[The following, A Lesson in Viking Axe Throwing (not the actual chapter title) is a long-awaited excerpt from my upcoming, first novel: Anno Draconis: The Viking Saga of Litt Ormr. It is basically in ‘first draft’ state. I did go over it, once, to remove/fix most of the typos, but I’ve touched it very little. Hope you enjoy! The novel is coming along nicely. I’m over half way through the first draft. I had hoped to publish it this month, in November, but other obligations have delayed it. I hope to have it ready by the day after Christmas, so you can spend your Amazon gift cards loading up your new Kindles with my books! lol]
A Lesson in Viking Axe Throwing
From Anno Draconis (in the year of the dragon)…
Sigurd peered through the brush and branches of the old oak.
Five men he counted, just as Gisli said.
Four of them were looking downward into their little campfire, one with his back to Sigurd. Another one had stepped a few paces away, on the other side of the road to drain his bladder on the roots of a willow.
Ten paces, Sigurd calculated the distance between himself and the man with his back turned to him. Should take one step and that will do it.
He slipped his hand-axe from out of his belt, at his back, lightly gripped the handle, pointed it towards the man’s back and drew the weapon in an arc over his right shoulder…
“It’s all done in one motion, son! Stop jerking it back, pausing, and waiting till Ragnarock to throw the damned thing!”
“One motion. Back, and forward. No hesitation, or your enemy will kill you while you rest it on your shoulder blade.”
Sigurd had waited for this day since he could remember, which was probably about three years old. He was six now. Time to learn how to throw an axe!
But his father was a hard master.
Sigurd jerked the axe backward. It slammed against his right shoulder blade. He jerked it forward, slinging it towards the maple stump four paces in front of him. The axe flew end over end, wobbling and arcing to the left as it went. The back end of the handle hit the stump as it went by, sending the thing careening off past the target and into the dirt.
“Hmmpf.” was all his father had to say, which meant, “YOu’re not listening!”
“Damn!” Sigurd responded in anger. “I’m never gonna learn this!”
“OH YES YOU WILL!” his father answer in a command. “No son of Hrolf is gonna grow up not knowing how to throw a fucking axe!”
“You need to listen, son. What did I just tell you?”
“Yes! and what did you DO?”
Sigurd paused for a moment, thinking. “I threw it too hard?”
“Certainly, that.” Hrolf answered with some irritation, “What else?”
“It felt kind of jerky,” the boy continued.
“Very good, what else?”
Sigurd looked at his father, puzzled, thinking so hard you could almost smell it. He could think of nothing else to say.
“What direction did the fucking axe go?” his father asked.
“And what does that tell you?”
“That my hand was pointed that direction at the end of the throw!”
“Ya!” his father said with approval, “Now that you know what you did wrong, tell me how to do it, right!”
Sigurd went to retrieve his axe. He walked back to the target then walked off the paces, four of them to the little mark he’d made in the dirt.
He wiped the dirt from the blade. He could smell the earth and feel it’s cool, dampness on his fingers. Then he wiped his fingers on his trousers, and gripped the axe handle at the end, in his right hand. It was a bit heavy for a six year old, but Sigurd was a strong boy.
“I put my right foot forward…” he stood with his throwing foot forward, left foot back, almost perpendicular to the target, his shoulders in line.
“I point the axe at my enemy’s chest…” he began to recite the mantra his father had taught him.
“How do you throw?” his father prompted.
“I throw with my heart.” Sigurd answered as he pointed the axe at the center of the stump.
“Why do we fight?” Hrolf continued.
“Fighting is our Fate, it is the will of the gods.” was the correct answer.
Sigured imagined a man standing in front of him at four paces. He was a Frank—his father hated the Franks. He aimed the axe at the man’s chest, then without hesitation he brought it back in an arc, straight over his right shoulder. The back of the weapon lightly bounced off of his shoulder blade, and swung forward, freely without effort. The boy released the axe, his right hand pointed at the man’s back…
The axe arced through the air, end over end, twice and buried itself with a crunch in the middle of the guard’s spine, the man’s legs collapsed. He fell to his knees, gasping and grunting, and then fell face forward into the campfire. Then everything went into slow motion. It was always this way, for Sigurd. He could see only red.
Kill them! Kill them all! was the only thought in his mind, if mind is the right word for his condition. It was mostly mindless. To kill required no mind. It was instinct. Kill them! Kill them all!