The screams in the village pierced his ears. The sound nothing against his own rapid pulse. He glanced into the darkness to the left and then to the right before moving towards the patch of woods that surrounded his village. He’d seen at least two of the invaders retreat there. They would not leave with their lives intact.
With rapid steps he stalked after a set of footprint he found in the muddied soil. Whoever he was chasing may be strong but he sure was stupid. And he had rather tiny feet. Was he chasing after a boy? It would certainly explain the stupidity of not covering his own tracks.
His search paid off. Ahead of him there was a flash of white in the filtered moonlight. He was still for a moment. It very well could have been an animal. He listened closely to the sound of the footsteps rushing away. Certainly human. He gave chase, his breath slowly becoming labored. He heard the high pitched yelp ahead of him and smiled. It most certainly was a boy. He would enjoy teaching the young Viking a lesson.
With a final push he ran hard and closed the distance between them. With a yell he leapt and grabbed onto the boy. With hands on his shoulders he knocked him down and landed on top of him. He heard the hiss as air left his lungs.
As he was gasping for breath Hauk turned the boy over and frowned as he stared down at the face of a woman.
“Woman! What business do you have here? Did you attack my people?”
She didn’t try to struggle beneath him, she was still gasping for breath, her body trying to curl up in protection.
“Please….please….” she said finally, her voice choked.
He frowned further. Her words were not well formed. It could be from the lack of air. He would wait. He pushed his hair back from his face and sat back. Staring down at her as she writhed uncomfortably beneath his body which was straddling hers, holding her down.
He sighed impatiently as he glanced around. There was still one more person on the loose. Whoever it was could be nearby. He listened but he heard nothing except the woman whose gasps were slightly healthier than a few moments before.
“Please, no harm. I no hurt.”
He wiped a hand down his face impatiently. Why would these idiots bring a simple woman along with them? Clearly she would be nothing but a distraction to them. Perhaps that was their intent, to bring her along so that she would be killed and no longer a burden on their village. Perhaps they were not so stupid after all.
“Why is your tongue lame?”
She stared up at him with wide, scared eyes but she did not answer. He raised his sword and pressed the tip against her chest. He would not kill her, not knowing she was no harm to him, but he still wished to have an answer.
She whimpered softly and her tears started to pool in her eyes which were so light they were almost luminous in the dark. He cursed softly and lowered his sword. She is the weakest Viking woman he had ever come across. She most certainly was simple of mind. She should not have survived so long. Perhaps other had felt sympathy for her as he did. He wondered if her protector had perished in his village.
With a grunt he rose to his feet and stared down at her. She may have been a simple woman, but her body had blossomed quite well. He shook his head and looked away. She would not know what to do with a man. And it was not pleasurable for him if the woman did not actively participate.
Now was her chance. This Viking had spared her life. She had learned early on that Vikings did not understand tears. They understood screams and terror but not pure unabashed sadness when they were staring it right in the eyes. It was her eyes that had saved her five years prior. And it was her eyes that had saved her tonight.
Magnus had brought her along on the raid to procure anything that her hands could carry but preferably an animal. His village was quickly dying off, the previous winter had been brutal and many of the elderly and the young had not survived. He never would have taken her if he’d had a choice. And now the village was certainly doomed. Their best warriors and most able bodies were lying on the ground, blood spilling from their bodies.
It made her sick to think about the brutality she’d witnessed. She did not wish to see more in her lifetime but she knew that was a fool’s dream. She was an English woman entwined in a Viking society with no hopes of returning home.
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