Chapter one

Their once lived a great warrior chief, who lived in a land far, far away.  He was the leader of his village, and they were called the Vikings.  He had […]

Their once lived a great warrior chief, who lived in a land far, far away.  He was the leader of his village, and they were called the Vikings.  He had spent a lifetime defending and protecting his people.  He had built many great meeting places, farms, mills, and warm homes where his people lived and raised their families.  He kept his people from harm, and had fought many great battles against enemies.  He had many great adventures seeking new lands and new peoples with which to trade and barter.  He was a great sailor, and there was no route that he could not chart or map that he could not read….  And he was greatly respected.
But the winters had gotten colder and longer… and it seemed the very warmth of the fire in the hearth was being somehow diminished.  The great glowing moons of the summer had been replaced with dark clouds and rumbling thunder.  It seemed gardens would no longer grow, and the livestock would no longer produce calves, and his people seemed lost and afraid.  They had grown distant from him, and he spent most of his time alone in his small house.
One evening he sat next to the fire wrapped in a fur blanket, drawing lazily on his pipe…  noticing the fire was no longer warm, no matter how close he sat to it.  The smoke from his pipe was even cold, and the sweet smell from the smoke he used to love so much seemed all but gone.  He looked down at his arms and his hands and took note of all the scars from the many battles he had fought.  His once dark beard was now gray and white, and it seemed his back ached all the time now and it was difficult to stand up straight.  He felt very old.  And he felt very alone.  And he wondered if his life was drawing to a close.  He set down his pipe, pulled the blanket in close, leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes…  The room was cool and seemed to almost have a breeze.  He fell asleep listening to the crackling of the fire.
Suddenly, his eyes snapped open.  He was outside, and the sun was bright and he held his hand up to shield his face from the sun…  and he realized he did not know where he was…  he was in a place that he had never seen before.  He was standing in water, and there were waves slapping against his legs.  The air smelled of salt and sweet.  The was a long sandy beach in front of him and a great green forest beyond that. The water was slapping against his bare legs, and it was warm.  He had never felt the sea so warm.  He reached down to brush the water with his hand and he curiously looked at himself.  The scars on his arms were gone.  His legs were tan and muscular.  The gray and white hairs in his beard were replaced with a thick, dark nap.  The muscles in his hands and arms felt strong again and the bones in his back cracked and stretched as he stood full and ached his back and took in a great breath, filling his lungs with the warm salty air, and every muscle tightened…  and he leaned his head back…  and his mouth opened…  and without knowing why…  he began to roar like bear…  and he roared…  and roared…  until he was spent and out of breath and he fell to his knees in the shallow water.  He lowered his head and began to laugh.  It seemed like it had been so long since he had laughed…  So he laughed…  and the waves splashed around him…
He raised his head and opened his eyes…  and there, only a few inches from his face was a single dragonfly…  green and blue and gold, with wings like tissue paper.  He could hear the little wings beating so fast.  It was simply hovering there in front of his face.  He imagined that it was looking at him…  maybe in wonder of him.  This great big hairy, roaring, laughing man…  and the thought made him smile.  Suddenly the dragonfly turned and lazily circled its way towards the beach, riding on the ocean wind, purposefully steering to and fro…  and there it stopped.  It turned back to look at the Viking, and began to hover in place.  He became aware he could hear the wings beating the air even though the dragonfly must have been one hundred feet away, and it was getting louder and louder.  The sand from the beach began to whip up in rising funnels and water was being turned into a white froth from the wind from the tiny beating wings.  The trees on the other side of the beach were being lashed about like they were in a hurricane…  and the sound was growing deafening.  The Viking raised his hand and covered his face with his arm in surprise….  And then just as suddenly, everything went silent again.
He slowly moved his arm away from his face, and everything on the beach had returned to calm.  The dragonfly was gone… but there in its place was a woman…  a woman, looking curiously at him.  The Viking had never seen a woman like this before…  He was immediately transfixed on her huge green eyes… she was wore a purple and green dress that seemed to be made from tissue paper with a golden jeweled belt around her waist, and it fell about in layers at her feet and hung lazily off her shoulders.  There were small yellows flowers tucked behind one of her ears pulling back the mane of raven black hair that spilled over her shoulders and did not stop until low on her back.  And her skin glowed like it was filled with millions of little jewels, that you could see sparkling in the sun…  and she looked at him…  and her glistening lips pulled back into a smile…  and she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen…
He drunkenly stumbled forward from out of the surf to her, and she watched and waited and seemed to almost nervously fidget about…  “Who are you???”  He barked over the splashing of his boots in the water as he beat his way out of the surf.  “What is the place???  Where am I???”, he said…  But she did not say a word.  She just jittered about nervously, giggling to herself and watched him get closer and closer.  And then he was standing in front of her, and he could feel a new warmth.  Not one coming from the sun or the surf.  It was coming from her… it was the feeling that he had not felt in such a long time.  It was the feeling of a hot fire.  That feeling he used to feel, but had in so many years had faded away.
The woman smiled wide at the Viking and looked up at him from the top of her eyes.  She lifted her closed fingers to him, and her hand turned and opened.  And there was the dragonfly… purposefully sitting in her hand.  The woman giggled… and bit her lower lip with the teeth on the side of her mouth, rocked to and fro in the sand on her bare feet….  And said,
“Find me…”
The Viking snapped awake in his chair…  The fur blanket had fallen away in the night and the fire had gone out.  And the house was cold and dark…  and his back ached, and his scars itched…
But he was warm…
His heart felt warm….  Like it was filled with fire…

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