My first was a boy. Young man, really. Older than I looked to be, although not by much. But when I picture him in my memories, he's always a boy. His name is one of the many I've lost. I don't mind. I hope that he's gone far beyond where his name can call him back and if my hope is in vain, I don't want to know.
He was from the far North, come to Ireland in search of adventure. His family was one of the few there that still kept the old ways. The hammer he wore around his neck looked like a cross if you didn't look too closely. I wouldn't have known what it was if I didn't know the stories of Thor. Thor, defender of man. There's a reason I put none of my faith in the gods.
He was a woodcarver, the best I've ever seen. He made many beautiful things - small things like spoons and large things like thrones. I think that's why they kept him around so long. Long enough that I got to know him better than most of the others who came and went. We traded stories about the old gods. He was a singer in addition to a woodcarver and he told me his hope was to sing his kin into battle at Ragnarok. He wasn't much of a warrior but if he died with a weapon in his hand, surely Odin would admit him to Valhalla, where he'd have many lifetimes to become a warrior before he was needed.
If it weren't for that hope, I wouldn't have done it.
They kept him around longer than most of the others. Long enough that he could see what happened to them. Long enough that he realized it would happen to him, too. It was a fate he couldn't bear. To lose just his life, that he would have faced bravely. All men die, in time. His people know that better than many. But when they die, they go gladly to the arms of their ancestors, bearing all the gifts they bore in life. It was losing that that he could not face.
I stole a steak knife from the feast hall. Why not? No one watched me closely. What could I have to gain that a steak knife could buy me? Certainly not my own freedom. That would take much more than a steak knife.
He held his mallet in his hand. He declared that if a hammer was a good enough weapon for Thor, then he could hardly do better for himself. With a weapon in his hand, he was ready.
Cutting a throat is no harder, physically, than cutting a steak.
I hope that his gods and his ancestors welcomed him. I hope that he sings as he trains in Valhalla, swinging a warhammer as skillfully in death as he swung his mallet in life.
I hope that his gods and his ancestors don't mind that his flesh was eaten, his bones discarded in the midden, his blood mopped from the floor by uncaring servants. His room was needed, you see. There was another boy in it a week later.
A week isn't a long time. But it was long enough for me to learn not to try to save this one from his fate.
1 post • Page 1 of 1