Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Ball Dripping Fat Seal's Head Game

'Go and fetch my gold ball, and bring it here,' he told them.
Off they went, and came back with a seal's head weighing two hundred pounds. It was red-hot, with sparks flashing from it like a forge-fire and fat dripping from it like burning tar.
The king said 'Take the ball now and throw it to each other. Anyone who drops it will be made an outlaw and forfeit all his property: and anyone afraid to throw the ball will be thought a coward.'
- Thorstein Mansion-Might, (Anon., 14th century AD)

It is said the giants of the north play a ball game with the burning head of an enormous seal. The game is to throw the ball from one team to the other, and the fun is in the damage it inflicts upon those who catch it. Usually, burnt skin and singed beards are the only dangers, but broken bones and even fatalities are not unheard of. The reward for playing the game is to receive the property of the outlawed cowards who drop the ball.

Humans cannot normally play in this game; the burning ball will tear through their weak bodies like a knife through butter. However, it is the only way for an outsider to gain prestige in the giant's court; thus, several travellers have come up with their own schemes to play the ball-game passably well despite their natural handicaps.

(Thorstein Mansion-Might is full of surreal non-sequiturs like this. Plot threads arise suddenly and then vanish without a trace. Characters die and come back to life, or act for wholly incomprehensible reasons. All the sagas have the feel of oral literature, of being recited out loud by someone, but only Thorstein Mansion-Might has the feel of being recited by someone who is really drunk.)

1 comment:

  1. Damn, I've really got to read these :( Stupid sleep, always getting in my way!