by Dr. Casper Odinson Cröwell, 1519-CCG

He stood there facing his would be assailants, the warrior mocked the not unworthy, if somewhat reckless adversaries as they formed ranks in a circle around him.  The night was black as soot, but he could descry the features of each man’s face, albeit the long shadows cast by the torchlight hath indeed twisted and contorted each face so as to assume the gruesome quality of the living dead!

            The warrior tensed his body as the first of nine Khazar warriors rushed head-long at him, swinging with deadly accuracy, the strange and foreign sword which he wielded.  The Northman felt every muscle in his thick muscular body tense with the electricity of adrenaline as he met the other combatant.

            The Eastern warrior swung his steel at the Northman’s hamstring, but Rúrik countered with a swift debilitating downward stroke of his broad sword which separated the Khazar’s head from his lifeless torso.  Two more of the Khazar’s flanked Rúrik from either side and he let loose an inhuman sound at them!  Were you able to ask the two Khazar’s, they’d have told you, just prior to their expirations, that the Rug warrior appeared to resemble a monster of sorts.  Half human and half wolf, or bear.

            Rúrik, having dispatched three of the nine’s host, grinned at the remaining half dozen horse warriors whom were clearly out of their element as they stood their ground.  Each man wishing that they had not accosted the wandering fierce berserk Rús warrior which they now faced.  The falling rain began to pound out an eerie beat upon the hard soil of the steppe lands where the lush grass was sparse.  The Khazar warriors had considered making haste for their mounts and fleeing this mad barbarian but their steeds were scattered hither and thither, grazing upon the tall steppe grass, oblivious to the violent battle playing out.  The sound of clashing steel sang out loudly, splitting the silence of the crisp night air and joining in with the soft chorus of the wind blowing through the tall wispy blades of steppe grass.  Rúrik brought the battle to them this time, gutting his nearest opponent with a swift and fatal short upper thrust.  He turned and parried to face another of the horse warriors just as the last one’s innards spilt upon the ground, from the split open gut whence they had  come, now lying in a steaming and spent heap.  Blood makes the grass grow and Mother Jörd fertile, mused the Rúswarrior inwardly as he fought off the advance of the next Khazar.

A flash of white hot pain sent Rúrik ‘s head reeling momentarily as a Khazar’s sword cleaved the flesh open on the Northman’s broad and battle scarred chest.

            Rúrik grabbed the blade’s owner by his garments and drew him in close enough to cut his throat from 3 to 9 with his long knife.  The mighty Rús threw his head back and gazed empyrean and shouted a single word… ’twas a name really, “ODIN!”

            The remaining four Khazar’s dispersed into the recess of the black night’s ebony shadows with great haste!  As the moments elapsed into an hour, or better, the Khazar’s began to shout at Rúrik from the cover of the night.  Their eerie taunts having less than the desired effects upon the Northman who was now crouched over one of their fallen comrades.  Motionless for the better part of the last hour now, the four conferred with one another.

            Was the Rús dead?  Why had he not sought the refuge of the dark night beyond

the torch light’s eerie glow?  Surely he was badly, perhaps mortally wounded dead altogether.

A long mournful howling pierced the still night air!  Other howls from in the night seemed to be answering his call.  The Rús man howled yet once more.  He had made his peace with his Gods, and now, but only howled.

The Khazar’s reappeared from the cover of darkness, drawn out by Rúrik’s odd behavior.  When they stood at the torch lit parameter, illuminated once more, the Rús warrior wrenched the head of their recently departed companion so that each man would meet the grim and empty stare of the death mask as Rúrik shouted to them.  “You have fought valiantly this night, yet many of your kin have I sacrificed to old One Eye!   The rest of you shall join them soon.  Though I may sup with Allfather Odin in Valhalla this very night myself, I embrace my fate!”

Then Rúrik stood fully erect with broadsword and long knife in hand.  He stood in the stadha of the Elhaz Rune and called out for his God to bear witness… “ODIN!”

The Khazar’s looked on in disbelief at the crazed warrior from the Northlands, his face painted with victory runes in the scarlet blood of their dead kinsman.  His beard, red and dripping with blood, he bellowed a hearty laugh!  “We shall all find our destinies before first light,” shouted the Rús as he advanced upon the remaining Khazar host and they moved to meet his advance, each man knowing that they were about to die.

Just prior to the final clash and clang of steel biting into steel and flesh, Rúrik the Rús from Chernigóv loosed his battle cry…  “ODIN, Victory, or Valhalla!!!”

* Geographical location: Just East of the Black Sea.

* Timeline: 913 Common Era.

* Story: Short Fiction based on dated history.