Fugitive From Hel
Into The Land Of The Goths
Serkr left Holmestrand and followed the fjord north until he reached the large village of Oslo. From here he learned from the local people that if he headed south, along the other side of the fjord, the journey would remain relatively level with hills rising no more than several hundred meters above sea level. Serkr would have preferred to have taken a ship across the fjord from Holmestrand, but unfortunately far too many people in that area knew him from his previous existence here on Midgard. No, it was much safer for him to weave his way through backwoods, and little used paths in between villages, than to be caught embarking or disembarking from a ship out in the open.
He had never been to the Land of the Goths, known to the Norse people as Gotaland. These tribal warlike people also resided on an island called Gotland, and over the past few decades it was said that they had sailed across the great Baltic Sea, and set up settlements on the mainland there as well. He was looking forward to meeting these Goths.... especially their women !
Serkr tried to hold down his compulsion to rape and kill as he moved from village to village, but much like a man who craves drink, the desire to kill was his medicine, and when the urge rose to the surface he could not control his rage !
In Ostfold, where Serkr was amazed by the wonderful farmland, he saw a beautiful young woman picking berries. With a charm that he was able to turn on and off at will he befriended the woman. He took advantage of her kindness by dragging her deep into the woods and repeatedly raping her, before beating her to death with his fists.
Just outside of the village of Tune he spotted a small farm house far away from the village where a young couple lived. His phony personality allowed him entrance into their home. The sharp blade of his knife took care of the rest ! As the couple bled to death on the floor of their small home Serkr poured himself a drink of ale, and spooned out a generous portion of the stew the wife had made into a clean bowl. He ate and drank as though nothing had happened, while the couple took their last breaths.
In Ranrike, near the border with Gotaland, Serkr came upon three men by the side of the road . He easily killed two of the men as they sat around the fire they had made to keep warm. The third man was able to draw his sword and fight. When the man plunged his weapon deep into Serkr's chest, however, he laughed at him, and with a sword stroke of his own beheaded the man.
The next day he would be entering the Land of the Goths, so after he ate his fill of their food he carefully buried the men so that they would not be found. Then, as the moon rose overhead, he placed a few more logs on the fire, and then slept as peacefully as a baby without a care in the world !
Thor was not comfortable being lead by someone,.... especially a female. The God of Thunder did not understand why he needed Skadhi to track this human in the first place. He was really not all that hard to follow ! Everywhere he went Thor and Skadhi heard of murders being committed and corpses being found. A child could follow the trail this draugr was leaving ! They had also found out from local villagers that a man fitting Serkr's description was heading to Gotaland.
The Thunder God was also not comfortable traveling in disguise in Midgard. His father had made a reputation for himself as a wanderer, who dressed in a hooded cloak, and wore a wide brimmed hat. Thor, however, felt ridiculous traveling through his mother's realm pretending to be a farmer. To make matters worse Skadhi was playing the part of his wife, and her nagging ways were beginning to grate on Thor's nerves.
Thor wanted to hurry after the human. And why not ? They knew where he was going, and they were also certain that they were catching up to him. Skadhi, however, checked every footprint, examined every camp, and studied Serkr's victims as though they would sit up and tell her what had happened. Nothing was missed by Skadhi ! The smallest broken twig, discarded scrap of food, and even something as tiny as a piece of ripped fabric on a thorn caught her eye and slowed them up. At one point Skadhi examined the footprints on either side of a stream and turned to Thor.
" He has turned to the east ! " she told him confidently.
Thor shook his head in disgust.
" Yes ! Of course he has ! We know he is traveling to the Land of the Goths! " Thor replied, exacerbated by her thoroughness.
Skadhi gave Thor an angry look.
" Gotaland is a very large territory. One little human could easily lose himself in such a vast kingdom ! " she shot back at him.
Then the Mountain Goddess walked over to Thor and gave him a stern look.
" Is Serkr going to Ostergotaland or Vastergotaland ? " she asked sarcastically.
Thor thought for a moment, then smacked his lips, and shrugged his massive shoulders, but he did not answer.
Skadhi smiled and nodded.
" And that is why I am tracking him Thunder God ! " she told him before turning and picking up the trail again.
Later that day, on the side of a muddy path in the forest, Skadhi found a camp that had recently been occupied. Thor watched with amusement as she examined every twig, rock, and footprint.
" This camp was used approximately half a day ago, and something heavy was dragged in that direction ! " she told Thor as she pointed to deep scuff marks in the ground.
Thirty paces from the camp they spotted an unnatural mound covered by leaves and other debris. As Skadhi began to clear away the leaf litter, Thor shook his head again.
" You know he has killed again ! Why are you bothering to check ? " Thor asked impatiently.
" I want to be sure ! " Skadhi replied.
As she dragged one of the bodies out of its shallow grave Skadhi saw the unmistakable marks of mutilation all over the corpse caused by a killer who was out of control with rage.
" Yes, this was definitely the work of our draugr Serkr ! " she exclaimed sadly.
Then Skadhi began to feel the muscles of the body. Suddenly she ran back to the camp. Thor quickly followed the Mountain Goddess, but stopped a short distance from the camp when he saw Skadhi bend down by the remains of the campfire. Thor frowned as he watched Skadhi place her hand into the ashes of the used up logs.
" What is it ? " Thor questioned.
Skadhi looked up at Thor, and grinned from ear to ear.
" There is still a faint hint of heat left in the ash. We are closing in on our prey ! " she replied.
Thor raised his eyebrows and thought to himself.
" Maybe It was a good thing I brought along this mountain woman . "
- End Chapter 13
- Next : Chapter 14 : The Chase
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2016.