Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Honey I Cursed the Kids, or All in the (Berserker) Family, Part III

Part III, in the ongoing saga of the House of Arngrim the Berserker.......

Hervor, daughter of Angantyr, thought that she had bought herself a Happily Ever After when she claimed and took her dead father's sword, the dwarf-forged Tyrfing. But she reckoned without the curse laid on the blade by its vengeful makers. When she retired from the Viking lifestyle to become a full time homemaker, she laid the sword aside. And there it waited, silently thirsting for blood and destruction.

In peace, she and her princely husband raised their two sons, Angantyr and Heidrek, to manhood. Her elder son was much loved among his father's people, but Heidrek was quarrelsome and violent, and made few friends. Did Hervor tell her boys stories of their grandfather, or of his twelve berserker sons, buried in a haunted mound on the island of Samsø? It is certain that they at least knew about the valuable sword which she kept, but never wielded in their presence.

At some point, Heidrek committed some act of brutality which resulted in his permanent estrangement from his father. We do not know what crime he committed, but it must have been serious, for Hervor's husband banished their younger son, and sent him away, never to return. The sentence was pronounced and enacted without delay, and Heidrek was forced to leave his home with little more than the clothes on his back. As he turned to go, his mother impulsively ran to her chamber and then returned with a wrapped bundle, thrusting it into his hands with a last farewell for the son she would never see again. Hervor had given him her most valuable possession, the one she knew would help her violent and restless offspring make his way in the world in the only way he knew how. Heidrek left his father's hall with Tyrfing strapped to his side.

The young man strode forth into an unknown future. With his hand on the hilt of his mother's sword, he walked with a new confidence, and didn't turn to take a last look back at his childhood home. Past the outskirts of his family's encampment, however, he heard running footsteps behind him. Warily, Heidrek turned to face whoever it was who had followed him from his father's hall, but relaxed when he saw who it was. Angantyr had come to take a private final leave of his younger brother. The two young men embraced and exchanged greetings, and Angantyr offered to walk with Heidrek for a while. Heidrek was glad to have his brother's company; aside from their mother, Angantyr was the only person who had ever cared about him.

They walked in silence for a time, and then Angantyr gestured to the sword that Heidrek wore. Both men had heard rumors and bits of stories about their mother's viking escapades, and understood that her sword was a valuable family heirloom. Angantyr did not begrudge Heidrek his inheritance, but confessed to curiosity. Neither had ever actually seen the blade, Hervor having always kept it carefully sheathed. Angantyr thought there would be no harm done if his younger brother took it out of its scabbard and gave it a flourish, so that they both could get a look at it. Obligingly, Heidrek drew Tyrfing forth.

As the sword left its sheath, Heidrek felt a tremor run through his body, and his sword arm began to shake. A roar burst from his lips as he felt a wave of blood rush up to his brain. His head felt hot, and his vision dimmed as a red haze filmed his eyes. As the berserker frenzy took hold, Heidrek lost all reason, overwhelmed by the imperative to kill. He felt his arm rise and then gave a great animal howl as he struck out with the powerful sword. He felt Tyrfing's blade make contact, heard the groan of his victim, and plunged the blade in again and again. Blood spattered his face and he roared again, lifting Tyrfing to the sky in triumph. 

As quickly as it had descended upon him, the Berserker fit suddenly passed. Heidrek shook his head and felt his vision clear. His chest still heaved from exertion, but his blood cooled and he felt calm again. Warm blood still dripped from the sword in his fist, however, staining his face and clothes. Heidrek looked down and saw his beloved brother, Angantyr, lying butchered on the ground at his feet, dead by his own hand. The curse of Tyrfing was let loose once more to wreck havoc upon the House of Arngrim.

Filled with horror and self loathing, Heidrek fled from the sight of his brother's body. But he kept the sword, and thus did doom stalk the House of Arngrim for yet another generation.....

.........more to come.......

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