Wolves at the Door

This is the home page for the story Wolves at the Door.


Chapter Links

  1. The First Day (of the Rest of Your Life) (p1)
  2. New Day, New World (p7)
  3. Time for Explanations (and vice versa) (p13)
  4. Running, Errands (p22)
  5. Camping it up (p27)
  6. Sticks and Stones (p34)
  7. Around the World (p43)
  8. Back to Business (p49)
  9. Alone Wolf (p55)
  10. Homecoming (p61)
  11. Fair Trade (p68)
  12. Utangard (p77)
  13. Moving On (p92)
  14. Trinkets (p98)
  15. Marking Time (p103)
  16. Whiteout (p109)
  17. Fighting Words (p116)
  18. Holm Truths (p124)
  19. First: Blood (p130)
  20. Weapon of Choice (p136)
  21. The Last Day Of Your Life (so far) (p142)

Glossary

berserkergang
The divinely-inspired fighting fury of the elite warriors, who were known as berserkers or ulfhednar. They were known to wear nothing but the skin of their totem animal, usually bears for berserkers or wolves for ulfhednar. They were rumoured to be immune to sword or fire, and to transform into the shape of their totem animal. The berserk rage was usually followed by a period of weakness in both mind and body, which could last as much as several days.

einvigi
A way of settling disputes by single combat, without drawing whole families or communities into a feud. Einvigi was not always successful in limiting the violence, hence the development of the more formal holmgang.

flyting
A semi-ritualised exchange of insults, sometimes as an alternative to fighting but usually a precursor to battle.

fridgard
A barrier of hazel poles and holy ropes, to discourage violence spilling out from a duel or spilling into a holy site or a court of law.

fylgja
A spirit form in the shape of an animal, by which a sorcerer may travel while leaving his own body hidden in a safe place. However, injuries to the fylgja could be just as deadly to the sorcerer himself.

hamrammr
Berserkers in particular were often referred to as being shape-strong (hamrammr), though whether this simply means well-built or refers to having the ability to change their shape is not always clear.

healing stones
Belief in magic stones was widespread enough that later Christian lawmakers felt the need to ban them: “People are not to do things with stones or fill them with magic power with the idea of tying them on people or on livestock.  If people put trust in stones to ensure their own health or that of cattle, the penalty is lesser outlawry

holmgang
A formal duel. Rules varied with time and place, but the important distinction is that there were rules.

innangard
Places of civilisation and the law of men, as opposed to utangard, places of wildness and chaos. Not only places could be innangard; the term could also refer to an orderly, law-abiding state of mind.

knarr
A cargo ship, slower than a raiders’ longship and designed for long distances. Typically holds a crew of 20-30 men.

nithing
A disgraced person, without honour. One known to be nithing would be shunned by society at the least, perhaps automatically considered outlaw.

od
The divine inspiration behind art, shamanism and berserk fury. The god Odinn was literally the man of Od.

scolding
When a man was secretly a coward or nithing, the best way to reveal his true nature was to shout insults to his face. A proper man would respond by attacking or challenging you to a duel, so this was a risky strategy.

seidr
Though there were different types of magic, seidr seems to be the one most frowned upon, especially when practiced by men. Magic was not outlawed, and female practitioners were often revered, but it was considered an unsuitable occupation for a man.

skald
A professional poet and singer of legends, often employed by high-ranking nobility who could afford to commission songs in their own honour.

skoggang
Outlawry. An outlaw was not one who broke the law, but one who was one declared outside of the law’s protection. Killing an outlaw on sight was allowed and often considered a civic duty. Lesser outlawry generally ended after three years; full outlawry was for life.

thrall
Captives were often taken in Viking raids, either to work the raiders’ own farms or simply to be sold like other valuables. Slaves in Viking society had limited autonomy and could be granted freedom by their masters.

ulfhednar
Berserkers whose totem was the wolf, rather than the bear.

utangard
Wild, chaotic places beyond the reach of man’s law and influence, where only the law of the jungle applies. As with innangard, it could equally mean a feral, lawless state of mind, such as that often associated with berserkers.

note: I have not always been consistent in keeping or dropping the Old Norse -r suffix, nor in whether I render the common ancestral letter as “d”or “th”. Hence, for example, “nithing” could equally be read as “nidingr”, or “od” as “othr”.


FAQ

  1. Why are you doing this?
    It started out as a NaNoWriMo-related experiment.  See this post for what I was thinking at the time.
  2. Where can i learn more about viking culture?
    For some more detailed background information, here’s a few sites I’ve found useful:
    Norse Mythology
    Viking Answer Lady
    Hurstwic
    Regia Anglorum
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