The fog showed no signs of breaking as the longship sliced through it, turning up the bright water at its bow in little ripples, its strakes creaking under the strain of the low, irregular gusts afflicting the fluttering mainsail. Why, it was so thick Olaf Adrejalsson could have cut a path through it with his axe. He had a mind to, too. He smiled slightly as he whirled the double-bladed weapon dexterously before sending it flying into the massive, decorated stempost in the bow, just an inch away from Jørlsson’s humiliatingly flat nose, disregarding that aggrieved personage’s angry growl.
“Och, ye dunderpate-! Meanin’ it honorably, of course, chief.”
Jørlsson was sore upon the point of his nose – it had no point – and was in constant apprehension lest his over active and unpredictable neighbor should split the ship in half with his volatile cleaver, even if it were his ship and he were its captain.
Adrejalsson straightened himself up with his foot resting on the raised fore-deck in evident enjoyment, and sucked up the fog which sailed through the air. It was the kind of fog that you could breathe – the kind of bright fog that fills up your lungs with that damp, fresh taste and makes your nostrils dream of snow.
Olaf turned away and uttered a sigh.
Only, it had been too long. Far too long.
In fact, it had been so long, that no one knew just how long it had been. They had entered the fog just after sailing out, and it had been months now since they had seen the sun. Once or twice a glimpse of its rays shone through the mist, but never more than that and never for long. Never for long enough to get their bearings. Never long enough to get another chance at the sea monster they had set out in pursuit of. They might have been in that fog for years – decades, for all anyone could tell.
He passed his hand through the foam leaping up around the bow and pensively lifted and dropped a handful of frigid water.
The helmsman strained his eyes to see beyond the fog, but caught little beyond the glimmering lantern hung on the mast, barely being able to make out the figures of his comrades leaning out over the bow thirty yards ahead. He stroked his mighty beard with a muttered imprecation in Norse.
But then Olaf suddenly tensed up, staring out beyond the carved figurehead, and a cold shiver ran down his spine. Jørlsson stood laughing as he poured a handful of icy water surreptitiously down his chief’s back.
But to Jørlsson’s surprise Adrejalsson did not even seem to feel it, his eyes peeled, his whole body strung as taut as a bent longbow. He thought- he thought he had spotted something. What he hardly cared at the moment – it was something, anything!
Continue reading Huset, Hiorthfjellet, and the Vikings