My fingers have been itching – they`ve wanted so badly to write another story set in the Viking age. When I stumbled over a description of the female Viking warriors – the shieldmaidens – I knew what my next story was going to be about. Sookie the Shieldmaiden.
I have a few notes to story:
* This story is not set in any specific historical time. It`s before Christianity since women`s role changed dramatically when the old faith was abandoned, but I`m not being more specific than that.
* This story is also not set in any specific geographical place. I am describing places by their topography so obviously I have an idea of where the story takes place, but I`m making up the names or even the existence of cities, mountains, rivers etc that I mention.
* The people in this story have never lived and their names are, for the most of them, not Viking names. The people in this story are keeping their SVM-names and to my knowledge, Sookie is not a Viking name . There will also be kings and queens in this story that have never existed.
* I am trying to keep the spirit of the Viking age as far as I know it. This means the characters will say and do things that would come natural to a Viking – from the little knowledge one has of Viking daily life. These things may sound strange today, but I hope you will accept it. On the other hand, I will keep the language close to the language we speak today. Since Vikings were not a people who wrote much down – apart from the odd rune stone – one doesn`t know much of how they spoke to one another. I realize a lot of writers of Viking tales choose some kind of mixture of regency English and caveman speech to show how Vikings spoke. I am not going to do that.
* I am taking liberties. Plenty of liberties. I will introduce practices that I could imagine Vikings would have or that are close to what I`ve read of them, but my version will still be my version. If it`s any consolation – I`ll know when I`m taking liberties and I won`t do it at random. If you wonder about something, please ask me and I`ll clarify.
Sorry if this was boring – I had to get these things off my chest or I would feel like I was cheating you all.
I want to thank Suki59 for betaing this story and for reminding me that I need to describe things better when it comes to the Viking age.
Charlaine Harris owns all characters in this tale. I just borrowed them, shipped them back in time and gave Sookie a nice sword to play with.
I pulled my sword out of the body of the man I`d just killed. He hadn`t realized I was a woman, a shieldmaiden, but he`d seen my size and had underestimated me like all these so-called brave men did. And as with most of the other men I`d fought, that mistake had cost him his life.
I looked up and took a deep breath – a mistake since the air was full of smoke and death. I was at the outskirts of the village we`d attacked this morning, not really sure how I`d gotten there. I`d started out fighting next to Jason, my brother, and now I was here, alone. In a battle you notice your enemy and whatever else that can kill you. You don`t pay much attention to your surroundings.
Now I took them in. Two houses close to me were burning and I noticed I had a forest behind me. I figured some of the villagers were hiding there which was fine by me. If they stayed where they were they would survive. If they attacked they would die.
I was a good fighter. A warrior to be feared. And I had a secret weapon to make up for my small size – I could predict every move my opponent made, before he made it. I`d never been sure how I could know in advance what other people would do, but I did. It could be that I was extra sensitive to the little movements in their bodies. Or maybe I`d been favored by the gods. I always liked to think the latter.
It had always been there, my little secret. Even when I was a kid and fought Jason with wooden swords. When he was five and I was seven, he`d thought I won because I was bigger than he was. When he was 15 and I was 17, and he`d towered over me, he`d accepted it as one of the truly strange things in this world.
Jason had never been one to think too much over things.
He was wise not to overthink things, of course. Like why we were here and who we were fighting. It was fine when we were just out to rob some rich city or gilded monastery of their values – gold and silver were always a good reason for a nice pillaging – but this time we were fighting because we were on one side of a war and the people we were killing were on the other side.
No one knew why we had picked the side we`d picked and no one cared. If one brother of a dead king felt he would be a better ruler than the daughter of that same king – who were we to tell him he was wrong?
If we were lucky we might leave with a few furs, some sheep and a few barrels of wheat. It might keep hunger from our doors in the winter but gold and silver would have made us rich enough to stay at home with our own sheep, growing our own wheat.
Just as I was about to wipe the blood from my sword, I heard a sound behind me. I turned around and crouched into fighting stance in one move.
A huge blond man stood there grinning. He was wearing the same kind of helmet as I was, the type that also covered his nose and protected his eyes, but I could see that he was handsome. His blue eyes shone through the holes in the iron of the helmet and his body must have made women scream with joy when they saw it.
I would bet my shield that he`d made a number of women scream when they saw him naked too. When they`d touched him. And he`d touched them.
But to me he was someone I might have to fight. He could be my next kill. I sighed at the thought. Not because I had any problems killing my enemies, even the pretty ones. It was just that I wanted to get back to Jason and this guy was in my way.
“Did you kill that guy?” he asked in a Norse that gave away that he`d grown up in the flatlands to the south – not in the mountains like I had. I`d climbed hills and dived in the cold fjords. I`d survived cold winters and rainy summers whereas this guy had lived where the soil was fertile and people rarely starved. I wasn`t sure if he was friend or foe so I treated him like a potential threat, just to be on the safe side. One never knew with allegiances changing all the time.
Better to have killed one too many than one too few, I figured. At least the handsome man would make some Valkyries in Valhalla happy. They would thank me for letting him die fighting instead of as an old man. Old men who died in their beds had no entry to Valhalla.
I nodded. No point in letting my voice give away my gender. Shieldmaidens were rare and I didn`t want the questions most warriors asked. Well, innuendos was a better word for them. They rarely got the maiden part of shieldmaiden. I could not count the number of times I`d had to knock it into their thick sculls that shieldmaidens were not supposed to have sex on raids. Well, not at all, really, but that was impossible for anyone to live up to.
I did take the “no sex on raids” seriously and had left a few guys bruised before they took it seriously too.
“You`re one brave kid to take down a huge man like that,” the blond said and nodded at me. I didn`t mind that he thought I was a kid because that would make him overconfident and they were the easiest men to beat. “But can you take me?” He started circling me and I knew what was coming.
He was foe. And he needed to be killed.
I hadn`t been on many raids but I had done well. I`d had a lot of practice back home, of course. Jason, who was the main reason I was a shieldmaiden in the first place, and I had fought every minute we could spare.
Jason was bigger and stronger than I am and would win when it came to fist fights. It doesn`t help to be able to predict how your opponent`s fists move if they hit you like a hammer.
But when we fought with swords or spears, I was always the winner. Jason was proud of me as I was of him. He was strong – I was smart. And possibly blessed by the gods.
And of course, I often ended up saving his muscular butt. Which was also why I`d volunteered to join him on this raid. He needed someone to watch his back.
Only Jason`s back was not here and I hated it when I was not there to look out for him. Instead I had to fight some cocky southerner.
I followed the moves of the blond guy and could see that he was looking for my weaknesses. He smiled his annoying smile. Well, it wasn`t annoying as such. But it was taking my attention away from the fight. And that was aggravating.
He would eat dirt very soon. I could see that he already counted himself the winner of this game – just like all the other guys I`d fought had.
They should build an altar for my sword. After all it had effectively weeded out quite a few stupid and overconfident men from this earth and stopped them from procreating.
I never made the first move when I fought someone and I had the patience to wait for his. Suddenly he jumped forward. For a man of his size, he was surprisingly fast and though I knew in advance that he would jump, I only barely managed to step aside. I turned my sword around while jumping and felt it meet his flesh. I`d managed to cut into his thigh.
Like me, the blond guy wore chain mail on his torso and his upper arms. It protected the vital parts of the body but left the legs open for cuts and slashes. Those cuts were rarely deadly but they would slow down a warrior and make it easier to kill him.
Removing my helmet always revealed my gender, of course, but my chain mail hit my womanly features. When people saw me in it, they probably just thought I was fat. Small and fat – and therefore a lousy fighter.
“Shit!” he shouted and I grinned. 1-0 for the shieldmaiden. “You`ll pay for that cut,” he grunted
I wanted to taunt him but my voice was just too female to take the chance. I`d practiced lowering my voice with Jason but he`d told me I sounded like a moose in mating season when I tried. Actually he`d howled from laughter when I`d pretended to talk like a man. So I`d given it up.
I wanted to kill my enemies fair and square – not because they laughed so hard they couldn`t fight back.
The big blond jumped at me again, this time trying to trick me by taking steps to both sides, but I saw it coming and moved to the side. I managed to cut his arm. Not deeply, but enough to draw blood.
“Fucking hell!” he shouted and ran so fast into me that when I pulled back I tripped on a rock and lost my footing. I fell on my back, lost my helmet, but was up on my feet before he could take advantage of my fall.
I was ready to fight him again. I gave him my most menacing look, which I knew left a lot to be desired. I did not have any scars and my face was just too soft and feminine to be anywhere near scary.
His grin revealed that my gender was a pleasant surprise to him. A lot of warriors had long blond hair like I did – my opponent`s hair resembled mine in both length and color – but the soft features of my face gave me away.
“You`re a woman.” The handsome warrior stated the obvious with a smug grin. He was living proof that handsome and stupid walked hand in hand. And this one was even better looking than my brother which meant he must be even more stupid too.
“Oh really?” I asked in feigned shock. “I`m so glad you told me or I would have never known.”
“I`ll be happy to double check. One can never be too sure about these things,” he said while pursing his lips.
“Is it really that important for you to know if it`s a man or a woman who kills you?” I asked.
“You`re a good fighter, I`ll give you that.” He looked at the dead guy on the ground. “But I have no desire to fight you any more. At least not with this sword.” He held up his weapon. “But I would love to penetrate you with my other sword. It will make you scream in pleasure instead of in pain.”
I groaned. Yes – handsome AND stupid.
“I never fight guys with tiny swords,” I replied, looking at his crotch.
His laughter roared. “I`ll give you the longest sword you`ve ever had, lover.”
“That`s what they all say and all I get is a tiny twig. Killing you sounds so much better.” I held up my sword and shield.
“Well, you can certainly try. I`ll settle for a kiss, though. It would be a shame to kill you.” He made annoying kissing sounds.
“Keep going and the Valkyries will ban you forever. I think they have a rule against bringing annoying bastards into Valhalla.”
He laughed again. “Who do you fight for?” he asked. “I want to know who had the balls to put you on his ship.”
“I`m on Sam Dogbreath`s longship,” I replied. It was only polite to let people know by whom they are going to be killed.
The blond guy stopped and relaxed his stance.
“You`re Sookie,” he said. “Sookie the Shieldmaiden.”
I stopped too, surprised that he knew my name.
“I`m Eric the Northman. I`m one of Queen Sophie-Anne`s men. We aren`t enemies,” he said with a grin.
“That depends,” I said. I was so set on killing this obnoxious man, I was disappointed when I had to stop fighting him.
“Depends on what?” he asked, smiling. He was all friendly now.
“How much you annoy me. And right now my annoy-cup is pretty full.” I spat on the ground to further my point. Not very ladylike, but I didn`t want this guy to think he could charm me. And I wasn`t exactly a lady.
He took off his helmet and flashed me a smile. I`d bet a cow and a goat that that smile had made many a woman melt into a little puddle. And I could see he was waiting for a similar reaction from me. When he didn`t get it, I could read the surprise in his eyes.
2-0 for the shieldmaiden.
I grinned. I was still not accomplishing menacing or even scowling, but I liked to think that my grin, combined with my bloody sword and the dead body on the ground would be terrifying. Or at least unsettling.
Sometimes I wished I`d been tall like my brother. Or ugly. People just didn`t seem to have respect for a small woman with fairly large breasts. Even if she is about to plant her sword in their stomach.
Usually it worked to my advantage because the people I fought would underestimate me because of my size. But this guy wiped off his sword and put it in its sheath, looking completely confident. Then he took two strides towards me – strides that came as a complete surprise to me.
I found myself surprised by the fact that this man had surprised me – I am never surprised by anyone – and then he surprised me even more when he bent down, pulled me into his body and gave me a deep kiss.
He then walked away, leaving me gaping.
I hated surprises.
I hope you liked this beginning.
I hope to be publishing chapters to this story about once a week.