Vinland Saga S2 – 20 – Icelandic Pride

Fox is a pretty tough guy. He’s killed thirteen men. He enjoys it. But these Jomsvikings are just too much, man. They carve through the hands, limbs, and heads of the ragtag volunteer force like they’re carving through room temperature butter. Fox admires how long Badger can hang in there despite losing a hand. He wants to help his friend, but his legs fail him. Snake saves Badger and orders a retreat.

Ketil, whose delusions truly know no end, protests to the fleeing non-soldiers. When he plucks one of them by the scruff and says his debts won’t be paid if he flees, the man laughs in his face. Who cares about debts to Ketil? He’s finished! Now he’ll see what it’s like to be poor.

When Wulf reports that a man who looked like Ketil was cut down by a Jomsvikings, Canute is annoyed. He wanted Ketil captured, and he ordered the soldiers not to pursue the enemy if they ran. He can’t even make little improvements in the rules of engagement, because utter mayhem is too ingrained in these warriors.

It certainly is in Thorgil, who is a pure, dyed-in-the-wool predator. Emerging from the ocean and leaping at Canute from behind, the king just manages to draw his sword and block Thorgil’s blow, but it destroys his sword and sprains his wrist. In the blink of an eye, Canute’s two guards are beheaded.

Thorgil isn’t just a typical King’s Guard. He’s one of the best. In fact, the only other one who is able to put up a fight is their commander, Wulf. He pierces Thorgil’s wrist with a thrown sword and tackles him to the ground protect his king.

As he chokes Thorgil, his eye is poked out, and Thorgil slips away before reinforcements arrive. It’s an ugly, bloody, brutal encounter between two seasoned killers, but it really doesn’t accomplish much of anything, except to put Canute more on guard.

Meanwhile, Arnheid hears the sounds of battle; the same sounds she heard when her village was attacked. It’s the sound of the world falling apart. Einar assures her the battle is of no concern to them: they’re free now, and they’re leaving the farm. Arnheid’s first question is where they’re going. Leif says they can go to his village.

Her second question is whether Leif’s land is free of slavery and war. Leif is honest: he can’t guarantee war won’t follow them there, but it’s a good place. Arnheid declines. Her husband, son, and unborn child are already waiting for her elsewhere. She asks why she should keep living in this hellish world full of war and slavery when she can go to them.

Einar is about to tell Arnheid he loves and needs her, but she closes her eyes and loses consciousness, apparently breathing her last. Thorfinn pushes Einar aside and tries chest compressions, to no avail. Arnheid is gone. May she rest in peace and be reunited with her family, and may her seiyu Sako Mayumi win every voice acting award there is this year.

Thorfinn lifts her head and tells her about a warm land far to the West where there is no war or suffering. He wanted to take both her and Einar there. These are the same words Thorfinn heard his father Thors say to a dying slave when he was just a young boy.

When the man who saw to it Arnheid would never make it there arrives on Snake’s back, Einar charges him with a full head of steam. Thorfinn holds him back, gets slugged in the face, then punches back, using violence, in this case, to keep Einar from committing violence.

Thorfinn knows all too well that killing Ketil won’t quell Einar’s rage. It only brings about a curse Thorfinn has only just begun to treat. He begs Einar not to fall down the same hole he did. Einar relents.

After Arnheid is buried on a beautiful bluff overlooking the ocean, Thorfinn walks off. Leif, who is preparing his ship for departure, wonders where he’s going and what he’s going to do. Thorfinn tells him: He’s going to go talk to Canute. Maybe there’s a way to convince him that enough blood has been spilt; that maybe there’s another way to get what he wants.

If the worst case scenario happens, Thorfinn is confident he’ll get out of it alive. He also tells Leif that the story he used to hear about how their people went to Iceland to flee war and slavery once bummed him out. He was a boy who couldn’t wait to fight; the prospect of his village avoiding fighting was lame.

But not anymore. Thorfinn isn’t a boy, and now he’s proud of his Icelandic progenitors. They had the right idea, and he’s going to try his best from now on to honor their deeds by following their path away from hate and blood and towards love and peace. But first things first: Canute’s men probably aren’t just going to give him an audience. He’ll have to take it.


Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

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