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Lightning split the sky and thunder howled, snow covered the beach. The snow and sand made a crunching sound under the boots of the men as they lowered themselves onto the shore. Large blond haired men with beards pulled hard on ropes and tied the huge boats to trees to prevent them from drifting off. More men jumped off the longboats and onto the foreign soil. The wind whipped and the boats bobbed back and forth as though they were trying to free themselves of their bonds that held them fast. The men tied the boats down and then formed a very thick circle around a mountain of a man. The man had a full red beard and long red hair, his armor was ornate and glistened in the moon light.
“We rode the rivers of the Eastern trail, deep into the land of the Rus'. Following the wind in our sails and the rhythm of our oars. There will be no shelter in this hostile land! We must be constantly on guard, Ready to fight and defend our ship ‘til the bitter end.” The Red haired man shook his fist in the air as he bellowed these words “Let them hear your rage! Raise your swords up high! Show no fear! Leave no church unburned and no beating heart still whole!”
The men roared at Eric’s speech, waving their swords and axes high in the air and chanting. Eric nodded his head and raised his hand and the men instantly quelled their fervor. “Now we must get off this beach and make camp, tomorrow we burn the wretches.”
The men cheered again and proceeded to pull things off the ships. In only a few hours a camp of animal skin huts were completed. Only four huts had been built but each was large enough for an entire ship’s crew. There was a large fire in the center of the huts and a group of men sat finishing their meals, others were sleeping on mats of fur in the huts. Eric sat a fair pace from the camp, he was atop a hill that over looked a small village. His mind wondered, was attacking the small town worth the risk, which could only reveal their presence too early. A raven landed on a rock just in front of him. It cawed, its black eyes pierced Eric’s thoughts. No, if Odin wishes this to be his time than Valhalla awaits him.
Eric stood and returned to camp, he passed his sleeping men and laid on his mat, which was comprised of the fur of the animals he himself had killed. The better a hunter you were the better your rest. He fell into a deep sleep and dreamed dreams of victory and glory. Odin gave him a glimpse into the future, or Loki had given him some twisted hope, only the next day would tell.
When dawn came the snow had ceased and the earth seemed to be much warmer. Eric’s eyes were heavy with sleep and he only awoke with the help of a comrade, a gentle shake. Many of his men sat around the newly stoked fire eating and dawning their armor. He sat down on the ground and a large brown haired man handed him the leg of a Quail.
“Much thanks Grendal!” Eric cried as he greeted his friend. Grendal sat beside him and took a bite of his own bird.
“Well do we strike down the Rus’ today?” Grendal asked with a smile.
“If the Gods permit us, Yes” Eric continued his munching. “Where did you find this bird. Grendal?”
“One of the men came across a field of them early this morning, the meat is too sweet for my liking!” He waved the half eaten leg in the direction of the woods, to indicate the direction of the field.
“Ah, it is sweet but I don’t mind it, any Mead about?” Eric threw the clean bone into the bond fire .
Grendal waved to a man near a barrel. “Get Eric some mead man!” The man retrieved a mug made of iron and tipped the barrel, a deep golden liquid poured from a hole in the side of the barrel.
Eric took the Mead from the man and held it over the fire for a few minutes. “Warm Mead is a gift from the Gods!” Eric exclaimed. Grendal laughed and pored a mug of Mead for himself, he too warm his mug.
Eric downed his mug and left the fire, he returned to his mat and picked up his silver plate mail cuirass and attached it. He put on his pauldrons and greaves, then his boots and gauntlets. He but his long sword in his belt and his battle axe on his back, he slid his helmet on and was now ready for war. When Eric returned outside his men were all ready for a glorious battle.
He led them to the hill and they lined up, berserkers up front and any men with bows in back. A man with a torch ran down the line of archers, lighting the oil soaked rags on the end of the arrows ablaze. Eric waved his hand and a volley of arrows flew down on the unsuspecting town below, the thatch roofs ignited and the front line charged down the hill. The archers threw down their bows and drew their swords and charged in also. It was a massacre, not one Nord lost his life. Eric had his men pile the town’s folk up and their body’s burnt. Grendal stood beside Eric as the men cut the ropes that held the longboats to this land. The young women screamed as they served their purpose. Only Nordic women had the right to be free, all others were just slaves. Only Viking men had the right to live, all others are just enemies to be crushed under foot.
“Move men! inland! Go up stream, there are many more Rus’ towns to be purged, many more victories to be had!” Eric shouted as his men rowed and pushed the longboats up stream, deeper into the unknown lands.