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Down the coast we went, lorn in our hearts for good fighting-companions we had lost, Wulfgar raging
mad at the loss of his brother, anxious to leap over and swim back that he might kill and die, until finally
his own folk seized him and carried him below, frothing in his beard, and put an oar hi his grip and bade
him row. And row he did, and heard the stout wood creak and lost his sorrow in work.
So, thirsty beyond belief until we found upon a bare little islet some pools of rainwater not quite dried, we
went south along this unfriendly coast, rounded a cape and found ourselves going north again. Shortly
after, rain gave us drink and filled our remaining butts. We continued up the coast, seeing lovely beaches
and green-fronded trees, and were sure that this section would be more hospitable, but durst not venture
a landing.
Far we sailed, taking turn about at the oars, the Saxons rowing port on their shift, in competition with a
crew of archers to starboard, while the next shift pitted a number of sailors against the crews of the
tor-menta and the arrow engines; the third shift being composed of Romano-British against Cymry of
pure blood.
Thus we made sport of labor, wagering that one would tire before another, rotating the crews so that the
labor would be equal among ah1.
This long routine was broken at last by the skies growing like dark bronze, and hi the heavens sounded a
dreadful ominous humming. We knew by these signs, as your sailors must learn and be advised, that the
fierce wind god, Hurakan, was abroad and raging.
We furled the sail we had been carrying in hope of a wind and rowed out to sea into the coming darkness
that we might not be driven ashore. Here our shipman caused a sea anchor to be cast over, we running
with bare poles, and keeping our course with oar-play as the wind struck.
The seas roared and raged, hurling us about like a helpless chip, while our two islanders, very sick for
perhaps the first time hi then* lives, had no strength to control themselves, but were thrown about till
finally we strapped them in a bunk for their own safety.
Night came and with it no relief from the furious wind. I beat my way against it into Myrdbinn s cabin and
caught my breath, which was almost impossible outside.
 Almost exactly the way we found Brandon s Isle, smiled Myrdhinn.  Storm, night falling, a passing of
the wind, and in the morning a happy, peaceful, friendly land. Shall it be thus, tomorrow?
 Pray the gods it may be so! However, this wind shows no sign of passing; so let us beseech them hi their
mercy that they not bring us too close to land in this howling dark and wind 
And during these words of mine, we struck!
We both were hurled against the side of the cabin;
I heard the artemon snap, and the mast break short off, and the thunder of the two halves of the mast,
falling into the rowers pit, carrying planking with it, and the screams of the dying men that Myrdhinn and
I had brought so far through so many perils, famine, war and thirst to die in the dark on an unknown
coast at the end of the world.
The cabin door was jammed, but I hacked it open with my shortsword, feeling the dromon shudder at
each tremendous wave which, striking us on the side, swept completely over us, rocking our Prydwen
like a cradle. As it rocked, I could hear our planking crunch and splinter and the surge of ocean flowing
free in our cargo and ballast, drowning out the rowers pit and heard a great voice crying to the dead
 Witta! Bleda! Cissa! Oswulf!
No answer came.
 Tolfig! Beotric! Oisc! Balday! I*knew the voice for Wulfgar s.
 I told you no Saxons would trouble Roman settlements! shouted Myrdhinn in my ear.
The cabin floor became lost beneath the water.
However, by the time it lapped our knees, I had the way cleared and we rushed out.
It was dark as the bowels of Tartarus and the seas roared in at us, almost unseen until we were struck.
I heard a gurgling cry:  Health to Woden! and hurled from my feet in the watery dark, together with
Myrdhinn, knew that the last of the Saxons had gone overboard before me. At once I was separated
from my companion and was gripped by a savage undertow that strove to hurry me out to sea.
I dived deep into it, swimming strongly in the same direction, to find myself free when I rose. As best I
could, I turned back toward the coast, listening for the crash of billows to guide me through the
screaming spume-filled night, and finally did hear the distant boom as our wreck pounded herself to
pieces on this merciless shore.
Struggling toward the sound, I thanked God for His
mercies, in that I could swim well and also for the fact that no hampering armor bore me down. As I
approached the shore, I heard a strangled cry directly ahead and violently collided with a feebly thrashing
form which at first gripped my shoulders, but we both sinking, he released me and struck out for the
surface. I rose beside him, my fingers gripped hi his beard and knew from its length that I had found
Myrdhinn. Before we had time to exchange a word, had such been possible, my feet touched bottom,
and, crying encouragement into that ancient person s ear, I heaved mightily, and aided by a wave that
rolled us like a pair of knucklebones, Neptune cast us, our legs and arms tangled, far up on a sandy
All but spent, we yet clawed on a few paces from the fury of the water, and, exhausted near to dying, we
lay down for a tune. Then, my heart no longer pounding as though it sought to burst my breast, I got up, [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]