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A note from Philip Read

Sorry for the long waits for only a single chapter guys. its taking longer to produce each chapter, it now takes days to write scenes that used to practicly jump from somewhere onto the page. enjoy

Long-House

 

‘’What did they say?’’

‘’They are letting the Host through,’’ Svald says for everyone that hasn’t yet heard.

‘’Of course they are letting the Host through, what did they say when Samson let it be known he was willing to go through them?’’

‘’It didn’t even come to that Ganther, come take a seat by me, have an ale.’’ Stomm, Chieftain of the Norse Tribe says placatingly to his drunk friend. He smiles apologetically at Frey sitting at a long table amidst a bunch of her greatest warriors and advisors, trying to dissuade the old warrior from ooglying her breasts so obviously.

‘’Everything has changed,’’ Ganther says mournfully, ‘’I can’t even find a worthy fight anymore.’’

Daen snorts at his Great-Uncle’s comical plight, ‘’The are plenty of fights to be had old man, if you are so eager to spill blood you could have joined the expedition going South.’’

‘’Stomm,’’ Ganther says poking his old friend in the ribs insistently. ‘’See how your boy speaks to me now Stomm, I should be long dead by now and yet here I am as fit as I’ve ever been drinking with your boys. Worse I’ve acquired so much more strength and yet I have no one to sate myself on, it’s unnatural, lets just raid these Southerners and take what they have.’’ The look on his face is one shameless pleading, some snicker at his antics.

‘’It’s too soon for thinking like that you old fool, new avenues of growth may be opening up to us but we are still new in the greater scheme of things. Rural bumpkin that were isolated to fight amongst themselves for generations and thought themselves proficient in combat, we have much to learn still and another two generations at least to replenish our numbers.’’ Freyá’s big advisor Kyall says loudly, the anger that always bubbles up when she drinks making her perfect cheeks flush, her strong nose wrinkles as a staying hand on her arm alerts her that she now stands with spear in hand.

She huffs as she sits, placing the spear on the small pile of them at their feet under the bench. It’s not like I was gonna kill him, she conveys to Swabisa by her side embarrassed that she almost lost the grip she has on herself but also disappointed that she missed a chance at a physical confrontation. She eyes the smelly brute Ganther again and meets his eyes rising from her nipples and he smiles at her lewdly, making pouting motions with his lips.

A spear is in her hand and shooting through the distance in a heartbeat, it isn’t a great distance nor is the spear an artifact but like any good steel it parts flesh with ease. Thump! The hard sound of impact and scraping chairs falls Kyall’s throw taking Ganther in the chest with a knock of force that has him off the bench and stumbling backwards to bump into the people at the table behind. The spray of blood from the exit wound is misting in the air making some grumble as it lands on them, the leaf shaped steel head of the spear sticking out his back doesn’t have a drop of blood on it.

Palpable silence fills the room slowly, pregnant with inaction, Ganther’s right hand is gripped tightly around the shaft sticking out of his chest and there is a mad glint in his eyes that demands retribution.

Cold frost fills the room pooling around people’s feet from the Jotnar table as they watch the big Norseman wearily, Stomm and the rest of his retinue are still sitting so the situation is still salvageable, Swabisa things to herself as she places again a placating hand on the wrist of her village chief and mother.

‘’Life is so confusing,’’ the still drunk Norse Barbarian says snapping the shaft sticking out of him and pushing the rest out his back. ‘’I’ve heard great things about you Jotnar women, you are wasted on that beast out in the cold mountains when real Barbarian men abound still.’’ He says pulling the weapon out his back and letting it platter on the floor before biting into a red pulsing blood-fruit conjured from his storage ring.

He holds the edge of the Rage in a control unheard of before the recent wars, before his people circumvented what was done to them and again learnt to Awaken. Is it sheer serendipity that the rest of the Barbarian tribes found a route to Awakening that doesn’t involve the bindings and oaths made by the Jotnar to their patron or a carefully laid plan? Swabisa asks herself as she watches the large handsome Norseman as instead of attack use the Rage state to assess mother more carefully. The large brute pulls his blond curls of hair from his face smearing blood into the golden strains of hair then shake himself before taking his sit again and start applying a bandage on himself, Daen the son of Chief Stomm helps him without a word.

Kyall, village chief of Merwe sits fuming besides her soft spoken daughter, she bites harshly into the tough rhinoza steak without tasting it gazing bloody murder at the old Norse now completely ignoring her. The least he could have done is at least throw a punch!

*

''Look at the Norse flex like cocks for the ice queens,’’ Bjork says to Arné.

‘’My first mate was a Norseman you know,’’ she says amused by is consistent attention and clumsy flirting the past hour.

‘’Ha!’’ and what pray tell happened to him that you speak of him as one already dead.

The Viking woman shrugs her shoulders with only a hint of heat in her gaze giving away the passion she must have shared with the man, ‘’we all die do we not, the initial clash with the Sandies had to claim some lives to appease the gods.’’

‘’The gods, I spit on the gods,’’ Frode grumbles nursing her drink grumpily eyeing the couple in the corner shrouded in shadow as they go about their coitus.

‘’Pray tell why do you spit on the gods dear warrior?’’ Seer Vadic asks appearing unexpectedly to the ever grumpy Savage warrior, these seers are sneaky. She eyes the Norse seer suspiciously before speaking, ‘’why let so many generations of us die so young? In fact why allow the ability to Awaken be taken from us and leave us these stupid legends to aspire to?’’

‘’Surely you must see divine intervention in the way things have turned out for us, had our ancestors not landed on Sandaria they would have easily been swept away by another people as depleted and starved as they were. Here we have had time to grow again and the legends of Borr, his Chosen and similar stories have been a goal many of the young Warriors in our tribes aspired to.’’

‘’Yet they never would have reached those lofty heights had we not relied on these soft skinned outsiders who’s intentions we are still unsure off.’’ Frode snorts, ‘’don’t speak to me like I am one of your disciples old man.’’

‘’Ha, Borr and his Chosen my ass, I bet I could wring their necks now that I have mana.’’ Bo says flaring a visibly yellow aura of power around himself, the powerful influence of the ability forcing others close by to circulate their own to negate the force. A clay jug of ale courses through the air to disintegrate as though burnt to cinders as it makes contact with the intense magical aura of the Awakened Savage.

‘’Keep down the light works, some of us are trying to drink in peace,’’ Erik the Quick says with another jug already in hand, the girl’s he’s been fondling pouts at him, perturbed at having long his attention again. Bo sits, having already established numerous times who the superior warrior is in the Awakened Arena.

‘’Think about it reasonably,’’ Frode says untroubled by the disturbance but now her stink eye on the usually charismatic Saxon Erik and the bruiser Bo accessively. ‘’That first clash against the Sandies we were being observed by an Awakened Lord from Pangaea and the fae without you Seers being the wiser, who themselves where likely being observed by the spirit ore greedy sidhe who where likely themselves being watched by another more powerful things.’’ She spits to emphasize what she thinks of that.

‘’At least someone amongst your retinue knows their ass from a spear hey Bjork?’’ Bjorn, the former Chieftain of the Vikings now part of the triumvirate of Paradisum chiefs says taking a seat close to Bjork but not far from the scowling Frode.

‘’My second daughter,’’ Bjork says proudly, a glint in his eye as he notices the curious way Bjorn eyes her. The girl has a mood that could curl milk and to be unmated at her age at a time where resources are plentiful and Barbarians are few. ‘’I don’t just keep this one around for her fierce battle spirit and pretty face, that mind of hers is sharper than even mine.’’

Not the glowing recommendation he thinks it is but Frodo gives her da and chief her best stink eye anyway, sensing again his trying to interfere in her personal affairs.

‘’You think we are still underprepared for what is predicted to come?’’ Bjork asks the ageless woman.

‘’Grossly, even the Sandies are isolated ‘country bumpkins’ as the Jotnar said,’’ she says indicating to Frey’s retinue with her head. ‘’We cannot accurately assess our growth by measuring ourselves against them.’’

‘’Many of the Sandersonian Noble Houses and well to do citizens are upset with their Magus, their spies see our warriors Awakening and our young joining year after year and wonder why this has been denied from them.’’ Seer Vicar says with a nod.

‘’With good reason, Kai tells me only a fraction of their population ever Awakens, and that after years of study and training under a master. The few that manage to live long enough to naturally Awaken themselves mostly choosing their own path instead of joining the magisters in the status quo.’’ Utma says from her own long table neighbouring Bjork’s. The Savage Chief of Svalbard is tugging under her third mates kilt with one hand while the other stays close to her hip dagger.

‘’Stop fondling the boy so insistently, can’t you see him struggling not to spill?’’ Bjorn says to the warrior woman with distaste, not used to the more publicly coarse ways of the Savage Tribe. Laughter from the surrounding tables has the young man beet red in embarrassment, which thankfully cools his passion somewhat.

Utma grins hungry at Bjorn still tugging on the embarrassed young man insistently. Awakening has had many unexpected effects for the people whose life span usually capped at 90 maximum with the oldest effective warrior being 60 years and little the oldest person in the raid. By the time a warrior is 50 they were considered elders and given priority by the other warriors in their Tribes. Now though there is a distinct difference in the generation before Awakening and After Awakening.

There is an extra cushion of experienced fighters that should be dead or senile but are now Awakened and itching for a fight worthy of their deaths. The rift in their society whether intentionally or not is dividing between Awakened and mundane, a new class of citizen.

‘’It is because of our isolation that we are so dangerous,’’ a low voice cuts through all the different arguments, conversations and drinking going on. A man in a black nylon hood cloaking his face in shadow brings almost everyone in the Awakened section of the long-house to a halt with a few words.

An axe whistles once twice thrice and lodges itself into the large saimese beam that acts as one of the many support pillars right next to the speaker’s head. The hooded figure dodged the throw that could easily have killed him with its speed and precision, then the hooded figure dislodges the swawe lodged deep into the bean with surprising ease. The double bladed throwing axe with a handle that folds in flight disappears from his hand, likely into a storage ring.

‘’You’ve been scarce, your minders let you out to play?’’ Ganther shouts flipping another swawe up and down playfully, a very difficult weapon to catch.

‘’I wanted to see what all the ruckus was about these days, you all stopped coming to challenge me,’’ the figure’s hood surveys the room, at least this part of the room. ‘’Things got boring.’’

‘’Ha!’’ Ganther says with a genuine smile disappearing his second swawe into his ring.

‘’You are Gorr the Blind yes?’’ Frey, the Jotnar chieftain asks with pleased curiosity.

‘’Last I heard it was Gorr the Hermit, I’m only gone 8 years and already you forget me. Maybe I should visit the Arena at 50th bell today and see how you’ve all improved,’’ his voice is slightly disembodies, not coming directly from where he sits amongst a mix of warriors of different tribes that have formed grudging friendships with each other.

‘’More like Gorr the Wolf,’’ a voice cuts into Frey’s reply. The speaker is a Jotnar warrior with a reputation for loving street fights, a bruiser through and through that has taken to the violence of the Awakened Arena like a fish to Hilton water. Her weapons of choice besides the spear that the Jotnar revere being a heavy long-sword she keeps on her back at all times.

‘’Atla,’’ Gorr says standing in surprised pleasure, how he missed her when he assessed the room he cannot say. But the Jotnar woman who somehow triggered his wolf transformation during sex sits by the wall similarly cloaked, noticing the exquisite work of the dark purple cloak hiding her he smirks removing the hood. ‘’It’s been too long.’’

Conversations were picking up again but again the only sounds are the muffled voices of the voices of the mundane Tribespeople downstairs. The sound wards keeping all sounds in but allowing some from outside to penetrate in. He is lean for a Barbarian of his height but n one with eyes to see would mistake that for weakness, virility and health ooze off him, golden blond hair falls to his shoulders. Like all Awakened he is handsome with a strong jaw and flawless skin, as one that reached Awakening at an advanced age he doesn’t have an ageless face of a 25 year old but the deeper richer handsome maturity of an old man given a second lease on life.

Milky white eyes on a 7 feet tall Barbarian are creepy and few have had the displeasure of seeing the hermits eyes. As everyone with a vantage point looks at his eyes though they lose themselves in their depth. Then the moment passes and his milky eyes are still creepy but less captivating.

‘’Come have a drink with us,’’ Stomm says breaking the silence. ‘’Bring your woman.’’

He communicates silently with Alta with a twist of his head, likely a sending as well. She removes her own hood to reveal a grinning scare on the left side of her upper lip yet to heal properly. They move between tables to each other, bumping into each other’s shoulder’s gently as they cut towards the table filled with Norse chiefs.

Gorr takes a space opened for him on the bench, Alta takes his lap for herself and instinctively his arm wraps around her waist.

‘’You were saying?’’ Stomm prompts leaning forward slightly.

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About the author

Philip Read

  • South Africa

Bio: Who knew that writing could be almost as addictive as reading?

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