Saturday, April 13, 2019

SaturdayScenes story April 20 The Last Viking

As I said last week I am doing a #saturdayscenes story every week.
Here is one story I call a historic fiction. It is based on a picture that Charlie Hoover showed on his geekscapes which isn't here on MeWe I am sorry to say but he does have a web site. Anyway, no pic to go with the story this time but a few people liked the Last Viking when I posted it on G+
Oh yes, The dry dock he mentions is one in Ireland. They found the ruins of it.
So enjoy:
The mountains rose out of the ocean, higher than he would want to climb anymore.
The viking, one Askell, son of Kreall and Bergljot, looked over the side of his ship. After the glance toward the up coming mountains he watched for what lay and moved under the surface. He pulled the furs wrapped around his body closer, his legs also had a cover of thick fur. Today he even wore fur bands around his arms. For the day looked cloudy and they sailed among huge floating mountains of ice. As a viking he was used to the cold but this was beyond what he had experienced before. Not to mention that his age made it more difficult to stand the cold.
However he fought the icy temperature for he was a viking warrior to the end. Just the same as both of his parents. His mother had been buried not only with her hammer and warrior armor but with riches and quality weapons which showed her status among vikings.
Now though he and his men on board this longboat were the last. No other viking warriors lived anywhere. Their great leaders had gone to Valhalla, or heaven depending on what they believed. Even the colony in that far off land where the people wore loin cloths and fought with spears, bows and clubs, had faded away. Or so he had been told by a survivor who had made the long trip back.
Askell glanced along his longship, the last skeið 20 faðmr in length. Not all of the rowing seats were full, they had lost men. They had all died as warriors though in battle to help the others survive. Now it was his turn to make sure they all got to some place they could make a home. The ship would take them. It was still tough even though the wood looked aged: it had nicks, claw marks, and blacken areas. That last fire they barely got out in time. That fight had been bad. Their axes had cut through the shields of the soldiers, as well as their armor who had driven them off. There had been too many of them. The arrows and number of men had seen them off. He would have gone and gotten more ships to come for revenge but there were no other ships anymore. Later they lost no men but had been driven away from the port they thought had been friendly. Since that repair port in Norðreyjar had fallen to disrepair they had problems getting supplies and repairs. In that one they could have brought the longship out of the water completely or sail it up a river channel they had widened to a loch. That meant that the sail would no longer have a missing corner. Yet like them it still functioned well. He supposed he could get one of the new style of ships with multiple masts and a taller superstructure but he, and his crew, were too old to change that much. And what good would it do?
He stroked his grey beard, looked down.
"To port now!” he shouted
Something scraped the hull as the longship turned too slowly.
So this ocean was not deep, those rocks were hard to see. Movement under the water, Oh, something huge lived down there. Not a whale though. This had tentacles. He readied his hammer and his ax. Two of his men did the same he saw. The others were busy rowing.
The thing moved more, twisted around a block of stone. It neared the surface and before he could cry out for them to raise oars, three of them hit it. It thrashed, caused water to splash into the longboat. Cold water that soaked their footwear. The oars didn’t break though, thank Odin.
He snarled, spat bile out. Nothing would sink them on this cruise. They had to find a place
Once the water settled again he ordered them to head for a distant bit of land. He could see that it had what looked like a strip of land where they could beach the longship. Further, maybe half or three-fourths of a rôst in, lay the base of a tall cliff. They might be able to build housing right next to the cliff or dig small caves into it. They could eat fish, birds and seals and maybe even smaller whales which they could use for tools and clothes.
He looked behind them. No one would chase them this far, but if any did they would pay for that with their blood, for his crew still kept their weapons sharp. This was a great pity, the long ages of the vikings were over. They had colonies almost everywhere. Even in that far away land that took months to sale to. People with a red skin and lived much like them had lived there. Or so he had been told. He believed it for he has seen many other far places were vikings were feared.
Askell double checked the depth and for any other movements. He would have to be on his toes to make sure nothing else hindered them.
He turned at a movement, and saw a long snake like movement in the water after them. He looked back at the bow and shouted, “To port”. The longship turned faster this time. The helmsman had learned from the last time.
There seemed to be a whole line of rocks and parts of those ice flows between them and the stretch of land.
“Ease up on the speed!”
The longboat started to slow but again the something scrapped the bottom. It sounded like sand but there wasn’t any here.
There to the starboard a deep shadow, they might be able to get through there.
“To starboard, slow.”
The vessel turned and he said, “Back to port a degree.”
The ship eased to the left.
The ship moved forward between two rocks. He studied the submerged rocks.
Once they longship had ceased its movement forward he said, “Turn it a quarter rotation.”
When the vessel faced toward the East, or so he thought of that direction, he said, “Forward.”
They had to fight what wind, it now blew across his face instead of behind him, there was but the oars helped.
“Odin’s paps.”
Askell thought he has seen a way through here but now nothing. All shadowy forms that meant rock. Sometimes ice. But the ship did not float close enough to a large ice floe for there to be a part of it underwater.
He studied the ice and rocks more. His men sat there silent for they trusted him. A very heavy responsibility to lead the last viking warriors to what would be their last home. They could live in peace though instead of being hounded.
A moment later he jerked up straight. That rock had moved. He glanced at the nearest hill of ice. It moved with the current. Maybe here they had long tendrils of ice to catch a weary viking.
Another movement, he jerked his head to look to one side.
Another rock, or ice block moved under the water.
He looked outward again. That ice floe moved away from that strip of land. If those two, or more, rocks moved with it then the skeið’s belly would be smashed and thrashed as if an uneven ax had been smashed into it many times. The ship would sink and the men would all drown in this cold water.
It would be his failings that would cause this. It would not be the fault of those that had fallen for they had fought well and bravely. They would be taken home by valkyrur or angels depending on which man believed what. But he would be responsible for their deaths when they trusted in his leadership.
He did not want them to die like that so close to the end of the journey. They did not deserve that.
He spoke in low tones, “Jesus, whom some of my men believe in, help this old warrior save his men.”
Ice grinding noises made him look afar. Something moved under the water but what?
Three tentacles shot out of the water. They were too far away to endanger the longship. But what were they doing? That thing must have followed them in here but had swam under the ice.
More of the thing popped up, almost half moved above the water. It looked soft with a grayly skin. He knew though it was tough. He watched as the creature used its tentacles to slid forward then it dropped back down all the way into the water. So that must be a real rock embedded in the ocean floor there not part of that ice flow.
He turned back to the shadows near the longboat. Askell blinked, turned back. That thing was huge. And just a bit of it had been out of the water. There could mean the skeið could make it over that rock.
“Back the skeið up,now!”
The men used to orders reversed their rowing and the longship moved backwards. Water splashed onto Askell, cold seawater got in his mouth, but he did not care, for he had leaned over too much. The oars splashed twice but then settled into an almost noiseless rhythm as it should be. He would not say anything about that splash though.
The longship moved as did the ice under the water on one side of them. One piece just missed the bow of the ship. Another piece hit something, a slower moving piece of ice or rock. He heard the bump and it grind. Then a section of ice popped out of the water. It looked white and slender with a slight knob on the end but smooth as the new glass he had seen. Water streamed off of it then it disappeared back where it belonged.
He looked again. A few more seconds and they were where they needed to be.
Again the rowers reversed their strokes. The longship halted.
“Turn the bow to face that strip of land.”
The pilot moved his control and the longship rotated. They had won many seabattles with that ability and now it would save them. He watched what would flow under the bow. It looked like the hull would scrap again but it he felt no jerk, heard no thud or scrape. He commanded them to move but slow. Within four heartbeats of Askell, they headed in the right direction again.
The skeið slid forward with grace. One oar hit something when it went too deep but the ship continued to move. Soon he saw that the rock dropped off. They still had a distance to go but it looked like they had left the last of the rocks behind them partially submerged.
Half an hour later they close in on one mountain mass. Near the landing site he had chosen there were few rocks in the water. Perhaps the waves had worn them down to fine bits and used the particles to make the sand for that beach. He commanded them to increase speed. Soon he heard a scrapping again and felt a jerk, but this time it was from the hull hitting sand and slowing. It came to a halt. He was the first off.
The sand gave only a tiny bit. It looked wet here but solid. He nodded. They could make a small, tiny, village here. He would send out the longship again to get wood and other supplies, then to go fishing. There were still a couple of captains who did not mind trading with vikings. If no one would trade then they could take what they needed. They were still vikings after all, they could take what they needed. He saw seals on an ice floe and on another beach, that meant there would be fish. The blubber from the small whales would be good here and they could use the bones.
They would die here for they were the last of a grand tradition of warriors and conquers. He had always thought he would die in battle, but his destiny had been something else.
Askell decided to have the believers of that Christ build a place of worship for He had sent a denizen of the deep to show the way. That may have been more for their sakes and not his but that mattered not.
He turned back, “Okay men, warriors, this is our new home. We have work to do to make this livable. Get down, move the skeið more out of the water. Lets get to work.”

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