Chapter 5 - Ivar’s Saga—Search and Rescue
Ketel Flatnose, taking with him the boy, Ivar, and the little horse, Flicka, set out to rescue Marja. They were several days behind Gort and his motley crew. Their trail was at first easy to follow, for in their fear and panic they had dropped many things and left many signs in the forest and along the shore of the Romsdalfjord. Also, the little foxes, Skrogger and Raevi, were ahead of the little rescue team and following Gort as closely as possible.
Ketel and Ivar walked together with Flicka close behind. As they walked, Ivar began to ask Ketel many questions, and the three became close friends. Ivar was very curious about Ketel’s ability to become invisible, to alter his appearance to that of a man, and to inflate his size to two or three times his normal four-foot stature. It apparently took some effort because Ketel could not hold his invisibility or a large size indefinitely. Ivar also perceived that Ketel was extraordinarily wise and had a knowledge of many things. One of the most amazing was his gift for languages and especially his ability to communicate with animals. He was also a gifted craftsman. Most comforting to Ivar was that he seemed remarkably good. He was transparently genuine and unselfish to a degree uncommon among men. He had many limitations. His short legs would not carry him very fast, but he was very sure-footed in rough terrain. His arms were quite strong, unusually so, but too short to make a good swordsman or bowman. His face was more amusing than handsome, and he had perhaps too much a tendency to break out in a large grin. Although it was sometimes a disconcertingly silly grin, it was never an evil grin as seen among the most feared underground trolls. He smiled a lot, but he could also break into compassionate tears.
“My mother says you are seventy-years old,” exclaimed Ivar, seeking to satisfy his curiosity about troll life. “Do you have a wife and children?”
“Oh, seventy is not old for a troll,” answered Ketel in an assertive but understanding tone. ”But I am nearing the age of marriage and have been preparing a home for my bride, and I hope, a large family.”
“Are you betrothed?” asked Ivar.
“Not yet,” said the troll, “but I will probably meet her at the next annual festival. My parents, and grandparents, and brothers and sisters, and close friends will all go with me to choose her. Every family of our tribe and many others to which we have kinship will be there.”
“But will she be happy with your choice,” queried Ivar, sensing perhaps some difficulty in this manner of courtship.
“Oh, of course,” offered Ketel. “We will choose each other. I will know almost immediately in my heart from the look in her eyes and her smile and voice. She will know the same. It is love almost at first sight and hearing, but it will be permanent and strong. That is the way of the Valoisa and all the obedient trolls. I cannot completely explain it, but trolls, those who love and honor the Creator, see more into the heart and mind than do most humans. But the marriage is not immediate. The families have to consult and agree, but they always do. They trust the way and gifts the Creator has given us. The negotiations are more about how they will help us and what gifts and responsibilities we will have. Then the Elders will arrange for a short ceremony and proclaim a thanksgiving to all the trolls. This is usually followed by a week of blessings and celebrations.”
“What sort of blessings?” asked Ivar, whose curiosity about trolls was growing even more eager.
“They are really prayers,” said Ketel, “that we will be what the Creator designed us to be and wants us to become.” The first is given by the oldest Elder, then by members of both families, starting with the oldest—that would be my great-great-great-grandparents or hers and then going down to older brothers and sisters and close friends. Many aunts and uncles and older cousins will have some special blessing to say. Sometimes it lasts more than a week. The older family members generally give the longest blessings, and the young ones respectfully limit themselves to a few sentences. It is a wonderful thing, and there is much wisdom in it for all.”
Ivar was a bit overwhelmed by the thought of days or weeks of blessings and then thought to ask about the celebrations. “What sort of celebrations?” he asked.
Ketel responded with an enthusiasm remembering many happy times, when he attended the wedding celebrations of his older brothers, sisters, and cousins. “We love dancing, and music, singing, poetry, and wisdom, and good stories, and hearing about history and about the Creator and all his works,” he said. “And we eat. We love to eat, and we love to cook. I particularly love helping to prepare a great meal. Trolls especially like fish and berries, but there are many excellent herbs, vegetables, and grains, and specially prepared breads. And honey. I love honey on everything. We have a wonderful time.” At this point, Ivar was wishing he could attend some troll festivities.
Ivar was about to ask how long trolls lived, but this thought was put aside, when he
noticed three falcons in the sky above them. “Have you noticed,” he asked Ketel, “the three falcons that seem to follow us? Are they an omen for good or evil?”
“They are better than omens,” said Ketel, “they are friends.”