A/N: Hi, I noticed that I haven't gotten a lot of reviews on the sequel to Völva, which is btw already up, so here's a preview of it and please check it out if you can find it! It's called "The Sacrifice" :D
Denmark, February 14 1223
"I am truly sorry, dear sister, but you really should be focusing on your skills rather than those silly girls," Milo said in his usual demanding tone as he dragged me inside our humble home. He closed and locked the door, then turned to me with a frustrated look on his face. "I know that today is your 16th birthday, but I need you to finish your studies before you start working at Clausholm Castle. Do you understand?"
I nodded reluctantly and looked one last time out of the window at my friends, who were running around and playing with snow. I hated being a seeress sometimes, because I could not do the things that all the normal girls did. But it did save me from being wedded off to an old man whom I did not love.
However, as long as I still lived with my brother, then I would probably never fall in love. He scared the boys away and did not want me to waste my time with love when it was my duty as the only seeress in my family to protect and help the people. My brother was a shaman, yes, but his duty was to heal and cure the wounded and sick. He could easily hide his powers and simply appear as a talented doctor if he wanted to.
"What do you want me to learn today?" I asked, removing my gaze from my friends.
Milo moved two fingers and an old book flew from across the room and landed on the table in front of me. The words were written in Old Norse and bore a drawing of Scandinavian skin walkers on it. I had once read about these creatures, but the subject was very unmentionable in our family and everywhere else, because stories like the ones in this book were filled with legends and myths that might not be true.
"I know that our parents would never have let me taught you about this so soon, but there have been an awful lot of strange animal attacks recently in the woods and I simply want you to be prepared for the worst."
I snorted, trying to understand what he was saying right now. He could not seriously be saying that these creatures truly existed. They were folklores and nothing more! Or that was what our grandfather used to tell us before he too passed away and left Milo to take care of me.
"I am very much serious, Frída. These creatures may exist and I do not want you to die simply because you did not consider them a threat…" Milo sighed and shook his head a bit. "Just read the book, will you?"
I wanted to say no and leave our home, but I did not dare to disregard Milo's orders again. Last time I did so he made me clean the whole house without using my powers and then I had to wash the whole neighborhood's clothes. It was nothing but entertaining, but it was not surprising either. Milo had always been a very strict brother as well as teacher and acted like our father.
"I do not see you reading..." Milo said firmly.
I rolled my eyes discretely and moved attention to the book. I could not help but overhear the laughter of my friends outside and felt so… jealous of them. But I could not sneak out of the house, while Milo was still here, and was forced to read the 200 pages long book. It felt like I sat at the table reading for days rather than just hours, but once I finished it I quickly hurried back outside only to find no one but the lonely full moon that was looking down at me and lighting up the darkness of the night.
"Help!" someone yelled nearby.
My heart skipped a beat for a brief moment, but I quickly turned my head to the direction of which the voice came from and saw nothing but utter darkness. However, I knew that the voice came from the woods, so I grabbed my bag and walked through the snow towards the woods even though Milo on several occasions had told me that it was forbidden for me to go to the woods after the sun had gone down. I did not care about Milo right now, because he was busy treating the king's wife and therefore not here to scold me.
"Help me!" the voice yelled again, this time closely and loudly.
I picked up my pace and tried not to fall in the darkness as I walked past the tall trees and snow-covered bushes all around me. I could sense that something was terribly wrong here and wondered if this was a trick by a skin walker. I suddenly stopped abruptly, considering the possibility of what I just thought about.
"Please, I need help! I am hurt!"
No, this could not be a trick. A woman needed my help and it was my duty as a völva to help her. I began walking again and soon found out that a woman did in fact need my help. She had a deep wound in her stomach and was bleeding heavily. I wished that my brother was here, because he would be able to help her faster than I could. But I tried to calm her down and took a look at the wound as Milo had taught me to do.
"What happened to you?" I asked worriedly.
The woman tried suddenly began screaming and pointed towards something in the dark that seemed to frighten her. I armed myself with my dagger and tried to calm the woman down so I could hear who was here. If it was a skin walker, then I would have to get away from here as fast as possibly with the woman, but if it was just a vicious wolf, then I could easily handle the situation.
"Hello? Who's there?" I yelled, not really expecting an answer.
But I did get an answer in the sound of a loud growl that could only belong to a wolf. I saw the big, black wolf come out from its hidings. I moved my gaze to the woman to check if she was okay, because she suddenly became awfully quiet, but there was no one there.
Even the pool of blood next to her was gone, but the wolf was not. It began nearing me dangerously fast and went to attack me. I quickly shoved the dagger in its side and knocked it away from me before it could bite me. But the wound I had made quickly healed and it was then that I realized that it was a not just a wolf. It was a skin walker. And it was ready to lunge another attack, this time aiming for my neck…