Kopi SmykkerArhus, Denmark
The forest was silent save the vicious clashing of steel
against steel and the heavy breathing of the two remaining warriors.
Death lay strewn about the dry pine needles of the deeply
shadowed forest floor in the form of gruesomely dismembered bodies, hacked into submission. The birds had long since flown
their coups. The creatures of this harsh, dim, expanse they call home had sought shelter elsewhere from the humans who were
bent on death and destruction.
The warriors circled one another, each knowing that one
distraction, one moment of allowing their minds to wander or their feet to stumble even the slightest bit, could result in
their swift death.
Both warriors wore vests of mail-chain and iron helmets,
each had two thick war braids hanging along sweat drenched faces. And both had opted to forsake the taunting and insults common
during this familiar dance.
Precision. Singleness of mind. Complete concentration. And, lastly, lethal skill dealt out in heartless calculation
had kept them both alive for more years than either wished to count.
Ofeig Nabboddrson stepped over the decaying tree trunk
as he lunged at his opponent. Her shield had long since been forced from her hand and lay useless upon the blood soaked earth
out of her reach. The force of his strike caused sparks to rain from her swiftly raised blade and had her arm reverberating
with the impact.
She had to be tired. His breath burned within his lungs.
They had been at this deadly duet for almost an hour. His muscles sang with fatigue and his ego stung with appalled amazement
that a woman had dared to cross his blade and was still alive to oppose him.
She skirted the tree trunk, jabbing her sword towards his
middle. He countered, his jaw set.
It wasn't as if she were an ordinary woman, he consoled
himself, even as he went into an almost Berserk mode, his blade swinging with a life of its own. Nay, this was a magnificent
"The Protector" they called her, a legend in her own time.
And, he sensed, she was also a stunning woman, despite
the battle grime, a mixture of dirt and blood, covering the parts of her face he could see, and the cold, flat stare of her
blue-gray eyes. Eyes she kept locked with his own even as she defended herself against his attack.
He'd heard most of her saga and had wondered which pieces
of her exploits had been truth and which had been embellishments.
He kicked her away from her advancement with a well-placed
foot to her chest. The action sent her stumbling over a fallen trunk. Her breath came out of her lungs in a whoosh as she
hit the ground before executing a move that his brother-in-law, Singlee, would have been proud of. A graceful backward arc
of her lean body had her standing again and laying into him with renewed vigor.
One thing had not been an embellishment, he acknowledged
as air hissed through his teeth, was the almost inhuman way she used her weapons. Whether she hefted a battleaxe, welded one
of the many knives strapped to her person, or swung her broad sword, each weapon was an extension of her body, a body moving
with cat like grace and purpose.
Heat tore across the muscle of his left forearm and he
almost paused to gape at the blood oozing out of the wound she had dealt him.
As fast as lightning his blade returned the favor, ripping
though the leather sleeve of her sword arm to sear the skin and muscle beneath.
If not for her quick side step to the right, she would
have lost her arm at the shoulder.
Even, white teeth flashed as she smiled. The bizarre gesture
filled him with a surge of admiration and unexpected lust.
His next thought blindsided him and caused his heart to
slam against his chest. A thought so unexpected, yet so completely right, that he smiled in return.
"I shall not slay you," he panted, advancing upon her step
by menacing step. "Nay, lady warrior, I shall claim you."
Her eyes widened, yet her sword never ceased its defense.
"No man," she hissed, "shall ever claim me. Not in this
No sooner had the words left her mouth than the pendent
Ofeig had looped around his neck just that morn began to heat against his skin. Although he was already drenched with sweat,
pinpricks of cold perspiration broke out along his body.
Dread consumed him and he cursed himself every kind of
fool for "borrowing" his brother's portal opining disk. A disk known to toss unsuspecting men, and women, though the very
gates of Time itself.
What had made him think that he could wear the necklace
and not, at some point, be sucked out of the familiar and into the unknown?
She backed away from him, her broad sword held in defense
and her eyes riveted on the green glow shining from beneath his shirt.
She gasped and dropped her gaze, shaking her leather shod
foot as if it had been burnt. To Ofeig's shock his pendant's mate rested just atop the pine needles, glowing at her feet.
How had it gotten there?
Blended metal was cut into a perfect circle with five sharp points stationed at the edge of the circle at even intervals.
A rune letter, Lagu, which meant water or sea, was placed in the center of the disk, which symbolized life sustaining
water or oath-associated beer. Encircling the rune letter was a complicated series of circles and knots, all intertwined,
with no obvious beginning or ending to their journey.
Those circles and knots now glowing brightly were sunken upon the unusual metal, representing the past. While his disk's
markings were raised, indicating the stretching forward of time. The future.
"What kind of witchery is this?" she demanded, her eyes
Before he could answer he watched in unblinking shock as
the woman, clutching her freely bleeding arm, the pendent still at her foot, disappeared into thin air. It was then his weight
shifted, became heaver, then weightless, as if he were but air.
Moments before the world turned black he went tumbling
with dizzying speed within a dark vortex, Ofeig caught sight of a gaping Singlee, standing at the edge of the clearing amidst
the tall pines, holding the reins of Ofeig's own horse.
He managed to scowl at Singlee before his brother-in-law,
the forest, and the world he knew, disappeared from his sight.
Where he and the woman whom he had claimed as his own would
end up he couldn't say, but he hoped, for her sake, that she would be able to accept the impossible journey into the future
he assumed they were both propelling.
Heaven help the future world if she could not.