Edrich of Haluken


I was able to interrogate three of the prisoners through a combination of Russian and French. They weren’t really that helpful but they did tell me where the rest of their people were and the names of their dead. We buried them in an area close to the road with wooden stakes bearing their names. I wished them peace in the next life and a priest came from Haluken to say a Christian service. Just in case, I burned a copy of the list of names so their gods would receive them.

We rounded up the rest of their people, but they were not charged with the attempt on the mine because they took no active part. The guard escorted them to the Finnish border and released them to return home. We gave them a copy of the list of the dead to take home with them.

“I wonder if they have anyone there that can read that list?” Jens mused.

I joined the guard that were escorting the prisoners to Halla. Halkar and Emil would need to sort through the accounts of the actions at the mine. The two wounded leaders were transported in a wagon. It was not a smooth ride.

“I stopped off at my home and told Valla and Knut what happened and why I was going to Halla.

Knut insisted that he join me. I asked him to  be watchful over our families and arm all the men and women who could wield a sword or bow. I told him we had twenty guard to watch thirteen prisoners plus two that could not walk.

I retrieved some things from my closet and kissed Valla and Ranulf goodbye.

“This is becoming a habit with you,” Father said when I met him at the palace.

“I don’t know what I can do to change that, I am placed where I am needed by the gods,” I replied.

“I’m afraid the prisoner with the leg wound has developed an infection. Asla and the surgeon are doing their best but he is fading fast.

The other man Lachya speaks some Finnish, so I have been able to piece together what their reason was for this incursion. Apparently their Chieftain is misinformed about the mine. He thought there would be bags of gold just needing to be collected. He sent these men to their doom because he believed some tall tale from some Finn,” Emil told us.

“Brigandry carries a death sentence but these days we hang men instead of beheading them. The fact that they were ordered doesn’t really have any bearing. Unless they were under some sort of threat. Emil, please ask the men what would have happened if they refused to take part,” Halkar requested.

After some time, Emil returned with more information. He had the surgeon in tow as well.

“I’m afraid the one called Poltz has died. Apparently the bone was damaged more severely than we thought. The marrow was exposed and when that gets infected there is nothing to do,” the surgeon sighed. “The other man is able to stand now. You may talk to him as much as you like, the Surgeon announced.

“And I will, but in answer to your question the families of these men are hostages until the men return or reports of their death are received,” Emil shared.

“I will contact the Russian emissary. I will inform him of the incident and who we have in captivity. I would prefer for them to deal with this issue,” Halkar grumbled.

“Poltz claimed to be Kurgan, didn’t they all die out hundreds of years ago?” I asked.

“Small numbers of them survived and were taken into Siberian tribes. There has been a resurgence in their culture or at least as it is imagined to be. It is much the same as the people who try to resurrect Viking culture in modern Norway and Denmark. It is a fallacy and simply will not work in this era. I am proud of my Viking heritage but I don’t want to relive those days,” Emil replied.

“Yes, knowing ones heritage is one thing, recreating it is another. We are the product of all that has been learned since the days of the Vikings. I have no wish for their return,” I agreed. “I pressed for the Sagas to be taught in our school, because we need to learn about those times. Forgetting the past is the first step to reliving it.”

“Well said,” Emil agreed.

The next day Emil gave a report on his interview with Lachya. He confirmed what Poltz had told him, and that the families were hostages. He also said that he left orders with his loyal followers that the families would be moved away out of the Chieftain’s reach. He has decided he would rather hang than return. He has no wife or sons, they have all died because of the Chieftain’s actions. If his men are released at some point, one of them will kill the Chieftain and end this folly.

“Let me think on this a while, it is not a clear choice. Let’s return here tomorrow and I will have a plan of action,” Halkar said vacantly.

I spent the evening with my family. Ivy was disappointed that Ranulf was not with me, but he kissed me all the same.

I told Mother how well Valla was handling the pregnancy. She was rarely moody and continued to do her own chores with the help of Sigrid and Borla.

We had a quiet meal and I slept in my old room with Rilla. Kiva and Olaf had separate rooms now. Bolly and Ivy still shared and they got along very well.

In the morning Halkar had made his decision.

“I will have each man branded on both palms. If they are found in our lands again, they will be hanged. I believe the hostage story is believable. I am going to be lenient in this case. I hope it doesn’t come back and stab us later.

Make the brands small but recognizable. Let us put an end to this farce as Lachya suggested. I will release him as well. He can go as far as Finland as long as he leaves Norway. Give them  some rudimentary weapons when you cross the border. I think that will allow them to make it home. How they deal with their Chieftain is their business.

We all endorsed the plan and I paid a visit to lady Iris. She gave me some things to take to Valla and a few kisses for her and Ranulf. I returned to my family’s home and packed for my journey home.

The ride home was quiet and without the dust of forty men. I met other riders and a few wagons, but none had hostile intent. For quite a while all was quiet in our home. Knut and I worked on future plans. We visited the new children’s home on the outskirts of Freyanhjem. I took part in the opening ceremony and pastor Marche gave a blessing along with a Sami Noaidi. The six new residents of the home and the people who would care for them all gave their thanks for the opportunity of a safe and comfortable home. They joined the children of the school, and were absorbed by the community. More children came and were adopted by farmers and shopkeepers. I visited each child in his or her new home, to see that they were being treated well. Some had to work harder than others. But that was the difference between farm and city life. An older boy came to us, he had been on the streets of Halla for a long time. He feared the watch and then the politi. He was discovered in an alley shivering on a hot summer day. Hogar recovered from the illness and wanted to leave the children’s home in Halla. I spoke to him about coming with me to Freyanhjem where there was a better chance he could find a home.

A man named Valent had lost his wife to illness. His son had died shortly after being born. I introduced the two and they seemed to get on well. Valent adopted Hogar and they worked the farm together.

Ranulf continued to grow and learn useful skills. But he had my penchant for walking into troublesome situations.

I returned from a trip to Haluken and things were in an uproar. Ranulf had been in an encounter with a bear. He was unharmed but was still shaking from the brush with death. Usually bears will avoid humans unless they are prey sized. It was rare to see a bear in our part of the country, they preferred the country along the Finnish border. To see them in the south was rare at the time. Ranulf had been running around in just his boots with his knife belt around his neck. It was something I had done when I was a boy. He spied a large brown lump on the trail ahead and stared until the lump stood on its hind legs to get a better look at Ranulf. Ranulf wasted no time turning and running back towards home. The bear gave chase and Ranulf ran for his life.

I had rigged up a log swing for Ranulf and the other boys to play on. It was suspended between two stout oaks and the boys could swing back and forth and make the swing gyrate and wobble for their own enjoyment. Ranulf pulled the knot loose that held the rope swing in place and pulled it back as far as he could. He watched the bear approach and when he judged the moment to be right, he let go the rope. The log struck the bear, bowling it over and by Ranulf’s account knocking it out, perhaps even killing it.

I grabbed my bow and followed him to the swing. The log lay on the ground and the rope had been shredded. I found blood hair and skin on the end of the log. Bear tracks were on the ground along with a depression where I suspect the bear had fallen. I collected the hair and some of the blood and put them in Ranulf’s spirit pouch. “Well Ranulf, I have a clan name for you now. You will be Storkaôr bjørnhilder, Strongarm Bear fighter. I will share your tale with Chefan and the Noaidi. You have used your wits like the clever little wolf you are. With that alone you bested a hungry bear. I made one more discovery while looking around. The bear had lost a tooth in the encounter. I placed that in his spirit pouch as well. I observed the deep gouges in the log, the bear must have been furious and young. Older bears wouldn’t usually attack a human, even a child. Somehow they knew it would bring trouble. Usually they would make a fierce display and the human would turn around and go the other way. The exception was the big fish harvest when bears would come down to do their own fishing. The occasional bear would try to commandeer the catch of the clansmen, where the catch was piled on the shore of the river. Ten or twenty men all heaving heavy rocks was usually enough to chase them away. Each clan had a designated bear killer. He was chosen by several Noaidi for the task. Otherwise a bear could not be killed except if it was attacking. Bear killers were important men in the clan. They rarely had to actually kill a bear, but it was useful to have someone in the clan who knew how.

In March our son was born, Edgar Rilla was a healthy happy robust little boy with powerful lungs and a strong grip for a baby.

Ranulf had been at school when he was born and was unhappy that he missed the birth. Valla had just fed him and I had burped him. I bade Ranulf sit and handed him his new brother. Ranulf’s eyes brimmed with tears. “Hello brother, I am happy to meet you. I will do all I can to help you learn the ways of this world, I promise you. I love you Edgar,” Ranulf said in a raspy voice. In the years that followed, we would be graced with six more babies.  Four  boys and two girls. Johan Karl, Thorwald Kiva, Jørgen Olaf, Evangaline Iris, Kiel Emil and Laura Ingrid. The clan naming convention did  not allow giving the first name of a living person as a first name of a child in the same family. The Danish Norwegian custom of the time was that there were some names that were male line descendant names only. Halkar was a name within Valla’s family which could only passed to a male of that line. But Halkar had several nephews that sported the name. Valla came to calling Kiel little Halkar, because he was so much like his father. Since my first son was born I have not drawn my sword for anything but a salute. My arrows have been used exclusively on game or simple targets.

Ranulf lives up to his name, he is clever and brave. I have prepared a baronet for him in the southern riding. Christian will confer his title after his sixteenth winter. My brothers have all done well in their baronets. Road building was one major undertaking each of them addressed once they were installed. Industry such as sawmills and quarries were expanded or initiated. Rillas baronet was situated on the river and he subsidized mills for grinding the grain the fertile valley produced. His goal was to improve the lot of his valley’s inhabitants, clan or Christian. Olaf and Bolly had adjoining lands, Bolly ran much of the business as Olaf concentrated on machines and science. He never gave up on steam. He was a reluctant Baron. He would take a concept as far as it would go and release it to the public to be used in anyway it could. Kiva took his wealth and brought the Mountain clans into the modern age. Mostly through education but with modern implements and inventions. Arable land is scarce in the mountains but minerals are plentiful. Huge deposits of limestone for construction and industry were discovered, plus a very productive copper deposit.

The granite from my own quarry grew redder with time. It was highly prized in the rest of Europe.

Sadly, Ivy lost his first wife in childbirth along with the baby. He remarried and had four strong sons. He had a few troubles with some of the farmers who had become big men in the absence of a Baron. Father and I helped him regain control. We reminded those farmers that they were there at the Baron’s pleasure. He could redistribute the land by fiat. Eventually the men began to see the benefits of a well-funded Baron looking to the future of the valley.

Valla and I are quite happy. I still visit Oslo and Haluken and occasional visits to the mine. It remains productive but the copper has all but run out. There are now small villages and hamlets along the road to Oslo. Travel is easier and coaches have improved. Almost all use an improved version of Olaf and my design for braking. We have designed a shoe that uses mineral wool we have found in several quarries. It can be packed into a shape and held by a resin that requires high temperatures to melt. It works much better than the old shoes which were wood blocks lined with hide.

There have been intrigues in the Reichsparliament but none so insidious as the events I encountered early in my offices as Viscount.

I was promoted to Captain after thwarting the robbery at the mine. I have never commanded men in combat though. Nils Hergen has risen in the ranks and now commands the first line cavalry unit in Oslo. Jørgen has succeeded Father as Lord Marshall. When Father retired, he and Mother moved to Freyanhjem where he devotes his time to being helpful to the people and being a wonderful Bestefar.

Our children adore him and with the exception of Ranulf, they all have Valla’s lush blond hair.

Father and I often speak of our meeting and the events of those few days that changed my life forever. I will always be in his debt, but that’s the way it is with fathers and sons.


I will end this here, but I wish to thank the readers for their interest. This has been quite a research intensive process. I wish to thank a friend and coworker who has shared much of what he knows about the cultural development in Norway before the industrial revolution. There are apocryphal elements contained here and considerable license has been taken with Danish and Norwegian aristocracy of the time. Frankly, there just isn’t a lot of documentation for the period, but there are people working on that issue in the present day. The Viking era is actually better documented than the seventeenth century.

I hope this story has been well received. Judging by my feedback, it has piqued the imagination of many readers. Perhaps they will now put their own words together to describe a favorite period in time.

My sincere thanks to all of you.