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 Flashback: The Northmen (Ragnar)

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PostSubject: Flashback: The Northmen (Ragnar)   June 5th 2017, 5:52 pm

The sound of the waves lapping against the rocky cliffs. The steady beat of the drums and the rhythmic blare of the horns. Standing at the bow of the ship, a dark cloak of a wolf's pelt shrouding her from the harsh glare of the sun, Ragnild leaned against the wood almost casually and yet there was still a regal strength in her spine. The hood was pulled down low, ensuring that her sensitive vision would not be hindered. Standing behind her and to her left was Lagertha, Ragnar's first wife and behind her to her right was Ragnar himself. She smiled faintly, recalling the conversation the two had several nights ago during a particularly harsh storm front.

"You have grown fond of her in such a short time, Ragnar."

The Earl gave her his signature smirk. "What is not to admire? She is strong and capable. Skilled. She reminds me of someone else I know."

Ragnild had not been able to hear much after that, not even with her sensitive hearing. Thor's hammer had decided to strike the anvil quite harshly and thunder nearly cracked the sky open. She had stood then as she did now, at the bow of the ship, watching, calculating, and waiting.

"Land!" She shouted, spoting the silhouette of it off in the distance. She knew they had been close. The waves crashing against the cliffs had alerted her to the possibility. With a dark, leather gloved hand she pointed towards the north. Her eagle Muninn circled over head twice before perching on his mistress' out stretched arm. Bending her elbow, she brought the large bird closer towards her and stroked the back of her other hand down his back. The warriors on board their ship fidgeted with anticipation.

"They will be expecting us." Though she did not turn to face him, she addressed the concern to Ragnar. Rollo stood not too far behind his brother and it was he who spoke of her concerns.

"And how do you know this, Tracker?"

It was then that Ragnild turned, spearing the Bear with her piercing gaze. That alone was nearly enough to make the large man squirm. "I would not be a Tracker if I did not think of nor expect these things. We have raided their lands once already. If they are smart, they will be prepared for another attempt." Her gaze swept towards Ragnar. "You have met this lands King before. How did he seem to you?"

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PostSubject: Re: Flashback: The Northmen (Ragnar)   June 13th 2017, 12:29 pm

Ragnar looked over the edge of the boat, in the same direction that Raginhild had. Eyes squinting as he peered through the haze created by great distances. He could see something, but his mind could not decipher if it was land, or just a mirage on the horizon, threatening to pull them into the vast blue expanse. How could she be so certain from so far off. Though he was uncertain, even in the short time he had known the tracker, he had learned she was capable of a great many things. If she called land, then there was land there.

"Bring us into the wind! Command the other's to follow us in!"

Ragnar shouted loud enough to be heard over the waves. Behind him he could hear Raginhild and Rollo bickering. He was already of similar mind as the Ranger. When she questioned him, his gaze shifted to her.


"The king of Umbria is dull, but he is no fool... He knows now that we attack from the water, he will have scouts at least, and if he were smart he would attack as he hit land, when we are at our most vulnerable. We will beach the ships, let the wind carry us right in. We will repair the damages after. Oarsmen! Ready your shields, and then Row like the breath of Fenrir is upon the back of your necks! Glory, and plunder await us!"

The men cried out their war cries, if they were fearful it did not show in the bolster of their roar. Ragnar glanced back to Rollo who seemed perturbed by this, not liking that his brother had sided with the outsider before him. Though as their gazes met, Rollo knew he would not, and could not challenge his brother's command. Instead he scoffed and kicked an oarsmen from his place, and took control. Screaming at the men, as his anger fueled his cadence. Their ship already starting to pull ahead of the others.

Ragnar stayed at Ragnhild's side for a moment, keeping eye contact with his brother for a moment longer before turning to face the tracker.

"Someday you will tell me how you see such things, but for now I have a request to ask of you... We are likely to meet resistance at the beach, a large force I am almost certain, but it is the scouts I worry about. If we do not stop them from reaching Umbria, we will be met with a closed wall, and a well fortified city to contend with. Not something that cannot be dealt with, but would make things difficult. They would be lightly armored, probably positioned closest to the horses. Since you are well versed with your bow, I was hoping you'd make sure they did not get too far.

Ragnar smirked awaiting her answer, as the small blotch of black on the horizon began to grow into a sprawling coast line.
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PostSubject: Re: Flashback: The Northmen (Ragnar)   June 13th 2017, 3:04 pm

Ragnild nodded once in affirmation of Ragnar's request. Her gaze was already searching for the perfect vantage point that only she could see at this range. For a moment, she let the silence linger. She brought Munnin closer to her, whispering to the bird in some soft language before she raised her arm and the creature took off. He circled over head, awaiting his mistress' leave.

"Munnin will show you the rest of the way towards land. Follow him. When he returns to you, stop and await my return."

The Tracker let her gaze flicker towards Rollo and then back towards his brother. "Keep him off my back."

Without another word, she turned on her heel and began gathering her equipment. She ditched the cloak. During their small treck inland on the boats, a thick fog and dense clouds were rolling in. There was a storm brewing and from the feel of the dampness it was going to last for some time. Ragnild's long black hair was pulled back away from her face in a single long and thick braid that reached her waist. She strapped her quiver full of arrows to her back, securing the strap snugly so that when she ran it wouldn't move. The bow was slung across her chest and her two battle axes were sheathed into each custom holster secured to each of her thighs.

"Do not wait for me. I will find you."

"Ragnild, you are very far out from land, how are you going to-" Lagertha was interrupted when the Tracker placed a gloved hand on the other woman's shoulder.

"Fear not, Shieldmaiden. I am resourceful." She gave a slightly half-cocky smirk before leaping off the side of the boat and into the cold waters surrounding them. Several of the Northmen watched as the slight woman swam like a fish towards the rocky cliffs. They watched, slack-jawed and bug-eyed when she reached them and began to climb, moving so quickly along the jagged rocks that she made it seem so easy to scale them. She moved fluidly, inhumanly up the steep incline.

"Oy. That's some woman." One of the warriors commented with a chuckle, watching for a moment longer before her figure disappeared into the treeline above them.

------

Once she was out of eye sight, Ragnild moved with the speed and percision that she was known for, running with that astouding preternatural speed and perfect economy of movement. She dodged trees and wound her way through brush. She leapt across large gaps in the rocks and jumped several feet down without even so much as stopping to breathe. What would have taken any normal Tracker a few hours to find the Englishmen, had taken her merely minutes. She could smell them. The stench of smoke still clung to the air and their apparent bathing habits, or lack there of, combined with the sweat made a rank enviornment. She hear several voices up ahead, but paid them no heed, at least not yet. They didn't concern her. The Scouts did.

Skirting around the make-shift encampment, the Tracker made not a single sound. Not even the leaves rustled. It was almost as if she floated above the surface of the forest floor. To her right was a break in the trees. It opened up to the shore line, the very same shore line that Ragnar and his men would be expected to beach their ships. There, she could see the Scouts waiting. Three on horse back and four on foot. The shadows the trees provided were just enough coverage to her sensitive eyes. Reaching back, Ragnild pulled an arrow from her quiver, notched it and took aim.

The scent of blood hit her. It was old. An older wound perhaps, but it still lingered in the air, calling to her. Hunger gnawed at her stomach and before she knew it, the arrow was placed back into the quiver, the bow slid back across her chest. Green eyes blazed brilliantly and she became the predator tracking it's prey. Again, she moved without sound. The first Scout on horseback never knew what hit him. So swiftly and silently he was taken that none of his comrades batted an eye in his direction. The blood sang sweetly against her tongue but instead of sating that hunger, that thirst, it made her crave more. How long had it been? Months since her last feeding? She could not have fed from anyone on the boats, lest she roused suspicion about her nature and that was not something she was willing to do.

The second to fall to her fangs was one of the men on foot. He joined his dead friend in the bushes. Then a third joined. It took a span of several seconds until no one remained. She was riding the high, the drunkeness of it all. She was nearly giddy with bloodlust as it roared in her veins.

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PostSubject: Re: Flashback: The Northmen (Ragnar)   June 13th 2017, 3:45 pm

Ragnar watched closely as just dived into the water, and swam with a speed and grace that he had never seen before. What was she? She was like none he had ever witnessed before. Everyone else seemed entranced, seeing her as some specimen of a human. Ragnar knew it was more than that. She was far more unique than just a human. For a moment, he thought it should bring him fear. Was she a Goddess? Freyja personified, such could be a gift or an omen. No, she was not of the AEsir or Vanir. She was something else, and it wasn't fear that found it's way into the Norseman's chest, it only drew him in more.

A glance had been given to Rollo, who was watching as well. Keep him off her back, oh that he would do. He'd not let any of his men close to her, not in any sense that'd make his blood boil. A moment passed, the brothers locking eyes for a brief pause before Ragnar turned his eyes to the sky. Watching the eagle as it soared above and lead them to the coast.

----

The boats had done just as Ragnar had commanded, sailing full speed until the stopped with a jarring lurch as the bows dug into the sand. Shields were raised and Vikings began launching themselves into the surf, and trotting towards the beach. Though they were unaccosted. Not a soul was on the beach except for horses left without riders. Ragnar glanced around, and to the skies, the eagle had gone. There was a familiar stench in the air, it smelled of copper, and made Ragnar's heartbeat quicken. Where was the welcoming party?

Ragnar unsheathed his sword, and shifted the shield to make sure it was seated properly. He waved for his men to follow.

"Lagertha with me. Rollo, stay with the ships. Something doesn't feel right."

Something didn't feel right, but he was sure the ships were just fine. Rollo felt the same way as he was about to protest, Ragnar's glare silenced him for the most part. The large Viking merely scoffing in retort, but he was remaining with the ships. It didn't take them long to find the encampment. The Vikings swooped in, and again, the found nothing but silence awaiting them.

"By the Gods... What is going on here?"

Ragnar was bewildered, but he had this sense that Ragnhild was behind this. She was good, damn good but to take on an entire encampment of warriors?


"Stay here Lagertha... Ready this place to be used as a defensible position."

"You're going off on you're own? And what if you run into the men who are supposed to be here. Ragnhild said to wait for the Eagle, and her return."

Ragnar scoffed himself and glanced at her.


"This is my raid, you will do as you've been commanded. I will find Ragnhild, she is capable of handling herself yes, but against all these men. And searching for her with our entire force would draw ourselves thin. For once, just do as I ask."

He'd not wait another moment before he was sheathing his sword and dropping his shield. It would only weigh him down. And into the woods he shot, following after what seemed like a myriad of foot falls. Tracing them deeper into the woods, and further into the country.
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PostSubject: Re: Flashback: The Northmen (Ragnar)   June 13th 2017, 4:21 pm

Bodies littered the small grove to the left of the large waterfall. Ragnild stood beneath the downpour of water, head hung in what one would assume would have been shame. But no, it was not. It was euphoria. She had unbraided her hair, combing her fingers through what had become a nest of blood, flesh, bone and dirt. When she was satisfied it was clean, she turned to washing the rest of her, peeling away the damaged layers of leather and wool. The soilders at the encampment had proved to be good warriors, but not good enough. Dried blood clung to her pale skin in patches. One of them had managed to get a good jab in with their longsword, but the wound was already closing, resealing itself as if it had never happened in the first place.

"I know you are there, Ragnar." She all but taunted in a sing-song voice. "I can smell you." She sighed softly. "I suppose you are wondering what happened to the troops, yes?" She turned to glance over her shoulder towards the direction of the Norseman. He had yet to show himself, but she knew he was there. "They will not be a hindersance. They were taken care off." Ragnild said simply before diving beneath the surface of the water. She disappeared from view, diving deep down to give herself some time to shed all that dried blood. When she resurdaced, her skin was flawless, save for the razor thin scars that marred her back.

"You will have questions. I have the answers, but now is not the time for me to answer them. I will in time. For now we must return to the encampment."

Without waiting for a response, the Tracker stepped out of the water, uncaring that she was completely naked before him. She reached her discarded weapons and removed carefully folded leather clothing she had slid inside her quiver. She had always kept a spare set, even it it was just simple attire and not armor. Once they reached the camp, she would begin making another set to replace the damaged one.

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PostSubject: Re: Flashback: The Northmen (Ragnar)   June 13th 2017, 5:35 pm

Ragnar came upon the clearing littered with bodies, strong warriors looking as if they had been felled by a force much larger than her own. The way the corpses lie, and the lack of arrows or anything that noted to clandestine attacks gave truth that these men died in the heat of battle. Bewilderment came over him, was Umbria at war with it's self? Had the English kings gone to each other's necks? No, the answer was both more simple, and more complex than that, made ever more apparent by the fact that he had found who he was looking for.

Ragnhild was there, washing underneath the forceful stream of the waterfall, cleansing the blood off of her like one of the legendary beserkr. His mouth fell open, but he remained in the shadows watching her. As if he expected to see some sign of her Godly heritage. Perhaps that was just what he received at that moment. She called out to him, knowing that she was there. He'd step from the trees then, and in broad view. That bewildered look still in his eyes, but he had at least succeeded in closing his mouth.

How is this poss-

It was as if she knew what he was going to ask. He didn't much like to be silenced, though her figure certainly made the tongue in cheek easier to endure. He caught glimpse of her, in such radiant beauty, as she resurfaced, and went for her quiver. Just as he was reaching to offer her, his wolf skin cloak, she was pulling another set of clothing from her quiver. That helped the Norseman crack a grin, not caring that he was overtly taking in every inch of her.

"Happen to tear your clothes off often enough to carry a spare Ragnhild?"

He teased the woman before once again looking around. Perhaps it was best not to piss off a woman who had just killed an entire company of English warriors, but Ragnar was never the fearful type. Blessed by Odin, and many believed the man to be of the All Father's very bloodline. What did he have to fear?

"You are right I do have questions, but I will ask them at a more proper time... Not when we are in the middle of an enemy's kingdom."

He'd stand there, watching her change as if he were keeping guard, when he knew full well; he was just enjoying the view.
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PostSubject: Re: Flashback: The Northmen (Ragnar)   June 13th 2017, 7:38 pm

She knew he had been watching. She had felt his gaze roam over her skin. It had only served as fuel to the glowing euphoria that still enveloped her. His teasing commentary was met with a smirk. A one sided grin that caused a sly glimmer to appear in her eyes for a brief moment before her expression turned to one of a more serious nature. "You questions will be answered." She assured him before pulling her boots back on. Neither one mentioned the fact that she wore no small clothes beneath her clothing. Ragnild tugged at the breeches, grumbling beneath her breath. "Prepared, yes, but by the Gods is it uncomftorable getting blood down your small clothes. Even more uncomftorable having to wear leather without them."

The Tracker surveyed the scene for a moment, taking in the slaughtered bodies of their enemies. "Perhaps it wise if we tell the others there was only a small ban of them, yes? I feel they would not believe as you do, Ragnar. They would possibly thing us both mad."

Back at the encampment, she had falsely told the other warriors that she had encoutered a small ban of Scouts, easily dispatched. She had disposed of the bodies, weighing them with stones and sinking them below the water to ensure that they would not be found, that their presence here was; for the time being, still a surprise. With a faint squak, Muninn landed on her shoulder. In his beak, he carried a small pouch which he proceeded to drop into her outstretched hand.

"Thank you, my friend." She gave the bird the remaining scraps in her bowl; of which she had scarecly eaten any. She placed her companion on the perch she had erected just outside her tent before slipping beneath the flap. Once in the privacy of her own company; at least for the time being, Ragnild sighed softly. She took a seat on the pile of furs that had been provided as bedding and tipped the contents of the pouch out onto the floor in front of her. Hand carved runes that were only half finished, made from bone spilled out onto the furs. She picked up one, pricking her thumb with the tip of her carving knife before continuing on with shaping it into more workable, round pieces. As she carved, she passed her bloodied finger over it, allowing the deep garnet hued liquid to infuse with the bone.

"I trust you are not here to simply spy on me, Rollo. It is a must unbecoming habit." She did not need to turn in order to know who had opened the flap of her tent. The large, hulking shadow was enough evidence for her to know who it was, not to mention the smell. The man smelt as though he had gone swimming in a barrel full of mead. "Is there something you want from me?" She inquired, almost positive that she already knew the answer.

"I do not like to be underminded, nor do I appreciate that you seemed to have turned my own brother against me."

The Tracker did not look up from her carving, but continued, seemingly at ease in the larger man's company. If he noticed that her grip on her knife seemed to tighten, he failed to mention it, nor acknowledge it by any means. He seemed oblivious to the fact that she would easily slice off a vital part of his anatomy without even batting an eye. "If you seek to blame me for undermining you, or for turning your brother against you, you are pointing a finger in the wrong direction, Rollo. You are a very capable warrior and damned good at bashing skulls in."

His chest seemed to swell, puffing up with pride at her commentary, but his expression fell when he noticed that she still did not glance in his direction.

"Ragnar is quite capable of his own thoughts and his own opinions. I have done nothing other than voice my own. If it seems as though he is siding with me, perhaps it is simply for the fact that he and I think alike, that Ragnar and I have the same goals."

The large man felt, for a moment, like a fool. Was it really that simple? "Do you desire him?"

The question seemed to catch her off guard for a moment, but she only showed it with her moment of silence. When she spoke next, it seemed to be with great humor even though his inquiry had been done in sincerity.

"He is a married man, Rollo."

"That did not stop him before, and that does not answer my question."

The Tracker sighed softly. "Kinship, desire, familiarity. All those and more, though I suspect that is not why you are really here. What. Do. You. Want?" It was evident her patience was wearing thin with the way she spoke her words through clenched teeth.

"I wanted to know if I stood a chance." He stated softly, tracing a fingertip along the curve of her shoulder.

"I told you before when we first met, no. I can not be much clearer unless I cut your hand off. I am attempting to be polite by not doing so now."

"Rollo?" Another large bear of a man poked his head into Ragnild's tent. He had caught the Tracker's words and had caught Ragnar's attention to the fact that his brother had snuck into her tent.

"What is it, Jar?" The Bear questioned, this time it was his turn to push it out through clenched teeth.

"You are needed to help fortify the perimeter of the encampment."

He grunted in response before dropping his hand from Ragnild's shoulder and pushing past the other man.

It was then that she turned her focus away from the runes and towards the large blonde standing at the entrance to her tent. She knew he had heard her speaking with Rollo.

"Thank you, Jar."

He grinned, flashing teeth. "Any time, Little Tracker, but it is Ragnar you should thank for sending me and not him. He was pretty furious his brother defied his express order for you to be left alone. He said that you had requested solitude for the remainder of the night."

She nodded once in affirmation. "I am rather weary after today."

"I will leave you to it, Little Tracker. Someone will keep an eye on your tent just in case he tries anything funny."

She grinned faintly. "There will be no need. I can handle myself when it comes to Rollo. He may have to learn it the hard way, but he will come to understand that when I said no, I meant it."

"Very well, but you may want to inform Ragnar. He is already seeking to have someone move their tent closer to yours."

"Of all the...I am not a child."

With a frustrated sigh, Ragnild slid her carving knife back into her boot and stood up. She made her way purposefully out of her tent and across the encampment, Jar not too far at her heels. Either he was following her to ensure she wouldn't hurt Ragnar, or he had assigned the large man as her bodyguard. She threw aside the flap to the Viking's tent. He sat in the middle of the floor, attending to his sword.

"It would seem we have a communication issue, Ragnar. You know quite well I am capable of looking after myself." She indicated to Jar with a wave of her hand. "Is my bodyguard following on my heels to keep any eye on me, or to keep any eye on everyone else for fear of me?"

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