samedi 24 décembre 2011

Foundations

   A thin mist shrouded the land around the quiet village of Harthrid, creeping like a ghost from the dark forest to envelope the small thatched houses. It snaked along the small stream, licking around Svat's watermill and seeping through the shuttered window. Up on the small hill, a stout hall stood, the hounds inside sleeping in a large huddle to keep away the night's chill. Bersi, the chief, slept peacefully.
   Down the hill, where the mist sat thicker, something moved. It walked up the slight slope, the dew wetting it's leather shoes and freezing it's toes. It blew into it's hands and tucked them under his armpits; it could never remember a spring morning so cold. As it reached the hall the first rays of dim sunlight touched the horizon and brought light into the world.
   Haakon Helgison watched the sun rise. He looked out over the lead grey sea, the huge vastness stretching out towards far away lands. Small waves broke themselves on the shingle beach and the cliffs over to Haakon's left where sea birds awoke and circled into the sky to greet the sun. Somewhere a stag raised it's noble head, spotted the young boy standing on the hill, then resumed nibbling away at a sapling. Inside the hall a hound stirred, yawning, then fell silent, and the sun crept further up to reveal it's golden face.
   Haakon began walking down the other side of the slope, his blond curls flowing out behind him. He scanned the shore with his sharp, green eyes as he passed Ansvar's smithy. Soon Ansvar would pump life into the charcoal and begin his work, but for now it was silent. Only the sound of the sea reached the boy's ears. When he reached the beach he stopped, looked to his left and right, then saw it.
   A ship.
   It was Laugi's ship, a wide trading ship, it's belly filled with metal workings and furs to take over the sea's to sell. Oars sat ready for use and the sea chest, filled with the crews belongings, sat with them. Nobody guarded the ship, for there was no need, as Harthrid knew neither war nor the feud, and Laugi brought much needed wealth to the village, so he left it unguarded. Haakon approached the vessel, running his fingers down the pine planks in wonder. Haakon could imagine himself of a ship, like this one, a band of warriors at his back and a shining helmet on his head. He imagined himself leading them to conquer lands in England, Ireland, Scotland, France, everywhere. He would build a mighty hall and fill it with the trophies taken from his vanquished foes. He knew that was his destiny.
   "How did I guess?" Haakon span around to see Laugi approach. "I saw someone heading this way and knew it was you."
   "Just wanted to see it before you left."
   "You still can't come?"
   "My father won't let me. But next year I will." Haakon added excitedly.
   "I look forward to then." Laugi stopped by Haakon and looked up at his ship.
   "I want a ship one day." Haakon said wistfully.
   "Still want to be a raider?" Haakon nodded.
   "Maybe Bersi would like to build a ship, so we could go raiding. Bersi always wants more money."
   "Bersi is old and fat. He can build a ship but he would see no use in doing so. Don't worry, I'm sure you'll have one one day."
   "One day." Haakon repeated quietly. "One day."

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