tagSci-Fi & FantasyBalder's Saga Ch. 06: The Holy Land

Balder's Saga Ch. 06: The Holy Land

byTheDominusCatalyst©

"You know, I heard Velinia was a savage place." Helga tossed the skull she found bobbing in the water between both hands. "But this is just... too much."

Balder had to agree as he looked out into the smoky remains of a nearby village. The buildings were black and torn, the ground ripped asunder and the ruins of a little wharf bobbed in the waters, drifting around bloated corpses and water-logged bones. The crows ate from crucified corpses, perhaps the fattest breed Balder had ever seen. Even the sun refused to shine, consumed by foreboding clouds. The fog might even have consumed them too, were it not for the dimly lit torches.

"The Holy Land." Hassana frowned, tucking her hair back in futility. "That's what pagans call it?"

"It is the home of the Covenant, where the gods entrusted magic to mortals." Fjolgan put both arms around Helga, who pushed her form back into the sworn-shield.

"I know what the orthodoxy states." Balder sighed. "But this--"

One of the oarsmen yelled and the ship came to a drift. "The oar!" The man called, leaning over the edge. Balder and Fjolgan joined him, peering into the water. The oar simply bobbed aimlessly on the murky waters.

"Well, grab it." Balder said, but the oarsman shook his head. "Are you a coward?" The Prince asked, but the oarsman pointed back to the oar. It ceased bobbing as a desiccated hand gripped it and dragged it beneath the waters.

"Tread not the battlefield at night--" The oarsman mumbled.

"--for the battle begins again until dawn." Balder finished. "Spears! Spear--" and the prince fell to the deck. The entire boat shuddered as something beneath the waves crashed against the hull. Groaning. The water was groaning.

A water-logged hand dug its dark nails into the edge of the boat and pulled up a hideous creature. It was a girl, perhaps young and fair at one point. She let out a hideous screech before Balder ran his spear through her skull and kicked her back into the waters.

"Ghouls!" Fjolgan yelled. "Sever their limbs and throw them overboard!" Every man and woman on the ship was soon armed and just in the nick of time. More hands and more corpses rose from the water and landed onto the deck. They stretched out their hands and groaned even as spears sent them back to wherever they spawned. Men, women, even children all united in drowned death.

"Don't let them bite you!" Hassana cried. Her warning did little, for one warrior cried out as two of the monsters tore open his stomach and took their fill. Balder drove his spear into one of the creatures, Hassana the other, and both tossed the beasts overboard. The man gurgle and spasmed, so Balder drove his spear right through his head. "Gods..." Hassana said. But Balder squeezed her shoulder and planted a kiss on her lips. A quick peck.

"Stay near me." Balder commanded, and Hassana nodded her head.

"Can you two fuck AFTER we've won?!" Helga cried, slamming her boot into the face of one ghoul who crawled too close. "They keep coming!"

"Grab the torches!" Balder yelled, yanking a torch from its scone and swinging it at the approaching ghouls. The beasts screeched and retreated, some even jumping back into the water. One attempted to lunge at Helga, but Balder charged over and slammed his boot into its neck. The torch slamming into its open maw set the flesh aflame and the creature jumped up and screeched so loud Balder thought his ears were bleeding by the time he shoulder-slammed the monster over the edge.

"Relight the torches." Balder said, his heart pounding. "Twice as many."

"I didn't know ghouls swam." Fjolgan said, heaving one of the corpses overboard with another man.

"I should've been wiser." Balder said, closing the fear-ridden eyes of the gutted warrior. "We should've sailed further from the coast."

"And get lost in the fog?" Fjolgan clapped Balder on the shoulder. "Poor Gren."

"Gren? I thought it was Grem?" Balder asked.

"Eh. He mumbled a lot." Fjolgan rolled his shoulder. "We can't leave him with his guts spilling out."

"You're correct. Shore up and find some wood for the pyre and torches." Balder commanded and the warriors obeyed. The ships skid onto the sand and jolted the entire crew.

"There are no braver men." Balder told the three men appointed to guard the boat, if only to keep their nerves still. Each one held a torch and took their posts, while the rest of the crew hauled Gren. Or Grem. The fog dissipated as the crew came to solid, grassy ground.

"Is it always so cold?" Hassana said, tightening the white fur Balder had given her. His gift from the Jarls. She looked good in it.

"The southern wind blows north." Helga said. "Rumor has it if you sail all the way to the southern tip of this land you'll see nothing but ice."

"Now I know how you three felt in my homeland." Hassana shook. The pyre was almost done and Gren or Grem was placed atop it. The warriors gathered as the fires consumed, casting out the fog around them. "You burn the dead? I thought westerners buried them."

"We usually send them off on ships and light the boats with flaming arrows." Fjolgan said, putting and arm around Helga's waist. The girl's head rested against the armored shoulder. "If we can't, this is how we do it." And all returned to silence.

The fires leapt as wood snapped and flesh seared. The smoke rose high into the sky, ashen darkness against the fog. Balder thought it was quite beautiful, until heard something off in the distance. It was faint, but it sounds like drums beating in rapid succession. "Do you hear that?" Balder asked Fjolgan, whose eyes narrowed.

"Hooves." Fjolgan said and relinquished his hold on Helga.

"Everyone back away from the fire! Defensive wall!" Balder roared and the warriors obeyed without questions. "Those with spears up front!" The shield wall was sturdy and Balder stood right in the center, watching the pyre and its surrounding areas.

From the fog emerged a rider, then a second and finally a third. The first and second were heavily armored, their horses adorned in gray lamellar and heraldry. The scales of iron each man wore were linked with chainmail that covered their entire body, save the slits used for sight. Cataphracts. Balder gripped his shield tighter.

The third rider was also known, though his attire was far different from the prior pair. His robe was stark white and emblazoned with a bloody three-point star. A shawl of gold and red draped his shoulders and atop his head was a cylindrical cap tipped with another three-pointed star. The man himself was thin and past his prime.

His head turned to the burning pyre and then back to the shield wall. "Who is your leader?" The stranger asked in a deep voice. "I have questions for him, on behalf of the Orthodox Covenant of Justice and Faith."

Balder did not approach immediately. He waited, eyed the two soldiers with the robed man, and then stepped forward. The shield wall closed behind him and kept itself ready. "I am their leader."

"What is your name?" The robed man asked.

"Balder." Balder replied.

"Balder of...?" The robed man led.

"The Black Isles." Balder lied. He rested his palm on the pommel of his sword.

"Balder of the Black Isles. I am Gorislav, Ecclesiarch of Exarch Mislav Andormir the Ironhanded." His eyes turned to the pyre and a frown crossed his lips. "Why do you burn the dead?"

"He was killed by ghouls." Balder replied.

"You should be burying him with silver. He is in the Holy Land, even if he is a pagan of the old ways." The eyes turned back to Balder. "Why are you here, Balder of the Black Isles?"

"Sailing south with a gift." Balder said.

"For whom?" Gorislav asked.

"None of your concern." Balder replied.

"You need so great a host?" Gorislav's eyes turned to the shield wall.

"It's a dangerous voyage." Balder rolled his shoulders. The questions were tiresome.

"That it is." Gorislav turned his horse. "Extinguish the fire and bury him. Father Veles will have his due. Then leave these shores and sail no further south."

Balder scoffed and the Ecclesiarch turned back to him. Their eyes met; Balder's sea blue to the man's dull brown. "You presume to tell me where I am to go?"

"If you value the life of your men, yes." Gorislav smiled. "This a land for those who hold the faith, pure of body and soul. You and your pagan-kin are not welcome."

"We worship the same gods, old man." Balder snapped back. "I'll sail wherever I damn well wish." It was at this moment Balder realized something. One of the accompanying riders was gone.

Gorislav sighed and adjusted himself on the saddle. The ground started to rumble. "I gave you a chance. Drive these raiders and liars back to the sea!"

The priest was gone by the time Balder drew his sword. The other rider reared his steed back and aimed it to kick at Balder. The Prince jumped back and dashed forward, driving his sword into the chest of the steed and pushing it back with all his might. The warrior was crushed underneath and Balder's sword slid right through the slit for his eyes. "Schiltrom! Brace!" Balder commanded, running back to the shield wall. The warriors parted and allowed their prince to return to rank.

The ground trembled as several cataphracts thundered from the fog. The spears and shields only did so much as the cavalry slammed into the pagan formation. The front of the Schiltrom buckled as the warriors roared their battle cries and pushed off the riders. Balder grunted as he helped reinforce the front. It did little good though as the formation broke from another charged. Balder fell onto his back and rolled as hooves crushed the earth beside him. One of his warriors as not so lucky, and Balder snarled as he was sprayed in blood from the man's cranium.

Balder leapt up and drove his sword into the nearest cataphract. The blade pierced the gap in the side of the armor and forced the rider to cry out. His horse bucked and Balder was forced back. The man slipped off his horse and fell, dragged away by the stirrup. "Fjolgan! Sound the horn!"

One. Two. The horn rang out as the sworn shield blew into it. Balder's warriors were in a frenzy. Out matched or no they would fight! Even Hassana joined in, screaming and jumping at one of the men, driving her spear into the steed and forcing him to the ground. Balder's private lessons to her were paying off. She was a beautiful savage. She was soon joined by the three guarding warriors at the shore, who hacked into the disoriented cataphracts. The horsemen were not expecting such a resistance, and it showed in their disorganization and ultimate retreat. Balder and his warriors roared in victory as the cataphracts fled back into the fog.

"Pursue?" One of the warriors said to Balder.

"Back to the ship! Fjolgan!" Balder barked and heard the horn. The warriors hurried back to the moored ship. "Out onto the water! Move!"

There was finally a moment of respite as the ship rocked back and forth on the currents. The coast was out of sight and Balder did a head count.

"Four. Four warriors are dead." Balder snarled. "Damnit."

"We'll return for their bodies." Hassana said, though her head swiveled about the ship "Where's Helga?"

Balder's heart dropped. He began to search all the battered, groaning warriors. He looked to Fjolgan whose eyes were wide and his jaw tight.

She was gone.

*******************

She struggled in futility as the men tore open her vest and let her breasts fall free. "Bastards!" She kicked at them, though soon her legs were pinned down. "I'll kill all of you!"

"She's got a mouth." One of the soldiers said.

"Break her teeth and make a hole for my cock." Another said, laughing and punched Helga. Her world spun, and she couldn't formulate words as they ripped open her leggings. "Oo~ She's got a tight little hairy cunt, doesn't she?"

"Probably a good ol' fashioned sea-whore." All three of them laughed, and Helga kicked one in the face as he drew too close to her legs.

"I'LL KILL YOU!" The little pagan roared, thrashing once more as they loosened their grip. Another punch to the face, an elbow to the gut. Her legs were forced open. The man was so much stronger than her. Helga couldn't resist as the man forced himself inside her. She was not wet, not in the slightest, and it hurt to feel his cock force its way inside her. The pain made it impossible to move her lower body, so she twisted and yanked her arms as best she could, gasping for air.

"She's a tight little thing." The man said, groaning and forcing himself back and forth.

His cock was nothing impressive, but gods did it hurt. The lack of control, the utter helplessness-- the betrayal of her body as it heated up. Helga wanted to cry, to scream and bite and kick. But how? Plated hands came to squeeze her throat as the man continued to thrust, the other men around him goading him on. She could see a few of them undoing their laces, their own cocks falling free as they awaited their turn.

Helga dug her nails into the metal of the man's gauntlets, bleeding as she did so. "Gllk... Hrkk..." Those were the only sounds she could make. Her vision blurred, and the world deafened, only the sound of rough clapping against her raped form as the man continued. She wanted to cry, and maybe she did-- or it could've been his spit from his snarls of pleasure as he released inside her.

She was limp when he left her, and the tears finally came. Helga sobbed and cried in futility as another man took the firsts place, suffocating her, pressing his larger form into her own. He invaded the same space where the other man had been, his cock pushing the disgusting seed that nestled in her womb further. She didn't have the energy to thrash and kick anymore. Chainmail hands squeezed her hips and angled her back up as the man thrust, raping her just as before, though pushing deeper than he should.

"Aw, is the little whore crying for her papa?" One of the men said above.

"I'll be her papa." Another said. "And the papa of her children's children." Laughter, loud and hateful, permeated by the strong thrusts against Helga's hips. Her breasts bounced painfully up and down with every thrust and she screamed loudly as the man bit one of her nipples.

"Stop... Please..." Helga pleaded. She was too battered to fight. She couldn't handle even cursing at them. It hurt. Everything hurt. Where's Balder. Did Balder even care? A second torrent of warmth flooded her stomach and she offered no sound of protest or pleasure. She stared off into the distance as her body shut down, numb to the world.

"My turn." Another man said. The motions were the same.

Until Helga was splattered in crimson blood. The men around her screamed and went silent. Bone crunching could be heard, and Helga saw one of the men collapse beside her, helmet and face one bloody mess. She was unable to be in shock, even as she was lifted into the air. Everything went black, for it was finally over for her.

"She'll be fine." a voice echoed in the darkness. "A few ribs are broken, and her skin is bruised but most of the pain will be intangible."

"Her backside?" a deeper voice asked.

"Untouched. No sodomy. Her body has shut down from the trauma, though. I've drained as much seed from her as I could."

"Hrm..."

"Surprised? Men are men, Exarch. You can't control them no matter how hard you try, no matter how many you flay."

"I expected better from my own men."

"Then you are getting more foolish the longer you hold dominion over these lands."

"Will she recover?"

"Yes. But I doubt she'll--" and that was all Helga heard before returning to the darkness. Back to the ship. Back to the sea and the twinkling night stars. To Fjolgan. His arms strong around her, keeping her safe through the nights, laying with her and keeping her warm.

But then he squeezed her. Suffocated her. His face contorted into the first man who had pinned her down, and his hands tore her outfit. She tried to scream.

It came out as Helga awoke from the darkness. Her chest was heaving, her body aching-- but the numbness was gone. She tore the sheets from her body without thinking and looked at herself. Linen shorts cut above the knee and hiding her crotch. A baggy tunic hung over her chest, fit for a man twice her size and four sizes in muscles. When she stood, shakily, it fell to cover her upper thighs. Her eyes darted around the tent, fear gripping her heart. A spear rested against the flap of the tent. She hurried towards it, reaching a hand out--

And being stopped by a stronger, gauntleted hand. "You're awake." A feminine voice said. But Helga didn't hear it. Instead she felt the pain in her chest return, the snarling in her ear and the weight of the men. She screamed again and yanked her arm free before trying to strike at the stranger, who dodged and restrained Helga easily.

"I'll kill you!" Helga said, thrashing and kicking like she did before. This woman, however, put the men to shame.

"I saved you." The woman said calmly. "Now cease, pagan, or else you might just find yourself run through in an 'accident'."

Helga finally had freedom of movement when she calmed, the restraints being loosened. She collapsed to her knees and began to sob, falling to her side and curling up into a ball. Her blurry eyes turned up to the stranger, who knelt and ran her fingers along Helga's hair.

"Shh... It's over now. It's over. You're safe." The woman shifted. "Breathe... Breathe..."

Helga followed the instructions and soon she was aided in sitting up straight, only to slouch forward. Her eyes turned to the woman, hateful and full of spite, only to be burned away by stoic features and a caring demeanor. Even in armor, this woman seemed an angel. Even as she took and squeezed Helga's hand.

"I am Ivana, Virgin Knight of the Order of St. Zvelta. May I know your name?" Her voice was familiar. The one from the darkness? But there were two-- Could she be trusted?

"Helga." Her hand squeezed the metal one. It felt secure. "Helga."

"Where are you from, Helga?"

"Ikan." Helga replied. "An island near the Shattered Coast."

"You arrived with those pagans?" Ivana asked, her thumb sliding protectively across Helga's knuckles.

"Yes." Helga replied. She immediately thought of Balder and all his warriors. They'd come back for her. They must. She wanted to believe it.

"How do you feel?" Ivana asked, as she and Helga stood. The knight received no answer. "Well, I poured some tea brewed with dawn's kiss down your throat and cleaned out as much seed as I could. No bastards of rape will grow in your belly."

"Is that why my sex hurts?" Helga could feel the pain between her thighs.

"That and the forced entry." Ivana shook her head. "Pagan or no, the Exarch does not allow his men to rape their captives."

"Not like it stopped them." Helga snarled. "Are they dead?"

"Yes. The Exarch found you before they could continue." Ivana sighed and pulled away from Helga. "He asked to speak to you when you awoke. I hate to ask, but strip down. I need to clean some after effects of the tea."

Helga hugged her body and turned around, taking a deep breath. "It's just us?"

"Just us. Promise." Ivana helped strip Helga down and knelt before her. The armored women gathered together a small bucket of water and a cloth. The water was near freezing against Helga's thighs and crotch as the knight cleaned the bloody residue. When she was done, Helga was not covered in sweat and dirt and blood. "These are some of my older tunics. They're not much, but they should fit." Ivana tossed Helga an outfit and the pagan dressed herself.

"Why are you so kind to me?" Helga asked, suspicion finally creeping into her words as she slowly dressed.

"The Virgin Knights are medics first and foremost. Pagan or no, you are my patient and I swore to Mother Layla that the health of others will always come first."

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