The Voyage – Part 1
The ocean water splashed violently over the side of the ship, lightning cracking the sky with endless whips of thunder. It was the fourth day of the journey, the last two consisted of a storm only Thor could muster. It was as if Odin had cursed them to perish at sea. Were they making a mistake traveling to conquer this new land? Yrsa thought to herself, but immediately banished it. No, I believe this is my purpose! She encouraged herself silently as she slumped into the soaking wood. Looking up at the sky, full of shimmering stars, she knew Thor was showing his excitement for their journey.
Yrsa silently recollected her mother twisting her hair into intricate braids for her first voyage at sea, those braids were now soaked with salty ocean water.
As she fiddled with one sopping braid her mother’s voice crept into her head. “Don’t be nervous daughter, you are capable and will easily adapt.”
“What if I never come back?” she replied earnestly, hoping for comforting words.
“That is up to the Gods to decide,” her mother replied solemnly.
Snapping back to reality as another wave crashed into the ship, Yrsa knew her mother was right, but wanted some reassurance before she embarked. It was up to her to comfort herself, after all she was named for the strength and protectiveness of a bear. She clutched her relatively small shield to her chest, painted in bright blues and white was her namesake, a fierce grizzly.
“LAND!” One of Yrsa’s brethren shouted, waking her from a small nap.
Soon every shield maiden and man were scrambling up to see. In the distance was a tree line, it seemed so small but quickly became a vast stretch as they crept closer.
“Shield wall!” as soon as the words escaped, everyone lifted their shields in unison to create a dome shape protecting them from various projectiles.
It felt like an eternity to Yrsa, her arm began to cramp from holding steady and silent, until she felt the weight of the ship make contact with earth. With a slight surge forward and back the ship came to a stop, and ever so slowly the shields came down to reveal there was no immediate threat. There was a small stretch of sand leading up to a vast forest that was impossible to see through.
“Stick together in shield formation until we reach the edge of the forest! We don’t yet know what is beyond the trees,” their Hersir called out.
Making a arrowhead shape with their shields up, shoulder to shoulder, they marched with silence into the vast forest. All Yrsa would hear was the crunching of leaves and fallen twigs as the ship behind them was replaced with looming trees. Suddenly the whoosh of an arrow flew past Yrsa’s right ear, barely missing her shield that was protecting her upper body and face. Simultaneously arrows thumped against her comrades shields. A shield maiden to her left grunted in pain as an arrow pierced her thigh, but she barely faltered.
“Low and FORWARD!” shouted her Hersir, and in swift unison they bent their knees and charged forward.
Some were letting out fierce battle cries, while others slammed their shields with axes. Before Yrsa could fully comprehend the situation, they were in the midst of battle. Their enemies had shiny metal armor, and long two handed swords.
“Their armor is weak at the neck!” she heard through the clamor of shields and swords.
One soldier charged at Yrsa, reflecting on her training she blocked the sword with her shield and dipped low, countering with her small axe into her enemies neck. He crumpled with a gurgling scream, and as she ripped her axe free blood spurted from the wound all over Yrsa’s face. Another enemy was running at her full speed, realizing she didn’t have the proper stance to counter attack she stayed low and with her shield slammed the soldier’s knees and using her weight launched him over her. The soldier slammed hard, the metal armor scraping together made an odd clanging sound.
Yrsa glanced quickly at her surroundings, and noticed a small rock formation where she could protect herself from all sides. She made signs to her comrades who could see her to follow, pointing to the formation, and they nodded in understanding. She immediately sprinted towards the formation, but did not notice a small stone upturned in a strange way. Her toes caught the stone and Yrsa was tossed forward over the large rock formation, her head slamming hard. She felt the world spin, colors and shapes warping rapidly until her vision went black.
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Thanks so much for reading!
-Clever & WTF