1,003, 1,004, 1,005, 1,006, 1,007, 1,008 1,009, 1,010, 1,011, 1,012, 1,013….
So far, I’ve counted over 1,000 trees, a pretty fucking easy feat to conquer when you’re in a forest. Unfortunately, counting trees isn’t the most stimulating activity. However, when you’re being carried against your will by two strange men, you don’t have much choice in what activities you can and can’t do. I would much rather be wandering around these unknown woods with my sister, completely clueless as to what part of the U.K we’re in. However, my captors don’t seem to care what I want or prefer.
Besides, counting trees kind of serves as a way to not dwell on the worry over my sister’s well-being, or the intense fucking pain I’m feeling from my stab wound, which is now shabbily wrapped up, courtesy of the dicks dragging me. Why they didn’t just kill me, I didn’t know. My makeshift ace bandage was created from my own goddamn shirt and is now soaked in my blood, as it didn’t do much in ways of stopping the blood flow.
The fear and anguish on my twin’s face as we were dragged away from each other has yet to leave my mind. I have no idea where she is right now or what she’s going through, and that scares me. Even though my sister has a martial arts background and a temper, she’s a rather relatively small woman at the mercy of giant, violent men. While she does have some muscle and plenty combat skill due to her dedication to various forms of martial arts, she wouldn’t be much of a challenge for any of our captors to handle.
Before we were taken against our will, I thought that mine and Nadia’s situation couldn’t get worse. After all, we were arguing with one another and lost in a forest unknown to us, so how bad could our circumstance really get?
Turns out, it could get extremely bad.
Like, getting fucking kidnapped and stabbed in the middle of the woods type of bad.
It wasn’t enough for Nadia and me to mysteriously end up in an unfamiliar place, we also had to be kidnapped by a bunch of Viking looking motherfuckers that had the same temperament and level of manners as the old Norsemen.
It was if these men were unaware that we were well into the 2020s, or that they simply decided that the medieval way of life was better. Perhaps, Nadia and I managed to stumble upon a cult comprised of a group of over dedicated reenactors, like in Antebellum. Or maybe, the movie The Village applied to them better. I hadn’t seen or examined how they acted enough to determine which film better captured their way of life.
The dirty looking men break the stillness of the forest and begin to converse to one other in the same language as earlier, one I can’t identify. If I knew what they were saying, I would better be able to gauge the gravity of our situation. If Nadia was with me, she might be able to give me a clue. Languages were yet another interest of hers, one she excelled at. As she did with everything.
The men suddenly stop, but not before they managed to drag my wounded leg over a fucking rock. Pain courses through my leg, intense enough for me to forget my worry over my sister’s wellbeing.
“Jesus fucking Christ!” I cry out.
My words make the men look at me funny, as if swearing was a step too far for them.
I take note of a newcomer, one who has a remarkable resemblance to the man who took my sister, the one who initiated this whole ordeal. As I further examine the stranger, I realize that I must be staring at a relative of my sister’s captor. The biggest differences between this man and the other one is that he’s taller and his hair is neater. He, too, is staring at me.
“What?” I snap, not caring about the consequences of my aggression.
They’ve already beaten, stabbed, and kidnapped me, so besides just ending my misery and killing me, there wasn’t much else they could do to harm me.
The new man tears his eyes away from me and focuses on the other two, who are now bowing their heads ever so slightly as they converse. Based on how they’re acting, I guess the new man is someone of a higher ranking.
The men are now conversing freely, paying me no mind. Maybe, if God decides to cut me some slack, they won’t notice if I happened to wander away. But even if I end up getting caught, I would have at least tried to get away. Taking in a breath, I force myself to stand up, ignoring the burning pain I’m now feeling. However, after just a few steps, my legs begin to buckle. Before I painfully fall for a second time, I decide to slowly sit down and rest against a tree just a few feet away from where I started. The newcomer’s eyes shift back to me, rolling them when he sees me massaging my wound. After a few more words with his comrades, he comes over to me, crouching down to look me in my eyes.
“I question how two English speaking blámaðr end up near our settlement. I too question the clothing ye wear and things ye ask.”
I’m sure I look as confused as I feel. Many questions circulate through my mind, the biggest one being what the fuck is a ‘blámaðr?’ Instead of taking the risk of providing an answer he deems unsatisfactory, I remain quiet. My lack of response doesn’t bother him. In fact, he happily chats away, engaging in a very one-sided conversation. He fires off question after question, and though he doesn’t give me enough time to answer any of them, it’s clear the purpose of his presence is to interrogate me.
“But ye will answer all in due time. For now, I want to know about thy woman. Is she yours?”
“Mine?” I repeat, my eyes widening and stomach turning when I realize the meaning of his question.
He thought Nadia, my twin who very much looked like me, was my girlfriend. Though the very thought of what he was insinuating disgusted me, I simply shook my head no, allowing the frown on my face to express my displeasure at his words. “She’s my twin.”
At my clarification, his eyes light up with interest. “Yer mother must have been a strong woman to bear twins.”
At the bizarre mention of my mother, my heart aches. Would Nadia and I ever see her again? I had no idea how my sister was faring, and while I didn’t think they’d go through all this trouble just to kill us, it was within the realm of possibilities. Would our bodies even be found? We were in dense, unknown woods. It was very possible that nature would swallow our corpses up before a search party even thought to look in this area.
“Where is my sister? Is she safe?” I ask softly, praying that Nadia was coping better than I was. I know for a fact that my sister is a strong girl. These last few weeks have demonstrated that, but this situation was enough to push anyone over the edge. And, apart from her mental state, she currently had no control over what happened to her physically.
He offers me a threatening smile, one that only heightens my worry. “Worry not about her. You have yet to answer thy questions.”
“If I answer them, will you tell me?”
“Mayhap.” As he talks, his hand goes to the knife that’s sheathed on his belt. Taking it out, he brandishes it in front of my face, allowing the tip of the blade to caress my cheek. “But answering thy questions will save ye from further anguish.”
I gulp at the direct threat. No doubt, he’d happily follow through on it.
“Yer sister, I heard, was quite skilled in combat. How?”
“Where I’m from, our women can learn to fight,” I murmured, wondering why he’d taken such an interest in my sister, who to my knowledge, he had yet to even meet.
He nods his head, seemingly satisfied with the vague answer. “And where do ye two hail from?”
Athens, Georgia, but if he and his friends were insane enough to take to roleplaying this extreme, saying that isn’t an option. The USA wouldn’t become a nation until 700 years after the Vikings. So, opting to instead feed into their delusions, I say, “A village near York.”
“What is thy village called?”
Shit. Broughauck wouldn’t be founded until the early 17th century. Still, saying that was better than saying nothing. Besides, I doubted this man is familiar with the year that every English village was founded. “Bro-” I clear my throat, hating the way my voice wavers. His eyebrows raise, and he drags the knife along my cheek, letting it go just deep enough to draw blood. I suck in a breath and wince, my eyes narrowing when I notice the amusement in his.
“Where do ye two hail from?” he asks again, wiping the knife off on his pants, the action leaving behind a red streak.
Taking in a breath, and hoping my voice remains strong, I say, “Broughauck,” whilst wiping the blood off my cheek.
“Broughauck,” he repeats, shrugging. “I have never heard of this village.”
“You know about every village in England?” I snap, angrily swiping at my cheek again.
“England? You believe in the vision of the Saxon King?”
What the fuck? Perhaps, Nadia and I really had stumbled upon an isolated cult that truly believed they were Vikings. And if that were the case, I was fucked, as I suspect that historical knowledge would be a great skill in a situation like this. But unlike my twin, I was never a fan of history.
However, I remembered enough to know that the Viking age lasted hundreds of years, and England wasn’t unified until the 900s. I went over all the monarchs I knew of that lived doing that time range, but besides Alfred the Great, I couldn’t name any who believed in unifying the kingdoms of England into a single state.
“Answer me,” he growled out, slicing at my already wounded cheek.
“What king do you speak of?” I question, still not entirely sure who he was referring to. While it may be foolish to further delay answering him, I suspect a wrong answer would also make him angrier.
His eyes narrow at me, and I knew I fucked up big time. He throws his weapon to the side and tears off my makeshift bandage. My sense of self-preservation kicks in, and I grab at his large hand with my left one before he could carry out whatever sadistic plan he had in mind. The action makes him freeze, so I use that as an opportunity to shove him away with all my strength. He loses his footing and falls, landing on his back with a thud, the sound catching the attention of the other men, who immediately rush over. Despite my injury, I manage to stand up, adrenaline now pumping through my veins. I’m able to run a small distance, though the action results in more bleeding and intense pain. The thundering of the men’s footsteps spurs me on, and I know that if they catch me, they’ll do more than just stab my leg.
I manage to outrun them for a minute or so before they catch up to me. Two pairs of hands grip my shoulders, and I’m forced to the ground. The man that I shoved appears before me, fury blackening his face. I glare right back at him, trying to hide the fear I feel at the aspect of this being my last moments on Earth. He leans down to look me in the eyes, and before he can do anything, I use this as an opportunity to headbutt him. If he’s going to kill me, I might as well go out with a fight. He grunts as his head snaps back, his hands flying to his now bleeding nose. The two men who grip me shove me face first into the dirt, and begin raining down kicks and punches on me. Suddenly, they stop, leaving me gasping for breath and covered in my own blood and dirt. Right now, I’m surprised I’m even conscious. The sound of a deep, crazed laugh reaches my ear, and I look towards the source. Despite having murder in his eyes and a nose that’s spewing blood, my inquisitor is laughing his ass off.
“I must admit,” he says between his chuckles, swiping at his eyes. “Ye’d make a fine warrior. Ye and yer sister, ye do yer people proud.”
I open my mouth to respond to the crazy ass man before me, but his fist greets my face before I could utter a sound. Stars appear in my now blurry vision. I groan at the pain I’m feeling all over my body, that groan turning into a scream when a searing pain shoots through my left hand.
“Shit!” I snarl as the knife that’s deep in my hand is twisted, resulting in even more pain.
Pulling it out, instead of wiping the blade off on his pants as he did before, he allows the cheek he left uncut to serve as his wipe. I cringe as my own blood drips down my face.
“I don’t like being taken for a fool. Ye say yer are from York, yet ye waste yer breath asking me who the Saxon King is.”
“There is no Saxon King, you crazy fucks!” I yell out, unable to focus on his face.
My outrage is rewarded with another kick, but I’m in so much pain that it barely registers.
“I would truly hate to kill yr. That would be such a waste. So, I shall give ye one more chance to answer the question. Do ye believe in King Alfred’s vision?”
Jesus fuck, they truly believe we’re in Viking era England. Gasping in another breath, I slowly nod, hoping I’m not signing my death warrant. “England will be united.”
England is united, but if they believe King Alfred is the ruler, they’d think England is nothing more than a pipedream.
“Was that so difficult?”
“What year do you assholes think it is?” I huff out as black dots dance in my vision.
I feel as if I’m going to pass out at any moment, but in the presence of these brutes, I doubt I’d ever wake up.
“Ye came across as daft, asking the things ye do. But, fools have always held a special place in my heart, so I will humor ye for the time being. It is 880, boy.”
Suspicion confirmed, Nadia and I managed to unearth a Viking cult.
The man shifts his attention to the other two dicks, switching languages. They leave my sight as they speak, and now that a psycho isn’t right in front of my face, those black dots grow larger. Before I know it, everything goes black.