Mark Maker #13

Posted: March 1, 2013 in Viking novel
Tags: ,

Soon the first grisly corpse is evident, a twisted and shrunken hand is stretching out from its snowy blanket beseeching me to take more care. I see by its ring that the owner is a man. I bend down to discover more of his death. Scraping away the snow with one of my gloved hands, I can see his neck has been severed making the whole head hang at a strange angle right down on his chest. I decide to lift the head to check the wound. The bile rushes into my mouth and I dry reach on the side of the body. Instead of a clean blade wound across his neck or the line of knife, his whole neck is missing, torn down to the very spine so that all the sinews are hanging loose and the whole flesh of the neck is gone. It’s an horrific wound savagely inflicted. I look for evidence of wolves, for it is them that deal such massive damage to a corpse. But there are no parts of the man dragged away into the snow, nothing to indicate that an animal has in fact torn his throat out.
I enter the hut and strip off the furs and the heavy bandaging on my leg. I hop to the bed platform and lever my aching leg up to relieve the awful pressure on it from walking. Ragi is away. Valdr is sound asleep and his breathing is even and quiet. His chest no longer has the rattle of illness and his face has some of its colour back. Even the heat is dissipating from his brow. Could he really be recovering?
As I topple back to rest, the questions I need to ask Ragi swirl in my brain: Where was he when the raiders came? Why did he hear and see nothing, even the smoke which was coming from the burned huts? No vessels in the bay either? And why, all those months back, did he not take a woman as we all did who were alone, from the bought captives of the slave traders? And generally, I need to ask myself: Was it something to do with the women all this? But how when they too and their babes were slain? Rescuers of their own people would have freed them.

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