A Peaceful End

Writing Prompt: “May you have a life of safety and peace”, said the witch, cursing the bloodthirsty warrior.” 

Torsten raised his axe and let out a battlecry.

“Tear through the village and find the witch!” He roared.

His fellow viking warriors echoed his battlecry with shouts and grunts of their own as the longboat touched down on the shore. In front of them was a small fishing village that had a monastery in the town’s center. Torsten and his men were used to raiding villages and taking what they wanted. The spoils of war were theirs for the taking. However this village was different.

The elders of Torsten’s village had received a message from the gods above that there was a powerful witch hiding out in this village and she was a direct threat to Torsten. His mission was to invade the village, find the witch, and kill her.

Torsten touched down on the beach as his men ran ahead of him. Weapons drawn and torches lit, they started kicking down doors and dragging out villagers. The villagers were terrified as weapons were pointed at them and demands were made. Many denied the witch was here or feigned ignorance about her location.

“Kill them if they do not talk,” Torsten said.

His men nodded and began slaughtering anyone who would not speak or give up the witch’s location.

“She is here somewhere. She cannot hide for long,” Torsten said. “We’ll burn down the entire village if we have to.”

One of the other viking warriors walked up to Torsten.

“People have fled to the monastery,” They told Tosten.“Then we will pursue. Converge on the monastery and force them out with blade or with flame,” Torsten said.

The warrior nodded and ran off to spread the message.

Torsten continued walking forward studying the houses and searching for any sign of the witch. As he walked through a crossroads, he noticed a blur of movement from his right. He turned just in time to see a man rushing toward him with a large dagger drawn.

The man leaped forward with his dagger, but Torsten moved faster, raising up a shield on his arm to block the dagger. The man bounced helplessly off the shield and fell backwards.

“You are a fool if you think you can take me,” Torsten laughed while showing a toothy smile. “Even among my tribe, I am quite a warrior.”

The man stood up and continued to point the dagger at Torsten.

“I’m not going to let you hurt this village. My home,” The man said.

“You are quickly running out of time on that, my friend,” Torsten said. “My men search through the homes and buildings searching for the witch that is hiding here. I can easily call them off if you hand her over to me.”

The man looked at Torsten with large eyes filled with fear. He tried to speak but he stumbled over his words.

“The witch cannot protect her. She will be your doom,” Torsten said.

“The…the… monastery,” The man said pointing toward the central building.

“Very well,” Torsten smiled. “Now I am done with you.”

Again, Torsten moved quickly, closing the gap between him and the man in an instant. Torsten slashed out with his axe, slicing the man across the throat. The man fell to his knees, bringing his hands up to his throat, but he quickly fell over dead.

Torsten then gathered his men and made his way toward the monastery. It was a stone church with large, wooden doors at the front. A group of Torsten’s men were already at the front, banging on the door with their weapons.

“Hand over the witch or let us in!” They shouted.

“Any luck?” Torsten asked as he approached the others.

“They are stubborn. The door is heavily fortified with no other ways in,” One of them told Torsten. “No idea if the witch is inside.”

“Oh she is in there,” Torsten said as he approached the door.

He knocked on it with three loud knocks.

“This is King Torsten of Clan Haraldsson. I am not here to harm the good people of this village. My goal is the witch you hide within these walls. Give her to me and I will spare your lives. If not, I will be forced to burn this place to the ground.”

There was just a moment of silence before Torsten knocked again.

“Me and my men are not very patient. You better make a quick decision.”

Another moment of silence as Torsten’s men readied their weapons. However before they had a chance to attack the building there was a click and sound of movement from within the monastery. Eventually the heavy wooden doors opened a bit and Torsten saw the eyes of a man inside.

Torsten steadied himself for some sort of assault, but none came. The doors opened further and the monks of the monastery stood with their hands out, showing no weapons. 

“She’s in here,” One said as he hung his head.

“You all are smart to give up the witch. She will not offer you any salvation,” Torsten said as he stepped into the monastery. “But neither will I.”

Torsten gave a slight smile as his men charged in behind him. The monks didn’t have a chance to react as they were cut down, their blood spreading across the stones of the monastery.

Torsten continued forward into the sanctuary of the church. Up near the altar was a woman dressed in dark robes with midnight black hair.

“Witch,” Torsten sneered as he raised his axe.

The woman had her head bowed, but she turned her head at the sound of the intruders. She stood up and faced Torsten.

“I see the beasts are here,” The Witch said, her voice calm.

“I’m sure you were expecting me,’ Torsten said.

The Witch shrugged.

“I was not expecting your pack to come searching for me,” The Witch said.

“Your fate is tied to mine. You are a threat and I’m here to stop you,” Torsten said.

“You vikings are the real threat,” The Witch said, her words stung with vile.

Torsten sneered.

“You are the dark presence here.”

“Yet you and your men are the ones slaughtering monks and burning down villages,” The Witch replied. “I’ve done nothing but ask for shelter and they obliged.”

“Enough talk,” Torsten said, frustrated by the Witch’s words. “I’m not here to talk.”

“You are here to use that,” The Witch pointed at Torsten’s axe. “I know. But let me be clear here. You and I are not enemies. We are on the same side.”

Torsten spat on the ground before him.

“That is not true,” He said.

“You might not believe me but it is true. You just lack the foresight to see it. My magic and your viking clans are soon to be ways of the past. This place. This church and the god it serves will one day be the reason we both cease to exist,” The Witch explained.

Torsten shook his head.

“I will not listen to anymore of your twisted lies,” Torsten shouted. “Time to kill you.”

Torsten ran forward and raised his battle axe.

“Fool,” The Witch said, shaking her head.

The Witch did not resist and made no move to dodge the attack. Torsten swung his axe and struck the Witch in her shoulder. There was a snap of her collarbone as she fell to her knees.

“Such a bloody savage,” The Witch cursed. “With my dying breath I leave a curse on you. One I know a savage like you will never overcome. May you have a life of safety and peace.”

Her words seemed to echo in Torsten’s mind and a strong wind blew through the room. Suddenly the wooden handle of Torsten’s axe became extremely hot and he dropped it. He looked at his hands but they were normal and unchanged. The axe just laid there on the ground, also seemingly normal.

“What did you do?” Torsten asked.

He looked over at the witch but she laid there in front of the altar, lying still in a pool of blood. Her death would bring no more answers.

Just then, Torsten’s men stormed into the room.

“Is everything alright? What of the Witch?” They asked.

“She is dead,” Torsten said. “But before she died, she put a curse on me.”

“All you alright?” 

Torsten looked down at his axe which laid on the ground.

“I am not sure,” He said as he knelt down next to his weapon.

He slowly reached out his hand toward the handle and the heat returned.

Torsten’s men looked at him in confusion.

“Are you sure you are alright?” They asked again.

“Pick up my axe,” Torsten said.

“That is the king’s weapon, I cannot -”

“Pick it up. Now.”

This time they listened, grabbing the axe and lifting it.

“Here,” They offered the axe to Torsten but he took a step backwards.

“Whatever she did, it keeps me from wielding my weapon,” Torsten said. “For now we must return home. Maybe we can find a cure there.”

“Of course,” They nodded and the group began to leave the monastery.

Torsten began following them but stopped and turned toward the witch’s body. Her words still echoed in his mind. A life of safety and peace. A true warrior’s death.

Torsten shook his head and cursed the Witch’s name before walking out of the monastery.

Header Photo Credit to Pexels.com

Writing Prompt submitted to r/WritingPrompts by u/The_OG_upgoat

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