Death Dances in the Shadows: Wyndwrayth – Prologue excerpt; The Year 1016

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Last winter, as all the remaining meat began to fall off my ever more visible bones, I thought that I was going to die. One day, whilst out on a futile scavenge for something to eat, I found a dead child, poorly buried in the snow. My hunger had reached the point of eat or die. It compelled me to release the remainder of the dead child from the snow’s frozen embrace and take it home with me. The body seemed to have been in its tomb for only one or maybe two days, as it was more, or less intact. The animals had barely troubled it.

After gutting the little boy and leaving his offal for the beasts, I ate his liver raw, then I hung the rest of the body in the Fogou to season. By this time, I’d been starving for so long, that I could hardly remember my name, Gideon.  That child was a gift that saw me through.  It made me swear to the Gods that I would not spend another winter on those islands.

I don’t recall now how many men I had to kill, to secure my passage off Flotta but I knew I would never be returning. Olaf Gunderson is not a man you would wish to anger, lest you wish to receive a visit from “The Eagle.” I was ever mindful of that possibility when I joined the crew of “The Red Witch” and prepared to depart from The Northern Isles.

As the Sea God’s would have it, The Red Witch was blown off course by endless storms and when the last barrel of fish was emptied, being unable to fish in the high seas, we all began to die of hunger. I was so weak, that I had several of what the ships navigator nee healer, called, ‘Head Fury’s.’  I oft wished for death to take me, anything to release me from my suffering. I longed for the eternal darkness to consume my aching hunger, before madness overwhelmed my being.

So, out of a desperation, I prayed to The Keepers of Ragnarok, beseeching them to deliver my soul to the Gates of Valhalla, so I may be judged by Odin. To be either rewarded, or punished, as he saw fit. I knew this was a risky path to take but surely, my befuddled mind reasoned, it couldn’t be worse than the anguish of wasting away on a salty ocean….

 

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