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1220 AD or thereabouts

Tróndur rose from his grave with a moan.

He staggered to his feet, leaning heavily against his great staff, and looked around him as he gasped for breath. The grass was green and the cliffs were tall and the sea was wild as ever, and the only living thing near him was a sheep, grazing and not the least bit interested in the man who had risen from the dead nearby.

Tróndur sighed. He stretched and found his bones old and brittle and his sinews weak from disuse. He was so very tired, though it felt as if he'd slept for quite some time.

And so he raised his staff and he called - "Øssur" - and a great light flared as he drove it into the ground.

(At a nearby farm, an old woman, who still remember how she had been a slave as a young maid before the king had changed the law, stopped in the middle of her washing to peer at the sky, worried that the light had been lightning and the rain would soon be pouring down.)

Øssur came, right hand in his left, and stood before Tróndur.

"Listen, foster son," said Tróndur. "I need you to go and see for me how things are in my Faroe Islands. How fares the people, what does the Thing?"

Øssur turned and went.

Tróndur staggered over to a great rock next to the sea and sat down to wait for him. As he sat, a great auk waddled past him.

"Hello, Gøtutróndur. What are you sitting there for?"

"I am waiting for my foster son, who I have sent to see how things are in my islands."

"Well, why would you do a silly thing like that?" the great auk asked. "I can tell you all about it. All is well in the Faroe Islands. Summer follows winter as it did even in my grandsire's days and there's plenty of fish in the sea for everyone."

"I thank you for your news," Tróndur said, politely. "But I still think I shall wait for my foster son."

"Hmpf," said the great auk and dived into the water without as much as a goodbye, leaving Tróndur alone to wait.

Eventually, Øssur returned.

"The King of Norway still rules the islands," he said. "The Thing has less and less to say and do, and the King's bishops and sýslumaður more and more."

Tróndur sighed and slumped.

"There's one more thing, though," Øssur said.

"Oh?"

"They've written down your story. On sheep skin, not in stone. I saw it standing on a shelf in the bishop's house, leaning against his book of tales of the White Christ."

Then Øssur turned and left for his grave and for Valhalla, and Tróndur? He sank back down into his deep, dark sleep.

***

1500 AD or thereabouts

Tróndur rose from his grave with a mighty groan.

He staggered to his feet, leaning heavily against his great staff, and looked around him as he gasped for breath. The grass was green and the cliffs were tall and the sea was wild as ever, and the only living thing near him was a pilot whale swimming past and not the least bit interested in the man who had risen from the dead nearby.

Tróndur sighed. He stretched and found his bones old and brittle and his sinews weak from disuse. He was so very tired, though it felt as if he'd slept for quite some time.

And so he raised his staff and he called - "Leivur" - and a great light flared as he drove it into the ground.

(A monk strolling not far from there saw the flash and picked up his pace, worried that the storm would break before he'd make it back to church, where he was expected.)

Leivur came and stood before Tróndur.

"Listen, foster son," said Tróndur. "I need you to go and see for me how things are in my Faroe Islands. How fares the people, what does the Thing?"

Leivur turned and went.

As Tróndur waited, leaning on his staff, a pied raven came flying and settled on a stone near him.

"Hello, Gøtutróndur. What are you standing there for?"

"I am waiting for my foster son, who I have sent to see how things are in my islands."

"Well, why would you do a silly thing like that?" the pied raven asked. "I can tell you all about it. All is well in the Faroe Islands. The winter is less cold than it was in my parents' youth and the humans are almost as many as they used to be before the time of the great raven feast - and the sheep along with them, which is the important thing, of course."

"I thank you for your news," Tróndur said, politely. "But I still think I shall wait for my foster son."

"Hmpf," said the pied raven. For a moment, it busied itself with preening its white and black feathers, and then it flew off without as much as a goodbye, leaving Tróndur alone to wait.

Eventually, Leivur returned.

"The King still rules," he said. "Though he now sits in Denmark, for a woman came and took the king away from Norway many years ago. He has sold the islands to the south to the Scots and rumor has it he intends to do the same with the Faroe Islands."

Tróndur sighed and slumped.

"Is there anything else to tell?" he asked.

"The Christian priests are everywhere," Leivur answered. "They sell Heaven itself to the peasants for so much coin."

That prompted a bark of laughter from Tróndur.

"Well, that's a clever trick, at least, "he said. "I almost wish I'd thought of it in my day."

Then Leivur turned and left for his grave and for Heaven, and Tróndur? He sank back down into his deep, dark sleep.

***

1629 AD

Tróndur rose from his grave with a roar.

He staggered to his feet, leaning heavily against his great staff, and looked around him as he gasped for breath. The grass was green and the cliffs were tall and the sea was wild as ever, and the only living thing near him was a grey seal lounging on the beach and not the least bit interested in the man who had risen from the dead nearby.

Tróndur sighed. He stretched and found his bones old and brittle and his sinews weak from disuse. He was so very tired, though it felt as if he'd slept for quite some time.

And so he raised his staff and he called - "Sjúrður Torlaksson" - and a great light flared as he drove it into the ground.

(Some people nearby might have noticed the flash, but they had other, far more pressing matters to attend to right then and there and not a single thought to waste on it.)

Sjúrður came and stood before Tróndur.

"Listen, nephew," said Tróndur. "I need you to go and see for me how things are in my Faroe Islands. How fares the people, what does the Thing?"

Sjúrður turned and went.

As Tróndur waited, leaning on his staff, a merlin came swooping down on a tiny starling and settled down to eat it.

"Hello, Gøtutróndur. What are you standing there for?"

"I am waiting for my nephew, who I have sent to see how things are on my islands."

"Well, why would you do a silly thing like that?" the merlin asked. "I can tell you all about it. All is well in the Faroe Islands. The humans are far too busy with other matters to steal as many eggs as they used to from our nests, and they've been so kind as to bring all manner of lovely little furry creatures to the islands, which were not here in my grandsire's days. They make a marvelous variety for the hunting bird, you know."

"I thank you for your news," Tróndur said, politely. "But I still think I shall wait for my nephew."

"Hmpf," said the merlin. For a while yet it stayed, tearing bloody bits of meat out of the dead starling, and then, having eaten its fill, it flew off without as much as a goodbye, leaving Tróndur alone to wait.

Eventually, Sjúrður returned.

"Time's are quite bad on the islands, uncle" he said. "Raiders come by boat from other lands almost every year. Some just come for the fish, and that is bad enough, for it leaves our people nothing and so they starve. Some come as vikings and they raid the villages, and that is worse. But the worst are the ones who come from Serkland far to the south and raid for slaves."

Then he stepped past Tróndur, making the old man turn to follow, and he pointed out to sea.

"Look," he said. "Those three ships out there are some of them. Their holds are filled with women and children, and none in these islands have the coin to buy their freedom from bondage."

"What does the king?" Tróndur asked.

"Little enough, for he is far away and cares more about ruling the trade than guarding his people."

At that, Tróndur felt a great rage stir, such as he had not felt for many long years even as a living man. But he was old, old beyond old, and what could one man do, anyway? Except…

Except the storm had always loved him, had always obeyed his call before.

As it did now.

It came howling in from the Atlantic, roaring and twisting, tearing at the masts and sails of the corsairs' galleys and pushing a nearby waterfall into falling back unto the land above.

The storm came and grasped the corsairs' galleys and it pounced upon them like a wild beast, tearing and roaring and dragging first one down and then pushing a second in on the treacherous cliffs until finally losing its strength and letting the third lie.

Tróndur felt the wind circle him once, playing with his hair and beard and bringing him the screams of the drowned people before it left.

One of those screams, loud above the rest, was a woman, crying for a girl named Thurid.

Tróndur sighed and slumped.

He turned to look at his nephew, but the man had already left for his grave and Valhalla, and Tróndur? He sank back down into his deep, dark sleep.

***

1814 AD

Tróndur rose from his grave with a deafening roar, loud enough to rival the thunder.

He staggered to his feet, leaning heavily against his great staff, and looked around him as he gasped for breath. The grass was green and the cliffs were tall and the sea was wild as ever, and the only living thing near him was a rat scurrying away and not the least bit interested in the man who had risen from the dead nearby.

Tróndur sighed. He stretched and found his bones old and brittle and his sinews weak from disuse. He was so very tired, though it felt as if he'd slept for quite some time.

And so he raised his staff and he called - "Tord Lítli" - and a great light flared as he drove it into the ground.

(A nearby priest raised his head to look at the sky, but - finding it clear - he turned back to planting the potatoes one of his colleagues had assured him would make a marvelous crop in his garden).

Tord came and stood before Tróndur.

"Listen, nephew," said Tróndur. "I need you to go and see for me how things are in my Faroe Islands. How fares the people, what does the Thing?"

Tord turned and went.

As Tróndur waited, leaning on his staff, a puffin landed close to him and looked at him curiously.

"Hello, Gøtutróndur. What are you standing there for?"

"I am waiting for my nephew, who I have sent to see how things are in my islands."

"Well, why would you do a silly thing like that?" the puffin asked. "I can tell you all about it. All is well in the Faroe Islands. We have good safe nests for our eggs on the tiny islands were no rats come to steal them, and there's plenty of fish in the seas now that the humans have been too busy to come and take it all these last few years."

"I thank you for your news," Tróndur said, politely. "But I still think I shall wait for my nephew."

"Hmpf," said the puffin. For a little while it sat and then it flew off without as much as a goodbye, leaving Tróndur alone to wait.

Eventually, Tord returned.

"Well, uncle, I have some good news and some bad news. Which would you like first?"

"The good news, nephew."

"Why, they are this: Norway has been taken by foreigners as a prize of war. They are in bondage, their land to be ruled by a king not theirs. Is it not glorious?"

"It is," Tróndur nodded. "Are my Faroes free from foreign rulers, then?"

"Well, no. That's the bad news. We are under the Danish king, like Norway's been for many a long year, and the Danish king was one of those who lost the great war that just ended. It's been long and bad years for our islands, uncle, with raids and blockades and so little money that they had to fake it."

Tróndur sighed and slumped.

"Is there anything else to tell?"

"Not much," Tord shrugged. "I saw women knitting hills of jumpers instead of mountains of socks, and I heard them complain about how the young maidens would rather go and weave than sit and knit, but I'm not certain that counts as news?"

"You spend too much time among womenfolk, nephew - you always did," Tróndur grumbled.

Then Tord turned and left for his grave and for Valhalla, and Tróndur? He sank back down into his deep, dark sleep.

***

1915 AD

Tróndur rose from his grave with a roar like a hailstorm and a howl like the hurricane.

He staggered to his feet, leaning heavily against his great staff, and looked around him as he gasped for breath. The grass was green and the cliffs were tall and the sea was wild as ever, and the only living thing near him was a snow hare hiding in the grass and not the least bit interested in the man who had risen from the dead nearby.

Tróndur sighed. He stretched and found his bones old and brittle and his sinews weak from disuse. He was so very tired, though it felt as if he'd slept for quite some time.

And so he raised his staff and he called - " Geyti Reyði " - and a great light flared as he drove it into the ground.

(A man sailing past just then might have noticed the flash, but he was far too busy trying to fix the broken down engine on his boat to pay attention to outlandish weather phenomena.)

Geyti came and stood before Tróndur.

"Listen, nephew," said Tróndur. "I need you to go and see for me how things are in my Faroe Islands. How fares the people, what does the Thing?"

Geyti turned and went.

As Tróndur waited, leaning on his staff, an oystercatcher flew past him twice before diving for him with a challenging cry. When that failed to make him move, it landed on a nearby rock and looked at him quizzically.

"Hello, Gøtutróndur. What are you standing there for?"

"I am waiting for my nephew, who I have sent to see how things are in my islands."

"Well, why would you do a silly thing like that?" the oystercatcher asked. "I can tell you all about it. All is well in the Faroe Islands. The humans have even stopped that silly tradition they had, where all their menfolk had to run around and catch birds for their beaks and gift them to the king."

"I thank you for your news," Tróndur said, politely. "But I still think I shall wait for my nephew."

"Hmpf," said the oystercatcher. It did not linger, for it had young in want of feeding, so it flew off without as much as a goodbye, leaving Tróndur alone to wait.

Eventually, Geyti returned.

"They all pay their taxes like good little peasants," he grumbled. "Not a warrior among them. And - oh, uncle, you will not believe this: they have made mead illegal! I blame the womenfolk. Whoever heard of all the women voting at the Thing anyway?"

"The Thing?" Tróndur said. "It meets again?"

"Oh yes, uncle - though they don't have much to say these days. The Danish crown still rules and our thingsmen are mostly reduced to simple merchants. Still, they do send men to the great Thing in Denmark, but who knows how long before the King decides not to listen to them anymore?"

Tróndur sighed and slumped.

"That was ever the way of kings. But is there nothing else?"

Geyti shrugged.

"There's lots of wizards about these days, I think. At least, they sail without oars and sails half the time, as if a friendly hand is dragging them about, and news spread faster than the fastest post boat or raven can carry them."

Then Geyti turned and left for his grave and for Valhalla, and Tróndur? He sank back down into his deep, dark sleep.

***

Right about now

Tróndur rose from his grave without a sound.

He staggered to his feet, leaning heavily against his great staff, and looked around him as he gasped for breath. The grass was green and the cliffs were tall and the sea was wild as ever, and the only living thing near him was a sheep with an odd contraption on its back, grazing and not the least bit interested in the man who had risen from the dead nearby (the woman editing the video files three weeks later, now she's an entirely different story).

Tróndur sighed. He stretched and found his bones old and brittle and his sinews weak from disuse. He was so very tired, though it felt as if he'd slept for quite some time.

And so he raised his staff and he called - " Sigmundur " - and a great light flared as he drove it into the ground.

(A couple of American hikers stopped and dug out their phones, perhaps hoping - despite it being not the usual season - that is was some sort of Aurora Borealis.)

Sigmundur came, head under his arm, and stood before Tróndur.

"Listen, old enemy," said Tróndur. "I need you to go and see for me how things are in my Faroe Islands. How fares the people, what does the Thing?"

Sigmundur turned and went.

As Tróndur waited, leaning on his staff, a fulmar landed nearby and swallowed a freshly caught fish before looking at him.

"Hello, Gøtutróndur. What are you standing there for?"

"I am waiting for my old enemy, who I have sent to see how things are in my islands."

"Well, why would you do a silly thing like that?" the fulmar asked. "I can tell you all about it. All is well in the Faroe Islands. The humans are plentiful and their boats are many and they leave behind such good and rich eating for us birds, you'd think humans didn't realize fish guts are the best part."

"I thank you for your news," Tróndur said, politely. "But I still think I shall wait for my old enemy."

"Hmpf," said the fulmar. It sneezed once and then it flew off without as much as a goodbye, leaving Tróndur alone to wait.

Eventually, Sigmundur returned.

For a little while, he stood and watched Tróndur in silence. Eventually, Tróndur grew impatient.

"Well? Speak up, old enemy! I helped catch your killer back in the day and I helped get your daughter a good husband - the least you can do is bring me the news. How fare my islands? Are the raiders back?"

"There is a sort of raiders, sometimes," Sigmundur admitted, reluctantly. "They come and go with the whales and are terribly rude, though they buy what they need in the shops like everybody else."

"And? Speak up, old enemy."

But Sigmundur didn't for a little while. Then it seemed he came to some sort of decision.

"Listen, cousin-uncle - it's been a thousand years since you and I were at each other's throats. Tell me: in all these years, has it never occurred to you to go and see how things are yourself?"

"I am an old man," Tróndur grumbled, "and my body has grown weak in the grave."

Sigmundur frowned at him and it seemed as if he only just managed to stop himself from saying something that would have started their first proper argument in a millennium. Instead, he adjusted his grip on his head, and held out his free hand.

"My body is still strong," he said, "though it has lain for so long. So, Tróndur, take my hand and I will support you as we walk."

Tróndur frowned at his old enemy's hand.

"Cousin-uncle, come and see."