by Holly Stacey -
Helgi wiped the drool from his chin and frowned. He’d not been told “no” by his father before, and it made him mad. So mad, in fact, his jaw dropped for so long a long drip of drool had dangled down from it.
“What do you mean, ‘NO?’” He hadn’t meant to stamp his feet. He REALLY hadn’t meant to stamp his feet on a sharp bit of stone. Still, he kept his pain to himself. A Viking didn’t show pain. Or mercy. Or hunger, despite the rumbling that was going on in his tummy.
“I mean NO!” his father roared so loud that his left temple throbbed and his helmet rattled.
Helgi was sure his father hadn’t meant to roar out the word NO. Maybe he’d stepped on a sharp stone, too.
“But I want to go with the rest of the Viking warriors.” He pulled out his wooden sword and swished it three times. His father did not look impressed.
“You are too young, and that is that.”
Helgi watched his father go. His huge bulk of hairy muscle, animal skins, and steel slowly got smaller the closer he got to the longboat anchored in the bay.
It was a glorious day for pillaging villages and raiding monasteries. The other Viking children got to go. Sure, they had a bit of stubble on their chin, but Helgi was just a late bloomer. He was sure in the heat of battle, the stubble would sprout up and he’d be a real warrior like his older brothers.
The blue sky and salty air was too much temptation. Helgi looked back at his longhouse, waved a silent goodbye to his mother and baby sister, and crept onto the wooden longboat when his father’s back was turned. He silently smuggled himself in the crook of the ship’s guardian dragon at the bow and pulled a shield over his body.
Before long, the ship began to move. He tipped up and down, bobbing and moving to the side. He wanted to be sick, but he knew REAL Vikings didn’t get sick.
His tummy rumbled, but he ignored that too. Even when he smelt the leftover roast hog his mother had made for his father’s voyage. Real Vikings didn’t get hungry. He’d show his father how brave he really was. Helgi checked his chin for stubble. He frowned and scratched his head. He was sure staving off starvation would have made him more like a stubbly warrior.
Now Helgi was beginning to get thirsty too. His lips felt like they were made of dried calfskin and his tongue was rough and swollen. He was about to tell himself REAL Vikings could handle a bit of thirst, when someone lifted his shield.
“Hey, look everyone, Helgi’s here!”