Monday, November 05, 2012

Chapter I

efore I knew what was happening, I was in another life-form. Could I kill the beast? Had it survived the silver bullet I fed it, between its eyes? It was too early to tell. As soon as I rode out of the CØRRAL, and lay down by the stream, the pain started again. I knew it was time to stop being Sharon Stone, and be another. The Oracle had told me, when I was ready, I would be a warrior.

People are under the mistaken idea that there are only 2 kinds of pills: the red and the blue. It's like saying everything is either black or white. What about the greys? What about the purples?

Purple is what I had chosen, Deep Purple. The third choice - it is seen only by people who can see the smoke on the water. Those who are not content to let things be, those who seek The Challenge. So after the casino burnt down, they had to find another place, and this is where they sent me. On a lonely distant shore, in an even lonelier time.

I looked to the horizon. The flames were still licking at the clouds, and there would be a thunderstorm soon. I picked up the gleaming streak of cold, forged steel in my hand. It felt good. It was heavy, and there was great comfort in that. And I lifted it, and I held it high over my head. I had not been trained by Hera for nothing.

The bolts of lightning from the burning skies found the tip of my sword, like flies find the eyes of the dead dragon. A million volts ran through my sinews and the scream from deep within my soul pried open my jaws and burst forth in one big, titanic rush ...


The day was coming to an end as I sat in front of the camp fire and looked at all the lonely people. Where do they all belong? We were a strange group, we were. Some came from villages beyond the mountains, and spoke of strange chariots that could move very fast on the land, and stranger ones that flew in the air, like birds. Some said they saw, not a bird, not a flying carriage, but a scribe who could fly, and who went by the name of Cluck Kænte. Some came from strange lands so far away, they said people did not use their hands like us to eat, but with two thin sticks. They used these sticks to pick up long pieces of food that looked like white worms. They called this food newddles, and the man who created this food went by the name of Raamen. All here came to move the dark away.

I put my leg up, to ease the pain from the gash in my thigh. Old Glötrin hobbled up to me, with a shallow dish in her hands. She knelt in front and smiled with toothless mouth, and her one good eye squinted at me. “Here, dearie, this poultice will take care of that. I promise you that by morning, you will be right as rain”.

It felt cool on my skin. The crone covered it with some large leaves, and I sat back and waited for the wooden ship to come back.

They had set out that morning, after the fire at last consumed itself and the waters were still and cooled down. It was said that the fire destroyed all that was there in the sea – but it could not destroy the ancient writings that lay at the bottom. When we made these ours, the land would breathe again. And there would be tall trees, and there would be fruit on the trees, and there would be songbirds, and there would be rainbows. And somewhere, over the rainbow, there would be light. And the light would set us free.

The sailors had taken Cøstnere with them, he of the webbed feet and gills behind his ears. It was said he could swim many fathoms below the sea, and live for days with all the fish. Cøstnere would dive deep down and bring the ancient scripts back for us, us who waited to be free.

As the women turned the boar on the spit, young Gwýne started picking up a beat on the kettle-drum. This made the women start humming, and the people gather around. Ian, the strapping hunter who had whittled and hollowed a small straight branch with holes in it with his knife, started blowing into it, and there came sweet sounds from it. “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the ‘flýute’, he announced, and came to the center. What a magnificent sight he made, standing on one leg with the other resting on it. He played his flýute, and he sang. We were under his spell, and the air around became thick with laughter, fun and merriment. Thick as a brick.

It would be a long time before Cøstnere and the sailors would return, and we passed time there, in the cold land, with mud between our toes and stars in our eyes.

Any other night that did not have the intoxication of wine and music would have me lying out in the open, with the stars above, and the crackling of embers as company, after the children had been fed and swaddled in the warmth of sheepskins and put to sleep in the comforting arms of their mothers.

More than the contents of my chalice, it was the sweet sounds of Ian's flýute that had rushed to my head and in that soft flickering light of the burning yew logs, I found myself secretly looking at the man again and again from below my lashes. He must have the same stirrings for me because after we had partaken of the meal, he eyes drank me, from my sandals to the top of my raven head. And then again very slowly, as he stood up and walked towards his tent. And then yet again, just before entering it, while smiling his dimpled smile.

In that rare moment of weakness, I followed him.

The hunger in my belly had been satiated, but the hunger in my loins had just begun. It was a few moons since I had last lain with a man, and I was now in the throes of madness and expectation.

My desire had been the dormant Vesuvius, and was now being fanned like the summer breeze teasing the delicate dandelions from their stems. Half-blinded with the thought of Ian's naked shoulders and the way the sinews stood out on his neck, his thick forearms as he laid me down, his muscular legs encircling mine, and the way his upper lip curled, I lurched in my drunken steps towards his tent, using my sword as a staff to steady me. I plunged it deep in the ground, and it made a soft sound as it sank in, and this action felt good, and it gave me great happiness. But hark! What lay between me and my pleasure? It was a large shadow that loomed across that taunting path like a flight of ducks obliterating the orb in the heavens.

I followed the shadow to its face. It belonged to a man fabled for his strength and courage, a man who had won many contests, a man known for his conquest of the golden-haired people with eyes as blue as the sea before it died, in the land called Callyfiorñea, a man who they said could terminate a being or even erase him completely from the face of this earth. A man simply known as 'The Barbarian'.

"Where do you go to, warrior woman? Your duty is with your people. You should reserve the strength that Hera has given you, in preparation of the war. Waste it not on bastard hunters who spend their time whittling pieces of wood, and who fashion musical instruments, and who cast spells on unsuspecting women with their sweet songs. Mate not with them who are incapable of making seed that fathers warrior sons. Their seed is good for begetting bastard bards, but unworthy of creating warriors like yourself."

This incensed me so much not because I was being challenged, and being humiliated, and being stopped from my night of pleasure, but because he spoke the truth.

"Out of my way, Barbarian. I am used to getting what I want" I shouted in defiance, "... Or I will cut your manhood off with my sword and feed it to the hyenas who lurk outside the protection of the campfires!".

And with that, I threw myself on him with savage force, my sword held high.

It must have been the wine, because I missed as I lunged, and I found myself on the ground, and tasted the blood that ran out of my mouth and mingled with the mud.

As the earth and sky rose up and rushed to meet each other in a deadly duel, I felt myself being lifted up by strong arms, and I buried my face in a neck thick like the trunk of a tree and I let myself go limp as I was carried and put down on that hard cold forest floor and the rough woollen blanket wrapped around my limbs and I swear by Juno I saw the Barbarian smile as he did this and said,

"I'll be baaack".

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