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Writer c4tbuttz
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Dec 5, 2015
17 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!Pqfr8TYnVSfAx4aO3nU7posted on PENANA

Onecopyright protection131PENANAdgvWs6t7dE

     Sunlight pierced through the canopies the trees had created, casting a warm glow on the landscape below. I kept a low stance on the branch I was balancing on, watching my kin progress in the tall brush below. Thunder echoed ominously in the distance and the scout, who had taken my place at point, glanced up at me. Even though his eyes were hidden behind the darkness of his mask, I could see the underlying concern. The storm was approaching faster than we had originally thought. I gave a short nod, telling him to keep advancing below. He responded with another small nod and made the motion for the group to keep moving. We didn't take trespassing lightly, and a storm would not change that. We were Skjaldvarr, and as warriors of the shield we would press forward. My eyes searched the shadows and the treetops, trying to find signs that someone-or something-was here with us...or at least had been. With nothing readily visible, I prepared to advance ahead.copyright protection131PENANAk25AtdtsAo

     The canopies were as comfortable to me as the ground below and most times, I preferred the green tree-tops to land. I pressed a hand to the bark behind me and inhaled as a breeze swept by, before pulling my cover back up over my mouth. I pushed off of the tree as the breeze died down and leaped right as the branch ended. With a reaching hand I grabbed hold of the new one and swung my body weight so I could throw a leg over. Somewhere not too far off, there was a snap-the sound of the pulleys in one of our set traps yanking rope and net into the air. I kept my body pressed to the branch and looked down at my kin. The scout caught my eye and made the gesture for our group of six to spread out. Thunder rolled again in the background, signaling it's creeping approach. In trained silence, we continued to move forward, my kin below and I above. As we approached the trap, I signaled for my group to hold their positions as I went to check it out. They blended themselves into the high brush as made my way through the tops.copyright protection131PENANAkPZSU9HXwC

     I halted when I spotted the net swinging from the momentum of being hauled skyward, and squinted through my mask, trying to make sense of what my eyes were seeing.copyright protection131PENANA4KSzGlF9tT

It was a heavy slab of rock.copyright protection131PENANAONVTnp7RRH

     I dropped my crouch into a prone against the branch, my eyes automatically searching for signs of movement. Within the darkness between the trees below, shadows passed amid pausing every few seconds. Going on the hunch that they had yet to spot me, I gave a low whistle. The shadows in the trees paused, trying to discern my signal between natural or a warning. The forest remained silent for a beat, the only audible noise being the leaves rustling in the wind. The sunlight had receded as the storm head approached. Thunder rumbled along , hiding within it the warbling undertones of my scout's reply.copyright protection131PENANAfcxe4rnMpU

     It was understood now that this was to be an ambush-an act of war... but with no immediate tribes in the area, I was left to wonder who would launch an attack? The North had a set of unsaid rules that had been followed since I could remember. Not even the most foolish of tribes here would dare try to wage against us. Movement broke my thought process and I watched as the shadows finally brought themselves into the dying light of the day.copyright protection131PENANAouFh3lCJv5

     They were covered in heavier material than I was used to seeing around these parts-vests with heavy padding strapped to their chests, some wore thin clothing underneath while some bore bare skin. Each of them seemed to pull some sort of weapon from the pockets of their pants, while some walked out with weapons already exposed. I spotted steel toed boots as well. Facial features were masked by strappy masks and mouth covers their hair was either shaved in weird patterns or pulled back in braids. All of them bore the same tribal black ink that snaked along their biceps and disappeared behind the shoulder. These people were nomads. I waited for the last of them to leave the tree line before I counted eight of them.copyright protection131PENANACkTydhXk8O

My scout gave a quick low whistle.copyright protection131PENANA2n1AC610Sr

Positioned and waiting on your mark.copyright protection131PENANAUgVAxZVaJr

The nomads paused once again, trying to decipher the noise. I waiting another beat, and when they started walking I gave my reply. Two whistles varying in pitch.copyright protection131PENANAgmL9UYqRjy

Eliminate on sight.copyright protection131PENANAGmWIWyOYyH

     With that, I pulled a dagger from its sheath on my back, and peered below me. Seeing I had enough space to slip between limbs, I tucked my arms to my chest and rolled over the side. The world spun madly and the wind whistled in my ears as adrenaline pumped wildly through my system. I lived for these moments and like so many times before, I took hold of a branch with my free hand. I used the flowing momentum to propel the dagger into the neck of the man at the back of his group. My weapon hit its target with perfection and I dropped down on him from above to finish the job before he could make a sound. I yanked the dagger from his neck and in one solid movement yanked hard on his head. He dropped like a bag of rocks as the small vertebrae in his neck crunched. I slipped into the brush as the two closest turned around. Once they noticed their missing comrade, one of them shouted for the rest of them to stop. I seized the moment and gave the attack signal.copyright protection131PENANAptYk4wjZG3

     I relished in the joy of taking our would be ambushers by surprise by watching the two nomads at the point of the group being yanked back into the overgrowth by my warriors. I charged forward on my own enemy using the full force of my weight to slam into his knees. He toppled over as I searched for a sweet spot. I pulled my other dagger from its place on my back as I slashed the first in an arc across his neck then plunged the other up and between his ribs from the side to end him. He gave one weak gurgle, grasping at the gash in his neck before he fell motionless.copyright protection131PENANAqWpc6jawbu

     My kin emerged from the brush and together we finished off the remaining four just as the first raindrops started to fall from the sky. I turned my face up to the light rain as lightning arced across in jagged lines followed by a tumultuous roar of thunder.copyright protection131PENANA5SQ1ANAoL9

     "Freyja!" The scream was cut short and I spun around, daggers ready. There were one of them for each of us...and too late did I realize that the nomads we had finished off were the bait. They watched how we worked and then took us out...we fell right into their trap. I ducked as one of them swung wide at me, stepping back as I did so. They weren't using lethal weapons. I watched helplessly a few seconds as they took down my kin with well-placed blows...but didn't kill them. Unlike the nomads we had killed, these were dressed head to toe in heavy armor. I ducked under again and stepped to the side narrowly missing a vertical hit. My kin were slung over their shoulders like rag dolls, until I was the last one left. They circled me like a pack of wolves as I danced around avoiding blows. I tried searching for a sweet spot-a break of armor or something but I found none.copyright protection131PENANA6bD4wHAQHh

     "Finish this, Rorak!" One of them shouted from behind me. I clenched my jaw and sheathed my weapons as the rain turned into a downpour. Rorak charged me again with a new vengeance, and for every hit I dodged, I moved closer. As he tried to step back, I lunged at him aiming to place a kick to his chest. He threw down his staff at the last second and grabbed my ankle, tossing me to the side like I was nothing. I used my weight to pull myself back up and tried again,  carelessly this time. He brought his staff around in an arc that knocked my feet out from under me, and then hit me with a blow to the stomach that knocked the air out of me. That was all it took. My head met the edge of a jagged rock and the world went black.copyright protection131PENANAT8eikkCvRN

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     Visions danced across my eyes, too fast for me to keep up with. I caught small bits of things-like the smell of fire and smoke and something else I couldn't quite place. Echoes of swords meeting in battle rang out along with screaming and battle cries. I couldn't make out conversations or words, only that the situation I was seeing was dire. There was a light in the distance that seemed to grow brighter by the second. I threw my arm over my eyes to shield them.copyright protection131PENANAILAlP63qWK

"Freyja," my head started to throb as the light became blinding. I heard my name again, only louder this time "Freyja, wake up."copyright protection131PENANAHPSV8cgKI7

     My eyes pried open, despite the massive amounts of pain throbbing from front of my head. The sound of the rain was deafening and I struggled to gather my bearings. Despite the torrential rainfall, there was a soft glow of light that illuminated the surroundings. I lifted my head and squinted through the storm. Torches were lit and placed along the frames of doorways and walls that had stood the test of time. Supplies were brought under cover to avoid damage from the rain and there were a few drying racks scattered about. I spotted a few pelts on tanning racks as well. At least the fall in our game was now explained.copyright protection131PENANAyH4dy2ubB9

     "You've a nasty wound 'bove yer eye," I recognized Haven's voice next to me, and glanced around to count heads. The corners of my kin's mouth turned up when she saw me sigh with relief-albeit small. "We're all here and unharmed fer the most part." She commented. I shifted on my knees and tested the restraints that bound my hands behind my back. "No use in it." Haven said. They had all tried already. copyright protection131PENANABjUbFKiIae

     I sighed heavily and looked around, taking in all the foreign faces. The heavily armored solders were standing around a woman who was dressed in a lighter version of their armor. She bore black, heavy pants made out of a thick material-cargo perhaps- with more pockets then we were used to, a long heavily padded vest hugged down her torso. Underneath that, she seemed to be wearing some sort of long sleeve. They all had the same steel toed boots, and weapons crossed on their backs-a heavy staff and a sword. I saw no bows amongst them, which I guess made sense. From what I recalled, they did seem to heavily rely on close quarters combat. One of the heavy solders pointed in my direction and the woman turned to look at me over her shoulder.copyright protection131PENANAtS4mNcz4Xh

"Oh boy," Haven commented. I felt the tension shift as she said something to her soldiers before walking over to where I and my kin had been so kindly put in the rain and mud. "It's 'bout to tern into a pissin' contest here." I kept an impassive face while Nikolas tried to conceal a snort to my left.copyright protection131PENANAbvZfJxidJT

     The woman stopped in front of me, and after a moment of waiting for me to look up at her, she crouched down. The irritation of being denied some small form of respect was evident in her eyes, and I drew some satisfaction from it. The hood of her coat was drawn, protecting her braided golden hair from the downpour. Her bright blue eyes were masked in a horizontal line of war paint that was drawn from ear to ear. She tried sizing me up.copyright protection131PENANAmkdgvT0OCb

"My men say you and yours were a force to be reckoned with," she jabbed a hard finger into my chest in attempts to put me off my balance. The corners of her lips turned down when I did not move. "Especially you, they said."copyright protection131PENANA2537rRk0Vh

     The disdain was evident, and her frown nearly turned to a sneer. It was easy to see she didn't like new threats-and I was most definitely a threat.copyright protection131PENANAh7MgmwOFJx

"My kin do not fear death." I replied, clasping my hands loosely behind my back. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Haven catch sight of what I was doing and she gave a half smilecopyright protection131PENANAy6RMmnFnbh

"What about you?" she cocked her head to the side, as if to intimidate me. copyright protection131PENANAyenClOtGPp

"I embrace it." As children, we were taught many things. Skjaldvarr were a people of many trades and had a reputation for being fierce warriors. Death was to be greeted like kin and the dead were to be celebrated like heroes. I could hear the mantra in my mind: We do not fear death, we embrace it!copyright protection131PENANAX7wKoSgcy0

     Obviously displeased with my answer, she turned her frustrations out on the rest of my kin. "We have yet to decide your fate for killing eight of our scouts." She sneered, trying to make eye contact with each of them.copyright protection131PENANAK66BTtZyQb

     Haven did little to cover her snort. "The punishment was how easy they were to kill." She chortled. My party chimed in with small bits of laughter. Out of my group of six, Haven was one of my best and most care free warriors. In our tribe, she was called Berserker. Haven not only embraced death, she offered death a drink. I contained my smile, watching as the woman's face fell completely until finally she lashed out.copyright protection131PENANAQpqd1M2usR

      She snapped a closed fist against Haven's face, connecting the tip of her cheekbone, sliding into her nose. Haven took it like a breeze had barely brushed her. Having enough of this lady's ego, I slammed my head into hers as hard as I could, throwing her onto her ass into the wet mud. The small murmur of chatter died almost immediately, leaving the only sound to be heard the balls of my shoulders dislocating to bring my arms back in front of me. I descended on her as soon as they had popped back into place.copyright protection131PENANATpYqamjqzR

     I clenched my fists together and brought them across her face a couple of times before a pair of strong hands picked me up like a child. I managed one good kick into her stomach before being drug away. It took her a few moments to to come up, but when she did, she was snarling. She lunged at me, her sword aimed for my throat and I stared her down defiantly until an older woman came between us.copyright protection131PENANArjXxVR0VqQ

"You will cease this senseless violence at once, Aya!" Though she looked small and frail, her voice carried like the gods themselves had spoken. On her arms she bore similar tribal ink as the soldiers before...only hers spanned across her arms to form a tree. My eyes widened as I refrained from going down on one knee in her honor. She glanced over her shoulder, seeming to sense my realization before casting her eyes back to Aya. She stood like a mother between two squabbling children. Aya seemed to be at odds with herself, fighting with the urge to kill me or respect her elders until finally she conceded to the latter. Her bright blue eyes bored into mine with an unspoken promise of vengeance before she turned on her heel in anger and left. I watched her stomp into a decrepit building before addressing the elder in front of me.copyright protection131PENANA6hgxuhjxML

"What is your name?" I asked, curiosity brimming over, fueling the child like wonder in me. The woman waited a beat before turning to face me, with bright silver eyes.copyright protection131PENANApGao6lLpLk

"Meda, child." She spoke, clasping her hands in front of her, pronouncing her name as mee-da. Her hood was drawn over her head, but it didn't stop her silver curls from escaping from underneath. I eyed her markings once more, and I saw a slight smile cross her face. She waved at the guards holding me as if she were shooing bugs. "If she wanted to hurt me, she would have done so already." She said with exasperation. The guards dropped their grip from my arms, but did not leave. Meda was right, however. I had only ever read about her kind in chronicles passed down by generations of my people. I would never be careless nor stupid enough to harm a Norn. I only wondered why she kept such company.copyright protection131PENANAgcDeKz5Kuw

     Before either of us could continue our conversation, the air seemed to change and Meda turned around to face what I only assumed was the front gate. Through the rain, figures could be seen striding in, some with game thrown over their shoulders and others with materials they had gathered from the land. Lightning raced across the sky, and thunder shook the ground as another figure approached. He was slightly taller than the rest and built like a god. As he drew nearer, the air grew thin and a new type of adrenaline coursed through my veins. A small pain started to build up on the inside of my right hand wrist, and I did my best to ignore it.copyright protection131PENANABBNR8i9rPV

     The gathering party parted away leaving the figure standing in the middle of the camp...and then something seemed to happen. Visions danced before my eyes again, only this time they were different. I saw faces-people I had never seen before but looked so achingly familiar. I saw a face so similar to my own and then in an instant he was gone. I was left with overwhelming loneliness. Loss...I saw another face though. He stood overlooking a battleworn kingdom-I could feel his sense of defeat as I approached. "We'll start anew" were the words I heard as a comforting hand was placed on his shoulder. He reached his own hand up to cover mine-I could feel the warmth from it. It was a gesture he had never given me before, but filled me with hope in a time of bereft. I was so caught up in what I was seeing I barely heard Aya's voice in the background.copyright protection131PENANAdeCoCIJn8u

"Welcome back, Odin."copyright protection131PENANAIoHmDrVIcq

Odin.copyright protection131PENANAeO22GakPC9

     Lightning shot down from the sky-splitting in half on its way down to hit both me and the man before me-Odin. I was launched backwards as pain exploded throughout my body, and distantly I could hear my kin calling my name. I was thrown back into the vision again. The man before me turned to face me, the warmth of his hand never leaving mine. Though I knew he was older than time itself, he looked ageless. His eyes were somber and bright green, not unlike my own. His hair was the color of shimmering wheat, and was pulled back into ceremonial war braids. My heart chugged in my chest, and I tried to breathe past the pain.copyright protection131PENANALPond16Woe

"This time I won't deny you." His words were quiet, but held a promise that filled me with warmth. In the back of my mind, I tried to recall the reason for his statement but could only pull up blanks. Pain finally shook me out of my stupor as the last vestiges of my vision dwindled away, exploding in the same spot on my wrist until finally it waned. I opened my eyes to see my kin hunched over me, but I couldn't focus. The rain beat down on me as I sat up, using Haven's shoulder to lean on. My eyes sought him out, until I saw him peering at me through a cluster of his own kin. Our eyes met, and something seemed to slide into place.copyright protection131PENANAr7C9tfBpYO

     Haven and Jos helped me to my feet, and I wobbled there like a new born for a moment before registering that Odin had somehow made his way to stand before me. He wore similar armor to his men, only his was more fitted to his chest. Underneath he wore a white long sleeve that clung to his skin, the rain exposing the tribal tattoos that marked his chest underneath. A long, cotton black scarf hung loosely around his neck , exposing the rest of his markings that disappeared behind his neck and into his hairline. Like the rest of his people, he wore similar cargo pants with the same boots. My wrist throbbed and before I could think about it, he had grabbed my hand and turned it over.  My skin had peeled away to expose black etchings of three interlocked triangles. The scars were red and angry and fresh, and he ran his thumb over the raised lines.copyright protection131PENANAPdCSfi2z8F

"Freyja..." he muttered my name as if he had seen a ghost as I spotted the same, fresh looking symbol on his wrist. I looked up sharply and yanked my hand away, slowly coming to the realization of what all of this meant. He brought his bright green eyes up to mine as the Norn spoke behind us.copyright protection131PENANAJTu7hI8nFx

"And so the new age of the gods dawns, bringing new hope from the ashes of the old world."copyright protection131PENANAB7Feg8uSyt

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