The Unsolved Mysteries Contest
Title: Crossing the Ocean
Pen name: Thyra10
Beta’s pen name: Suki59
Virgin Writer: No
Unsolved Mystery: Three different mysteries:
1. What happened to the Vikings that came to Vinland (New Foundland) and then disappeared?
2. Why is it that one can detect the DNA from one Native American woman from around year 1000 in the blood of people on Iceland today?
3. Why is it that Iceland has had such a long tradition of vølves (people predicting the future – the name is from the Viking faith and is kept today). Today they make their predictions for the country and the world once a year.
Characters: Eric, Appius.
Disclaimers: I do not own Eric or Appius or the SVM universe. Charlaine Harris does.
This story is about a part of our history we know little about and research is contradictory. I have chosen the newest research I could find as the basis of my story but that does not mean that my story is historically correct. I have tried to keep it as close to what historians think is the truth about Vikings crossing the Atlantic – and back again.
Crossing the Ocean
I got down on my knees but didn`t bow my head. My master liked me submissive but not entirely broken. I`d tried fighting him and I`d tried erasing myself entirely – Master disliked both and let me know how much.
I looked straight ahead. He didn`t like it when I looked down and I`d been beaten half to death – only I couldn`t die, of course – when I`d looked him in the eyes.
“Yes, Master,” I said, keeping my voice neutral and schooling my facial expressions as well as the emotions he could feel through our bond.
“You`ve been with me for over a century, Eric,” he said in that deep voice of his.
I nodded. He appreciated it when I paid attention to what he said.
“I made you mine because you were strong and very handsome,” he continued. “At first you tried to use your strength against me.”
I could feel his deep brown eyes on me. He was right. I had tried to fight him in the beginning. I had missed my children – worried about them. And he had made me into what I then thought to be a monster. But time had passed. We had left my home country, found new places to live and I had learned to not only survive but also thrive in my new skin.
My master had taught me to enjoy being a vampire.
He had taught me to enjoy other things as well. Things I would have rejected as a human. I had rejected it even when I was made vampire. Had hated it. Had fought him whenever he wanted to take his pleasures with me.
But a century is a long time and one can learn a lot as humans are born and die from old age.
“For some time now you`ve welcomed the transformation I granted you and you are turning into a vampire I can be proud of.” He touched my hair as he spoke and I smiled just a little at his acknowledgement. I hadn`t had many of them.
But my smile froze when he continued.
“It is time for you to stand on your own feet and see if what I`ve taught you will keep you alive when you don`t have me to protect you.”
I was about to argue, to tell him not to let me go, but I bit my tongue and calmed my emotions. If he thought I was ready, it must mean I was ready. And wasn`t this what I had hoped for for so long? I had wanted to get away from him the first decades we were together and it had only been the last ten or twenty years I had welcomed his presence. Truly acknowledged his superiority not only as a stronger vampire but as my master.
“So I am sending you away on a boat to the new country they call Vinland. I have heard of no vampires living there and it will therefore be a safe place for you to truly master the art of taking what you need from humans without putting yourself in needless danger.”
I looked down for just a second. I had put both my master and myself in danger too many times. I`d been greedy when I had taken blood and had longed too much for a fight with my beloved sword. Unfortunately humans notice when several of their villagers go missing and it had meant relocating far too often for my master`s tastes.
Again he touched my hair.
“Don`t worry, Eric. We are stronger than they are and will always survive. What is it I keep telling you?”
I looked up, not sure if I had permission to speak. But when he nodded I smiled. He had trained me well.
“Vampires first,” I replied.
I saw her one night when I was exploring the territory. I had fed well that night – my master`s influence on the minds of the men with whom I had crossed the ocean, was still strong. They never noticed me when I came to their village and they never paid any attention when I drank their blood. This was how strong my master`s mind was.
My master had sent me to the new country and supplied me with food too. For this I was grateful.
But to my surprise, I found that I missed him. I was alone and not used to the feeling. When I`d been human, I`d always had my family, my village, around me. And as a vampire, my master had never left me. Not until now.
In the beginning of my stay in this new land, I had spent time outside the village, staring at the life inside it, listening to the men and women. The easy banter around the fire, the work out with the swords, the … friendship. It had been interesting at first but had made me feel uneasy after awhile. So now I only spent time in the village to feed and left it as soon as I was sated.
I was on my back staring at the stars, trying to empty my mind of unwanted thoughts, when I heard a twig break. The stars lit up the meadow, making the grass look like the silver that was one of few things that could hurt me and kill me.
That was when I saw her. She was small and slender and had very dark hair which meant she was not from my village. I would have known that she was not from my village even if I hadn`t seen her dark hair. The only two women who`d crossed the ocean to come here were much taller and broader built.
I knew there were skrællings in the area – the villagers had talked about the savage natives who spoke a strange tongue and kept to themselves. But the skrællings never came out after dark. I`d found their village but everyone had been inside their odd version of houses and therefore out of my reach.
This woman was the first skrælling I`d seen and I had to admit to some curiosity. Why was she out here? What was she looking for?
She walked with determination and in my direction. I knew she couldn`t see me but it still looked as if she were walking towards me.
I didn`t have a breath to hold and my master had long ago taught me to remain completely still. So I just followed her with my eyes as she came closer. And closer.
It was almost hypnotizing, watching that small body walking as quickly as if it had been bright daylight and not the semi-darkness humans found it so hard to find their way in. She was a very beautiful woman with her long black hair and a body that would have had me bed her back when I was human.
Now it had been more than a century since I`d had a woman – since I`d even been allowed to look at one – and it made this woman look even better in my eyes.
I knew I couldn`t have her as my master wanted me exclusively. He had never given me the direct order, but his hands had told me as much when he had found me touching a woman I`d fed on – which had happened quite a few times in the beginning. I would have had severe scars if my vampire blood hadn`t healed the wounds.
I had accepted this a long time ago but now that I saw her dark skinned body in the pale moonlight I knew I wouldn`t be able to look away. And as she came closer, her fragrance made my body react too.
Very soon she was close enough to see me. And she did see me. After having been invisible among humans this whole year I had been in this foreign country, the feeling of being seen was indescribable.
My vampire instinct told me to knock her down, drain her, kill her, but inside the vampire was apparently still a man. A man who longed for company.
When she smiled, I couldn`t help smiling back though I wondered what she was doing here. Why it seemed like she was looking for me – that she had come all this way from her village to seek me out because she must have walked for hours to find me.
She said some words I didn`t understand and I said some words she didn`t understand. Then we both laughed and for a short moment I thought how long it had been since I had last laughed.
Suddenly her hand was on mine. I could have retracted my hand – I was so much faster than she was – but my body did not react by moving away. It wanted to feel skin against skin.
I awaited her reaction. My skin is cold, after all, and much colder than what would have been natural for a human. But she nodded and looked at me as if she had had a confirmation of something she already knew.
I studied her features. Did she know about me? About vampires?
I had not seen any signs of my kind here. And I had looked. My master had explained to me how other vampires could be friends or enemies but that they would always want what I had just like I would want what was theirs. It was the nature of the vampire.
And I had a whole village full of people I could feast on whenever I wanted. For most vampires the next meal could also be the next beheading or staking – not to mention being pulled out into the sun. Humans were protective of their own and vampires could not fight during the day.
On my searches I had found nothing to suggest there were any vampires who would fight me over my village – my cattle, so to speak. So there should be no reason for her to recognize what I was.
I looked at her to try and decide why she was touching me when her hand moved to my cheek. She held it and then caressed me in a way someone would a beloved friend.
This was unsettling but it also stirred something inside me. I found I needed to know more about her and stared into those dark brown eyes and let my mind force its way into hers.
“Why are you here?” I asked. I didn`t use words as we didn`t speak the same language, but she understood me.
“I came looking for you,” her mind answered me back. Then she smiled. “You looked so lonely.”
“How did you see me?”
“You were in my head,” she answered, still using the mental connection we had and not words.
That made me pause. How could I be in her head if she`d never seen me before?
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I have seen you, always in the dark, always alone. Tonight I knew I had to come comfort you.”
I paused. Why would a stranger care about my being alone?
“What are you?” I asked. Could she be a vølva? One of the women who can see the future, feel things that other people can`t feel.
She blinked, first once, then twice and then the connection was gone as if I had never controlled her. She smiled her lovely smile but when she talked it was in that language I didn`t understand. She let her hand glide over my hair.
And then she turned and left me.
Not in the fast way vampires moved. I could follow her walking away the way she`d come. See her getting smaller and smaller over the meadow.
But she was gone just as she`d come. With determination.
I wanted to stop her or go after her and I found myself glad my master wasn`t here to witness my hesitation towards this woman. He would have ridiculed me – and with good reason. How could I let anyone who knew about me – who saw me for what I was – live? It was a death sentence for any vampire to associate himself with humans who weren`t glamoured. Who couldn`t be glamoured. Because that was what had happened with this woman. I had been able to communicate with her but not to erase her memory and even less to make her do my bidding.
When day was about to break I found myself lying in the same spot as I`d been when the woman had left me. Her touch, her smile, had made such a deep impression on me that I had just lain there and enjoyed it the rest of the night. I quickly dug a hole and hid for the day.
The next night I went to my village to feed but walked straight back to where I`d been the night before. I washed myself in the stream close by and braided my hair – something I hadn`t done in a long time. Most nights I didn`t even bother to comb my long hair and I had been rather lazy when it came to cleaning off the dirt from the grave I dug for myself every night. If no one could see me, thanks to my master`s strong influence on their brains, why make the effort?
I didn`t want to admit it to myself but I found myself hoping the woman would return. Maybe she would caress my cheek again?
I stared out over the meadow and felt anger – no, disappointment – when I felt the day break and the woman had not shown. I dug myself down into a hole again, feeling sadness wash over me. After having been taught to keep my emotions in check for so long, the feeling was both surprising and unwelcome.
How could one measly woman, a human being, have that kind of influence on me just because of a smile and a touch?
The next night I fed as usual but didn`t bother washing myself or braiding my hair. I sat down and looked out over the meadow. Clouds prevented the stars and moon from shining. The darkness of the night didn`t prevent me from seeing every leaf on the bushes and every blade of grass on the ground but it did add to my bad mood. I found myself missing the sun on this extra dark night – a pining I had thought my master had managed to beat out of me a long time ago.
I was just about to go down an bitter stream of thoughts about the reasons my master had chosen to send me into this solitude when I heard motion. I stared in the direction where the sun would rise and found a person walking in the distance.
My mood was instantly better when I realized who was stumbling in my direction. It was much darker than the last time I`d seen the woman and she did not have my superior eyesight. Her pace was slow but there was no doubt where she was headed. She was visiting me.
I got up, brushed my clothes off, combed my hair with my fingers and then I walked to meet her. To surprise her – and maybe throw her a bit off balance – I used vampire speed to run a half circle around her and came up behind her – but she just turned around and smiled at me in the darkness.
“How did you know where I was?” I asked her in Norse.
She shook her head and then she came closer, laid her hands on my cheeks and looked me in the eyes. She wanted me to glamour her?
I connected with her brain and asked her again. “How did you know where I was?”
“I can feel your mood,” she said through my mind. “I can feel you.”
“What can you feel?”
“You. Who you are. What you are. Where you come from. Where you`re going.”
“You know my future?” I asked. “And my past?”
“Some of it. I can only see glimpses,” she explained.
“What do you see?” I asked, not sure if I wanted to know.
“That you will save my people in the future. This is why I came to help you now.” She closed her eyes and opened them again. “I need you soon and you need me now.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
She closed her eyes again and tilted her head, thus exposing her neck. A sweet fragrance met my nostrils and I bent down and kissed her skin. Then I bit her, making sure I gave her pleasure and not pain in the process.
The blood that ran down my throat was so much sweeter than the blood of the men and women in the village. Or maybe it was because it was her blood. I swallowed slowly, enjoying every sip. Then I closed the wounds and pulled back.
I looked at her for a moment. Let my hand glide down her shiny black hair. I knew I needed to own this woman somehow. To be able to find her if I needed to.
“I want you to have some of my blood too,” I said. My master had forbidden me to make new vampires and even if I had chosen to go against his direct orders – something I couldn`t do – I didn`t know the particulars of turning a person because he`d never told me. But I knew my blood would help my connection to this woman and this was why I needed her to take some from me. It was one of the reasons, at least.
“I know,” she answered as if drinking the blood of a vampire was an everyday occurrence for her.
I grabbed my knife and made a small cut in my finger. She took my hand and put my finger into her mouth. I moaned when she sucked and felt a sudden urge to throw her to the ground, pull off her clothes and be with her in a way I hadn`t been with any woman since I was human.
But my master wouldn`t approve of this and so I kept my urges in check. My master had taught me how.
She licked my finger and I pulled my hand back. The wound was closed now.
“What`s your name?” I asked, my voice raspy and heated.
She said her name with her mouth instead of through our connection but I could not grasp the word she said. Then she pushed the image of the meadow we were standing in into my brain – only, in this image it was bathed in sun and there was a strong fragrance of flowers.
“Your name is Meadow?” I asked, this time with words, translating her name into Norse.
She nodded though my Norse variation of her name was very different from what she`d said. “What`s your name?” she asked through our special connection.
“Eric,” I said. “My name is Eric.”
“Eireek?” she said in her beautiful voice.
I laughed at the sound of my name on her tongue. Not because it sounded wrong but because it was such a relief to finally hear someone – her – saying it. “Yes, Eireek,” I said.
“What does it mean?” she asked.
I thought back. It had been over a hundred years since I`d thought about the meaning of my name but I knew my father had given it to me for a reason. I hadn`t been the oldest son but I could still become the chieftain after he was gone – and would have since my brother had died before I did. My mind began tormenting me with the thoughts of my father losing his two oldest sons, but I pushed them back.
“Ruler alone,” I answered.
She raised her hand and touched my cheek. I leaned into her touch.
“Your parents were wise. You do rule alone.”
Meadow came to me most nights and I found myself looking forward to her visits. She seemed to enjoy them too. Some nights I drank of her blood but I still fed on the villagers so I wouldn`t endanger her health. She also had my blood and after awhile I could feel which mood she was in, which was a comfort especially when she was not close by.
I taught her some Norse and I learned a few words of her language too which meant we could communicate in spoken language and not only through this very strange combination of my glamour and her opening her brain to me.
We would talk some or just walk around that hour or two she would visit me at night. She didn`t tell me much about her life or her family and I told her nothing about mine. But she gave me some insights to those little glimpses of the future she had. I especially enjoyed her telling me about her seeing me dig my way out from my grave and coming to the aid of her village, my sword over my head. I had always enjoyed a nice sword fight.
But it wasn`t just her tales I enjoyed. I liked her company, the way she casually touched me and even her smell made me smile.
A growing desire for her body burned inside me but I kept holding back, hearing my master in the back of my head. I did let myself touch her hair and face when we communicated without words and in the autumn storms, I held her close, trying to protect her body with mine.
Time flew fast in her company. I hadn`t realized how long I had known her until the first snow came. Time was not something I gave a lot of thought, having lived longer than I had ever anticipated. We`d first met in the early summer when the nights were short and the nights had slowly grown longer and longer. But now the summer was over and even the autumn was ending and turning into winter and this was causing us problems.
I`d noticed how cold Meadow was when she`d left me after having spent time with me out in the open land. Her lips had been blue and I had not been able to get any warmth into her since I had no warmth to offer. I didn`t have any shelter and didn`t dare to light a fire out in the open. And my body, of course, was as cold as the weather.
I knew Meadow couldn`t visit me if the snow grew deeper and I had to find a solution. I had to build a shelter for her. A house.
It wasn`t building the house that worried me. I was a vampire and would be able to build a small hut in less than a week. It was where to situate this house that concerned me. There was a reason vampires lived in the ground during the day. My master had taught me that houses were not for vampires. It was too dangerous.
But I would build a house for Meadow and I would steal blankets and furs from the village and make sure the house gave her a warm shelter when she visited me. Maybe she could even stay there during the day too? Her people seemed to accept her visits to me at night and I hoped they could spare her more than the few hours she had with me at night.
I told Meadow to stay at home for a week and then I would pick her up at our usual spot. I worked hard during that week, stealing tools from the village and flying them to the place I had found, far away from any humans. I wasn`t planning on building a big house, but it would be a shelter for Meadow and would make it possible for her to visit me when it got colder. That would mean lovely long nights in her company. I even made a bed and hoped I could convince her to spend the night in it. To spend the night with me.
My desire had grown and my master`s voice had weakened when it came to being with Meadow the way I really wanted to be with her.
Building the shelter went even faster at the thought of Meadow between my stolen furs and blankets and I was filled with pride when I flew to the usual spot in the meadow to meet Meadow on the night we had agreed. I had felt her in my blood all week and knew she shared my anticipation.
She met me with a wide smile and I smiled back, openly showing her my fangs. I walked to her and pulled her into me. To her surprise, I kissed her and I kissed her deeply. After a few moments she reciprocated my kiss. To Hel with all caution. My week of imagining Meadow in my bed had made me remember what I had been missing all these years and now I wanted to make up for it.
I grabbed her around her waist and lifted us both up in the air, enjoying the warm feeling of her against my body and the smell of her in my nose. Her hair tickled my skin and I desperately wanted to kiss her again.
It was dark when we landed, of course, but I had made a small fire in middle of the house and when I lifted the furs that hid the entrance, the warmth and the glow from the fire met us.
“Oh,” was all she said but I could feel her happiness in my blood and it made my own joy rise to a level I hadn`t felt in a long time. There was pride, anticipation and … well, horniness mixed in with the joy and soon I could feel lust coming back from her as well. It was not only my joy that rose.
“I made you a bed,” I said. “Maybe you would want to spend the nights with me?”
The question was out of my mouth before I could think of a way to ask her the question that had been on my mind ever since I had started building the house – or possibly since I`d met her. When I saw her face, I found myself wishing I hadn`t asked. She was looking down and her emotions told me she was conflicted.
In my disappointment, I felt a sudden urge to hurt her but before I had opened my mouth to strike – with my tongue or my fangs, I wasn`t sure which I would have used – she nodded.
“Maybe some nights?” she said, her voice low. I could feel an insecurity coming from her and pulled her into me. Maybe she wasn`t rejecting me? Maybe the situation was what caused her to hold back?
“Maybe some nights,” I agreed and kissed her.
The thought of being with her almost made me too fast, too strong – I wanted her so much but I wanted to take my time. To be with a woman again. Be with someone of my own free will. Be with Meadow.
I let my hands glide under the skins she was wearing. The feeling of her soft warm breasts against the tip of my fingers made me groan in anticipation. I pulled her clothes off and gently kissed her naked skin. She was so beautiful. So warm. So human.
The training I had been through, everything my master had taught me about restraining myself, was what I used to not jump all over her. Instead I laid her down and was gentle with her. I licked my way down her body and found that old knowledge was not forgotten. I brought her the pleasure I hadn`t brought a woman in a long time and I enjoyed every moan and scream and twist I could get out of her body.
I wanted her so much but I ended up being the one pulling back. I had undressed us both, I had licked every part of her body and had given her the kind of ecstasy a man should give a woman, and I was ready to enter her when I knew I couldn`t.
It was forbidden. It was wrong. It was not to be done. My master`s voice was back in my head and it was stronger than ever.
I yelled out my frustration because I wanted nothing more than to find my pleasure with Meadow. I wanted to make it soft and nice and all those things I hadn`t had in such a long time.
Then I felt a warm hand on my shoulder and a finger on my lips.
“You are allowed,” she said. “You are your own master tonight.”
I looked at her in shock. Those big brown eyes seemed to know so much more than they should. She caressed my cheek – a movement I had come to love so much.
“You will be fine, Eric,” she continued. “You will not be hurt by this.”
She then pulled my body down to rest between her legs and my body seemed to understand on its own what my brain was trying to deny it. I pulled her legs up around my waist and in a blissful moment, I entered her with a deep groan.
I enjoyed the feeling of her around me, the softness of her body and the incredible realization that I could do whatever I wanted, whatever pleased both Meadow and myself. There was no one hitting me or hurting me or making me do things I did not like doing. There was no one forcing me to enjoy what I did not.
There was only Meadow. Meadow and me.
Our bodies moved as if they had been created by Frøya with the sole reason of bringing each other pleasure. And that was exactly what we did. Meadow`s breath got a little more shallow and her moans got louder but what threw me over the edge was when she, at the moment she reached her pleasure, leaned into my arm next to her head and bit me hard enough to draw blood.
It felt as if she sucked my seed right out of me every time she swallowed blood from the wound she had made. I yelled out my pleasure and then I bent down and let my fangs break that tender skin on her neck.
I wasn`t hungry but the feeling of her biting me and my biting her while we were both reaching our climax made me rejoice the fact that I had been made a vampire. Sexual pleasure had never felt this good when I had been human.
I pulled out of her and we were both quiet, side by side on the bed I had made for Meadow.
I lay there for a long time, listening to Meadow`s breath even out and relishing the feeling I had in my body – which was pure happiness.
Just as I thought Meadow had fallen asleep, she spoke. “The war between our people will come at the end of this winter,” she said.
I turned to look at her. “I don`t have a people,” I replied.
She turned too and her eyes found mine. “The people you traveled with will attack my people very soon. They are hungry and will look for food in my village instead of finding it from Mother Nature.”
“They attacked your village last winter too but your people fought them and killed three men.” My people, who were only mine in the sense that I felt an ownership of them, not that I felt I belonged to them, had not attacked the skrællings since that fatal day when they`d been beaten by a people much stronger than they were. I`d regretted the loss of three people to eat from but that had been the extent of my involvement in that struggle. In fact, I had almost forgotten about the incident.
“This attack will be better planned.”
“You`ve seen the attack?” I asked.
Meadow nodded. “Many of my people will die.”
I could feel sadness rolling off from her and into me.
“But I have also seen you coming to our rescue,” she continued.
I pulled Meadow into me, feeling strong after our lovemaking and free to make choices I wouldn`t have made if my master had been near. I had known for some time that I would help Meadow but tonight it felt so very right to tell her.
“I will help your people,” I said. “I will be at your side as soon as I am needed – provided it`s at night.”
The sadness I`d felt from Meadow turned into relief and soon into something else. She kissed me gently and then a little more forcefully.
“Will you be fine with me on top of you?” she asked.
At first I wasn`t sure what she meant. What man wouldn`t welcome his woman on top of him? But then I remembered how Meadow could see images of both the past and the future and I was mortified. Had she seen me with … ?
“Shhh,” she whispered and slowly moved her warm and soft body on top of mine, one leg on each of my sides.
I looked at her face but when I found nothing but gentleness and warmth, I relaxed and let her mount me. She moved slowly at first but then faster and faster and when she moaned out her pleasure I turned us around and took her hard and in what was almost vampire speed.
She came again as I felt a large bonfire explode in my head. If the first time we`d made love had been the best I had ever had, this was even better. And that was even without any exchange of blood.
I almost felt like a man again. A man with extra powers.
Meadow fell asleep and I found myself staring at her most of the night. I almost hoped she would stay asleep until the day broke because that would mean that she would have to be in my house all day. And that I would have her with me the next night. No going back and forth to her village.
But she woke up all too soon.
“I must go back,” she said and I nodded.
The next months she stayed with me most nights and we went to the house I`d built even when the air began to warm up and the snow melted. I was very pleased but also worried.
“What do your people think of your being away all night?” I asked her one night.
“They know I am with their future protector and they trust my decision,” Meadow replied.
“Did you tell them what I am?” A sudden fear of having her people searching for me during the day when I was at my weakest, washed over me.
“They know that you are a magical creature.” Meadow smiled. “That you are sent from the gods.”
My heart would have swelled if it hadn`t been dead for over a century but I felt I had to correct her. “I am not sent from the gods, Meadow. I am what you scare your children with to keep them at home.”
“I have never been afraid of you and neither are my people. We know you will use your strength for our benefit. I know you will.”
“You have seen this?” I asked, needing the confirmation.
“I have seen you waking up and I have seen you come to our aid. I have no doubt you will save us with that special strength of yours.”
I smiled into the shadows and then turned my attention to more pleasure giving activities.
At the end of our night together, when I was ready to fly her home, she kissed the hand that had given her pleasure several times during the night.
“Tomorrow night we will need your help,” she said.
“And I will give it to you,” I confirmed.
I was ready. My sword was cleaned and I had practiced on the nights Meadow had not been with me.
“Thank you,” she said and I could feel her relief.
I wanted to thank her for something. Everything. Instead I lifted her up in the air and put her down closer to her village than I`d ever left her. I had a sudden urge to make sure she got home safely.
I dug myself into the hard ground close to her village, my sword ready at my side.
When I woke the next night, fear and pain flowed into me from Meadow. The next moment I was in the air, headed for Meadow`s village, coming to her defense.
I laughed in anticipation as it had been too long since I`d been allowed to enjoy the thrills of a battle. I had fought, of course. One of the reasons I had been turned had been my fighting ability and I had helped my master in several skirmishes with other vampires. But the joys of a full war had been denied me and now I had found it again.
I could see the battle from above and it was not hard to tell friend from foe as one group had black hair and the other had blond or red.
It was chaos, as war often is, but I landed in the middle of it and started out by cutting off the arm of a man who was about to kill a dark-haired woman. I whirled around and struck at another of the men I had considered my dinners and snacks.
The smell of their blood hit my nose and egged me on to strike again. And again. I tried to keep a clear head but I could feel my thirst grow stronger and my control diminish. When I was human there would always be a couple of warriors who went berserk in a fight. It was tolerated, sometimes even welcomed as they were excellent killers, but one could never be sure whether they would kill the enemy only or also a brother standing next to them.
Now my body wanted to go berserk, to feast on all the blood running to the ground and I had to stop inhaling the sweet fragrances of the battlefield to keep control of myself.
I turned to the men and slay three of them in my next movements. Meadow`s people came closer. I could feel them behind me, probably wanting to kill some of their enemies too now that I had them weak from fear and death.
But something strange happened. Two more men fell to the ground and it was as if I had been hit with a thick pole to my head.
My master`s voice began to scream inside me, the way only he could scream. Loud but without losing his control.
Make sure you have enough men to take you home.
That was what the voice said.
Kill the men but let enough live to row a boat back.
I looked at the men I had been killing, saw another one fall to the ground and then another. They were so few. I knew some had died from the cold, some from hunger. And now so many were killed in this battle.
My brain screamed. I fell to my knees which only brought my nose closer to the blood on the ground. That brought my mind to focus on something else.
I wanted blood. BLOOD. Not just to sate my hunger. No, I wanted to kill and drain every person I could find.
No, not every person I could find. Only the skrællings. Only the people killing my ticket home.
I got up and turned around and noticed a woman standing behind all the men. Blood ran down her shoulder from an open wound. The smell of it was thick and I knew I had to have it. In one leap I was at her side and before she could even yell out her surprise, I bit her neck and drained her.
When the woman was empty of her godly elixir, I turned around and grabbed the man who had been beating me with a stick for some time without my noticing it. I snapped his neck but didn`t bother to drink his blood. I had other people to feast on. A lot of other people.
I picked the next man, then a woman next to him and her little child. I killed everyone I saw. All of them had black hair as I made sure that no one else with blond hair was harmed.
Deep down I could feel a sorrow. I could see the disappointment in the eyes of the people I was killing. They had expected something else from me but I had to kill them. Couldn`t they see that? I had to. I was in a frenzy.
After I`d killed everyone I could see and pulled some out of their hiding to kill them too, I stood still. I took a deep breath, tried to remember what was happening, took in the destruction around me.
That was when I saw Meadow. She was on her knees bending over the first woman I`d killed. Her utter despair washed over me. When I came closer, she turned around and looked at me. That was the moment I felt hatred, pure hatred, running from her to me.
Her anger stopped me dead. It was like a bucket of cold water to my face and I looked around.
What had I done? The people I was supposed to protect were dead. I`d killed – no I`d destroyed Meadow`s village and everyone in it. How could it be? How had that happened?
I took to the air, needing to be by myself. Wanting to be far away from Meadow.
Far away from the fight, from the smell of blood, I dug a hole for myself and went to rest. It wasn`t morning yet – not by far – but I didn`t want to be above ground.
Pain and grief and fear came through my blood but I knew I could do nothing for Meadow. I had killed someone close to her. I had killed everyone close to her.
I had failed her.
I forced every thought out of my brain the way I had been taught when I was first made vampire. One could not change the past so one had to push it away. To forget it.
I had lost people before. I had survived.
Meadow had come to mean something to me but I would survive her too.
Or so I told myself.
For once in my undead life I was happy when the sun came up and my brain stopped thinking all together.
The next night I woke up feeling pain and fear from Meadow. I knew I should leave her alone but I also knew it was impossible.
She hated me but I could not leave her to die – which would be her fate since her people were gone.
I started tracking her down through the feelings I had coming from her through the blood she`d taken from me and was surprised when she was not in her village or even close to it.
When I realized where she was, I understood her fear and pain so much better. The Norsemen had taken her.
As quickly as I could, I flew to her. The night was dark, but I could feel which house Meadow was in and stepped inside. Whenever a new house had been built in my village, I`d made sure I got an invitation to it in case I needed blood after the humans had gone to bed. This way I had access to all the people I ate from.
I found Meadow on the floor, her arms tied behind her back and her dress torn up. Horror filled me when I realized what had happened to her. It was a pain so deep I suddenly saw Aude`s dead body and the deaths of my children again. I even revisited some of the painful experiences that had happened to me after I`d been made a vampire and it all mixed up inside me until I fell down on my knees, not knowing what to do now.
That was when I noticed Meadow`s brown eyes on me. Her beautiful brown eyes. But they were empty now. The gentleness was gone and she had retreated into her own mind, leaving me behind.
“Why didn`t you tell me this would happen?” I asked her.
She blinked and life came back into her eyes.
“Do you think I would have eased your loneliness if I had known you would be the destruction of everything I held dear?” she asked in a voice I couldn`t recognize. She paused for a long while, then she looked straight at me in a way that made me feel naked. “You have killed everything that had any meaning to me so you might as well end my life too.”
I took a step back.
“No. I can`t do that,” I said.
“So you would rather I live as the slave to this man?” she asked, nodding in the direction of a man who was sleeping in the corner of the house.
I got up. “No,” I said. “Was he the only one?” I asked.
“Are you going to kill them?” she taunted me. Then she got serious again. “That is not going to help me.”
“I know,” I said because I did. Killing a person did not undo what that person had done. And I couldn`t kill any of them anyway as there were too few men to make the trip home safely as it was. Everyone, even the men who had hurt Meadow, would have to live to row the boat.
But I could do something for her. I went to the next house. I knew the man there was a good warrior and he had often proven himself kind too. I had seen this when I had visited the village before I`d met Meadow. Back when I had too much time and a large need for human contact.
I woke the man and glamoured him. He did not smell of Meadow and not of anything that had been done to her.
I looked him deep in the eyes. “You will marry the foreign woman,” I said. “You will love her and protect her always.” I then let him go back to sleep.
I went back to pick Meadow up. I untied her and carried her back to the house of her future husband. My whole body screamed “MINE!” but I knew I was doing the only thing I could do. I was giving Meadow to someone who could protect her. Someone who would protect her. I had taken her family from her so now I was giving her a new one.
“You will stay with this man,” I said. “He will be kind to you.”
She nodded, having retreated back into her passive state, and sat down on the floor. I winced when I saw the bruises on her thighs, but closed my eyes and walked out of the house.
I stayed away from the village for weeks, maybe months. I rarely ate and almost went crazy from hunger but I didn`t want to see Meadow again. Didn`t want to be reminded of what I`d had and lost again.
I contemplated meeting the sun and had decided to do it soon when I woke up one night to the strangest sensation. A connection that I`d thought was gone, was now open again.
My master was telling me to come home. No, he was ordering my return.
As if pulled by a string, I found myself in the air and back at the village I had been avoiding for so long. I sat at the outskirts of the village first. I needed to eat but I also needed to get enough men to set sail back across the ocean.
It was a huge task but I knew my master had prepared the men for my return. The wooden box I had traveled over in had been protected and I knew they would be as careful with it, and its contents, on the way back as they had been on the way over. I only needed to glamour the chieftain to give the orders and I would soon be back with my master as he had wished it.
I was surprised to discover that I had absolutely no emotions concerning my return. I had been so filled with happiness and then despair that it was a welcome feeling to be blank again. To just follow an order and accept whatever my master found was best for me.
I knew that somewhere inside me I missed the happy times with Meadow but as when Aude had died and as when I had been made vampire, I knew it would do me no good to explore that chain of thoughts.
I was looking for the chieftain when a familiar figure came from one of the houses. Familiar, but also different. It was Meadow but she … I narrowed my eyes … she was with child.
All my plans of not thinking about my feelings for Meadow disappeared and were replaced by anger, jealousy and a deep wish to grab her and fly away with her. To be with her again. She was mine.
I shook my head trying to control myself before Meadow came to me. Because, just as she`d known I was out in the meadow a year ago when she`d found me, she also knew I was waiting at the outskirts of the village.
“You cannot make the men go back across the ocean,” she said when she came to me.
“I have to,” I replied.
“I saw myself on that boat too,” she explained. “I can`t leave my ancestors` land.”
Now that she was close, I could feel her emotions better than I had these last months. She was afraid.
“Everyone will be leaving,” I explained. “There are barely enough men to man a ship as it is. I can`t afford anyone to be left behind.”
I had seen curiosity, empathy, love, lust and hate in her eyes. Now I saw tears.
“I don`t want to leave.”
“There is nothing for you here,” I said.
“This is my country. My forefathers are buried here.”
“And your descendants will be buried on Iceland.” My hand went out to comfort her. Touch her. But she pulled back
“I wish …” she said but then she fell quiet and walked back to her house.
“So do I,” I whispered to no one.
I was on my knees in front of my master again. The emotions I had always struggled so hard to keep down were truly gone now. I felt no hatred towards him anymore. Also no love, anger, despair, fear or lust.
I was on my knees, staring into the darkness in front of me, my mind empty and my heart even emptier. I was waiting for him to speak.
“So you survived, Eric,” he said.
“Speak up, Eric.”
“Yes, Master. I survived.”
“I am most impressed. I have not had a child live longer than you,” he said while letting his fingers run through my hair.
I would have felt pride at that statement before he`d sent me on my journey but now I was numb.
“Thank you, Master,” I replied.
“Eric,” he said. “You have proven yourself worthy. You may call me Appius.”
“Appius.” The name felt foreign on my tongue.
Time passed and Appius and I soon found a rhythm to our lives. I thought less and less of Meadow as I had done with my children and the family I had left behind. I could still feel her emotions through my blood though they weakened over time.
Then in the autumn I felt a deep pain coming from her. I knew she didn`t live too far away. I found I wanted to make sure she wasn`t dead and I was surprised at how deeply I felt that. I had thought she was gone from my mind and then it turned out she had been there all along.
I decided to look for her and walked in the darkness and the shadows to her house. She lived with the man to whom I had given her and judging by the size of their home, he seemed to be a good choice. Which was why I was surprised at the anger I felt towards him. And how strongly I felt that he had taken what was truly mine.
My thoughts were broken by a yell. No, a scream. It was pain and fear rolled into a loud and high-pitched call for gods to help out. And the voice was Meadow`s. My blood told me she was in danger – it screamed to me to come to her aid.
I wanted to run into her house, to help her, but I had no access. No one had ever invited me there. Then she screamed again. I heard calm voices. A woman telling her that everything would be fine and for her to not worry.
That was when I realized what was happening. Meadow was having her baby.
Memories, so effectively held back, came crashing back into my head and all the happy moments with Meadow were mixed in with my sitting with my children on my lap or watching Aude breastfeed them.
In vampire speed I ran away from that house and far away from any people. I crashed on the ground, letting every emotion I`d ever had inside me, swallow me entirely.
I laughed and cried and roared and hit the ground with my hands.
Then I felt the sun come closer and I dug myself into a deep hole and covered myself.
The next night I stayed in the ground, not finding any reason to get up. But on the second night, Appius dug me out.
He smiled at me when he saw me but I knew him well enough to recognize that smile as bad news waiting for me. Then I smelled the tiny drops of blood on his shirt and knew I was right.
“I want to thank you, Eric,” he said.
I looked into his face. After I had been allowed to use his name, he`d also given me permission to look straight at him.
“For what?” I asked, dreading the answer.
“For that beautiful present you brought home with you from Vinland. I really don`t know why you kept her a secret from me.”
If I had been human I would have felt all blood drain from my face but now I did my best to look indifferent instead. I was afraid Appius would expect me to reply because that was entirely impossible for me to do. Instead he continued.
“I`m sure you know how extraordinary she tasted? Sweet and foreign among all these fishermen and coarse women,” he said.
“Did you …?” I wasn`t sure what I was about to ask him. What kind of question he would tolerate from me. So I stopped. I knew the answer already as my blood had been silent for hours now.
“Did I drain her?” he asked. “How could I not? She tasted far too good not to.” He tilted my head to make sure I heard what he said next. “And I was getting annoyed with her emotions running through you to me. I wanted some peace and quiet, Eric.”
I shook my head. Appius had killed Meadow?
“But I was kind,” he continued in that deep voice of his. “I let the baby live.”
“Why?” I asked though I knew I shouldn`t.
He looked at me for some long moments. “I`m sure you`re not questioning me?” His voice had an edge to it.
I shook my head.
“What is it I always say?” he asked.
I looked down though I knew he hated it. “Vampires first,” I said in a level voice.
Appius laughed. “That`s right, Eric. Vampires first.”
I want to thank Suki59 for the great job she did at betaing this. It was an amazing help! I also want to thank Elbly and Northwoman for helping me out with some details in this story. I also want to thank Sarafina85 and BlackDeadOrchids for hosting such an interesting contest. It`s had me scratching my head for months 🙂
As I mentioned in my first a/n, there is contradictory research as to what happened to the Vikings that went to Vinland (which probably means “land of meadows” and not “land of wine” which has been the current belief up until recently). Historians aren`t even sure where they came from – did they travel from Norway, Iceland or Greenland? Some claim they came from Norway, lived on Iceland and that groups of them stopped over on Greenland. I chose to make them come from Iceland.
The newest research I found claimed it was likely that at least some of the Vikings went home – probably as a result of fights with the people already living in Vinland.
When it comes to the DNA found in large groups of Icelandics – all coming from one Native American woman living back in approximately year 1000 – well, that has had my head spinning since I heard about it. I would have loved to have heard more about her, her life, why she was taken back to Iceland (if that indeed was what happened) and her fate.
When it comes to the Southern Vampire Mystery part of this story I based Meadow on the telepath we`re told about in the first book. We were never told how she died in the books – only that knowing Eric started out fine for her and ended badly – but after I wrote this story I was shown a quote by Charlaine Harris where she said the telepath was eaten by Eric (and not Appius).
I hope you liked this sad story.