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The continued story of the distressed son of a jarl in Ostland. Tune in for more melodrama.

War-Journal of Bue Geirsteinson - Part II

by Jacob Skytte

Vatermont 15th, the year 1000 After Crowning of the First Emperor of the Thyatian Empire

This morning, before my kinsmen left Zeaburg, my sister Oda Elsasdottir sought me out. My heart was hopeful, perhaps she would see reason where father would not. She had become a dangerous-looking young woman, the sword at her side had obviously seen frequent use, and her muscles were well-developed from long practice. Where my youngest sister, Lis, is pure innocence, Oda is of a more cunning and malicious nature. But she would do anything to save her skin, of that I was assured.

"Brother," she greeted me. "You have certainly made your mark on our family. Father is in an uproar and it was only the fact that you stand in the great hall of king Hord Dark-Eye that saved you from our brother's wrath. Lot is furious with you, and you know how he acts, when he's upset. But he is loyal to our father unto death. As is mother."

"And you?" I asked her. "Will you also stand before me, sword in hand, prepared to sacrifice yourself for our father's pride and ambition? Or have you come to join me in saving the honour of our clan?"

She laughed. Not a pleasant laugh, but a cold one. "I do not desire to lay down my life for any man, certainly not for you or our father. As you know I have been betrothed to Ragnar Solmundson, the jarl of Vithesford. Since I do not wish to share the fate of the rest of the family, I will be joining his force, when they leave their winter hall for Storm Bay tomorrow. He knows nothing of our father's machinations, he only thinks that he is bringing home a young and beautiful bride. In his hall will I be safe from your little war, brother dear. And should you or our father die during that war, I will not weep for you. Men are all foolish creatures, thinking that power comes with strength of arms. I will have power, real power, and I will find it in Vithesford."

I knew my sister to be cunning and cold, but had not realised that she was as ambitious as father and Lot. It seemed that madness ran in the family's veins, only Lis and I were spared from it. "Sister, what about our clan? Will you abandon your blood relatives to let them face death in battle. Will you not come with me for their sake, to convince them to lay down arms. Faced with two of the jarl's heirs side by side they may be convinced that he has gone mad, and give up arms without need for battle."

She snickered. "My blood means nothing to me! The clan is useless to me, it will never follow me so long as you and Lot live. And with Hord's attentions focused on the clan, I will never be allowed into that position of power. But in Vithesford I will be the jarl's wife, and it won't take me long to make him my puppet, so it will be I who rules that domain in deed, if not in name. Let our clan die fruitlessly, it is of no concern to me."

"You are not human," I sighed. "At least take pity on our sister, Lis, and take her with you to Vithesford, where she will be safe and spared from the horror of war. You can protect her and shield her innocence from the carnage that will shatter it forever."

Oda spat on the ground. "My 'precious' sister has long been due for a rude awakening. She thinks she can walk around with her head in the clouds and ignore the reality of the world she lives in. Well, it's time her white gown was stained with red blood. She is not fit to live in a nation of warlords and berserkers. If the shock of facing reality kills her then perhaps that is for the best. Her innocence is a fragile shield and when it breaks, she will be forced to face the world or die. There is no place for her purity here."

I felt sad for Oda, apparently having never known true innocence. "You are envious of her, are you not? I pity you that you can never have what she has, but trying to destroy it will not make the world an easier place for you to live in."

"Shut up! You know nothing! You are a man, favoured by all, strong and powerful. You do not know what it is like to be a woman surrounded by men that could snap you in two, that could take you, should they wish to. You are not subject to the will of a harsh father who wishes to rule over your body and mind, to be his play-thing to give away as he pleases. You are truly privileged, and you do not even know it. I have been raised to be obedient, sweet and in awe of men like you. It wasn't easy, but I fought against that! Even though I was faced at every turn with disapproving faces and stern lectures, I prevailed! It took all my will and it killed all of my pitiful innocence and purity, but now I am my own woman, and no man rules over me! I have cut the last ties with my family, with my clan, and I now leave it all behind me. In Vithesford my word will be law, and men will learn to fear *me*!"

"Poor sister. I will weep for your lost innocence, when such a time comes that I will find the tears for it. You are right. Lis certainly should not go with you to Vithesford. She should never become as you have become. Her innocence makes her stronger than you can imagine, even stronger than you. For strength is indeed not measured only by force of arms. Our sister's purity is all the strength she will need. I will find a way to preserve that."

Oda gathered her cloak about her and turned to leave. "You will fail, brother. Her purity will be stained by this war of brother against brother and you will be responsible. She is the price you will pay for following the king. Weep not for me. Save your tears for Lis and for yourself."

And with that she was gone.