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May 6th, 2007

Chapter V

The following chapter refers to an account from the “Saga of Eric the Red” from the Flateyar-bok, compiled by Jon Thordharson in around 1387. In that story, the mostly christianized Vikings are stranded on the coast of Vinland when Thorhall, still following the old faith, prays to Thor and a whale is washed onto the shore. The priest refuses to eat, but the Viking colony is saved from starvation.

V. The Baiting

The veils of fog parted to reveal a gibbous moon low over the water. Its reflection seemed to be doubled beneath the black surface, as though there were a sandbar far out to sea. To the west, the sun was sinking into the waves, staining the waters red, but no stars could yet be seen. The twilight winds shifted unsteadily, changing over to their nighttime patterns.

Thor stashed his oars beneath the bench and took up a rope as thick as a man’s arm. He fixed the end of it to a large hook, which the giant sometimes used as an anchor.

Not wanting to look a coward, Hymir had cast out his lines into the scarlet waters while Thor was making ready. He stared fearfully down into the hidden depths, worried at what they might bring up.

As he had once done for Thorhall the Hunter, Thor called across the waters to the whales and soon a pod of them approached the boat.

Hymir felt a tug on his line, but his hands were shaking so that he could not draw it in.

“Look out, you’ve caught one!” Thor leapt to his side and started to help draw in the line. Hymir flinched back, falling to the deck and almost tumbled overboard.

“Keep steady or we’ll lose it.” Hand over hand, the giant and the god pulled in the line. As it drew nearer, Thor realized that they had caught two whales on a single hook. “Two in one cast! You are a mighty fisherman, Hymir. I knew I would learn something from you.”

Once they had pulled the whales close enough, Thor reached over the side and brained each of them with his hammer, Mjollnir.

Hymir then made them fast to the boat, tying one to each side. “We’ve caught enough. The sun is gone and we should head back if we want to sleep at all tonight.”

“But I haven’t caught my dinner yet.” Baiting the anchor with the gory head of the bull, HeavensRiot, Thor flung it overboard, shattering the reflection of the moon into a thousand sparkling waves.

The bull’s head slowly sank to the bottom, deep into the Stygian depths where no light had yet penetrated. Hymir wrapped himself in his cloak and they settled back to wait.

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