Tweet of the Day: Farewell to 2013
Winter of the Year of Our Lord 876, Somerset, Kingdom of Wessex
The Master of the house closed the door as quickly as his numbed fingers allowed. The study wooden door muffled the storm winds that howled outside. The warmth from the fireplace beckoned, but beyond sat a figure against the wall, cloaked in the flickering shadows. The Master noticed the thick forearms, crossed at the chest and covered in scars. The snout of the man’s mask reached into the light.
A wolf’s snout.
The light reached just across the muzzle, but went no further. Dark pits where eyes should be, stared back at the master.
“Your Lord calls but hears no answer,” said the man. The master doubted for a moment but it was a man’s voice, muffled and deep. A voice accustomed to giving orders. A voice that demanded obedience.
“I…I..haven’t received any summons,” said the Master.
“Now you have,” said the Wolf’s Head.
“Right, of course, but you see, this winter is most foul, the snows are deep and the food scarce. The men are not ready, my lord,” said the Master.
The Wolf’s Head muzzle turned to the mantle above the heath, “Yet I see your spear is sharp, your shield mended. Have you forgotten how to wield them?”
The Master pressed his back to the door. For an instance he sought escape, but he remembered that wolf never prowl alone, “No…of course not, but this is not the time, not the season for campaign. When spring comes then we will make ready.”
“Make ready now and we turn back the night. Come the thaw the heathens will strike again and all will be lost.”
“I understand, my lord but alas,”the master slid to the floor, “the heathens have already struck.”
“A fortnight ago, my lord. They took our wives and our daughters as hostages. They said that they would put any who resisted to the blood eagle. I can’t, I shan’t…” the Master leap to his feet, “Were was our King when we needed him? He asks to fulfill vows he neglected when he fled the field. I gave him my son in battle to the heathen horde and now they taken my wive and daughter too. Do what you will with me, my lord, for I have nothing left.”
“A house divided can not stand,” quoted the Wolf’s Head.
“Then make was was unmade, mend was was broken!” Lips trembled with every word, “Do that and I will march to the gates of Hell with spear in hand and psalm in my heart. Swear it and will slay a hundred heathens in the King’s name!” Tears ran down ruddy cheeks.
“We shall bring back what was taken, be they kin, bodies or the thieves themselves.”
“I ask nothing more my lord, and expect nothing less.”