Viking Morality Tales


Hagar and Canute were sitting on other sides of the room, exchanging cold stares. Between them lay a mighty pile of golden coins, the bounty from a recent glorious pillage. Canute narrowed his eyes and spat.

“I killed the rich monks Hagar; therefore the coins belong to me!”

Hagar leered. “But when the wild man came for you, who pierced him with his sword? When flaming arrows streaked overhead, who protected you with his shield?”

“That was you, Hagar, but who killed the boar whose skin makes your defenses?”

“Yet still Canute, it was I who taught you how to make your shields sturdier.”

“But who taught you how to smelt, Canute? Who taught you to fight?”

This argument continued, with no end in sight, for a year and a day. Finally, both men decided resolution lay in the field of battle.

And as they fought, a beggar man spied their money through the window, and he stole it.

And when Hagar returned home for his winnings, he roared again at his foolishness. For if he and Canute had known to share, the beggar thief would have found himself split with an axe.

“What is the meaning of life?”

Hagar leapt towards the odious voice, slicing his broadsword through the still air, streaking across the night sky like a shooting star. “Canute! How dare ye ponder such questions? Silence your philosophical brain; we have a dragon to slay! Focus!”

The tip of his sword trembled at the bare, pale, flustered, gulping throat.

And the air warmed around as Canute’s face flushed red, and with quivering legs, and with a thud, he had fainted from sheer shock.

“Awaken!” Flecks of Hagar’s fury splattered on the dust by his head. “You are no match for the dragon! The armies of Helheim could not pass me, yet you – pah! For conquest, strength and power, that is the meaning of life! Coward!”

And Hagar left his partner helpless on the floor. The dragon loomed near, and the fear for this dragon loomed far. A huge monster, with fangs as long as your arm; roasting fireballs burst from its lungs with every breath. Hagar narrowed his eyes, hissed through his teeth.

The dragon slaying was easy, but deserting a friend for valor was harder. Hagar’s chest of steel was but a shield for his butter heart. The women fell for his massive balls, but held them for his soul.
No word from Canute since the death of the dragon and guilt played Hagar’s arteries like a harp. Weeks dragged for years, and, grasping back tears, Hagar threw on his bearskin jacket, shackled up his sword, and threw open the door to the wilderness.

The search was fast, as Canute had not moved. He was cold and quiet. His lips were blue; he had choked. A thin layer of dust shrouded him, a blanket; nature had begun to consume him.

And Hagar screamed the screams of a thousand agonies at the stars, and the tears of a thousand rainclouds tumbled from his eyes. For his adventures had been in vain and his life had been in vain, for love for one’s fellow man had always been his meaning of life.

Hagar threw his sword in the shrubs and became a poet.