Hello, all! Thank you very much for clicking on this story! This is story is Viking-ish. It might have Vikings, though it might not – I am not completely sure yet. Anywho, I am posting this chapter as a trial to see if you guys like it or not. I only have the first two chapters completed, so I probably won't be updating it that quickly.
The names I use are Icelandic (instead of Scandinavian like most Viking-ish stories). They pretty much are just how they look (ie Valdís is Val-dis). You will notice that the last names are different for people in the same family. Reason: In Iceland, they don't use family names. Instead your surname is based on your father and your sex. For example: Stefán's last name is Oddason (meaning Oddi's son). His wife Lára's last name is Finnsdóttir (meaning Finnus' daughter). The names do not change when you get married; you keep the name that you always had. Once you get the hang of it, it is pretty simple.
I would like to thank Farah, for helping me with this story and being an absolutely wonderful beta!
The village appeared to me just as I came over the crest of the hill. My vision was blurred, but I could make out people milling around, although it seemed that most of them were doubles. Smoke came out of the houses, blending with the overcast sky, but it was a welcoming sign. I stumbled down the hill, the heavy sword at my hip hit against my leg making me cry out as pain shot through my left leg and spread through my body with every step.
The people closest to the hill stopped as I came into the village. Some rushed forward, but I was too weak to deny them. They spoke in hushed voices, but my blood was pumping in my ears too loudly to make out their words. I closed my eyes, as they picked me up and carried me away, not the least bit concerned about where they were taking me. Anything was better than what I had gone through and that included death.
I drifted in and out of consciousness as they helped me. Suddenly we were out of the cold and warmth surrounded me, making me feel although I stepped into a fire. Was this the underworld they spoke of? At that moment I did not care. If I were to take my last breath now at least I would be warm.
When I regained my senses, I was still wrapped in warmth. My legs ached from walking, almost to the point of numbness, but from what I could tell I still possessed all my limbs. I opened my eyes and let out a throaty groan as the light from the fire hit my eyes.
A woman stood at the fire, looking deep into the flames as though she was searching for an answer. I shifted as much as the tightly wound blankets and my left leg would allow me, causing her eyes to move from the fire and onto me. She did not come forward as I had expected her to, but instead opened the door and told someone that I was awake.
Although I wondered who the woman had informed of my waking, I was frightened. I did not know who these people were or if they had any part to play in the falling of my village. I only had to wait a short moment for my fear to grow because the man who had stepped into the room was unlike any man I had ever laid eyes on.
He had to stoop to enter through the door, so when he stood full height, my heart quivered. I had never believed the tales the elders spun about the giants who live to the north of our island, but the sight of this man changed every doubt I ever held. As he stepped into the light cast by the fire, my heart calmed a mite. His hair was bleached, almost white, although he could not have seen any more than thirty-five winters. A short beard covered his jaw, the same colour as his hair.
When the man spoke, I truly knew I had nothing to fear in his hands. "You are finally awake I see. How are you faring?" His voice was booming, but it seemed soft as though he often spoke to children.
I nodded my head slowly to show him that my health had indeed improved. I did not trust myself to speak as my tongue felt heavy and thick.
The woman came back to the fire, but the man did not pay her any mind. "Where did you come from?"
I opened my mouth to answer his question, but no words came out. The woman passed me a drinking horn filled with ale and I drank it down quickly. I coughed and sputtered as the drink stung my sore throat. "I am from the west," I told the man in a voice that was not my own. My throat was still parched but I did not dare ask for another drink.
The man moved a chair next to the bed and sat down. His thick brows were furrowed as he studied me. "Why are you here? What happened to you?" He reached out and gently touched the cut on my brow, causing me to flinch.
"My village was attacked by men." My voice was low as I explained. "My bróðir and I managed to escape them. Magnús – oh!" I was shocked as an unexpected sob tore from my throat. My emotions raged like the sea during a storm.
The man stood and touched the woman's arm to get her attention. They both left me alone with the fresh memories that tormented my mind. It seemed although it was happening over again. Screams filled my head making it impossible to shake the thoughts. I could feel the flames that consumed the buildings. People pushed past me as they tried to escape the men who had come ashore. The men seemed inhuman as they cut through the villagers with mighty swords and axes.
Men from my village stood guard against the monsters, trying hard to protect their wives and children. The monsters grabbed at the youths, hoping for them to make adequate thralls. A hand touched my shoulder causing me to scream and pray that it was not one of the men.
"Systir, we must go." Magnús took hold of my arm and dragged me through the retreating crowd, his long sword clenched tightly in his other hand. Away from the village we went, screams of terror following us through the trees.
For days we fled, not wanting to see the result of what had happened to our childhood home. Magnús had a satchel of food, but soon that ran low. The cold wind bit through our clothing and water seeped into our boots. At night we would build a fire and huddle close, afraid of losing any heat.
We both grew more tired with each passing day. Each night Magnús would give up more and more food so I could stay satisfied. I fought him on the matter, but he only shook his head.
Fear filled me the morning that I woke and Magnús did not. His sword was next to me as if it were an offering. I sat next to his body, holding his cold hand tightly as if willing life back into him. No tears fell as I knew what I must do. I took my comb from my pouch and ran it through his hair then scrubbed the dirt from his face. I had to make sure he would look his best when he met the Gods. Without being able to dig a grave in the frozen ground, I covered his body with rocks and bark off the trees.
The door opened and heavy footfalls sounded through the room. A large hand touched my shoulder, stirring me from my terrible sleep. The man from before stood next to me, concern traced across his face. He pulled the blankets away from my overheated body and slid his arms around me, mindful of my thigh. He carried me to the table in the middle of the long room and sat me down on a chair.
The woman entered with a large pot in her arms. She sat it on the table before placing a bowl in front of me. It was only porridge, though at that moment someone could have placed mud in front of me and it would have tasted delicious.
The man and woman both sat down just as the door opened and four children walked in. They all took their seats, giving me strange and astonished looks. With a look from their father, they did not say a word.
"Tell us, girl, what is your name?" the man asked after the children started to eat their meal.
My throat was still dry, but I managed my name. "Valdís Tómasdóttir."
"I am Stefán Oddason. I am the chieftain of this village. This is my wife Lára Finnsdóttir and our children."
With the woman sitting without any objects between us, I could tell she was with child. The rest of the woman's body was bony, making her rounded stomach look out of place.
"Do you have an idea of what you are to do?" Lára asked me as she wiped her youngest child's face.
"When my thigh is healed, I shall…" What was I going to do? Magnús had only wanted us to be safe; he had not told me what we were to do.
The husband and wife exchanged looks, silent words floating between them. "You are old enough to be wedded," Stefán pointed out, rubbing his chin in thought.
"I have seen my nineteenth winter," I informed him.
"Yet you are not."
It was a fact I was ashamed of. Many of my childhood friends were already the mothers of two or more children. None of them ever had to worry that they would not find a husband because of a curse on their family.
"No. I was betrothed…" Pétur had been slain while defending the village. I had heard him yell my name and turn towards him as one of the monsters swung his sword towards Pétur's body. Our eyes locked or a moment, but I turned away. I ran and left him to be murdered.
The man must have seen the distress on my face for he sent the children from the house. "She will need a home," Stefán directed to his wife.
"She will need a husband." Lára gave her husband a stern look to which he only smiled.
"And she shall have one." Stefán stood and left the house, leaving his wife to shake her head.
"Are you able to get back to the bed?" she asked me as she stood and cleared the bowls from the table.
I nodded and hauled myself to my feet, wincing as I put weight on my wounded leg. I hobbled to the bed and sighed as I lay back down. The bandages were wrapped from my knee to a few inches from my groin. It was a large slice, though I could not remember how I had gotten such an injury. With rest it would be well enough by tomorrow.
I had slept for such a long duration before our night-meal that I did not believe I would ever fall asleep again. I lay with my eyes shut, listening to the clattering of objects as Lára finished her chores. It reminded me of home and listening to Mother prepare for the following day. Soon my mind drifted and I was lost in another deep sleep.
The house was quiet the next time I awoke. I lay still for a moment, straining to hear some sound, but nothing came. I pushed myself up, relieved that my wounded leg only gave a slight throb. Next to the bed was a pile of clothing, ready for me to wear. Gently swinging my legs out of the bed, I grabbed the under tunic and rid myself of my soiled one. Quickly I pulled on the other garments.
I stood, letting out a low groan as my joints popped and muscles stretched. The fire burned bright, casting shadows across the long room. I wondered if I should wait for Stefán or his wife or venture out of doors. I went to the door and opened it, relishing in the cold wind that met me.
Fresh snow covered the ground, almost hiding the footsteps that led from the house. I trudged into the snow, looking for any sign of the tall blonde man who had taken me in. People stared as I limped by, but I kept my eyes ahead of me. I heard whispers, but I ignored what the people said.
I turned the corner of a house and found Stefán speaking to another man. Something about the man struck me as familiar, though I was positive I had never met him before. He was handsome, a man Mother would have described as a maiden's dream. He was tall and muscular, though not so much as Stefán.
He paid no attention to me as he spoke. I watched him talk, taking note of how his lips moved to pronounce words just so. His large hands made gestures, making them seem almost graceful.
Stefán turned his gaze to me and raised his hand in a silent greeting. This caused the other man to also turn his attention towards me. His green gaze ran up and down my body landing on my face as if searching for something.
I tried to give him a smile, but it came across as a grimace. The man did not smile back. He turned his attention back to Stefán, starting his conversation with a shake of his head. I could read the word no coming from his lips.
Stefán furrowed his brows and his jaw clenched under his short beard. His eyes looked steely as he showed disapproval in the man's answer. Stefán's eyes flicked to me for a split second before looking back to the other man. He spoke quickly and in a hushed tone before turning away from the man and walking towards me.
Stefán took hold of my arm and gently led me towards the man. "Valdís Tómasdóttir, this is Jón Pálsson – your betrothed."
You will notice that some of the words in this story are different. That is because they are Old Norse words. You can pretty much tell what they mean, but just in case, here is a guide:
Móðir = Mother
Faðir = Father
Bróðir = Brother
Systir = Sister
Please be a dear and tell me what you think!