It was on a Thursday that Eric died.
Or, as he would have called it, Thorsday.
Eric really hadn’t been expecting it. The battle had been going so well up until that point. The heaving swarm of humanity that made up the Great Heathen Army had tumbled over the emerald green hill towards their prey. Eric had been propelled along with them, feeling unstoppable at the forefront of such a tremendous force.
Warriors clad in chainmail from neck to knee, each armed with spear, axe or sword. Their helms gleamed like pebbles on a beach, every single dane holding aloft a brightly coloured oval shield; imbued with painted or carved images of dragon, wolf and bear. They were the tide and the small force of Saxons, stood in disarray at the nape of the hill, were as inconsequential to them as the shore.
The Saxons had been caught unaware, trapped with their backs at the river and the sudden surprising arrival of the Danes at the top of the hill. Eric had stared down at the small force, a smirk twitching on his lips beneath his dull red beard. With a playful punch, he struck Sigfried on his armoured shoulder.
‘Look at them’ Eric muttered ‘do you think they’re ready to die?’
‘They’ll get to find out soon’ replied Sigfried, spitting a wad of yellow phlegm onto the blade of his sword, before rubbing it off against his leather clad wrist, and tapping hilt three times against his shield. The soft thudding sound it made, lost in the noise of the swathes of men around them.
Eric smiled at his friend ‘You know Odin cares not if you do that. If it is your time to die, then it is your time’
‘Maybe so’ rumbled Sigfried ‘but it makes me feel better.’
‘I leave my fate to the three sisters’ Eric raised his axe to glisten under the bright September sun ‘When it is my time, I will fall in battle and I shall journey to Valhalla to feast and fight with the gods. Mine will be a good death, a heroic death, with weapon in hand and a grin upon my face.’
There was a ripple of noise amongst the Danes as a mountain of a man strode forward from their ranks. He wore a gleaming coat of mail and his cruel war helm gave him a frightening visage.
‘It’s Halfdan’ whistled Sigfried ‘son of Ragnar Lothbrok’
‘I know who it is’ responded Eric, whipping a sheen of sweat from his brow.
‘You’ve seen him before then have you?’ teased Sigfried ‘Good friends are you?’
‘Like brothers’ replied Eric ‘If it were not for the fact I was stood behind Rulf the fat, and that his bulk was blocking Halfdan’s view of me, than I’m sure he would embrace me at once. We would probably hold each other tenderly for several minutes, I would expect’
Sigfried laughed ‘You’re full of pig shit Eric’
‘It leaks out of my ears’ smiled Eric ‘thank the gods for this helmet otherwise shit would be pouring all over you right now’.
Before Sigfried could respond, Halfdan raised his fist aloft and silence spread amongst the assembled men. The only noise to be heard was the panicked cries from the Saxons far below.
‘Rulf’ whispered Eric ‘Rulf. Could you move a little? You’re too fat and I can’t see my brother Halfdan’.
‘If you’re not careful’ rumbled Rulf, his massive frame shifting slightly as he spoke ‘I will rip off your cock and use it as a tooth pick’
Eric stared blankly for a moment. ‘That makes no sense’.
‘Of course it makes sense’ Rulf said ‘For your cock is so tiny it would prove just perfect for removing the gristle between my teeth’
Eric smiled, his missing teeth likes black holes in his face.
‘I’ve been thinking about saying that for three weeks’ said Rulf ‘No clever responses Eric? It is not like you to be so witless.’
‘Well’ began Eric ‘you’re fat.’
Halfdan dropped his fist. And as one, the Great Heathen Army snapped their shields up to protect half their own body and half the man to the left. A shield wall was formed.
Halfdan pointed to the Saxons.
‘Here we go’ said Eric.
With a roar the army surged forward.