THE ORAL MYTHS OF THE OLD DALECARANS: Jorun Icespear
The following is an excerpt from THE ORAL MYTHS OF THE OLD DALECARANS, a tome written by Örlen, a learned man in the service of Sólthorpe. The tome’s aim is to collect the oral stories, myths, and traditions that have not yet been recorded within text in the hopes of preserving them.
Long before the exodus, when Dalecarans were settling into what would become their ancestral home, the world was still afoot with leviathans and legendary beasts. For generations, the elders would sing the songs of the men who slew these great creatures, for example: Domar Reedfisher, Aun Pondswimmer, Visbur Lostseal, and Dag Halfjaw. I have found that these men have no sagas of their own, and their full stories are only mentioned in the oral traditions of Dalecarans; however, be that as it may, I have found some references to them in sagas created centuries after their alleged existence. I have also found that these legend’s only descendants are chieftains asserting dubious claims generations later. For example, one elder told me of a chief called Agne Seasinger, who, despite his ancestry for the past ten generations being completely recorded, claimed he was a direct descendant of Aun Pondswimmer. I’m sure he convinced those who doubted him. There are other instances of these claims being made throughout Dalecaran history; I have even found in some cases that some very ambitious chiefs invented new heroes of yore to claim descent from. While this has made my efforts to transcribe these oral tales doubtlessly harder, it does reveal an insight on the past political machinations of the old Dalecarans. Time will only tell if this practice is renewed.
But now, I will share the tale of JORUN ICESPEAR, a Dalecaran chief who ascended to godhood after slaying a son of Njordan, the sea god. The myth has largely been forgotten with the Candarion Dalecarans, and is only known to a handful of long beards. Edging the tale out of them was most painful, but this is the work a master such as myself does. Even they tell me that Jorun Icespear has largely been forgotten among their people, and that his heyday was centuries before they were born. The myth was told to me in two chapters, and so it is thus recorded as two chapters.
There was once a man called Jorun Icespear, who was the son of Dagmer Cavebreaker and Sifa, sister to Chief Ale Longbreath. In his youth, Jorun served his father in underwater cave fishing, specifically chasing lucrative eels. Jorun was built like any other Dalecaran lad, tall with hair black as night and skin salted by the sea. Over the years, Jorun and his father grew to become close friends, and their fellowship shared one common purse. Dagmer eventually began to be seen as a rival to Ale Longbreath, and Jorun was seen as Ale’s heir rather than his own sons. In those days, it was said that no man in the archipelago was as rich as Dagmer Cavebreaker and Jorun Icespear.
But when Dagmer Cavebreaker was eaten alive by a monstrous eel of gigantic proportions, Jorun did not stay on his island home. He fled to a small island called Sygaholm, and founded an estate in the chiefdom of Hognar Fatfisher, a man known only for his gargantuan appetite. Jorun did not associate with the islandsfolk, instead he often skulked on his new estate. It was said his laborers only saw him when the moon was full and the seas were high. Before long, word spread about the hermit on Sygaholm.
Hognar Fatfisher left his great dining hall for the first time in ten years to see the hermit that his demesne was whispering about. After days of demanding to be seen, Hognar ordered his armed men to break the gates down. They met no resistance and marched to the estate’s main house. There they found Jorun, his attention buried in crafting an unnatural weapon. Hognar spoke loudly, his fat shaking with each word, until Jorun finally gave his attention to the chief.
It was then that Hognar recognized Jorun as the boy who once supplied him with a fat eel many years ago. Jorun did not return the favor, however, saying Hognar was not the only fat man with a taste for eel.
Hognar asked him, “what has become of you? What has happened to your father so that you have become a ghost among men?”
Jorun, his attention returned to his weapon, responded plainly, “my father’s bones rest in the belly of an eel so large it could feast upon even the likes of you and still be hungry.”
“Come, boy, there is no such beast that could devour a man as mighty as I,” Hognar replied, ignoring the gibe.
“I have seen it with my own eyes, Fatfisher. I tell you, the beast could swallow you, your men, me, and my sheep with ease. It is black as night, it’s maw is lined with teeth sharper than any shark I have ever seen, and it’s eyes are as pale as the moon, reflecting nothing but it’s desire to consume the flesh of man,” Jorun spoke.
“And even if such a beast existed, boy, do you truly believe you can slay it?” asked Hognar in a quiet, but mocking voice. “Is that why you have locked yourself in this manse?”
“My old home was marked by whispers and intrigue. Ale Longbreath fears that I seek to usurp his throne. His enemies conspire to install me in his place. But here, I am called a hermit. Not even my laborers know my name; here I can work without issue. Or so I had thought.”
“Sygaholm in its entirety is my domain, boy. From coast to coast, my power extends. You will not waste your talent here, I am afraid. Starting tonight, you will start eel fishing once again. When I awake on the morrow, I want to be served with three eels as long as your arms. Your monster tale is just that, a tale. I see you are hiding from the men that slew your father. Be useful to me and my dining hall and you will be safe,” Hognar said, laughing as he turned to leave.
Jorun did not take this kindly. He grabbed the weapon he was forging and struck it through Hognar’s fat. The chief collapsed on the ground and wheezed, mumbling incoherently and wildly. His beady eyes bulged, and he motioned to his guards to stop Jorun from delivering the finishing blow. But his guards did not see; they had turned their back on the whole commotion as soon as it began. Hognar expired in Jorun’s great estate that day, and it was said his corpse was rolled into the sea in a most unceremonial manner, indistinguishable from a rotted seal corpse.
The guards had no quarrels with Jorun after they were paid handsomely. They were allowed to indulge in the unused pleasures in Jorun’s estate, so long as they did not bother him. It was said they spent the rest of the week in that estate, gorging on foods that Hognar would have hoarded for himself. Eventually, one of them asked Jorun if he intended to claim the chiefdom as his own; Hognar had disposed of any rivals long ago, and the Fatfisher had no heirs of his blood. Jorun, forgiving this interruption, simply agreed he would be chief.
The next morning, Jorun Icespear was proclaimed as chief of Sygaholm. The villagers did not protest, and some even celebrated at the death of Hognar Fatfisher, who they had secretly called Hognar Fatchief. Jorun returned to his estate and continued work on his new weapon. Only his new guards would see him, and they even heard the villager’s concerns on Jorun’s behalf. Some villagers had even moved into the head house, knowing that the hermit of Sygaholm was still a recluse, chief or not. Indeed, while Jorun Icespear had become chief of a small island, he did not seem to care. His goal remained the same: slay the beast that held his father’s bones.