The Great Game: The Blood of Frey, pt II

There was a prolonged silence, as the conservatives and radicals felt the ground shifting under them; if the Ynglinga Hird refused to put down rebellion, then… then what? It was a new world, and the Tingmenn were adrift in it, cut loose from their moorings. At length Geirr spoke again.
“One witness does not an army make. I don’t think all the Hird would feel that way. And even if they do, we here have a duty. We are the Ynglings; we embody a thousand years of history and pride. You cannot cast that aside with the stroke of a pen. If the Hird have forgotten our honour and our blood, then we must remind them. Traitors have been stricken from the rolls before now. I don’t know who would win a civil war; but if we avoid one at the cost of our honour, then a millennium of our rule has gone for naught. Will you cast away that heritage?”
“You don’t know who would win a civil war? Well, I’ll tell you. The Burgundians would win, and the Poles who groan under our yoke. You think the world has forgotten Brussels? Let half a million armed strils rise against our rule, and the Burgundians will be in Bergen inside of six months. But quite apart from that; you speak of our honour. I have not forgotten Yngling honour, nor has the Hird. Indeed, they’ve upheld it in the trenches for a decade. But with honour goes obligation. I call Gunnlaug son of Henrik for my witness.”
The swearing in was if anything still more rapid this time; the man who took the stand was shorter than the previous witness, black-haired in the manner of the Finn-Ynglings, moving with an easy grace except for a wooden leg.
“I had a comrade,” he began, “Matti was his name, who stood by me in thick and thin; and Thor be my witness, there was more thin than thick on the Finnish front. He was a little slip of a lad, half-starved when he joined; but he shot Poles with the best of them, and never complained. He was afraid of Ynglings, you could see it in his eyes, and maybe he had reason to be; but he fought for our freedom, and never showed in word or deed that he would not be as free as us when the war was over. He died when we stormed Novgorod; he was closer to the shell than me. His last words were, “I hope the Poles have enough food.” To die bravely, with a jest on your lips, is that not what every Yngling should strive for? If that man was not worthy to be numbered among us, why then, I’ll have none of it either. That stril had more honour and courage in his little finger than any of you in your entire bodies; and by all the gods, you will give him and his kind the place they deserve.


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