Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sign (Viking invaders, no.1)


She hears his laughter as he kicks down the front door of the house she's grown to hate, a strangely musical sing song heard clearly over the din of the invasion. The miserable, cold little merchant who had beaten her back sore just an hour before shoves her off her feet with considerable effort, into the pathway of the skulking marauder's wolf fur covered boots. She notices the Viking's eyes first, dancing with musical intensity; then the joy leaves them, when her husband hisses, "take the little witch! Have your way with her...but leave me be!"

She'd expected no great defense on their behalf, but knowing she'd given herself to a coward so base, these many months, makes her feel as low as any slave. Her hands tremble; fortunate, indeed, to be able to squeeze them shut after he'd gripped them in panic and anger, upon the sighting of the longship.

The great behemoth stoops, unthreatened by her husband, his long dark braids sweeping down from his face, drawn to her scuffed cheek. For one wielding such a man-cleaving axe, his calloused hands yield a gentleness of surprising portions, as he touches her. She looks him straight in the eye. "You've no fear," he said, "to meet your maker, do you?" She shakes her head, no. He turns to a piece of pottery she hand crafted, a blue vessel, painted with the story of her trek to this strange place at the side of her cruel husband. As with her many heirlooms, he hated the tedious amount of detail she painted into everything, the way each face bore some expression, the way every tree bore leaves, the way the river seemed to bear the labors of days. Its glaze lights before the burning fire that begins to fall from the timbers.

"You made this?" asks the Viking, turning the vase over in his hands.
She nods. He reaches his hand into a sack of gold brought home from the most recent of her husband's drunken expeditions. "I'll wager I've never seen such craftsmanship in all my travels," says the brute admiringly.

At the sight of the gold, her husband's eyes leap with madness; he takes a broken chair leg and tries to blindside the invader. The Viking notes the wife's eyes, then turns with a dagger and spears the screaming merchant. "For what you've done to this raven haired creature," says the warrior, hefting him overhead, "may Hela take you without mercy!" He slams the man into the table, where so many meals she had fixed began and ended with his scorn over each perceived imperfection. The table shatters from the force.

As the smoke begins to strangle the air, the Viking offers his hand to her. "Can you walk?" he asks. She tries to stand on her sore ankle. "I have a poltice, in the hands of our healer," he says. "If you will let me call you 'Sign', I will take you as mine. No other name you have known shall matter, if you agree to walk my way. I am a trickster as well as a shrewd warrior; these things will not spare me death in battle some day. But before I see Valhalla, I should hope to return to my land, and live with the finer things in my life, however long it may last. Do you want any of these things?" he says, gesturing to the room.

"Let ...let me take a few clothes," she says, taking the sack offered to her. Soon, the two have cleared the kicked-in doorway and found their way out into the early, frosty morning.

"Come with me, " he says, as they walk a path up from the burning remains of the town where she'd spent so many dread days. "You are not for my fellows to have as they please. Come, lead me down this pathway to the clover..."

Some distance now from the chaos, he takes her behind a copse of trees, and rips open her skirt. For all his ardor, he lays her gently down to avoid hurting her. He kisses her neck, and she feels a (feeling) such as she had never known.

As the smoke fills the sky in the distance, she feels his hands massage her through her top, and hears his labored breathing. She feels his touch at the lips <>...she moans, and runs her hand down his now-exposed belly, winter flesh carved with muscles from the labors of his farm. He kisses her with his tongue,< > while her knees caress his bearskin shirt, laid on the ground above the morning dew.

<> lay low the gates of a wicked city. He then grabs her waist, <> stopping only to glance his hand over her buttocks softly, before slapping them. As she coos from the stinging, she hears the thrush stir in the bush. She relaxes <>, his finger playing delicately <> on her bare back. The first rays of the dawn begin to banish the haze of morning.

She rises, embracing him, with a strength she has never in her adult life known.

"Come then," he says. "Let us start down the path of what remains of life together. Make for me your fine things, and I shall bear you my sweat, as a builder of wheels. Tell my stories, tell of my family's courage with the magic of your fingers, share my mead, taste from my horn and see it is good...and my shield will hang forever more above your sleeping head."

With a tear, the newly-christened Sign walks towards the long ship, her companion again laughing, squeezing her shoulders with the length of his bear-like arm. The drums of victory resound; they leave that trail behind for the beckoning cold of the Norse seas.

*Sign was the name of Loki's compassionate wife, in Nordic myth.---C Lue

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