He had been given a seemingly simple mission.
Go to Sogn, find the fair-haired young man with a scar along his cheek and touch his bare flesh without him catching wind of his impending death.
On the surface, not much could go wrong. Especially since he made certain to dress in the same manner as those around him; his bare legs from ankle to knee were wrapped in woolen fabric, tucked into his thick sealskin boots. A dark tunic and breeches completed his outfit, all of which were adorned with minimal decorations.
As he neared the village leading up to the Jarl’s stronghold, he took his dirk out and hid it beneath the billowing fabric of his cloak. Though he could not die – again – it certainly hurt when he was attacked.
Ah, there. Spotting his charge conversing with a girl whose long dark locks hung in a braid over one shoulder, the man continued on his path with purpose.
Closer now, his quarry merely steps away. The plan he came up with saw the young man shaking his hand as he introduced himself and inquired after lodgings for the night. Not too difficult or unexpected a request in a place such as this.
Finally, he came to a stop behind his target, interrupted only by the frigid Norse breeze.
“You!” a female voice called out in her native tongue, cutting through the wind. “You! Stop!”
She could not possibly be speaking to him … could she?
Swiftly, he turned on booted heels and the wind caught his cloak in a draft. The owner of the voice stood a few paces away, her long golden tresses billowing around her. Her eyes widened, falling upon the glint of steel he held in his left hand.
“Ivar, run!” she called, heading towards him with a wild look about her. The girl reached behind her head, wrists crossed, and pulled two long swords from their sheaths. “The time has come!”
What in the name of the Gods had happened? What had he missed?
The young man he was supposed to reap began to sprint away while the adolescent girl advanced on him. She changed almost before his eyes from a beautiful Viking into something crazy and downright frightening. One word came to mind, the type of fighter she’d just turned into.
Gods above, she looked bloody terrifying. He’d seen the men, scantily clad and covered in blood, slapping their chests while screaming out obscenities. This was the reason people feared the Vikings more than any other warrior.
They turned completely insane, forcing excess adrenaline through their bodies.
“For Ivaaaar!” her battle cry surrounded him like thunder from Thor himself.
Crossing her blades, she swung them in time – almost too quickly for him to have noticed – and the fabric of his tunic and cloak fell away from his chest in tatters.
Pain. Searing. Agonizing.
It tore through his chest and abdomen.
Her blades had sliced through his flesh.
I may not be able to die, he thought, but the pain is damned real.
Before he had a chance to get away, the long swords clattered to the stones beneath them and she wrapped her tiny hands around the bare flesh of his throat.
“No!” he roared.
Shock widened her eyes but fear caused a strangled cry to escape from her throat seconds before she burst into a cloud of dust.
You cannot reap the reaper.
He swore, cursing his fate and the Fates themselves.
She was dead because of him.
And it hadn’t been her time.
© 2013 Ellie Carstens. No part of this work can be used without the consent of the author.