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Saga of Johan Sanderrevet of Valsgärde
Johan Sanderrevet was born in 840 at Vhitenes, a township within the kommune of Valsgärde, Sweden. He was the eldest child of Jarl Ronne ‘Bloodaxe’ Sanderrevet. Valsgärde is a farm on the Fyris river, about three kilometres north of Gamla Uppsala, the ancient centre of the Swedish kings and of the pagan faith in Sweden. Ronne possessed an unusual talisman. ‘Svíagris’ - An intertwined annlet of woven gold, made with impossible accuracy. Folklore would have the bangle possessing mystical powers to protect the wearer from harm.
Following years of disquiet and marauding by Danish invaders, led by King Aoils Snorre, and despite his age of only seventeen, Johan was sent by Ronne, to agree a peace accord. He was at first, well received, but in his hall, Aðils entertained them, but put them to a test where they had to endure immense heat by fIre. Johan finally had enough and threw the courtiers, who were feeding the fire, into the flames and leapt at Aðils. The Danish king disappeared. They then found out that Aðils had set the hall on fire, and so they broke out of the hall, only to find themselves surrounded by heavily armed warriors in the street. After a fight, King Aðils retreated to summon reinforcements. When they saw Aðils and his warriors in pursuit, Johan dropped his precious ‘Svíagris’ on the ground and stooped to pick it up, whereupon Aðils cut his back with his sword and screamed in triumph that he had killed the most powerful man in Sweden. However, Johan was only injured, the power of ‘Svíagris’ protecting him, and turned on Aðils, decapitating him with a single blow of his axe, his warriors surrendering in disarray. Johan returned to Valsgärde, a hero, buoyed by the protection of ‘Svíagris’.
Unable to rest, Johan bade a fond farewell to his father and departed with his galley Jägare. Johan, now an accomplished seaman, led his men on many voyages across the North Sea and beyond. The Vikings from Valsgärde were clearly identifiable both in battle and in peace. Their helmets were hand crafted with exquisite skill, renowned the Viking world over, such were their beauty. They also wore hand crafted gold bangles similar to ‘Svíagris’ on their chest, to signify their allegiance to Jarl Johan.
His most famous voyage became a famous Swedish saga - now commonly known as, ‘The loss of Svíagris’. Johan Sanderrevet departed Valsgärde in February 861 leading a flotilla of 37 galleys, sailing west, keen to find new lands to settle, farm and prosper. They heard stories of vast fertile lands to the west, now known as Soonhisid, although no one had ever returned to confirm their existence.
The saga commented. The stem of Jägare drove down on the Wester Hoevda on the Island of Fugaey, its crew pulling hard on their oars, against the sea. The mast had carried away such was the severity of the Westerly gale, the galley without the ability to sail clear of danger. Jägare however, held her course - the strength of the oarsmen from Vhitesnes, saving her from impending doom, as they cleared the headland. The scale of the disaster only became clear when the storm passed, with almost the entire fleet of longships lost driven onto the cliffs of Fugaey, The three surviving galleys Jägare, Breckon and Moogi, cleared the shore and blew down helpless in among the isles west of Scallowaa. The sea eased and provided the opportunity to haul Jägare ashore on a beach, on the west side of the Island of Oxna.
Johan decided to stay on Oxna for the winter, such was the ease of hunting with walrus, seal and whale, common within the inshore waters. Full repairs were carried out on Jägare, during the winter, using wood from the forest of Tooniesvik on the East side of Shetland. Johan’s warriors were also skilled craftsmen, Tom-as Veevol being able to hew a new mast from a spar driven ashore with the same gale that destroyed the fleet.
However, disaster struck. ‘Svíagris’ fell unnoticed, from Johan’s arm and was lost among the undergrowth which covered Oxna. Johan was at odds with his predicament. What would happen to him now? He could not inform the crew, for fear of disquiet, mutiny or loss of respect of this position as Jarl. There was no option - Johan had to fashion a copy of ‘Svíagris’ and keep the loss a secret. It was the only way, even if the magical powers were lost. Who would ever know? He travelled to see the only person who could make such an object. The serpent haired, Rosa-linn, the Stone Queen of Wharff, an alchemist, who could turn lead into gold. She confirmed she was able to make such an object, but the price left Johan speechless. “Bring me the head of my rival, ‘Basil of the Ninian’, and I shall replace your armlet,” she said.
‘Basil of the Ninian’, was a beserker war lord from Weesdaal, and an accomplished fisherman. His followers were nomadic warriors who pillaged communities up and down the coastline. Johan had no option, it was the only way. Without ‘Sviagris’, stealth was the only option, and speed his only advantage. Johan entered the main hall at Lames, by the back door, the front being guarded by fourteen Weesdaal beserkers. Basil was sound asleep after a long night of fhivehunder, the ancient card game. ‘Awaken Basil of the Ninian’, bellowed Johan, ‘Thy time is at an end. Rosa-linn demands thee and I must bring thy time to a close’. Basil stirred and asked if Johan would like a Brandy and Port? With a single blow, Johans’ axe severed Basil’s head, which rolled down the main hall, still mouthing his final words - ‘Unbelievable?’. His body remaining upright with his outstretched hand holding his glass still intact.
Johan returned to Rosa-linn with the head of Basil of the Ninian in a grof bag. “I bring thee Basil, and thou should give me ‘Sviagris’,” he said. Rosa-linn true to her word gave Johan ‘Sviagris’, an absolute perfect copy of the one, lost on Oxna. “Wear this wisely”, she said. “I am unable to form another, and thank you for removing the beserker war lord from our lands. You will always be an ally of the people of Wharff.”
Johan was able to return to Valsgärde triumphant in his new found lands. He never told of the loss of Sviagris, and whether it held magical powers or not, was never known.