Heimdall’s 8 Section 6
Letter ‑ P
Name ‑ PEORTH
Meaning ‑ A DICE CUP
Planetary Rulership ‑ MARS AND THE SOUTH NODE (SCORPIO)
Gemstone ‑ AQUAMARINE
Flower ‑ CHRYSANTHEMUM
Number ‑ 3
Arthian ‑ THE SIEGE PERILOUS
WEATHER ‑ SQUALLS SHOWERS OVERCAST.
Secrets. Good luck. Winnings. Mysticism. Mysteries.
Legacies, investments, speculation, gambling, all psychological problems. The finding of lost things.
Discovering secrets, good luck in gambling or gaining a legacy sexual compatibility, possibly a gift of money but watch for strings.
A nasty surprise or disappointment. Don’t lend or invest money; it won’t be paid back without great trouble. Don’t count on getting a loan. Plans will go awry Sexual incompatibility and mystical experimentation by Dabblers (Foul their birches they will). Possible involvement with drugs and off beet sexual proclivities.
Tuborg sat on the wooden floor sipping at a horn of mead and watching Gerda, who was stirring the stew pot. She glanced at him and blushed. Their relationship was still a secret to Sygin, and he hoped it could remain so. If he could only bring in a good run, his Captain’s portion might be enough to buy the thrall from his family. Putting her beyond his wife’s retribution.
The sound of coughing disturbed his reverie. Tuborg stood moving to where his father sat in his chair at the feast table. The table nearly spanned the end of the great room in front of the wall that divided the private rooms that filled the back of the longhouse.
“Are you alright?” asked Tuborg.
“Cough’s got right hold.” Brunn shook his head. “Have a look at this.” He put a leather cup on the table then upended it. Little cubes of bone with dots burnt into them fell out.
“Dice. I didn’t know you played,” remarked Tuborg.
Brunn made a disgusted sound. “Play. It cheapens the dice to reduce them to a game.” He beckoned Tuborg close. “I’m going to tell you something, son. It wasn’t just trade as bought me first ship. Was a time me and my friends went a Viking. That’s where I got the money to set up.”
Tuborg stared at his father. “I never knew that.”
“Aya, raided up and down the cost of the great isle.” Brunn looked haunted. “Lot of good men never came back, and I did things I’m not proud of. Never had much of a taste for it, but the coin was good, and a man does what he must for his family.” His melancholy seemed to lift. “Back then, I studied the dice before each raid.”
“Studied the dice?”
“Aya. Simple enough. Yur put them in the cup like so.” The old man scooped up the dice and dropped them in the cup. “Give them a shake and ask yur question.” He demonstrated. “Then dump them out like so.” He let the dice fall onto the table. “The Norns know what is to be, they see it in the weave of their tapestry, and they give us mortals a glimpse in the dice. It be one of the mysteries, like the Runes or the Seith women, but it suits a warrior’s life.
“Can you teach me?” Tuborg stared at the little cubes in awe.
“Aya, may be the last lesson I can. Now pay attention.” Brunn turned the dice and started reviewing what each number meant.
Hours later, Tuborg scooped the dice into the cup, closed his eyes, shook them, then dumped them out and looked at them. A frown came to his face. “I think I did it wrong.”
Brunn glanced at the roll, and a sad smile came to his lips. “Just because you don’t like the roll, don’t mean its false.” Brunn let out a fit of coughing. Minutes later he stopped clutching his ribs and waved Tuborg off him. “It’s time, son. The Norns have told me that true enough, but the role has a promise. I don’t know how, but it says I’ll be spared the straw death. That’s a blessing. I’d best speak with your mother. Son, I’m proud of the man you’ve become.” Leaning closer he added. “Take care of Gerda, you deserve better than what Sigyn has given you. Even if she is free-born. I’ve told your mother flat that none of the thralls are to take ship with me and she’s not to sell the family into thralldom trying to meet the third of the goods for me grave. All I’ll be needing is a blade and me old armour. Gerda should be safe enough with you looking out for her.” Rising from his chair, Brunn took a laboured breath then forced himself to walk with dignity to where his wife was supervising a thrall working a loom on the far side of the great hall.
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Minutes later Sweyn burst into the hall. “Tuborg, you better come quick.”
Tuborg rushed to his friend intercepting him at the same time as his mother.
“What is the meaning of this?” demanded Tuborg’s mother.
“It’s Oski. I was down at the pier to talk to the crew of that Langskip that came in. Oski was on the dock playing dice with the ship’s captain.”
Brunn walked up to listen to the account.
Sweyn continued. “Oski was in his horns and accused the captain of cheating. They took him and are getting ready to set to sea. They intend to sell him into thralldom to cover his debt. I would have stayed to help, but twenty against one is long odds.”
“You did the right thing. Gerda, bring my sword. The rest of you, arm yourselves. If we hurry, we can get them before they cast off.”
“Brunn, you can’t.” Tuborg’s mother looked stricken.
“They took our boy. Our children are our legacy. I will not see them enthralled. I love you, my Asta.”
Minutes later Brunn lead his hastily armed household down the pear towards the visiting longship. It had the shallow draft and slender construction of a raiding boat and rode low in the water with cargo. Sweyn and Tuborg flanked Brunn each carrying a sword.
The visiting captain, a huge man with wild, red hair and a thick, bushy beard clad in chain mail and carrying a sword, stepped onto the dock to face the newcomers.
“He called me a cheat. I can’t be having that,” bellowed the captain.
“Let him go, and we’ll consider it closed,” stated Brunn.
“He owes me for the insult.” Behind the hulking form of the captain, his crew were arming themselves.
Brunn nodded. “We’ll dice for him. I win, he goes free. You win, I pay you twice what he owes you.”
The foreign captain stared at the hastily assembled force arrayed against him. His men had the advantage of experience and equipment, the villagers of numbers, and more were coming every minute. He could see it would be bloody either way. He nodded. “I’ll get my cup. High role?”
“High role,” agreed Brunn.
“Oski lost a lot of money,” cautioned Sweyn.
Brunn grunted and forced a deep breath.
The foreign captain clambered onto the dock holding a dice cup.
“Let me see the cup,” demanded Brunn.
“You calling me a cheat?”
“I want to see the cup. Or explain to your men why it’s a problem.”
The big captain hesitated then passed over the dice cup.
Brunn examined it tapping the base. A smile crossed his lips.
“I’ll roll first.”
“Here’s the dice.” The captain held out the two bone cubes.
“No, here are the dice.” Brunn upended the cup onto the dock then pushed on its base. There was a slight chinking sound, then he lifted the cup. Two dice were on the deck showing twelve. “I’ll be taking my son and his purse.”
There was a gasp and murmurs from the langskip’s crew. One voice rose above the others. “That’s how he’s been doing it. The cheat!”
“You.” The big captain charged swinging his sword towards Brunn. Sweyn and Tuborg pushed forward to stall the advance of the men from the langskip. Brunn parried his enemy’s blow coming in close under his reach then striking, but the chainmail turned the blade.
The other able-bodied people from Brunn’s household rushed forward.
The big captain thrust catching Brunn in the stomach but leaving himself open. Brunn’s blade came hard against the captain’s neck. The cheat’s head rolled into the water as his body collapsed.
Sweyn and Tuborg sent two more of the Vikings tumbling into the water their lives’ blood spilling out of them.
“Hold!” yelled a man standing on the langskip. “There’s no scatt in this for any of us. I call truce. The captain was a cheat, we knows it now. Not a man here who didn’t lose silver to his dice. Take the fool farmer and his scatt before any more go to Odin’s hall for the likes of that thieving scum.”
Brunn gasped, coughed, then dropped to his knees blood pouring from a sword wound in his belly.
“Father,” Tuborg rushed to the old man’s side.
“Truce?” called the ship’s new captain again.
“Bring Oski ashore, but don’t expect safe harbour here again,” snapped Sweyn.
Two men dragged Oski to the shore. A third carried over a chest full of silver coins.
“The chest is yours as weregild, if you’ll take it. It were the Captain’s winnings.”
Sweyn looked at the silver. “He’s not my father. What say you, Tuborg.” Sweyn glanced at where his friend was supporting Brunn. The old man clutched his sword, and there was a pained smile on his lips.
“Take it, it will at least pay for the drink at me funeral. I go to the warrior’s hall. The journey from which none return, the mystery that none may speak. It is time. I love you, my son.” Brunn held his sword in his right hand and touched Tuborg’s face with his left, leaving a bloodstain on Tuborg’s cheek, then died.
Tuborg gazed at his father’s face then lifted his eyes to look over the craftsmen and farmhands armed with wood axes, hoes and other common tools that made up his force. Of them all, only Sweyn his father and he had had swords or any training in their use. His eyes strayed to the eighteen crew of the langskip, each in chain or leather armour, armed with swords and battle-axes.
“There will be no more widows made this night. Go, but if you ever return, expect no hospitality,” snapped Tuborg.
“So it is.” The langskip’s new captain called his men back to the ship, and they cast off.
“I’m so sorry, Tuborg.” Sweyn patted his friend’s shoulder. “He is with Odin. He always wanted to go to Valhalla. In a way that scum spared him the straw death, and he took the cheat with him. He…” Tuborg trailed off as tears choked his voice.
Oski drained his horn and laid his skatt on the pier. “You gonna role or aren’t you. Tens the number to beet.
The hulking captain of the Vikings grinned and snatched the dice off the deck seaming to drop them into the cup. He then shook the cup and put it down on the deck. He gave it a pat, for luck, then lifted it off the dice.
“Twelve. That beats your ten.” The big man scooped up the silver.
“I’ve no luck today!” spat Oski.
“Aww, don’t give up. Have another drink, then we can roll again.” The Captain nodded to the crewman behind him, who took Oski’s horn and carried it to the mead barrel on the ship.
“So, what’s it like to go a Viking.” Oski focused on the captain.
“It’s a fine thing. We set them Saxons a screaming, we did. This one farmer, he killed two of me men, but I showed him. Gave him a good klámhogg. Used him as a woman I did. He knew his shame before we sent him to Hel.
Unseen by Oski the man with his horn opened a skin and poured liquid from it into the mead before returning the filled horn.
“Oh, wasn’t that rather messy,” Oski tried to keep his disgust from his voice.
“Washes off easy enough. His screams and whimpers were worth a bit of mess.”
The crewman passed Oski his horn and Oski took a long swallow, not noticing the bitter taste in the mead.
“You gonna put down your silver and role?” demanded the Viking captain.
Oski put down his silver and focused his thoughts trying a trick a travelling Godie had taught him. He visualized the number twelve and rolled.
Minutes later Oski was vaguely aware of Sweyn greeting him and moving to speak to the Viking crew. Odd lights danced around him, and the voices were strangely distorted. He rolled the dice. “Eleven. Try to beat that.”
“It looks like I’m done for sure.” The captain picked up the dice cup.
Oski found himself fascinated by the movement of the big man’s hands as they picked up the dice and slipped them into a pocket stitched into the inside of his cloak. The captain then put the cup down, but there was no chink of dice until he patted it for luck.
The captain lifted the cup to reveal twelve.
“You’re a cheat.” Oski leapt to his feet and almost fell over.
“You can’t say that. It’s an insult to my honour. The captain drew his sword. What you say, boys? We take this one and sell him. Should pay the debt he’s run-up and the insult.”
Several of the men from the langskip rushed onto the dock.
Sweyn glanced at the battle-hardened crew and bolted from the dock, barely avoiding the Captain’s grab. “Right, get ready to cast off. I think we’ve outstayed our welcome.” Sweyn heard the captain order as he sprinted to Oski’s home.