A/N –I do not own the SVM/TB universes. I just like to play with the Viking! I’m sure you all know this or most of it, but here are a few reminders, just in case.
Faðir/Far – father/Dad; Bróðir – brother; Toor – pronounced Thor; Móðir/Mor – mother/Mom; Systir – sister; Dréag – apparition; Kot – cot
Thank you to kittyinaz for the amazing banner!
The raids were always successful. Together with my faðir and bróðir, Toor, we made them so. They had taught me well to be an adept soldier and sailor. I had never witnessed a loss to our family on the battlefield, nor had I ever been wounded. Although we lost many men to the sea and from wounds unable to be healed, we had been fortunate. To be buried in our tradition is a great honor as you set sail to Valhalla and the Valkyries come to claim you.
I had been raiding since my thirteenth winter and never grew tired of the battles that gave us spoils providing for my village. When I left for my first invasion during what was later known as the year 919 a.d., I was not afraid as my móðir had feared, but excited that I was finally seen as a man in faðir’s eyes. Upon our return, I was given a feast for my first success and regarded as a great warrior afterward.
Many seasons later, I was left behind to assist Mor in caring for our homes and livestock. It was an exceptionally bad winter and few men were left to help the women, children, and animals survive. As one of the strongest, and son of the chieftain, it was left to me to defend the village.
That raid was the final trip for my bróðir. The enemy clan had taken his body as a prize to display as a warning to others. He had been next in line to become the chieftain of our village. Far returned alone and my family grieved over Toor’s death and over our loss that we could not send him to Valhalla as our tradition dictated. Far said he was growing too old to continue the raids, but I believed it was due to our great loss that he chose to remain at our village with Mor. I carried great guilt as I knew that had I been there, I could have saved him, but Mor told me it was likely that I, too, would have been killed.
It was through my guilt and sense of duty that I married my bróðir’s wife, Aude, who bore my children as she had carried three of Toor’s. I refused to miss another raid and became even fiercer in my warfare. She died giving birth to our third child while I was away, taking the child with her in death. Aude had been a strong woman and good companion, but I did not love her as my parents loved each other. Still, I grieved my loss. I left my children in the care of her family. It was a good decision.
The final night of my parent’s lives and that of my new infant sibling, I was outside with a handmaiden when I heard the screams of Mor and the sound of Far’s sword being unsheathed. Drawing my sword, I entered the longhouse and came upon my móðir and systir covered in blood, dead. I was too late. My faðir was lying on the floor, resisting death and swore me to an oath that I would exact vengeance on those who had now made me chieftain. He then died in my arms. I turned to the door to face my enemy, and then it was that I first laid eyes upon a lone figure in a dark, covered cloak, calling to the wolves that had slain my family, my faðir’s crown in his thieving hands.
I returned to the sea once more in an unrelenting fury. Never again would I suffer such loss! Never again would I be so vulnerable and careless! I would be vigilant and ruthless to protect what was MINE!
It was during one of these journeys that I first lay my eyes on her. We were traveling in one of our largest ships capable of holding vast amounts of cargo with space for the men below when it happened. It was my twentieth winter. All was quiet, the moon was high, and I stood alone upon the deck. Looking out at the sea and planning our next venture, I believed I heard a woman’s voice whispering my name. “Eiríkr,” she sang on the wind. “Eiríkr, see me. Look for me, Eiríkr.” My eyes searched the vast, darkened water without a trace from which direction the voice came. At last, to my disbelief, I set my eyes on a woman standing on the water. She was a far distance away, but somehow I could still distinguish the outline of her body. As if sensing I had discovered her, she drew closer though I had not seen her move. She was holding a lantern illuminating long chestnut hair and the white gown in which she was clothed. Even though I had yet to see her face, I realized she was watching me. She was both youthful and angelic. I closed my eyes and shook my head as if to dispel the vision. It could not be possible this vision was genuine. Months away at sea could be brutal to one’s body and psyche. I more than most knew this to be fact. I witnessed many a man going mad in the course of our prolonged voyages at sea. My stubborn disposition never believed I would fall prey to the folly that captured the weak.
“Open your eyes, Viking. Do not doubt what appears before you.”
I instead took a step back, turning away. I refused to look once more at this insanity that was attempting to take hold of my mind. A massive wave crashed overboard and I was knocked to the deck where I struck my head rendering me unconscious. I awoke some hours later in the darkness still, making an effort stood on shaky legs, and walked to the board in order to steady myself. I looked out over the water and found nothing.
I said nothing to my shipmates of what I had observed that night. I did not accept it as true myself.
Another season and several raids later found me on the deck again. I had long ago pushed the memory from my mind. When all was quiet on the ship, and the moon was high, I set eyes on her again. She appeared much closer than the time before, and again I felt as her eyes observed me. She spoke no words this time, but seemed content only to hover alongside the ship as we traveled. I kept an eye on her for hours until the noise of a sail shifting took my attention. When I turned back, she was gone. I stood on the deck staring out at the water until the sun appeared on the horizon.
Again, I would not approach the subject with my crew. Clearly I was hallucinating and did not want to risk anyone knowing for fear I would be confined below as others had been in the past when they began to have visions of things that were real only to them.
Yet another season passed before I felt as though something compelled me to stand upon the deck once again. She appeared, as I somehow knew she would. She floated alongside the ship, merely watching.
“Do you believe now, Eiríkr?” her whisper sang to me.
“Am I mad?”
“No. You are finally seeing.”
“I see you, though I know you are not real. How is it that you compel me to be here?”
“I have not compelled you.”
“I am only drawn to this place when you are here.”
“I am always here, just as always I am watching. You choose not to see, yet your mind has decided it can no longer wait to know.”
“What is it that I am to know, dréag? My mind has not decided anything, other than you are haunting me!”
“I am no phantom. This you know.”
“I know nothing of you, Siren!”
“Calm yourself, young one. You must believe to receive my gift.”
“I want no gift of yours. I will not entertain your presence any longer!”
“Then you are not ready. I will return only once more. Think on it, childe, you must believe to know. When the moon is high tomorrow night, seek me out…”
Out of the blue, she was gone.
My mind struggled throughout the remainder of the night. I stared out at the dark, cold water. I paced along the deck as I willed her to return. I wanted to know of this gift; I wanted to understand just what was happening. Was this magic? Who was this woman? Was she a woman? Was I cursed? Could she have been a hex sent by my enemy to distract me? Was this real? Was she real? Why would she not show her face? What was it she wanted with me? Was her motive to draw me to the water and drown me? How many had she lured this way? I had so many questions that had gone unanswered, and still so many questions, in my haste, that I had not ever asked.
I lay on my kot of furs and prayed to all the deities to protect me from her bewitching when exhaustion finally called me to sleep. I slept the day away without any dreams. My men thought I had taken ill and left me to rest.
I awoke when the moon was high and I knew she would be waiting. What could this spirit do? She had already taken my sanity. I was afraid, I had never been afraid. I would fight a hundred men; yet here I was now, vexed by a woman if that was, in fact, what she truly was; what the nature of her true being revealed. I refused to allow trepidation of this creature!
I was feared, not fearful!
I donned my sword and climbed from my resting place. I squared my shoulders and rose to my full height. I was tall, very tall. This torment by her would end tonight, and she would see the man, the leader, the Viking warrior I was. It would be she cowering in fear at my strength, my size, finding in me her most formidable opponent!
When I reached the deck, she was there and gazing out upon the sea. Her lantern was gone. Moonlight illuminated her as her gown and hair waved in the breeze. She was smaller and frailer than I had expected.
“Do you believe now, Eiríkr?” she asked just as she had the previous night.
“Yes. I believe you are real though I do not know how you came to be.”
“All that matters is I am here. Are you ready to know?”
“Yes. I am not afraid,” I stood to my full 6’4” frame.
“Yes, you are.”
I trembled at her words though I showed no sign of weakness. This was not meant to happen. She was trying to take control. That would not pass; I could not allow it. She should be afraid and trembling! I was a warrior! Who was she to speak to me in this way? She should be the one to know who was at the helm.
“Tell me what you want of me so we can be done with this!” I bellowed.
“Beware your tongue, childe,” she warned in a voice filled with authority.
“I am no childe! I have twenty winters! I am the son of a chieftain! You will give me deference!”
She laughed and her laughter was reminiscent of the sound like a trickling brook. It served only to anger me further.
“I am not as I appear. You will see.”
“Do not speak to me in riddles.”
“You will hear me, you will see, and you will know,” she sang.
“I will hear the truth!” I yelled.
She turned and grabbed my wrist. Her skin was pale, her hand as cold as ice, and her voice was just as cold. Viciously, she scolded me.
“YOU WILL HEAR ME, VIKING, AND YOU WILL LISTEN WELL!!”
I cowered at that and felt the fear creep up my spine.
“I am sorry,” I said quietly. I was whimpering, but I did not care.
“Are you prepared to receive my gift?”
“I fear it, but I am ready.”
“It is good, finally, to admit your fear. Your barriers have broken. You are ready.”
She continued to hold my wrist, and then took the other, her grip tightening. As I stared at her afraid to look away, her hair began to change color until it was gray and white. She lifted her face to mine for the first time. Her eyes were covered in a milky glaze and her face grew deep lines as I watched. She was old, so very old. She had aged 90 winters before my eyes. The sight of her brought me to my knees.
She knelt down to look at me with her white, filmy, frightening, eyes. As if reading my mind, she said,
“I am more than 90 winters, childe. Now you can see. Now you are ready to receive my gift. It does not come without a price.”
I was both mesmerized and horrified by what I had just witnessed.
“What is the cost?” I whispered.
“You will meet death and life this day. Choose wisely.”
“You speak more riddles. Gods, I beg you, speak plainly!”
In an instant, faster than I could track, she stood and released my wrists. Her tiny frame towered over mine. She put a hand to each side of my head. Leaning down an inch from my face, her eyes bore into mine. Her words were spoken low, slowly, and, most of all, ferociously.
“I am the Ancient Pythoness! I give you a gift of your fate and you dare defy me! It is to me whom YOU will give the highest respect, revere; showing deference over any being!”
I bowed my head, nodded, and spoke no more.
“No Valkyries will come. There is no Valhalla, not for you for you will not be welcome. You will be forgotten as others before and after.”
She stepped back to look at me once more.
I could not believe what I was hearing. Her riddles made no sense. I had fought valiantly. I had served, protected my village along with my people. I had led them in countless battles. I had led them in all things. I was respected. Surely, I would be welcomed into Valhalla. I was a warrior, a Viking. I would be with my family again, and I would NOT be forgotten. She did not know the future; she was the mad one!
“I do and I am not. Neither are you, young Eiríkr. There are many futures to be seen. You must choose.”
I dared not speak again for I had no words to answer. I simply looked at her. She gazed at me in kindness then, smiling, and spoke to me as if I understood, yet she was not done.
“When no less than one thousand winters have passed, you will find your soul again. You will know I speak true.”
In a blink, she was gone. I heard her voice in the wind one last time.
“Farewell, Viking. We will meet again, in my time and in yours. You will pay your boon to me.”
I would prove her wrong.
The raid turned to battle before we reached the village. The clan we fought had known of Toor’s death those years ago, and knew I had taken the place of my faðir. They had chosen to believe I was weak and would fall as my bróðir had. They were wrong. I would not be bested, not by them, or by anyone. The she-devil had lied. No one could match me. We lost many men, but I fought fiercely and well. The enemy had been strong, yet in the end, they were defeated. We overtook their forces and gained our victory.
During our celebration that night, I collapsed to the ground. My men rushed to my aid and found I had been pricked by a sword. It was a minor injury, at best. I had not felt it as I ran my enemy through in my thirst for victory. He had sliced my arm as he fell. I knew in that moment his weapon was tainted. This was the coward’s way. In that night, many men succumbed to the poison. Only two remained with me. I grew paler and fought death as it tried to take me. I begged them to take their leave and return home to tell the tale. They would not leave my side. They carried me from the battlefield and helped me rest on a bed of straw. They said they would stay until I passed into Valhalla. I wondered if I would. She had said I would meet death this day and she had been correct. It was my last thought as I fell unconscious.
When I awoke, I turned my head and saw them by the fire. My men were dead, their lifeless bodies in pieces. It was then I heard the beast growling in the dark. In an instant, Death was on me. It came as a boy no more than sixteen winters old, and he had slain my remaining friends. His mouth was covered in their blood. I looked to him with blurred vision, and told him I was ready for him to take me to Valhalla.
He laughed heartily and stared into my eyes.
“I could take you. You would go to your Valhalla. I do not believe in such a place, but I watched you fight in the end. You are strong and worthy.”
“I do not understand. If I am worthy, why do you hesitate?”
“You must choose.”
“What choices do I have?”
“Choose death in this life or life in your death.”
By the Gods, even on my makeshift deathbed, I was spoken to in riddles! I did not comprehend his meaning, but I made my choice.
“Life,” I whispered.
“It does not come without a price.”
“What will be my debt?”
“You will walk the night with me. I am Godric the Gaul. You will live in darkness, but you WILL live. This will fulfill your boon to me.”
“I care not how it may pass. I choose life.”
The boy bent to me and opened his mouth like a snake ready to strike. He pierced my skin, and sucked out my soul with his massive teeth.
That is the last I can remember of my human life. I woke three days later to begin a new journey. I could not return to my village and, in time, I knew I would be forgotten.
I am Eiríkr the Norseman. In this new life, I will find the Ancient Pythoness. I will avenge my faðir, and in not less than a thousand winters, I will find my soul again.