At the top of the known world, a small cadre of men gathered on the mist-enshrouded quay in the small town of Noorsgaarden. Bjorn Borgstrom, Captain of the Long Ship Loki, emerged from the rising fog like an apparition. The fierce men surrounded their tall, broad-shouldered leader with the glistening auburn hair. Peering at them through steely blue eyes and holding a broadsword at his side, Bjorn heartily greeted them. “Hail Vikings! Each of you has been handpicked for the voyage we are about to take. Climb aboard and grab your oars. We depart with the tide.”
Olaf, a short thick bodied man and a veteran of many journeys outside of the fjords rose. “Excuse me, Captain,” he says, “the tide is going low and I actually think there’s a wind coming up. Probably means a storm front heading our way. Why not lurk about one more day for good weather? I mean, what’s the rush?”
Some of the men nodded their horn helmeted heads in agreement. A few of the wiser ones simply ducked for cover as Bjorn seized his broad sword before swinging his gaze around to Olaf. Bjorn stopped his swing at a short volley, simply knocking Olaf out cold instead.
Bjorn shouted impatiently, “Can we just get on the damn ship and row?”
A wiry thin lad, Eric the Rail, boldly leaped up from the back row and asked, “Did I hear you open up the floor for discussion?”
Bjorn glared at the young man horrified that some kind of strange and foreign process was unfolding.
“Sir,” Eric continued, “I actually have a host of questions I’ve been meaning to ask since last nights’ grog festival. First of all…”
Olaf’s younger brother Lars, gulped, then injected, “I’ve got some concerns you can address as well, Captain.”
The floodgates open and the quay erupted in a spontaneous news conference with Bjorn as the object of attention. Frozen between lopping heads and storming off, Bjorn swallowed hard, and stood his ground, weathering the onslaught.
Nils, his childhood friend, moved close to Bjorn and whispered, “I’ve seen coming for the past few years. It’s the new Viking mentality. With faster ships and better access to good pillaging grounds these guys can afford to be more selective about their voyages. The world has become a smaller place, my strong friend. It is filled with broad choices and more possibility. It’s not enough anymore to point in a direction, say ‘hoist the sail,’ and row this way. It’s a bold new day. They want in pal.”
Bjorn leaned against the hull of the Loki and looked at his friend with incredulity. “They want in? Where have I been? – What in the name of Odin do I do with all this gabbing and ….?”
Nils shook his head. “Tried to hint it to you, but your way has always been no muss no fuss, grab a leg of mutton and a pint of ale. Yes, the guy with the biggest horns on his helmet, the quickest broadsword, the sharpest axe is still the leader, but he’s got to have a clear plan and the genius to spell it out to the crew without leaving heads on the dock. In short, the Captain holds the ultimate power on the ship and in the hearts of its crew.
A torchlight flamed in Bjorn’s head as a huge gust of wind ripped through the fjord, white capping the waters and foreshadowing the storm to come. “Hmm. So, they want in? I’ve got to enlist them in the mission? How?”
Nils looked his old friend hard in the eye. “Bjorn, what is our destination? Where are we going and why? That’s what the men want to know. Give them a reason and an inspiration to follow. Get ‘em going but include them. Just lay it out and we’ll handle the rest of this downstream.”
Bjorn took a deep breath with a sigh chaser. The horrible truth dawned on him at the last possible moment. “You mean you want me to… have… a…..meeting?”