Hálfdan's Voyage

Disappearance of the Vákniþir

Don't ya go Hálfdaning around, kid! You know how that story ends.
— Old Vibbe
  The story of Hálfdan's voyage is one that is commonly passed down by Vakner parents on the eastern shores of Henvikendal. The legend is a lesson in the dangers of uncontrolled greed and hubris and warns of the perils that face those who would dare sail beyond the safe waters to the deepest depths of the seas. It is the final tale in the legend of the Vákniþir, a symbol of unity and legitimacy to the people of Henvikendal.  

The Beginning

Hálfdan Ubbasen was the son of a warrior sworn to the service of a powerful hólðelning, a man who controlled the lands that surround the modern-day city of Helgarðr. He aimed to walk his father's path so that he too could serve their liege lord, but by fate or the will of the divine, his path was forever altered when he discovered the Vákniþir.  

Vákniþir

The horn made of gold and decorated with what appeared to him as depictions of long lost events would set him on the course for greatness. Countless nights he would study the strange writing inscribed in the gold, but to no avail. One night, however, when two arrows had pierced his father's thigh, and a knife entered his heart, Hálfdan had finally made a breakthrough.
In his grief, he locked himself in his room and mourned. All night he'd stay up, often just looking at the walls or the horn. It was then when he realized that some of the artistic depiction seemed to describe the death of his father. A figure on the horn had two arrows through the leg, and a hand held up against his heart.  

King of the Henvikish

With vengeance on his mind and a horn that seemingly knew the future, Hálfdan began his pursuit to avenge his father. The next artistic depiction on the Vákniþir showed a man with a sword in hand standing next to a throne. The body of a crowned man had been pushed from the seat and next to it lay a quiver with arrows.   The prophetic piece of art had convinced him that the man his father had sworn to protect was involved in his murder. He knew that whatever supernatural force of prophecy was linked to the horn would guide him and that his duty was to follow the future. He had to kill his own lord.  
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  Horn in hand, he walked in front of the castle gate. The hólðelning's retinue refused entry, and so Hálfdan blew the horn. The blast was heard all throughout Henvikendal; even the Ceireds far south heard its powerful echo.   Its power tore down the wooden gate, and those in vicinity were silenced in awe of its splendour. The rest of the retinue, fearful of the man with the golden horn, fled in terror. A few of the guards remained and knelt before Hálfdan, letting him pass into the lord's hall.   The ensuing fight was swift, and after less than a minute, the deceitful ruler had perished. Hálfdan pushed him off the throne and assumed control of the realm. With the Vákniþir he was able to subjugate all the realms of Henvikendal under his demesne, thus establishing a united Kingdom of the Henvikish.
 

Voyage to the East

Following his coronation, Hálfdan continued his studies into the prophecies on the golden horn. He was unable to decipher the meanings behind many of the images, but the final few prophesies were clear to him. The rows of artwork ended with the figure who had represented Hálfdan drinking water from a lake on a faraway island to the east. The Vákniþir depicted his body ascending into the clouds and joining other figures who he assumed were the gods.  

Hubris

The allure of godhood had gotten to Hálfdan. He prepared himself for a journey to the east, skipping all the other steps that the Vákniþir had predicted.   With the power and wealth he had as the king, he commissioned the most magnificent ship the Vakner people had ever built. Hálfdan knew the Kirreic ocean was deadly and that those who had tried sailing east before had never returned, but he had become overconfident from an excess of power. In his mind, he was already a god.
 

Downfall

It had taken the kingdom's best shipbuilders over several years to finish their masterwork, during which the king had become restless. As soon as he was able, Hálfdan assembled a crew and set sail. He took the horn with him, carrying it within an elaborately decorated container. Large crowds cheered as the ship left Helgarðr, but that was the last they saw of their legendary monarch.   After the voyage had gone on for several weeks, one of the crewmen warned the king on an approaching storm. Hálfdan was unconcerned and gave the man no new orders. When the rains began to pour on the deck, the king opened the container and grabbed his horn. Lightning strikes illuminated the darkened skies around him, and the crew worked hard to keep the ship afloat.   Before the storm could threaten the voyage, King Hálfdan Ubbasen grabbed the horn and blew it, hoping to push away the clouds and clear a safe path. The plan backfired, and a great crack could be heard forming within the hull. Within a second, the ship tore itself apart. As the loud blast of the horn reached the shores of Henvikendal, their king and his horn had reached the bottom of the ocean. With his demise, the Kingdom of the Henvikish was once more divided between dozens of petty kings.
Date of First Recording
37 BU
Date of Setting
c. 350 BU
Related Ethnicities
Related Locations
Related People
Related Organizations
Related Items
Vakner
Ethnicity | Dec 1, 2020

The Vakner are a sturdy people who have mastered shipbuilding and seafaring. They live in the cold heights of Henvikendal and Rothnia

Vákniþir
Item | Jul 5, 2020

The Vákniþir is a large horn that possesses great destructive powers and contains clues to a mysterious prophecy

Hálfdan Ubbasen
Character | Jul 4, 2020

Cover image: by Tim Marshall

Comments

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4 Jul, 2020 17:28

A great warning tale with all the hallmarks of a classic legend: A rise to power, an overreach, leading to a tragic but deserved EPIC downfall :D That public domain image is definitely a bit of a brainstorm sparker--perfect for your story! And you've built in some losses at sea! Will the ship or the Vákniþir be your artifact too? Or are you going with something else? *can't wait to see!*

4 Jul, 2020 17:41

The Vákniþir is the item I'm doing for the prompt and it will be the next article I publish.

I saw a copy of that horn in the public image in the national museum of Denmark in January and that inspired me to make my legendary item a golden horn.

Thank you for giving my article and read and for leaving a comment!

5 Jul, 2020 13:24

Ooooh, I am a sucker for this CSS, darn it! I clearly forgot my ADHD meds this morning, because I just got distracted by playing with the hover effects on the titles. x'DDD   That said, This was a very interesting story, concept of the future-telling horn is super cool and the story of greed is definitely something I could see passing from generetion to generation. Awesome. I liked this. <3


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Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
6 Jul, 2020 22:24

Ahhh hubris, the downfall of many a hero. Such a great legend. Reminded me a lot of Greek tragedies with a Norse twist.

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
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