Prologue

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Lagertha was famous amongst Vikings everywhere

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Lagertha was famous amongst Vikings everywhere. We'd even heard of her exploits in England. Back then, I had no idea how much I was going to owe her. I always admired the Shieldmaidens, I yearned to be like them, to carry their strength. When life was at its bleakest and I saw no reason to carry on, Lagertha allowed me a chance I never before thought possible.

My Mother had recently been killed. She was the only person whom had ever truly cared about me.
I was fourteen years old when my mother had passed. I always assumed I was safe from being married for some years, surely even my father wasn't that awful. I was wrong.
I wasn't ready to marry however my father decided that we needed some good news within our family. He would get a good deal for selling me. I would get nothing but a life of heartache and slavery. That's all my marriage was.

When the time came to tie the knot... I wasn't exactly overjoyed to say the least.

I was nudged down the aisle, men and women forcing me to make my way closer and closer to a life of failure. I wanted to be a warrior, like these shieldmaidens we'd heard so much of, I didn't want this.
I wore a long white dress that was rather too large for me. I was told that it was my mother's when she got married. That's not to say my mother was overweight, I just hadn't developed yet. All the more reason for me to NOT be getting married. I sighed, seeing my future husband to be.
He was of average height, his hair grey and frizzy. He was twice my size in weight and his chins rolled down in a never ending cycle of obesity. His nose turned up, reminding me of pigs in a pen. Speaking of disgusting creatures, his face was covered in grease and his clothes stained with small blotches of unknown substances.

The ceremony was coming to a close as the Priest turned to me, "Do you take Hogbart Gabston as your lawfully wedded husband until death do you part?"
I felt bile rising in my throat as I gulped it back quickly. Hogbart was around fifty and his brown eyes shone with a disgracefully wicked sheen. My father was a well respected Knight and fought bravely alongside the king. Clearly, his daughter had to be married to a suitable partner. Supposedly, Hogbart was he. My father had not interest in what would make me happy, only the best offer. Hogbart had once been the son of butchers, he was not of noble birth. Yet, he made his name by doing backroom politics and moving up the food chain dishonorably.
My father grabbed a hold of my wrist, glaring daggers into me to remind me that I had no choice. I looked back at Hogbart with a frown.
"I do..." I choked.

"You may kiss the bride." The priest announced.

Hogbart leaned in with a terrifying grin plastered across his face, his disgusting breath hitting my face like an iron hammer.

"Touch me and I will cut out your tongue." I spat venomously, storming out of that room.


Later that night, I sat in mine and Hogbart's bed. I'd been reading a letter that my mother had left me many years ago.

"WIFE" Hogbart yelled as he burst through the door.
I started up in shock, staring at him.

"It is time to perform your wifely duties. We must make this marriage official! Break in the new bed!" He toppled over, landing on the bottom of the bed.
Disgust rose through me, my primary instinct to gag.
He slowly crawled up the bed.

"I don't want this. Touch me and I-I'll kill you. Don't test me Hogbart. I don't want this." I cried out.
Hogbart merely silenced me, squeezing his hand tightly around my throat as the other had pushing up my skirt. I tried for air, unable to breath. My vision became hazy as I looked up at him.
No. I refused to be his victim.

I quickly grabbed the letter opener from beside my bed and jammed it deep into his eye.






That is when Lagertha found me. I had been imprisoned for murdering my husband. There was blood... So much blood. The crimson liquid covered everything, covered me. I did not think I could ever be clean of its stains...

It was utterly...

EXHILARATING!!

To take his life, to feel it all wash away by my hand. Was there a better feeling? A better buzz? To know that I was the one who bettered that animal.

I was on trial for being a witch. The punishment would be death. I knew I was going to die but I was oddly at peace knowing that I would die a free woman.

Suddenly I heard a commotion from outside. People's screams echoed throughout the streets as the sound of swords clashing shone also.

The wooden door that entrapped me soon crashed to the floor with an almighty bang. In the doorway stood a tall blonde woman, sword in hand and blood on her flawless face. She looked like a warrior goddess here to answer my every prayer... Though I'd given up my faith long ago.

Who was this woman?

She looked down at my small, malnourished face. Her face contorted from being cold and warrior-like to warm and maternal. She crouched down to me, my chains ripping into my skin as I moved closer to the woman.

"What are you here for?" She asked in my language.

"They think I'm a witch... " I looked to the ground with a sigh.

"Are you?" She asked, not afraid but curious.

"If I were, they'd all be dead." I held my head back up proudly.

A smirk graced the woman's features as she reached for her axe. Just as I thought this was in fact the end of Aneira Branwen, as she lifted the axe and it began to glide down toward me, I heard the sound of metal against metal.

She had merely freed me from my chains.

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