This isn't a new blog, I originally published it on the 23rd. January 2013... It was one of my first - I've updated it a little because things have changed over time (as things tend to do) - If you remember it, you should feel free to skip to the bottom and see what I'm banging on about.
Today's Blog was suggested by my good friend @PedroVader1138 - The basic premise that is, not the theme. I mean, he's not mad or anything.
It's the (almost completely) true account of the Micro-Dandy's first, confirmed, lone kill. Only the setting, era, style, state and type of target, age of hunter, language and most of the other salient facts have been changed to maintain its artistic merit.
The hunter lay hidden in the snow, the cold dampness soaking into his furs as he looked down the ridge at the village below. All was quiet, the only movement, apart from the curl of smoke rising from the long-house chimney, was the sullen dawdle of the single huscarle on guard outside as he circled the building, whistling a tune that Mal Ak'hai didn't recognise. The full moon caught the boss of his shield, and brought the raised kraken motif into sharp relief.
He rose slowly from his prone position and brushed the loose snow from his furs. Moving around the ridge until the whistling huscarle was directly between him and the main building, not wanting his approach to look like he was trying to sneak and cause alarm. It took the man on guard a few minutes to notice his approach.
'Stoppe der!', He yelled, slowly raising his sword.
'I am here to see the Krakensdottir,' shouted Mal, the snow deadening the echo so that his voice sounded flat and emotionless, 'I have heard of your problem, I am here to help.'
The sword was lowered, equally slowly, to be replaced with an empty hand,
'Vent her,' ordered the guard, pointing at the spot where the hunter was stood, his Norse was rusty, but he knew enough to stay where he was.
The door opened and closed, leaving him alone with his thoughts. He looked up into the clear night sky, noticing that the constellation of Orion was directly over his head, and laughed, if that wasn't a good omen, he didn't know what was. He could hear the grumble of conversation from inside the long-house, the few words he could pick out made it plain they were talking about Him,
'Jeager... Frysning... Daemon... Ubevaebnet...'
The last one confused him... He was indeed a hunter, and he was definitely freezing, he was here to help with their demon problem, but unarmed? He wasn't unarmed, he looked down at the hilt of his sword, Lyssvaerd, clipped to his belt. Stroking the smooth length of hand forged sky-iron he smiled, he was about as far from unarmed as it was possible to be.
The opening of the door and a beckoning hand drew him back from his thoughts. He entered the long-house and was immediately blinded by the sheer number of torches that lined the walls and the size of the bane-fire in the middle, he was surprised that any snow survived within a mile.
'Hvad er dit navn?' Asked an aged man, clad in wolf fur and strips of studded leather.
'My name? My name is Mal Ak'hai, I am a hunter from the south, I heard that you had a problem with a d...'
'Pschh!' spat the old man, putting his hand in front of the hunter's mouth and stopping him talking.
He turned to look at a figure that was barely visible beyond the fire and called,
'Hans navn er Mal Ak'hai! Han er en jeager fra sid!'
'I understand the language of the south, bring him to me.' The female voice, though obviously strong, conveyed notes of tiredness and stress.
He was led by the elbow around the fire and towards the voice. The heat seared his face as he passed, close enough to see the pile of crumbling bones at its heart. He looked up, into the face of Alfrun Krakensdottir, new leader of the Kraken clan, ever since her father had died on their last raid to Vinland, she had led the hundred or so remaining norsemen to times of plenty and prosperity. Until, that is, they had come upon their current trouble.
'Failures,' she said, noticing where he had been looking.
'Yes, we recover the remains of people like you and burn them, it speeds their journey.'
She stared deep into the fire, 'I'm sure it does.'
'Yours will be the 17th body that we burn.'
Alfrun looked at him with sadness, and a certain amount of longing. She thought that he was handsome, at least in the style of the south, but his hair was blonde and he would have had no problem passing for a Norse prince, if he survived.
'What makes you so sure that you'll be burning my remains? If you don't think anyone can succeed in this quest, why have you had your men travel the country asking for help?'
'We were looking for a hero, one that we could write sagas about, one who's song would be passed down through the ages, that is not you, you come unarmed to the fight.'
'Unarmed?' He looked down at Lyssvaerd, hanging unnoticed at his side, then back up at the warrior queen, 'I will do this thing for you, and I will not be more fuel for your fire.'
'You will go alone to the clearing in the forest to the east of here, that is where the demon makes his home. You must stop him, he raids our farms and kills our children, we find our animals frozen when the sun comes up and the well is solid ice. We cannot last much longer, there will be a bounty... and more'
The hunter bowed, turned, gave the bane-fire one last meaningful glare and walked out into the night, ignoring the shaking heads of the assembled norsemen and their hushed mumblings,
It took two hours for him to reach the clearing. The moon shone down creating short shadows which could serve only as hiding places for rabbits; the demon was not there. The recent snow had covered the tracks of previous heroes, but large patches tinged gently pink showed where they had met their end. He walked slowly, but confidently, out into the moonlight, took Lysswaerd from her thonging and called out to his prey.
'Come and face your end, demon, I have come to save the people of the Kraken clan, leave them in peace or die!' His words echoed around the forest, but apart from a fall of snow triggered by a bird roused from his slumber, there was no reply. 'Filth! come and face me, stop hiding behind your mother's skirts and fight, I am your doom!'
With the sound of a calving glacier, the snow behind the hunter began to rise, climbing into the night sky one hundred feet or more. Its features slowly resolved into those of a demon, with a goat's head and human body.
'Jeg er Hati, der spiser manen!' it howled, it's voice like the tumbling of thunder.
'You are Hati, and you eat the Moon?' Shouted the hunter, 'Why would you eat the Moon?'
The demon paused, looked down in momentary confusion, and replied with a swipe of his giant claws. The hunter jumped aside at the last moment and pressed the stud on the side of Lyssvaerd. A shining blue blade sprung from the hilt and severed the demon's paw at the wrist, as it fell, it turned back into pure, virgin powdered snow. The demon howled even louder, shaking the snow from the trees, and spun around to find his rapidly circling foe.
'Last chance demon!' Screamed the hunter, and held his glowing sword high above his head.
The demon lunged, changing form into a giant dire-wolf with it's maw open, breathing a plume of hoar-frost. The hunter jumped back just out of range of the freezing blast, but tripped on a root hidden under the snow and fell heavily, stunning himself. The impact jarred his sword from his hand and the blazing blade disappeared with a hiss.
Sensing that the game was nearly over, Hati reared once more. He inhaled deeply, intending to freeze the hunter to his very core and stamp him onto shards so small that his bones could never be burned. The giant wolf's head fell towards the hunter, it's icicle teeth bared, the howl of the coming ice-storm reverberated from the far foothills and his eyes closed as the strike came. The hunter rolled, grabbed his sword, loosed the blade, and severed the demon's head with a single stroke. With a sound like the breaking of a thousand glass pianos, the demon exploded into chunks of ice and fell to the ground. As dead as it was possible for a demon to be.
The hunter lay panting in the debris, trying to get his breath back. He looked around the glade, trying to find some proof that the battle had actually taken place, if someone happened across the scene now it would just look like he'd been smashing a block of ice, and none too expertly at that. His eye chanced upon a glinting object, slightly brighter than the surrounding snow. He levered himself to his feet and picked it up, it was a spherical diamond, the size of a watermelon, when he held it up to the sky, he could see the feint impression of a wolf's eye. This would be his proof, and his dowry, Alfrun Krakensdottir would be his queen, and his saga would be told until the Earth froze.
(OK, what actually happened was my son knocked the head off the snowman we'd all built with a stick... But who'd want to read about that?)
If you're interested in what happens next, you could always read the next installment 'What a waste of good pork'
Why have I reissued this story you might ask? - Well, It's World Book Day today (2nd March 2017) and Facebook reminded me of a day, one year ago, where my son went to his school's World Book Day celebration as Mal Ak'Hai Jeageren - He even took a copy of my book 'Mumblings of an Irate Pangolin' with him, to show that he was really a book character... Not that anyone really cared, but he's a stickler for the rules.
|My son as Mal Ak'Hai Jeageren, with his bladeless sword, Lyssvaerd|