When Fox and Badger, two mercenaries hired to be Ketil’s bodyguard, try to take his failson Olmar drinking for the sake of fun, Olmar ruins that by being an unbelievably annoying, blubbering drunk. He has no idea what he’s doing when he challenges Fox and Badger, who quickly put him on the ground.
Fox tells him both they and his father treat him like a child because he still is a child, or is at least still half of one. The right of passage for true adulthood is to take the life of another. Olmar asks who he should kill.
You know who.
Einar’s peaceful morning is interrupted by Thorfinn’s blood-curdling screams, though he can’t remember what he was dreaming about that caused him to scream so. The vibes improve dramatically for Einar when the pretty young lady from the wagon the other day is by the well washing her face. She even compliments Einar’s face.
She introduces herself as Arnheid, and as women in Vinland Saga go, she’s definitely one of the fairest. That’s why I assumed she was Ketil’s daughter, but the truth is she’s a slave just like Einar and Thorfinn. Specifically, she’s Ketil’s personal attendant.
Einar’s morning is once again darkened by the arrival of Fox and Badger, who are there to take him and Thorfinn to their camp situated on the beach. Einar wonders what the heck is up, but he need only look at the faces of his captors and the weapons they bear to realize it’s nothing good.
It’s also possible Thorfinn showed a bit of precognition in sensing something was amiss, but not quite remembering what it is. Perhaps the horrors of his past informed his expectation of further doom in the future. It is, after all, all he’s ever known.
When Einar and Thorfinn are presented to an extremely anxious Olmar, whose sword clatters in his trembling hand, Einar isn’t ready to go down without a fight. He tells Thorfinn to run, rushes Olmar, and tackles him to the ground. But as they grapple and Einar continues to tell Thorfinn to get out of there, Thorfinn doesn’t move, and soon two swords cross his throat, daring him to flee.
When he sighs, calls this all a big pain, and volunteers to be cut down by Olmar if Einar can just get back to work already. Fox takes this as an affront to his profession, as warriors’ product is death, and if people aren’t afraid of death, that product has no value.
Alas, Fox has met someone for whom life has no further value. His thirst for revenge has long since dried up with his nemesis and father figure slain. Fox slashes him several times, but Thorfinn doesn’t flinch, or even blink. He just stands there, and that’s enough to make Fox mad enough to kill him himself.
But Fox stops dead at the sound of his name, uttered by his boss, Snake, who has just arrived from the cabin where he fell asleep reading. He moseyed is way over to the camp, observed what was happening, saw how Thorfinn was like cold hard steel when being threatened, and stopped his employee from killing a valuable resource.
Do I see Snake fighting Thorfinn next week to see what he’s made of? Most definitely. Can I also imagine Snake deciding to buy Thorfinn—and possibly Einar, who is if nothing else, big and strong—to join their merry band of murderers. In any case, the pain will likely continue for our pint-sized protagonist, but at least he has a sympathetic companion in Einar.