excerpt from Sibbe's Way:
"Wurdiz is set, but you can change your urulaga, such is the life of all Sibbe.”
excerpt from Sibbe's Way:
“We, the Sibbe, were mighty once and strong like the sacred Ash. We thrived before and early on in the Time of the Swords. My voice comes to you from beyond, from a time gone, just as I am gone, although, not quite.
Until the saga is told to all ears, I cannot be released. I am Var and I am Seidh. I am Embla. I have a tale to tell."
Sibbe's Way serial installments are published
Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. What's on your reading List?
This novel will be serialized here at this website. Return again and again to read the chapters of this incredible saga.
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
-- L.P. Hartley
Book Cover Reveal
Who We Are
When the lines were breached and the swords flashed, she bellowed "I am Embla,
and we are Sibbe."
Quote -- part of a review
SIBBE'S WAY is a tale about a young tribal counselor, Embla, and a northern European, Puer, captured by Imperium troops. The Romans force him and his family into slavery. He is eventually returned to his home in the North. Embla and Puer's wills clash just as their regions and cultures collide. Embla is caught up in the last days of the older culture. She witnesses the final transition. She relates to her descendant, Isabel, the saga about her tribe's life, the story of her life as a young counselor, and the fate of the women and men who surrounded her.
You live in a place for thousands of years. You are a reclusive, isolated people who are overwhelmed and invaded without warning. Women and children are carried away from your homeland because another culture likes their physical appearance, and the way they work with metals. You are enslaved. Mass genocide is committed on your people, eventually, through the centuries millions die. Warfare is waged against those who seek freedom or remain free... a narration of this unimaginable circumstance can be found in the novel Sibbe's Way.
* * *
"This historical thriller is a supercharged saga about a young tribal counselor, Embla, and a captured Roman thrall who is returned home. He is a northern European that Embla calls Puer. Their wills clash just as the regions and cultures collide. Sibbe's Way is a breathless, sexy, action-packed novel with two mind blowing endings."
-- L. Plihal, book critic
The Serialization of Sibbe's Way
Why the novel
The reason I wrote the historical thriller series, SIBBE’s WAY was my daughter's curiosity about her ancestry. As I stated in earlier writing, she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth. She died when she was eighteen. The genetic disease, CF for short, is caused by a recessive gene in both mother and father that combine to produce the illness in their child. Both parents of a child with CF carry the gene found predominately in northern European populations.
When she grew older, my daughter asked me to help her research her ancestry. She wanted to understand their history and how the disease actually spread across the Eurasian continent to China and beyond. She asked me to help her and together we discovered the unexpected, a hidden history of the continent. After she returned from one of her last stays in hospital, she went back to her reading and her studies. She loved to learn, even during the advanced stages of cystic fibrosis.
We discovered the pivotal events and institutions that destroyed the early northern European people and buried their history, turned their lives and belief system into something negative, and handed them a distorted history that has yet to be corrected.
I wrote this story to honor my daughter's curiosity, her diligence and her bravery. The history we uncovered is woven into Sibbe's Way as a story about ancestry, and descendants that survived through the generations. Many subplots, including lots of action, romance, surprising battles and corrupt leadership, run throughout the narration and lead the reader on one adventure after another.
-- e. smith sleigh
The first pages and chapters of Sibbe's Way:
serial sections will be published every week
you can go here to read the entirety of the book
Isabel read the instructions for the tenth time. This has to be the place. The directions are clear. She found herself in the middle of a lush glen with upright, blue stones in front of her. She listened. She sought anything that might tell her what to do next.
Bird calls resounded through the area. She turned to find two birds perched on a branch of an old Elm. Isabel thought those birds are staring at me. If I did not know better, I’d believe they were sizing me up.
"They are." A voice she recognized echoed through her mind. The sound came from a tall, elongated oval stone, which stood a few yards in front of her. Isabel jumped back, but planted her feet. She decided to accept her circumstances. She was too curious to be afraid.
She heard the voice before, when she was writing. Months later after hearing it several more times, she discovered the female voice belonged to an ancestor and it originated outside her body. When her predecessor issued an invitation to visit, she accepted. She whispered to herself, “ahhh, an adventure." Isabel collected adventures.
Now in the glen, she listened and was eager for another interaction with her ancestor. Isabel welcomed whatever happened next. She thought what will I learn if I leave now? Besides, I came all this way, thousands of miles. I want to know more. I have a feeling about this. I'm certain that I’m supposed to be here.
She squinted into the sun above the canopy of trees. A familiar sensation passed through her brain. Memories flooded her mind. She saw Luke’s face, and her mother’s. Her daughter Emely danced before her. Emely is all right. Mitch, but Mitch, where is Mitch? A second later, her eyes opened. She realized that her aithei, ancestor, sent the images to her. But, why.
Isabel walked toward the stones in front of her. She did not touch them. She surveyed the other boulders. Her eyes traveled back to the tallest of the stones. She pointed at them.
“I know this, they, the stones are called menhirs.”
A familiar, comforting, female voice spoke to Isabel. Yes, they are. Isabel drew closer.
I am pleased you found me, Geneth. You can hear me, can you not? Place your hands on the stone.
Isabel ran her fingers through her hair then rested her hand on the side of her neck.
Do not be afraid. Yes, you hear my voice in your head. All along, you’ve heard my voice. I will not harm you. I remained here as Var, Witness. I have a saga to tell. I will tell the account through you, Ysbal, for all to hear. This is the reason I called you to this place. You and I will become one mind. We will tell the story together. We will experience the Unfolding as I lived it and felt it.
Finally, the hidden will be revealed.
I am Embla. You are my airis, my descendant, Ysbal. Soon, you will be familiar with Sibbe Way and the saga of the Time of the Swords. I ask you to repeat what I say aloud, then go to your lodge. With your hand, place our words on the, umm, what do you call it, ah, yes, papier, no, paper.
When Embla paused, Isabel decided it was time to speak to her. She summoned her courage and some of the knowledge she obtained from her research of the north tribes’ history.
“Greetings, I am honored to be in your presence, and to speak to you. I am prepared for the telling of the saga. May I call you Aithei?” She reached into her pack.
Yes, of course, please.
What are you doing, child?
Isabel pointed to her tablet. “this device will assist us, with your plan.” She clicked on the record icon.
Come here, dear one, and sit with me.
Isabel arranged the gear she brought with her, including the tablet, a backup voice recorder and a stadium blanket. She took a seat on the smaller blue gray stone. She leaned against the larger one. The rock was smooth and warm. The stone’s warmth lulled her. She watched the tree branches sway back and forth above her, back, and forth.
She slowly detached from the things around her. Before long, her blank eyes stared forward. Isabel’s thoughts drifted. Her mind began to accept Embla’s voice.
Isabel’s mouth moved. She attempted to form words. For a couple of minutes, only rasping noises came from her throat. They turned into gurgling sounds followed by a child-like babbling. Words began to form.
Isabel spoke in several languages including an early Indo-European tongue and an ancient European language, called Proto Germanic, then Hittite, Scandinavian, and Icelandic words flowed out of her. She heard herself speak the Gaut and Celt languages, then French and Frisian, Dutch, Saxon, Shakespearean English, and High German. She spoke with modern British and Australian accents, and finally American English.
Her voice merged with Var Embla’s voice:
“We, the Sibbe, were mighty once and strong like the sacred Ash. We thrived before and early on in the Time of the Swords. My voice comes to you from beyond, from a time gone, just as I am gone, although, not quite. Until the saga is told to all ears, I cannot be released. I am Var and I am Seidh. I am Embla. I have a tale to tell.
I walked Erd during those seasons of change, the years of dispossession. The runar declared I would witness, become Var. The castings were sent and time was set. Weban waned before my eyes. The Unfolding began. Imperium’s beliefs were forced upon us; first one, then the other. Sibbe were slaughtered, sometimes to extinction. Truth was slaughtered. History was erased. Myths were told in its place.
Wurdiz is set, but you can change your urulaga, such is the life of all Sibbe.”
* * *
From Isabel’s notes:
Embla wanted you, the listener, to imagine yourselves in an ancient halle or lodge with a fire blazing in the central hearth where people long-deprived of their history gather to hear the stories of the past from their ancestors.
You hold a cup of the sacred Minne. You are assembled to hear the telling of the actual events that occurred early on, in the history of the north tribes called Sibbe, during the Time of the Swords.
The following are the words I wrote from the recounting of the saga that Var Embla spoke through me. I recorded her story, Sibbe's Way, then I wrote our recitation on paper just as she instructed me. This saga is a narration, a story in the third person, just as Embla wished.
Please be patient with the strangeness of Sibbe’s words and ways. All will be revealed to you, as it was told through me.
* * *
“Embla, Embla here, come.”
The Chieftainess, Kentigearna, stood near the lodge hearth. She reached for Embla. She straightened Embla's long hair, brushed her green woolen tunic, and tugged on her ivory linen underdress. She adjusted Embla's brown leather, braided belt and checked her shoes. She stepped back, held Embla at arm’s length and surveyed her work.
Kenti asked herself, has Embla grown overnight.
“You are ready, my child.”
She smiled, “this is the last time I will call you child.”
She laid her fore and middle fingers in the center of Embla’s brow.
“Let your tasks be accomplished through the wealth of your knowledge and the bravery in your spirit.
Now run, Vala, you know this message is important. Take these staves with the runes carved upon them. Go to the grove. Hand these to the Awena and no one else. Whisper this to her, 'the watches say the Horsemen will arrive soon with the boy.' ”
Embla bowed slightly and looked down. She held the small, smooth Oak bark sections in her hand. They were warm from Kenti’s grasp.
She read the message carved into them. She understood the Reveal was beginning, what the Futhark predicted, what the Deviners and the Witte Wieven saw. Embla knew she was part of the Unfolding. Sibbe’s days were for her to observe after she gave the words of knowledge to the boy.
She thought, Wurdiz is woven. I must impart the saga, the wisdom, the words. Edryd is at hand. She looked at the runes, then to the top of the lodge roof. Through the opening in the roof, she saw the vastness of the sky.
She whispered “Aiws,” and bowed.
Embla was ready. She ran out the lodge door, down the path, and through the wyndham to the grove. She ran up the forest trail to the sacred hill. The shrine was located on the leeward side of the heulfryn. All was still and leafless, from the cold time, the sunless time, Geamhradh.
As she ran, Embla thought, soon First Blooming begins. Wild Hunt will end. The wyndham will prepare for the new season, the new year. Change will arrive during the In between Time, before Ostara. A smile flickered across her face as she thought of the wonderful celebration ahead.
On the hill, the people from the wyndham, called Sibbe, and their leaders from within the gau, waited for the travelers from the South. They planned everything in detail. The fire logs were stacked suitably for the burning of the leaves. They kindled the sacred fire and it flamed keen.
They brushed clean the shrine for the welcome ceremony. Between the branches of the sacred Oak and Ash, the sun eased below the horizon and the moon mounted the sky dome. Mist rose from the stream below the hill.
Awena, one of the last gudinjos in the gau, walked toward the fire. Embla handed the staves to her. She read them, then threw the wood chips into the blaze. They sparked and snapped. She added more leaves from the sacred trees onto the flame. Fragrant smoke swirled around the heulfryn and ascended into the twilight sky. Heavy evening air settled in, and all returned to quiet.
Nothing stirred for some time until faint noises in the distance grew louder. A wind that resembled scythes cutting through tall grass reached Sibbe's ears. Their anticipation grew as the sound grew. Time stood still and the air became restless with the rising mist from the stream. Gathered Sibbe stared into the fire.
A sudden gust moved a large limb in the sacred Oak tree and it creaked. Two night birds called and the Witte Wieven appeared out of the mist. The grove shimmered with the wise women’s presence. Gold and amber ornaments on their clothing glittered. The colors blended with their long white and gold hair. Their gold and ivory underdresses were embroidered and beaded. Their forest green tunics spoke of their honored position.
"Greetings, Sibbe.” The three women spoke in unison, with one voice.
“The Nornes are with us, their presence is strong. With the captured boy we rescued from the south, destiny will be fulfilled. The boy is marked with the visage of Allfather. We shall observe him and learn. Embla will effect his transition to our ways. Sibbe must assist Embla.
Our task will be akin to the taming of a young wolf. If the boy cannot make the turn, we will identify our course. We will learn more about our enemy. Events will lead us.
Any hands say nay to the boy’s training?"
Awena looked around the gathering. No one raised a hand. She answered, "No, Witte Wieven."
In a louder voice the wise women announced, "So."
"Let the Unfolding begin. Wurdiz will be revealed."
Their voice was ear piercing. Its pitch resembled the wind caught between the sea and an opening in a cliff. Mist moved onto the sacred hill again. After the echo subsided, the fog parted. The Wieven walked into the mist and disappeared. Silence drew around the gathered Sibbe until the sounds from the path broke the stillness.
The resonance of the horses’ hooves arrived first. Everyone stared down the path in anticipation. The Horsemen came into sight. They galloped up the trail and slowed to a trot. Behind them, the boy sat in a wood and leather, horse-drawn wagon that Sibbe called a raido.
Those assembled turned to shield Embla from the boy’s initial stare. He should not look upon her until the appropriate time. After the Awena recited the greetings, she would lead the introductions.
The gathering remained quiet until the horsemen, the Dewin, and the raido drew to a stop. Sibbe were surprised when the horsemen dismounted. They did not recognize most of the Horsemen or the colors of the plaids in their clothing. The Horsemen who escorted the boy were not from their gau.
Dewin instructed two of the men to remove the boy from the wagon. Sibbe watched him kick at the men when they attempted to lift him out of the wagon. Two of the men covered the boy with one of the raido blankets from head to foot and hoisted him out of the wagon. He screamed for help. They threw him on the ground and pulled the blanket out from under him.
The boy rolled to the feet of the Awena and jumped up almost in her face. He was hobbled from a piece of rope tied around his ankles and could not walk far without falling. Another Horseman grabbed him by his hair, pulled him away from the Awena, and steadied him. Sibbe were surprised he was not a little boy, but a youth, a hogan.
He appeared to be closer to Embla’s age. His height almost matched hers, but he was not well fed. His slight build made him useless in battle. He acted immature. The hogan was rude. He refused to look at anyone. He did not remember or did not know the sounds of his native tongue, or the customs and manners of Sibbe, his people.
They ignored his behavior. A Horseman stood behind him while the gathering greeted the boy with the traditional welcoming ceremony. He was introduced by the Dewin to the Awena, to those gathered, and then to Embla.
Sibbe considered the boy crude and uneducated. A hogan from their tribe, the Amelen, would never display such emotions at his age. In the north, these outbursts brought trouble. The hogan would lose his existence if he were not careful. The Awena and the gathering of Sibbe decided to tolerate his behavior for that night and that night only.
In his southern tongue, he yelled his name was Marcus. He stuck his nose in the air and rejected everything offered to him. He called out, “Jove, Jove.” He shouted spiteful names at the gathering.
Amelen did not know what he said to them, but Embla did.
He shouted, “Jove, I do not like these people and their ways. Their land disgusts me.”
“Barbari, Barbari!” He paused and waited for someone to respond to him. They only stared at him with pity in their eyes.
He yelled again.
“Yes, we look alike, but we do not act alike. I know more.”
He pointed at the gathering. “I am not an animal, but you are!”
He shrieked, “I want to go home, to the villa. I want the old general. I do not care if I served him. I miss my life. Why am I here in this place? Do you hear me? What do you want from me? Where is my mother? You, idiots!”
* * *
Embla woke from a restless sleep. She heard a familiar sound, Bran. The ravens called to each other outside the lodge. Their calls gave her assurance, told her she was at home, that Wodan watched, and Yggdrasil was strong. She tried to remember her dream about the greeting ceremony on the hill.
Odd dream. No. No, the incident was real.
Although she wanted to shake her head to clear her mind, she did not, she barely moved. Embla thought through the events of the night before.
When the Horseman pulled the boy out of the raido, the hood of his cloak covered his head. After they brought him close to the fire, I examined his face. He peered from under the hood with one good eye. The other eye was not there, only a scar remained. His appearance was not pleasant, but it did not surprise me. I was warned.
Embla’s thoughts quickly turned to the day’s span ahead of her and the coming evening’s events. At the meeting lodge, the Dewin will cast the runes to determine the fate of the boy. Decisions will come. If they allow the hogan to live, the wyndham will present him with a Sibbe name. Perhaps he will feel better about his freedom once he experiences it.
She turned her head and looked at the hogan through the dim morning light. His behavior is utangardhr, foreign. She could not believe he was Sibbe, born into a northern tribe, a son whose destiny the Nornes wove. She hated him and pitied him. Still, she wished him well.
You should wish yourself well.
Who breaks my thoughts?
Ahhh, my mothers
…yes, excuse me.
The voice in her head belonged to the wise women, the witte wieven.
They continued. Embla, the decisions you make, will influence the actions of Sibbe. A part of our collective urulaga, our destiny, rests on the turning or not turning of the boy. He must learn what you know and we must know what he learned in the South.
Embla asked, “Is this true, really true?”
The wise women's voice whispered the answer. Yes. Time is in flux. Tests will come. Our way of life is at stake. The Unseen challenge Wurdiz.
Keep a dead watch on the next nine risings of the sun; there will be long periods of light. Seit, time, will change. Many more risings, and solstices will pass than perceived. During the boys turn, only our actions, not time, will matter. Your actions, dear one, will be most important.
The runes predict the ebb and flow of our saga. The runes consistently prove true. We face the gravest of times. Nonetheless, we can change fate, to an extent. This will require the knowledge that we can acquire from the boy. You must affect, and ease, this hogan’s transition. Remember, the essence of a game is at its end.
Embla replied, Everyday, I remind myself.
She changed the subject. Mothers, he is not a bachgen. He is not the little boy Sibbe expected. He is hogan.
The wieven suspended their conversation. Beware, the utangardhr!
A yell interrupted Embla’s thoughts.
The youth awakened disoriented. He thrashed around in the bed. He flailed his arms when he attempted to sit up. When he locked eyes with her, he curled his upper lip, called her names.
“Jove, Jove save me.”
“Strike her down!” He pointed at Embla.
She sat up and stared at him. Although her thoughts concerning the boy’s fit came rapidly, every aspect of what was happening around her slowed.
She watched him rail. Embla asked herself, what is he thinking? He did not sleep outside. Food was served to him. He washed. He received clean clothes for the night. To protect him from the cold, I shared the warmth of my bed with him. Now, he screams at me in that odious speak.
I hear the grunting of a wild boar.
Here, in my bed, his face is close to mine. His damaged eye is in front of me.
The scar looks like a stab wound.
The good eye is red and crusted from sleep. Achhh.
Repulsed, she looked away for a moment. I will tell him why his eye drew so much attention from Sibbe, perhaps in a day or two, if he lives that long.
After Kentigearna's household went to sleep, this stranger touched me in inappropriate ways, even with the bunting between us. His hands were all over by body. I pushed him away until he fell asleep. I did not offer what he tried to take.
She thought he is without manners. His behavior makes me think his turn may not be successful.
Now, he calls me a stupid cow and my people barbarians. He believes I do not know his words. He asked the Romans’ chief god, Jupiter called Jove, to kill me, and Sibbe.
She turned her gaze on him. He continued his fit. Spittle flew from his mouth as he babbled and his eye blinked rapidly. He clenched his fists so hard his knuckles were white. He swung.
Too quick for him, and too well trained, Embla moved left. His hand struck the large wooden bedpost behind her.
Enough, she thought. She lowered her head, tucked in her chin, and stared at him from under her brow.
“Iseldir.” She hissed at him.
She called him “brat” in her language, then “hey, you, pig face” in the disgusting southern words.
His mouth flew open when he heard his own speak. The boy sat down on the bed with a thud.
Embla’s hands moved quicker than her thoughts. She struck him hard, twice, first in his throat, then his jaw. He fell backwards, gagging, into unconsciousness.
When he wakes, he will not be able to say anything for a while. The Iseldir must learn to listen to me before he speaks again. I could take him to a healer, a Vitkar, in the next wyndham.
Oh, I do not need to take him to a Vitkar. I can heal him myself, but will I?
* * *
-- e. smith sleigh, author of SIBBE'S WAY
Sibbe's Way at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mSmuUi
All rights reserved
Sibbe - people of the north
Glen - wooded cove
Menhirs - standing
Geneth - daughter
Aithei - ancestor
Var - witness
Unfolding - development
Ysbal _ Isabel
Seidh (Seidhkona) -
tribal leader counselor/advisor
Erd - earth
runar - runes
Weban - life
Wurdiz - to be.
urulaga - your life force, destiny
Minne - drink
halle - lodge
Vala - brave one
Awena - leader of events/organizer
Dewiner - reader of the runes
Airis - heir
wyndham - village
heulfryn - hill
Geamdradh - winter
First Blooming - spring
Wild Hunt - ceremony, and the winter hunting season
Ostara - spring ceremony (Easter)
Nornes - live under the world tree and weave humanity's destiny into the Weban (web of life)
hogan - youth, teenager
bachgen - boy
Jove - Roman god, Jupiter
Barbari - Barbarians
Wodan, Odin - ALLfather
Yggrasil - the tree of life that supports the human world
Seit - time
utangardhr - stranger
Vacca foeda - idiot
Iseldir - brat
Eia! - hey!
Tu - you
Os Porcus - pig face
Vitkar - healer
Sibbe's Way by author and poet, e. smith sleigh
Installment 2 of Sibbe's Way
Roused from her sleep by the noise, the Kentigearna ran to the outside of Embla's bed. She knocked on one of the posts that supported the sleep area. Kenti was well aware of Embla’s mental and physical power. She braced herself for what she might find. She waited.
Embla drew back one of the cloths that surrounded the bed frame.
Kenti looked in at the bed. She smiled. “Ah, I see his turn has begun this morning!” She reached in and tousled Embla's already tangled hair.
Kenti glanced at the utangardhr sprawled across the bed. “Did he, try to…”
Embla frowned. “Yes, Kenti, last night, without invitation. This morning he attempted to strike me.”
“No manners. Southern beasts.”
The Chieftainess looked him over, “he is definitely older than we thought. The old messenger said bachgen when he should have said hogan. I will reprimand him.”
She paused for a moment. “Today, when the hogan,” she cleared her voice, “is better, take him to the meadow. Teach him a few of our words and our ways. Tell him he cannot take what is not offered. Do not give him a weapon. Hide yours, but let him know you hold the authority of life and death over him.”
Embla's eyebrows rose. She nodded and bowed slightly.
Kenti tried to hide her amusement at the scene before her. She thought this boy has no idea who he attempted to harm.
Kentigearna continued, “Following your return to the village and after this sun’s waning, I will join you at the meeting lodge. Perhaps, we will hear a Sibbe name for him after your opinion is given.”
She nodded toward the hogan. “From what I heard this morning, Iseldir seems right.”
Before the Chieftainess left, she said, “Miri will prepare a calming, herb broth for him.”
Kenti went to her duties chuckling at the scene she discovered in Embla's bed. The keys on her waistband, a symbol of her authority, clinked together while she moved about her lodge and out into the wyndham among the hundredship.
Kentigearna and her husband, Toiseach welcomed Embla’s presence in their lodge. She recently finished her Seidh training and became Seidhkona, counselor. They called her Vala, chosen one, and Var, witness to change. Seidh counselors traditionally participated in the management of daily life in the wyndhams. With her knowledge and growing power, Embla, the wise women’s daughter, was a valuable asset.
The Kentigearna quickly redirected her attention away from the incident in her lodge and shifted her focus to the wyndham. Her work started at the sun’s rising. Hunting parties, both men and animals, were out. With the Chief gone, the wyndham was her responsibility. She was leader. Many tasks were at hand.
Kenti usually left the morning’s household management to elders Miri and Neal’s wise guidance.
Within the wyndham, every day was full, no matter what the season. Each day always brought work, challenges, and dangers. The Kentigearna was fearless in her leadership. She enjoyed her position and accepted the responsibilities of her rank, including the defense of Sibbe. At any given moment, she could be required to lay down her life for them.
Sibbe lived by the laws of their district, called a gau, and their assembly, called the Thing. They followed the rules of the wyndham, of each household, and the directions of runar and Seidhr. Members of their extended family and the other families in their tribe recognized Wodan as their inspiration and father of all Sibbe. The Aesir, Vanir and Raginaz, guided their beliefs. Kentigearna, and others who led, made sure members of the hundredships understood Wurdiz set their destiny; yet, an individual could alter their fate by personal action, called urulaga.
When peace was with Sibbe, every aspect of their lives was organized. The smooth operation of the wyndham assured their survival. All members of the village, including the small children, followed assigned duties. Each life depended on the others’ completion of their daily tasks. Such was the life of all Sibbe.
Kenti’s leadership within the Amelen village, required her to apply the Way’s rules to Sibbe’s lives. Guidelines moved the hundredship forward. Allfather, time, also called Wodan or Odin, and Frigga, earth, inspired her journey as leader. Kentigearna was a quick and clever Chieftainess who led well. She was only one of many female leaders within each tribe who determined that Sibbe life ran smoothly, and efficiently.
* * *
Embla observed the hogan while he ate. The herbal brew Miri prepared calmed him.
She thought he even holds his cup differently than Sibbe. I have a great deal to teach this, hogan. No, I will call him Puer from the southern speak. The name means boy. He will be Boy until he acts in a mature way. I will present him with his Sibbe name when he attains this goal.
There is little time. How will I approach the giving of knowledge without showing him the secrets? During this phase of his turn, he should not hear, or see, all of the true ways. Most outsiders find Wurdiz difficult to believe and cannot accept its reality. She studied him again.
If his eye were not missing, he would be angwen, handsome. His missing eye was, well, one of the reasons his captors allowed him to live. Now, there is a large bruise on his throat and jaw. Embla laughed to herself. She was pleased she muted the rampaging utangardhr.
Her face showed him nothing about what she thought. Higher-ranking Sibbe leaders and Seidhr rarely displayed feelings or sentiments when they functioned in their official roles. According to Sibbe tradition, emotions will betray you. She directed her eyes toward the lodge door, but her mind focused on the hogan.
Something emanates from him. The manner in which he covers his good eye with the lid, it makes me uneasy. Do I sense distrust or is there more? His good eye turned toward her. He glared at her.
Is he receptive to my thoughts?
Near the end of their meal, she began to talk to him in the southern speak. The Latin loqui was difficult for Embla to hear. She witnessed her parents die while she heard Latin, the language of their enemy, all around her. The brutes laughed while she suffered their blows. For some reason, she did not depart her existence.
She thought, I will use this repulsive speak to initiate his turn, his education in the Way. If he does not make the turn, well, his failure is part of the Weave. He will seal his fate.
Her eyes narrowed. She held her emotions. She shook off the loathing and began to speak to him without looking at him.
“I am your teacher in the Way of Aes. I am Embla. I am named after the first woman. There were two first people Ask and Embla. Ask was the first man. Until you receive a Sibbe name, you will be Puer, the Unnamed.
Sibbe are multilingual. The tribe who welcomed you are called Amelen or Amelungen. We are a leader tribe. We mostly speak Gaut and Celt. When you can speak again, you must learn the languages, history, and ways of the Amelen, or you will not be successful here.” She used the lower tones of her voice to emphasize the significance of what she said.
She held her arms up and out. “We are the Amelen tribe. We are leaders of the northern tribes, Gaut and Celt. We are Aes. We are Sibbe.” She rested her arms at her side.
Embla glanced at his lap, then into his eye for a moment. She stared through the lodge to the door. “You do not touch me or anyone here in the village, unless you are invited to do so. You have a bruised throat and a sore jaw. Your lack of regard for your hosts is visibly evident. You are our guest and should behave as such. Another Sibbe tribe would not be so gentle with you. If someone among us attempts to ignore our customs, we cast them out or kill them. Such is the life of all Sibbe.”
In his thoughts, he replied to her, “Non curo, Non curo.”
Embla heard him and replied, You do not care, ha. You will.
His mouth fell open. You talked to me in my mind! You talked to me in my mind!
He shook his head no. He placed one hand on his head and another to his throat. Embla continued her forward gaze and did not look at him.
She spoke a Latin loqui phrase aloud to him, “Vir sapit qui pauca loquitur.” A wise man speaks little.
Embla continued, “I will speak to you in this foul tongue, the Latin loqui, for a short time. I will give you forty of the moon risings to learn our customs and our words."
He did not acknowledge what she said.
She sat silently while he finished his bowl of broth and piece of bread. For the end of his meal, he ate sliced, dried fruit and a few nuts. Embla tore two pieces of bread from the round loaf on the table. She tucked the first piece into her waistbag and handed him the other. She selected a handful of nuts and dried berries, and handed them to him as well.
“Place these in your bag.” She looked down his body at his belt.
He looked down. His good eyebrow went up.
“On your belt!” She grimaced.
He found the leather pouch and placed the food inside.
“Come along, Puer, we will walk through the wyndham to the meadow.”
* * *
While they walked down the village path, Embla described the functions of the various areas of the wyndham to Puer. She explained the wyndham rules.
“Each family maintains a lodge and lodge yard, where they live. Because we are a leader tribe, Amelen construct the traditional round lodges in our villages. Our dwellings are fenced with stones gathered from the fields and the freshly fallen branches from the trees in the woods. Roofs are thatched. We make the bundles of thatch from straw harvested in the fields and mountain meadows. These wooden fences protect and contain the small livestock and the children. Garden areas are also fenced.”
“Over there, stands one of the wyndham’s activity centers.” She pointed to a group of round, stone structures with long, thatched roofs that almost touched the ground. Puer heard noises and saw movement around the buildings.
Outside the buildings, open, roofed areas provided shelter for outdoor activities. Structures were circular, without walls and linked by rectangular ramadas. Several people congregated beneath these covered, outdoor quarters. They worked on different objects and projects.
Puer thought these wooden structures are crude tholoi and loggia.
Embla continued, “The blacksmith's compound is a gathering place. Sibbe go to the smithy for the news of the gau and elsewhere. People assemble there at different times during the day, especially when a messenger arrives. When their own lodge work is finished, Sibbe help with the requirements and management of the village. The smithy directs these activities. The wyndham Chief and Kentigearna go to the smithy’s compound when their decisions are required.”
While she spoke to Puer, he listened to the steady beat of the blacksmith's hammer against the anvil. He noticed the cadence set the pace of their walk and the rhythm of movement within the village.
“We build open places near the center of every wyndham. We use the area for ceremonial gatherings of Sibbe, and for trade. Sacred trees, perhaps Oak or Elm but usually Ash, are planted there. They remind us of the tree Yggdrasil that supports the universe. Wodan hung himself upon the Ash branches to obtain knowledge about the runes. Sibbe always strive to gain knowledge. Allfather inspires us to do so.”
Puer thought those trees are the largest, healthiest trees I ever saw. He pointed toward a tree decorated with hanging objects on the branches from bottom to top. A puzzled look crossed his face, but Embla said nothing.
She continued with her explanation of wyndham life. “Sibbe do not live in what you call towns. We are closer to nature. We prefer the forest. It is our home. We clear only small areas of woodlands to build wyndhams and organize a new hundredship. The Amelen tribe tend the forest. In those woods that surround us, there are many sacred areas.
The trees themselves are sacred to us. Triu give us sustenance. We honor the trees. They give us life, shelter, warmth, weapons, medicine, food, drink, and,” she reached out into the air around her, “this thing we take into our bodies.
Our most sacred tree is the mighty Ash, Yggdrasil. The Oak, the Elm, the Lime tree, and the Yew are sacred to us. We write upon their bark or wood with our alphabet, the Futhark. We also write on stone and other objects.
When we draw or carve, we render the forest, the Wald, and the animals called Tiere. We intertwine them because all life is intertwined, like the branches of a tree or a spider’s web. These living things are our lives. We honor their lives when we harvest them. We pray to Frigg and Freya for the fertility of the forests and those within it, including Sibbe. For all the seasons and solstices to come, we will strive for this purpose. The Way tells us to do so."
They walked down the wyndham path near a lodge. The dwelling stood close to the road. Puer pointed to the building and chuckled.
Embla bit her lip. “Except for certain meeting halls, near the center of the wyndham, our structures are circular, including the shelters for the animals. Round buildings are more efficient in a cold climate. Sibbe build a hearth and place a fire at the center of each structure. Our dwellings are usually a standard size, about the width of seven tall men laying head to toe.
The lodges' lower halves are made of stone or wood and thick mortar. The mortar is a kind of plaster, a mud sometimes. It seals the spaces between the woven wood branches and insulates the lower part of our buildings.”
Puer decided the circular dwellings fit into the landscape because of their color and shape. He noticed a small roof covered their entries. Villagers placed decorations on top of the entry roofs. The decorations were wooden boxes or a beam placed across two small, upright boards. This structure usually held the skull of an animal.
Embla noticed Puer staring at a lodge’s entry roof. “Within this wyndham, the skulls of wolves are placed over the portals. We feel close to the wolf. We do not fear them. Our tribe possesses the knowledge to train the wolf for protection. When they perish, Sibbe honor them. We place their skulls above our lodge door and they continue to protect us.”
Puer thought of the Imperium and the she-wolf that mothered Romulus and Remus. He stared at the wolf skull with his mouth open.
“We admire the wolf. There is nothing wrong with our custom.”
He tried to comprehend the strange architecture before him. He nodded toward the top of the pitched roof.
“High, pointed, thatched roofs open at the peak. This opening allows the smoke and stale air out of the building. The Romans call this opening an oculus, do they not?”
He stopped in the middle of the pathway and stared at her. He thought how does she know that?
“Come, Puer, never stop here in the middle of the lane. Horsemen and messengers, Hunters, warriors and Battlers travel the pathways, usually in a hurry, with important business. They have impunity if they run over anyone who stands in their way.”
-- e. smith sleigh, author of SIBBE'S WAY
Sibbe's Way at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mSmuUi
All rights reserved
Kenti - short name for
utangardhr - stranger
bachgen - small boy
hogan - older (teenaged) boy
Iseldir - brat
Miri - Kenti's aunt
wyndham - village
hundredship- the population of any given Sibbe village was maintianed at approximately 100 individuals
Seidh(r) - counseling for all Sibbe, a method of fixing a variety of physical and mental situations in a village or other area
Seidhkona - counselor
Vala - chosen one
Var - witness to change
Neal - Kent's uncle
owney - elders in the tribe (the older ones)
district - called a gau
their assembly - called the Thing or Ding.
Wodan - Allfather
Frigga - personification of earth wedded to Wodan (time) to create life, the living, the sentient
Aesir, Vanir and
Raginaz - personifications of human activities and needs, earth's characteristics and needs. They interact with Sibbe and can be personally addressed for assistance.
Amelen (Celtic) or Amelungen (Gaut) - leadership tribe and vanguards within Sibbe
Latin loqui - Latin language, the language of the Roman Empire
Celt - large, major tribes who occupied western Europe
the Way of Aes
the Weave - the things in life that were meant to be, fate
Aes - the people who follow the personifications, Aes and Vanir
Wurdiz, also called THE WAY - to be, the overarching term that Sibbe used for life and their belief system
Ask and Embla - the first man and woman
who were created from triu, according to the WAY
triu - Sibbe word for trees possibly a stem word for the English word true
the sacred tree Yggdrasil -
supports the universe
non curo - Latin for I don't care
Vir sapit qui pauca loquitur. - A wise man speaks little.
tholoi - round buildings
in the Greek/Latin world
loggia - rectangular causeway
Imperium - Rome
Romulus and Remus - the twin-boy founders of Rome
here ends the glossary, most of the words or phrases within this historical fiction novel are explained in context
Installment 3 of Sibbe's Way
Embla and Puer resumed their walk through the wyndham. She pointed to the smoke that trailed out of the top of the nearest lodge. “As I said before, smoke from the hearth is drawn out through the roof opening. Most fires, though, burn outside in the cleared, open areas of the villages. Sibbe compact burned wood near the smithy. They make charcoal for the lodge hearths. We usually burn charcoal in warm weather, but not always.
We build our wyndhams near streams. See the long tree line?” She pointed to a dense growth of trees that ran from one edge of the horizon to the other. “Trees grow thick along watercourses. That stream is our water supply. We divert the water for wyndham use. We dig small water channels to each lodge. The channels run slightly inside the lodge wall where the cooking area is located. We inset a flat stone into an interior floor to cover the opening. The stone is lifted when water is needed. We also dig wells. In dry times, we dig channels to the fields. ”
Puer licked his lips.
“Are you thirsty?”
“Sibbe drink water from clay cups, sometimes metal cups are used, or gourds. Our traditional drinking vessel is the horn from the sacred cattle called auroch. One of those filled horns hangs on your belt. If you prefer a fresher drink of water, we can go to a well and replace the old water in the horn.”
Puer shook his head no. He removed the horn from his belt and drank. Two women who swept the entry outside one of the lodges caught his eye as they passed them. The women nodded at Embla and looked the strange young man up and down.
“Orderliness and cleanliness must be maintained in the wyndhams of the north. The Aesir and the Vanir demand cleanliness of person and place. Sibbe keep their bodies clean. We wash even before battle. Each day, we clean ourselves, lodges, and lodge yards.
We build bathing shelters near the water source of each house. Each house has a prive´, a latrine. It is located outside against an opposite part of the lodge wall and away from the stream."
Puer watched boys with carts headed in the direction of a pit.
"In the wyndham, we collect and bury waste. Older boys use handcarts to carry refuse in covered wooden barrels to the waste pit. Vasso also do the work. They are servants. Through warfare, minor crime, or poverty they are attached to a particular household until their chief or the Thing releases their debt from the person, household, or the tribe.”
She told him, “The tasks given to us require an enormous amount of work. We do not mind work.”
Puer pointed to the largest structure in the village.
“That building is our meeting lodge where Sibbe gather to make decisions and celebrate various occasions.”
He pointed again.
“This big building is the bath and guest lodge.” Part of the building, called a savu, provides comfort and warmth to Sibbe. The steam within the savu cleanses and heals the body and mind. You must try a bath in there. You will feel better. Down the path from the savu is a larger, communal latrine area. These, and the animal shelters, are built downwind.”
She turned and looked toward him. Puer was distracted.
“You must learn to live with what is here, in the wyndham. Be familiar with Sibbe customs. We survived and flourished with these buildings and these ways for all the generations.
Let us go into the latrine before we leave the wyndham. A men's door is always to your left hand. The women's door is to the other hand. Remember the difference. Do not use the forest to relieve yourself, unless you bury your muck. The smell will disclose more than your location to wild animals and men.”
Puer did not enter the structure immediately. He waited outside for a few heartbeats longer. He slid one foot in front of the other. He hesitated to enter the building. When he finally opened the door, he was surprised. The space was tidy. The structure resembled the orderly interiors of the wyndham’s round houses.
Wood, sometimes carved, was everywhere. I see no sculpted stone and no tesserae on the floor. These people know nothing of the possibilities of the Romans' composite building material, bricks, or tuffa, or marble. Where are their mosaics, and public statues? His faced flushed with disgust at what he considered primitive surroundings.
Embla waited for him outside the male prive´. She passed the time by tapping her foot to the melody of a song she heard at one of the wyndham’s recent meetings. Melancholy settled into her heart along with the melody. She remembered the girl she was, the student, who attended the meetings free of the responsibilities she assumed such a short time ago, or was it. She thought time seems to slow and to drift since the Hogan arrived.
When Puer returned from the men’s area and before Embla went into her prive´, she told him, “eyes watch you, everywhere we go, even when we appear to be alone.” Puer spun around.
Embla’s mouth turned up slightly on one side. “Do not attempt to run. Dogs will track you down. The Trackers will allow the dogs to consume you for their evening meal. Before light breaks into the darkness, the dogs begin to work hard for the Sealgair, our Hunters. They do not eat the kill during the hunt. When they return home or to camp at moon’s rising, the dogs are ravenous. Beware.”
She went into the prive´ and left Puer outside to consider whether to run or not and if the story she told him were actually true.
Since they left the lodge, nothing but their one-way conversation swirled around in Puer’s head. He was frustrated because his throat was sore. He was unable to speak. While he waited for her, he tried to think of a way to counter, without speaking, the words she imparted to him.
Every time she tells me about these people, the Barbari, and their ways, I remember what I learned at the villa. The Imperium is superior to all others. The general taught me there are no answers, except those that come through Roma.
He frowned. Is this true?
Is it possible that I doubt this now, or did I doubt it all along?
The Imperium is all I know. Yet, here these people live, in the north, without Romans. They survived through millennia with their own beliefs and ways, before Romulus and Remus and, yes, before Attica, with their round buildings.
Puer considered the situation. I make my choice to stay this day, and this day only. Before I leave my bed each morning, I will make a decision whether to stay or go. If I leave, what will be my destination?
He continued to examine his situation and his options. He thought through his predicament. Finally, Puer answered the question he posed to himself. Wait, I know. I know where I can seek refuge, but I am afraid to whisper the words, or think them. He stared straight up the path.
When Embla came out of the latrine, they continued their hike. After they breached the boundaries of the wyndham and began their walk up the path to the forest clearing, she grew quiet.
* * *
The diffused light of an early spring glowed through the meadow. A light mist hung in the air. Yellow, orange, and rust colored grasses and verdant evergreens spread across the level field. Underneath the old growth of vegetation, early, green plants peeked out of the soil.
She led him to two large gray blue stones. They stood at one end of the clearing. Embla touched the first stone with her hand. “We call these stains. They are sitting stones. Take that one, Puer, and I will sit here.” The stones were smooth and rounded on top with depressions in the middle. To Puer, the large rocks resembled ancient thrones.
Tall, single standing stones called menhirs stood behind the sitting stones. Elm, evergreens, Holly trees, and a small Oak grew behind the menhirs. Their branches and shadows sheltered the stones, and Embla and Puer. In front of them, two lines of twenty stones each formed an elliptical pattern.
Embla looked around the open area in front of them. A stand of Ash trees grew at the opposite end of the meadow. The peaceful place reminded her of how much she loved earth. A large cloud blocked the sun, the light dimmed. A few moments later, the sun's rays penetrated the cloud cover and filled the area with golden shafts of light. The light mist amplified the rays. The radiant light bounced off the standing stones. She smiled. Her thoughts shifted. Embla saw the sign she searched for and she settled into her task.
Puer watched Embla grow silent and motionless. In his mind, he asked in a sarcastic tone, what are you doing? What are, you, doing?
Anasilan! Be quiet. I prepare. I have no time to listen to your thoughts. I will inform you when I can talk to you.
He answered her out of habit, Aio.
He responded yes all the time when he was a slave. That one word protected him, prevented the beatings, and kept his family from death.
Puer waited for quite a while before he dared talk to himself. He began to think higher in his brain. Non-conversational thoughts about his life in the south came to him in flashes. He studied his surroundings. He wished he were secure inside the villa’s gardens. He saw the old man. Will anyone be there, at the general’s villa, if I return? He heard no response from her so he continued.
The villa was safer than this wild place. Look at this. Anything could happen. At times, the thought of these people, their ways, and their land repulses me. I know I was enslaved Barbari in the south. Yet I miss the comforts of the villa, the ease of the Empire, and its customs. What will I become here, what do these people want from me? The Barbari want something. I can tell.
During the attack on the villa, the raiders were poised to kill me. They changed their minds. Why?
He saw the moment. Three cloaked men stood in the shadows of the columns and directed the raid. For the duration of the carnage, I stood in the middle of the herb garden near the triclinium. The Barbari told me not to move. I never moved. I awaited my slaughter, but the deathblow did not come.
Oh, the horror! The images and sounds in my mind of what happened sicken me! Barbari stole or destroyed everything. They dragged me from the villa. They bound my hands and feet and threw me into the back of a wagon! I thought my death was near.
When we were far from the place I call home, the raiders finally made camp. They gave me water, but no food. A guard took me out of the wagon and into the trees to a hole that they dug in the ground. I relieved myself. After I finished, they threw me back into the wagon.
I tried to sleep, but the noise from the Horsemen around the campfire distracted me. Their talk was loud. I watched them from a crack in the side of the wagon. The Horsemen's gestures and body movements told me the content of their conversation. The men examined their plunder from the villa, including the food, and discussed what to do with me. When they pointed at the wagon, I ducked under the covers.
Later, an older man in long brown tunic and dark green robes appeared. He walked with authority. His hair was white, medium length. His mustache and eyebrows were darker than his hair. At first, he was agreeable to the men who captured me, and then he raised his voice. The raiders and the old man argued. The old man pointed to his face, then his eyes. A few of the raiders reacted with surprise, maybe, fear. Everyone turned toward the wagon.
I watched the strange man pull a cloth out of his cloak and spread the cloth on the ground. He removed wood chips from a small bag on his belt and threw them on the cloth. He kneeled and began to talk. The raiders gathered around. A discussion between the men ensued. Their voices grew louder and louder.
A raider came to the wagon and grabbed me by the tunic. He dragged me to the fire’s light. Every man around the campfire looked at my face. He pulled me into a nearby tent. The men in the tent examined my face then removed my clothing and examined my body. I was fortunate. The Romans would have done more than look at me.
After I dressed, more Barbari natter followed and the old man threw wood chips again. The raiders gave me a broth to drink. I gulped the warm liquid. The broth felt good in my empty stomach and I fell asleep. Someone returned me to the wagon. At that point, the raiders’ horses pulled many carts with them. I do not remember much after I hit the blanket-lined wood and leather interior of the wagon.
The journey was long. We traveled for days. I bounced around on fur covers and colorful woven blankets. During the entire journey, they fed me soup made from strange leathery food. I knew the raiders traveled north. The sun always rose to my right. The cold bit at my face. White flakes fell from the sky. My mother told me about the flakes when I was a child. They swirled around my wagon while the raiders penetrated further into the mountains. I could not rouse myself enough to care.
Now, I sit on a big, cold stone in a tunic, trousers, and cloak that are not mine. My clothing is made of a variety of colors unlike any material I ever saw. Lines of colors run up and down, and side to side, on the clothing. The cloth itself feels soft and comfortable like the blankets that covered me in the wagon. This cloth was meant for the cold of northern climes.
This morning, I saw the same glaring, repugnant colors throughout the village and in the people’s clothing. The cloth is heavier on the body and does not move like, like the cloth I wore before. I want to go somewhere, anywhere, but remain here.
Someone selected these clothes for me. I do not remember. Who dressed me? Did she, did this, this girl dress me? He reminded himself I must not say anymore.
My mother always said our Romans captors were perverse, but their practices are all I know. The Barbari have no idea what I saw and endured, or what awaits them if they go south. Who knows what is in their hearts and minds. I believe Romans are afraid of the Barbari's fierce behavior. According to the Roman histories that I heard and read in the villa, Barbari are far worse, more combative, than any of the humans Rome conquered.
He looked around the meadow for the first time since he began to remember the events that brought him north. His eyes rested on her.
Now the girl, what is her name, Em, Em, bla a, is staring at me. She knows the Latin Loqui. She called me names in her enemy’s language before she knocked me out. The words she used were pig, face, pig face. Yes. Pig face! He tried to laugh but he could not. Puer touched his throat with his hand. He looked at her again.
For a moment, he forgot he was supposed to be mad at her. Puer shook his head. He felt the same disconnectedness he experienced when he traveled with the raiders. She is definitely Barbari. She looks like the rest of them. I sense concentrated fierceness in her.
The strength in her emanates toward me. I do not like her demeanor. She does not know her place. Where I grew up, no one would accept her behavior. A normal girl her age should be married and quiet, cloistered within the walls of her home. Here, her people allow her to parade around the village and the woods in complete freedom. Disgusting. When I feel better, I will teach her what a girl should say and how a girl should act.
She is pretty, in her own way. The shape of her face is different. She is nothing like the Imperium women. Their skin color and eyes are darker. Their hair color is dark brown or black. Her eyes are a deeper blue than mine. Her hair is a little lighter. Look at her, her hair glistens in the sun. She is tall and strong, and near my own age, but older. Yes, I think, older.
Embla was dressed in a full-length, loosely belted tunic. Her underdress fabric was a solid color, yellowed ivory linen. She wore a dark green, woolen tunic over it. Her hair was long, but she braided it and decorated it. Her tall, strong, golden appearance made her resemble nothing from his world. He looked away from her and stared into the clearing.
Why did she bring me to this wild place, anyway? I really want to hurt her for hitting me in the throat this morning. I cannot talk. My neck is sore. I will make a plan. One day, when she least expects an attack, I will strike.
If I kill her, these people will murder me. So what! I will have my revenge. His sideways glance caught her image again. No, I cannot. Who could kill this creature? Does she actually read my thoughts? I do not know. I do not care now. He stopped thinking and his mind went blank.
-- e. smith sleigh, author of SIBBE'S WAY
Sibbe's Way at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mSmuUi All rights reserved
The rest of Sibbe Way's serialization will apprear on the next page of this website
-- e. smith sleigh, author of SIBBE'S WAY
Sibbe's Way at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mSmuUi
-- e. smith sleigh, author of SIBBE'S WAY
Sibbe's Way at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mSmuUi
poetry poetry poststructural poetry arts free verse love poems poetry
slipstream haiban poetry collections post structuralism memoir
and now historical fiction
slipstream haiban poetry collections post structuralism memoir
and now historical fiction
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