Mark Maker #17

Posted: May 5, 2013 in Viking novel
Tags: ,

(C) 2013
“Ragi, how did you survive?”
Ragi turns as if I have poked him in the back.
“You have no marks at all!”
Valdr is sitting as before and the intensity on his face matches my own.
Ragi stands up and drops the rope he is knotting. He pauses longer than I want. I want to know now. I move menacingly towards him.
“Stop! I hid. I heard them screaming and I ran.”
“Where? Where did you hide?”
“In the caves above the beach.”
“And you stayed there while all of them, even the babes, were massacred!”
Ragi hangs his head. “There were too many. Hundreds of them.”
Valdr speaks now: “How do you know, you ran!”
“I heard them.”
I feel anger rising like a red snake in my belly. “Tell me now what you know, all of what you heard and saw.”
“I was at the north end of the village, returning home after leaving skins for Ingar. I cannot for sure say how but they were inside the village walls before anyone saw them. Gunnar screamed the warning first and the men sought their arms. The women, those outside, turned and ran into their houses and bolted the doors. I had left my sword at home, There had been no need of it. To defend myself, I had nothing. I thought only of my farm and the flock built up from a few weak lambs to a herd worth having. I wanted to save them. So I turned and ran for the back gate and locking it close behind me sought the caves above my beach.”
I am fuming now and want to kill him myself but I need to know what happened more.
“Who were they? Were they like us?’
“Some were…men. Those I could see. There was also something else. A feeling of some such thing moving, a kind of blurr. Our men I saw fall holding their blood-streaming throats with nothing near them.” Ragi begins to groan and hold his head. “I can’t stop seeing them fall! Will Thor forgive such as I?”
Valdr raises himself up to see Ragi better, “What do you mean, something invisible?”
Ragi tries to control his pain, “Something was moving with… a great fastness… Many men fell quickly without the chance to fight back, yes.”
“So there was none of them killed by us?”
“None as I saw with my looking, brief as it was.”
“This explains why I found no evidence of them, the warriors. Who were they, Ragi? Did they have markings on their shields?”
“I who ran fast as I could but cannot for sureness say of the colours nor the workings on their shields. If I saw, the memory of them is lost. I expected my throat out too.”
“Now you must tell me of my wife!”
“I have not news of her, as I have said before. Only the cloak…”
“And from the cave, as I remember from my boyhood searches there, you can see the beach!”
“Aye, as one does look. Would I my face shown then, after such sights in the village!”
“I expect not. But for the sounds perhaps of men moving off into the ocean, do you recall any of THAT?”
“I heard them yelling as of a triumph. Of victory they did chant.”
“Aye of a victory, then you must have heard them in a tongue known to us?”
“Nay, of words a few only, and then in a Norseward tongue unspoken by us.”
“Which words did you understand?”
“They sang only a few I know. They spoke of the ‘victory of the markmaker’ and ‘we have her.’
“And you thought not to tell me this until NOW!”
Ragi looks at me in a puzzled way. “I did attend your needs first, Asmundr and of your brother’s.”
I cannot deny his help and to show him I wish him no harm, I sit down again next to Valdr.
Valdr turns to me, “Asmundr, it may be her they have.”
“I would wish it so and then not. Both.”
“You wish her alive!”
“Yes.”
When the injury has left me, when the winter begins to thaw, when Valdr is fit, then we will go to the mainland and consult the Thing as to what can be done. I know in my heart this is a god-driven outcome: The massacre, the loss of Isla, our injuries. All of it is nothing more than we deserve.

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