04 May 2007

First Winter's Tale of Free Land

From those who remember, Free Land, partial Saga transcribed:

Eric Three Lands walked forth that winter on with Harald and Olaf both stout and able warriors and with Asqe from northern peoples they had known who served to interpret as best he could given strange tongues so far south. The colony foodstuffs while not sparse held only as much as a winter could allow and no error for winds and cold to be seen. Those that had followed were hearty ones and ensured that they had sustenance for winter of Greenland so no problems with that were seen, but ensuring resources to repair ships and and coats and other needful things were in short supply so even the hunting and fishing saw need for more than those who landed could do.

The Wampanoag folks of this land were good and friendly although friction arose on which land is used when with them. Those that sailed and arrived ensured that they found place so as to not arouse anger nor ire, and respected those places special and holy to these people. When first carvings done and ship moorings built, the Wampanoag saw such images as they had known of wind and wolf and bear and ice and waves, so knew these people had like such beliefs as they. Now the winter work needs be done and sails and ships repaired, save those needed for netting fish, and that too limited to two ships and few men.

Trudging through snow up to knees was hard, but not over so for people of the North, and knew their step and ability so as to move quickly without fail. Arriving at a village of rounded huts of hide and wood, the four gave hail to announce themselves via horn from times of old. They had been espied and knew such and saw such spies as only Northmen could, but gave greetings such to let those know that ill-intent was not theirs.

With smoke greetings returns they moved forward and into the village and gave greeting to those they knew and handed small carved trinkets whittle from wood in such spare time as meager light and life allow. Many such locals had them on fiber corded for such things and kept such keepsakes close. For all that these sea folk from beyond were strange in stature, clothes and much else, they bore the symbols that joined them across far seas and the life that goes with them.

Together with such greetings they moved towards a larger place, and warmed themselves by fire as they talked in what little they had learned. Smoked and salted fish and meats they bore along with other minor fare, plus leather made from fish skin with sheen for whatever the people needs. They sat and talked of needful things and ate sparingly as they shared, then told of those things they sought to find to keep their lives moving.

Harald was smith with small forge that he crafted from such clay as was about, and could do minor work for reforging things that broke. But iron ran short fast and new iron need be had, along with flux if it was near, so that pure iron was quickly gained. Olaf had an eye for things, beyond the seaborne tides, and knew how to espy those very needed things. For Eric sat and ensured that those who they came to visit, knew that the entire people were present in their captain from sea until Thing-time and lawgiver chosen.

Harald and Asqe spoke, with Olaf interjecting and puzzled frowns from those that sat, were seen all around. Eric then said to Harald, 'Show them what is your need, for they have no knowledge of it nor the casting of iron seed.' From his pack Harald brought bundle and unwrapped its well stained fibers, then showed the bog rock that was the need of his hearth and forge to rend. 'This is last raw bog iron straight from our old climes. Look it well and let me know, can it anywhere be found?' As Asqe talked and the rock was passed, each hefted and gave it a look, and then a boy looked forward and exclaimed and ran dashing through the snow.

He returned with friend hefting rock between them, much for two striplings to bear nor even a stout man. As all looked Olaf rose and went to help the lads, and with the rock inside he took small hammer to it, and looked as piece flew off. 'That is the rock we search for, tis plain and simple truth.' With that Eric smiled and asked what the people needed in return. The looked puzzled at these men, smiling over heavy rock, but as it was explained to them they came to know its worth.

The Sachem Running Wolf and Grandmother Dawn Sparrow of their people talked and then asked others to join the gathering, the boys sat by their prize and Olaf smiled to them and nodded to the rock. Soon parents came and listened and talked faster than Asqe could relay and warmed pots of berry mash served as talking did go on. Finally their Sachem asked, 'How long will you be staying here?'

With that Eric looked at him and those gathered in around, and spoke. 'We come from lands that we find turning unfair and much to our dislike. I ventured three lands once and then vowed three more to find surcease. Now in this three on three I come to make my life for good. Those that follow do also come for that and life continued. We trade for what we need, but do not scorn the fight to those that scorn us first. We seek a land where each is free to worship as his want, and live free of being pestered.'

Asqe shivered and told the truth of that, as best as he was able: 'Though Norse fierce these people, they honor their friends and such agreements. Do not ever cross Norsemen, for it will be the last mistake you make. I have ventured southwards with them from old lands and saw that truth. To those that oppose them there is no end of Nordic ire.' Eric made sure that Asqe told them so these people could see the gleam, as Asqe's eyes did glitter.

The Sachem Running Wolf nodded gravely, remembering reports from first meet. Where Nauset set upon these Northmen, and few lived to tell their tale. The villages that followed that showed wrath beyond compare. While three fighters of these Norse brought down, more handfulls died of Nauset people, and that brought his own tribe to demonstrate their peace. In one day they had done what no other done for all of Grandmother's memory had to speak. And they had traveled further than any other known, from land so far that it dimmed in distance far, where their sun was noon it arose here, to those first seeing light of day.

Eric then went on to speak his worth, and let these people know: 'When spring arrives one ship be sent, back to our old land. Sending gifts and greetings and fair warning, to Kings of Danes and Swedes. Their hands will not stretch here, nor any fighting might. But welcome all those who would settle peacefully, and live life free of them. We settle by agreement unless cause is given otherwise, then blood will not retain us. No one threatens free men, nor any to detain us. But we hold to our Law, and each accountable to All.'

The weight of future held to this Sachem Running Wolf , no great nor for all his People, and to clan Grandmother Dawn Sparrow to help weigh that future of their People. They talked on this and listened to worries of their kin, then she looked to Asqe and asked direct of him: 'Did you come willingly with these ones, of their cold clime?' Asqe nodded and looked to her: 'They asked for one venturesome, who would risk life to come with them. They gave scant pay unto me, and that to family, as I had ventured before with them and saw great giving in the travel. I come free as have they to be free for all my People.'

Grandmother looked strangely then: 'Your People are put upon?' Asqe nodded: 'They are, Cousin Grandmother, as the icy waters change, and we venture further south, and run straight into such Norse. Those that rule them in far land set them on one course. But they are free and now break from that to be free from that hand. Such are they that make their way to be judged on their own acts, and will not be put upon when rulers erode their pax.'

Sachem Running Wolf looked at Asqe: 'They give up bond of kin?' Asqe looked to him and said: 'No they give up no kin. But they have this Law over them that needs new Lawgiver each year. Those that rule over those, must adhere to such things they do. For these People crossed will bear little that does not respect them nor their lives. And here their rules guide them, and Eric their lawgiver from their voyage, come in spring new Lawgiver chosen, though likely tis the same. And he will have none over him nor over those that follow.'

Eric Three Lands had heard and said: 'I expect many others to follow. But as all respect the Law, they come here by it to be true. Respect where given is returned, and that Law has always been true.' Sachem Running Wolf looked into Eric's eyes, ones that had seen blood running very red, a man of three lands once and then again, now declaring his place to hold. 'Freedom is the venture, but only for the bold.'

Grandmother's brow furrowed and whispered: 'How many come, you of Three Lands told?' Eric looked to Olaf who then spoke up: 'I see you have such emblem here with star above arcs of color. From those I come from under Odin's eye, we know that symbol too. May I ask you what it is to you, so that I can tell from me to you?'

Grandmother Dawn Sparrow smiled, and eyes twinkled: 'That is first light that make us all. With Spirit, Blood, Life, Earth and Spirit, Plants and Death. For all that makes us from beginning comes from that first bound light.' Olaf smiled: 'Thank you, oldster, for your knowledge you give to me. For us that is the home of Gods and the colors that great Bifrost Bridge, leading from this world far into the next which is the source of all of us.'

Olaf then spoke anew: 'That bridge comes down in rainbow to show us its great light. And it is everywhere and given to show us the Way. The time is ending in our lands, where those seek out that great light, and see it as simple colors that are not so bright. And so they spurn that which was passed to us, from generations gone, and I come with Eric to see such new where it is undiminished still. Those that wish to keep such brightness and bring beliefs will follow in our trail. I can think of clans and villages and families more than ten hands worth, that would do so, coming from our older lands. There will be far more than that, in time, who seek peace to find their Way.'

The Sachem looked to Eric; 'They will come like you?' And Eric gave reply: 'They will hear the Law I see, and agree to it because it is a better Way. Those that hold to this Law will be judged by All and rulings duly made. They agree to that when they leave, or face fight when they come. And those rulers already have fights enough, to not seek another one.' Then Olaf said: 'What we make here, will guide us further and how to be with you.'

Harald who had looked at the rock then asked the boys of it: 'Where did you find this rock and how to come by it?' One boy looked to another and the second he did say: 'It is where meadow and stream meet, on meadow bank just dropped out.' Harald puzzled and ask: 'Not in bog? For that tis where its found.' The first boy spoke: 'Oh no, bogs are much further away, this is bog meadow.'

Harald put hand to chin: 'Bog meadow? Is it big?' The boys nodded and Sachem Running Wolf spoke: 'It is an hour or so to cross any way you go, the stream has had many bogs as it winds and goes.' Harald blinked once and again then looked to Olaf who did reach into his sack, pulling second rock out: 'Have you seen rock like that?'

Sachem Running Wolf nodded: 'Yes, it is on island nearby, easy enough to find.' Olaf and Harald looked one to the other, both men had done forge-work. Grandmother Dawn Sparrow spoke: 'What does this mean?' And then Eric smiled sweetly: 'You have just given them more than three lifetime's work, Grandmother Munin of your Clan. And more than that, I think.'

To those gathered: 'You have seen our tools and weapons, it is iron from bog rock. We use that stone for flux to make it pure quickly. If this proves out you have just shown us hard work for generations to come, for with trees and iron and good land here, you are talking more than Family or Clan. The word we use is Nation. For old lands stripped of good trees and iron takes time to forge, yet here abundance both for generations not yet born.'

Eric looked to Sachem then Harald then to Grandmother Dawn Sparrow and addressed her: 'As your people's memory let me ask you like this - if those who would learn to work with us to gain this knowledge were given leave to learn what we know, then that future will be built together by us both. This learning is both ways, so that we may learn of land and people and ways here, and together make something greater together and between us. From this new Law can be made, to safeguard all that is here, and put no one over it all but only chosen by assent for that is what we leave. That way forward will be hard, hard work for both, but I think far worse for you. But shared that burdened lessened and future built anew.'

The Sachem Running Wolf spoke, once more: 'That decision must go to greater Sachem for the Clan. But we can work with you until that decision is made, for that is in our hands. If he speaks against this, then I do not know the end. But I know we can grasp to friends, and hold on to such hands.' Eric then moved hand forward and the Sachem followed suit, then Harald and Olaf then Grandmother, soon the boys and parents and others who had listened joined. Eric said: 'That is Law between us then, friend with friend until other day arrive. We share knowledge and learn as best we can to make this future new.'

Thus began the winter of the trudging through snow, until trails were made, and boys and girls searching and sailing and mending ships and nets and sails and first trees to be felled for later years and more ships built as hands did work together. And that promised hard work was seen by winters end and new forge built to smelt the iron. Meadowforge was built, the largest of its kind, and in five years these two People set as they joined together, for the Great Sachem would see the wisdom of hard work and building to safeguard against the tide. And those that learned there spread knowledge, but only under Law. For these lands aren't peaceable between Peoples and Peoples, and as things would grow and go on, the days of struggle would arrive.

Come that spring saw renewed and first of gathering for the Thing, to be done early as much needs done to settle well and truly in. And so the Captain said to all: 'The voyage it is done. Now Law Speaker is needed so that law can work its way. Thanks to one and all for this great voyage is like none other. Now time has come to choose way forward and I step aside for the choosing to go on.' With that Eric walked from those who were the community and over to his nets, and continued mending that was left.

All that lived there now discussed, and argued some between them. They looked at those interested from the Clan who stood by to listen and think upon the Thing. For that winter saw some few that had languages of both, and so did go on that choosing so that rights and wrongs be worked out. While one or two put forth different names, those ones did say 'no'. Finally the assembled people came together as one, and sent message to Eric. For he of Three Lands had the view, such as only One-Eye could see, and future from such past be done, for all to move and be.

Eric heard and shook his head, but knew his voyage over. Still one could Law Give and travel far, but needs still kept one near. He walked slowly back and stood before those people. He looked and looked, from one to one and at those that watched from Clan. He closed his eyes and sighed and knew that weight upon him. From simple wish comes hard life, and he accepted that so that he could then speak forth.

'Today is first day of this new home, though it took time to settle in. Now we must secure ourselves for future true unknown. We have worked hard with Wampanoag and heard their wisdom, too. From start of two boys fetching bog stone, the purpose came anew. Today Light Hawk and Trail Walker both help and organize, together with our kin they showed that way to us. While the great hammer to pound, bare iron is still beyond them, they wrought well and so we see work enough for all. Together walking melting snow over bog meadow stretching far, there is fair land to grow and live and move beyond mere scratching.'

'Then to island just off shore, and looking at flux stone. From simple tasks of gathering we can build new hearth and home. Some of us walk with these folks, and now we see through new eyes. We can change those things we know, to live and build. But we also have needs of many things, old lands and kings do have. So our first up is to send word back, directly over sea. And this time it be fast, as no dallying will take place. Markers left on Vinland to show the way to go.'

'Olaf and Asqe plus 10 more they choose, will take long and trading ship. Those are the most seaworthy now, while we continue to repair the others. Back to former home, for first supplies and longboat sent back with them. Olaf will take my meager horde and press on to Danelands home. There first gift to be sent and one to each Viking King: a bear shirt and raven dried in cloth. The simple message of no King over us, nor ever shall will come through from that simple gift.'

'For those of us here, we will go on trading paths with those that help us out. I needs go and see their leader, and ease problems caused with their Great Sachem, and offer what meager things we have. Harald will stay then, to keep things going, and all problems set aside till my return. Already trees to clear and let sit for drying so that we may build more anew, and locating what is good to grow, beyond what we brought, so that food will be enough. This is no time to slack nor think of Viking forth.'

'And for that let me say, that Asqe has shown true Viking heart. He has lived while others died, and helped us greatly much. I say that man is Viking now and all to treat him same, and his people too. Let none say 'nay' to spirit when it is obvious, and stout heart and body true. When he goes back with Olaf, it is to his People to tell his tales and have welcome ever he return.'

'For the rest we know our work for fishing, trapping, hunting, gathering, planting, tending and repairing. It will be from barest light at start and end of day that we will work so that permanent home be made. A place here at this bay and one by the Meadowforge good trail laid out and cleared. And real meeting hall, though not this year, as the trees they need to season. Now let me hear complaints so that I may try to reason...'

Thus ends the First Winter Tale of the Free Land.


Ymarsakar said...

I was just wondering, but have you read Eric Flint's 1812 Rivers of War novel?

A Jacksonian said...

Ymarsakar - Unfortunately I haven't had the time nor cognition ability to do so. My mind is still knitting together reading comprehension and appreciation which is slowly coming together with the 1632 novels... Just on the latest of those at this point.

This idea has been in my head for... a decade or more, really, maybe 20 years. I am no writer to give it good voice, but there is a coalescing to it from my childhood learnings. Woefully out of date, of course, but still an interesting concept. Alt-history has always been a favorite area of mine from the H. Beam Piper PARATIME stories, esepcially Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, all the way to the Belisarius and 1632 series. Some influence from Harrison's WARRIORS OF THE WAY series also, plus numerous short stories by Bradbury, Drake, de Camp, and others.

If I was well and had full reading ability I would not write nor even be here with what I have put down. Reading is, for me, one of the great pleasures of my life. Slowly it comes back to something near what it was. Not fully and the strain takes energy, but reinforcing those pathways slowly opens them. Which is why I haven't written much of late, I am regaining my pleasure of reading.