Short Story Series (Serial Fiction): Age of Vengeance Part 1
So I'm Pagemaster.Legion, and this is my first hub. :D
Age of Vengeance is a short story series set in the Viking Age. The plot centers around Rodin (Pronounced "Row-Dawn") and his quest for revenge against the Holy Roman Empire and the Templar order. Leading a small sect of Viking raiders, Part 1 follows Rodin in his first attempt to strike a blow against the Holy Empire.
Check out my other story Wafflemancer, Set in modern day of the same universe!
Viking Age (Approx. 9th Century)
Day breaks on the horizon just as a single longship creeps into view of a coastal trading city. The dawn's new light glints off of a Viking ax. Its wielder, a burly Viking battle-mage, grips the handle firmly. He draws solace from the familiar weight and feel of the weapon. His breath rises on the cold air. Unusual weather in this area of the world, but the warrior thinks nothing of it. His homeland bathes in snow each new day; this chill means nothing to him.
The target is a trading port. The port's name is of no consequence to the Viking. As the leader of the raiding party, Rodin, chose this town for one reason and one reason only. It was a Christian settlement under the protection of Charlemagne, the king of the Holy Roman Empire. Rodin thought those who would abandon the gods to be foolish, but when Charlemagne launched his campaign against the "Heathens" Rodin could stand no more. Too many brothers in arms fell to Templar swords in the name of "God" and his majesty Charlemagne. He was determined to take a little something back from them.
Reports that the trading town would be closed for worship on the day of the sun, traveled far and wide through the region. While the helpless merchants of the town were all holed up in the monastery, the Vikings planned to loot and pillage until their heart's content. As much as he wanted revenge on the Empire though, Rodin never felt right about raiding a city without a warrior caste. As a battle-mage, it was the thrill of the fight that Rodin lived for. As any Viking warrior, his greatest honor would be to fall in battle for his people at the hands of a more skilled opponent. A warrior's death, was the only honorable death in Rodin's eyes.
The Viking longship slides up on shore, barely making a sound. Nothing stirs in the port, and the men take it as a sign to gather their tools and begin the plunder. Rodin climbs up onto the bow of the ship and looks to the sky.
"I, Rodin, First mage to the Aesir, claim these spoils in the name of Odin!"
The crowd of Viking warriors' cheer in response to their captain's words. As a battle-mage, Rodin never had any problem inspiring his men. They raise their swords and axes overhead and begin the charge into town when a sound, in the distance, gives them pause. High up on a hill, the enormous wooden doors to the monastery creak open. Through the doors, a full regiment of his Majesty's Templars step forth. The cross etched into their chest pieces apparent even to Rodin still on the bow of the ship. He looks to the armored forces marching down to the coast with hunger in his eyes.
"Men!" Rodin calls. "There, marching towards us, is the steel of our enemy." He pauses to rest his gaze on each man before him.
"Many have fallen before them, But none that stand here!" His men raise their fists and cheer.
"Our foe may be strong, but we are stronger!" Another round of cheers rings in the air. "And if one of us should fall, the Valkyrie will be our guide to the golden halls of Valhalla!" A resounding cheer sounds from each man.
"For our people!
For the All-Father!
For Asgard!" Rodin's words arise from his very soul and move the men into action.
With rage and confidence, they charge towards the Templars; blades held high. The sight of which had already begun to strike fear in the hearts of men the world over. The Viking might that could not be stopped laid bare before the Steel-clad warriors of Christ.
At the head of the Templar force, a single man steps forward and raises his sword towards the heavens. The light catches the tip and shines like a beacon upon the Viking raiders. Each Templar trains their gaze on a different Viking warrior, without a shred of fear in their hearts.
"In the name of the father, we shall suffer no evil to live. Amen."
The Templar commander stands perfectly still as his fellow Templars charge forth unto the Viking raiders. Nathaniel was a master tactician, watching each of his foes intently, as if memorizing their every move. Born to serve the Templar order, he spent his life thus far learning of two things: Christ and War. The very nature of his order was to hunt down all abominations in the eyes of the lord and smite them from this earth. A task Nathaniel performed with great relish.
Nathaniel comes to fix his gaze on the Viking leader, Rodin. Charging headlong ahead of his warriors, he was the first to break Templar lines. Reckless, Nathaniel thought. The pawns always moved and died before the king. What advantage was there to rush in before your men? Nathaniel just could not understand his heathen logic. He was a poor strategist, and he would die for it.
As Rodin closes in on the enemy force, he raises his ax high into the air. The space surrounding the blade seemed to twist and distort, almost like a desert mirage. Flames erupt from his clenched fist, rising into the air around his blade in a grand display. Eventually, the flames take shape, coating the blade. He swings his ax across at the first Templar within his reach.
The heat from the flames melts through his victim's sword and cuts cleanly from right to left across his face. The Templar falls to his knees as the smoke from his charred flesh rises from the mortal wound. Another Templar appears on his right, with his shield raised and prepared to strike. Rodin thrusts with his left fist at the new enemy's shield. Coating it in flames, he melts through, grabbing and crushing the mans throat. Turning to his right, he swings wildly cleaving the head right off a Templar assailing one of his comrades.
The morale of the Viking crew was high. Each man took strength from Rodin's displays of magic and might. It seemed with every enemy he fell; his men fought harder, beating the Templar lines back. Nathaniel watches with growing interest. A true battle-mage stood on the battlefield before him. The priests who guided the Templars taught that heathen magic was one of the greatest sins he could encounter in the field. Witches that consort with the devil himself.
“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” He murmurs before striding down to enter the fray.
Removing his ax from the back of a Templar helmet, Rodin looks up towards a light emanating from the back of the Templar lines. Squinting he sees the Templar leader walking into the battle from the rear. The look of hunger returns to his eyes as he begins trudging towards the back to meet his new enemy. Engaging the enemy as he pressed forward, his gaze doesn't leave Nathaniel for a second.
Nathaniel locks his gaze on the battle-mage in a similar manner. A Viking rises from his right, broadsword swinging in a vicious arc from the ground. With his left hand on his scabbard, Nathaniel flicks his thumb, unsheathing his sword, which has been resting at his side since he began his trek down to the field, and blocks the strike with the hilt of the blade. Without dropping his gaze from Rodin; he slashes his shield at the mobilized warrior, and slices through his skull with little resistance. Pulling his shield back he effortlessly fully removes his sword from his scabbard and flicks it at the still standing, yet very dead Viking. Returning his sword to its sheath, the Viking falls to the ground, his right half falling before his left.
Nathaniel hoped the exaggerated display would intimidate his opponent, while in actuality it had the opposite effect. Rodin's smile couldn't be wider as he bounded towards his enemy. Eventually, the Viking leaps into the air, swinging his blazing ax downward. Nathaniel's reaction was just as fast as against the first Viking, bringing his blade up to block in fractions of a second. The force of their two blows left Rodin hovering in the air.
“Deus Avertat,” Nathaniel says, his voice betraying no emotion. His sword glows with an intense white light before Rodin is violently thrust away from the Templar.
Rodin lands a few feet away in a crouched position, his ax held high and his open palm to the ground. Rising to his feet, he swings his ax at Nathaniel, sending some of the flames that coated the blade hurtling at the Templar. Nathaniel merely stood there, staring at the Viking as the flames extinguish themselves just before they reach him. Confused, Rodin lurches forward. Spinning backwards to add momentum to his strike, he swings the ax at Nathaniel.
“Deus Avertat.” The Templar repeats as he lightly taps his blade against Rodin's incoming blow. The Viking is hurled backwards as if his blade were parried by the force of ten men.
“You'll never beat me with your heathen magic, witch.” He spits the word at Rodin with as much venom as he could muster. “Your kind are an abomination against God.”
Crouched on the ground once more, and ignoring the Templar's words, Rodin looks around him. His men fight valiantly all around him, but one by one they fall. Mustering all of his strength he lunges at the Templar once more. He swings wildly, madly. As if he did not care who or what his blade came in contact with, all he cared about was taking down every man before him. Nathaniel dodges and parries Rodin repeatedly, landing a blow every time the Viking struck out.
Rodin finds himself standing amid a circle of Templars. Surrounded, he can barely make out his men tied up behind them. Nathaniel steps forward, pointing his sword at the blood-covered warrior. Though panting and bleeding from hundreds of wounds, he still stood tall, unwilling to fall.
“This one bears the curse of heathen magic. He will be brought before the high priests and cleansed.”
Rodin had heard stories of this “cleansing." Rumor had it that the Templar priests had the power to strip magic away from any who could perform it. They also said that the process was akin to torture of the ugliest nature. Rodin had no qualms with being defeated by a worthy opponent, but he would be damned if he was going to be captured and tortured.
“I am a warrior of Odin!” He cries aloud, reaching to grasp his blood-splattered Mjolinir pendant. “I will not be taken alive!”
He jumps in the air as high as the shortest Templar and comes crashing down to the earth, his fist ablaze. The earth cracks and gives way under the pressure of his blow. Concentrating, he murmurs a few words in old Norse. Bright red runes rise up his arm from his wrist as pillars of flame erupt from the ground around him, sending the surrounding Templars spiraling away; All of them except, of course, for Nathaniel.
Charging forward Rodin lashes out at Nathaniel at a speed that only the seasoned Templar could match and even so, just barely. Picking up speed with each swing of his ax, the air around the two combatants sizzles from the heat of Rodin's flames. Finally, able to catch his bearings from the sudden increase in the skill of his opponent, Nathaniel manages to bring his blade up to parry the enraged Viking, sliding his blade down to strike Rodin in the forehead with the pommel of his blade. A fierce white light flashes from the hilt for just an instant.
“Kill them all.” Nathaniel shouts, his tone rich with authority. As Rodin falls to the ground, he looks around to see all of his men on their knees before the Templars. Their throats are slit in unison. Their garbled screams are the last sounds Rodin hears before he falls unconscious.
“Deus Vult” The Templar whispers. God wills it.