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, Vagriedha.

I loved sailing on the Vagriedha (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 Trekyllir, had given me a greater sense of how to sail. Being an old Ash-built Knorr, the Trekyllir 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 Trekyllir, 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 Trekyllir, 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 Trekyllir, Oddr was waiting for me on the pier.

Fastyr mie Oddr, what brings you to the pier? I asked as I stepped off the ship.

'I've had reports that my ship is in poor condition, and I want you to tell me why.' Oddr replied, his eyes narrowed and his words harsh.

'aye, she's had it rough lately. Those reports were from me after all.' I said, ignoring the ice in Oddr's voice, 'If you'd let us rest and repair the ship last winter, like I asked, she'd be in better shape.'

Oddr's face flushed red with anger, but his voice remained like cool steel Maybe another coxswain is in order, one who doesn't forget his station? Halfdan, you may be my wife's brother, but you are no family of mine.' A thin smile grew upon his face, 'My Son, Oddr, will take your place upon the Trekyllir, collect your things and get off my ship!

My rage grew; Oddr Oddrson was 8 years younger than I, and half my height. Your son has barely seen his 10th winter and you send him out to sea in your place?' I pushed down my anger and shook my head, ‘If you want me off your ship, fine. Hand over my wages and I'll be gone.'

'Ha! If you think I’ll give you a penny after bringing back my ship in that state, then you’re madder than I thought!'

My hand leapt to Oddr’s throat. Gripping his tunic tightly and lifting him off his feet, I levelled him with my eyes. ‘Listen you little geit, I brought your ship home in one piece and before it was due. Her condition is your fault, I cannot keep a ship in good repair if I’m not given time to repair it. Hand over that which I’m owed...’ my voice barked through grinding teeth, every fibre of my body wished to punch this pathetic excuse of a man into bloody puddle. ‘If you weren’t my sister’s husband, you’d be drowning in your words for that insult!’

True fear rose in Oddr’s eyes and his face became white as snow. As I released my grip, Oddr staggered back, shaking.

‘As you say, Halfdan Brodirson, as you say!’ Oddr squeaked as he reached for his belt pouch, ‘one hundred and fifty seven peningas, as promised!’

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 Vagriedha, 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.

‘Brodir! Where have you been?’ cried my mother, ‘Supper's almost cold!’

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 Woden Ric, 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.

‘Mother it’s me, Halfdan.’ I replied, ‘I’ve learned of a way to help you get better. We need to pack our things and head to Purt ny h-Inshey.’

‘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.

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