Chapter 5 | Page 18

If you thought Stubbles was a jerk before, well, now you know he’s also an ass.

Viking funerals are a hard thing to pin down, because they, like anything else involving religious beliefs, varied region by region. The sagas talk about Balder’s funeral, where his ship was sent out into the ocean, then shot with a flaming arrow so it all burned. It’s suspected that the burning of ships and their inhabitants released their souls so they could go to the afterlife. There’s also been evidence of stabbed helmets and folded swords in some graves, as if damaging them did the same thing. But there’s also many burials where the ship and its contents were not burned or destroyed, such as Oseberg, Gokstad, and Sutton Hoo. These were buried under great burial mounds, much like Coal’s mother’s grave. Until someone can invent a time machine, we’ll just never know for sure what they believed.

There’s an abundance of evidence supporting the idea that these vikings did not go to the afterlife alone. Aside from the horses and dogs that might accompany their master, slaves were also ritually killed to support their master in the afterlife. I can’t imagine the slave always volunteered, given the evidence of decapitation and bludgeoning in some cases, but sometimes they did. An Arabic traveler named Ibn Fadlan wrote a lot about the vikings living along the Volga River in present day Russia. He gives a rather graphic account of a thrall girl who volunteered to go with her master into the afterlife, and the ritual she went through. Her death involved rape, strangulation, and stabbing. While undoubtedly the Rus vikings had a different way of doing things than Norwegian vikings, I used this account as something of a stepping stone when it came to the burial ritual in this chapter. Luckily we only got as far as Hedda drinking something that dulled her senses.

Okay, on to better and brighter things! You can vote for TWC this week and see the sketch for next week’s page. It isn’t enough Hedda’s being chased by a couple guys who want to kill her (or at least one who wants to and one who has to), but now she has Mother Nature’s fjords to deal with. Stupid fjords.

Also, the other day I joined a site called InkOutbreak. It’s a pretty neat site where you can tell it what sort of webcomics you like to read, and it’ll give you other suggestions based on what you like or dislike. On the sidebar, below the voting stone, you can see my little “Follow” button. I think if you click that, it’ll give you other ideas for stories you might enjoy, and it also lets other people know that they might like to read TMK too.

Thanks for reading my lengthy post today. See you next week! This chapter’s almost done, and Coal will be along soon. :3

Discussion (23) ¬

  1. Really enjoying the story so far. Poor Hedda!
    And what an interesting ritual!

    • Thank you! Hedda will get outta this, worry not!

  2. What is the position of the slaves in the afterlife? Are they still slaves, or more like companions? I can’t image a reason why a slave would volunteer to be a slave for the rest of its… death?

    Also, since the old man died peacefull in bed at an old age, he would go to Hel (would’nt he?) Do you know if the destination had any effect on the ritual?

    My knowledge of the Scandanvian mythology is minimal.

    • Everyone’s knowledge of Scandanvian mythology is minimal. Much of it was not written down into well into the Christian period. And I don’t believe any of that which was written down talks about the status of slaves. We can just guess from the graves.

    • They probably were expected to continue to serve their master in the afterlife. Sometimes some of the slaves really loved their masters and would gladly go through all that to be with them (or so I assume). And it is likely the man would go to Hel, but not all of Hel is doom and gloom. Some areas are less bad than others (there might even be nice places, but I’m not positive where I read or heard that). Regardless of how he died, he was still an important man and deserving of a great big funeral. Or so his family thinks.

      And yeah my knowledge is pretty minimal too, gleaned only from a handful of books. Religious beliefs are especially hard to figure out because they varied by location and were mostly written down by Christianizing monks or Muslim travelers. Not exactly unbiased recorders.

  3. Yeah. Kinda hate Stubbles now. Just found him irritating before. Beardy, on the other hand, looks like a generally good guy, and I kind of want to see him pull the feet out from under his brother for being a jerk.

    • I agree… I wouldn´t be surprised if Beardy ended up sabotaging his brother and letting Hedda escape. Even if “sabotaging” just means he stands by while Coal shows Stubbles what it means to piss off an Einherji.

    • Haha! Yeah me too. Stubbles will get his someday. Well, not in the story, but we can all imagine some horrible thing befalling him. :3

      • WE can all imagine it. YOU can make it happen. We´re all counting on you. :-D

  4. I stand by the same opinion as before, they shall be titled Beardy the Nice and Stubbles the Jerk.

    I’m on InkOutbreak, Following you already. Look a nice idea 8D

    • Thank you! Yeah those titles fit perfectly. XD

  5. where’s a face eating bear when you need one? i’ll bet the stubbles tickle your tongue. “you might enjoy it.” i know i would. :p

    • HAHA! Yeah, where’s them bears! Or wolves, or rabid reindeer or something.

  6. on the other hand Ibn Fadlan was telling traveler’s tales. There is a certain fame to such tales and their reliability.

    • Haha, true. All these sources have to be taken with a grain of salt, but they’re still some of the best sources we have. It’s certainly inspiring story fodder, either way. :3

  7. It would be so unfortunate if Stubbles suddenly tripped off that fjord for reasons unexplained, wouldn’t it. *wink wink*

    Personally, given the choice of jumping into the fjord which might kill me, verses the guy who actually will kill me, I’d take the fjord.

    • Haha! He won’t get close enough to the edge for that to happen, unfortunately. Oh well. D:

  8. You know the ritual, if it involves various mind altering drugs, count me……………

    Why are the edges of all cliffs shaped like toilets.

    • HAHA! Actually that cliff is inspired by Preikestolen in Norway, but you have a point. Nature’s weird like that.

  9. Ill have to admit I was a bit curious if you were planning to include some of the more “graphical” aspects of recorded Viking funerals.

    • Haha, nah that would get a bit too graphic. TMK straddles the line between PG and PG-13 frequently, but that would be a bit much to show. Not to mention for me to draw. DX

  10. Tee-Hee! The preview sketches for next week made me think of The Fugitive, with Stubbles as Tommy Lee Jones:

    Hedda: I don’t want to die!
    Stubbles: I don’t care.

    May as well jump, Hedda. It worked for Harrison Ford.


    • HAHA! I haven’t seen that movie, but the dialogue certainly fits. XD