∴ A Stormy Sign∴
The small wooden dock groans under the weight of the crowd crammed closely upon it. It seems the entire village has come to witness the departure of the serpent-prowed ship that sits high in the water.
Broad-shouldered fighters in furs and leathers clap one another on the back in greeting and solidarity. Inky-robed mages lean casually against their staffs. Husbands and wives clamour around them, buckling breastplates and bidding them sail home safely before winter.
You wonder why it is that the raiders always set out to sea fully armed. They are unlikely to face any foes this close to the fjord, and even less likely to find new land within the next week. Perhaps it is a symbol of the battle they are due to fight with the sea itself – a fight for their lives against proud Aegir himself.
Fear and envy wrestle within you. Your mother forbade you join the raid this year – you are too young, she insisted. Besides, she would need your help with the harvest. You protested at the time, but now you come to look at the slender wooden boat and the churning, seething waves beyond the haven, a part of you is glad to stay on land.
The crowd parts suddenly, and you turn to see the Jarl himself striding toward the ship, his one-eyed soothsayer lingering in his wake. As the pair approach, you feel flutter of thrill in your stomach, not because of the Jarl’s own greatness, but because of the sword at his side:
Black-hilted, ring-pommeled, and lovingly carved with the Midgard Serpent itself, the thing is the subject of endless stories. Many times you have sat wide-eyed by the fire as the bard tells of the serpents it has slain, and the foes it has cast to Aegir’s storm-happy daughters.
As the Jarl draws level with you, the soothsayer places a hand on his shoulder, murmuring something into his ear. The Jarl stops, a look of confusion crossing his face, and turns to take you in. Your heart nearly stops as those solemn blue eyes sweep up and down your height.
“You are certain?” he asks.
“I have seen,” the old sage creaks in reply.
With a heavy sigh the Jarl unbuckles the belt that holds the legendary sword of his bloodline, and holds it out to you.
“Who am I to argue with auguries?” he grumbles.