“Kill the heathens.” Without warning Hemming unsheathed his sword bringing its weight down across Noah’s chest, cutting into his flesh.
She fell to her knees as she watched him fall from her; his expression of pain piercing her soul.
“The penalty for aiding a criminal is death!” Hemming shouted to all the witnesses who had gathered, as he wiped Noah’s blood from his sword.
Before anyone could act, the village was under attack and Hemming was escorted back into the castle. Screams of terror echoed through the hold, as arrows of fire shot from the heavens and covered the ground with flames. The guard holding Aiya was hit, releasing his hold on her as his body became engulfed in flame.
She ran to Noah, falling to her knees beside him.
“Noah! Noah open your eyes!” She asked as blood flowed from his wound.
“Don’t leave me,” tears had flooded her vision.
Noah’s hand came to her cheek, she clutched at it as though it were the only thing holding her to this world.
“Aiya…” Noah’s voice was soft and weak. “You must live, long and happy, always.”
She sobbed hysterically as she watched the light in his eyes flicker.
“I cannot fight this world alone Noah, stay.” She clutched at her chest, her heart breaking. Noah’s hand fell from her face to lie still on the ground.
“No…No…No,” She shook his body, hoping he would stir once more.
As the chaos continued all around her she began to fall into a blackness she did not want to escape from. She laid there next to her friend, a boy still, gone from this world of hate and greed. She did not care that people were dying around her; she didn’t hear the screams, the sound of metal cutting into flesh and bones. She only saw Noah, his face with her favorite smile. As she closed her eyes, her thoughts returned to a better time…
“What are you thinking about?”
She sat in a clearing of trees, Noah lying beside her; staring into the heavens. That day had been a rare beauty, one hardly seen. The sun had been shining all day creating golden beams of light through the trees landing on Noah, causing his dark hair to show streaks of brown highlights. Aiya was only eleven, Noah not yet thirteen. Earlier that day he had saved her from a beating from the cook for spilling milk on the floor. She was grateful to him; her life would be unbearable without him. She couldn’t help but notice his straight features, with eyes like the sea she wished to explore. For a young boy, she already knew what a handsome
man he would make.
“Noah, did you hear me?”
“Hmmm?” He answered lazily. His eyes still closed in bliss.
“What are you thinking about?”
“Do my thoughts interest you?”
“No, I just can’t stand the silence.” She teased.
He had a small smile on his lips, a smile she loved.
“I was thinking of what kind of man I want to be. I don’t want to be a farmer.” He peered up at her. ” I want to see the world, mountains, oceans, and lands far away from here.” He smiled at her. “What do you want from this life?”
She frowned as she thought of her dreams and ambitions. “I don’t want to be a slave, living for someone else, being told what to do. I want to be free; I want to go home wherever that may be.” She stared at him with a seriousness he had never seen in her before. “But that isn’t realistic, Noah.” Her eyes glistened with tears, as her dreams floated far away from her.
“You will always be a farmer and I will always be a slave.”
He knew what she said was true.
“Oh, Noah I’m sorry, I am miserable company.” She put her hand on his shoulder.
“No… you’re my favorite.” He said with that wonderful smile, placing his hand over hers.
“Come on, I want to show you something.” He pulled her up from the soft moss covered ground. They ran so fast Aiya thought her feet would come off the ground and she would fly away like a bird. After a while, they came to three massive rocks near the river. The rocks were strange, with foreign markings carved deep into them.
“Noah, what is this place?”
“Not sure, I found it years ago, before you came to York. I’ve never brought anyone here. Can you keep a secret?”
“You know I can.” She glared at his back.
Noah began to walk around the largest stone. As he bent down Aiya peered over his shoulder to see something long and shiny just beneath the dirt. It was a sword, a sword of such beauty it could only have come from the stars. It was slender, with one sizeable, blue sapphire on the handle.
“When Vikings raided these shores many years ago, they made these ruins for sacrifices to their Gods, for hopes the Gods would bless them in war. The King had them destroyed when the Norsemen left and didn’t return. This may be the last one.” He waved the sword in front of himself, pretending to fight some invisible opponent.
“Here take it, it’s not heavy,” handing it to her.
Aiya prepared for the weight of the sword but was not met with it. It was as light as a feather.
“It must have belonged to someone important.”
“It’s beautiful. How did you find it?”
“I can’t explain it, I just knew it was there.”
“Yes, as though some voice guided me here, as though it wanted to be found.” She stared at the sword while Noah spoke. She was almost hypnotized by its beauty. He continued, “My mother used to visit a witch when my father was away. She would tell us stories of giant men and their strange God’s.”
“Oh. Put it back, we must keep it safe.” She smiled at him as she watched him placed the sword back into the dirt.
She didn’t know how long she lay there in the dark before she was snatched up and dragged away from the cold remains of her dearest friend. She didn’t want to fight or scream.
“Ragda!” Bellowed the man, as he dragged her behind him.
“We have done well here!”
“Well done Dagr,” another man spoke.
She was hypnotized as she listened to the two men speak their language. They were the giants she had heard about in the many, terrifying stories from her childhood, but she was not afraid.
“What have we here?”
The man named Ragda spoke in broken English, his accent was thick on his tongue. He knelt on one knee as he examined her, his crystal blue eyes peering into hers with amusement. He grabbed Aiya by the chin.
“She does not show fear.”
He was still looking at her when he spoke to his men.
“We leave here, grab what you want and whatever riches and food there is, burn the rest.” He showed no emotion as he stood and walked away.