The raiding season was swiftly approaching, and the sound of hammers and saws constructing the necessary ships to cross the channel rang out in the distance. The grizzled old warrior, Gimli Ironpen, stirred beneath his quilts made of tanned caribou skins and attempted to rise to face the chill wind blowing in off the fjord, but was oppressed with a sense of great foreboding, a heaviness if you will, that hindered his efforts. Was it the years of injuries that had taken their toll on his stout frame? Or the accumulated cries of a thousand vanquished enemies that were haunting his sleep and now weighing his aching conscience? Or was it just a lifetime of dining on the finest burriticus, washed down with flagons of honey-free cokewater that had added cubits and stone to his girth?
Alas, although those were factors in the difficulty now being faced, the real culprit was the pack of semi-domesticated wolfhounds that had grown accustomed to sleeping on the bed instead of out protecting the horse herds from neighboring tribes. The once fearsome canines had grown fat and lazy with the recent peaceful years, and only the threat of imminent battle would roust them from their slovenian ways. After much kicking and cursing of the gods, Gimli succeeded in dislodging enough of the snoring dogflesh to extricate himself from the sodden mass, and stumbling to the door of the his northern command post, hawked, spat, and began to water the lillies in the brisk morning air.
Even though the main encampment was well to the south of the northern command center, the smell of roasting pig carried to the flaring nostrils of the grizzled warrior chieftain. Although the feasts in the main hall were certain and ongoing, the risk of being put to menial tasks by the womenfolk was such that Gimli found it preferable to spend the majority of his time at the northern boundaries of his territory. The benefits of this self-enforced exile of the warrior-priest were two fold: he could maintain what was left of his sanity while at the same time keeping a vigilant eye out for the barbarian hordes that swept down from the north shortly after the summer solstice.
But there would be no peace for the wicked; he just didn’t think he had been that wicked. The son of the warrior, Halfzach Shinkicker and the true ruler of the northern band, Bjorn Crumbsnatcher the Usurper, had arrived, and true to form, Halfzach was busy devouring the breakfast foodstuffs that had been set aside to ensure the tribe’s survival through the upcoming barbarian siege. She Who Must Be Obeyed had allowed the unthinkable, allowing her eldest and favorite son to plunder the larder and, mighty though he was, it was too late for Gimli to do anything about it. Halfzach’s beard was already sodden and dripping with bacon grease and butter, and he was already looking around for more.
Gimli heaved a mighty sigh, then absentmindedly scratched beneath his breechclout; it might be time to scour the eastern markets for a new and more cooperative wife, but who has time for that? The portly warrior had recently found that the older he got, the better he was back before the snow had settled across the mountains. Although the bards of the town said “that the older the lute, the sweeter the music”, Gimli found it much more difficult to keep the lute in tune these days; often it wasn’t even worth getting it out of the case for a little practice.
No. By Odin’s beard, it was better to spend time with the hounds and prepare for the next big battle. And prepare he did, spending each day and night sharpening his skills as wall as the killing edge of his battle axe, his claymore, his harquebus, his buffletoon, his…
BRET! ZACH AND JUDE ARE HERE! TODAY’S YOUR DAY TO BABYSIT!
yes, dear; I’ll be right in.
I wish I was a real Viking.