Asbjorn Winter-Blade. Guardian of the Alle’. Father of resilient Bjorn and Kolli. Husband of the spirited Lady Rana. Long may he reign in the Blood God’s halls. Long may he drink alongside his fathers. Long may the Valkyries sing of his saga into the echoes of eternity.
The Ancestor’s Path
Word Count: 1097
For Bjorn knew that the sorcerers and bards of this world had long forgotten his father’s name. As they had done since the beginning of what civilization chose to eke out an existence among the chaos wastes, Asbjorn Winter-Blade’s chronicles were scratched from the etchings of history after his passing. Indeed, Asbjorn Winter-Blade only lived on the eternal great hall and in the stories of those who still carried a spark of love for him.
Asbjorn Winter-Blade’s burial shrine was a small temple, built at the base of one of the highest hills that overlooked the village of Skane. The fourteen and twelve year old boys known respectively as Bjorn and Kolli tread briskly through the rolling hills. Skane stretched out before them as if a roiling wave of urban sprawl across the valley below until it met the ocean.
A small portcullis remained unopened between two massive stone pillars, beyond was the dilapidated ruins of Winter-Blade’s shrine. Bjorn immediately caught the scent of burning herbs and melting wax and knew someone had visited recently.
Kolli watched Bjorn fuss around with the lever that would open the portcullis. “Why does no one remember father, Bjorn?”
“Because,” Bjorn shrugged. “His enemies killed him? They don’t want him to be remembered as the strong man he was. They want to be just like him. Have their own legends for the bards to sing about in the Jarl’s Halls.”
The portcullis rattled as it retracted into the ceiling and left an open path into the shrine. Bjorn gestured for Kolli to follow, but his younger brother stood frozen by the roadside.
“Kolli?” Bjorn asked. “What’s wrong?”
“Do you hear that, Bjorn?” Kolli gasped. “There’s something happening down there in Skane.”
Bjorn stepped away from the lever to join his brother and listened to the moaning northern winds. The villagers of Skane looked like nothing more than ants from this distance. But Bjorn heard their distant cries carried on the winds, studied the way that the ants moved erratically between the streets and began to flee from certain points of the village.
“We’re under attack…” Bjorn muttered, fear etched in his voice. His voice came back, much louder this time. “We’re under attack!”
“Bjorn!” Kolli cried. “We have to find mother!”
Bjorn started to run back down the path they had climbed to reach the shrine. “Come on, we have to find her!”
Skane had descended into a storm of chaos and bloodshed. As Bjorn and Kolli reached the outskirts of the village, they took cover behind Aren’s smithy. Aren himself had fallen victim to a javelin through the chest and fallen into one of his forge fires. Bjorn could only tell by the tattered crimson and black apron that the blacksmith had worn of late. The corpses of the blacksmith’s aids laid about the forges, splintered apart by the axes and blades of strange warriors.
“Who are they?” Kolli whispered. He pointed a trembling finger at the half-naked warriors patrolling around the burning smithy. They were marked distinctly by their lavender and lilac heraldry and flowing raven hair.
“I don’t know, Kolli.” Bjorn surmised. “But we’ll kill them. You see those daggers – in that barrel on the far corner of the smithy? Grab one or two and we’ll attack from both sides.”
Kolli snorted. “You think we can take them?”
“Don’t argue with me.” Bjorn commanded. “I’m your elder brother. Let’s go.”
Without another word, Bjorn rounded around the corner and sprinted for the far side of the smithy. Rotting hay crunched beneath his boot and one of the marauders wheeled around and shouted an urgent warning. The outlandish warrior brandished a hand axe and raised his shield in a sudden charge. Kolli shouted an obscenity and broke off from Bjorn’s trail, flailing his arms and ran in another direction.
The marauder flipped a table with a shoulder charge and almost barreled Kolli over, but the younger man proved more nimble and stayed beyond his reach. Kolli ducked beneath a cleaving sweep of an axe and grabbed the nearest barrel of unquenched swords and threw it between them. The marauder cursed as he tripped over the blades and sliced his feet into bloody ribbons. But somehow, he was already coming back to his feet.
“Stay away from my brother, cur!” Bjorn shouted. The dagger in his hand gleamed in the sunlight as it hurtled forward and cut into the meat of the marauder’s neck. Fresh blood spurted from the wound and onto Bjorn’s clothes, but the light quickly left the man’s eyes. “Come on, Kolli! Here’s a dagger for you, too!”
“Over there! Get those boys!” Another raider commanded.
Four warriors emerged from the nearest hovels, slathered in blood and quickly made to surround the smithy. Bjorn noticed the heads that dangled from their belts, he recognized the people that he had lived beside for over a decade. The marauders laughed amongst one another as they casually closed in for the kill.
Father, arrive from your great hall and avenge the blood of your kin. Father, protect us.
The first marauder charged forward with great speed. His longsword struck like an uncoiled serpent, but Aren’s lessons took over Bjorn’s body on an instinctual level. The longsword cut through his long sleeve. Bjorn fought through the agony of the gash carved from shoulder to elbow and jabbed his dagger through the bottom of the warrior’s chin.
Kolli had thrown his dagger into the eye of another lilac warrior before he could make his assault. Bjorn cried out as his younger brother was ran through from the back by a short sword. Before his younger brother could even stumble, the head of his attacker came away by the chop of a large axe head. The corpse of Kolli’s attacker collapsed to reveal a bloodied and ragged Rana.
The last Maurader weaved between Bjorn and Rana with two blades, but Rana parried one of his strikes and kicked him below the belt. She took his head with another swing.
“What’s wrong with you!?” Rana pleaded. She cradled Kolli’s pale form in her bloody hands. “Why didn’t you stay with your father? He would have protected you!”
Bjorn could say nothing, do nothing but watch. “Then who would have rescued you?”
Last edited by Myen'Tal; 04-08-16 at 09:20 PM.