The waves lapped against the hull of the [i Sea-Wolf], a simple Snekkja, as it glided into the harbour. The small fishing village had long been sending out some of its vessels to raid, and for once, Eydis Leifrsdottir had chosen to go along. She stood by the prow, her sealskin boots finding purchase in the grooves carved into the great wolf-head serving as the ship's idol. With one hand, she held onto one of its ears, while the other was wrapped around a waxed rope that ran to the top of the mast. She wore a coat of mail that fell down to her knees, her sword-belt tied around her waist. Long tresses of braided hair, the same shade as fresh honey, blew behind her in the strong wind. Her salt-scored face adorned with blue war-paints, produced through grinding up the wede-plant.
When a portion of the crew disembarked to take the long ropes that would let them drag the ship ashore, she joined them in their disembarkation. With long strides she ran up the rocky beach, beaming with pride as she quickly closed in on a tall, broad young man, his dark hair cut short, in stark contrast to his vast beard. When she drew near enough, she slowed, and to her surprise, found him standing arm in arm with another woman. [b ''Einar, who is this?''] Eydis called, as offended as she was angry. [i ''This is Brynhild. I need a wife who does not set out to raid each winter.''] His words were clear and concise, but they stung nonetheless. She had been gone little over two months, and Einar, who had been her flame since childhood, had replaced her with so little thought? She found herself overtaken by a red haze, and it had taken everything she had to not draw her sword on the spot. Instead, her voice rang cold and clear over the sound of men and women being reunited with their families. [b ''Brynhild, I challenge you to holmgang!'']
The crowd turned as one to stare at her. This was unprecedented - One woman challenging another. Nonetheless, the Jarl, Skaldr, approached. With so many words, he gave his blessings and named a time and place. The dispute was to be settled in four days time, on a cowhide rug in the town square.
The days seemed to slow to a crawl and when she finally woke that morning, she was quick to rise and break her fast. Her mother and father remained wordless, her brothers and sisters constantly jostling her and wishing her luck. No armour, had been the condition. She strapped her sword-belt round her tunic and slung her shield over her left shoulder, the weight a familiar comfort. When she stepped outside, she saw a mob of uncles, aunts, cousins, and other relatives had gathered around. Many of them bore lumber axes, spears, bows or swords, and to show their solidarity, they followed behind Eydis as she marched towards bloody retribution or a grim fate, chanting her name all along. From the street opposite her she saw Brynhild with a similar congregation. When the two young women stepped onto the cowhide, Eydis hissed at her opponent through her teeth.
Brynhild had come with similar armaments to her opponent, but her face had been painted with red okra in an attempt to intimidate Eydis. The honey-haired raider, however, could see the fear in her eyes. [b ''You smell of fear, Brynhild, and soon you will smell of death.''] She warned, and with a cry from the Jarl, the two combatants bared steel and the fight commenced.
It had been over in seconds. Eydis could hardly hear her own battle-cry over the roars coming from her family and friends as she slammed her shield against Brynhild's, knocking the maid with nut-brown hair off balance. With little regard for moderation or mercy, Eydis' blade slid through Brynhild's tunic, founding a warm home in her belly. A vicious twist and a sudden yank saw Eydis holding aloft a bloody blade. Brynhild had already dropped her weapon and shield, clutching at the horrific wound, staring pale-faced at her would-be killer. Without so much as a sound, Eydis hacked into the woman's neck, leaving her blade there as Brynhild slumped onto the ground - dead or dying, Eydis did not know.
She had left her home behind shortly after that, taking only her father's old sword and her own shield as she set out into the hills. One day, she found herself camping not too far off a cairn, only to be woken in the middle of the night by strange noises, as though someone was trying to creep up on her. In the light of her dying fire, she saw the silhouette of an armed man, and she immediately drew forth her blade, calling a challenge. [b ''Who goes there and what are your intentions?''] Though she had seen combat and had killed before, she could not help but feel a pang of fear. She considered it healthy. Nonetheless, she must have been quite a sight, standing bare-footed, hair tussled by sleep, with a sword in her hand.