A/N: This was written in a very short time based on an idea that was vaguely in my mind for quite some time so the language might not be as polished as I'd like ideally. I must add here that I hadn't envisioned it to turn out the way it did, and it was completely inspired by three Wintersun songs, which are : Beautiful death, Sadness and hate and Sons of winter and stars.As usual I apologise for any typos/mistakes which I might have overlooked. Your comments are highly appreciated.
Sons of Stars
Darkness enveloped the world all around, with the stars offering the only source of light. An endless chill surrounded the longboat moving silently through the icy waters.
So cold…was the sudden thought on Bjarte's mind as he shivered involuntarily and wrapped his blanket closer to his body.
He looked around at the silent faces of his companions, each and every one of whom was lost in his thoughts. His own mind had been blank, so numbed that no thoughts arose till the chill jolted his mind out of inaction.
He looked down and saw his sword and shield hanging limply at his sides.
He was a warrior as were all on this ship. He let go of his weapons and stared at his hands and saw the calluses, the hardened scars from many battles past. His mind, still slow brought the sudden memory of the last time he'd held his wife, Alva and his son Birger. It seemed like eons ago when it was mere days since he'd last seen them, held them, laughed with them, kissed them… War, he thought bitterly, separates us from the things which we love the most.
He had no idea when he would see them again.
"How much further?" asked one of his companions.
"Not much, we shall arrive shortly," said a woman in a gentle voice.
Bjarte turned his head towards the bow to see the silhouette of a tall, lithe woman with long golden hair standing with her back towards him and his companions. She seemed to be in armour, battle ready as all of them, sword and shield in hand.
A woman! Leading them to battle? Bjarte thought surprised. Never in all his years had he been lead by a woman.
A sudden sensation of water dripping down his body alerted him. Puzzled he brushed his fingers lightly against the fabric of his trousers where the moisture seemed to have settled. It felt slightly sticky to his touch. He brought his hand closer to get a proper look and was assaulted by a sharp metallic scent. Blood! Blood…oozing in small droplets from a cavernous wound on his chest which he had not noticed before.
Startled he looked at his companions and saw them suffer from a similar fate. Deep gashes, slit throats, smashed heads, various cuts, many wounds of different sizes, different depths… some still bleeding…some already stopped.
He gave a sharp cry as memories surfaced. Battle cries, sharp sounds of swords meeting swords and clashing against shields, the agony in the voices of those who fell, the screams of the dying men… all came back to haunt him. It was a disaster… their enemy had been far too strong, greater in numbers and skill.
He had warned their leader, warned him many times not to engage in battle without proper reinforcement but his counsel had been disregarded. The men hungered for blood.
And they had got it… Bjarte thought angrily, the blood of their own and their fellow warriors.
Anger gave way to misery, when he realized he would never see his wife and son again…never see Birger grow up, never grow old with Alva. He wept silent tears, praying to the Gods to watch over them as he was gone from their lives.
"We have arrived," said the woman.
Every person on the longboat looked beyond her to see a pier lighted with lamps and many such vessels as theirs docked, with people getting down.
The woman turned around to face all the men behind her. Bjarte was struck by her beauty and all at once he realized who she was. All the anger, sadness and pain disappeared and was replaced by a sense of peace. He looked down to see that his body was whole again and saw the same had happened for his companions.
"Where are we my Lady?" He heard himself ask softly, full of wonder.
She laughed merrily, "why at the gates of course."
"Where do they lead?" asked one of his companions.
"To the warriors' heaven," she said her eyes sparkling, a smile playing at her lips, "to Valhalla."