It was after dinner at Wayfarers Rest. The patroners were gathered round the fire. The next speaker stepped forward. It was Olafur Magnusson, captain of the Free Trader Talisman.
Olafur was one of the few free-traders who personally owned his ship free and clear. There were in the Marches, of course, an infinite amount of corporations, partnerships, unions, guilds, clans, dynasties, baronies, oytrips, packs, bands, syndicates and any of a myriad amount of organizational structures from the traditions of dozens of cultures, that owned ships free and clear. But Olafur personally owned the Talisman, not because of his family for he had been a wretched starport urchin in his childhood; but because of his wits,
skill, and hard work. Tongues wagged as to how he had managed that. The malicious and superstitious said he was in league with dark forces, or undiscovered advanced alien beings or whatever. Others said he had "Moonlighted" for criminals. Still others said that he had taken pay from the Imperium or from the Sword Worlds Confederation or even both. These things at least were possible; it was not unknown for Free Traders to smuggle, nor was it unknown for them to spy. But Olafur of course told nothing about such matters. What he did tell however was worth telling and worth hearing.
Someone asked him, "Where are you trading next?"
"The Sword Worlds", Olafur replied.
Several of the listeners winced. Olafur laughed, "Oh come on, the Sword Worlds are no more unstable then parts of the Imperium. They do have odd social customs but I am used to that, being born there. Besides, Free Traders have to go to unstable places to get away from the competition of Mega Corps. Just like how on Terra coyotes had to live in the desert to avoid humans."
Olafur continued, "I'll tell you though, the Sword Worlds are unstable enough. Some say it is the badly organized governments, and some say it is the absurd pride and ambition of it's nobles. Swordies have their own tales about that, though, and I will tell you one of them."
Olafur continue,"It was long ago, at the time of the Great Voyage. As many here know, during the Long Night the empire the Terrans conquered from the Vilani fell to pieces with everyone squabbling for a share. This went on for untold ammounts of time. One day, during this age, Terra of old sought to regain it's former glory by conquest and sent an expedition to capture a planet far away. By coincidence they were mostly Germans and Scandinavians, which explains my name."
"And why Sword Worlders always act like Vikings?, asked a listener.
Olafur said,"Actually they don't, they just think they do. Real Vikings traveled more; a true Swordie wants nothing more then a good homestead. But back to my story."
Olafur then said, "Now they received word that there had been a revolt on Terra and an edict had gone out that all were to be thrown into prison. Instead of returning they went on a great voyage through the stars through alien space to find a new place where they could live in peace. The voyage was long and dangerous and many songs are sung of it to this day. Finally we reached our goal and settled ourselves in a series of colonies. Which we named after mythical weapons which is why they are now called the Sword Worlds."
Then he continued, "Along the voyage we stopped to buy food. We made an encampment on-planet and sent out parties to explore."
Then Olafur said, "One day one of the parties came upon a villiage that refused to sell food. So the leader of our foraging party ordered everyone in the villiage slain and so it was done."
Olafur continued the story, "But one of the villiagers escaped and told his king. The King came to our encampment and demanded that those guilty be punished. But as it happend the leader of the foragers was the son of a high officer. And so the request was refused.
"Then the King of the land spoke these words:
Mighty men from far beyond, warriors from a stranger s star Great Kingdoms shall your children build, great realms in worlds afar Yet though glory shall you ever win, and valor be thy name The price will be with many tears and dark shall be thy fame As stained you are with unjust blood, blood shall follow in thy way Kinsmen slaying kinsmen, from dawn tell end of day.
And thus it was done. And the Sword Worlders are to this day known as men of valor but also as men of violence ever slaying their kindred. For this curse hangs over us because justice was refused long ago."
Someone asked Olafur,"And Sword Worlders really believe that?"
Olafur said,"They often think it makes as much sense as any other of the explanations."
Someone else asked, "Do you?"
Olafur said, "My tribe came off worse from all that then most Sword Worlder peoples and we believe that cloaking human evil in superstition isn't healthy. But sometimes it does feel better to have something to point a finger at."