TITLE: Alvilda: Viking, Pirate & Queen
GENRE: Historical Fiction
When Grandfather died, I didn't get to carry his sword. Guthbrandr, a long, shining blade carved with runes that glowed in the firelight, mysterious and powerful. For years I believed no power
on earth could defeat that sword or my grandfather, King Sigar of Gotland. But in the last days before his death, I had yet to learn that swords, like the men who wield them, are neither immortal nor invulnerable to attack.
The thaw had come but the late winter snow had not yet melted away. I stalked silently through the woods with my sword in hand, pursuing one of the many outlaw war bands that raided Gotland's shores. My island home had warriors of its own. We called them Vikings and hailed them as heroes, brave men who sailed the sea in wooden ships and returned home laden with foreign gold. If they died in battle, Odin sent his Valkyries to bear their souls to Valhalla, where the Vikings feasted forever in the company of the gods. But the foreigners who raided our shores deserved no such honor. We called them pirates and our laws punished piracy with death.
I placed my booted feet in the tracks of my prey, following them through the snow. I heard noises ahead, a silent rustling that echoed through the trees. Crouching to avoid discovery, I proceeded with deliberate steps.
The pirates had paused in a clearing surrounded by evergreen shrubs. I approached from the south, taking care to remain downwind.