Chapter one: The will of the blade.
The pale men reached the village like wraiths, holding their lines just in front of the village, still covered partially by the forest, their figures mostly shrouded in shadows save for the occasional glitter of shining rocks they had wrapped around their flesh. The wraiths chanted as one, roaring on the top of their lungs, shouting powerfully in a way that could only be described as war-cries in a language that the villagers did not speak, nor would they want to understand.
There was one elder still among them, Gramesh, injured on his left arm, thus rendering him useless in a fight. He stepped forwards and spoke to the rest of the villagers in quick words, trying to calm them down and organized. The man had been a warrior, his scars said so, yet he was a cripple. He was the only one among their ranks that held his weapon as if he knew how to use it and come off looking threatening; a bony hand wielding a long spear with a obsidian spearhead, no doubt a heirloom of sorts. The second the elder began to speak and calm the cry was the second a single wraith stepped forwards, all the while the others began bellowing in laughter, all in a deep 'hur hur hur' accompanied with weapons hitting the edges of their shields to create a deafening drum.
“Stay back, for the these are the pale demons of death.” Gramesh said, knees shaking, yet still holding. He had killed a feral beast in his glory days, earning him the spear of Sha’tal, a significance of his courage. He stepped forwards and noticed one of the demons walking towards him, moving past the shadows, appearing into the light. It didn’t burn in sun light, instead simply showing glistering rocks on his frame accompanied leather and fur pelt pieces and a very, very pale human face underneath it all. The demon easily stood a head taller than Gramesh, if not two, and having a much larger bulk. He moved determinedly and without hesitation, apparently his mind already convinced that Gramesh wasn’t a threat, simply a toy.
Suddenly the demon shot forwards, rushing left and right, dodging the first spear thrust of Gramesh and blocking the other three with the strange shining rocks on his arms, letting the obsidian spear head snap into half, in turn shattering Gramesh’s courage. The elder was grabbed by the throat and could feel the strength of the man, simply crushing the windpipe as he then proceeded to move by spinning on his feet, flinging Gramesh back into the village, letting him roll and slide towards the rest of the villagers, panting and suffocating painfully. The demon simply continued to walk towards the villagers, grinning as he moved closer and closer, letting them see the pale flesh that was him. He looked alien to them, like some pale ghost that had taken demonic form. A few stone tipped arrows were shot at him, yet the glistening metals kin he carried simply shrugged it off, even shattering some of the stone tips. He then roared as he and his fellow demons rushed the village.
The last thing anyone would see was the perfectly honed steel sword flying at them in an intricate arc of brutality and scarlet hunger.
Gramesh simply lay there as he felt the death slowly embracing, yet not fast enough to spare him the sights of these demons. He cursed any and all god that might have caused the downfall of his family and friends, yet deep down in his heart he knew that they had been doomed months earlier.
Three months ago their village had been raided, losing most of their capable warriors, crippling several of the promising young males and taking with them some of the younger girls. They had managed to fend off the other tribe, yet at great cost.
Whilst the other tribe merely licked their wounds, the village of Gramesh only bled further. He knew that another attack would doom the village, seeing as they did not have the strength to fend off another attack, yet surprisingly it never came. He had heard rumors of the 'white wraiths' in those months of fearing for another attack.
He cocked his head to the side once more as he heard the cracking of twigs at his side. When he turned his head he noticed the pale wraith hovering above him, weapon at the ready and threatening to slam downwards within a second. He was about to curse this demon as well, yet stopped when he noticed the obsidian dagger there next to several others. Anyone might have dismissed it as any other dagger, yet Gramesh recognized it immediately, his crippled side flaring up in pain. It had been the same dagger used by one of the raiders that had attacked the village a few months ago.
He bit down his oaths and curses, instead chose to smile as the demon plunged the shining rock weapon downwards, creating a shower of red as Gramesh ceased to be what he was before. The last thought he had were of retribution and vengeance, hoping that the demons would soon travel towards the city that had attacked this village and tear it asunder. He only feared what might happen to any and all survivors of this city.
The warm taste of copper slid past Lancejof Akelson's lips and onto his tongue as he freed his sword from his attacker's rib cage, spitting out large droplets of blood that were not his own. Through sweat-blurred vision an all too familiar individual found him as he raised his head, wiping the blood from his mouth. Behind them the drums and horns boomed and bellowed. What a tale they would have to tell of this day. The smell of salt mixing with the bodies turned his stomach but there was no time for sympathies. All around him lay corpses of men, some as dark as the night.
The sights of these had been a bit of a surprise at first, yet they quickly found out that they died as easily as any other men. They had been on a raiding trip far in the south when a storm had hit them, swallowing up several ships and separating them from the main fleet. Only four ships had been spared, as far as they knew, bringing with them a good sixty men, all experienced warriors in their prime. They had made their way towards the nearest coast, already feeling the tremendous heat of the sun on their skin, making it red and sore from the long exposure. What was even more surprising was the weird fauna, wildlife and the inhabitants there, not to mention the large volcano that could be seen in the distance, occasionally spewing smoke upwards.
A few of the darker skinned had tried communicating with them from afar, yet after a hour of shouting back and forth they had decided to shoot a few arrows in them, hopefully shutting them up again. A basic camp had been set up near the coast, on a spot were fresh water ran and plenty of wild game could be hunted. They had licked their losses there for a few days, honoring the men that had drowned and the men that were still adrift.
It was that day that several of dark skinned, or ash-landers had dared to attack them, outnumbering them three to one, yet all of them facing chainmail armor, Damascus steel swords and generations of bred violence and alcohol dulled nerves. The opposition might have crashed down upon them like a black tide, yet they had been cut down in sprays of blood and gore, staining the land for years to come. Lancejof Akelson had personally killed at least twenty of them before his sword had gotten stuck in one of them, earning a chuckle from a fellow warrior next to him, who had given him his spare mace, claiming that maces did not get stuck. The man had been right, plus the sounds of skulls caving in, bones shattering and flesh tearing was a pleasant way to spend your evenings.
At the end he had found his weapon again, taking a small obsidian knife from 'flesh scabbard' that had so graciously held his family sword for a few minutes. He did not know why he took the blade, yet he did so none the less. Perhaps it might be of use during cooking or simply serve as a memento of good times.
The next morning the Vikings decided they would pay a visit to these ‘ash-landers', paying them back with a bit of their own medicine. They did not know that the attack had been caused by another tribe, one who were rivals of the village they were going to attack, yet they wouldn't have stopped the slaughter if they had known before hand.
If they had known they would have laughed all the harder, knowing it was all a cosmic joke that was thrown at their path to test themselves. They kept half their numbers in the main camp and had split the rest up in several raiding elements. Lance would lead a band of twenty to a village deep within the tall trees and blistering heat. During midday they had found it, spreading out their numbers so that they would cover all directions and using bows to shoot down any runners. Lance roared a cry of blood and death as he charged, hearing the horns of battle being blown by his companions. The village would be raided by Vikings for the first time. Lance was going to make sure they were going to remember it for generations to come.
When the main portion of the killing was done, most of it a quick slaughter followed by an hour of tracking and using bow and arrow, the portion of looting came next. In each house they found either food, cloth and leather or whimpering survivors. Some were butchered, others given a challenge to run as far as they could make it. A few of the men even forced themselves on some of the girls and women, even a few boys when they could, wanting to see if they were as black inside the 'good parts' as well.
Lancejof had claimed three huts for his own, having secured it with two archers in the distance to take down any runners. He took a deep breath, readied his sword and proceeded to kick in the doors one by one, followed by screaming on the top of his lungs, ready to subdue or stab anyone that even dared consider the thought of resistance.