Prologue - Of Ships and Shorelines
I was born on Mona, known as Isle of Mann to foreigners. Youngest of three and the only son to Danish raider turned trader Brodir Olafson and his Manx-born wife Eunys, I spent much of my childhood learning my father’s craft aboard his ship, .
I loved sailing on the (Waverunner), a beautiful oak-built Karvi which my father used to trade between Dubh Linn and the surrounding area. My father ensured I knew everything about handling a ship; when to pull sail, where to land safely, how to keep the wind from spilling from the sail.
Since my father's death and the marriage of both my sisters, I've been fulfilling my promise to my mother to embrace my wanderlust and have been travelling these past three years as a sailor for the trader Oddr Frakkison, my eldest sister's Husband.
The three years sailing on Oddr's Knorr, the , had given me a greater sense of how to sail. Being an old Ash-built Knorr, the handled poorly, leaked badly and sailed slowly. However, the many tricks I picked up sailing with my father, gave us that little bit more speed and ensured we arrived well in time.
For the last of the three years I served as Coxswain on the , shuttling goods from Dubh Linn to Purt ny h-Inshey (Known as Peel or Tref Manaw). My skill as a sailor grew, as did Oddr's wealth through my labour; however Oddr's jealousy and greed increased with every successful trip I made on his behalf. Oddr himself never set foot on the , or any ship for that matter, hiring others to do the trading on his behalf, and pocketing the profits.
When I returned for my last journey aboard the , Oddr was waiting for me on the pier.
I asked as I stepped off the ship.
'Oddr replied, his eyes narrowed and his words harsh.
'I said, ignoring the ice in Oddr's voice,
Oddr's face flushed red with anger, but his voice remained like cool steel '
My rage grew; Oddr Oddrson was 8 years younger than I, and half my height.
My hand leapt to Oddr’s throat. Gripping his tunic tightly and lifting him off his feet, I levelled him with my eyes. my voice barked through grinding teeth, every fibre of my body wished to punch this pathetic excuse of a man into bloody puddle.
True fear rose in Oddr’s eyes and his face became white as snow. As I released my grip, Oddr staggered back, shaking.
Oddr squeaked as he reached for his belt pouch,
With his bravado gone, Oddr sheepishly handed over a small leather coin purse. By its weight I could tell he’d stiffed me a couple peningas, but I couldn’t stand the sight of him any longer. With money in hand, I grabbed the sealskin bag containing my few belongings and left the shocked and open-mouthed sailors and walked towards the long road home.
By dusk I reached the farmstead where my mother and I lived. It was built by my mother and father, tucked away in a near perfectly hidden bay with high cliffs either side protecting it from the worst of weather. Down on the beach lay the , still in good shape considering it’s age and lack of use. With a smile, I turned away from the ship and headed towards the longhouse
As I stepped up to the doorway, a familiar face appeared.
cried my mother,
She was having another episode; every now and then she’d forget much of what has happened and who I was. When I was in Dubh Linn, I met a sailor who told me of a miracle worker in Friese. After a few drinks he told me of the , a Karvi the regularly heads to Friese which passangers to which wish to visit this miracle worker to cure their illnesses and heal their wounds.
‘Are we going somewhere Brodir? But I like it here!’ my mother asked, still believing me to be my father.
With a sigh, I put my arm around my mother and led her into the longhouse. It was time to collect what we could and sell what we must. The Woden Ric was due at Purt ny H-Inshey in a month's time and we needed coin for passage.
It took some convincing, but Mother finally agreed that this was the best option. While she was busy sort out her things for the long trip, I saddled the pony we kept for ploughing the fields and rode off to my other sister's house a few miles away.