Chapter two

There was very little rest for the warrior over the next few nights. His sleep was filled with vivid dreams. Dreams of the Dragonfly…. Voices spoke to him in soft […]

There was very little rest for the warrior over the next few nights. His sleep was filled with vivid dreams. Dreams of the Dragonfly…. Voices spoke to him in soft whispers and told him that he was to follow the path to where the moon touches the sea, and that is where she will be found. And that he must hurry… because time was short. The cold icy veil thrown over the world would soon be permanent and irreversible. The journey would be long, but he had no fear. When the morning came he was filled with new energy. His heart burned, his eyes were bright, and his mind alive. For the first time in a very long time he felt purposeful and important…. And he had no fear. No fear at all.
The morning saw a new layer of snow and ice, but the sun appeared occasionally and the wind was not particularly fierce for the first time in months. Covered in extra furs, and his beard tied up with rawhide, he pushed open the great wood door of his lodge and trudged through the snow toward the dock by the sea at the end of the village. It had been such a long time since he had had made this journey. He arrived at the area where the boats of the village were kept. There in a covered boat house sat his boat. At first glance, you might notice, that it was not a particularly large boat for a Viking. He had found it was best to have a craft that he himself could manage without help if necessary, and he had done just that many times. It was an old boat, there was no doubt, and maybe some would day that it was in the first stages of rot and decline… but others might instead notice the great scars from many horrific battles and epic adventures. He realized that she might need a good going over to be sure, and the sails would need mending, but the Great Oak tree that fell so many years ago to make its strong keel was still alive in there, and the Viking had no doubt that she was ready for a new long journey. He pulled his face close to the face of the maiden that had been carved into the high bow, and her eyes were still serious and seeking the horizon. To him she looked more than ready to lead him once again. He placed his large hand on the maiden’s cheek and gave them a strong squeeze. There was a broad smile under the layers of beard… “I missed you lassie… It’s good to see you…” he patted her hard on the cheek and the bow resonated like the body of a great cello echoing off of the water. He chuckled quietly to himself, “Alright then… back to work.”
The next few days were spent quietly moving about the village gathering supplies. This was the most the Viking had been out in the village in some time, and he slowly began to notice what a great change had come over his home in his absence. Many of the buildings were in disrepair and most of the shops were closed. There were few people out in the square, and the few villagers that were out shuffled about with their heads down, moving quietly without acknowledging anyone around them. No one spoke. No one seemed to react to anything at all, especially to each other. There were no smiles, no laughing, no shouting, and no talking at all. Everything was dead quiet except for the whistle of the wind and the occasional banging sound coming from the blacksmith hut on the far side of the market square. His village had at some point become a town filled with pale faced ghosts that used to be his people. And there was no music… and there was no joy… and for the first time in days he felt despair. He realized that at some point he had become one of these same people, like he had been infected with some kind of sadness disease. He did not know when that had happened. It was like the warmth of the world had been drown in a great tide wave of icy water… and no one was aware that it ever happened. Momentarily, it made his heart heavy… but he knew somehow that his dreams and this new journey were somehow related to this blanket of darkness that covered the land, and it bolstered his resolve… and his focus had never been more keen.
The last day he spent in what used to be his home was spent finalizing his needs for the journey. He broke out the great chest from the secret hiding hole beside his bed. It had been in that hole for many, many years, and the lock was somewhat rusty but it opened without protest. The great hinges on the lid creaked upon opening but it appeared that everything inside was exactly as he had left them. His suit of leather armor was still shiny and supple, his oak shield looked the same as the day he put it away, and his axe was still sharp enough to shave a beard. Seeing these items, and then picking them up from where they had rested, felt like going through the effects of a warrior who had passed away. He knew these were these things but he could not place ever being the man inside that armor, and the handle of his axe felt only vaguely familiar. It was a genuinely odd feeling. Like he could not remember who he was before… no matter how hard he tried.
His seal skin pack was still in good shape. He had designed this pack himself. It had a special closure that made the bag inside water tight. There was not another one like it anywhere and he had only made the one. The pack had never failed him and it had weather many storms, and had proved itself a most vital item in his arsenal. It had held and protected many things, and had shown itself to be unsinkable and nearly indestructible. It was good to know it was still in good shape and could be used again.
Under his pack he found the last of his music boxes. It was always his favorite. The Viking had made many of these music boxes, and given them all away. He no longer remembered the faces of to whom he gifted them… Interestingly. He opened the lid of the jeweled box and in that moment he remembered why this one was his favorite of all of the music boxes he had ever made. The lining of the box was the finest satin, trimmed in buffed leather. The music box mechanism was a thousand little parts of polished brass. In a moment of pride he acknowledged that it was a good piece and worthy of praise. He moved his calloused hand down and began to turn the wind on the side of the mechanism. It clicked quietly and without protest, and after several winds he stopped and he moved his hand away and eagerly awaited the box to begin to sing its song to him… the gears started to turn in the mechanism, he could see it and he could hear the chimes clicking inside but no music was coming from the box. ..
…and then he remembered.
One day one of the women from the village had brought him what she thought was a broken music box. It was one of the many jeweled boxes that he had made and given away. The mechanism appeared to be broken and the music had stopped playing. He spent many hours examining the workings of the mechanical chime inside, but everything appeared to be working as it should… but the music was gone. And no matter what he did he could not make it play. He eventually gave the box back and explained that he could not fix it. The woman was very disappointed, and she told him that the song from her music box was her favorite thing in the world, and since the box stopped playing her life had become less alive, and her home had become less warm. She took the box and took it home… she seemed to be very upset.
Over the next few weeks every single music box he had ever made showed up at his door. The owner of the music box complaining of the same thing every time, they had all stopped playing. Without explanation there was no more music in the village anywhere… and no one knew why.
The day before, in the market, he had made a point to get a bag of candies. He didn’t like to admit it, but these cadies were his favorites. They were peanuts dipped in chocolate and covered in colored candy. This simple treat had always cheered him up when he need it. And he never made a journey without a at least one bag. And now that he was taking a final inventory of his personal effects he found the bag and placed it inside the music box. He wrapped the box tight in a beaver skin and rawhide and stuffed into the seal skin bag in his pack. This was the final item to be packed.
He put on his leather armor and was surprised to find that they still fit him perfectly. His axe was hanging from a loop in his belt and it felt vaguely familiar. His shield, which he had spent several hours the previous night painting with a large green, blue, and gold dragonfly was strapped across his back. He wrapped his great bearskin skin fur over his shoulders and lifted his pack and stepped out the door of his house into the darkness of the night, and made his way down to the water. Quietly, he slipped his boat out of the boat house, took hold of the rough handles of the oars, and leaned back digging them into the water, and quietly slipped into out of the harbor without making a sound. In that moment, he realized no one would even notice he was gone… but he could see the moon, and he pointed the maiden toward it and leaned into the oars.

About The Urban Rifleman