian wedding, though Sigrid is not keen to offend the gods. These Christian Saxons are very different, though there are often people from my homeland passing through as Norvic is a busy and Rich place, there are also many Danes that live here, though they are virtually the same as the Saxons as they all took the cross long ago. I like it here, and life is mostly people aside from the odd group of vagabonds or vikings, though my family and mine and my brother’s oath play constantly on my mind, and I can feel Cort Sigurdsson, he and his death is close.