View Full Version : "King Arn" - a short story 1st draft I just completed

08 Oct 2015, 07:09

I have completed the 1st draft of a short story which I've called "King Arn," and it is influenced generally by the Sagas of Ragnar Lothbrok, Beowulf, and likely other Epics such as Homer because I have found that I love Epics! This one isn't poetic though, but I have also completed 36 lines of this one Epic poem which is the longest I've done so far. Maybe I'd post that some other time.


Imagine you're in a mead hall, with a man telling this story:

In days gone by, King Asger ruled over the land of the Swedes and the Danes. It is said that Odin had blessed him with the most excellent spear in the world, and that it was nigh impossible to deform or cut its haft. The Allfather also blessed him with beastly strength to wield it in his younger days. Many men stood with him. They braced his shieldwall as he conquered first the Jarls in native Sweden, and then the Danes. Once before, the King had also attempted to conquer the Finns, but failed. It was the only time he was defeated.

He set his laborers to task at this point, creating seaworthy vessels. The King and his sons, Asbjorn and Asmund, discussed plans for conquest in western lands, within Asger’s high-timbered hall. When the laborers had completed their noble task, the host of dragon-prowed langskips numbered highly; so high that Asbjorn and Asmund strode from Lund to Roskilde upon the ship decks without getting their feet wet. However Asger fell into the depths of illness. He could not brandish his spear, and neither could he fulfill the conquest with his sons, for he had descended into Hel’s domain, under the world. Hel thought that he had fought and ruled mightily in life, so she lavished Asger with a feast. Odin and Freya would have vied for him to enter their realms, if only he had fallen in battle.

Just before his death, the King assigned ownership of his Kingdom to the eldest son, Asbjorn, and ownership of the great spear to Asmund. In honor of Asger, they sacrificed one of their ships, but had to retain the others for their conquest. The prows of each vessel appeared as ghastly sea dragons upon the shores of Pictland, Frankia, Angleland, and that of the Gaels. The people of these western lands sallied to meet the sons of Asger with armies, but each time they were routed.

The sons defeated High King Domnall of the Gaels, whom Asmund spared. Asmund demanded that Domnall give him land, as much as could be surrounded by a cow’s hide. The King conceded. And so Asmund placed in his skip the hide of a cow, and sailed around the entire island, finally landing on its eastern coast where he would build the city of Dubh-linn. When the High King Domnall spat his harsh protests, Asmund stated that he had shown his claim of land, as much as could be surrounded by a cow’s hide. Asbjorn saw what his brother had done, and allowed him to keep the isle.

In Dubh-linn, Asmund ruled for nine years before having a son who he named Arn, with the woman called Eira. Asbjorn too had a son, named Asbjorn. The eldest son of Asger continued to rule the Swedish and Danish lands for several years. Summers passed, and the two sons of Asger could see that their own sons were growing in height and strength. The younger sons sparred against their fathers with strong-armed blows and swift feet, to ready themselves, in the hopes of future conquest. They sparred with each other as well and gained much enjoyment from this. One summer, Arn and Asbjorn the younger accompanied their fathers in the fleet of hard-planked sea dragons.

They rowed and sailed the vessels to those islands held by the King of Dal Riada, near Pictish lands. The King of Dal Riada came out with his warriors and their swirl-emblazoned shields to hurl the foes back into the sea. There was a great clash of spears and shields. Many men fell and went to the gods, and the descendents of Asger were the cause of much distress among the Dal Riadans. Asbjorn the younger and Arn proved themselves in the din. Since Asbjorn would inherit Denmark and Sweden and all conquered lands, Arn also sought a share of the land, as his father had done before.

It happened that the King of Dal Riada attempted to escape eastward across the waters to Pictland, for his outer isles had been conquered. The King sailed a number of miles until he approached shore. Arn faced to the east. He then held his spear behind his head, charged forth, and cast it. The spear climbed until it graced the highest branches and leaves of the world, out of sight. It was such a wonder to his onlooking kin that they sailed to Pictland, to see if he had thrown it across. Indeed, they discovered the Dal Riadan vessel on the shore, with mournful men inside. Once confronted, the men pointed to their lifeless King; a long spear protruded from his chest. The Dal Riadan men spoke of how the battle-haft plummeted down from the heavens like the eagle. Asbjorn the King, Asbjornsson, and Asmund all saw how great a feat it was, and so Asbjorn the King granted Arn ownership of the isles of Dal Riada.

However the days of that northern King, Asbjorn, were numbered like those of his father’s and of all people, whether they rule all or are by all, ruled. Asbjorn the King perished and went beneath the roots of the world to Hel, just as Asger had. Asmund too made the final voyage, accompanying his brother. Odin saw that his night-feathered Ravens lanced through the air towards him.

“Huginn and Muninn,” hailed the Raven-God, “you approach with furious wingbeats, what must you tell?” “I have seen the death of Asbjorn Asgersson,” said Huginn, “and I have seen the death of Asmund Asgersson. Neither shirked the clashes of spear nor axe, but by neither did they fall,” said Muninn. When Odin heard this, he sighed, for the distinguished sons of Asger would not sit at his mead benches.

Asbjorn the younger was the one who became supreme ruler over Swedish, Danish, and conquered lands, and Arn was the one known most for his physical abilities. He also received the famed spear of Asger. The new King Asbjorn saw what fame his capable brother had secured for himself, and desired the same, or even greater glory. He thought it necessary to exclude Arn from his next conquest, lest the spear-wielder do more feats.

Once, while Arn was residing in those western isles, Asbjorn hastened the his force’s preparation so that they would be ready to sail before Arn arrived in the north lands. They were indeed ready before the usual time, and so when Arn arrived, the King and most of his men had already long departed. Arn stormed back to his lands and divulged to Eira what had occurred. His mother calmed him and promised that she would go with Arn the following year, and try to catch Asbjorn before he leaves. The following year, Arn and Eira sailed early from Dubh-linn. They arrived in Asbjorn’s city as he was preparing the ships. The guards kept a watchful eye upon Arn, as if he was a development in the weather, all the way from the docks to Asger’s old high-timbered hall.

“Brother, you and your men seem quite eager for the spoils this year...” spoke the younger son to King Asbjorn, who then replied “you set a strong foot in my hall but enter with a perilous tone.” “Do you not see who stands before you, brother?” “Asbjorn--” spoke Eira, but the King’s reply was as a knife to her throat: “I know who stands before me. But I know not why.” “I would like for you to answer a question. Why have you set off without me, and make plans to do the same again?” King Asbjorn eyed his kin and spoke.

“The great spear-launcher is not content with the glory and riches he has secured thus far? You inherited from your father the isle of Gaels, and by your own throw, still more isles. The people speak of you without error--and me?! No! It’s you, you, you!” “Asbjorn, you are a great ruler; Asger would be proud seeing you where he once was, but he would not be proud of your current behavior.” “Do not pretend to flatter and then shame me; guards, remove them! See them to their vessels.” “Then we shall fight!” Arn’s voice bit the air with frost. Eira protested. “Arn!” she cried, “please, this path you suggested cannot be the right one. Reconsider!” However, Arn stood by his word. Asbjorn could not decline, for fear of dishonor.

Several of the gods and goddesses decided to watch, with the first present being Sunna. She rose before all the others, and provided light for all to see. Many people of the town came to watch as well, their lips as fixed as their feet, a multitude of living statues. The only ones moving were Arn, Asbjorn, and one of the King’s distinguished Thegns. “Before you,” thundered the Thegn, “stands King Asbjorn, and his brother, Arn Asmundsson. Arn Asmundsson has challenged the King to holmgang. They may begin.”

The two brothers circled each other, the point of Arn’s legendary spear and that of Asbjorn’s own eyeing each other. The northern King made strong and swift his initial attack, so that Arn reacted to it. Neither combatant was able to score a hit, though such agility was displayed that to all, it was a wonder either one was able to counter so many thrusts. The duel continued on like this before Arn gained an advantage. The younger brother drew back however, unwilling to press on. Yet Asbjorn readied more thrusts, and hurled them at Arn. Arn countered, brought his spear up, and drew its whetted edge against Asbjorn’s chest. The King stumbled to the ground. “Brother, I am sorry!” Arn crouched by his brother’s waning form, the tears like meandering fjords down his cheeks. Asbjorn wheezed his last.

Arn grew so furious that the Thegn dared not hail the winner, as is the custom. Arn could not contain his anger, and his knuckles grew white against the haft of Asger’s spear. He squeezed it so hard that it began to deform under his fingers, molding to them. Both Arn and the people were amazed at this feat, for they once believed that it was not possible. The crowd and soon the whole nation hailed him as the new King because Asbjorn did not have an heir, and had been defeated. Many men braced King Arn’s shield wall as they won glorious spoils, conquering the Norwegians and exploring new seas, but these did not comfort him.

The Spear-King devised a plan for the conquest of the Finns. He assembled his host of ships and his warriors for the attack. The Finns came out with arms to meet these invading men, first among them a towering man named Gunnarr. In the battle, each side fought well, each displaying their valor. Then Gunnarr and Arn met on the field. It was a masterful struggle, and like the battle, both men showed great worth. Gunnarr the Finn struck with a gilded sword, puncturing Arn’s linked armor. Arn managed to hit the sword away from Gunnarr’s hands, so Gunnarr grasped the haft of Arn’s spear, to take it. However Arn’s grip was forever indented, and Gunnarr could not take it. Arn regained control, and plunged it into Gunnarr. The Finns saw this and laid down their arms. They hailed Arn as their King, but Arn succumbed to his wound, having conquered the Finns. Odin welcomed him to Valhalla.

I hope it was worth your time to read! lol. I will be revising it, hopefully.