I have a close resemblance to a fish right now, my mouth opening and closing in pure astonishment. What a reception you guys gave the first chapter of this story. I only have one word:WOW! Oh, and two more: Thank you!
I really hope I can live up to your expectations. Or rather, I hope I can take the story to places you didn`t expect and that you`ll enjoy reading it.
I want to thank Suki59 for her betaing and all the great suggestions she has to this story. Sookie the Shieldmaiden wouldn`t have been the same without her!
Charlaine Harris owns all the characters. I only brought them home and sent them back in history.
I found Jason all in one piece, luckily, strutting around like a proud rooster in the pillaged village after the battle had ended. He bragged to all his friends and though I found that side of him annoying, I was so relieved that he hadn`t gotten himself killed, I smiled and laughed like everyone else.
They`d lit a large fire in the middle of the deserted village and were roasting a piglet – pieces of it being cut off as soon as they were deemed ready to be eaten. I was chewing on a large piece, recognizing the hunger that always gnawed my stomach after a fight. People were drinking mead and ale and were listening to Jason`s stories.
Jason was a great storyteller. He had people screaming with laughter when he talked about the pig he`d tried to catch and how he`d ended up with his nose in the dirt. Jason wasn`t afraid of making fun of himself and that was a very endearing trait – one that I didn`t have, unfortunately. I was too serious and Jason had all the charm in the family.
“How about the women we found?” Rene asked. He was one of Jason`s friends and women were always the first thing he thought of after a fight. I always got hungry for food but Rene wanted sex.
I groaned. I hated this part of the raid. The part where merriment turned to blind drinking and people going berserk. It wasn`t that I had anything against drinking. Getting drunk was a way to celebrate with the gods. But there was one person who stood out in the crowd and that was me. I was the one with the soft chest and lacking an appendage between my legs.
Shieldmaidens were supposed to be sacred. We were maidens, not whores. I couldn`t imagine many shieldmaidens being virgins, of course. Sex was a sacred gift from the gods and one would be spitting in their faces if one didn`t accept what they had created for man and woman to enjoy.
But since we were often just one or two shieldmaidens on a boat full of men, the rule was for us not to have sex and for the men to respect that. Fifty men fighting over one woman would have been a road to disaster, bad blood and generations of blood feuds.
As the hour grew late, I knew there was no point in staying close to Jason. Any minute now he would charm his way between the legs of a local maiden – Jason did not believe in rape – and I would have to fight off whatever guy was too drunk to remember that I was a warrior and not some loot. I wasn`t booty in any sense of the word.
I got up and backed slowly away from the crowd around the bonfire, hoping no one would notice I was leaving as that always lead to comments and people dragging me back into the crowd. Most of the men here were my friends and neighbors but they still didn`t realize that I had to play by different rules than they did. I couldn’t pass out from drinking and I couldn`t be the center of attention.
I could take the front row in the fight but when the after-fight party was peaking, I had to make myself invisible or suffer the consequences.
I felt an arm around my waist and immediately elbowed the owner of the arm in his stomach. Well, actually it was more like the neither region since I used my fist too. A tall blond man doubled over. Most of the men here were tall and blond, of course, but I recognized the guy I`d just fought.
“You!” I said.
Eric the Northman grinned allthough he was panting. I gloated inside because of the pain I`d caused him. “Yes, me. Having fun?”
I emptied my cup of mead and swallowed. Then I shrugged. I hadn`t paid attention to everyone in the crowd but I was fairly sure Eric the Northman had only just arrived to the victory party. Most likely his men were having their own celebration.
His arm found its way to my waist again. “We could go somewhere else,” he said, bending down to my ear, his warm breath against my neck.
“Sure. You could go that way.” I pointed into the woods at the outskirts of the village. “And I could go this way.” I shrugged his arm off and walked towards our boat. The boat was always the safest place to stay because anyone down there was either too drunk or too young to be any real harm to me.
I`d expected him to protest, but he didn`t. I started walking, and didn`t look back to see if he`d found himself another maiden to celebrate with.
I took a deep breath of the evening breeze. The air was so much better down by the shore and it was a relief to be there. I could mend my wounds and possibly get a little rest.
I`d already taken off my chain mail earlier and was now only wearing my tunic and pants. I pulled up the sleeves of the tunic and washed my arms and face in the sea water. I jumped into our boat, picked up a blanket, found a place furthest from the shore and lay down. Before my head hit the planks of the boat, I was out like a light.
A sound startled me awake. A plank creaking, breathing, feet tiptoeing towards me.
I knew what was coming even if I didn`t know who it was. Someone wanted to have “fun” with me. I could feel it inside me and I could even predict his first move. He would throw himself on top of me and hope the element of surprise would work in his favor.
I thanked my lucky stars for my ability to predict people`s moves and slowly pulled my dagger out of my belt. I spent a tiny moment contemplating killing whoever was planning on raping me but ended up holding my knife upside down.
Just when the guy started to jump on me, I rolled away and hit him hard on the head with the handle of my knife. That was when I saw who it was.
“Rene!” I shouted. My brother`s friend.
Rene groaned and tried to get up. I wondered if I should hit him over the head again. He was Jason`s friend but I still didn`t trust him.
I was so preoccupied with Rene that a movement caught me by surprise. A sword flashed in the moonlight but was then lowered. I looked up, ready with my knife but knowing that I wasn`t in danger.
“What are you doing here?” I asked Eric the Northman, annoyed that he had caught me by surprise twice now. “I thought you`d be deep in the woods by now.”
“Always ready to protect an innocent maiden,” he said with a grin.
I snickered. It had been quite a few years since I was innocent – or a maiden.
“Shieldmaidens rarely need protection, Northman. If we do, we don`t last long.”
The tall man nodded and flashed me a smile. Then he turned around and left the boat. I cursed the fact that the moonlight wasn`t bright enough for me to get a good look at his butt.
I shoved Rene overboard. If he drowned he could blame himself and if he didn`t the bath would only do him good.
Then I went back to sleep.
“Sookie, Sookie! You have to wake up.”
I groaned at Jason`s cheerful voice.
I opened my eyes and gave him my best evil stare. He looked annoyingly good considering he`d only had a couple of hours of sleep. I, on the other hand, probably looked like I`d been sleepless for a week. At least that was how I assumed I looked judging from how I felt.
“What, Jason?” I mumbled.
“I have great news, Sookie.”
I got up into a sitting position and rubbed my face with my hands.
“What, Jason?” I repeated.
“Eric the Northman asked me to join him on his ship. Can you believe it? Eric the Northman!”
I shook my head. Up until the day before, I had never heard of Eric the Northman. Now he`d asked my very sweet but oh so naïve little brother to bail on Sam Dogbreath?
“You know you can`t do that,” I said with a sigh.
“Why not? Do you know who he is?” Jason sounded like a child. Actually Jason was a child in many ways.
“No,” I replied. “Do you?”
“Of course, I do.” Jason stopped when I cocked my eyebrow. He sighed. “Okay, so I didn`t know him until yesterday, but just look at the man. It would be an honor to be on his ship.”
“It`s an honor to be on Sam`s ship. Not to mention that Sam keeps us both rich and safe.”
“Eric would make us richer. I want to settle down soon, Sookie, and I need a big raid to ….” Jason stopped and looked away.
“Who is it you want to impress, Jason?”
Jason had always gone from one woman to the next and I`d never seen him stay long enough with one girl to contemplate settling down with her.
“No one in particular. But I want to keep all my options open.”
Translated: He wanted to make sure he could get any woman he wanted.
“You`ll get enough gold and livestock with Sam to make anyone thrilled to accept your proposal. And he`ll get you home alive. I think your future wife would prefer you not dead.”
I saw no point in any further discussion so I got up and made my way off the boat and down on the beach. I noticed Sam walking towards me but pretended not to see him and turned and walked in the opposite direction.
“Sookie!” Sam shouted and reluctantly, I turned around to face him. He seemed to have a limp from the fight and his face didn`t look as good as it usually did. He was bruised and his nose was swollen.
So much for trying to avoid discussing Jason with Sam.
“Are we leaving soon?” I asked. Yes, I was a master of changing the subject in advance.
Sam looked confused. “You already know?”
“That you and Jason are joining Eric the Northman`s crew. They`re loading their ship now. You should go help them out.”
I always had an intelligent reply ready.
I hope you liked this chapter and I will post the next one in a week.
When I wrote Dead with the Vikings, I sometimes added tidbits of information about the Vikings. I was fairly sure everyone would find them extremely boring but, to my surprise, a lot of the readers found them interesting.
Since I stumble over a lot of interesting information that I am dying to share, I will sometimes post Viking information here too, but I have to stress that you don`t have to read all these silly facts to understand and enjoy the story in itself. If you find these facts boring, I will certainly not hold it against you and you should not feel obligated to read my long A/Ns. There will be no exams at the end of the story
After posting the first chapter to this story I had quite a few questions about the language Vikings spoke and how similar it is to Scandinavian of today.
I`m certainly not going to claim to be any kind of expert on the Viking languages and since the Viking age lasted several hundred years and Vikings settled in from what is today Istanbul to what is today New Foundland, there must have been huge variations in the way they spoke.
As far as I know, Vikings understood each other – at least until Vikings were assimilated with the locals and spoke their language instead. Historians claim there were two major Viking languages:
* Eastern Nordic which later developed into Danish and Swedish.
* Western Nordic which later developed into Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese.
Vikings on the British islands spoke both these languages since settlers from what is today Denmark came to stay in what is now England and settlers from what is now Norway came to stay in Scotland and Ireland.
Today Danes, Swedes and Norwegians understand each other – though, some better than others. None of us understand Faroese or Icelandic, apart from a word here and there. I have tried to read original Viking texts and I couldn`t. I have friends who speak Icelandic who claim that the texts are similar enough to their language for them to be able to read them directly (and I envy them so much).
Vikings weren`t just raiders. They were traders and settlers too. Large groups of them settled in what is today Great Britain, Ireland, France, Ukraine, Belarus and they served as guards to the emperor of Miklagard (the Viking name for what was Constantinople and is Istanbul).
These settlements had an influence on, among other things, the local languages. You wouldn`t be able to say much in English without using words that originally came from the Vikings – something to think about for everyone around complaining about how “young people” can`t say two sentences without using English words.
“Anger,” “die” and “slaughter” are all words from the Vikings – not a great surprise, perhaps? But also the words “sky,” “husband” and “leg” are from those blond settlers.
Here is a list of some of the words that came into the English language from the Vikings:
anger – (ON angr ‘grief’) [1220-1250]
birth – (ON burðr) [1016-1150]
bleak – (ON bleikr ‘pale’) [1250-1300]
bloom – (ON blóm) [1016-1150]
call – (ON kalla) [before 1016]
cast – (ON kasta) [1016-1150]
crawl – (ON krafla) [c.1350]
crook – (ON krókr) [1016-1150]
die – (ON deyja) [1016-1150]
fellow – (ON félagi) [before 1016]
gear – (ON gervi ‘equipment’) [1300-1450]
get – (ON geta) [c.1250]
hit – (ON hitta ‘to come upon’) [1016-1150]
husband – (ON hús ‘house’ and bóndi ‘householder’) [before 1016]
ill – (ON illr) [1016-1150]
kid – (ON kiþ) [1220-1250]
kindle – (ON kynda) [1016-1150]
knife – (ON knífr) [1016-1150]
law – (ON lag ‘law’)
leg – (ON leggr) [1016-1150]
lift – (ON lypta) [1250-1300]
loan – (ON lán) [1016-1150]
loose – (ON lauss) [1300-1450]
low – (ON lágr) [1016-1150]
meek – (ON mjúkr ‘gentle, soft’) [1016-1150]
rag – (ON rögg) [1016-1150]
raise – (ON rísa to rise) [1016-1150]
ransack – (ON rann-saka ‘to search a house’) [1220-1250]
sale – (ON sala) [1016-1150]
scare – (ON skjarr ‘timid’) [1016-1150]
seem – (ON sæma ‘to conform to’) [1250-1300]
skill – (ON skil) [1016-1150]
skin – (ON skinn) [1016-1150]
skirt – (ON skyrt) [after 1450]
sky – (ON skie ‘cloud’) [1220-1250]
slaughter – (ON sláter ‘butcher’s meat’) [1300-1450]
sly – (ON slœgr) [c.1250]
snare – (ON snara) [1016-1150]
take – (ON taka) [1016-1150]
thrive – (ON þrífa ‘to grasp’) [1016-1150]
trust – (ON traust) [c.1250]
ugly – (ON uggr ‘fear’) [1220-1250]
wand – (ON vöndr) [1016-1150]
want – (ON vanta) [1016-1150]
weak – (ON veikr) [1250-1300]
window – (ON vindauga ‘wind eye’) [1220-1250]
wing – (ON vengr) [1016-1150]
wrong – (ON rangr ‘awry, unjust’) [before 1016]
Source: www . vikingrune 2009/10/viking-words-in-english/