Congratulations to Bendik the Great, who has won our “Your Viking Story” contest on the forum and will receive the limited edition Vikings of Thule poster. This was his Viking’s incredible tale:
The mighty warrior thegn, Assgrim the Bellowing, happily went to visit his gods. It had been a great battle, and he had just witnessed his fourteenth son be torn from his mother’s womb – just as his sire too large in birth to allow the wench to live. This on the very battle field where the mangled corpses of three Earls now lay, slain by Assgrim himself. His usually stony and unrevealing face split in a rare grin, as he thought of how they would be picked clean by Odin’s Swans before long. One cleaved swiftly in half by his giant axe, Þorgnýr. The second crushed to a pulp with a swat of his bear paw hand. The third scared straight to Helheim by his trademark battle roar and a mere glance of his evil eye. What a glorious day it had been!
During his berserker rage he had not noticed the hail of throwing spears thudding into his broad back, but now they had finally claimed his life. No matter. The enemy was all but routed and his work done. He thrust the standard firmly far into the blood-soaked ground, and looked around to catch his liege’s eye, idly keeping the remaining attackers at bay with his axe.
– “Håkon!” He bellowed, calling him only by name, and deafening three nearby warriors for life. “I’ve done most of your work for you this day. Now I have a boon to ask.”
– “Speak it, and it is granted”, his liege replied, ducking from a stray arrow. He glanced grimly up at the myriad grievous wounds and various weapons protruding from Assgrim’s sturdy frame, wondering how the man could still be standing.
– “In the grove over there is my last son, soon to be an orphan. His mother is not yet cold, and the valkyries are drooling to collect my soul.” Assgrim paused to retrieve Þorgnýr from a particularly thick enemy scull, where the axe had lodged.
– “I’ll raise the boy as my own”, Håkon offered.
– “No,” Assgrim continued evenly, “that is not what I ask. You are a kind-hearted and generous ruler. You’ll spoil him rotten. I want him to grow up to be a true warrior as his forefathers before him. Take him to my brother on Iceland. That quarrelsome ******* will put the fear of the gods in him and make him a man, or kill him in the process.”
– “Nid-Egil the Mad? That’s who you would put in the boy’s path?” Håkon asked in disbelief. Seeing Assgrim was serious, he nodded. “Very well. So be it. Have you a name for your son?”
Assgrim furrowed his brows in thought. His steel grey eyes were starting to cloud over, but suddenly they gleamed with their old mischief. He had spotted a priest on the other side, administering to the enemy wounded (and no doubt picking them clean of valuables in the process). So he yelled over the dwindling battle din to catch the priest’s attention:
– “O robed one! Crossbearer! What is your name, you dress-wearing excuse for a man?”
– “Ehrm, my name is Bendik, warrior. It means “the blessed one” in the Chruch tounge.” the shocked priest called back, looking with horror on the Norse apparition looming in the distance.
– “Hah! Perfect.” chuckled Assgrim, and muttered to himself: “That’ll put some gravel in the boy’s gut and make him remember his father, though none too fondly, I’m sure.”
Turning back to Håkon, he stated gravely:
– “You have a name and a mission, and I have no more business here in Midgard. I shall see you again in Valhall.”
With that he waded back into the fray and through the enemy ranks as through a field of spelt, killing and maiming left and right in a last outburst of massive force. His onslaught punched straight through the crumbling shield wall opposing him. Then he was surrounded and pierced from all sides by spears and swords alike until he could move no further. Laughing, he threw off his helmet and tilted his face to the sky for a final roar:
– “Odin! Count the dead, and make room at your table! Let all of Asgard know I’m coming, and let word of my deeds echo forever!”
– “Oh yeah, and hide your mead and women!” he added as an afterthought.
Closing his eyes, he let himself drift away and fell like a thundering avalanche, crushing eleven of his surviving assailants as he went down. The crows who had gathered in the nearby tree tops took to the air, scared by the earth-shattering crash. Then the enemy warriors bowed their heads in respect and threw down their arms, and a hushed silence spread across the battle field.
Assgrim lay dead in the Outlands.
A warrior close to Håkon was the first to break the silence.
– “By the gods.” he said. “We’ll never see another one like him. Probably a good thing too.”
– “Yeah”, grunted Håkon, starting towards the grove. “I wouldn’t be too certain about that. Only the Norns know the future, but I’ll sure as Hel do my part to follow their threads.”
So begins the tale of Bendik the Great, a long and harsh ordeal indeed, but perhaps one that will make him even greater. In time.