The Story of Howard the Halt
The Story (Saga) of Howard the Halt
This is a Norse tale, or saga, of Howard the Halt, or Howard the Lame. It tells of a man named Thorbiorn who had the priesthood over Icefirth.
A mighty chief, but the most unjust of men. Throughout Icefirth all spoke ill of him. He would take maidens, handfast them awhile before sending them home.
From others he took their goods and chattels or their lands. He had taken a young high-born woman, Sigrid, as his housekeeper.
And then there is our – Howard. He too was of great kin, but now in the Autumn of his life. In his earlier days he had been a great Viking and the best of champions. In one of his bouts he was badly wounded and incurred a knee injury. Ever after he was halt, hence his name. Howard’s wife was Biargey, a stirring woman of good kin. They had one son, Olaf, a most resolute young man. Great of growth, and goodly of aspect.
Olaf was keen on Sigrid as was she on him. One of Thorbiorn’s henchmen, Vakr, was also keen on Sigrid, but she rejected his advances. Thorbiorn, Vakr and his other men ambushed and killed Olaf. So disastrous was the news to Howard that it is said he took to bed for a year. Biargey convinced him to rise and seek retribution at the Thing. All he received from Thorbiorn was scorn. But other attendees were so revolted at Thorbiorns judgement that, to Thorbiorns chagrin, they agreed to pay Howards compensation.
But this is not where our story ends. On the contrary, it is merely the beginning of Howard and Biargeys search for justice.
So pick up this ancient Norse tale, a story of the eternal search for love and justice amidst a world full of jealousy, spite and injustice. But know this, in the end justice and right will always prevail and in the case of Howard justice is dealt out in the Viking way.
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Excerpt from The Saga of Howard the Halt
Chapter 11 - Of the Slaying of Thorbiorn Thiodrekson
..As they came up toward the shingle-ridge, a man came running to meet them with axe raised aloft, a man in a blue frock girt into his breeches; they turned toward him, and when they met they knew Torfi Valbrandson, and greeted him well, and he asked them if Thorbiorn were dead. Then sang Howard:
I drave adown the sword-edge
To jaw of sword-clash dealer;
I set the venomed sword-dew
Seeking the chieftain's eyen;
Nought saw I any shrinking
In that dweller in the scabbard
Warflame, when his old wielder
Who once was mighty fell there.
He asked what their deeds were, and Torfi said that Sturla was fallen, and the house-carles, but that An was slain withal. Then sang Howard :
So have we slain full swiftly
Four of the men who slew him,
The blood-stained son of Biargey;
Brave is the gain we bring you.
But one of our own fellows
An, unto earth is fallen
By bone of sea-wolf smitten
As Hallgrim sayeth soothly.
Then they went up to the boat-house, and found their fellows, who greeted them well. Then asked Eyjulf Valbrandson if they should slay the thralls; but Howard said that the slaying of thralls was no revenge for Olaf his son. "Let them abide here to-night, and watch that none steal aught of. the spoil."
Then Hallgrim asked what to do now, and Howard answered: "We will take the cutter and all we deem of avail, and make for under Moon-berg to see Liot the champion: somewhat of a revenge were there in such a man as that, if we might get it done."
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