The northerners have always fought with the southerners.
Rorik’s grandfather was proud of the crooked scar where the eye should have been. He said that for this eye he took a dozen eyes of enemies. Took and ate to get their vigilance. So now he saw better than some young man. At least that’s what he said.
Rorik’s father died in one of the skirmishes with the southern neighbors. Grandfather grumbled that the priest was to blame for everything, who obviously had gone over tinctures on lichens the day before. Say, and the runes came out clumsy, did not protect.
Rorik himself had a philosophical attitude to the annual wars of his clan with the southern clans. They have softened, do not honor the old gods, as it should be, sacrifices to the spirits of nature are made without respect. The old people grumbled that it was the godlessness of the southern clans that led to the Great Wrath 15 years ago. So to rob and kill them is the right thing to do, it will not anger the gods, but, on the contrary, will please them. Yes, and Rorik imagined himself, if not invincible, then certainly stronger than many. Moreover, he was armed not only with a faithful axe, but also with the power of two generic animals – a bear and an elk. Each of them, as expected, the northerner killed himself, ate the insides, dressed the skins and cleaned the skulls. And the priest (not the one who let his father down, the new one) strengthened it all with spells, and even added rune stones.
Northerners have always fought southerners… except this year.
Rorik was just sitting in the priest’s house, who was guessing on fish offal about how successful the next war would be, when the beardless student of the sage brought strange news.
– The leader said, this time we will not go to the southerners, but with them!
The ritual knife in the hands of the priest did not even flinch, it is immediately clear that it is a sage. But Rorik hiccupped in surprise and thoughtfully scratched his mighty neck. Then he silently got up and left. In the clearing for the gathering of the Clan Council, the same perplexed warriors were already trampling and humming. The rumble subsided when two tall warriors carried a shield into the center of the clearing, on which the leader himself stood. A tall, broad-shouldered, bearded man looked around those present with a heavy look from under fused bushy eyebrows and barked:
– What are you dissatisfied with, Odin’s children?!
A gray-haired Viking limped out of the crowd. Judging by his appearance, the next war could well be his last, so he was no longer afraid of the leader’s wrath.
– So, the leader, how so? So we beat the southerners in the tail and in the mane, like bare-bellied seals, and here we sit in the same drakkar with them? – The crowd behind the old man murmured in agreement.
– And like this. – The leader was also obviously not very happy with this turn, but he knew how to keep his face. – The year has turned out to be hungry, there is little meat, few berries, the winter is long. The priests say the next one will be the same. There is nothing to eat, not only for us, but also, the oar across their throats, the southerners. There is no point in going to war against them now, we only will lose good warriors. We need to go deeper south. There, they say, live quite soft people, and they have a lot of goods. Not like in Vallor, but enough for a couple of seasons. We can’t go that far ourselves – there are few boats, and the neighbors just won’t let us through. It turns out, only with them to go. They promised not to deprive us of with booty. And if they try to be cunning … – Here the leader grinned bloodthirstyly. – … You know what to do. And now we’re leaving! We’re leaving in three days.
Rorik had spent those three days sharpening his axe and knife, polishing the claws on the bear’s paw, and sanding the rune-studded pieces of wood that hung from the elk’s antlers. He understood and accepted the leader’s decision, he himself this year hardly made it to spring. And whose blood to shed – the southern clans or some unknown even more southern creatures – he did not care at all.
Rorik didn’t like the raid at first. Not only did have to share one drakkar with too clean southerners (they even trimmed their beards, ugh!), but also a pitching that lasted for three whole days. The potion enchanted by the priest in the flask on his belt did not help, and the stern warrior vomited overboard all the way.
But when the claws of the bear’s paw ripped open the flabby stomach of the first of the inhabitants of the southern village, Rorik immediately cheered up. The people here really were soft, flying away from only one slap in the face of a northerner. It was a pity that it would not be possible to feast on the liver of such cowards, little of military courage there. But the opportunity to pierce people with impunity with deer horns and cut off heart-rendingly screaming heads on the run warmed Rorik’s heart. At some point, the warrior was so filled with fighting rage that he accidentally hacked to death one of his comrades. Fortunately, in the heat of the massacre, no one noticed this.
-Die, you dirty bear! – Behind Rorik there was a desperate cry and something pushed him between the shoulder blades. The warrior turned his head and saw a man clutching the shaft of a spear. The tip of this spear protruded from Rorik’s collarbone.
– Ha! There will be something to tell the grandchildren about! – The Viking grabbed the man by the head, lifted him above the ground and squeezed his fingers. The poor fellow’s head cracked like a log in the hearth. Throwing the corpse aside, Rorik tried to reach the shaft of the spear with his hand, but the bear carcass of the warrior could not boast of flexibility. Then he just fell on his back. The spear passed through the shoulder and out of the body. Rorik roared loudly and rushed to kill enemies with a vengeance.
The northerners have always fought with the southerners. Only this time with those further south.