Mark Maker #14

Posted: March 10, 2013 in Viking novel
Tags: ,

(c) 2013
I dream and their faces are black, black as a fog on the high seas at night under a heavy sky. Their breath is stinking like the most putrid rotting fish. Their huge grey hands are slippery with grease, red grease and yellow fat. They scream like a pig in its death throes, like a seal bashed on the rocks in the mouth of a whale. The sound carries across the clearing near my house like a wave crashing against cliffs and their weapons hack at me and my brother, thwack, thwack as a sharpened scythe razes wheat to an even tuft of dry stalked roots and the sheaves fall like tresses of hair onto the soil. And I see among the golden sheaves more golden tresses, a woman’s hair beautiful, silken sheared off like the wheat, flat like the wheat…
Ragi is shaking me awake. “Asmundr, I have found something as you should see.”
Ragi’s reddish face begins to focus in front of my eyes. “I have something,” he repeats.
“What? Show me.”
He drops a piece of cloth into my lap. It is brown like lichen. It’s a brown we don’t see in cloth here. Our sheep are white. This cloth has been made from a sheep that is a throw back to a breed we no longer see. I recognise the cloth well. It is Isla’s cape, fine and warm, the cape she was wearing when I first spied her as she left the ship.
“It is my wife’s” I choke out the words. “Show me now! Show me where you found it!”
“Stay, you are tired and it is no use.”
I jump up and hurt my leg. He hurries to placate me. “It were on the shore, near the rocks. Drenched in seawater. I searched… everywhere… along the shore and back up to the cliffs. I found nothing else. No shoes, no shift, nothing. You hear me?”
“Nothing else? You sure?”
“Yes, I am sure. You must show me where.”
He shakes his head. “It’s dark now. I will show you tomorrow.”
I demand to know more. He tells me all he can. I nod dumbly. It’s her cloak. She’d need it to stop from freezing and now she has it not. Is she floating into some bay over the seas? Has another island become her last home? Are her beautiful tresses cloyed now with stinking seaweed? Have I my brother back to find my wife is now truly gone? Ragi thrusts a potent drink in my hand warmed by the fire with herbs and honey to cover the bitterness of the brew.
“Drink, drink,” he says and I cannot refuse.

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