The Rigsogur (Rig's Saga) was a saga written by the 9th century poet and author Brissy the Elder, which documented the tales of a Viking named Rig Reidarasson who captured him during a raid at Whitby Abbey. During the late 9th century, the Viking Eivor Varinsdottir recovered fragments of the saga that were scattered through England.
I. The King of Soft Reeds
There was once a man named Rig Reidarasson, yclept Rig "The Slippery Wisdom." He was the son of Reidar Rigsson, also yclept Reidar the Wise, who married Gisla the Axe-Low, and gave birth to both Rig and Helga Gislasdottir the Hugr-Heavy. The family was one of noble lineage, his ancestors having long links to Trondelag and the fylki of Frota. They were part of the last Petty Kingdoms before Harald came to rule.
Rig was born during a storm at sea, with his mother, her six sisters, his grandmother, and his sister at each other's side. With salty waves hitting his face as he emerged from the womb, it is said he miraculously did not cry during this tumultuous birth. As a young man, he was known because he told tales of his visions to all the folk of the fylki. He wandered from town to town and proclaimed, "I have drunk the mead of Odin" and "I have sat at the great table with all of the Æsir and the Swellers of Glory! They all know my name."
One warrior yclept Sklati hated this "loudmouth." Sklati forced his huge son to fight Rig in a duel, but Rig shone brighter in battle, honorably winning yet not taking Sklati's son's life. Instead, he demanded Sklati's majestic and giant horn. Rig blew it and took it as a spoil. Returning to Frosta, he filled it with mead, and his first nickname was Rig the Horn-Filler.
II. The Tricking of Ergon Blade-Tongue
The winters passed and Rig grew mighty but lean, a great warrior that fought in great battles along the Northern Way. He was often spilling raven-wine defending the family clan in constant battle with a rival Kingdom to the south, known as the Whale Clan, led by Ergon Blade-Tongue who, as legend has it, ate a sword in the midst of battle.
Rig was only twelve winters old, but it is said he grabbed a rival warrior and clenched him so hard in a head lock that he tore the man's head clean off. That night as he drank, he returned to the head and heard it sing, "You will be betrayed by the last curtain." He kept the skull of his enemy, and from that day forth, any man who challenged Rig to battle would have to talk to the skull. This they say gave him an advantage, and he won many battles and gained his second nickname, Rig Skull-Talker.
III. The Lay of Solveig
One year when Spring came, Rig fell in love. His ways had caught the eye of Solveig, a thrall in charge of making mead. Legend says that she was swimming in a barrel of honey-waves when Rig arrived and dipped in his mug to fill it. Solveig grabbed the mug and pulled Rig into the giant vat. Thus did she earn the name Solveig Maiden-of-Mead. That night, Solveig and Rig went on a long walkabout through the woods and there consummated their love.
Upon their return, however, they found that Rig's family had been captured and burnt alive at an Althing in Trondheim, having been accused by Ergon Blade-Tongue of using black seidr, Rig's talking skull being the proof. Rig was appalled by this act of violence against his family, a miscarriage of justice and a perversion of honor so vile that Rig vowed revenge. But it would not come that day, for King Hadon, at Egon's urging, had issued an order of exile against the lovers.
Rig and Solveig packed their belongings and made as if to leave Trondheim, as King Hadon had ordered. At dusk they set sail with many great and loyal warriors, while Egon sneered at their departure. But that evening Rig and Solveig returned under cover of dark, cloaked like One-Eye. They snuck into the village to finish the job with Ergon, killing him and removing his leg as a trophy, which they stood outside of all to see. This earned Rig a new nickname, The Ghost of Trondheim. The following morning King Hadon was forced to put a bounty on their heads and Ergon's son, Bolli Ergonsson, vowed revenge.
The two lovers escaped for England, sailing with their most loyal drengir, as King Hadon's hunters followed in close pursuit. Heavily outnumbered, Rig and Solveig hatched a cunning plan. They hid inside a beached whale carcass with several warriors and remained there for ten nights. On the first night, Rig and Solveig made love in front of their fellow warriors, who cheered them on until the ninth day when their first child, Erik Whaleborn was born. That evening, as she held her child, Solveig heard Rig talking and shouting in his sleep, a thing he had never done before. "I will drink of the elixir, Father!" he screamed from a dream. "I will find you again on the other side of doom!" Through these fits, Solveig held her lover's hand long into the night, kissing his wet brow.
On the tenth day, the threat of Hadon's bounty-hunters was gone. Rig and Solveig changed their names to Erik Whaleborn and Silla the Sea-Queen for a time until they could commandeer a ship and a group of warriors to then head for the coast of England in search of a new life.
IV. The Language of Gold
In the 820th year after our savior's sacrifice, Rig came upon me, Brissy the Sage, and my brothers at Whitby Abbey. His men slaughtered many innocents, however Rig himself suddenly stopped this violence upon entering our scriptorium. I held up Gilda's Book in hopes it would protect me. Rig was enamored by the golden finery of the room.
"I have many names, but none of them are slayer of those who are fragile and unarmed ... and those who make such beauty ... this eternal knowledge of the leather-rune-keeper," he said to us. He took me as a thrall and wished to settle with him nearby the Abbey. He dared not take it for himself, for he believed this would deliver evil upon him. He was especially enamored by our illuminated texts and the gold ink we had used to color these texts.
At the site of an ancient Roman outpost, he settled with his warriors and founded the town of Goldness, which would later become Goldborough. In my time beside Rig, I taught him my trade as a luminer and he took a strong kindrance to the art of lumineering. He found particular solace in the gold textures and would go to any length to find gold ink or make it himself. He invaded a gold mine in the Peaklands to ensure the resource was always available. He began to wear golden crosses. Here he became known as "Rig the Converted". He swore he would make war with anyone Dane or Christian who dare tamper with our sacred art.
V. The Gold-Generous Warrior of Light
After these events, Rig's name grew in legend, and King Hadon, still irked by what had happened in Trondheim, sent a war party to seek revenge.
Rig was riding on his horse when he saw Hadon's black ships landing. They were many, battle-ready warriors. He quickly rode back to Goldness and looked at his scared citizens. He smiled from the walls of Goldness. "We will lose this battle if we fight it. But some battles can be won without fighting." He ordered his men to use all of the gold ink for books and paint the horses of the clan gold. This was done quickly, and he ordered his best horsemen to ride with him.
They rode until at earshot of Hadon's marching army. He waited for the sun to be low and instructed his men to strike hard and fast following his lead. Hadon's warriors were blinded as the sun reflected off the horse, and even his golden-toothed smile sent blinding rays at the warriors. The Golden Horse of Rig led a fierce, iridescent lightning-strike slaughter. Fear had entered the souls of these warriors. "We cannot fight an enemy who burns our eyes!" they told their captain.
They retreated and only found out later that Rig had ridden with no more than ten brave men. Goldness celebrated, and so his legacy grew. The golden horse of Rig was Golddrassil, and it grew famous within the Kingdom of the North. When it died, it was burned on a pyre with eight human sacrifices and two-hundred cows. It was this time he was known as "Rig the Gold-Skin."
VI. The Golden Dragon Who Climbed Mountains
News of Rig's wealth and war-savvy made rival kingdoms angry, and the ancient Lords of Elmet were especially angry and sought allies to overthrow him. Bolli had ventured to England and allied with this bitter kingdom and kidnapped Solveig, planning a great torture of her, whom was now mother of six boys and four girls.
With Solveig captured, Rig set out along the river but was pushed back in the Vale of Woden, which was the only path which led to their castle within the mountains. Their golden ships were no match for the well-defended fortress of the Elmetians and Bolli and the thick brush.
Retreating in anger, Rig then noticed a plume of smoke rising from their castle over a great peak. He stopped and commanded his men to carry their ships over the mountain. Great numbers of them died as a storm approached, but Rig pushed on, and as the morning fog settled, Elmetian scouts noticed golden dragonheads looking at them. Panic-stricken, they screamed "Dragons! Dragons from the hills!" sending soldiers and folkspeople into a frenzy. Rig took advantage of this turmoil and destroyed the kingdom completely, saving Solveig and cleaving off Bolli's head, using it to sing for eight straight nights of song and drinking. After this day, Rig was known as the "Golden Flying Dragon."
VII. The Only Queen of England
At this point, Rig began hearing voices ever louder in his mind. "You must ready your queen," it told him, over and over. To the ridicule of all other kingdoms, Rig proclaimed Solveig "Queen of the North." He sent word to the various ealdormancies, yet all messages were returned with scorn or ridicule. Rig's lucky skull began to speak "The gods' fate is determined at the blast of your horn," it sang. He would blow his great horn.
Rig called a Witan in which various nobles from Mercia, Wessex, and Northumbria came. Here Solveig dressed herself as a man and called herself "the King of Goldness." This confused the members of the Witan, who viewed it as a farce. But before the Witan had concluded, Solveig declared "Our shire will allow for the taxing of dogs, and so you owe Goldness tribute." Rig slaughtered any who would not bend the knee to the Queen. This stained his reputation, but his infamy grew as Solveig became known as "The Only Queen of England."
At this point in time, Rig was told by the voice that occupied his head, "Your father will lead you true, for you are his perfect son. Wait for him in Himinbjorg until the day of battle." Later, Rig wrote down a poem in golden ink to explain the state of his mind:
Better, I see now
To follow those
Who came before
For so dark a dream
The Dew of Distress
VIII. The Gods Speak To Me
Long afterwards, Rig grew old and tired, always in desperation to seek out a solution to quiet the voices. Consulting his volva and his monks did not seem to help. In his throne room he told his thegns, his trusted drengir, and those close to him, "I am to die soon but not at the hand of my foes. Nor will I die in a barrel of ale. I will follow the gods to their holiest temples and drink from the grail that makes us immortal." He desired a final pilgrimage to see Miklagard, the house of the gods he called it.
The voice that speak to him grew louder and angrier in the weeks following his announcement, warning him of a treacherous day. "You are the son that left Goldness and traveled east." "The old gods torment me, but my newfound God loves me," he told Brissy. "My new God will grant me truth and eternal life." He took a flotilla of men to Miklagard, to seek penitence and solace as a complete convert but also as an angel to God. For him, this pilgrimage would seal his destiny and allow him full communion with this voice that pestered his mind.
IX. The Death of the One Who Heard Voices
One day, Rig awoke on the longship and stared out at the coast. He consulted the old skull that once sang to him, then turned to his shipmates. "We dock here," he said. He walked onto the pier and smiled. This was the city of Constantine, the majestic Miklagard. There he met many different people, and for a time, Rig was lively once again and learned much, communing with God and old warriors from different sects. The voice remained and instructed him he must confront a Man with the Mark in the House of Shadows. He was to kill him or else he would be killed by him.
He returned from the House of Shadows with blood on his body and refused to answer any questions, though he did say, "I have come before my time. I was born too early and I am alone, without my father, without my friends." None understood the meaning of this statement.
Rig then set out to return home by way of the Rusland. During this time, he grew angrier with every flutter of our sails. "My mind will be moved on, it must be preserved. My last fate is to live again in the hall of my father until he should come again." Whatever Rig meant by this grand idea, it was not to be.
Some days later, he was dead. We found him hunched over a goblet with a sword through his heart. Solveig came to his side, weeping. "Please don't let him have died with no scroll, no word in his name." In the corner of the same room stood a snickering woman who looked like a goat. "I am the sister of Bolli, daughter of Hadon. I have tracked you for a thousand moons to have this moment. Now I can return to Trondheim as queen of my people, vindicator of my blood. I will let you live so you can give him an honorable death." Then she left, and I sat down to write Rig's saga...
X. The Shimmering Creek
After his death, the body of Lord Rig, ruler of Goldness was returned home on a perilous journey up the Volga through Rusland. Solveig fought off various tribes to secure his body's passage back home. He was brought to the shimmering creek where he had painted gold a statue of Odin and a cross. His body was buried beneath the creek with axe and cross in hand. There is a runestone there with his many names upon it.
In his death, he became known as "The Keeper of the Shimmer of Rivers Unseen to the Eye".
If you lay your body in the river, with the rushing waters caressing your skin, you will hear his song in the shine of the sun. If the creek shimmers in your favor, Rig will send you good luck. He is the skull-beneath-the-waters, the skald-of-lost-rivers. His song is simple and a melody Bragi is jealous of, and it is said he will return one day but only as a wave, his bones made of mead-marrow, and only when the tree of life is rotten away and hewn by waves into tiny chips.
Some skalds refer to the "Chips of Yggdrasil," which is a kenning of Rig, He Who Was Mighty and Forgotten, He Who Outlives the Valkyries, He Who Knocked on Thrones. I know he was wronged by someone and the voices that spoke in him are real. They are the ancient threads that tangle and tie until someone can make the world right again.