Mark Maker # 12

Posted: February 17, 2013 in Viking novel
Tags: ,

Ragi returns to the hut and unwraps his furs and slings them onto the bed platform to dry.
He stamps his feet to shake off the snow. “You should try the leg,” he says to me. “A little standing may help to strengthen the bone.”
I choose to ignore this comment and instead ask:” When you went into the village did you see any of the enemy slain on the ground or anywhere?”
“The bodies were covered in snow when I saw them. A poke to see if they moved was all I did.” He looks at me with wide, sad eyes. “By Thor, the sight of them was hard to take, my heart moved heavy and I found after a while, I could look no more.”
“What does the weather?”
“Snow has stopped falling. By the morn, I expect it fine.”
He throws more wood on the fire and sits with his broth pot filled to eat.
“Tomorrow, I will go again to the village,” I say.
“And Valdr?”
“Valdr will be in Valhalla or he will not. Whether I stay or go will make no difference to him but going will make a difference to me.”
“Rest long then and drink deep tonight, so you may have the strength.”
“I will and again I say my debt to you and your animals, without you and the food, I would be frozen under the snow.”
Ragi merely nods and quietly sips his soup.

As Ragi predicted the morning is fine and the sun, feeble though it is, spreads its white fingers across the snowscape. Valdr sleeps as though in a trance still. His leg looks less red and the hole is beginning to cover over with new skin. If he can just live long enough my surgery may heal him but his whole body is much weakened. I wipe his forehead with a cloth dipped in warm water and I moisten his lips with the broth. I dare not feed him lest he choke. My decision is made and was the night before. I will go into the village to see more for myself as to what became of my fellow islanders.
Ragi is not in the hut so I busy myself with furs and leggings to bind the weak leg. I decide to take the sword in case I have need of it.
I take the skis from the door and painfully adjust the bad leg into the ski. I am immune to the pain now, it makes no difference to me, the pain in my heart is worst of all.
Out the door, I lift one leg and then the other carefully onto a path Ragi has already made in the snow. With the sword in my belt hanging down my back I begin to make my way across the path and point into the direction I know where the village lies.
As I go, in my own slow way one foot after the other, plod and place, plod and place, I see more nimble footed animals like the hare have left footprints in the snow. Without the snow flurries of my first attempt to the village after the attack, I make much better progress, soon I am on the track that leads up to the village wall. Rocks denote the edges of the track, as a few still rise above the surface of the snow like rows of black teeth.
As I gain the village entrance through its wall, I can see that foxes have run through the place and there are signs of wolves as well. My stomach churns at the thought and my earlier inability to cover my countrymen’s bodies. It must bring evil the neglect of the dead and I touch the hammer of Thor which hangs around my neck as a talisman against ill luck.


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