Torvald, legendary hero and warrior of Torvaldsland.
Legend of Torvald
In the far distance, the moonlight reflected from its snowy heights I saw, too, the Torvaldsberg, in which the legendary Torvald was reputed to sleep, supposedly to waken again if needed once more in Torvaldsland. Marauders of Gor - page 192.
Over the arch, deeply incised in the stone was the single, mighty sign, that which the Forkbeard had not explained to me.
We stood in silence, in that dark, lofty threshold.
The Forkbeard was trembling. I had never seen him so. The hair on the back of my neck lifted, short, stiff. I felt cold. I knew, of course, the legends.
He lifted his torch, to the sign over the door. "Do you not know that sign?", he asked.
"I know what sign it must be," I said.
"What sign?" asked he.
"The sign, the name sign, of Torvald."
"Yes," said he.
"Torvald," I said to the Forkbeard, "is only a figure of legend. Each country has its legendary heroes, its founders, its mythic giants."
"This," said the Forkbeard, looking up at the sign, "is the chamber of Torvald." He looked at me. "We have found it," he said.
"There is no Torvald," I said., "Torvald does not exist."
"This," said the Forkbeard, "is his sleeping chamber." His voice shook. "Torvald," said he, "sleeps in the Torvaldsberg, and has done so for a thousand years. He waits to be wakened. When his land needs him, he shall awake. He shall then lead is in battle. Again he will lead the men of the north."
"There is no Torvald," I said.
The Forkbeard looked within. "For a thousand years," he whispered, "has he slept."
"Torvald does not exist," I said.
Ivar Forkbeard, lifting his torch, entered the great chamber.
I felt grief. It seemed to me not impossible that, at the root of the legends, the sagas, of Torvald, there might be some particles of truth. I did not think it impossible that there had once been a Torvald, one who had come to this land, with followers perhaps, more than a thousand years ago. He might have been a great leader, a mighty warrior, the first of the jarls of the north, but that has been, if it had ever been, more than a thousand years ago. There was now no Torvald. I felt grief at what misery, the disappointment, what disillusionment must now fall to my friend, the Forkbeard.
In his hope to find one strong enough to stand against the Kurii, one who could rally the men of the north he was bound to be disillusioned. The myth, that dream of succor, of final recourse, would be shown barren, fraudulent.
This chamber, I knew, had been built by men, and the passages carved from the very stone of the mountain itself. That must be accounted for. But it was not difficult to do so, perhaps there had once been a Torvald, hundreds of years ago. If so, it was not impossible that it had been his wish to be interred in the great mountain. We stood, perhaps within, or at the bring, of the tomb of Torvald, lost for long ages until now, until we two, fleeing from the Kurii, from beasts, had stumbled upon it. Perhaps it was true that Torvald had been buried in the Torvaldsberg, and that the tomb, the funeral chamber, had been concealed to protect it from the curious or from robbers. And, in such cases, legends might well have arisen, legends in which the mystery of the lost tomb might figure. These would have spread from village to village, from remote farm to remote farm, from hall to hall. One such legend, quite naturally, might have been that Torvald, the great Torvald, was not truly dead, but only asleep, and would awaken when once again his land had need of him.
"Wait," I called to the Forkbeard.
But he had entered the chamber, torch high, moving quickly. I follow him, swiftly, tears in my eyes.
When he looked down, torch lifted, upon the bones and fragile clothes of what had once been a hero, when the myth has been shattered, the crystal of its dream beneath the iron of reality, I wanted to stand near him.. I would not speak to him. But I would sand behind him, and near him.
The Forkbeard stood at the side of the great stone couch, which was covered with black fur.
At the foot of the couch were weapons; at its head, hanging on the wall, under a great shield, were two spears, crossed under it, and, to one side, a mighty sword in its scabbard. Near the head of the couch, on out left, as we looked upon the couch, was, on a stone platform, a large helmet, horned.
The Forkbeard looked at me.
The couch was empty.
He did not speak. He sat down on the edge of the couch, on the black fur, and put his head in his hands. His torch lay on the floor, and after some time, burned itself out. The Forkbeard did not move, The men of Torvaldsland, unlike most Gorean men, do not permit themselves tears. It is not cultural for them to weep. But I heard him sob once. I did not, of course, let him know I had head this sound. I would not shame him.
"We have lost," He said, finally, "Red Hair. We have lost."
I had lit another torch, and was examining the chamber. The body of Torvald, I conjectured, had not been buried in this place. It did not seem likely that robbers would have taken the body, and left the various treasures about. Nothing, it seemed, had been disturbed.
Torvald, I conjectured, doubtless as cunning and wise as the legends had made him out, had not elected to have himself interred in his own tomb.
It was empty.
The wiliness, the cunning, of a man who have lived more than a thousand years ago made itself felt in its effects a millennium later, in this strange place, deep within the living stone of a great mountain in a bleak country.
"Where is Torvald?" cried out Ivar Forkbeard.
"There is no Torvald," said the Forkbeard. "Torvald does not exist."
I made no attempt to answer the Forkbeard.
"The bones of Torvald," said the Forkbeard, "even the bones of Torvald are not here."
"Torvald was a great captain," I said. "Perhaps he was burned in his ship, which you have told me was called Black Shark." I looked about. "It is strange though," I said, "if that were the case, why this tomb would have been built."
"This is not a tomb," said Ivar Forkbeard.
I regarded him.
"This is a sleeping chamber," he said. "There are no bones of animals here, or of thralls, or urns, or the remains of foodstuffs, offerings." He looked about. "What, " he asked me, "would Torvald have had carves in the Torvaldsberg a sleeping chamber?"
"That men might come to the Torvaldsberg to waken him," I said.
Ivar Forkbeard looked at me.
From among the weapons at the foot of the couch, from one of the cylindrical quivers, still of the sort carried in Torvaldsland, I drew forth a long, dark arrow. It was more than a yard long. Its shaft was almost an inch thick. It was plied with iron, barbed. Its feathers were five inches long, set in the shaft on three sides, feathers of the black-tipped coasting gull, a broad-winged bird, with black tips on its winds and tail feathers, similar to the Vosk gull.
I lifted the arrow. "What is this?" I asked the Forkbeard.
"It is a war arrow," he said.
"And what sign is this, carved on its side?" I asked.
"The sign of Torvald," he whispered.
"Why do you think this arrow is in this place?" I asked.
"That men might find it?" he asked.
"I think so," I said.
He reaches out and put his hand on the arrow. He took it from me.
"Send the war arrow," I said.
The Forkbeard looked down on the arrow.
"I think," I said, "I begin to understand the meaning of a man who lived more than a thousand winters ago. This man, call him Torvald, built within a mountain a chamber for sleep, in which he would not sleep, but to which men would come to waken him. Here they would find not Torvald, but themselves, themselves, Ivar, alone, and an arrow of war."
"I do not understand," said Ivar.
"I think," I said, "it was not the intention of Torvald that it should be he who was wakened within it, but rather those who came to seek him."
"The chamber is empty," said Ivar.
"No," I said, "we are within it." I put my hand to his shoulder. "It is not Torvald who must awaken in this chamber. Rather it is we. Here, hoping for others to do our work, Torvald"s way of telling us, from a thousand years ago, that it is we on whom we must depend, and not on any other. If the land is to be saved, it is by us and others like us, that it must be saved. There are no spells, no gods, no heroes to save us, In this chamber, it is not Torvald who must awaken. It is you and I." I regarded the Forkbeard evenly. "Lift," said I, "the arrow of war."'' Marauders of Gor - pages 232-235