Ousekjarr strong now, rich land gleaning,
Ousekjarr war fame; sagas telling,
Ousekjarr King's men, high honours holding.
Neighbour Aelfric, bile now tasting
Looks at Ousekjarr, looks with longing,
Land lust Aelfric seeks to take all.
Ousekjarr's deeds grow with the telling,
Told in mead hall, told by seamen,
Told in cold lands when the winds bite.
When the tale was told in Iceland,
Came the whispered name of Thorgrim
Came to wake them - sleeping Krak's sons.
Krak's sons stirring, grey wolves lapping,
Three ships sailing, south their keeling,
Seeking Thorgrim, seeking plunder.
Strong the man-hate - Krak avenging.
Krak's sons sailing into Ouse mouth,
Long ship oars beat Ouse broad water.
Aelfric glad now, speaks with North men,
Tells of Ousekjarr's fen girt island.
Tells how Magnus and his war band
Feast in King's hall in the south land,
There to gain the High King's honour,
While Thorgrim guards his liege lord's land.
Oak wood hewed walls, fen wind shielding.
Ale song supping, hearth fire crackling,
Thorgrim's dream song, mem'ry stirring
Flickering shades of younger days.
Hear the night sound, voices calling
In the dark night - "Come Krak's killer!"
Down the years of love and exile,
Long lost heart stir, blood let murder.
They come at last - blood feud finding.
Krak's sons here now - bringing slaughter.
Thorgrim bids them wait no longer
He alone will join their axe play.
"Thralls and farm folk - do not harm them!
With me alone, have you to deal."
Krak's sons rush him, Thorgrim holds them
'Till coward Aelfric stabs his back.
Bat wings beating, life blood leaking,
Hear his death cry - "Where now Ousekjarr?"
Krak's sons taking brushwood island,
Six feet of fen was Aelfric's share.
Flew the tidings, borne on gull's wings-
"Thorgrim dead now - Krak's sons slew him!
Hear his death cry, honour binds you,
Go now, Ousekjarr - seek out Krak's sons!"
Anguish smote the Jarl of Ousekjarr,
"Vermin crawl on brushwood island!
Swift now, war band - back to fen land,
Sword swift, axe dance, arrows flighting,
Thus will Ousekjarr seek our vengeance
Cleanse the land of Iceland's ravens!"
By the dawning, in the grey light,
Ousekjarr came to fen land island.
Three mighty ships upon the strand,
Serried ranks of steel clad foemen,
Four score or more 'gainst them alone.
Yet none of Ousekjarr sought retreat.
Their island home, foemen holding
Skin crawling fear, disgust, regret,
Dark sucking mud - Hela calling. . .
Sword now shining - Magnus moving
Stepping to the Odinn chant
One man alone - Hela scorning!
Now Mildthryth clasps her mighty axe
And with Magnus, Ottar, Ordlaff,
Forward Eirik, Fenris, Thoralf,
Guthrith, Helen, Sunnan-dottir.
First blood to Gaas, Thorhild, Kelda,
Fast sped death on goose winged sting.
Arrows pricking, sticking, sucking,
Shield wall staggers, stumbles, screaming.
"Form the Boar's Snout!" - Magnus leading,
Crash of shield wall, spear shafts snapping.
Through them, split them, turn them, hack them!
Now will Ousekjarr win their island?
Boar's Snout thrusting now is weak'ning.
Krak's men holding, firming, standing,
Axe play, sword play - "Keep formation!
Ousekjarr, to me! - Keep regrouping!"
Ottar's sax is dancing, stinging,
Mildthryth's Dane-axe cleaves and sunders.
Ousekjarr circle now is shrinking,
Ringed with steel and linden wood.
No room now for arrows flighting,
With axe and blade are bowmen fighting.
Sword arms rising, falling, aching,
Throats dry, lungs roar, shields split, feet slip.
In the reed bank, watching, hoping,
Sigrun, Tola - Thorhild's daughters.
Now they see the battle swaying
Ousekjarr seeking woodland shelter,
Slowly wading through the carnage,
Ousekjarr staggers to the trees.
Where now Thorhild - where is Mother?
Now falls Ordlaff, Gaas and Kelda,
Sting no more will Ottar's seax.
Whirl-wind bright sings sword of Fenris
But falls at last by Guthrith's side.
Staunch Eirik's down, but where the others,
Where is Ousekjarr? Where is Mother?
Yet two remain - Mildthryth and Magnus.
Two stand alone and back to back.
Two stand alone mid heaps of slain.
Two stand alone and battle's hushed,
Two stand alone ringed round with steel-
"Ousekjarr-to me!" - but none do hear.
Iron grey, the tide that sweeps in,
Blood red the spume that spatters all.
Dane-axe breaking, sword blade shatters,
Keen edge piercing, ring mail parting.
Ousekjarr life blood stains the bracken,
Heroes feet are set on Bifrost.
In the gloaming of the evening,
Thorhild's daughters seek the farm folk.
Then to Jorvik and their vengeance,
But vengeance for another day.
With the day's end comes the burning,
Brave Ousekjarr on funeral pyre.
See their red blood on the bracken,
See the smoking funeral fire,
See the wisps of souls ascending,
See them searching, finding, merging,
See the brothers and the sisters,
See them gathering one by one. . .