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Day of the Druid   By:

Day of the Druid by Knut Enferd

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Amazing Stories November 1948. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

[Illustration: He had to strike at the source of their power ... they leaped to prevent him]


by Knut Enferd

Be'al, all powerful god, drank the blood of his victims. Would Gaar be able to save Marna, whom Be'al kept in eternal sleep, and avenge her people?

Fog lay heavy on the North Sea, fog wreathed the land, fog crept into a man's very bones. Meanwhile the ships were locked in the harbor. Gaar lay stretched on the skin before the fire and cursed the fog.

How much longer was this infernal whiteness going to last? A man was thirty years old, in the prime of his life, with the blood running hot through the seven foot length of him. How much longer was he going to have to lie here in the great hall, eating and drinking and waiting for the roll of fat to show around his middle? A man wanted action and instead he was forced to loll around listening to stories.

Niffleheim and Hotunheim were all right, Gaar thought. A man didn't want to offend the Gods. On the other hand, Wodin forgive the thought, a man could tire of listening to the same old tales.

But wait. The voice that was speaking had stopped. This was a new voice. Elgen was finished with his tale and Vornung had started one. And this one wasn't about the Gods. Gaar twisted around and got up on one elbow.

"Who?" he demanded. "What did you say they called themselves?"

"Picts," Vornung said. In his day Vornung had sailed with the best of them, but now he was old. "It was many years ago. After a storm we found ourselves washed up on this strange shore."

"What sort of people are they?"

"An unlovely bunch, hairy, dressed in skins."

"Could they fight?"

"Ptuh." Vornung spat into the fire. "One touch of our swords and they'd had enough. Only one thing they could do well. They could tell stories."

He leaned back and took a draught of mead and wiped his mouth reflectively.

"But what stories! We were stuck there for months and I learned enough of their tongue to understand them. They told tales that could curdle a man's blood, tales of a land that lies to the south of them, of treasure, of a beautiful woman locked in eternal sleep by the priests of her people."

Treasure and a beautiful woman. This was something to make a man sit up. Gaar's big hands were locked about his knees as he rocked back and forth thoughtfully.

"How far?" he asked.

"That they would not say. When they spoke of this they spoke fearfully. We might have pressed them, but we were in a hurry to get home."

Gaar was on his feet now. He went to the door and looked out. There was a hint of breeze, from landward for a change. Maybe the fog would lift soon.

"Tell us more," he said over his shoulder....

Vornung had been wrong about these Picts. They weren't afraid to fight, and they weren't waiting for the fight to come to them. Under cover of darkness they swarmed in over the gunwales of the ship.

Unlovely they were, and unwashed. Gaar had the scent of one in his nostrils as the dark fellow came at him. Gaar struck out and the Pict went overboard.

Luckily, the surprise had not been complete. And these Norsemen were used to fighting in close and rocky quarters. They sailed in with a will. Gaar was not too busy to do a bit of wondering.

A man was crazy to trust an old fool like Vornung, crazy to follow a dream of white skin and red lips and incredible beauty.

Of course, these men of the North would have admitted that they were all a little mad to begin with. Who else but madmen would take such a tiny craft across hundreds of leagues of stormy sea?

Gaar laughed aloud... Continue reading book >>

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