Berserk Revenge by Mark Coakley - HTML preview
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2: HALFDAN INTRODUCED
Halfdan was a difficult child to raise. He spoke little, and his few words were usually rude. He delighted in disobeying rules and fighting.
His odd looks always attracted attention. Nobody in Fjordane had ever seen folk with Aasa's and Halfdan's curly hair and skin much darker than theirs. (In Os, visiting Swedes were rare, Danes and Finns were seen as wildly exotic, and only a few had heard of King Charlemagne.)
Often, folk would think that Halfdan had been covered with paint as a prank. More than once, when Halfdan was a young child, an adult grabbed him to rub snow or water on Halfdan's skin, trying to wipe off the brown paint.
He was soon nicknamed "Halfdan the Black," for the obvious reason, and also because the word "black" in Old Norse also meant "wicked". Folk in Os said, "He is going to grow up to be a blood-stained criminal like his father."
But as Halfdan grew into a young man, his Uncle Harald taught him to use his anger and violence for good ends. Halfdan grew a passion for listening to and composing spontaneous poetry. He would often laze away long winter nights by the fire, making up poems in his head. Even when very young, he would use that oldest of arts to express the feelings swirling inside his orphaned heart. When Halfdan chanted one of his rhyming and alliterating poems, to a family-member or one of his few friends, Halfdan's heart would sometimes empty of its fury and pain, for a while.
Uncle Harald told him to forget about becoming a farmer or shepherd or fisherman. Halfdan was told to try to become a professional fighter for the King of Fjordane, "so that instead of pointlessly killing folk around here and being exiled for it like your father, you can kill folk for the government and be a famous hero."