Bloodice

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    • It was morning. A golden, October morning. The air was crisp, birdsong carried through the wind. A great fog covered the small fishing village of Pommeport sat upon the edge of the coastline, between a swaying pine forest and a cold, dark sea. Fort sat upon a dock, watching the rolling waters. The young man wanted to get a breath of air before his father put him to work at the lumber camp ten minutes from the town. The lad had not even had breakfast yet. He longed for warm eggs and butter on bread.

      A horn sang from the horizon, piercing the fog and Fort's heart. It was too early for traders. A storm blowing an Imperial navy vessel off course, perhaps. He slowly stood, the cold winds finally causing him to shiver. No matter, he would be sweating after starting work. A lone longship emerged, slowly moving towards the dock. The many warriors aboard, dressed in furs, tunics and shirts of mail tossed ropes over and pulled the longship into port. The warriors gathered up shields and weapons and stood. They stared at Fort. He stared back. A large man in furs, wearing no armor but for a horned helmet stood above the rest, he grabbed the mast. "Take him," he said in a kind voice. "Then we pillage the rest, take the jewels and goods, and leave. Try not to leave a mess. Take him, none others. I want him unharmed, damn you all." He hefted a long sword, longer than a guard's, that was for sure. Fort took a step back but the warriors had already tossed him into the boat. The rest moved towards the town.
    • Warriors rushed back by near-afternoon beneath the morning sun. The town was smoking, yet hardly any building had been set aflame. Townspeople were screaming and rushing for bows still. The barbarians bounded into the longship, carrying chests, jewelry and other goods. One lugged half a horse, Fort did not know where the other half went. "Cast!" their chieftain shouted.

      The ship was pressing through the waters just as a group of archers appeared on the docks. The arrows peppered them, yet with a wall of shields they held back the storm of steel. Fort was placed among a cluster of bags and barrels. "Sugulag be praised!" a sailor shouted as the arrows started snapping against the tides and the ship had outrun range of the bow. A warrior, covered in fresh cuts and bruises walked up to the chieftain. "Viggo, my friend. Forgive me, I did not think it could be done."
      "Slaughter is not always needed, mate. Damn, all it takes it a shield-push rather than a shield-bash." A large warrior sporting a horned helm stood. Unlike the rest he was covered in blood that had sprayed upon his mail. Fort realized it was the man who carried the half-horse.
      "So you do admit to being a coward?" the man asked as they were swallowed by fog.
      "No, I admit to being a thinker. This hoard shall get our tribe through the winter, at least. By which time the southerners shall have regained wealth, and we can raid once more."
      "But I want to fight!" the man shouted, louder now. Fort reckoned the village could hear him.
      "I can see that," the chieftain looked his gore-strewn body up and down. He turned to Fort. "I captured you," he began, looking at Fort with cold, blue eyes. "Because I need your knowledge. You know these lands better. We are to be dropping the booty off at our village in Askland, then we will be traveling back. We will be raiding." he sighed.

      The ship was silent, the only sounds to be heard were creaking wood, salty air and the waves.
      "And this time," he said to them, to the bloody one in particular, "anything goes. The Gods require their thirst quenched." A cheer went up. "We have not much time before winter comes," he tore off his wolf-hide cloak and tossed it at Fort. "We have much work to do before then, much food to gather, much booty to take. Sunwulf!"
      "Aye chieftain??"
      "As soon as we land at the fjord I want you to go hunting. Gather enough food for another journey like this, preferably round-trip. That is why I had brought you. And return as soon as possible. If you don't, you will die."
      "Aye chieftain!"

      Viggo Bloodice turned and stared into the sea ahead of them. Fort just curled up, attempted to ignore the beasts on the deck and tried his best to sleep.