This is my weekly serial, written raw as a writing exercise.
You can find the first post in the series here.
Last week’s post is here.
She handed me a sword. It was a greatsword, a big Nordan blade of the finest craftsmanship with a pedigree of enchantments second to none. I recognized the blade, even before I drew it.
I was not the only one.
As I pulled the sword from its scabbard the last rays of the sun touched the edge. There could be no doubt then.
It was the sword of Siggurd the Stormbreaker, bane of The Devout, High King of the North. My king, the king I served, who fell at Drajinskyg where I died and rose again before my exile.
Memory washed over me like a hurricane swell.
The Skraeling boiled out of the woods, a foul tide of screeching hate. We faced them, but we were taken aback. The Spearmarch was near settled lands. How could such a horde appear so close to all we held dear? Such was the sense of disbelief that men who would normally throw themselves into danger without hesitation lost heart. When the enemy charged, shaking the ground under their innumerable boots all seemed lost.
Their javelins blackened the sky, and though we were well armoured and shielded, men began to die.
But, Siggurd the Stormbreaker, the High King of all the North, was not one to run from an enemy in his own lands. He moved calmly to the front of the army, pushing his way through his protesting Kingsguard, myself the only member of the Shadow Wolf Clan honoured with a position among them in more than a hundred years. His gaze swept the enemy and then he spat dismissively and lifted his sword, Garmsbita, above his head. Invoking the Gods to witness the battle he rallied. His last line, the last words from my king are still clear in my mind.
“Nordan, do not fear. Stand with me now brothers and let us show Gods and Ancestors that we are brave and true; Come ruin! Come glory! Come courage and red joy!”
As he spoke, he raised Garmsbitta above his head and then, as now, it caught the last rays of the sun. It seemed like the coming of dawn to those of us around him. Our lines reformed and we met them like the heroes of old come to life.
Siggurd was a canny fighter. He knew that such a horde would have more than Skraeling chieftains pushing it. He led the fight to them, and we followed him.
“Looks like the Gods have seen fit to give us a little excitement,” I said to Thyra.
“A keg of Furis’s finest, if you can best me in the tally, little wolf,” she said.
We fought, shoulder to shoulder, a rock in the stream, until misfortune struck
Siggurd faced the wight king and struck him down, separating head from body with a single great blow from Garmsbitta. It was a glorious moment, worthy of song, and we raised our voices, drowning out the Skraeling din. Our enemy began to panic, several other wightkin fell to Nordan blade, and the joy of battle was upon me.
And then came that dark moment, when a shadow fell across the king, and he fell, never to rise again. Victory game way to ruin and though I fought to the bitter end, I was dragged down, and torn apart, tasting blood and despair and then darkness.
Before, no matter how hard I tried to focus on that moment, on that shadow behind the king, on what truly killed Siggurd, I was never able to.
This time I saw. I remembered it all.