By the next day the oarsmen received word that we were about to land. It was noon when the fleet anchored in the river and we were left to wade our way through the water to the banks. I was one of the last to leave the ship. I wiped my helm several times before delicately resting it on my head as if it were a crown. I then drew my sword from its sheath, the blade was still shining and clear, my reflection stared back at me; my own eyes betrayed fear. This was it.
We worked our way across the remainder of the river and ascended the banks. They were muddy and wet, unlike those back home, but unworthy adversaries for warriors such as we. While the men looked at the land with uncertainty, I noticed an oak tree like the one I had witnessed before boarding the ship back home. Again a pair of ravens sat on the highest branches, their eyes looked down on us all as if we were their prey. Only when we headed north did the ravens resume their flight. They too headed north and were following us.
Together we wandered this land where our ancestors had once ruled. Their rights had long since been taken and we were here to reclaim them. We were prepared for the inhabitants of this land; we had heard the tales of their traits, their evils and their nature. We knew that they would try to stop us as we headed north, but we had the gods on our side so how could we possibly fail?
We spent that day marching north, finding no one to oppose our advance. Perhaps they were now conceding to our rights, but none of us would believe that until we had recaptured our kingdom. It was on the second day since our landing that we could see a great city but between us lay our enemy, a vast army they had gathered and they were ready for us.
Our army was commanded by several jarls and, when they caught sight of our enemy, they halted our march and began issuing commands. We lined up in formation and waited. I stood with those on the front line, our blades were held out in front of us and we began engraving runes into their surfaces. Some of us carved our own names others chose those of the gods, such as Odin, Thor, Freyja and Tyr. When we had finished we each kissed our amulets, holding them close to our chests, and awaited the call to advance.
We could see our enemy in the distance now. Those on steeds were wandering back and forth before the front line, shouting commands and gesturing with their unsheathed swords. No army seemed willing to make that final move, to bridge that last gap, to release that piercing call and charge the fields. Drums began to sound across the damp earth between us; the build up to the battle began here.
The jarls stood on the front line with us.
The horsemen in the distance retreated behind our enemy, their swords held aloft.
The leaders opposite pointed their swords towards us.
My people bowed their heads and shut their eyes pleading with the gods to watch over us, or grant our passage to Valhalla should we fall.
Our enemy began its advance towards us.
We went to meet them.