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Peter HowAbout

Peter HowAbout

Aug 27, 2021, 13:2008/27/21

Peter HowAbout

The original author's spelling is retained.


Here a story of Roar, the Trapper, when he came of age.

Roar grew up on a farm. From the moment he could walk one could find him amongst the animals. His favourite were the razorbacks. They were a special breed, because they grew quite large for the species. When he was eight there was a nest with one boar much bigger than the others. It immediately became his favourite and he named it Njal. As Roar grew up, Njal grew along to become an enormous animal. It wasn’t exactly a gentle creature, but Roar could do anything with it and he started to train it to be his hunting companion. His father though had other plans for the animal. “It wil end up on the dinner table when there is a big feast” he always laughed, but Roar knew his father was serious. It made him angry. Njal and him were a team, he wouldn’t let it happen.

When Vikings come of age they celebrate it, so when Roar turned twelve springs his father started planning, and Njal was on the menu of that plan. By now, it was big enough to feed the whole village for the festivities, and Roar’s father had decided it would be eaten. Contesting the will of a father was unacceptable among vikings, and Roar knew this, but he had a plan. He remembered he once saw a big hairy creature in the mountainous pine forest on a trip with the hunters. He had to stand back while his father was spying on prey and that is when he saw a glimpse of it, but it was gone too fast to go after his father and tell him. So this was his plan, he was going back there to kill a boar the size of Njal. He only had to convince his father. Only. But if he made it, he would be called a true warrior, and he knew his father was very sensitive for this kind of talk. He just needed to keep Njal alive first. He would be slaughtered two days before the event to give the meat time to starve. The mountain forest was about a day away so he had to convince his father early and get back before the festivities. His sweat broke out just by the thought of all this, but he had no choice.

The day came when he had to convince his father. It was the kind of conversations for which you can never be prepared enough and he prayed upon Forseti for a great opening line. ‘Father, I want to make you proud on the coming of age festival. I want to go and hunt our meal’, he said. His father laughed loud saying there is a meal waiting in the stables, but through his voice Roar could sense his father couldn’t hide his thirst for pride about the boy. Roar continued ‘Give me the chance to show you I will be a great warrior’, but his father showed no ears for it and said ‘your spear isn’t strong enough my boy. It is one for learning. You couldn’t kill a piglet with it.’ He walked to the back room to fetch his spear and took Roar outside. ‘Here, take this spear and split that young pine tree for me. Mind that now you can prepare but when a wild boar is running straight towards you, all you have is a split second before it buries you in the ground.’ He knew his father was telling the truth. He once saw the mangled body of a viking that missed his throw.

Roar took the spear and weighed it in his hand. Heavy, but it was well balanced. He took a moment to focus on the tree. This was about Njal. He couldn’t let it happen. Then he took one step back, made a quick prayer to Ullr and cast the spear with all his might and the skills he had learned the past few years. His father stared in silence when the two halves of the tree fell to each side. Roar looked at him for a moment. ‘What do you say father?’ he asked proudly, but his father said nothing, took the spear and went back inside. Roar turned to look at the halves of the tree, then followed inside. He found his father sitting at the table and joined him. ‘I taught you well’ he said and grabbed a bottle that was on the table and filled a cup. ‘You are putting me in a difficult situation my boy’ he continued and took a gulp. ’The mountain forest is a dangerous place to hunt. If I let you go, you may never come back.’ and turned to Roar. ‘There isn’t just boars there. There’s wolves, bears and an angry moose can easily kill you as well.’ He frowned. ‘And you will have to go alone. How will you bring back your prey, if you make it at all?’ Roar sensed his father was almost there. ‘I will take Njal with me father. I trained him well. He can pull the sled.’ His father sighed and stared out before him. Then suddenly he stood up. ‘There is nothing more a father can wish than a son he can be proud of. I will have to face your mother for this, but I know you have a warrior inside you. That was a fine throw you made out there boy. You can go. May Tyr protect you on your path.’

The day came soon when Roar left the village with Njal by his side. The villagers that watched him go looked up with admiration as he passed, armed with his father’s spear. ‘Where are you taking our dinner?’ one of them asked pointing at Njal. ‘I will get one with softer meat’ Roar laughed, ’this one has tough muscles’.

He knew the way to the forest pretty well because he had walked it several times through the years. The sky was mostly clear, Freyr’s favour was upon him. It was a great day to hunt. They walked for many hours. Roar didn’t feel alone because he had Njal with him, but as the boar wandered of sometimes, he started to realise how difficult a challenge he took upon himself. Although he had learned fighting the spear and had become quite good at it, he had never killed with it, man nor animal. He climbed a steep path with that thought lingering. As they approached the darker area of the forest he became even more aware of the threat he was facing. He could die here. Will the gods be in his favour? Will Bragi be at the table to celebrate his coming of age or wil Fenrir be laughing over his mangled corpse from deep inside the woods?

It was late in the afternoon when he reached the area where he had seen his target and the forest was getting darker, red peaks of sunlight colouring the top of the pines. It was more than a year ago he saw the boar here, but as most animals stay within their grazing and hunting grounds, it should be somewhere within a mile. That’s still a lot of wild forest to cover, he tought by himself, because he was getting tired. He had learned to walk the forest quietly and he had the help of Njal. The presence of an animal could hide the signal of a man.
Yet nothing could have prepared him for what happened next. There was no need to wait in silence for his prey because while Njal had wondered off quietly he heard a rushing of bushes and breaking branches behind him. Roar quickly turned around and saw a big bear challenging towards him. He was in no way ready for this. A bear! In a split second he thought of his fathers warning. Can he kill a bear with this spear? Should he throw it or hold it to parry the attack? Roar knew he wasn’t strong enough to parry a bear attack. For the first time in his short life, he saw death approaching. He was panicking. There was more rushing of trees and bushes and just as the bear was a few feet away of delivering Roar a death blow, it was rammed aside by a huge shadow. Njal had charged it! The gods be praised, this was not over. Roar picked up courage from Njal and charged the bear that was pushed on his side and stabbed his fathers spear in it’s chest with all his power, then he got a blow from a bear claw. Just before he passed out he asked the gods to take him up in Walhalla for his bravery.

As he came by he felt a hot breathing over his face. He was alive… for now at least. No pain. He froze. His father had taught him not to move when a bear checks him out. Then a wet nose touched his face. He knew this nose. Njal! He opened his eyes and looked around. Njal was with him, alive. There was no more fighting, but it was dark. How long had he been lying here? Roar sat up and looked around, his head still spinning slightly. The moon offered enough light to distinguish the body of a dead bear, a spear sticking out of it’s chest. He got up on his feet, somewhat dizzy and blood dripping off his head. He checked out his face. His ear was partly torn off. He looked out for his water to wash the wound and bind it off. Then looked at the bear. It was untouched. Njal had chased the predators away from the kadaver. Roar smiled. He had taught him that. He pulled out the spear but felt how tired he was from the effort. Roar made a small fire and cleared some branches so he could get some sleep. Njal would protect him tonight.

The next morning Roar had to cut some young trees to make a sled. He would need to pull some tricks to get a 600 pound bear on it, but it would work out. Roar had not really recovered too well, but felt strong enough to make the trip home. Njal pulled the sled. It was a slow trip back and they had to spend another night in the woods not too far from the village. It was a cold night. He was getting sick. The next morning they moved on and arrived at the village just before noon. The whole village came out and followed them to his house. His father stood at the door. As Roar and Njal approached the house he shouted at him : ‘My boy, did you misunderstand me? I asked for a boar, not a bear!’ Everybody laughed. He stepped towards Roar, lay his hand on his shoulder and spoke loud ‘This is my son Roar, a warrior worthy to his father!’ and everybody cheered.

Roar recovered swiftly thanks to his mother’s care. His father prepared a wonderful new spear for his son that he gave him at the coming of age festival. Njal was now considered touched by the gods and would remain Roars companion for years to come.

Bragi would be at the feast.