What dreams fill young Norse minds
awaiting their first Viking?
Father grabbed and pulled Garad up in front of him, and suddenly we stopped; I was waiting in line to board Branwulf's dragon! I was going viking!
I looked back ... and found the whole village staring at me.
"No stopping!" barked Digr, standing behind me.
I quickly stepped up onto the wooden rail, felt it tilt beneath my weight, and looked down at the inside of the busy ship. Men were jostling, moving things, trying to get out of each other's way or find a place to sit. I was here; I was finally a man.
"Stop daydreaming!" Digr shouted.
"Thron!" Father barked. "Stay behind me!"
I hurriedly stepped down into the rocking ship, and Digr climbed aboard and pushed past me.
"Here, Thron," Hal said, and he took Father's shield and wedged it into place on the side of the ship.
"Garad, put the bag down here," Father said. "No, not there! Against the rail; it's going to get more crowded than this. Sit against the rail and stay out of everyone's way."
"Man the oars!" Branwulf shouted. "Prepare to cast off!"
Heavy oars were lifted from their rests, the paddle-ends tossed out to splash in the water while the narrower ends were fitted through the worn, leather-padded ports. An older man pulled out a small drum and beat on it with a stick, pounding a rhythm.
"Alright, you flea-food!" Branwulf shouted. "On ... the ... mark ... Row!"
I was finally going viking!
Trapped, with ever-strengthening
enemies on all sides,
can Norse traditions survive?
"Do none of you fear our gods?" Gandr shouted. "We risk being cursed!"
"What happens when we grow too few?" Clamsby asked. "When all of Europe is Catholic except us, then they'll swat us like flies. Unless we want Norway to look like some village we plundered and burned, we may have to become Catholic. Others have given up the old ways ... and I see no curse coming down on them!"
"I do," Old man Ranglatr said. "I see us. We are their curse."