Brynjólfr austmannaskelfir

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Photo by Melanie Gallon
Information
Registered Name: Brynjólfr austmannaskelfir
Resides: Bonwicke
Status: Active
Joined SCA: 2016
Order of Precedence
Brynjólfr austmannaskelfir
Heraldry

A gyronny arrondi of 6 azure and or, a wolf argent courant, all within a bordure gules.

Dróttinn Brynjólfr austmannaskelfir

Previously Known As: Brynjolfr inn Réttr
Nickname(s): None
Pronouns:He/Him

Additional Registered Heraldry:


Offices:

  • Local Offices Held
    • Deputy Minister of Arts and Sciences for the Barony of Bonwicke (September 2017-December 2018)
    • Seneschal of the Barony of Bonwicke (January 2019 - January 2020)
    • Hospitaler of the Barony of Bonwicke (August 2020 – August 2022)
    • Deputy Seneschal of the Barony of Bonwicke (October 2022 – Present)
    • Knight Marshall of the Barony of Bonwicke (January 2023 – Present)
  • Regional Offices Held
  • Kingdom Offices Held


Persona History:

Born in 961 BCE Norway.
Jómsvíking from Circa 979 – Circa 986.
Wandered from Circa 986 – 991.
Joined Ansteorra, and started anew in 991 - “Present.”

The Tale of Brynjólfr

Brynjólfr was born in the year 961 BCE to Þorsteinn Helgisson and Ragnhildr Grímsdóttir in Rogaland, Noregr’. Þorsteinn was in the service of a local wealthy Hersir named Auðun Einarsson but died raiding before his son’s birth. Ragnhildr, who was also in service to the house of Auðun, died while giving birth to the babe. The women of Auðun’s house took pity on the infant and convinced Auðun to adopt him if he lived. They reasoned the Gods favored hospitality, and thus would be angered should the baby be cast out of a home with resources and means. Auðun relented, not wanting to draw the ire of the Gods, or of his fallen warrior Þorsteinn in the afterlife, and adopted the baby who was to become Brynjólfr.

Auðun Hersir was a feared warrior, wealthy landowner, and a staunch follower of Óðinn. As such, he practiced berserkergang. He was often called Auðun Bjarnarblóð, having once fought three bears while naked with only his fists and teeth. In this tradition he named the boy Brynjólfr, meaning “wolf armor.” He did this in the hope the boy would be chosen by the High One to spread battle song, and crimson sacrifice as an Úlfhéðinn. Brynjólfr did grow to achieve his adopted father’s aspirations, but Auðun would never see it fulfilled.

As Brynjólfr grew, Auðun’s health declined. By the time Auðun died, his wealth was spent, and his lands were destitute. Brynjólfr was barely sixteen when he left his home, never to return. He traveled in the service of various warlords for over a year, seeing many ports and raids until he found himself in a coastal town on the southern part of the Baltic Sea. Here, Brynjólfr’s life would change.

On his first night in the village, he took his rest at the local mead hall. A very drunk and belligerent warrior began antagonizing Brynjólfr by spitting at his feet, and with jeering comments. Brynjólfr, being young and hot blooded challenged the drunk to hólmganga. The drunk’s fierce looking companions sneered and mocked as the “insolent welp” made the challenge square. The drunk, not wanting to ruin his evening declined the challenge, but Brynjólfr knew the laws of the people. Auðun taught him well in this, as Auðun initially won his estate with the ritual duel. Brynjólfr called the drunk a slur, knowing full well under the law the challenged party could kill Brynjólfr where he stood, or fight hólmganga. The law stated the full right, or “fullr réttr” of the challenge was death. To not accept, made the challenged a Níðingr, and stripped them of all rights. The way Brynjólfr saw it, a glorious death for either was worth the risk. Brynjólfr waited in the square for the man to introduce himself and announce terms.

The drunk unexpectedly charged in, and Brynjólfr being much less experienced, was taken aback by the skilled and precise axe blows obliterating his shield. Brynjólfr was pushed back, narrowly blocking each swing, as more candlelight shone through the shield. Luckily for Brynjólfr the mead made the warrior clumsy of foot. The man slipped on a swing and shot past Brynjólfr just as Brynjólfr’s shield disintegrated in his hand. Brynjólfr wheeled around and buried the bit of his axe into the base of the drunk’s skull with a wet impact, killing him outright. It was ugly, brutal, and due to no skill of his own. Brynjólfr won.

A tall, hulking man stepped forth and deftly smacked the axe from Brynjólfr’s hand. This stunned Brynjólfr into stillness. He was a full head and shoulders taller than Brynjólfr, and his face was emotionless as he spoke. “I am Styrbjǫrn Sterki, the rightful king of Svíariki. You bested one of my hirðmenn, boy. Tell me your name.” Brynjólfr replied, “I am Brynjólfr, adopted son of Auðun Hersir, known as Bjarnarblóð. I hail from the proud stock of Rogaland in Noregr’, and I fear no man!” The giant laughed wryly and shot Brynjólfr a dangerous grin. “” I offer you a choice then, “little wolf.” Stand in my wall, or die under my heel,”” Styrbjǫrn said while resting his hand on the exquisitely crafted pommel of his sword. Brynjólfr realized all the men were now silent and glaring, awaiting the command to fall upon him. Brynjólfr agreed to the terms. What choice did he have? “Good,” Styrbjǫrn grunted. “Be at the docks at first light. We sail and fight tomorrow.” With those words, Styrbjǫrn and his retinue exited the hall, leaving Brynjólfr to question his life choices.

The next morning Brynjólfr arrived at the docks to find four stones of graduating size lined up, with Styrbjǫrn’s men making individual attempts to lift the largest one. Styrbjǫrn caught sight of Brynjólfr, and motioned him over. Styrbjǫrn loudly proclaimed, “The little wolf slinks from his den! Come! Come test your might for crew position and work. This is customary for me when taking on new crew. It gives you the measure of a man.” Styrbjǫrn eyed Brynjólfr from top to bottom before speaking again. “The stones all weigh close to the amount of important cargo. The smallest stone weighs as much as a sack of grain. If a man can only lift this, he is good for cleaning up the latrines, moving cargo until he is stronger, and carrying weapons for others. He is a weakling,” Styrbjǫrn made a derisive snort. “The next stone weighs about as much as a grown woman,” Styrbjǫrn laughed at the comparison before he continued. “This man is mostly useless. He can use a spear and move restrained captives;” Styrbjǫrn emphasized restrained with contempt, “but he will have a hard time resisting a charge in the shield wall.” “The third stone weighs about as much as a full-grown reindeer. This is a half- man. He is good to have in any spot, but he is green and young. He needs to be stronger. The final stone is about the weight of an exceptionally large adult sheep, or a small bear. The man who lifts this is full strength and can be trusted to withstand the rigors of life on a longship, or in a shield wall. Most of the men aboard can lift the fourth stone. You must lift the stone from the ground to the hip. Further placement on the ship will be determined later with other trials. We have a fight coming today, after all! Do you have questions?” Styrbjǫrn did not wait for Brynjólfr to answer. “Good! Pick up each stone.” Brynjólfr placed his equipment on the ground and proceeded to the first stone.

Brynjólfr stood above the small stone and scooped it up with one hand onto his shoulder to prove a point. “Fine job,” Styrbjǫrn chuckled, “lift the big one.” Brynjólfr squared up on the largest stone. He noticed the crew quietly taking bets. Brynjólfr knew he was strong, but had never lifted anything so large before. He focused on the stone, squatted down, and placed his fingers along the bottom portion. It was about 2 feet tall, so he pressed his chest against it for a better grip. Brynjólfr took a few short, but deep breaths, and exploded upward with all his might. He met resistance, which almost immediately dragged him to the ground, yet he continued to struggle against the stone. It slowly began to rise, inch by inch. Brynjólfr realized he was holding his breath, as the world slowly started to fade white. He began breathing again, which brought color back. He screamed against the weight, against the agony, as he continued to rise, until he finally stood upright with the stone above his waist. He pushed it away, moving himself more from the stone than the stone away from him. It hit the ground with a dull thump. Brynjólfr was dizzy, and blood thundered in his ears.

When he came back to the world, the men were laughing, and Styrbjǫrn was hoisting him from the cool earth. “After picking you up, I would say you weigh close to a young reindeer. Not bad picking up over twice your own weight!” Styrbjǫrn seemed genuinely excited as he began to speak to the crew, and his voice grew louder as he spoke. “This little wolf killed Hrói Ambhǫfði in a legal duel. He then proved himself today by lifting the stones. By rights, he should be on my ship. Do you accept him?!” “Yes,” responded the crew in unison. Styrbjǫrn continued, “Then I name him today, Brynjólfr inn Réttr, for his reckless and clever use of the law. May he gain a new name. Welcome your new shield-brother!” The entire crew answered back loudly in unison, “Heilsa!” Brynjólfr wearily gathered his things and set about getting ready to leave.

As is custom before any voyage, the men participated in a ritual wash. Brynjólfr took his place at the back of the line as the new man on the crew. A young helper boy took a bowl with clean water, and presented it to Styrbjǫrn who washed his hair, face, and hands. He finished by blowing his nose and spitting in the bowl. The boy dumped the water, refilled the bowl, and continued the process for each man down the line. At last, the bowl was presented to Brynjólfr. As he washed, he prayed to Njörðr. He asked Njörðr for safe travel, and protection against the jötunn called Ægir, who’s foul temper was known pull ships to the bottom of the sea. In exchange for protection Brynjólfr promised one fifth of his plunder from the raid to Njörðr. Once Brynjólfr finished, the men embarked upon the boat.

On the boat, Styrbjǫrn placed Brynjólfr in the spot of the man he slew. “I never liked Hrói, if I’m being honest.” Styrbjǫrn said, talking to no one while staring off into the distance. “I called him Ambhǫfði because the man had two minds. The first was a hard-working warrior. He was loyal and true.” Styrbjǫrn sighed before continuing, “The other was a drunken oaf. A fool who picked the wrong boy to bully one evening and did not have the decency to duel properly. He dishonored himself and all of us.” Styrbjǫrn looked back to address the crew now. “Had Brynjólfr not killed Hrói himself, I surely would have made his name reality by cleaving his head in two!” Styrbjǫrn fumed for a moment, and bellowed, “You may let your rage flow, but do not let anything weaken your honor! Do not disgrace yourselves, and do not disgrace me!” He collected himself before speaking again, “There is a code to follow. After we take my prize, you will be legends. Remember to act like it. Now give this sea steed her legs! Take up the oars!” The men quickly set about unmooring the longship and rowing out to sea.

Rowing is very dull and laborious work, and it gives one time to think. Brynjólfr was accustomed to life on ship and began taking in his surroundings. Styrbjǫrn’s vessel was by far the finest he ever sailed on. It was oak, a tree sacred to Óðinn and renowned for strength. Every petty warlord Brynjólfr served under used lower quality pine. It was clinker-built, and well. Each board lapped and sealed with jute and tar between them to keep water out. Each rivet meticulously placed and peened to secure the boards and allow for flex. Every surface on the inside was sealed and burnished with boiled flax oil to make them as water resistant as the tarred, black exterior. The sails were rust colored from the beeswax used to seal the wool from the elements. The ship was large enough to accommodate a well-sized tent made of the same material, along with sixty men and their supplies. Each man had a sea chest, which doubled as a bench. There was also a berthing area for livestock aft of the boat, behind the tent. It suddenly occurred to Brynjólfr he sat on the drunk’s war chest.

By right of the hólmganga, the contents inside, along with everything Hrói owned was now his. Brynjólfr waited for the sails to drop before he inspected his newfound loot. Inside were the various sundries of a warrior on expedition. These were things Brynjólfr would keep as replacements if his own equipment broke, or trade leverage. One thing caught his eye, however. It was a large, exquisite two-handed axe head. It was heavy in the poll, and gracefully tapered to the bit, where it flared out again. This axe was made for cleaving helms! Brynjólfr immediately sat about crafting a handle with the tools and materials on board. After an hour’s work, he made a rudimentary handle to secure the head on. It was functional and fit well in his hands. The axe, when hafted, stood to Brynjólfr armpit when the butt of the handle was placed on the ground. When he was done, he looked around to realize the ship was headed for a mass of other similarly fine ships.

Brynjólfr counted fifty before Styrbjǫrn interrupted his counting. “There are sixty in all, “ Styrbjǫrn said. “Given to me by my uncle, that snake! It was naught but two years ago the þing decided I was unfit to be king. They were a “gift” to get me out of the way.” Styrbjǫrn sneered, "He gave me this name too. I will show him and take back what is mine. In time,” he trailed off in thought. He spoke again after a few moments, “Those thoughts are for the future, for we raid today!” Styrbjǫrn clapped his hand on Brynjólfr’s shoulder and turned to speak with his men. “When we regroup with the other ships, sound the horn for my commanders to assemble in the tent.” Just as he commanded, the horn was sounded when the ship came broadside. Brynjólfr watched men spring from ship to ship by walking on oars to meet in the command tent. Several minutes passed, as the rank-and-file men began to play dice, and hnefatafl on top of their sea chests. Brynjólfr was welcomed to the games once he produced some of the extra gear from the sea chest for wagers.

None of the men seemed antagonistic or angry toward him. Many were thankful Brynjólfr won the duel. Everyone he spoke with knew Hrói was not meant for their task and purpose, and honestly expected him to die raiding or fall overboard by now. He was a great fighter, and fine company when he was sober. However, he was lazy, bellicose, and surly when he drank, which was daily. He was therefore a liability. Brynjólfr was warned to keep his conduct from reflecting poorly on the warband, or Styrbjǫrn. Hrói’s issues were not public outside of the men, but anyone who besmirched the band in the public eye or was cowardly was cut down in hólmganga. Most often Styrbjǫrn himself did the killing.

Through conversation, he discovered the men were deeply loyal to Styrbjǫrn. Styrbjǫrn was always at the head of the battle line, never afraid to wade into the thick of a fight and was a faithful arbiter of justice. He also rewarded the men well. He was a great war chief, and he was close to the same age as Brynjólfr. The only negative thing the men spoke of was his tendency to act on emotion first when it came to the subject of ruling Sweden. If he thought an action would get him closer to his goal, he took it without regard to consequences. Just then, Styrbjǫrn appeared from the command tent as if speaking his name summoned him.

With a nod, another horn signal blew, and the men who filled the command tent began leaping back to their boats. The men on Styrbjǫrn’s ship all put away their goods and took up their stations. “Don your war gear, we sail west and will make landfall soon,” Styrbjǫrn said as he walked the length of the ship. He eyed each man quietly until he got to Brynjólfr. “Try not to die on our first outing little wolf,” and with those words Styrbjǫrn began to take up arms and armor.

A short time later, a busy port town could be seen just off the horizon. Styrbjǫrn proclaimed, “This is our prize today, earn your seats and your spoils with blood! Óðinn, we make this sacrifice to you! Make ready to raise the sails and bury oars, you spear shakers!” The crew immediately set to the task of doffing their equipment and preparing to row. Brynjólfr quickly placed his helm upon his head, placed his new axe beside him, and sat upon the chest. On the command, he dug the oars into the waves and rowed with all his might. He could feel the ship lunge forward, as if given wings upon the water. At first, he heard the oars and shouting from the other crews. Then bells, horns, and shouts from the coast. They grew louder, until Brynjólfr felt the ship slow sharply and rise. The command was given to stop rowing, and Brynjólfr knew the ship made landfall. The order was given to disembark. He grabbed the axe and leapt over the side without hesitation.

The icy sea greeted and swallowed him whole. Brynjólfr knew how to swim and found himself in shallow water almost immediately, as the ship was nearly beached. He rose from the water with a gasp, as the tide seemed to urge him forward into battle. Immediately before him was a scared looking man holding a spear with a cracked shaft. Brynjólfr readied his axe. His left foot forward, body turned off center, the head of the axe rested just above his right shoulder, cocked and ready to strike. The man thrust the spear at Brynjólfr’s belly, who used the bottom of the axe handle to parry the blow from the center to his left with a sweeping motion. Brynjólfr simultaneously stepped toward the man and buried the axe into the nape of the man’s neck. The fine axe bit deeply through the rough hemp shirt the man wore and cut cleanly all the way to the center of the man’s chest. The man’s shoulder seemed to melt away from the rest of his body, as he crumpled onto the wet sand, dislodging the axe from his breastbone. Brynjólfr’s helm, face, and right side were covered in the crimson spray of the man’s lifeblood. He sprang forward into a plodding canter, as more men began to join him from the boat.

The raiders were trained well. Spears and shields took the front, while men with large axes or long spears protected the flanks, and men in the rear prepared their bows. The formation began to take shape and formed a wedge. This was called the Svinfylking, or boar snout. The boar formation moved toward a breach in the dunes, where Brynjólfr could see poorly armed men waiting on the other side. The gap was about the width of 10 men, and he saw there were approximately three rows of men on the other side. Brynjólfr heard Styrbjǫrn bellow to narrow the Svinfylking. The men obeyed instantly, stacking one behind the other while on the move, until the formation could fit through the breach. A few arrows began to come in haphazardly from the village side, but the men in the center raised their shields to protect the warriors in front of them, while the men behind them did the same. Styrbjǫrn shouted for his archers, who immediately stopped where they were and rained arrows onto the other side of the dunes. Cries of pain could be heard from the villagers, and no more arrows flew at the raiders.

Styrbjǫrn commanded the formation to, “breach and fold.” The formation began to speed up, until they charged as one. Brynjólfr had no idea what the command meant but followed the warrior in front of him anyway. The boar snout slammed into the men who attempted to hold the gap with a thunderous clash, but the sheer force of impact overwhelmed them, and split their whole defense in two. Once Styrbjǫrn’s men made it through the dunes, the formation split in two, and folded back onto the defenders. Brynjólfr followed the warrior in front of him and began to engage the enemy on the left. He struck the hips, arms, and necks of villagers who were busy defending themselves against spear thrusts. No man who stood before him that day walked away whole, even if they were lucky enough to cross his path and retain their life. The cries of the wounded, clash of weapons, the smell of bloody, churned soil, and the warmth of his sweat overwhelmed his senses. His teeth began to chatter as if he was cold, and the world went dark.

When Brynjólfr came back to reality, he could barely make out the muffled words of a man speaking to him over the ringing in his ears. He was tired, and heavy. He realized he couldn’t move, and it was Styrbjǫrn speaking with him. The big man had Brynjólfr’s shoulders in his hands, shaking him. Brynjólfr realized he was warm, and wet, and the metallic smell of blood filled his nose. He was covered from head to toe in blood. He was on his knees, and his helm was in his right hand. “Where is my axe” he thought? As he looked around, he realized he’d been bashing a man’s face in with the helmet. Styrbjǫrn was laughing. “Well, it looks like the little wolf likes the taste of blood! The men said you went wild, and they were lucky to get out of your way. Here is your axe.” Styrbjǫrn placed the Dane axe in Brynjólfr’s hands. Styrbjǫrn was silent for a few moments before he asked his question. “Why didn’t you tell me you followed the old ways and berserkergang?” Styrbjǫrn waited for Brynjólfr to collect himself. Chest still heaving from effort, Brynjólfr said, “Because I never entered the battle fury before. My father taught me the ways, but Óðinn never saw fit to bless me until today.” Styrbjǫrn thought a moment, staring intently at Brynjólfr. “Had I fifty of you, I could defeat all my enemies and reclaim my throne. A berserker is a hard man to come by, especially in these days when kings abandon our gods, and outlaw the ways of our ancestors. Not since Harald Fairhair has a king commanded a royal guard of Ulfheðnar.” Styrbjǫrn mused a moment before he spoke again. “The men are gathering plunder and we will divide the spoils at sea. It is best not to remain after we strike.” With those words, Styrbjǫrn turned and ordered two men to escort Brynjólfr back to the ship, as it was clear he could not make it back under his own power.

The men deposited Brynjólfr into his bedroll, and a deep sleep grasped him immediately. TO BE CONTINUED…

Interests:

  • Chivalric Combat, with a love for melees and Viking Deed.
  • Viking Age History.
  • Skaldic Arts; Singing, Flyting, Poetry, Story Telling.
  • Courtly Dancing.
  • Middle Eastern Drumming.
  • High Persona Play.
  • Smithing and Metalwork.
  • Daily living skills of the Iron Age.
  • Helping Newcomers.
  • Shenanigans of the lighthearted variety.


Timeline of Activity:

I began playing in Bonwicke June 2016, and really dove in a few months later. I have been full throttle since then.

Prior Groups:


Populace Provided Information:

Havaar Erickson

Brynjólfr Austmannaskelfir gets my word fame today. This man will go out of his way to make sure you are having an amazing time, that you are comfortable, everything above and beyond one of the most hospitable people I have ever met. If you do not know him find someone to introduce you. You will leave that event with a new friend.

Khadija Al-Tashjiani

Wordfame to Brynjólfr Austmannaskelfir , who in my humble opinion, has been an amazing leader & mentor to our small barony. He has co-autocrated the past 3 events to help & encourage newer members and goes above and beyond. He will stop and help anyone with questions about procedures or historical accuracies. He encouraged DEI practices before they were official. He is everything I look for in a peer.

Sigrun i Bjarka

Brynjólfr Austmannaskelfir for being an amazing event steward, fighter, friend to all - Honestly he is a freaking AMAZING human being! Valgard and I are better humans learning by his example!

Notable Contributions or Accomplishments:

Event / Sideboard / Tavern Steward

  • Autocrat for the Barony of Bonwicke’s Artisan and Baronial Investiture 2018
  • Co-Autocrat for Barony of Bonwicke’s Champions event 2018
  • Co-Autocrat for King’s College, Eisteddfod, and the Barony of Bonwicke’s Artisan 2019
  • Co Autocrat for the Barony of Bonwicke’s Artisan 2020
  • Sideboard Steward for Ansteorran Heraldic & Scribal Symposium 2023
  • Event Steward and Tavern Coordinator for Two Artisans, Two Bards 2023
  • Event Steward and Sideboard Coordinator for War of Legends 2023

Martial Activities Leadership

  • Authorizing Marshal for Heavy Combat 2019 to Present
  • Youth Rapier and Chivalric Marshal 2020 – 2021
  • The Barony of Bonwicke’s Bardic Champion for [[Jason III] and Margherita III 2020-2022
  • The Barony of Bonwicke’s Chivalric Champion for Alusch and Eleanor 2020-2022
  • Viking Deed Coordinator for War of Legends 2022
  • Captain of Bonwicke’s Baronial Guard 2020 - Present
  • Commanded Northshield's army and my unit in the second half of the Ravine battle at Gulf War 2023.
  • Viking Deed Coordinator Gulf War 2023


Non-Armigerous Awards and Recognitions:

  • Shakey Knees 2017
  • Crimson Spear of Bonwicke 2018
  • Executioner of the Western Watch 2018 - Present
  • Crimson Tear of Bonwicke 2020


Affiliations:

Husband of Alusch Anneke von dem Sternen
Man at Arms to Vladislav Strelec.
Crew member for Ansteorran Longship Company


Mundane Information:

Bearer of the Sable Shield of Ansteorra


Special Needs:

Kosher dietary restrictions.

In Case of Court:

Come have fun with me!