Aight peeps! I got something a little different this time, but I’m hoping you like it ! It’s a short story I had to write (COUGH COUGH BRIBED COUUGH) for school (English specifically) and I just decided that maybe you guys would like it so… Bon Apetit!
Bjorn watched as his breath came out in clouds as he slowly peered out across the ship’s deck. His wide blue eyes took in every detail surrounding him: a heaving pitching ship, surrounded by other, smaller ships, slowly sailing across the wide-open ocean.. at least, Bjorn was pretty sure there were other ships.
A huge fog had rolled across the water, making it impossible to see much farther than several feet. Bjorn squinted and he was almost sure he saw a mast, only for it to be an albatross, soaring over the water next to the ship. Njørnäskåthr, a big, beautiful Viking warship, the leading ship of the fleet. Suddenly, he heard the stomp stomp stomp-ing of boots on wet deck planks, and he hurried to heave himself back into his hiding spot, one of the supply barrels. His hands reached over for the barrel’s cover just as whoever it was making the noises rounded the corner, and for several seconds there was a scary silence. Then, there was a sudden grunt of huh? and Bjorn wondered if he had been found.
Oh, please great Woden, he prayed, please do not let me get found. Suddenly, the urge to sneeze came up, a great urge, and it felt like a feather was tickling his nose. Bjorn’s breathing suddenly started to come up in great, heaving gasps, which a meager attempt was made to muffle, until suddenly it was all let out, and a huge sneeze racked his body.
Silence… and then the barrel’s cover was suddenly ripped off, the darkness disappearing, and a hand was shoved in, grabbed him, and heaving him out. The hand lifted him the ease of someone who had done this before, and despite the racket of kicking and screaming Bjorn made to get free, he was slowly spun around wielder of said hand could see his face. Bjorn scowled as he was turned around, half expecting to get thrown overboard, but instead, the man who was holding him started laughing. Great guffaws of laughter echoed in Bjorn’s face until he was staring at the man in confusion.
“Why are you laughing?” Bjorn was still trying to glare at the man, despite being held by his bearskin cloak, but he was mostly losing as he was more confused than intimidated now.
The man slowly came in control of his laughter. “You are a child, here on this ship, hiding. How long did you really think you could hide?” he raised an eyebrow.
“Well..” Bjorn paused. He honestly hadn’t really thought about it that far, he had just seen that a ship was leaving port and decided that it would be fun to try and stowaway on it. he hadn’t really thought much farther than, when are we going to stop?, and even then, that was a recent development.
The man took Bjorn’s pause as cowardice and said, “come with me” and then Bjorn was being hustled over the deck toward the captain’s quarters, a large room where charts were consorted, and plans were made. As they stepped in the room, a large argument was obviously happening. Several faces, their anger lit up by the candles placed strategically around the room, roared their opinions at each other, whilst meanwhile in the very middle of the room, where a large table sat, the actual planning was going on, carried by a small handful of men mature enough not to get caught up in the argument. As the man who had found Bjorn herded him through the mob of people arguing, he heard various words from either side:
“—should have turned back, and you know it!”
“No! we need to keep going towards—”
“Why are we arguing? It’s obvious who is right—”
“Shut your face, Mileith!”
“Oh YEAH Bernstadt? Why don’t YOU SHUT YOUR—”
It took Bjorn a second to detangle himself from the conversation. They had reached the planning table now with the more civilized group of people, and Bjorn could see the man who found him whispering in what seemed to be the leader’s ear.
Slowly, Leader stood up, his mane of bright red hair bobbing as he moved. He stared down at Bjorn, and then said, “Thank you, Galen, but I believe we can handle it from here.”
The man who had found Bjorn, Galen, bobbed his head and then moved away into the crowd. Then Leader, and the other man next to him, glared down at Bjorn.
“Do you know who I am?” leader asked. Bjorn shook his head, trying not to tremble in fear. Leader leaned back and said, “I am the great Leif Eriksson, and youare a stowaway aboard my ship.” Leif seemed extremely angry about this predicament.
“Throw him to the ocean.” A deep voice rumbled. Bjorn noticed for the first time the huge, colossal man behind Leif, and he was huge. Taller than any man Bjorn had ever seen before, tall as a bear. His hair was jet black and flowed behind him in a way that reminded Bjorn of a wolf. His blue-eyed gaze too, was like a wolf’s: a predator looking at prey. And he was looking at Bjorn.
“No, no, we are not savages, Dagaz. The boy will help us.” Leif glared down at Bjorn. “Right?” Bjorn was quick to nod.
“Good. Galen! Show this boy to the galley and be sure Sorka knows what’s happening.” Leif gave a brief nod and then turned back to the table. Bjorn watched out of the corner of his eye as the planning committee centered around the table disappeared, only to be replaced by the ruckus of the arguing Viking raiders as Galen dragged Bjorn away.
They continued down the decks, inside into the belly of the ship, until they came upon a large room full of various entities that lead Bjorn to believe that this was the kitchen, or “Galley” as Leif Eriksson had said. Spices hung from the ceiling, and in a separate corner live chickens gave contented clucks as they sat in their tiny little cages. In another corner, a woman stood scrubbing the various eating dishes with a scrub brush.
It took several seconds for Bjorn to realize that there was a real-life girl aboard a tiny boat full of male Vikings. This idea flabbergasted him, because so far, he had yet to see any female creatures on the voyaging ship, just men. Even worse was the idea that the leader was tolerating a woman being aboard a warship, of all things! For Woden’s sake, women were supposed to be stranded on an island by an evil mage or waiting in a tower to be saved by some gallant young man… not at all should a woman be aboard a ship preparing to raid someplace!
“Oh really. I didn’t realize you were the expert on such things.” Bjorn was ripped out of his fantasies about courageous Vikings saving the day when the woman turned and put her hands on her hips and glared at him.
“Oh! I- uh- apologies!” Did I say something out loud? Bjorn wondered.
The sounds of a dying seal arose behind him, and Bjorn twisted around to see Galen trying to hold in his laughter (it was a losing battle). “Oh! Oh! Aughahaha.” His laughter echoed around the room, until it had run out, to which he said, “Ah, Sorka, this is… in don’t know his name, but anyways he’s yours now to help out in the galley, have fun!” Galen made to get out of the galley very quickly, which didn’t so much frighten anyone, and yet now, Bjorn was stuck in a room with a person he had both simultaneously managed to offend and become insubordinate too.
This was not going to end well.
Half an hour later, Bjorn barely seemed to have made a dent in the mountainous pile of dirty dishes Sorka had made him clean, despite his most heroic efforts. It certainly didn’t help that Sorka, who was roughly his age, kept trying to distract him with snide comments about chivalry and the occasional “Helpful” piece of advice.
Meanwhile, in the time that he had been in the galley, the ship, Njørnäskåthr, had started to horrendously roll, back and forth. It had been a soft motion at first, a slow back and forth, back and forth motion, but it had slowly ramped up to a heaving roll, and Bjorn could swear that the rumbling noises in the distance that he kept hearing was thunder, although he hesitated to think about what that would mean for him and the rest of the crew.
Suddenly, he heard shouting up above the cabin.
Sorka heard it too, her head jerking up to follow the noise from where she had been chopping carrots.
“Something’s going on.” Bjorn whispered to her. The noises above continued.
Slowly, Sorka nodded, and then made her way to the door, the brutal chopping knife still in hand. More shouting up above.
She eased the door open, then continued through it, Bjorn following after her.
Bjorn and Sorka slowly made their way through the eerily empty cabins, the shouting and screaming and thump thump thump of boots on cabin top still echoing around them.
Finally, they made it to the last door, the one that would let them out onto the main deck. The shouting was the loudest here, and all else was silent, as if the world itself was listening to whoever was doing the talking. Bjorn’s ears strained to hear whatever was being said but he couldn’t distinguish the words, nor could he tell who was speaking, although the voice seemed eerily familiar, and his nerves screamed at him that something bad was going on.
Bjorn was the one in front, so he slowly opened the door, expecting the worst, only to be surprised.
The whole ship’s crew, almost a hundred different Vikings, had gathered on the deck in one, huge crowd. They were all facing away from the door, so no one saw Bjorn and Sorka stealthily exit the cabin. Sorka, who was taller than him, saw over all the Vikings’ shoulders to see what was happening first, and let out an exclamation of “Oh no” just as Bjorn saw what was happening:
Dagaz was standing on the tall deck, directly in front of the wheel, where everyone could see him. Several burly men stood behind them, and it wasn’t all that hard to guess that they were with him. His wolfish gaze danced over the crowd, holding it captivated. He was the one who had been speaking.. and in his arms, with a knife held to his throat, was Leif Eriksson.
Leif struggled under Dagaz’s arms, but with the knife against his throat, he could not do much.
Meanwhile, Dagaz continued talking, his words echoing around the ship, even though a storm had quite obviously arisen behind him, the wind whipping at his hair, the rain dousing him in water, the lightning occasionally lighting up his terrifyingly beautiful face. The result, in fact, was quite dramatic, probably partly accounting for the fact that everyone was still watching him, instead of dissolving into a mob. Indeed, his words also seemed to captivate them:
“Why are we here? Why do we still suffer? Why do we still have to wade through every day feeling like death with terrible food, terrible living conditions, terrible sailing, when in fact we could be living like kings! What are we even searching for again?” At this Dagaz’s knife pressed into Leif’s neck, the question aimed at him.
A word rasped from Leif’s mouth, but it was so quiet that it was indistinguishable. Dagaz, getting impatient, screamed at Leif so loudly that spittle flew from his mouth, his face a shade of beet red, “WHAT was that?!?” and Leif said again, this time loud enough for everyone to hear,
“Land. We were searching for land.” Leif’s voice rasped, and from the red welts on his face it was obvious that he had been mistreated.
“And WHY were we searching for land, Dear Leader?” Dagaz’s face was a mix of fury and anger as well as hatred and horrifying glee.
Bjorn let out a small curse as he realized that Dagaz was actually enjoying this.
Huh. so that’s why he’s not making one of his cronies hold the knife for him.Bjorn was disgusted, and obviously something had to be done, but what? The crowd of Vikings seemed to held entranced by Dagaz’s speech, but there were no guarantees that they wouldn’t suddenly take to his side if Bjorn and Sorka somehow managed to get up to the top deck, past Dagaz’s men, past Dagaz himself, and away. It was an impossible mission.
Meanwhile, Dagaz continued: “And WHY, pray tell, are we looking for land?”
Leif sputtered for several seconds, his face awash with sweat and grime, looking the farthest from a leader than Bjorn had ever seen. For a second he was silent, and even though Dagaz pressed the knife upon Leif’s neck, even though blood welled up underneath the knife, Leif’s proud, stubborn gaze persisted.
It was obvious to everyone assembled that he would not tell, not even upon his death.
“Fine,” Dagaz was obviously furious, and it showed on his face. “Then if you will not tell upon your death, what about his?” Dagaz gave a curt nod to one of his henchmen, who disappeared down the enclosed stairway, only to come up again with another guard… holding a restrained Galen.
His eyes were wide and terrified, but he screamed at Leif, “Don’t do it! Don’t tell ‘im Nothin’! Don’t tell—” suddenly a gag was shoved into his mouth and a sack shoved over his head, and one of the henchmen hit him over the head with the flat end of his blade. Galen’s body slumped and then Dagaz let out a wicked grin and said, “Now do you understand the terms of agreement? We will throw him in the sea to drown if you do not comply and tell us where the island is.”
When Dagaz said “tell us where the island is” his voice seemed to take on an extra tone, turning deeper, smoother, more convincing. For several seconds, Bjorn had the notion to start telling everyone that Dagaz is right, that Dagaz is to be trusted, that Dagaz won’t do anything wrong…
Suddenly Bjorn shook his head several times, like a dog shaking water, and came to his senses again. He turned to say something to Sorka, only to see that she had disappeared! His eyes roved over the crowd until they came upon a blond-haired person at the edge of the crowd, slowly going closer and closer to Dagaz.
Bjorn leaped up out of his hiding place and ran after Sorka, reaching her just as she was swallowed by the mob of men. He ducked under one man’s arm, around another’s leg, and then suddenly he was one with the crowd. There was an eerie feeling to it, like the enchanted snakes Bjorn saw once at the market: said snakes had slowly been lulled to sleep by the trader’s pan flute, and then awoken again, slowly moving back and forth, and then dancing along to the soft notes of the flute, like it was being controlled. The crowd had a similar demeanor, like a person half asleep, and they slowly moved back and forth, one way and then the other, looking very much like the sleepy black mamba in the market, like they had been enchanted.. or worse, controlled.
It was at this point that Bjorn had reached Sorka, and then grabbed her hand and tried at trying to pull her away from Dagaz’s direction, in which case he failed, and she whipped her hand out of his, pulling closer to Dagaz.
Bjorn crept up to her again and full on slapped her face. The desired reaction showed, and she turned upon him, her face the embodiment of fury, only to realize where they were and quiet down again. He took her hand and slowly guided her through the lulled crowd till they had reached the doorway, whereupon she collapsed in relief. Then she pulled herself up again and glared daggers at Dagaz.
“What in Sif’s name was THAT!?!” she exclaimed.
“I think Dagaz is using magic to calm the crowd.. I think he’s looking for something.” Bjorn murmured thoughtfully.
“That explains why it’s not a riot of people right now… Wait! I have it! I know how he’s doing it!” Sorka’s eyes danced with the excitement of her find… and then darkened again. “If it’s true though, then we’re in big trouble.”
“What? What is it?” Bjorn asked.
“… I mean honestly, it’s the one that makes the most sense… I mean, what else could it be?” Sorka started pacing, muttering under her breath.
“Sorka? Sorka!” Bjorn grabbed her shoulders to get her attention. “What is it?”
She nodded to him and then said, “Look at him. Look at his eyes. What do you see?”
Bjorn squinted up at Dagaz, and something occurred to him. “His eyes.. they were blue. Now they’re a glowing green!”
“Yes! So, you see it too!” Sorka nodded several times to herself.
The next words out of her mouth seemed almost impossible to comprehend: “I think he’s under the influence of a god!”
The statement seemed to ring in Bjorn’s ears, and then suddenly thunder shattered the silence, and he jumped, staring at her openmouthed.
“But it can’t be possible! The only ones even close to being possessed are the holy berserkers of Thor and Tyr, and even then, they don’t have magic as powerful as what Dagaz has!” he stared at her, dumbfounded by her proclamation.
“That’s because no Viking in their right mind would want to be taken over like… well, that.” she pointed at Dagaz. “But with enough incentive… a greedy enough person might do anything!”
“But who- but- Which god would ever—” then suddenly he saw it.
The dots connected: the green eyes, the controlling magic, even the name: “Dagaz” was the rune associated with…
“Loki. Trickster god. There’s no denying it. Loki is controlling Dagaz.” Sorka glared at Dagaz/Loki.
“But.. you can only get possessed by a god if… you agree to it.” Bjorn shuddered.
Sorka nodded. “That means he was probably working for Loki from the start, Sif help us all. This is not just a mutiny anymore! This is a matter of the gods! We’re going to need their help if we’re to get through..”
Suddenly, a commotion up on the top deck: Leif still looked like he didn’t want to tell, and yet Dagaz’s men were still hauling Galen’s limp body towards the edge of the ship to dump him in…
Just as they reached the edge and made to grab him, Leif caved and cried, “Wait! Wait!”
Dagaz indicated for his men to pause, hanging on Leif’s every word.
“I… we.. we were looking for a specific island… the Island of Fenrir… we.. we were ordered to go there on a holy mission, by Odin himself. We were to check on him, to make sure he was still tied, and that the bindings were strong. Odin was.. worried. Supposedly Fenrir is one of the forces who will start Ragnarök by escaping his bindings and swallowing the sun and moon, and then killing Odin. Odin… got worried. Wanted us to.. check. Make sure.. everything was fine.”
Dagaz sneered at Leif. “That’s not going to happen though.. is it?” his expression changed from smug to not-smug, however, when he saw how the crowd had started to mutter and sway unhappily.
Bjorn guessed that most of the Vikings here were not exactly inclined to let the literal end of the world (Ragnarök) happen.
“BUT! But! What is the most important is that you did not tell anyone! Why was no one told about this so called, “mission”? We could have helped you!” Dagaz was quick to retain the crowd’s favor, Bjorn noticed.
“I- I told no one because I was… I was worried. Enemies of the gods could be anywhere, waiting in plain sight to—to foil our plans.” Leif coughed. The last statement was clearly aimed at Dagaz.
Bjorn felt a soft tap on the shoulder, and nearly jumped out of his skin, only to realize it was just Sorka.
“We need to do something. Any ideas?” she murmured.
Bjorn was just thinking about it when suddenly he noticed something moving in the clouds. It was small, the size of a man, and floated with ease in the shadow of a cumulous formation. It seemed to glow like the sun and as it flew closer, Bjorn realized it was a man.
“… it seems like the only thing we could do is get the help of a god, but how do we do that? Bjorn, come on, are you going to help me?” Sorka had not yet noticed the glowing figure, and was now glaring at Bjorn, until he slowly lifted a shaking finger to point at the floating man.
“What are you—” suddenly Sorka saw him too. He was behind the crowd, just above Sorka and Bjorn now, floating lower until he was just above the mast.
Bjorn glanced at Dagaz in time enough to see him notice the floating figure, and whatever he was saying to the crowd trailed off as his face turned white.
Just then, Leif Eriksson noticed the man too. He stared for several seconds, something that looked maddeningly like hope lighting up in his eyes. The glowing man stared at Leif, and Leif stared at the glowing man for several seconds.
Then the glowing man, his long, golden hair waving in the storm, nodded to Leif, and said in a deep, thunderous voice, “You know what to do”. His voice seemed to echo around for miles and yet seemed so calm and quiet at the same time. Then he levitated up into the air for several seconds, and then shot off into the distance, becoming little more than a sparkle of gold before disappearing.
It was only then that Bjorn realized that they had just been visited by a god.
Suddenly, with a strength that only a god could have possessed, Leif leapt up, his eyes glowing with a gold the same color that the god had glowed. He shoved the knife aside and with an inhuman roar he threw Dagaz straight overboard, right into the water. He sank with only a small bubbling noise, never to be seen again.
As soon as Leif turned towards Dagaz’s men, they jumped overboard after Dagaz.
It was at this point that the rest of the Vikings had come back to themselves, and several of them leapt to their feet screaming profanities.
“What happened?!?” one man called to the calmed Leif.
“I believe… that Dagaz just tried to hijack the ship.” Leif panted.
“How? Why did no one stop him?” the man called back.
It was then that Bjorn stepped up. “Me and Sorka have reason to believe that he was being possessed by Loki.”
Leif, and the entire crowd of Vikings turned to face him, many of them shuddering at the mention of the trickster god. His name was a cursed one, never mentioned unless truly necessary.
“And what makes you think that, stowaway?” Leif put a particular emphasis on stowaway.
“His eyes, they glowed green, Loki’s color. Besides, which other god would want to stop a mission destined to try and stop Ragnarök from happening? The most likely would most probably be the one god who might benefit from it, Loki.” Bjorn pressed.
“Hrm… perhaps you are right,” Leif mused. “It would make the most sense. You, and Sorka, come with me.” He pointed right at Bjorn, then disappeared to the inside deck. Bjorn hurried to follow him and joined him in the hall. “Where are we going?” he asked, him and Sorka hurrying to stay with Leif’s determined pace.
“He was always so secretive of his room, and one special chest in particular. If his plan had gone accordingly, I wonder what the chest might have had to do with it?” Leif said aloud, still walking fast.
At last, they reached the private cabins, a collection of rooms specific to each officer: one for Leif, one for the first mate, another for the navigations officer, and lastly, one for Dagaz.
Leif tried to open the door but strangely, it was locked. Leif solved this problem by kicking it in.
He burst into the room and stomped over to the chest at the base of the bed, practically kicking it open in his anger.
Inside, on a felt blanket lie three items: a small wooden box with carvings of the world tree, Yggdrasil; a long, wickedly sharp fang fashioned into a dagger with a bent metal handle added to it, and finally, a piece of wood carved into a rectangular shape with the Dagaz rune carved into it in an ink so sickeningly red it could have been blood.
Leif slowly reached a hand into the chest, then withdrew it, murmuring, “There is a lot of dark magic within this one chest. We must be cautious.”
Then he reached back in again, this time with the wooden box.
With shaking hands, he slowly opened it, and then seemed to leap back.
The artifact inside the box was so obvious that even Sorka and Bjorn could see it: shadows seemed to ooze out it, and it seemed to hold a benevolent air to it: a spun glass jar, so simple, and yet the liquid inside was anything but simple. It was a thick, milky substance, pure white in color, and it seemed to leak evil at the seams.
As Leif lifted it up from the velvet cushioning it had been on, Bjorn asked quietly, “What is it?”
“A very dangerous poison, one that only a certain god could have access to… this is the poison from the snake that hangs over Loki’s prison.” Leif seemed to be barely breathing as he talked. “The dagger is a tooth from Fenrir, fashioned into a knife, and the rune is what I’m guessing what made Dagaz so powerful. All are a product of dark magic, of which you are right… it is Loki.”
Many hours later, they were sailing through the fog when land was spotted. The poison, dagger, and rune had all been burned and Leif had officially made Bjorn apart of the crew. Galen had awoken with a very confused look on his face. All had seemed right, just then, when suddenly, a cry came from the mast, “Land! I see it! The island!”, and several seconds later, the sun was blotted out as a huge crag loomed out of the fog, like some grisly tower. At the very base, black sand marked the place where they could land and then, a huge hole carved out of the mountain, like a mouth… or a doorway.
“This is it. Are you ready?” Leif turned towards Bjorn.
“Born ready.” Bjorn returned swiftly.
“Then, let us go.” Then they turned, and off the boat they went, to approach the cave at the end of the world, to confront the oncoming darkness.
The end, El fin, etc. etc. blah blah blah *Be Prepared from The Lion King starts playing*
An original short story that started as a school project but has morphed into something that our kids wanted to publish on their writing day…friday on the blog. We allow our kids to publish on our website to try to grow creativity and voice in a virtual and increasingly electronic world, lightly editing for content and appropriate themes but mostly letting them imagine as they write. Both of our kids live on a cruising sailboat full time with their Great Dane and kitty while we slowly explore new places in Central America.
You have not heard much from us in the last three weeks because we’ve been moving…slowly but surely. We moved from Mexico to Costa Rica, taking time to explore the Bay of Fonseca and check out small parts of Honduras and El Salvador while there, before finally getting to Costa Rica. We’re going to spend hurricane (rainy) season in Costa Rica and Panama before turning the bow north again toward the adventures that await in the Caribbean. Those of you who have kept reading and commenting….thank you-