Vinland Saga S2 – 12 – No Love Lost

Here I was thinking Canute was going to march into Ketil’s farm and say “Mine.” But he can’t do that without angering other landowners. No, there’s an art to this. One that involves a mysterious man in a cloak who can kill a moth with a flipped coin, a pack of hyenas, and Olmar’s reliable hot-headedness and incompetence.

The five hyenas are sent to deliver the message that Olmar has been rejected for the guard, something he already knows. And since they know he failed to even pierce the skin of a roasted pig, they mock him mercilessly, unable to keep from laughing maniacally. Olmar is humiliated and drunk, of course he’s going to draw his sword.

Olmar challenges the lead hyena to a duel, and the hyena promptly dog-walks him, not even bothering to put in any effort against such a feeble opponent. Olmar is face down in the dirt and weeping when Thorgil arrives to see what the commotion is about.

He’s not here to bail his little brother out. Rather, he’s there to make sure one of two outcomes takes place: either Olmar properly addresses the insults by killing his opponent, or he’ll die by that same opponent’s sword. Kill or die. This is Thorgil’s lifelong philosophy.

Just as Olmar is sufficiently fired back up and charges the lead hyena, the cloaked man flips a coin right into the latter’s eye, which gives Olmar an opening he wasn’t expecting. His sword goes through his opponent’s throat, killing him. The coin was so fast no one saw it.

Thorgil, proud of his brother for finally becoming a man an killing someone, “handles the rest” with baroque, Thorkell-like gusto, not just killing the other four hyenas but chopping them to pieces, all while a clearly-in-shock Olmar kneels on the ground, wondering what the hell just happened as he is splattered with blood.

Upon inspecting the body, Thorgil sees the maimed eye and suspects something. When Ketil arrives and demands an explanation, Thorgil calmly says it was a fair duel that Olmar won, and the others were killed because they decided to attack the brothers, and got what they deserved.

Then royal guards arrive to arrest them for disrespecting the king, but Thorgil won’t give up his sword. Instead, he kills the guards, leaving one alive to tell him why they let Olmar win. When he won’t answer, he pierces the guard’s eye with the tip of his sword, and then he talks: they let Olmar win so that Ketil would be arrested.

It is then that Ketil realizes the king probably had his sights set on him and his land all this time, but his two sons certainly didn’t help matters by getting themselves tangled up in such a bloodbath. Even though Wulf’s men failed, Canute doesn’t care; he has the excuse he needs to move upon Ketil. Wulf also has to report that Ketil, Thorgil, and Olmar got away, but that too is of no consequence.

Canute is sending over 100 men to overwhelm the farm and take it over, whether Ketil is there when they arrive or not. But they will be there, as we see that Leif Erikson smuggled them out of Jelling in barrels, not out of the kindness of his heart, but in exchange for Ketil buying all of his cargo and releasing Thorfinn into his care. Ketil can hardly refuse such an offer.

Back at the farm, Thorfinn and Einar are wrapping up another day of good honest hard work, but there’s something about the sunset that seems to unsettle Thorfinn, as if he knows the storm that’s coming. Canute ignores King Sweyn’s head mocking him and stares into that very same sunset. War is coming to Ketil’s farm, just when Thorfinn has something to fight for besides the fighting itself.

Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

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