A longship rolled and tossed across the wild waves. The sky and sea were a solid mass of grey. Only truly adept seafarers, or perhaps foolhardy men would cast their sails and luck to the finicky winds that roughed the sea. It was a mixture of both that kept the long ships sails trimmed and rowed the ship. Strong men clad in leather and furs. They all chanted in cadence to each stroke. It was a low rumbling hum, the sound of many men's voices mixing in with the roar of the not so far off storm. At the head of the ship was a man with flaxen hair, and a curly blonde beard to match. He wore a deep blue cloak that draped across his broad shoulders, set against the wind. In his hands, he held a sun stone, and he gazed intently into it. He stared into the crystal for a long moment before finally holding his hand up in a certain direction.
“North to home! We sail now and we can beat the worst of the storm. When we return home we will show my brother the spoils of our victories. “ His voice boomed over the drone of the rowers chanting. His declaration elicited a cry of shouts from the men, they were pleased with their recent wins. At the back of the ship, sat a quiet figure. A young woman clad in deep blue robes, with sea shells adorning her neck and ears, and strung throughout her hair. She gazed at the men with a wan smile, but her eyes were on the horizon. There was something ominous about this storm, that pulled at her heart. The mens determination and vigor would be tried this day. Though she knew it to be pointless, she found the words spilling from her lips regardless.
“Husband, Asmundr….please consider returning to land and waiting out the storm. Your brother will not miss us another day.” Her voice carried across the ship, lighter than the mens grunts and hums. Still Asmundr kept his back to her, and glared out defiantly at the tumultuous sea.
“You fret for nothing Frida. We are wolves of the sea! We ride the storm to take us swiftly home!” He roared his defiance. Her lips were white lines then, as she listened to the mens chants, and crashing waves. There was a dark feeling creeping over her.
They sailed onward, into the oncoming storm. The winds were fierce, carrying the storm towards them as though it were an enemy riding to meet them for battle. They were in the midst of it soon enough, And the mens shouts were carried with the fickle wind. They weren’t helpless though. Every one of them knew their task. They knew their place. And they knew it well. Frida had tied herself to the mast, and was refusing to open her eyes. Partially because of the cold stinging brine. Though the ship was tossed and thrown, they stayed the course. Asmundrs voice rang out with triumph.
“We are wolves of the Sea!
None can navigate as We!
T’is our territory!”
He laughed and his men laughed with him amidst their grunts. Frida did not laugh. The feeling of dread had her chilled to the bone more than the northern waters that clung to her robes and hair. Somehow, some way the ship rowed further and further along, until it seemed as though the storm had stopped. Or perhaps passed. Still she kept her eyes shut, even as the ship began to slow its rock. Even as they stilled she refused to open them. She felt her husband's hand cup her chin, and heard him chuckle.
“Frida the scared.”
“Asmundr I fear we are not safe yet…”
“These are not the words of a sea wolf! You must face the sea and challenge it openly!”
She sighed, and slowly her eyes fluttered open. He stood just before her, gazing down at her with his ice blue eyes. His eyes were not what had her entranced though. A shaky hand reached up to point behind him, she couldn’t even make out a single word. A massive white tentacle towered over the ship, and the mens shouts were no longer for communication. Asmundr turned to behold the creature. He laughed again, drawing the blade from his scabbard.
“The eye of the storm has brought a challenger! More bounty to bring to the clan. We will have its hide!!” His sword was lifted and he roared again, charging forward to slash at the tentacle that was drawing closer. More and more of the creature began to make itself visible. And all the men took heart as their leader. They drew their weapons and slashed at the now wildly thrashing tentacles. Frida was frozen. The feeling of dread that had lingered was now crashing over her. This creature was different. There was something ethereal about it. She could feel it.
They fought, and slashed at any limb that drew close enough. One tentacle slithered around the mast and gripped it. The awful sound of wood splintering and cracking filled her ears, but no scream would come. Despite her fear and panic, she was still frozen. Beyond the sound of the storm not far away, and the sound of blades slicing into flesh; she heard something else. A faint sound that should not have been noticeable. It was as if it was being called to her attention now. A mournful sound, filled her ears. The sound of gurgling moaning men, of bubbling screams drowned out by the saltwater filing them. Not a few voices, but many. Too many to count. A cacophony of death; wretched nightmare fodder. The creaking of wood bearing too much weight and pressure was a distant sound to her. She was numb to the boat rocking beneath her feet. Instead she could see the ocean, and in the ocean she could see them. Reaching, stretching arms. Trying to grasp at any rope to life they could hang onto. Anything to pull them from their watery graves. Hundreds upon thousands of them stretching for the men aboard the ship. She blinked, and the crashing waves were water again. Still the sound of drowning men did not fade. It grew louder in fact, as a white tentacle fell to her feet from the mast above. Asmundr pulled the ax from the mast and grinned at her.
“Stand and fight Sea Witch Frida. Call upon the elements to aid us!” He turned again, and shouted. “GET ME A SPEAR!”
“Asmundr we must flee! Please show humility for you and your men! We must run from this beast, it is not meant to be defeated!”
“NONSENSE WOMAN!” Her husband roared and snatched up a spear from another man. By now, several tentacles had been slashed off, and were still writhing on the ship. The head of the beast was emerging, water rushing off of its beak as it opened to release a screech. The sound was ten times worse than the drowning men she still heard. The very sound caused her heart to stop. She grasped at her chest, gasping in pain. Asmundr charged forward, hoisting the spear over his shoulder. He leapt up, and chucked the spear straight at the beast. And he struck true. The spear was mounted between the black eyes. The screech increased, and Frida was put to her knees, still breathless. And then it stopped. For a moment the world was still, and silent. Not even the drowned mens song taunted her then. Asmundr grinned, turning towards her, reaching out for a tentacle aboard the ship.
His hand touched the white tentacle, and it was Seafoam. The entirety of the snow white kraken, turned to sea foam. Falling and creating a massive wave from nowhere. A wave that crashed onto the ships floor. Causing damage. Suddenly the storm that had mysteriously disappeared around them, reemerged. Waves of colossal size that came from nowhere, now towered over the boat. There was time to see the ice blue eyes of her husband meet hers. Then the sea claimed him.
She wasn’t sure how long had passed. A few things seemed, jumbled and out of order in her head. Shivering and clinging to ship wreckage, holding on was all she could manage. Her lips were blue, the air she breathed no longer misted in the cold air. She was drifting in and out of consciousness when the snowy banks of her people came up beneath her numb body. She was the sole survivor, left to tell the tale of her husband's death to his brother Jarl Harek and his Clan Ulfhednar.