Born into blood, rage and chaos on a stormy North sea, a child, a boy leaves his mothers body. His coming was not met with the mercy of men nor the nurture of women. The torment of suffering in a dark world had only began.
” The woman is with child! ” came a cry over the roar of the sea with the whine of wind mixed with the whimpering of women. ” Throw them to the sea!” a harsh voice answered. The woman clutched her new born son, her scream of terror was drowned by the crash of thunder. The other women in chains beside her did nothing to protect her for they knew their faith would be no different if they resisted. She was plucked by the large Norse warrior and tossed across the deck. Her child slipped from her grasp and slid across the wet sleekly wood. “Please!” was her last frantic word before the big Norse warrior tossed her like an unwanted doll into the black raging sea.
The other Terror-stricken women cried out with frantic hysteria. Another Viking struck one of them and demanded silence. He called to the big Norse warrior ” The child!” The boat creaked and groaned as it plunged forward in the dark ocean. His dead grey eyes scoured the deck until they rested on his prey. He raised the new born by the ankle and was about to give him to the ocean when the sea answered with a wave that crashed onto the boat almost taking it under. When the Knarr emerged and the water subsided the large Norse warrior was gone, but the tiny child remained on the deck, the wild ocean seemed calmer. The other Viking stepped towards the wailing child but was brought to a halt with a word. “Stop!” A muscular man with a square bearded jaw and golden hair spoke in a commanding tone ” The child stays, if the gods took Dabria my strongest fighter and left this child it is a sign from Aegir, it is a gift from him. If the child survives the voyage, it may have some purpose to our cause. ”
The child did survive and the commander of that Knarr later became a King known to many as Eric bloodaxe. The child grew under his cruel watchful eye at the ringfort fairhair in Northumbria. He learnt to read,write and master the sword. Soon he was thought the cruel ways of the Norse King, murder and mayhem. He was sent to raid and fight, but the boy had his mother heart and her love still ran in his blood.
One day along with a war party the boy refused to take the life of a young boy in a small village deep in the Pennies mountains. The King was called. “Do it now boy!” Erics roar silenced the birds in the trees. The boy looked into his cold eyes, shaking his head he replied “The boy is innocent, I will not.” The King feeling the humiliation of a disputed order raged forward, his men parted his path. His hand found the boys throat, his blade rose and cut his cheekbone. Eric threw him to the ground and followed with several kicks. As always the boy did not resist. “I should have had you thrown to the sea with your whore mother all those years ago.” He looked to his men, “chain him with the other prisoners he will be sacrificed to Odin after this business in Steinmore.” “Yes my King.” came a reply. The bloodied boy was flung into the Iron cart with three other prisoners. His hateful eye never left Eric for one second. He knew and despised his cruelty and would welcome death rather than slave and serve this brutal master.
When they reached Steinmore a battle began as a large force was set upon Eric Bloodaxe by his opposer Osluf. Arrows rained into the iron cage as the boy dived for cover on the floor, the other prisoners were not as swift, they all met their fate. Men were pushed and thrown up against the cage with shields and swords clashing. The cage on the cart rocked, the horses panicked and bolted. The cage screeched as its dead weight pulled it from the wooden floor it was nailed to. It smashed on the stoney ground, the boy fell free of the cage. He tried to run but his chains were linked to the dead prisoners. Frantic faces flashed across his vision, blood and chaos once again. A long sword swung missing its target cutting across the chains between his feet and breaking the rusted links. Perhaps the gods did favor him after all.
Now on his feet he needed to react quickly but before he could he was knocked to his feet by a rush of men with chainmail with swords and shields clashing and crashing two bodies fell on him with a thump. He scrambled to his feet finding a long sword and moving into defensive position as a man in an iron helmet rushed him. He didn’t know if he was Eric’s man or the opposers soldier, it didn’t matter they were all his enemy now. Deflecting the parry the boy used a move he had practised and perfected for years. Shifting his left foot a half step across his body he spun ducking low the long sword moved in a circular direction gathering momentum with the spin and cutting a vicious wound to his prey and snatching his life. Another was upon him in a moment thrusting and parrying. The boy fell over as he retreated but managed to parry his pursuers wild swings. He felt a breeze pass his face as an arrow found his enemies throat.
He knew he must flee this ferce battle before it was too late and besides it wasn’t his fight he had only one enemy here. Through the confusion of battle he glimpsed an opening. Men were busy deflecting, evading and fighting for their lives, he ran through an opening and began up the hill when he spotted an archer in the rocks. It was too late the man had loosed an arrow, whether it was trained reflexes, skill or pure luck the boy raised his sword with the speed of youth, deflecting the arrow meant for his heart. Never slowing his run he moved faster now as the archer notched another arrow. He would not reach him in time,but the long sword could, he raised it over his head and flung it, whooshing through the air the sword found its mark slicing the archer and pinning him to the earth. Stopping at the dead archer he was stuck with an uncanny compassion. The boy was no older than himself.” Why him and not me?” he asked himself. Turning to the battlefield now the carnage unfolded he saw more men fall and die. “Why?” he muttered, his instincts screamed “move!” “run!”, yet some divine force held him for a few seconds more. Then he knew why as he eyed a bloody Eric struggled with another warrior. He looked familiar.
With a closer look he realised it was Maccus son of Osluf, he had met him some years back when they were both children. His babyface was still the same, his body had grown but his face was still trying to catch up. Eric was stronger and more powerful he was beating Maccus back with ferocious strikes. “Perhaps I can even the odds.” the boy thought. Picking up the dead archers quill and bow he notched an arrow, aimed with steady concentration imagining his target. Loose, the arrow took flight and lodged in Erics hamstring bringing him to one knee. It was enough time for Maccus to regain his composure and swing his axe cutting the cruel Viking a fatal blow, so ending the reign of Eric bloodaxe.
The boy did not wait to see the aftermath, he fled for the cover of the trees and didn’t stop running until his legs couldn’t carry him further, collapsing by a lake he drank from it and fell asleep. He awoke to begin the hardest winter of his life, for months he lived in the wild, starving and living on scraps. Deciding on his 16th year if he did not leave this land of war and misery called Britain he would perish and not see another summer.
After escaping death twice in the Irish sea he washed up like a walking corpse on a stoney bay on the shores of Waterford. Before long he found there was more death and destruction on Irish shores between clans, kings, Danes and Norsemen. The Christians preached in the villages of the sinners hell, if it was true then maybe he had already died after all. He found work, working his way to Limerick. His strong Norse beliefs in the gods and his knowledge of Odin and Valhalla made him popular amongst the Danish community. It was here he secured a good job ship building with a man named Glasir, named after the golden tree which stood in Valhalla.
It was the first time anybody had showed an interest in him. It was the first time he ever had conversations. It was the first time the boy had ever known kindness. When Glasir had asked him his name it was the first time for anyone to ask this too, he had almost forgot or maybe he just wanted to hear it one more time. “My friend what is your name?” “Håkon.” he replied as he realised something else was happening for the first time in his life, he was smiling.