Kane Gilmour, Jeremy Robinson


“The fetters will burst, and the wolf run free;

Much do I know, and more can see

Of the fate of the gods, the mighty in fight.”

— The Poetic Edda

“Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.”

— Aristotle

“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge.”

— Rod Serling


Fenris Kystby, Norway

The Past

The deep, resonating beat of drums rolled through the early morning fog like the thunderous footfalls of a frost giant. In response to the sound, an alarm bell rang in the distance-tiny and pitiful. Hrolf Agnarsson knew the monastery’s monks would be rising from their slumbers and arming themselves, but he wasn’t concerned. He’d led many raids before, and the battle was often won before the ships even made landfall. If the drums didn’t do it, the fiery torches lighting the dragonhead prows sent most of the God-fearing men running.

The drums reached a fevered pace as the ships cut through the fog. Agnarsson’s beard, clumpy with debris from a hastily eaten breakfast, twitched as the man grinned. The monk’s heartbeats would keep pace with the drums. By the time his raiding party reached the monastery, the men who remained would be exhausted from fear and from holding weapons in sweaty hands.

There were times when he longed for a true fight, but he wasn’t ready to be sent to the halls of Asgard quite yet. Not when there was plundering to be done. Live like a King on Earth, his father taught him, and be greeted by Odin as a son.

He looked up at the gray walls of the monastery. His smile widened when he saw several men fleeing from the gates. The Irish never put up much of a fight, he thought.

Irish monks, persecuted refugees from their own island homeland, had decided to settle and build a small structure that had later blossomed into the gray, rock-walled monastery. Other Vikings had led raids on the Irish on their island, but Agnarsson had suggested he and his men come up and pillage the Irishmen right here at home. Monks always had good food and drink, as well as skins and books and other things that raiders could sell in the southern markets. Women would have made the raid even better, but Agnarsson had rarely found women in a monastery.

The drums beat on, and for the first time, Agnarsson let his pulse quicken.

The ship scraped over the smooth stones of the shore. The rumble beneath his feet acted like a trigger. “Hoooaaarrhhggg!” he shouted, thrusting his axe high into the air. The thirty men behind him abandoned their oars, stood and drew their weapons, joining in the war cry. Then, as one, they vacated the boat with him, jumping into the frigid knee-deep water with little thought or care.

When the two neighboring longships unloaded, each carrying thirty more men, Agnarsson actually heard screams rise up from within the monastery. If they weren’t afraid before, Agnarsson thought, they are pissing themselves now.

The knowledge quickened his pace.

Rocky shoreline gave way to soft earth. His two-hundred-fifty-pound body left indentations with every step. Halfway to the monastery, he shed his skins and let them fall to the ground behind him. The furs had already begun to overheat his body, and in a moment, they would only be in the way. And his body-muscular and coated with the dried blood of previous kills-would set his foes’ legs to shaking.

Agnarsson rounded the first of the outbuildings and came to a stop. There, standing before him, was something he’d never encountered before. Ten monks, armed with swords, stood waiting. He admired their bravery. Ten Irish monks against ninety Viking raiders. A ridiculous thing. Yet here they stood.

He looked into their eyes and saw their fear. Brave, but not fools, Agnarsson thought. They know death has come for them.

Ninety men stopped behind him, facing down the ten.

And still, they stood their ground.

This will not do, Agnarsson thought. He took pride in his ability to instill fear in men. That these men stood against that fear was an insult. He searched their eyes, seeing only terror. Then why…

Then he saw it. One of the men held his sword like he knew how to use it. He might even be dangerous.

They stand because of him.

Agnarsson laughed and lowered his axe. He looked back at his men and they laughed, too. They all knew the joke and the punch line. It was time to share it with the monks.

With a speed that belied his size, Agnarsson turned forward again and with a twitch of his arm, threw his axe. The heavy blade spun in oblong circles as it sailed through the air. It came to rest with a wet smack and buried deep in the rib cage of the brave man. Ribs split. Lungs burst. The man’s heart severed in two, freeing him from this world and the remaining monks from their duty.

Swords struck the earth one by one as the nine remaining monks fled. They’d only made it five steps before the raiding party sprang into action. Waves of men surged past Agnarsson. He watched the glory unfold. Flames rose, along with screams. Monks fled, and died. Blood soaked into the earth.

With the casual gait of a man who knew that life couldn’t get any better, Agnarsson strode up to the monk who held the axe in his chest. He put his booted foot upon the man’s chest and pushed. The ribs flexed and cracked, loosening their grip on the axe blade. With a slurp, the weapon came free. The weight of the weapon in his hands and the sight of blood dripping from it brought a fresh smile to his face.

It grew wider still when he saw a monk fleeing toward him. The man had five raiders on his heels. And they would have overtaken the man if they hadn’t seen Agnarsson waiting, axe rising up. Taking careful aim, Agnarsson wondered if he could cleave the man in two. His muscles flexed. His grip tightened. He swung.

And missed.

As the axe split the air, a brilliant flash of light, made brighter by the white snow underfoot, forced his eyes shut. Blinded, he didn’t see the monk fall to the ground. The axe sailed through air and nothing more. The momentum of the missed blow nearly flung him to the ground, but he regained his balance and avoided the humiliation.

He opened his eyes to more bright light. Lightning arced through the sky above him, crackling with the sharpness of breaking trees. Then he realized that the sound, in fact, was snapping tree trunks. He turned around toward the source of the light and found its brightness now missing, along with a portion of earth and the trees

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