#FlashFiction, a second instalment from the piece of flash fiction posted last Monday. Hope you like it 🙂
We’ll be ready to attack once again by morning light. The men are regrouping now, at dawn we’ll be ready for them. My sword needs sharpening again, it got blunted after a collision with one of the Frenchmen. I hope we’ll have enough shields still usable, so many got broken during the fight. This time we’ll succeed, I’ll have men coming in from the front to take on the soldiers left and men climbing over the walls as they’re distracted. We’ve got a few ropes and hooks that should be enough to get our men inside. Their wall is the only thing that kept them from dying today. Tomorrow will be another story. I will have victory and I will have it now. The gods are counting on it. Blood and riches to sacrifice to appease them. We need a plentiful harvest this year or we will lose more people at home. We must appease the gods. The girl hasn’t spoken a word since I brought her here. She meekly sobs every now and then and when I try to speak to her, she squeaks and mumbles things I can’t understand. I do not know what use she will be yet – I will find out if she can be of use to me, if not she’s young, healthy, she’ll be fit to work.
“Who are you? Someone important or merely a slave?” I growl at her but she shrinks into the chair and makes strange bleating noises, much like a lamb in the slaughter house. She looks so weak and scrawny it’s embarrassing really. These French seem to leave their women at home cooking and bearing children, what little they know. I have made fine warriors out of our women. Some of course, are not capable but there are those who excel at the art of battle. Who fear no death that awaits them but run towards it, for the sake of glory, for the sake of entering Valhalla with Odin. There is no way to get through to this girl, she doesn’t understand our words. I hold out a gold medallion from my neck, towards her and point.
“Gold, this is expensive, you have things like this?” My finger darts between pointing at the gold and pointing at her hoping she’ll understand. She seems to quiet and looks at me confused, before uttering something incoherent and shaking her head repeatedly. No gold, she mustn’t be someone of high station then. The princess and her father were covered in gold and jewels with rich fabrics, this girl is completely different. Her hair all knotted up, an old and tattered dress to wear – she must be a peasant girl. No one is going to pay for a peasant damn it! I hurl a chair across the room and it shatters against the wall. The girl squeaks again and shuts her eyes. Her hands grip each other tightly as she mumbles the same sounds over and over again as if they might save her. At that instant Baird, my loyal friend, walks in and slaps my shoulder.
“What are we going to do with her Ragnar?” He’s impatient I know, all of the men are. They want to attack at nightfall, but it is too soon, we need to be ready. “I say we cut a piece off and send it back to them right now, see if they’ll pay a random then!” I scoff and push his hand off my shoulder.
“You are a fool Baird. She’s no one, I’ll sell her when we get back to Kattegat.” I untie her from the chair and drag her by the arm out of my tent and towards the other slaves we have captured – they will at least make me some bounty even if we cannot have this city’s treasures. She will be sold as soon as we reach our home shore.
I’m not sure how long I have been sat in this chair with ropes tied around my ankles and waist, it feels like hours. The man who took me keeps pacing the room and looking at me before going back to his hoard of goods on the table. He offered me food earlier, some sort of meat but I couldn’t tell what, I’m too nauseous to eat anyway. The ropes are digging into my skin, making it raw. It hurts and my mouth feels ever so dry. I need water, I haven’t had a drink in so long. Tears have now dried on my face and I don’t think any more would come even if I tried, I’m all out of tears. Nothing more left to give. I don’t know what he has planned for me but I dread it, I have tried to reason with him, to tell him my father will pay to get me back but he only grunts and barks at me. I cannot understand him and neither he me. We are at an impasse that no doubt will end badly for me. I don’t want to die, but I fear that what he does will me might be worse than even that.
He leans towards me grunting and making gruff noises, like that of a beast. I shrink away from him, his breath warm on my skin makes me retch and fingers that touch my clothes with a look of dismay. Perhaps I shouldn’t have changed out of my beautiful gown, I thought I might fit in better in this maid’s smock. Assumed that looking like a servant would make me safer – because who would want a servant? He holds out a gold necklace to me, pointing strangely.
“I don’t have anything to offer you. No gold, no money, I-I’m sorry.” I can’t give him anything. My father keeps the family treasures and with this servant smock on I cannot even offer him the beading from my dress. He throws a chair in anger and I cannot contain my squeal of alarm. I don’t want to be hurt, beaten, or worse. Perhaps it would have been better to stay in my gown – at least then he would know of my family’s wealth that they would willingly pay to have me safely returned. I shall pray. God will protect me in this hour.
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. They cannot harm me for I am with my God and he, me. I shall be saved by his divinity from these beastly heathens and I will be returned to my city safely.” Another man walks in as I pray to my heavenly Father. He is bigger than the first, his stature more menacing. The way he looks at me chills me to the bone and takes away my breath. They talk with one another, glancing in my direction every now and then. I know they are talking about me. Planning what they are going to do to me most likely. I hope it will be over swiftly. This torment cannot last forever.
The man removes the ropes from my limbs and pulls me to my feet by the arm. I can feel his rough hands bruising my skin as he drags me through his camp. Many people catch my eye as we walk past, looks of intrigue, and disgust. He shoves me into a pen of men and women, all looking rather beaten and poor. I think they are from the city and no doubt face the same fate as I. Dear Lord have mercy on us.