Long-winded notes from Manny about this monster of a fic that was only supposed to be a couple of chapters long:
I did total crap research on this. Total. Crap. I'm drawing from what I can remember of Catherine Coulter's Viking Era bodice ripper novels (which I read back in high school), and Edison Marshall's "The Viking" (which is out of print but awesome even if it isn't historically accurate), and the History Channel's latest series, Vikings. And one website - vikinganswerlady dot com So, there you have it. Pretty pathetic.
Samland is located roughly where Kaliningrad is today (tucked along the coast of the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania, across the sea from the southern tip of Sweden). A quick Google search on the time period (10th century A.D.) didn't reveal much about the culture or social structure there so I'm making it up as I go along. Besides, we're all here for the Everlark feels, right? Right!
Changed Hunger Games character names (ages have been changed, too):
Dalla = Delly
Finnr = Finnick
Káto (should be Káti, honestly) = Cato
Kolfrosta = Clove
Már = Marvel
Oddkatla = Annie
Sigga = Greasy Sae
Also, I've changed the gender of one or more characters. (For example, Alma (i.e., Alma Coin) is a man. He enters the story much later.)
I follow the sounds of the screams. Dozens of voices, one shout. I don't try to untangle the word from the fear. I know the source of their terror. I've known they would be coming. News had reached us last autumn of their increasingly daring raids along the coast and down the rivers of our lands. We've prepared as best we could, but as I turn the corner on the muddy path through the village hugging the walls of my father's fortress, I know we aren't ready. We would never be ready.
The Northmen have come.
A strong hand wraps around my upper arm, jolting me from my daze.
"What are you doing here?!" I know this voice and I resent his intervention. "Get back to your father's bedside!" he orders me.
I wrench my arm from his grasp. Gale may be the second-in-command of our defense force, but he is not my keeper.
"Who is guarding him?" he roars at me, his fingers curling like talons and catching hold of my tunic sleeve. He'll toss me into the nearest hut or cottage and bolt the door if I don't dig my heels in right now. There's no time for his over-protective nonsense.
"Haymitch and Rory! My father is well-protected!" I scream in answer over the din. "Unhand me or the first blood I draw won't be from a Northman!"
Further argument is not possible.
The Northmen are here.
My ax is not as strong as Gale's, but it is sharp and fast. My spear arm is not as brawny, but my aim is true. Shield-against-shield, the fight rages. Moments feel minutes-long. Breaths take an age to exhale, inhale, gasp-hold-release. Blood on my lips, in my eyelashes. Mud on my ankles, wrists, trickling down along with the sweat-terror-determination between my breasts.
I should have bound them this morning.
Too late to bother with it now.
The cries of women, children, men saturate the air. I taste their pleas as I taste bile on my tongue.
There is no such thing as glory in battle. Loosened bowels and the sick, soft sounds of flesh being ripped open are not beautiful. The crack of breaking bones and the guttural shouts of those struck with a sudden blow are not pleasing to the ears.
Death and denial clog the street.
I do not want to fight, but I do. If I do not, one of these dear villagers – my people – will fall to the Northmen's blades. These wild men show no mercy to those they raid. What they do not destroy outright, they will take. My childhood friends – young women with husbands and babes to care for – will not be taken as slaves or forced to suffer a single brute among them; I will not allow it.
With a mighty swing, the back of my ax strikes a man across his unprotected face. Blood spurts from his mangled nose and I know I've broken it. He falls to the ground, dazed and teetering on the edge of consciousness. I would have ended him with a second blow if I hadn't been shoved. Two men – one of Gale's comrades and a burly wild man – grapple in the narrow lane, stumbling and staggering, drunk on bloodlust. I roll away as quickly as I can, scrambling to my feet and shoving myself away from the stone wall at my back.
The fight is not yet done and my ax still thirsts.
I spot a leviathan of a man with dirty, knotted hair grinning at Gale's unprotected back.
I run, shield and ax at the ready—
—I crash to the ground. Struggling blindly, I yank my shield up and somehow deflect a leather-wrapped foot. And then the weight of a man, fully grown, heavy with muscle, and bristling with fight, slams into me. The shield knocks against my chin, presses down on my chest.
I twist and writhe, my heels scraping and digging for purchase. A shape appears out of the corner of my eye, swooping in, making me flinch, but I cannot escape.
I don't feel the blow until I wake.
And then I feel it again and again, my head throbbing with every beat of my heart and every roll of the river current beneath the hull of the ship. I don't bother opening my eyes. I know what I'll see. The indefatigable mast of a long ship and the ominous prow, the head of a serpent snarling silently into the journey's path ahead. I imagine it to be misty, mired, and deep. There is no going back.
Along my left and right, I hear the rhythmic slosh and grating of the oars. My hands are numb, my wrists hot and chafed.
I am captured.
Gale will damn me.
My father will cry out for me.
My sister will weep.
Be strong, Prim. You are the eldest now.
I am guaranteed only a fixed number of days, none of which will be pleasant. But I know something these brutes do not: I will die before I submit to their will. I am not a slave. I am the daughter of the king of Samland and I will wreck vengeance upon them for their temerity to cross into our lands.
Any suggestions for improving this monster's historical accuracy would be MUCH appreciated. Thanks!