Twilight of the Thunder God

Twilight of the Thunder God

Postby Pauly » Sun Jun 19, 2011 5:47 am

I was looking through old e-mails and found one of my stories. It's decent. Wish I would have added more. I suppose I always can later. Wrote this a year or so ago. Sorry if it seems a bit wonky.

Twilight of the Thunder God

As we marched to the battlefield, to the predetermined place of slaughter,we all walked silently. We have never faced a monster like this before. Full of foreign beasts that have never been seen to the eyes of any of the warriors here. As we march 10,000 strong to the inevitable, we look at each other only with embrace knowing for what the future holds for us.

The enemy is unknown to us. As we have conquered all that surround us, we have not seen an enemy of this type before. They are a barbarian tribe, but a crafty group at that. They have slaughtered the individual efforts of the fore runners of the other viking clans. They have even slaughtered the best warriors at the Clan Gunnar, and they are a warrior clan. It makes me worry that even with all the men we have, from all the assorted camps and clans, the best of the best, that we still do stand very little chance. We do not know much about these beasts, as no information usually ever makes it back. We hear the myths of them, and that doesn't help boost morale when the stories are meant to scare and are full of false hoods.

As we approach the battleground, we start to hear the war drum of these heathens. Each strike on the fearful instrument puts a tremble through the ground and strikes another chill through each mans spine. As I look back through the ranks, I see fear of the unknown come up through the eyes and faces of the men behind me. So many young faces. Soon to be stricken down before they can even have the chance to even have a son to bear their name and continue their lineage.

As quickly as I take in this sight, my friend and partner in many previous battles, Magnus, comes up to me and pulls me to the side.

“Harald, the way you are carrying yourself is different from previous battles dear friend. What is bothering the mighty so much ?” spoke my friend Magnus.

Looking at Magnus, he was huge, even by Norse standards. He was a solid man-wall of muscle, the envy of every man. He had many scars on his body. Many memories, associated through those scars, good and bad. His blonde hair isn't as golden today as it has been in previous battles, I don't know if that is a omen of things to come. I looked up at the sun, dark clouds had just engulfed it, cutting out all light on the surrounding valley.

The rain has started. Another bad omen. Magnus catches a glimpse of a lightning strike in the distance, and a hearty thunderclap follows.

Magnus lets out a loud laugh, breaking my train of thought. “HA, look at this fellow vikings! Even the god Thor is in attendance to watch us send these soulless bastards back to their gods!” he finishes saying with a smile. A smile that can even fill the most fearful man with a belly full of courage.

I hear a few laughs and sighs from the group behind us and one can see the eyes of the young ones start to light up from their previous state of somewhat fear.

Magnus turns back to me and nudges me.

“Like I said, what can bother the mighty so much that it causes you to march like one of those coward Saxons?!” Magnus reinforces the joke with a slap to my arm. I look at him in the piercing steel blue eyes. It's like he is staring through me, knowing something is terribly wrong. And he is right, but I can't show fear, not this early, not in front of the men, especially in front of the young men. That would be discouraging. I stare at him without breaking eye contact. I lie. For the first time to Magnus. I break the stare, and look away.

“Nothing is wrong Magnus. Just going over the plan in my head. Trying to locate any weaknesses, any faults that could bring us to our untimely demise.” I say.

A loud laugh erupts from Magnus. “What can go wrong Harald ? Especially when we have the favor of the gods on our side!” I hear a thunderclap in the distance. “See?” Magnus says, “Nothing to worry about.” He smiles and goes to talk to some of the young warriors in the group to fasten there courage at a level high enough to fight. “Yeah, nothing to worry about.” I mumble to myself. I fall back inside my mind and slip into a conscious coma. Easy for him to say, he is fighting because fighting is what he does. He is a womanizer, me, I have to worry about making it home to my wife. My pregnant wife. We have another child on the way. And I want to be a father to that child, not just a picture and a unknown memory that it will never meet or get to love. I'll be just another faceless person to it. I can't have that. It's not fair. To me or the child. I don't want to go into this battle. We are outnumbered 3 to 1. While that is fair odds for any viking warrior, it doesn't seem justified today. With all the warrior virgins out there, it might be a disadvantage. While not having the odds in our favor may seem like a bad thing to outsiders, it is a good thing for us. Vikings work well together, even in the chaos that is a viking battlefield. We just never seem to get in each others way, unlike the outside force.

A commotion tears me from myself and revives me to the situation at hand. I turn and look and the enemy stands, staring at us from afar. Like a predator stalking its prey. A fearful war paint graces their faces, making it hard to distinguish if they are human or not. The rain turns into a downpour. I turn back and look at the men. I take a deep breath, look at Magnus for reassurance. He gives me one of those smiles, the smile that can make a man feel like he can do anything.

I put on my helmet, and the rest of the of the individuals follow suit. I take a few steps back so the rest of the warriors can see me. The field is now mucky. Full of water and mud. It has been pouring rain for ten minutes. I sharply inhale, look at the enemy for the last civilized time. I notice that the warpaint is starting to come off their faces. Ha, I knew it. Foolish old soothsayers.

“The enemy has come for you, hear the pounding of the drum in your chest, there's no time to run or hide, draw the weapon from your side. When they ride out, with sharp blades in mighty fists, you will feel weak and scared, fear will grip your heart. Just remember! You are a Viking warrior! You are unmatched! This battle will be fought, many men here will give their lives, but commit this to memory, upon this field of battle, as long as one of us remains, none of them will ever pass!” A roar of loud cheers and yells come from the warriors. “We are outnumbered here, 3 to 1. Good odds for any Norseman. A glorious death awaits for all those who knows no fear, so be fearless, feel no remorse, we will sacrifice them, we will obliterate them, and we will send them off to the gods!” I hear a yell from the group, “ WE ARE WITH YOU KING HARALD!” and yells and cheers break out at the statement. I raise my my sword in the air, and bump my chest with my shield. The group does the same back. I look at Magnus, he smiles. He agrees.

I take some deep breaths, I start praying to Tyr, and Freya. I pray to Tyr to make my sword steady and swift, my shield strong and parry enemy attacks with great confidence. Also to help us in this battle for safe and secure passage home. I pray to Freya, I make my wife and two children feel the love I have for them, and so Magnus can know the appreciation I have for him.

I stand out front of the group of now adrenaline fueled warriors. They are waiting for me to make any movement, any notion that it is time to start the slaughter, to fulfill their destinies as a viking warrior. I take one last look back, I notice some of the young faces in the crowd again. The ones I saw earlier when Magnus first approached me. I remember the fear on their faces when the war drum started. I do not see it now. I think the enemies could have had Odin himself on their side and their courage would not be broken. I guess that is why they made me leader of this unified force.

I see the enemy chieftain, we catch each others eyes. I see the same fear in his eyes as I have in my heart. I almost feel bad for him. Almost. I raise my sword and get the attention of my troops, the enemy chieftain does the same, I point forward and we march towards the enemy. We march through the muck that is the ground, and slide all over the place. This is not a suitable battlefield. I look at Magnus, he knows it too. What can go wrong he says. I let out a laugh, and Magnus instantly knows what it is that I am laughing about. He smiles back. We start to run at the enemy. “ FOR ASAGAARD!” I yell out, the others in unison follow suit. As we meet the enemy head on, shields crash together, the scraping sounds of metal singe the ear drums. After the initial wave of pushing, swords are brought into play. The sound of yelling and crying out to the gods is heard all over the battlefield. The sight of dismembered bodies plague the mind. During all of this I try to keep in mind of my wife. Something worth fighting for. I see our men dying, but not without putting up a fight. The visual numbers for our side are diminishing. I am hoping we can outlast.

I notice a few young faces fighting the enemy chieftain. I turn away and fight someone off the blow of my shield. I stare him in the face, he looks just like someone from my town. It is an uncanny resemblance. Down to the beard and the way he grunts and cries out as he falls victim to my blade. Sliced his throat. I watched the blood rain out of his neck, as he hit the ground the muddy water started to saturate with blood. A man, probably with a wife, a man that will never see that wife again, and I killed him. Not the first time, nor will it be the last.

I turn back to look at the progress of the young warriors fighting the chieftain, they are missing my heart sinks. I notice the chieftain has moved towards me to take me head on. He swings his bladed club at me. I parry it with my shield, it has taken a beating in the fight. I circle around him and slice his side quick with a slash from my sword. He isn't carrying a shield, and that club seems heavy. I get a few more hits in on the chieftain. I notice in the background Magnus. He is surrounded, and the bastards have struck him down. Stabbing sword after another go through Magnus. He falls to his knees and falls face first into the water. He lays in the water motionless. I can't tell if he died from the sword wounds or the prolonged water asphyxiation. As I snap back to the moment, I feel a sharp pain in my legs. I notice I am surrounded by all the enemy troop. They are watching me and their leader, a formidable opponent to fight. I realize I am the last. I yell out “NONE OF YOU SHALL PASS WHILE I AM STILL BREATHING!” The chieftain says calmly, “I guess that is a problem we shall have to fix.” I now realize the source of the pain, my Achilles tendons have been cut by one of their warriors. I fall backwards, the rain hitting me in the face directly. The chieftain hands his club off to a warrior and takes a sword from one of their sheaths. He stands directly over me. His large body blocks the rain from hitting me directly in the eyes. A small convenience in a very unconveienent situation. Blood drips off his beard from the many facial cuts. He takes the sword and plunges it into my stomach area. I gag. I can taste my own blood. Not the metal taste as I remember. As I look at the chieftain I can see in his eyes that the worry that he had before the battle when we caught each others eyes is gone. It is now replaced by a more solemn look. A look that he knows what he is doing, and has to do, but in some way doesn't want to do. Darkness is closing in. I don't fear the setting sun, or the twilight that it brings. Dark clouds filled the sky, my fate is at hand. Today is the day that I die He knows all that we fought for. He now takes the sword and runs it smoothly across my neck. I can feel my body draining. I am not sad at this fact, nor am I angry. I am relieved. I do not now have to worry about anything else. Surely I will miss my wife, and children, but, I now don't have to worry about them. Surely for if they are to die I will be waiting. It is easier this way. It now crosses my mind that I will meet my unborn child. Though not the way I wanted, I'll still get to meet him. I'll be waiting.
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