APOCRYPHA OF THE DARK CRUSADE

                                   ODYSSEY INTO OBLIVION


    CODICIL 1


    “Larson!” The hardy shout broke yet again through the thick mist.

    “Here!” He came back, thinking he recognized the caller. “Thorson?”

    “And Oleg!” Announced a second voice. Then through the night haze, Larson
    could see them as faint moonlight glimmered off Thorson’s helmet and shield and
    Oleg’s war hammer.

    “Here!” Larson answered again as he sat hunkered by the ocean’s shoreline.

    Together, they waited beside Balfin, Brika and Gruff. Zwolf, Gromm and Holk soon
    joined their bondi clansmen to sit in the dark and to wait as they watched the stars
    through the clear patches of dark clouds wobbling on the water. Off in the distance they
    could occasionally see the tiny flickering of flames from countless other encampments
    that had also gathered in vigil by the sea’s edge. Dragon heads of the long Drakar
    black ships bobbed in and out of the low-lying fog that had settled in the fjord. Still, the
    warriors sat in stoic silence, each alone with his own thoughts and wounds. It had been
    a long day and a hell of a good fight. Magnessen wondered what it would be like. Oleg
    prayed to Odin. Thorson was fiercely proud of their many heroic deeds. They had  
    braved many brutal battles, defied the jaws of Aegir and had sailed across the vast sea
    to discover a New World. Larson felt the same sense of Norse pride. What more could
    Odin ask of a warrior, he wondered. This was what it meant to be a Viking in the year
    999.

    Holk reflected as he brought the cold night air deep into his lungs. Had they all fought at
    Ragnarok and died? Larson knew not. He only knew that upon the field of Vigrid, they
    had fought the good fight and now the Viking sun stone in his hand had turned from
    yellow to blue. The wait would soon be over, sure Valkyrja was on her way in Naglfar to
    carry them to the halls of Valhalla.

    In quiet mass, all rose to meet her approach as the mist crackled into dry air.
    Ascending, the tiny point of light on the sea’s horizon soared, burning the night sky into
    day in a matter of moments. The warriors felt the heat from her purifying, blazing
    inferno. Larson, closing his eyes, raised his sword and shield high above his head and
    wailed “Valhalla! Valhalla!” Others chanted as they beat their shields and pounded their
    chests with their red-hot swords. Their long hair and fur cloaks blew to ash in the
    swirling heat wave, as leather and wood burst to flame and searing metal melted into
    mortal flesh.

    What Valhalla held for them, Larson knew not. He only understood that upon this world
    he was a Viking who feared not death and that in the afterlife to come, a Viking is what
    he would always be, a warrior waging war, for eternity and beyond, wending havoc in
    the dark crusade.

    The sky ignited as the fiery light descended, consuming their flesh and bone and their
    spirits were as Niflungar without armor. And as for Larson and his Norsemen Clan, they
    would all span yet another vast sea, to live again to fight another day, on yet another
    New World.
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