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Vikings: A long awaited voyage! Part one of season 3 premiere review

*****Spoiler Warning!” 

This post contains spoilers for Vikings Season 3 episode 1, Mercenary. If you have not watched it yet and do not want spoilers, please avoid this post until you have watched it, or do not complain that I did not advise you ahead of time!

 

Have you ever experienced a long, cold winter trapped in close quarters with nowhere to go for relief from the voices and the troubles of others? Well, if you have been through these winters, you will understand me when I say that after some months of the bitter cold, the dreary days of  little sunlight, and the never ending snow, everyone becomes restless. Their nerves are frayed, they are on edge for little or no reason, they are restless, bored and irritated with the company of even their closest allies and loved ones? That is how we have spent this winter of much distress and discontent.  We were ambushed and attacked in our own home by our own King…and  that was just  the start of our longest winter!  Before I go on with our coming voyage, I must quickly share what happened that fateful winter night when King Horik decided that he trusted no one of Ragnar’s family and that they all must die.

He supposedly came in peace, even brought with him his entire family to celebrate a new beginning, an alliance between all of us. What he really did though was set a trap to lure us into, to use us as his means of doing away with Ragnar and his family whom he felt held too much power?

King horik's family of daughters

While he spoke of peace and celebration, he was trapping ones such as Siggy and Floki into carrying out his plans of death. I did warn Siggy more than once that this dangerous game she involved herself in could come to no good end?

you once promised ragnar's weakness you did not deliver  You wasted all your seed on a promis  Tell me now what is his weakness

you once promised ragnar’s weakness you did not deliver You wasted all your seed on a promis Tell me now what is his weakness

you must go to the great hall at sunset and kill ragnar's young sons

you must go to the great hall at sunset and kill ragnar’s young sons

I will make you a queen you will rule again

I will make you a queen you will rule again

Rollo had learned of her actions, and felt wholly betrayed by her even though she had done her deeds with his future rise in mind. That made it worse as far as he was concerned for it felt to him like she did not trust him to fight his own battles?  There was much tension, anger and resentment between them when he was returned to us near death. They were both filled with bitterness and said things they probably should not have…

Don't  give up   What do you care

Don’t give up What do you care

what do you care Do you want an honest answer  I don't know but I think you might still be useful somehow

what do you care? Do you want an honest answer, I don’t know but I think you might still be useful somehow.

to whom

To whom, I really don’t know

Floki was embroiled in his own treacherous game with Horik. In attempt to gain Horik’s trust, he was ordered to kill someone who mattered?

floki calling the gods to rollo my friend torstien has been murdered

Horik plotted and planned with his family- his wife and his son, and with his army to ambush and destroy us in the night…

wars are not always fought on the battle field today we must overcome the magic of ragnar lothbrok horik and wife Gunhild who was once a great sheild maiden herself sometimes the war comes into your home

They sought to bring the war right into our home but in the end they failed because of the loyalties that all felt to Ragnar Lothbrok. His plot was known about and he was defeated. Those two, Siggy and Floki did not betray but brought their information to Ragnar so that we could be prepared for the fight.

The gods are coming   I know

this family will fight or die trying

this family will fight or die trying

a fight between shield maidens

a fight between shield maidens

when it is my family or yours then my family shall live

when it is my family or yours then my family shall live

In the end, Horik was surrounded and put to death by Ragnar. Horik’s one last request was that Ragnar let his son live? I am not so sure this was such a wise idea but Ragnar did grant it.

horik thinks he has won but he underestimates Ragnar and those loyal to him Horik is surrounded and floki enters the room

At the end, it was his own dagger that he was killed with, and Siggy had the final revenge of watching him die!

a dagger of death to seal the bargain siggy will have the final revenge as she watches horik die

 

floki where have you been   Looking after you Bjorn

floki where have you been Looking after you Bjorn

The sword of Kings was in Ragnar’s possession now and Bjorn held it as if feeling his own future destiny.

the sword of kings in bjorn's hand bjorn's destiny

 

So, King Horik and his family were no more and now Ragnar is King. Being King does not make life any better or easier, and it does not make a man any happier about his life? All of the problems and messes that were in his life are still there for him to deal with. He suffers no less from the winter, the restlessness and the discontent than the rest of us!

Now, winter is leaving us soon and we are more than ready for spring to arrive! Ragnar has announced that come Spring, we shall sail to England and claim that land which King Ecbert promised us. Many are more than ready, are anxious to take the voyage… they all have their own reasons?

Ragnar is as restless as everyone else. He does love his sons, but their Mother… not so much! He loves the son Ivar, but can do nothing to help the child and feels pain at being around him I think? Aslaug feels that same pain as well, but she is a Mother above all else and will endure that heart ache for her son.

Ragnar must leave because

aslaug and Ivar

She knows that Ragnar does not love her but she continues on with a brave front and a cold attitude to others. And, she watches her husband and Lagertha leave with great suspicion, she is sure no good will come of this?

Do you love mesuspicious aslaug watches lagertha lagertha is much too close for comfort

Rollo, he must leave because his heart hurts too much to stay right now. He can not forgive Siggy for her sleeping with Horik even if was done in some attempt to help him…

rollo must leave because

Rollo is not happy, neither is Siggy but they are both too proud to admit their wrongs to each other…

rollo is not happy either but at least they do not have torstein's problem rollo understand well floki's desire to leave rollo's response to floki I understand completely I will be glad to sail

Much later Rollo will think on Siggy, admit what was in his heart for her and still feel the bitterness… but at least he would come to smile again!

I loved a woman like that once, I prized that woman as much as my own life  fat lot of good it did me

I loved a woman like that once, I prized that woman as much as my own life fat lot of good it did me

Let no man mock another over what touches his heart time and again every man will feel it

Rollo is amused by all of it right now

 

Floki, he would leave because he felt trapped by his marriage to Helga and his new family? Floki feared happiness!

floki must leave

I think Floki feared the impending responsibilities of being husband and Father? He looked at his family and all he saw was the looming responsibilities, and the fear that something might happen to them? Better then, not to be so attached to them should that happiness be taken away by the Gods…

floki and helga Floki and Helga's daughter just look at her  No I can't she makes too happy and I fear it perhaps when you come back you will see the sense of this   Perhaps I will die there we're such a happy family   what is wrong with that We don't want to trap you if you want to leave us you should go

In Floki’s words, Helga was so horribly good that he couldn’t stand it and he must get away! Helga would not fight or argue, she simply said, “Go then, perhaps you will feel different when you return?”

You can not understand I am so happy I am so happy we're leaving

 

Athelstan, why did he feel such need to go back to England?

Athelstan must leave because

Athelstan was torn in his thoughts and his decisions, but he felt that he needed to follow Ragnar? Ragnar felt much the same in that he must follow Athelstan… Athelstan must go back to that place, and his God. He must face his inner demons and hauntings to be clear in his mind and heart of what he should do with his life.

ragnar and athelstan

Athelstan is marked by his god for some higher purpose and he must seek out that purpose.

I know you too well you can not hide anything

I know you too well you can not hide anything

Athelstan is torn not only by his faith but in his friendships. Ecbert awaits his return to him and to their God’s calling.

and you also must stay athelstan we need you  I need you

and you also must stay athelstan we need you I need you

he hears the call Athelstan's true god is calling whether he wants to listen or not

And, what of Lagertha in Hedeby, why did she feel need to go on this voyage when other troubles were brewing upon her doorstep?

lagertha must leave because

Lagertha killed her abusive husband to become Earl of Hedeby… there are those that are not so happy about this and feel that she has usurped the title from it’s rightful inheritors. Is Hedeby truly hers? When it comes right down to it, no not really… some who she trusts well right now will seek to betray her and regain that title. But, that does not come into her thoughts on this journey because she does not know of this treachery, so why then does she choose to take this voyage with us when she should be content and happy with her new role as Earl? I believe she takes this journey because she ready for adventure. Her son is grown now, on his own, she has no ties or restrictions of Motherhood on her, she is a free woman for now. Though she knows she must probably marry again at some point for alliances she is not ready for that quite yet? She still yearns for the adventure. I do not believe it really has anything to do with thoughts of being with Ragnar again. She has a new life to embark on, and she would make the most of what ever comes her way.

kalf says I have nothing to offer   Let me be the judge of that kalf and lagertha

She does not know it but the treachery and betrayal will come from the one she trusts most at Hedeby…

Kalf puts up a convincing front if you kill an unarmed man then you really are a coward

So, she takes time to embark on this voyage with her family, such as it is… and she finds herself in a new situation with a new man who is infatuated with her!

Not a happy family trip It's such a fine day  I think I'll join you and show you your new land Lagertha is impressed at least a little

 

Ahhhhh and then there is our friend Torstein…. why is he so anxious and excited to go on this voyage that he can not wait for spring to arrive and would be willing to go in a snow storm if need be? Well, Torstein’s reason is a bit different than the others. While one would assume that his reason is that he can not wait to raid and fight, that is not his main reason for wanting our ships to sail so quickly?

torstein and his problems

As I did mention, it has been a long cold winter and Torstein spent it warming a few too many blankets? This should be a good lesson and reason to listen to those who preach moderation in all things, even sex!

two women carry my child

two women carry my child

Sometimes no one can believe just how ignorant Bjorn is of certain things  Is that possible

Sometimes no one can believe just how ignorant Bjorn is of certain things. He asks, “Is that possible?”

rollo's solution marry both of them take one as wife the other as concubine that will settle the matter

rollo’s solution marry both of them take one as wife the other as concubine that will settle the matter

 

or kill me

No that is not possible, they hate each other and both want to kill me!

Really, No one is so happy to see our boats finally as Torstein is!

thorstein can't wait for the boat to sail and take him with it away from his problems

problem one problem two

 

There are many others excited about this voyage as well. Usually, the voyages are looked on with some great sadness by much of the village as we must watch our men and our shield maidens leave for battles and fear for their safety until they return to us. This time is different though. This voyage will take many families across the sea to this new place of England. It is with much excitement, and yet a heavy heart that I will sail as well! I will go on this voyage to England to see Wessex, but I have promised Siggy that I will return to her. I would never think to so totally abandon her here in Kattegat and I feel immense sorrow that she would not join me in this journey.  I do understand, though, such as the way things are with her and Rollo for now.  It breaks my heart to leave her, but we have talked it over and it was she who suggested that I take this chance to travel. I think she will feel some better knowing that one of us is with Rollo, watching out for him?  Rollo was reluctant about my coming at first. He suggested that perhaps it would be best if I stayed here with Siggy? I know that while he refuses to admit it, he still cares for her and worries about her welfare.  I have made assurance to him that she will be fine, and it is better this way. She needs time and space from all of us for now. 

those left behind this time families went too to settle the promised land leaving for england

This is part one of a two part review. The next part will continue with our arrival in Wessex!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vikings Saga: Early days, The Wrath

I must write quickly now, so much is happening so fast that it is difficult to keep up with it all.

Ragnar and his men have left on their “secret” journey… but, as I have said previously, this is a small village and nothing stays secret for very long.  The Earl has spies everywhere and trusts no one… not even his wife, I think- though she does everything in her power to reassure him of her loyalties to him.  The village is quiet and all are on edge worried about the men and about Earl Haraldson’s cruel vengeance. Those in the Earl’s household will all go to great and desperate lengths to keep on his good side. For me, I try as best I can to stay out of the way of him. I think he is suspicious of me probably just because I am a new comer here so anything that goes awry could be blamed upon me as well as those men who have betrayed him. Even Siggy has mentioned that it might be best if I remain well out of his way during this time so as not to bring his anger towards me.

The Earl of course, knows full well of the voyage. As I said his spies are everywhere. His brother in law, Knut pretended to be willing to go along on the voyage and reported everything back to the Earl. One of the housecarls also reported the ship’s leaving to the Earl. That housecarl, Olafur proved he was otherwise disloyal to the Earl though and met a very bad end for it. The Earl caught him looking at and admiring Siggy, he suggested that if Olafur was wanting to bed with Siggy it could be arranged? That fool man was so gullible as to fall for the Earl’s trap. He was invited to Siggy’s bed and then killed for his disloyalty.  I do think the Earl is beginning to tread down the path of irrational madness…

At the Lodbrok farm, Lagertha is still angry, very angry at Ragnar for going on this adventure, and going without her. Ragnar made light of her desire and laughed at her suggestion that she go along. “Who would mind the children? Oh, I know, I shall stay here to cook and clean and tend to them while you go off to fight?” He disregarded her feelings on all of it and in the end he simply declared that she would stay at home on the farm in case Earl Haraldson should grow suspicious and attempt to take their land away.  She is up at the farm with the children, very discontent about all of this. Earl Haraldson did send men to inquire about Ragnar’s whereabouts, to which she made excuse that he was off trading for a few days. 

Earl Haraldson on one hand said he was unconcerned about this voyage because it was doomed anyway, a wild fantasy and those men would all perish at sea, on the other hand though, he was furious that people of his village had so defied him and listened instead to the ideas of Ragnar. He set about finding those involved in the secrecy and punishing them to show what disobedience to him would bring. The blacksmith who forged the anchor of Ragnar’s ship was confronted by Earl Haraldson and his men. At first he denied forging any anchor, but when Svein was about to seize his daughter, he gave in. Earl Haraldson ordered him to look at the flames in the firepit and asked what he saw. When the blacksmith answered that he saw his death, Svein pushed his face in the fire despite the blacksmith’s daughter pleading to leave her father be. It was a brutal and vicious reminder to us all not to cross Earl Haraldson. We all tread very quietly,  carefully … and prayed to the Gods that Ragnar and his men would return home soon.

Thank the Gods they did return safely! I will share their story as they told it, and as the newcomer to the village shared his own version of it?

The journey was a perilous and treacherous one for the men, as it was their first experience in this new boat and being out so far on the open sea. They were be set by a storm of great proportions and feared that they would all perish as Earl Haraldson had predicted.  In the worst of the storm, Rollo voiced his doubts and said the God Thor was angry with them and would strike his hammer to sink them all into the sea. Floki replied however, that Thor was not angry. Thor was celebrating their victory and their boat! Floki was so excited that he forgot he could not swim as he danced around the boat in the middle of the Storm!

Floki sit down remember you can't swim

After the storm, Ragnar ordered the ravens they took with them to be released. If they return quickly there is no land, if they don’t come back they have found land. When they heard the flapping of bird wings, Ragnar thought the ravens returned and his journey is in vain. However, the birds turned out to be seagulls, indicating they are close to the shores of England.

They set ground upon a place called Lindesfarne.  I do feel I need to add a thought here, a very serious and troubling one… one just as troubling as the thought of us travelers in some way affecting or influencing the path of history? I am beginning to feel that something else is very slightly off setting here. Could this time portal have taken us to some slightly different yet parallel version of our world??? There are just these odd discrepancies that show up and do not quite follow what we know as fact about our time line, our history. One of them is of course this event by Ragnar and his men that took them to Lindesfarne.  By all rights, from what we know, Ragnar and the Danes raided in further south areas such as this map shows. The Norse Viking raids were in the more northern portions. I know that we tend to think of them all as one group, but in reality, they were two separate groups with much the same intents. I am pointing these oddities out in my reports so that your researchers are aware of such discrepancies and can look deeper into it.

Lindisfarne793 northumbria modified rl 2

Lindesfarne was a holy Island inhabited by Monks since back to the 6th century.

In 793, a Viking raid on Lindisfarne  caused much consternation throughout the Christian west and is now often taken as the beginning of the Viking Age. The D and E versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle record:

In this year fierce, foreboding omens came over the land of the Northumbrians, and the wretched people shook; there were excessive whirlwinds, lightning, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky. These signs were followed by great famine, and a little after those, that same year on 6th ides of January, the ravaging of wretched heathen people destroyed God’s church at Lindisfarne.

The generally accepted date for the Viking raid on Lindisfarne is in fact 8 June; Michael Swanton writes: “vi id Ianr, presumably [is] an error for vi id Iun (8 June) which is the date given by the Annals of Lindisfarne (p. 505), when better sailing weather would favour coastal raids.”

Alcuin, a Northumbrian scholar in Charlemagne‘s court at the time, wrote:

Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race. . . .The heathens poured out the blood of saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindisfarne

I will share the event as it happened from both points of view as I have recently heard both sides of the story.

Their ship cleared the storm, came out of the mist, and the men saw off in the distance, their first glimpse of the new land.

ship in the mist first sight of the western land lindisfarn monastary

The isle of Lindesfarne was home to a monastery, whose monks were famed and honored for their writing/transcribing skills and their illuminated transcript.

Lindisfarne-ep2

During the worst rage of the storm, the Monks attempted to calm themselves in prayer and chantings…. One young monk could not so easily be calmed. He kept insisting that the end was near, he could feel it…

a storm is coming to lindisfarne

Athelstan goes to the Father of the monastery to tell him Judgment Day has come. The Father does not want to hear of it and orders Athelstan to go back to his dormitory to pray God for forgiveness, as everything will be well when the storm passes.

Monks pray for salvation

The storm does pass, or so they think? One of the monks is walking along the beach and spies the boat coming from the mist. He runs to warn his brethren, who take shelter from the coming intruders.

an unseen storm in the mist

the storm arrives

Ragnar and the others march up to the Monastery, expecting and looking forward to a battle…They have been cooped up on a boat for a long time and are ready to fight!

the storm marches inland The storm hist Lindisfarne Monastary and walks through the door

This odd, not what they expected at all? These strange men cowered in their building not even trying to defend or protect themselves!

 

Ragnar was surprised and puzzled by these men on their knees with their heads bowed, chanting in their strange language. Rollo was disgusted with their feeble reaction and refusal to even defend themselves. He lost control of his short temper and killed the leader of the group. Panic erupted amongst the monks and they were quickly slaughtered by the men while Ragnar solemnly stood by watching.

Ragnar puzzled and a little disappointed at the reception

The Vikings were expecting at least some sort of fight

The Vikings were expecting at least some sort of fight

Not much of a fight

Ragnar went on to search through the buildings with a few of the men. They came upon a strange sight. A room filled with treasure, all left out in the open, unguarded or protected.  Ragnar is puzzled but delighted with this find. All of this treasure just sitting here for the easiest taking that they had ever encountered! Still, it was strange was it not?  Surprised the treasures are left in the open, Leif wonders if their God protects it somehow?

Treasure found right out in the open

Treasure found right out in the open

No women, no mead, no worthy fight 

their god's treasure

their god’s treasure

Ragnar wanders around the room looking at the treasures and then looks up at the adornment on the wall. His comment on all of it is, “This is their God dead nailed to a cross he can’t protect anyone what good is he?”

This is their God dead nailed to a cross he can't protect anyone what good is he

This is their God dead nailed to a cross he can’t protect anyone what good is he

While the men wandered around the room gathering treasure, Ragnar spied something else… he found a young monk hiding in the corner holding tightly to another strange treasure, a book!

 

An even stranger treasure a book

An even stranger treasure a book

Even more surprising and puzzling to Ragnar, this young monk spoke their language?

and the treasure speaks their language

and the treasure speaks their language

Unable to control his frustration, he confronted the monk with harsh comment, ” Of all the treasures here, you chose to save this thing…Why?”

of all the treasures here you chose to save this  Why

of all the treasures here you chose to save this Why

 Ragnar asked Athelstan about the. It is the Gospel of St. John.  Ragnar wanted to know why the monk chose to protect that instead of any treasures, Athelstan answered that without the word of God there could be only darkness. Rollo entered the room, saying it was a strange place with only men. When he notices Athelstan, he insisted on killing him but Ragnar forbade it. He thought  the monk was worth more alive than dead. Surprised, Rollo insisted that they are equals and tried to kill Athelstan anyway.  Ragnar pushed him  back, causing Rollo to angrily chop the Crucifix in the room in pieces and tell Athelstan that is how much he respected this God!  Meanwhile, Floki enters a room with many holy papers. Unable to read the odd writings, Floki burnt one of them eventually set the Monastery on fire.

Floki finds more strange writings Look how easy it burns floki paper and fire

The monastery was destroyed along with most of the valuable works within it at the time. Althelstan was taken as slave along with a few other surviving monks and was brought back here to Kattegat.

leaving Lindisfarne with their treasure Athelstan the monk the slave the friend the peacemaker between two worlds

Ragnar with his treasure athelstan

I will write more about their return and the consequences of it later. For now, I just want to share that this Athelstan is in possession of one of the remaining books from Lindesfarne. I believe it may be a portion of the highly important and valuable relic books, The Lindesfarne Gospels? He states that he holds the Gospel of St. John and values it above all else, keeping it close to his person at all times. I have not wanted to call undue attention to myself or cause any further suspicions regarding my situation, or his, so have not asked to see the book as yet. I can not determine whether it might be one of the original portions of the books, or a copy that he might have transcribed for himself.  I do have concern that is could be another of those oddities or slight discrepancies which I referred to earlier.

Lindesfarne Gospels: The Lindisfarne Gospels is a Christian manuscript, containing the gospels of Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The manuscript was used for ceremonial purposes to promote and celebrate the Christian religion and the word of God (BBC Tyne 2012). Because the body of Cuthbert was buried in Lindisfarne, Lindisfarne became an important pilgrimage destination in the 7th and 8th centuries and the Lindisfarne Gospels would have contributed to the cult of Saint Cuthbert (BBC Tyne 2012).

The Lindisfarne Gospels manuscript was produced in a scriptorium in the monastery of Lindisfarne. The pages of the Lindisfarne gospels are vellum, made from the skins of sheep or calves and evidence from the manuscript reveals that the vellum used for the Gospels was made from calfskin.  The text of the manuscript is written “in a dense, dark brown ink, often almost black, which contains particles of carbon from soot or lamp black”.  The pens used for the manuscript could have been cut from either quills or reeds, and there is also evidence to suggest that the trace marks (seen under oblique light) were used by an early equivalent of a modern pencil. Lavish jewellery was added to the binding of the manuscript, now lost, later in the eighth century.

There is a huge range of individual pigment used in the manuscript. The colours are derived from animal, vegetable and mineral sources.  While some colours were obtained from local sources, others were imported from the Mediterranean, and rare instances such as lapis lazuli would have been imported from the Himalayas.  Gold is only used in a couple of small details.  The medium used to bind the colours was egg white, but it could have also been fish glue in certain places.  Backhouse emphasizes that, “all Eadfrith’s colours are applied with great skill and accuracy, but…we have no means of knowing exactly what implements he used”.

The manuscript’s pages were arranged into gatherings of eight, and once the sheets had been folded together to make a group of pages, the highest page was carefully marked out by pricking, which was done by a stylus or a small knife.  The holes were pricked through the gathering of eight leaves, and then each individual page was separately ruled for writing with a sharp, dry, and discreet point.

The Lindisfarne Gospels are impeccably designed, and as Backhouse points out vellum would have been too expensive for ‘practice runs’ for the pages, and so “preliminary designs” may have been done on a wax tablet (a device that is hollowed out wood or bone with a layer of wax). Wax tablets were an inexpensive technique to create a first draft because once the sketch was presumably transferred to the manuscript the wax could be warmed and flattened for a new design or outline.

Due to Viking raids the monastic community left Lindisfarne around 875, bringing with them Cuthbert’s body, relics, and books including the Lindisfarne Gospels (BBC Tyne 2012) and the St Cuthbert Gospel. It is estimated that after around seven years the Lindisfarne community settled in the Priory at Chester-le-Street in Durham where they stayed until 995 (where Aldred would have done his interlinear translation of the text).  After Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, the manuscript was separated from the priory.  In the early 17th century the Gospels were owned by Sir Robert Cotton (1571–1631) and in 1753 became part of the founding collections of the British Museum.

Lindisfarne_Gospels luke

Lindisfarne_Gospels luke

lindesfarne gospels Matthew

lindesfarne gospels Matthew

Lindisfarne_Gospels John

Lindisfarne_Gospels John

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindisfarne_Gospels

I only voice my thoughts and wonderings here because it has been pointed out that he was found in the relics/treasury room holding on to the book for dear life in attempt to protect it. He is more concerned much of the time about the safety of the book than he is about his own safety. Whether he treasures it now because it is his only link to his previous life and faith or because it is even more important than anyone here realizes, understands or cares about is unknown. Even if it is only a copy he has written for himself, it would still hold much value and importance as a remaining book from Lindesfarne. 

 

The young man is in much dire circumstances and danger right now. His fate will be decided soon as Earl Haraldson calls for a meeting to decide the fate of all involved in this voyage. I worry that his wrath will be harsh and cruel to all.