*) - Attack!
A heavy axe fell down on a sailor’s head and gashed it. Jelly pieces of gray and white brain matter flew in different directions. If a hypothetical observer tried to distingish both kinds, he'd have to announce failure, as both were profusely decorated with blood. Also nobody around paid any attention to the brutal event. All soldiers were busy with a fight on the deck of a Byzantine ship, which accidently sailed north of the Black Sea and got to the Volga-river.
Soon after chopping one head, another decapitated one was rolling through the jelly fragments of the mentioned sailor’s brain, or maybe it was one of his comrades's viscera.
The owner of the heavy axe kicked some arm, already cut off but still trembling in convulsions. He cleared his way towards the next opponent.
Guys are not lazy. That’s good! he thought, for a short while wondering a chaotic dance of the shaking arm on the deck.
He was a jarl, the commander of the Viking ship who had just attacked the Byzantine dromon.
He approached his next enemy, and the same tactics succeeded again despite the opponent’s steel helmet. The next hostile seaman made a step back as soon as he realized that he was jarl’s next target. Having seen fear in his eyes, the Viking advanced, with an evil smile. The enemy's blood, which had already splashed his face, now went down making his teeth red.
The seaman was still getting back, but soon he unexpectedly slipped on unidentified viscera which had already profusely covered the deck. Lying among the different body parts, he noticed a liver under his head. It was soft almost like a pillow, and this was the last feeling in his life. The deadly jarl’s axe easily found home in his belly. Too easily. It dived deep into the sailor’s body, came through it, and stuck in the board of the deck. The tip of the axe must have also hurt at least one of sailor's lungs, as the blood splattering out of him was bubbling.
Jarl had problems with releasing his axe from the dead body. He noticed one of his comrades sent Valhallawards by a huge Byzantinian warrior.
I can be the next one, flashed in his head.
Nonetheless, the bully was brought down by two other Vikings and pinned to the deck with his own sword.
The battle was over. Actually, it lasted not much longer than the time needed to read about it. A surprise and a quick abordage were Vikings’ speciality.
Viking soldiers quickly discovered that the Byzantine dromon was carrying a precious load They just had to look on what was under the deck. They were overjoyed with their finding.
"A huge load of silk!" shouted Swen, the smallest Viking warrior.
His fellow warriors quickly disappeared under the deck to admire their prey.
Only one Byzantine sailor survived the attack. He just gave up in the right moment. The Vikings ordered him to approach the jarl.
“You coward! You have chosen to give up instead of fighting with your fellow sailors. Looking at you, I feel only loath!!!”
The seaman, dirty with blood and viscera was standing with his head down, shaking. In different circumstances he would probably admire jarl’s pure Greek. Not only did the chief of the Vikings know the language, but also spoke very fluently. Indeed, the jarl used to serve in Byzantine army as a mercenary for many years.
The seaman who surrendered was given a task. Jarl ordered him to clean the deck. They had to transport the silk to their ship, and didn’t want it to get dirty with blood.
Sobbing, the Byzantine sailor collected the remains of his fellows, or rather the parts of their bodies and threw them into the river. Several times he had to stop and vomit, unintentionally entertaining the wicked pirates. For them he was a pathetic loser. A quick burial which in a different case could be classified as barbarous was assisted with a quiet prayer and tears of authentic, heavy sorrow.
After he had done the last duty for his mates he was called by the jarl who was standing near the edge of the ship.
Meanwhile, the Vikings washed their clothes and started to move packs of silk to their ship.
The Byzantine seaman approached the jarl, shaking.
Jarl started his speech. He pronounced a big portion of swearing to the seaman, mentioning his cowardiance once again. In the end he said, of course in pure Greek language:
“Despite your cowardiance, I appreciate how you cleaned the deck. You won’t lose your reward. Take the sword!”
The terrified seaman didn’t move a muscle. He was paralyzed with fear.
“Take the sword!” barked the jarl again, and put one of the weapons from the deck into seaman’s hand.
A quick, mighty whizz of air followed the blade of the jarl's axe. The Byzantine seaman’s head was rolling on the deck, leaving fresh red marks on the cleaned board, while a powerful kick sent the rest of his body aboard. There were neither piranhas nor sharks in the river, but other fish species found the sailor tasty. In a hurry, hey were sneaking into the corpse through the hole after the decapitated head. Soon, the smudge of blood spreading over the water hid their horrible feast.
The rest of Vikings applauded jarl’s charity with a roar.
"Instead of condemning the coward, he allowed him to die with a weapon in his hand," said Bjorn, a broad-shouldered rower.
"Maybe Odin would welcome him in the kingdom of Valhalla," added someone else, grinning broadly.
The Vikings got everything they wanted from the dromon. They knocked pots with oil, and spilled it all around the deck and also under it. Then they returned to their drakkar and set the dromon on fire.
“It would be better if Byzantines didn’t know about our pirate attack. Especially if we are not going to change our point of destination.” thought jarl looking at the burning ship.
“Mighty jarl! Are we still going to Midgard, just as you have planned?” asked one of his soldiers.
“Sure Swen. I promised to show you the City of Wonders, and I’ll keep my promise. I’ve been there many times and even served in Varangian guard, as a soldier of the Emperor himself!”
“But we have just robbed and sank one of their ships, killing all the Byzantines…”
“Don’t worry. All the Vikings do such tricks. Soon we'll arrive to them and sell them their own silk which we have just stolen. In the capital of Byzantium we can exchange the silk for gold in the proportion of one to one.”
“But mighty jarl… What is propotion?”
“They will scale the silk and give us the same amount of gold, you idiot!”
The ship almost finished burning. Jarl turned his head and shouted to men holding oars:
Uber-beautiful art! very well done! Vivid gory description, but was directionless.
Rating - 126/200 Points
WLP - Minus 9
Final Rating - 117/200 Points
Total Points after 2 Rounds - 202/400
Judge - Mohit Trendster