The Jarl and the Bear Myth in Tamaris | World Anvil

The Jarl and the Bear

In Retland and Losan, the Jarl and the Bear is a much loved fairy tail. While written only a few centuries ago, it was written in a much older style and recalls a period in history when the land was much wilder. The author is Henrik Christian Arud, a much loved children's writer and poet.   There was a time before kings and princesses. The land was ruled by warrior chieftans called jarls. One jarl was named Beorn, in those days, it meant bear. He was ferocious in and out of battle. Jarl Beorn slaughtered his enemies without mercy, he yelled at his wife, beat his four sons, and he ran many horses to exhaustion. And just as he was hard on his family, so too was he hard on his clan. But he was the fiercest like a bear, so the people followed him. He wanted his children to grow up to be bears, too. Strong and mighty warriors that would make their father proud. One day, he was out on a boar hunt for it was a popular way to show off his strength. A bolt of lightning stuck his horse who reared and ran away. Jarl Beorn fell from the saddle and watched as his horse galloped off without him. Suddenly, a torrent began. The rain was worse than anything Jarl Beorn had experienced, and he hid in a cave for shelter. He laid out his bedroll, ate some food, and just as he was preparing to sleep through the storm, there was a great roar and a dark shadow at the entrance of the cave. Jarl Beorn grabbed his axe and shouted, "Who's there?!" "Who invades my den?!" Roared the monster.     "It is I! Jarl Beorn! Fiercest man alive! I challenge you to ownership of this cave!"   "I decline your challenge, man."   Jarl Beorn was shocked. This creature declined his challenge! Angered, Jarl Beorn rushed at the monster with his axe raised, and a great paw batted the axe from his hand.   "I do not want to fight you. I do not want to hurt you." From the shadows emerged a great bear. Jarl Beorn trembled. "Why? Bears are fierce warriors. I am called Beorn because I am the mightiest man alive."   "Bears are fierce in battle, but they know which battles are worth fighting. And I will not fight you here because it would frighten my children." Two bear cubs tumbled out from where they were hiding behind a rock deeper in the cave. The bear scooped them up and held them close to her breast.   "But if your children do not see battle, then how will they grow up to be strong warriors?"   "My children see battle when I protect them against lions and other bears. They see battle when I defend our home so that we will have enough to eat. They see battle when I search for miles to find food so that they will not go hungry. They will grow up to be just warriors."   "Then let me stay just the night until the rain stops."   The mother bear agreed, and they all went to sleep. Except for Jarl Beorn. He waited until he heard the bears snoring and hefted his axe. He killed the two cubs so quickly that they didn't make a sound. But as he raised his axe to slay the mother, she awoke and let out a ferocious roar. With only a great swipe from her paw, she killed him and cried at the death of her children. In the morning, she dragged the jarl back to the village where the four sons were waiting.   "I killed your father because he killed my children. Slay me if you will have your revenge, but listen first to this. Your father was no bear in spirit. A bear protects the weak, defends his home, and cherishes family above all else. Bears understand mercy. Though he tried to kill me in my sleep after I offered him shelter, here I am returning him to you to be buried. You are men of honor, and it is right that you avenge his death. But if you have the mercy your father never had, let me bury my children."   The four sons looked at each other. "Go, mother bear. Bury your children while we bury our father. We will make sure no hunter bothers you again." Touched by their compassion, the mother bear guarded the village for the rest of her life.

Cover image: by Alishahr


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Jul 23, 2018 05:46 by George aka GM the DM or in some locales..... The Dark Lord Galen

Well told! I can certainly see this in my own world for the Barbarians of the North as a lesson in honor...