Biorn’s helmet slipped down over his eyes. The skinny viking boy pushed back the hardened-leather helm with practiced repetition. He adjusted his heavy furs and thick iron studded belt. The boy’s clothes hung loose from his tiny frame and his long blonde hair, covered in grime, hung in strands down his back. ‘
A gust of evening wind blew a wisp of snow skittering across the ice of the lake. Biorn hated watch duties. Every new moon and he was subjected to the bitter cold of the lake. Leaning against the boy’s back, as long as he was tall, was a battle notched shaft leading down to an ax head. Many runes, worn down by friction from tiny hands, were carved along its length.
The boy shivered against the wind and watched the opposite side of the lake. Stout pines guarded the other side. Like stalwart sentinels they huddled together, guarding the unknown. Biorn hated them. His great-nana had told him the stories. How these great trees were waiting for the day of Ragnarok, when they would uproot themselves and take vengeance against the men who had cut down their brethren to make their weapons, homes, and ships.
Biorn spat at the ground and crossed his arms beneath his furs.
Nothing ever happened during watches. Not since Yoren defeated the dragirks before Biorn was even able to crawl. The village had posted watches every evening on the East lake, watching for any sign of the monsters return. As the years passed, the number of watchers dwindled and the age of the guardians dropped lower and lower. Now only the young watched the lake, while the warriors ransacked along the coasts.
The heavy dragirk horn, hallowed out and tipped with brass, served as the call to arms. It hung on Biorn’s left hip, and always made him feel as if the weight was causing him to walk crooked. Even at such a young age Biorn knew he was getting the short end of the whole affair.
A wicked idea flashed through his brain. The men left behind to defend the village in case of a dragirk attack would be deep in their mead right now. What would they do if the horn sounded. He chuckled to himself. They’d fall all over themselves trying to muster. Probably hurt each other and look right fools. Would serve them right and would teach them that an attack could still happen at any time.
Biorn’s index finger circled the brass mouth opening. It would serve them right, he repeated to himself. His long reedy fingers wrapped around the black bone. Time they were taught a lesson. The boy lifted the horn to his lips, drew a deep breath, and blew hard into the instrument.
He had expected a blast of sound that would peel the very night from the sky. But a mournful, dull wail escaped the dragirk horn. Biorn pulled back in surprise, but the note hung like a stink in the air.
Across the lake, the trees shuddered.
A tingling started at the base of Biorn’s spine and crawled up to the back of his neck, causing the hairs to stand on end.
Deep within the trees, the horns call was answered. A roar, ancient and seething, sent a shock wave across the icy lake; which cracked and splintered in fear. Biorn was frozen in place, eyes fixed on the black shadows that hung deep within the forest beyond the lake.
Pine’s cracked and splintered. The sounds of limbs crashing to the ground bounced around the open area. Two hands, each with only two fingers and tipped with slick black claws, reached out and dug deep into a set of pines. Pulling hard, a leather skinned creature propelled itself out onto the lake. It was as big as an ox, with black skin that shone despite the lack of moonlight. Its green eyes smoldered and hot breath steamed the air around the creature. A purple barbed tongue flicked out of its mouth, testing the air.
Biorn gripped the haft of his ax with both hands and lifted it high overhead. He let out a shrill warrior’s cry. The dragirk turned its gaze to him and croaked a challenge.
The young warrior boy was overtaken by courage, battle-lust, and fear. Not knowing why, he ran toward the monster.
To Be Continued…
Didn’t get much time to work on this one so I’m going to finish it up tomorrow. Here is what I have to show at the moment. I think it’s pretty fun so far.