The cold spray of the sea was carried on winds that whispered of winter's arrival. Though many in the village shrank back from it's bitterness, one did not. He stood tall against the stormy seas, staring out from the dock to the waters of their circular lake which bled out into the open ocean. The little sunlight that filtered through the clouds glinted from his slicked hair, dark as a raven's wing.
The sound of boots crunching on soft earth, snapping frail twigs, alerted the solemn figure. The slightly uneven footfalls suggested at the particular presence of his brother, the victim to a horse trampling as a child.
"We must be prepared." His words covered the thud of his bootclad feet, each step a limped effort, ceasing only once stood beside the dark haired leader. "Father is no longer here to guide us."
A sharp intake of breath, hesitation, and a frown followed. "I am no fool." The eldest brother broke his silence with a voice as bold and sharp as an axe, laced through with a heavy accent. "We will not let our guard down, not again. Father will not have died to see our fall. Gather the others, Enar. We plan our retalliation at dawn."
The familiar weight of the furs around his shoulders did nothing to soothe the viking's tensions. Iver's scarred shoulders straightened, casting the shadow of a sturdy young man on the ground upon which he stood. His bruised knuckles pulled the furs tighter, reminiscent of his father who had worn the same furs with pride, only now Iver was but a ripple in the water against his father's expectant reflection.
Enar, wise though he was young, hobbled on the worn path leading through the forest towards their home. The village was sheltered by thick trees, snugly set in the middle of a circular expanse of mountaints which encaptured the glassy lake, a singular break in the mountains displaying the open expanse of ocean. It was untamed and raw, much like Iver himself.
The cries of children drew Iver abruptly from his thoughts, his dark brows knitting. The forest became more sparse, the trees seeming to lean away from one another, and a parting was formed to reveal the wide expanse of the village. Children ran about with wooden swords raised, though most would never taste battle if their mothers could help it.
A great raven wheeled overhead, cawing out a lonely tune to those who cared to listen. Enar paused in their approach to the village, casting his gaze first to the bird and then to his brother. An omen. Iver nodded encouragingly, hoping to assure his brother who clung tight to youthful superstitions and dependence upon the gods. Iver was not so naive.
His fingers danced along the hilt of the axe which lay holstered against his thigh, reminding him of the role he had fallen into for the people. Leader. Or at least, that was until he was struck down like his father before him. Iver grimaced at the thought and caught up to Enar, both of them adopting silence in their short journey.
In an attempt to distract himself, Iver observed the homes and workplaces they passed. A blacksmith with a lopsided hut, maidens busying themselves brushing dirt from their wooden homes, and grandest of all was the looming hall at the centre of it all. Instinctively, Iver braced himself, squaring his shoulders.
"Iver!" Enar spoke in hushed urgency, holding his hand out to stop his brother in his tracks. Iver jerked his head up, securing his grasp on his weapon, but he was not quick enough.