(From the Come Squeak My Caber Edition of the Herring Voices)
Dagnan and Skallagrim: An Ongoing SagaThere once was a Viking named Dagnan who scoured the seas searching for not so easy victims to prey upon (where is the fun in that???), as well as her YOUNGER sister Skallagrim the Frenzied (who, although had a penchant for mead, was on the boat for a time...).
Together, their exploits were legendary... and tales were told around Norse fires for centuries about the notorious twins... (though they were actually triplets, their younger brother Sigurd was more of a drunkard than a raider. He had too soft a disposition for the family business and was thus left out of the tales... what a ___er!)
Skallagrim frowned out towards the distant cloud that signified land. "Are you sure that's south, Dag?"
"What else would it be?" her ELDER sister snapped. (She was premenstruating and the whole crew was suffering... more than usual, I mean).
"Well, we both know you inherited Da's sense of direction. None."
"At least I can steer."
"Aye, ya just don't know where!"
No one was sure who threw the first punch, but soon Dagnan and Skallagrim were wrestling about. Dagnan hit Skal in the stomach, and was kicked in the head in return by Skal's very large, sturdy soled boots. (Though they be small in size, they're big in impact!)
Katir cracked her whip at the two brawling siblings, "Alright! The last time you two did this it took us a month to repair the longboat! We were lucky enough to raid an unsuspecting group of Saxons with supplies! How often do you think that happens?"
The three looked at each other for a moment with identical expressions, then burst into laughter,
"All the time," Skal announced. "Stupid Saxons."
"Easiest prey I've ever come across." Dag agreed.
"Hey, that's not true!" Seth piped up from where he'd been leaning on his oar... wheezing for a cigarette.
"Shut up Saxon. I think we should throw him overboard -- What do you think?" Dag asked, turning to Skal.
"If we throw him overboard, then we'll have to throw Algernon - they're a matched set. Can we function with two less oarsmen? I'm not rowing this lump of wood!"
"I'm not doing all the bloody rowing either." Drake announced as he threw down his oar in disgust and fished out a cigarette from his belt (he wasn't wearing any shirt because Dagnan wouldn't allow it).
"You'll do what you're told, slave!" Dagnan snarled as Katir cracked her whip for emphasis. Drake cursed as he hastily picked up his oar, glaring daggers at Dagnan.
"You've been far too easy on that one, Dagnan," Skal observed critically.
"Well, it's true! Da taught us better'n that-"
"You know I like to break them less than you do -- it leaves them a little feisty. Still - maybe we should dump them all at the next port. Time to move on you know."
"Mmm. Good idea."
Suddenly the long boat lurched and sent Dagnan flying over the side head first into the cold Norse waters.
Skallagrim hung on to the railing with all her strength as the boat rocked and finally teetered to a halt.
"What in Odin's name happened?!?!"
Katir shrugged and ran over to the side, "we're hung up on something... maybe rocks?"
"What?? Who was steering??"
The sound of laughter hit her ears as Dagnan pulled herself over the side of the longboat. She stood dripping in her lovely furs, looking like a hair ball that had been coughed up. She saw that Skal was beating on Algernon, then Seth, then Drake. All three were laughing and wincing in pain alternately.
"Shut up! That's it!" Skal dragged Algernon to the side of the longboat and pitched him over the side by the seat of his pants. He was followed by Seth, but when she grabbed Drake and braced herself to throw him over Dagnan cried out:
Skal stared at her with a raised brow,
"Okay, go ahead."
Then tossed him over too. "I feel better already," she announced as she watched the men flail helplessly in the water. Dagnan shook her straggling hair out of her face and glared around the boat.
"Well this is great. Now what?"
"We head for the shore."
"But is it South?" Katir asked.
"Yes," said Dagnan, "No," Skal replied simultaneously, and they glared at each other.
"Why don't we go ashore and find out?" Katir suggested. "Fine! But I hope by Odin's eye that Roak's armour is worth all this damage!" Skal grumbled as she threw up her arms in disgust.
"Maybe we'll find some small Saxons to plug up the hole in the longboat." Dagnan said, trying to put a bright look on their situation.
"Of course there'll be Saxons... there are always Saxons." Skal said with a scowl as she stomped towards the small row boat (because these Vikings were always prepared!)
"She's premenstruating." Katir said.
Once upon a time there was a fearless viking warrior named Skallagrim (who once had a penchant for mead, but who had been on the boat for months). She had an equally fierce and fearless YOUNGER twin sister named Dagnan (who had a penchant for tall, skinny Englishmen).
One day (although it may have been night, because they didn't often see sunlight in their land), Skal and Dag were out on their longboat when their trusty oarsman, Kildare, began to complain that his arms were weary from rowing. Soon enough, the entire cohort of oarsmen began to whine and complain, including Algernon, Seth and Drake. Dag gestured in annoyance to the women's whipmistress, Katir, who promptly cracked her whip over the heads of the men, frightening them into continuing their labours.
With a growl Dagnan glared at the men, "anyone complains again and we will not have our way with you for a hand of days. Skal, Katir and I can always go elsewhere for our fun."
The men all groaned in despair and begged the forgiveness of their heartless captors.
Soon they all came upon a small village which the warriors had never seen. "What strange place is this?" muttered Skallagrim, surveying the coast wearily. "Such an untouched village should not be present so close to our own village. This is no Norse place... behold the hovels, Dagnan. They are no longhouses. See! Look how they sway strangely in the wind!"
"Hmn," replied Dagnan, squinting, "Thems are sheep, not hovels, Skal. You got Da's night vision. Let me navigate during Ragnorok, 'kay?"
Skallagrim grudgingly admitted her shortcoming, and allowed her sister to navigate to shore.
A young man bounded up to the warriors as they waded to shore with their axes. "You vikings will na steal me sheep!" the young man bellowed, looking more distressed over the loss of his sheep than he ought.
"You're a Scot?" Skal asked, more comment than query. The young man nodded desperately. Skal and Dag looked at each other and exchanged knowing looks. It would be crueler than cruel to take a young Scotsman's sheep. He might never find any that - suited - quite right again.
"D'ya have anything else we might fancy?" demanded Dagnan. "We cannot go away empty handed." The young man blushed and looked modestly at the two fiercesome vikings (who had left Katir behind to keep the oarsmen in line).
"Well," he replied, there's my sporran. It's not worth much, but it's fuzzy, and my Mum sewed a shiny thing to it." The warriors regarded the fuzzy sporran with some interest, and were soon bedazzled by the shiny thing on it. They looked at each other and nodded slightly.
"Alright, Scotsman. Hand over the sporran. It's not worth much, but it's shiny, so it'll do. We'll leave your sheep for you to enjoy, so no need to fear. What's your name, boy?"
"Dougal the Dingy."
"Hmn," Skal muttered, "apt name. Besides, if we stole your sheep to trade to your kinsmen down the coast, they'd probably recognize them."
"Yes," Dougal confided, "I often lend one or two to my kinsmen, Wilhelm and Hamish when they come down the coast. They'd definitely recognize my flock."
As the warriors sloshed back to their awaiting longboat Dag looked at Skal and commented, "Well, it's not much, but it's fuzzy and has a shiny bit."
Skal shrugged. "We could have taken HIM, but the longboat's still pretty full from last night's raid. We're riding low enough as it is. Besides, the sheep have ruined him for warriors like us. We're just going to have to find people to raid who've got better stuff."
Dagnan nodded an assent, and had Katir reach down to hand her into the longboat. "That guy named Roak down the seventy-ninth fjord to the south - they say his armour is quite luxuriant. It might pay for the next expedition."
"Only if we get rid of the oarsmen who eat too much," replied Skal with a meaningful glare aimed at a tall blond Norseman in the back. "I thought I told you to quit reading that word-of-the-day calendar, Dag. It's not very viking-like."
Dagnan lowered her head in embarrassment. Skal, feeling better, muttered, "I wonder if Roak's armour is shiny...".
For many days they travelled the seas, counting fjords on their way to the infamous Roak's. A strange sickness overtook Skallagrim suddenly, leaving her retching over the side of the boat (if the oarsmen were lucky) several times every day. Sometimes she missed the side of the boat, and got them instead.
Cranky and miserable (that is, more than usual), Skal moped around, eating little.
Initially, Dagnan laughed, saying, "alright, who's been feeding my younger sister mead? She's supposed to be 'on the boat'." But after weeks of this, it became evident that Skal's sickness and sleepiness had nothing to do with sneaking mead. Dag became worried, although Skallagrim did not lose her health entirely.
After weeks of searching, the sister vikings finally came upon the seventy-ninth fjord. It looked like any other fjord, except it took on a special quality for the twins just in knowing what it led to... shiny new armour.
Going down the seventy-ninth fjord, Dag, Skal and the crew discovered that it led only to a small hovel with a sad looking cow parked out front.
Dag and Skal regarded each other ruefully, and Dag declared, "There is no way that Roak person with the nice armour lives in this place. I mean, if he has such nice armour he'd have a better cow - and more of them."
"Maybe he's taken a vow of poverty," Skal smirked, causing Dag to laugh so violently she staggered into the nearest oarsman.
"Vow of poverty..." she snorted, "my axe!" No one else laughed. It had been one of their Da's favourite sayings.
"More like a 'cow of poverty'. Let's go see what this place has to offer," Dag said, hoping more that a change of scenery would make Skal feel better than that the hovel would yield fabulous booty.
They tromped up the beach with their swords drawn, swearing to themselves that the cow would pay if anyone inside made a sudden move. Dag watched the cow wearily as Skal threw aside the heavy cloth that was the door.
"Hello?" came a woman's voice from inside, and as their eyes adjusted the twins saw a sweet-looking woman with long black hair perched on a low stool, with a book in one hand and stirring a cauldron on the fire with the other. Dag looked suspiciously around the only room, expecting to be attacked at any moment. When her expectation was disappointed, she glumly turned back to the door and held it open so she could keep an eye on the mangy cow.
"Who are you?" Skallagrim demanded.
"I should be asking you that," the woman replied, seeming amused, "you ARE standing in my living room muddying the carpet."
Skal was helpless against the grimace of apology she gave the woman as she sidestepped off of the carpet and onto the dirt area. She had never met an outlander that didn't cringe and grovel upon meeting her. Skal was intrigued. "I'm Skallagrim the Frenzied. That's my younger sister Raven-Dagnan"
Dagnan turned her head to the woman and added, "Actually, I'm the eldest."
The woman smiled, "Let me guess, your parents couldn't tell you apart until you were older and so no one knows for sure who's older."
Skal was impressed, obviously this woman was some sort of sage.
"I'm older," the twins declared simultaneously, with certainty.
The woman laughed, "I am called Crystian the Undecided. Can I help you at all?"
Dagnan growled, "where's Roak?"
"Roak? Oh, he's the gentleman I bought the hovel from. Nice fellow. Really shiny armour, too. Moved to the 92nd fjord, from what I remember."
Dagnan sighed in disappointment and left the hovel.
"What are you doing?" Skal asked Crystian, eyeing the pot.
"Reading," Crystian replied.
"Oh, actually that's my experiment. I'm trying to figure out how to make vulcanized rubber over a campfire."
Skal frowned, confused, and decided that this woman was indeed either very wise or slightly touched. "I've been sick for weeks. I keep tossing my rations over the side of the longboat a few times a day. Do you think you could find out why?"
Crystian shrugged, saying she'd give it a whirl.
Minutes later Skal emerged from the hovel, thanking Crystian for her help. She and Dagnan walked back down the beach together.
"You look paler than before," Dagnan noted. "What did she say?"
Skal replied, "She says I'm breeding again. I figure Loki will need another viking to help her with the family business, when the valkyries finally come for us. She can't do it all herself."
"Algernon will be frightened when it becomes known. To have fathered a viking warrior when he is an outlander - he will be horrified."
"Please," Skal replied, rolling her eyes, "As if the menfolk have ever figured out how barins are made. If they had, they would stay away from women indefinitely. We'll tell them I was in a field alone at night, again."
"Yeah," Dagnan replied, "that worked the last time." She looked thoughtful, "You know, since you've been getting so ill, the whelp is probably a male. Males always make us viking women sick."
"Well," Skal flung back, "Pa was male. He made a pretty good viking, despite all that. It's all in how you raise them, I think."
"Hmn," Dag nodded, willing to go along with her sister's theory if it made her feel better. "Let's go find Roak and that spiffy armour of his. You won't pop that thing for another six months, right?"
"Yup. Lots of raiding time between now and then."
"No way, Dag! You navigated all the way here."
"Too bad, I called it!" Dagnan yelled, running towards the waiting longboat.
"Damn, she's good," Skal muttered plodding back to the boat.