"When I go to battle,
In pursuit with old friends,
From the shield's edge I scream,
And they advance in might."
Amidst the salt and biting wind of the raging sea, a raven flew straight and true, guiding Ruby's longship to land. Drumbeats rolled off the foaming waves, oars slicing into the sea at each reverberating strike. Nine ships made their way to shore, each one bearing a host of westbound vikingr. Rain hammered at them, a chilling downpour that soaked each man to their core.
Yet Ruby barely noticed – nerves at receiving her first command had beset her ever since they'd departed, yet her mind was burdened no longer. Adrenaline pumped through her veins, the thrill of her first raid warming her heart and soul. Even so, she could not suppress a shiver as sea-spray kissed the bristles of her undercut, the sodden wolf-fur at her neck offering her little protection from the elements. Her scarlet cape flapped behind her, laden with rain though it was.
As her sister Yang struck the drums that kept the oarsmen in time, Ruby awaited her raven's return. Muninn had never failed her, and she would not expect him to do so now. He had been a gift from Mother. Her last gift.
Weiss' drekar followed Ruby's lead, the white-haired shieldmaiden guiding her hirdmen through the stormy waters. The King's daughter shall cut her teeth as well, Ruby mused, grinning. A titanic wave slammed into Ruby's skeid, spraying her men with foam and salt.
"A lovely day for a raid!" She bellowed, raising her sword. Her warriors roared their approval, pulling at their oars with renewed vigor. Lightning pierced the land before them, illuminating the shores of Northumbria in a brilliant white flash. Thor's hammer struck its anvil, and thunder split their ears. "Land!" Ruby cried, pointing.
"Land!" The call went out.
Blake's snekkja pushed ahead, the wind pulling her long black hair behind her. Her cat's ears were flat against her scalp – it seemed as though the turbulent sea had gotten to her. Ruby laughed, saluting her faunus friend. Blake did not return it, her cheeks green and full of vomit.
Another flash of lighting brought their destination into view – the Christian Monastery. No doubt the men inside were cowering before the might of the storm, too afeared to withstand the lashing rain.
After three years of poor harvests, the time to go viking was nigh – Ruby and her friends would not sit idly by while the common folk starved. King Jaukes had called for a raid, and the warriors of Danmark were all too happy to answer the call.
Years of training, dedication, and prayer were to be fulfilled in the span of an hour. Ruby could not stop the wolfish grin that spread across her face – her father had even given her a longship to command! Jarl Long could be generous when it suited him, but perhaps he was simply concerned for his daughters' success on their first raid.
Muninn cawed, the sound snapping Ruby from her thoughts. Flapping his wings, the raven battled the storm to return to his master. She extended her arm and he lighted upon it, talons digging into her leather and chainmail.
"A good omen," she said, humming a quick prayer. Moments later, the beach arose from the grey haze of rain and waves, awaiting its newest arrivals. "Hard to port!" Ruby called. "Hoist the sail!"
"Aye!" Her men returned, snapping to obey - they knew there was no better seafarer than their Jarl's daughter. Yang's drumbeat slowed, keeping the rowers in time with the new instructions.
"Watch the rocks!" Ruby added, gesturing with her sword. Several jutting blades of rock studded the beachfront, revealed by the troughs of tall waves. With her at the prow, however, the skeid was safe from harm. "Hard starboard!" With a grunt, her rudderman pulled the rudder close, narrowly avoiding a brace of stones. The beach was closer now – fifty yards at most.
Weiss' ship was not so lucky, scraping against a rock and shattering a handful of oars. However, it seemed as though the gods were with the Princess, as a scraped hull and some biting splinters were the only damage her craft sustained.
But Ruby could not watch her friends, she had to focus on her own ship – Father would be furious if she damaged his prized raiding ship. It was a beautiful craft after all, with thirty-five rowing benches, a hull of sturdy young oak, a top speed of twelve knots, and a fearsome sculpture of Snarling Jormangandr adorning the prow.
"Pull the oars!" Ruby cried, now only fifteen meters from shore.
"Aye!" With coarse shouts and the clatter of wood, her warriors withdrew their oars and tucked them behind the shields that lined the bow.
Seconds later, the skeid struck sand, bringing their week-long voyage to a sudden halt. Ruby used the momentum to launch herself clear of the ship. She landed with sword and shield in hand, her boots finally kissing Northumbrian earth. Yang joined her shortly afterwards, her long legs splashing through the turbulent surf. With black war paint smeared across her eyes and her flowing blonde hair tied into long braids, Yang cut a fearsome image. As always, she wore an impish, toothy grin.
Tucking her axes into her belt, she clapped Ruby on the back. "Well done!" She boomed, a sentiment echoed by their men. "You are the hated foe of every serpent that's snapped a boat in twain."
Ruby laughed and gestured towards the skeid – it was time to weigh anchor. Grunting and huffing, they helped the men toss the great stone overboard, where it landed with a dull thud. Besides them, Weiss' drekar slammed into the earth, spitting up sand and foam.
The Princess herself disembarked moments later. She was every inch the image of a shieldmaiden – a silver torc encircled her braided snow-white hair, while an elegant line of inky kohl marked her scarred eye - one that Ruby emulated with three dashes of red that resembled claw-marks. A white fox-skin wrapped itself around Weiss' shoulders and royal-blue tunic. At her belt hung a war-horn and a master-forged sword, the equipment of any proper Princess.
"Hail, Princess," Ruby called. Weiss huffed, wiping the rain out of her eyes.
"You know I hate it when you call me that," She said. Yang clapped her on the back, hard enough to stumble her.
"That's why she does it," Yang said.
Blake's snekkja landed next. Like her friends, she was the first one off her ship. Unlike her friends, however, she greeted the shores of Northumbria with an eruption of vomit. She wiped her mouth and regained her composure shortly afterwards, as to not show weakness in front of her men. Though she was only an Earl's daughter, she was the picture of svelte elegance, swaddled in black leather armor and blacker furs. A bow hung from her shoulders, accompanied by a quiver and an array of seaxs at her hip.
The other longships arrived, some more damaged than others. Each one met the beach readily, spilling out eager vikingr. All in all, nearly a hundred and fifty men and women. Each one was ready for battle, their faces lined with kohl and war paint, their spears standing stall in the foreign sand.
Blake's ears twitched towards the cliffs before them. "We're being watched." In a single motion, she unslung her bow and nocked an arrow. Ruby's hand went to her sword, even though she could see nothing in the driving rain – she trusted her friend's superior eyesight.
"Who was it?" Weiss asked, shouldering past a pair of shieldbearers carrying provisions onshore.
"A scout most like," Blake replied.
"Monks do not scout," Weiss replied, frowning. "They're peaceable folk. Weak."
"We shall stand guard regardless," Ruby said. "And march soon – the storm shall cover us for only so long."
Weiss nodded, gathering her warriors with a few shouts and hurried gestures. Ruby, Yang, and Blake did likewise, making sure everyone had their weapons and was ready to move. A few pf the warriors were wary of the four shieldmaidens – it was not often that they led raids, nobility or otherwise.
Yet Ruby was determined to show them she was every inch the equal of her father and mother. A sad smile reached her lips at the thought. Drink your fill in Valhalla mother, Ruby thought. For today, your daughter does you proud. Unconsciously, her hand went to the woad rose that sat at the base of her neck, the same one that she bore on her shield.
The sound of bells split the raging storm, echoing against the cliffs from deeper inland.
"We've been spotted," Weiss said, grimacing.
"Do it," Ruby said, nodding at the Princess' gilded war-horn. "Strike fear into their hearts. The Northmen have arrived."
Yang grinned savagely, her hands grasping the hafts of her axes. "Do it, Ice Queen," she said. Blake nodded her assent as well.
"Very well," Weiss said. With great reverence, she unhooked the horn and brought it to her lips.
She blew the horn, the resounding war-call stirring the warrior's blood within them. She blew once more, the call to war, the call to glory and Valhalla. When she finished, the raiding party hefted their weapons and bellowed.
Weiss drew her sword and pointed them onwards – the raid had begun in earnest.
Twenty minutes of muddy marching brought the vikingr within reach of the monastery. The bells still rung, great iron cups that filled the countryside with their endless droning. The land itself disappointed Ruby – she'd heard that Northumbria was a paradise of long summers and bountiful crops, yet the sodden, fallow fields that stretched out before her resembled nothing of the stories her father and uncle Qrow had shared. To say nothing of the skalds' endless verses.
"Are we sure this is the place?" Yang asked, eyeing the grey-stone compound before them. "They look like paupers."
"It must be," Ruby said. "I followed the stars exactly, and the description matches Dad's stories. It's a monastery, I'm sure of it. Plenty of treasures wait within, I promise you." At that, Yang grinned, her eyes alight at the thought of loot.
"Thralls too," Blake reminded them, bow in hand. "They'll fetch a good price at the markets."
Ruby nodded. On her shoulder, Muninn cawed loudly. She patted the bird and fed it some crumbs. He gobbled them greedily before launching himself into the sky.
"It's too quiet," Weiss said. She held up a fist, and the raiding party halted in their tracks, weapons braced. "See anything, Blake?"
She shook her head. "I hear something though. Footsteps. Many. Marching-"
Before she could finish her sentence, the monastery doors burst open, revealing a company of Northumbrian soldiers. They marched in lockstep, directed by a man astride a grey stallion. He shouted and barked, lining the men up into battle order.
Despite herself, Ruby grinned. I was worried it'd be too easy.
Yang's grin widened as well, and she drew her axes, flipping them around in her hands. "Some new friends," she said.
"Formation!" Weiss commanded. At her cry, every member of the raiding party slammed together, forming a resolute wall of leather and steel. Ruby, Blake, and Yang stood at the center, bracing themselves for battle.
They were outnumbered, that much was clear. It was likely the only reason the westerners had left the safety of the monastery's walls in the first place – they thought they could overwhelm the invaders. If we hadn't gotten separated from Father at sea, the odds would be even, Ruby noted before shaking her head. No, this was better. Valor and honor were earned when adversity reared its head.
Silence stretched between the two parties before the monastery gates slammed shut. Then, the only sound was the pattering of rain and the drone of distant thunder.
"Danmark!" Weiss roared, raising her sword to the sky.
"DANMARK!" The raiding party echoed, Ruby loudest among them.
"Aldfrið ond Æðel!" The Northumbrian soldiers replied.
Not to be outdone, Ruby smashed her sword against the rim of her shield. Her fellow warriors joined her, a storm of steel and wood.
"Face us!" Yang bellowed. "I'll rip you to pieces!"
A shout from the rider spurned the soldiers into action. They began marching through the field that separated them, shields braced, ready for anything. They won't be ready for us. Another shout from the rider called forth a collection of bowmen, slipping past their shieldbearing comrades.
"Shield wall!" Weiss called. At her words, a hundred shields locked together, an unrelenting wall. Ruby braced her own shield, covering herself and her neighbor with the oaken timbers. Moments later, arrows thudded into it, their points piercing the wood and threatening to poke out her eyes.
An arrow slammed into the vikingr behind her, spearing his throat. Hot blood gushed forth and spattered Ruby. He grasped at the arrow, not realizing he was already dead. As the arrows soared over their heads and crashed into their shields, he fell to earth.
"Valhalla!" Ruby shouted, a cry taken up by those near her. "Valhalla! Valhalla!" He had died in battle. Though his sword had gone unbloodied, the valkyries would carry him to the hall of heroes regardless. The thought did nothing to assuage Ruby, who could feel the man's blood soaking her tunic. Focus. You've trained for this. Thank the gods it did not strike Yang.
A great cry echoed across the field, and the Northumbrians charged.
"Brace!" Weiss cried. "Brace!" The raiders hunkered down, rooting their feet in the mud.
Between the small gaps in their shields, Ruby could see the soldiers approach, hate and fear ruling them in equal measure. "A time for axes!" She screamed.
"A time for axes!" Her men echoed.
"A time for swords!" She continued, her words steeling both herself and her men. "Shields will be riven! A gale-time! An age of wolves! AN AGE WHERE MEN SHALL SHOW NO MERCY!"
A hundred stone of muscle and steel and leather collided, the weight enough to rock Ruby on her heels. The shield wall buckled under the weight, yet it did not crumble. Behind her, Yang held her steady, lending her prodigious muscles to the press.
"Push!" Weiss bellowed over the din of battle. "Push, damn you!"
Curses and shouts of strain and filled the air, accompanied by the screams of wounded men. Blake's arrows whizzed past Ruby's ear, embedding themselves in the enemy's eyes. One found the rider, who fell from his horse and was swallowed by the press, his body pressed into the mud by his comrades. They battled on without him.
Finally, a small gap opened in the shields. Ruby's sword dashed through it, spearing the man before her on its point. He screamed and crumpled, while another struggled to take his place. "Open!" she called.
Ruby and her hirdsmen pivoted, briefly allowing a small stream of soldiers to fly past them, where Yang's axes awaited. She butchered them, split their faces in two, severed their limbs and hacked their sinews.
Ruby closed the wall again, while Yang beat her chest, an animalistic cry of victory on her lips. They were holding. Spears darted over the wall of shields, their heads finding purchase in necks and shoulders. A hirdman to her right fell, his eye pierced.
Roaring in fury, Ruby pushed with all her might, stumbling her Northrumbrian opponent backwards. It was a small space, but her men seized upon it with vigor, their spears filling the gap in moments. The scent of blood and shit and sweat filled the air – the aroma of war, undeterred by the downpour.
She bashed the boss of her shield into another soldier, breaking his nose and sending him reeling. Her sword finished the job, piercing through his beige tunic and rending his heart. I did it! I am blooded!
But the celebration was not to last. Though the center was holding, soldiers were beginning to skirt past the wall in hopes of outflanking the raiders. "Yang!" Ruby cried, elbowing her sister. "Take some men and head them off!"
Yang nodded and sprinted away, hauling a handful of warriors with her. If we are surrounded, then we are lost.
Weiss' horn sounded once more, the sound reinvigorating her men. They roared and renewed their push, axes soaring over the tops of their shields. They found purchase, sowing the field with blood and brains.
Suddenly, immediately, the press broke apart, and the two sides rallied, panting and bleeding. This time, Weiss ordered them on the attack.
Screaming a war-cry, the raiding party rushed forwards before the enemy could rally. Ruby dashed forwards, shouldering an enemy aside. Her sword swung with tight, controlled precision, biting into necks and hacking away limbs with brutal efficiency. One kill became two, became four, became seven. A sword glanced off her shield, which she turned away with ease. Her foot kicked the man in the chest, sending him stumbling backwards. Against a shieldmaiden who had been training her entire life, the levyman was no match.
With a rush of wind, a spear stabbed past her head. She twisted out of the way and split the weapon in two before doing the same to its owner. The war-blood was upon her, and she was unstoppable.
Grinning, she sailed through the ocean of blood, sword in hand, her mother's name on her lips. Block, strike, shove, stab, twist, dodge, strike, slash – a well-rehearsed dance she'd practiced against dummies countless times before, but never against a person. It mattered little, as they fell apart just the same.
A shock of golden hair pierced the haze, accompanied by sprays of blood and the screams of dying men – Yang.
The berserker's furor was upon her, her twin axes a blur of speed and unparalleled might. Hooking an axe around the rim of an opponent's shield, she tore it away and split his helm in half. She laughed uproariously, a sound that echoed across the battlefield. Her blades were a maelstrom of death, slinging raindrops and gore in equal measure. Yet she was careless, cutting her way through the Northumbrians with reckless abandon.
Ruby pushed through the crimson quagmire, desperate to reach her sister. She was too slow - a soldier had managed to circle around the furious whirlwind of axes, and poised his spear to sever Yang's spine. Ruby screamed a warning, but her sister was lost in her rage.
The spear sailed forwards before an arrow sprouted from its wielder's neck. Its fletching was black - one of Blake's. The woman herself was a shadow, slipping from victim to victim as her seax severed arteries, her arrows filling mouths with unerring precision.
Yang continued wading through the carnage, ignorant of how close to the gates of Valhalla she had come. She beat the hafts of her axes against each other, daring the westerners to test her mettle. None came forward - a clearing formed around the golden-haired shieldmaiden, one drenched and blood and covered in corpses.
Ruby rushed forward to join her sister, but she dare not stand in her path. Yang was a fearsome warrior, but always prone to fits of blind, murderous rage. The Goði claimed it was blessing from the Allfather, but Ruby wasn't so sure.
Weiss pushed to the front of the fray, surrounded by shieldbearers. Her movements were swift and precise, her sword slipping past shields and into the unguarded flesh of her foes. She had no need of a shield – her body seemed to dance and flow around the strikes directed at her, her sword deflecting those that came too close.
Together, the four of them were unbreakable, Freya's peerless chosen.
Before the weight of their assault, the soldiers broke and ran, throwing down their weapons and shields to better flee the northmen.
Yang roared once more, her axes held aloft. Arrows from the raiding party sailed past their heads, burying themselves in the cowards' backs.
The battle was over.
But, Ruby mused, the work is still not done. The monastery lay before them, as did the wounded and dying.
Weiss gathered the warriors and counted the dead, while Ruby sought to settle Yang.
A gentle hand on her shoulder was enough to slow the shieldmaiden's ragged breathing, enough to calm the raging soul-storm.
"Easy, Yang," Ruby whispered. "It's over."
Yang whirled to face her sister, her face a furious, blood-splattered death-mask. It broke once she saw who accosted her, the death-mask splitting into a wide grin. "I broke them!" She said, violet eyes burning bright. "Did you see?"
"I saw," Ruby said. "You need to be more careful, Yang," she insisted. "We almost lost you."
"Bah," Yang said, sliding her axes into her belt. "Valhalla would not be so bad."
Ruby huffed. Yang could be stubborn sometimes. "Perhaps," she said. "But you can hardly become 'The Northern Dragon' if you die on your first raid."
Yang sighed, a hint of fatigue revealing itself. She ran a hand through her hair, streaking it with yet more blood. "I suppose you're right," she said finally. "I'm sorry."
"You have to be less reckless," Blake said, siding up next to them. "Deep breaths."
"Yeah, yeah," Yang grunted, eyes searching the muddy earth. The rain was clearing, and had slowed to little more than a drizzle. The thunder persisted, distant now, far away.
"Bravely won," Weiss said, approaching her friends. "Well fought."
Yang grinned before Blake slapped the back of her head, shaking her head. She was clearly upset with her best friend's carelessness.
"Same to you," Ruby said. "Our men shouldn't be discounted either."
"Their reward shall be upon them soon enough," Weiss said, nodding at the monastery. "We should loot it and be done with this place. We fought well, but I would not see this expedition fail should reinforcements arrive."
"We'll take what we can," Ruby said.
"I'll see to the wounded and rally the warriors," Weiss replied. "Take Yang, Blake, and a handful of hirdmen. That should prove more than sufficient against these soft-skinned Christians."
"Tryggvi!" Ruby barked, waving. "Halfdan, Brand, Kollskegg, with us, into the monastery." Her men grinned and stood, still winded from the battle. Blake collected some warriors as well, and they set off across the mud-and-blood drenched field.
Yang knocked on the thick wooden gates of the compound, the response only silence. She bent her knee and gestured to Blake, hands clasped together. Nodding, Blake sprinted at the gates before catching her friend's hands, which launched her high enough to clasp the top of the thin stone walls. She clambered over the top with graceful ease before disappearing into the monastery.
They waited but a few moments before a dull wooden 'thunk' resounded from behind the wall, and the gates fell open to reveal a grinning Blake.
"Child's play," Yang said, to the amusement of the raiders.
Though quite large and spacious within the walls, the monastery appeared abandoned - not a single soul stirred in the courtyard. Remnants of the soldiers' camp persist, however - a few piles of smoldering embers and cheap whetstones are all that remain.
They were waiting for us, Ruby realized. She shook her head. A matter for later. Her fellow raiders stormed past the four shieldmaidens, forming groups to search each building.
"There," Blake says, pointing to the largest structure, a tall stone tower with a wide, squat base and colorful glass windows. "That's where they keep the treasure."
Ruby rested her sword against her shoulder. "Think it's guarded?"
Blake listened for a moment, ears flicking in the wind. She shook her head. "No rustle of armor," she said. "No spears."
"Well then let's grab the loot!" Yang boomed, stomping off towards the tall stone structure. Once more, the doors were barred.
"Bah" Yang shouted, throwing her hands up in the air. "Let's get at this with axes, huh?"
Brand and Kollskegg braced their axes, grinning wide. On Yang's signal, they hacked at the door. Ruby didn't need faunus hearing to pick up the screams that emanated from within. Slowly, surely, the door was broken down, each axe-strike rousing a fresh chorus of yelling. It only emboldened the raiders - thralls made for excellent loot.
Finally, the door splintered and broke, revealing the building's interior.
A crowd of peasants cowered at the back of the room - a large, spacious area, filled with wooden benches and stone pillars that reached up to the impossibly tall ceiling. A chandelier hung just above their heads, iron-forged and plated with silver. Behind the peasants sat a stone altar that bore a pair of silver goblets, candelabrums, and a crucifix wrought from pure gold. At the sight of it, both Yang and Blake licked their lips.
Ruby stepped forward, only to be stopped by a priest of some sort. He was an older man, a boar faunus with the point of his tusks sanded down and capped in bronze. Besides his humble brown robes, the strangest thing about him was his hair – it had been cut to reveal the crown of his head, while the sides had been left untouched.
"This one decided to go bald early," Ruby joked, to her company's amusement.
"Áblinnaþ fram hæf, hæðen!" He cried, spreading his arms wide, sweat rolling down his wrinkled face. Ruby laughed, before noticing the gilded chain around his neck. She lunged forwards and filled her hands with it before yanking sharply.
It was a necklace forged from polluted gold and wrought in the shape of yet another crucifix. A good gift for father. After dropping it in her pocket, she stepped forwards. The priest persisted his defense, his arms still spread wide. Like the soldiers, his face wore hate and fear in equal measure.
"Move, priest!" Ruby bellowed. Behind her, Blake slipped a seax loose from its sheathe – a clear warning to step aside. Yet the man did not budge.
Ruby bashed him aside with her shield, throwing him against a stone pillar. The peasants screamed, but the man himself was silent, blood leaking out from his lips. He stood and limped in front of the raiders.
Once more, he raised his arms.
Snarling, Ruby pointed her sword at the man's throat. "Stand aside!" She barked.
"Ne." The man said.
Ruby's sword flashed, and the man's head left its shoulders. His body collapsed, blood gushing from the neck. A black worm of guilt burrowed into her stomach the instant his head smacked wetly against the stone. This was no battle. There was no honor in taking the man's life, even if he was a foolish heathen.
Her shoulders shook violently, and she glared at the peasants. They were weeping, covering their children's heads.
"Anyone else?" Yang demanded, stepping past her sister and brandishing an axe. Lightly, she patted Ruby's shoulder.
Screams were her answer.
"Feh," Blake said, waving her men forward. They approached the altar, kicking away the peasants that got too close. Yang went with, greedily eyeing the golden goblet that sat next to the crucifix.
"Wine!" She bellowed, laughing – always a fan of foreign drink.
Ruby didn't feel like drinking.
Yang scooped up the goblet heartily. "Skål!" She cried, before taking a long drink. For some reason, the peasants hated this too, wailing and gnashing their teeth at the sight. Ruby's hirdmen chuckled at their peculiar behavior.
"Must like their wine," Brand jested. They dispersed through the church, making sure to kick the decapitated body as they passed. They stripped the place bare, stacking silver candelabrums, platters, goblets, strange pewter cups with holes in their lid, stone mugs, anything they could find.
With a grunt, Yang leapt from the altar to grab hold of the chandelier. She swung from it, hooting wildly. The monks and peasants protested, but she heard none of it. With a triumphant bellow, Yang ripped the chandelier loose, landing with it between her shoulders. Heaving, she added it to the pile of loot, laughing all the while.
"Why don't you see if the rest of 'em have gold necklaces?" Yang asked, jerking her thumb at the gathered crowd. Ruby blinked. "Ruby?" Yang asked. She didn't reply – all she could see was the dead man's confused eyes, his shocked face bloodless and empty-eyed. "Ruby, it's fine," Yang said, realizing. "He was soft in the head. What did he think was going to happen? Now come on, help us strip this place bare."
Blake grabbed one of the sconces and smashed a colored window, the glass shattering into a thousand radiant fragments. She left no corner of it untouched, clearing each pane of the precious material. Her men helped her diligently sweep it up into bags of cloth.
Ruby left, sheathing her sword and walking out the battered door. Outside, she could see Weiss disposing of the enemy wounded, her sword dark and grey in the clouded sky. In the stone building behind her, the pile of loot grew ever taller.
It had been her first raid, and a successful one at that. King Jaukes would reward them all handsomely, and the thralls that they'd grabbed would till the soil for years to come. No longer would the people be forced to go hungry, hunt in the deepest snows – the loot they'd acquired would be the beginning of wealth and prosperity for Danmark.
She'd won honor and glory on the battlefield, but the only kill she could think about was the heathen priest. Why did she not simply beat him into submission? Was his life really worth taking? Her fingers traced the three red marks along her left eye.
This is hardly what I imagined when Father told us about his adventures. Her slaying of the priest was hardly something worth including in any song or poem. It was more like an ugly after-note, the last bitter drop in a horn of mead.
Mother would be disappointed.
Her hirdmen filed past her, herding the peasants out of the monastery. Yang placed a hand on her shoulder, a grin on her bloodied face.
"You did well today Ruby," she said.
"Maybe," Ruby said. "Maybe." But she didn't believe it.
Above her, Muninn cawed relentlessly, calling his corvid brethren to a feast.
A/N: As noted in the summary, this is a short one-off inspired by y8ay8a's Viking AU art. I also used her art for the cover without permission - if you know her (or are her), and she'd like me to take it down, I can do so no problem.
Like The Shining Legion (my Roman Legion RWBY AU), this story is just RWBY ported into Earth history, personalities, names, and faunus-traits (mostly) intact. However, there are some historical terms and tidbits that might've confused you, as this is a (mostly) realistic picture of Viking raids, with some words you don't often see used.
"Vikingr / Go Viking" - 'Viking' is actually a verb, which means (roughly) 'adventure/glory seeking', and was synonymous with the raids during the 9th century AD. Vikingr is the noun form of the word (both singular and plural), which meant some one who was going viking.
"Drekar" - the largest form of Viking longship that contained more than thirty-five rowing benches, and was often richly decorated. These ships were the stuff of legend - literally, as one has never been found, and they've only been mentioned in epic poetry.
"Skeid" - the next largest type of longship, often bearing more than thirty rowing benches. These were enormous ships that were only the ken of storied, wealthy vikings.
"Snekkja" - the smallest of the longships depicted in this story, and the most common pattern of viking longship found in history. They were used primarily as raiding craft. They had very shallow berths, and were exceedingly light, perfect for both ocean travel and river-raiding.
"Hirdman/Hirdmen" - warriors who served under a viking noble (usually). They were regarded as the best of the best, as they did nothing but train for battle every day. They were ludicrously expensive to equip and maintain, hence their fearsome reputation. This is why Blake is never described as having hirdmen - they would simply be too expensive for an Earl to afford. The vast majority of vikingr were plain-clothed farmers who used a simple spear and shield.
"Seax" - a type of dagger commonly used in this era of history. More akin to a bowie knife than a stabbing or thrusting dagger.
"Goði (male) / Gyðja (female)" - The 'priest' of a community, often a wealthier man or woman who was in charge of maintaining the places of worship and leading the community in prayer.
"Skål" - "Cheers!"
With all that taken care of, I hope you enjoyed the story. I might continue it upon voluminous request, but I promise nothing. Until next time!