This is a completely original story by me. I hope you enjoy.
Long ago in the area known as Denmark there lived a small tribe who cannot be found in history books. They were among the first worshipers of the god Wotan, better known as Odin in this day and age. Legend has it that the chieftain garnered the aid of the god in a war long forgotten in exchange for the promise that his eldest grand child would be taken into his service.
The night the child was born was a cold night on the cusp of a snow storm. The men of the village were on edge this night for wolves had circled the small tent where the chieftain's daughter gave birth. His first cry was greeted by an almost joyous howl from the beasts. As the boy was placed in his mother's arms two ravens landed at the entrance to the tent and the chieftain knew his lord had claimed his prize.
Weeks later the Chieftain grimaced as his daughter and her child were loaded in a covered wagon by her husband who was deemed worthless in the eyes of the men of the village. He had long since grown tired of their scowls and insults and chose to leave. His wife had been upset by this but was too frightened of him to resist. The child called Grimmr was quiet for his age, this was all taken in stride.
Years past and Grimmr's father had forced them into a life of vagrancy. He took what ever work he could find, legal or otherwise. In their travels Grimmr's mother would regale him with stories of their god and his kin while his father ignored them until it was time for a meal. Grimmr hated the man with all his heart. This life in the wagon would have continued unabated if it weren't for a stop near what was at the time a muddy Etruscan village that would one day be called Rome.
They were halted by what passed for soldiers in the area. As Grimmr's father had a discussion with their captain the rest of the men stood leering at his mother making lewd gestures toward her. Grimmr noticed the captain tossing a purse filled with coins to his father as the others came over and dragged his mother from the wagon kicking and screaming.
Grimmr demanded to know what was happening but his father swatted him down and sat with a wine skin and sipped.
A few hours passed until Grimmr could stand it no longer and went off in search of her. He found her nearly a half mile away laying next to the tree where the men had left her when they finished. Her clothes were torn and her face bloodied. Grimmr dropped to her side and tried to help her to her feet but she yelped in pain. He let her down and she looked up to him and told him, "Run boy, run far and fast. I do not want that man to raise you without me."
He looked confused, "What do you mean?"
She moved her hand to reveal a wound, "I tried to fight them. I don't have much time."
He began to tear up but his mother swatted his face, "Men of the North do not cry boy."
He nodded in agreement and tried to compose himself. He looked back down and saw her go still. He gently closed her eyelids and sat in silence for a moment as rage began to fill him. This was a fury known to his people as the berserkergang. when the fury took hold he grabbed a large fallen branch and ran back toward the wagon where his father sat by a fire.
His half drunk father didn't even notice the boy until his makeshift club slammed into his head. He rolled as he fell and his last sight of this world was his furious child slamming the branch down. Grimmr then looked to the village and ran. One of the guards looked out just in time to be harshly clubbed in the face. The branch shattered on the man so Grimmr took up the spear he'd dropped and impaled the man coming to check on his comrade.
As Grimmr went to pull the spear out he was tackled by a third guard. The unfortunate man took a hard thumb to the eye that caused it to burst. He did his best to hold down the raving child until more soldiers arrived. They were forced to trap him in a net and knock him unconscious. They intended to kill him on the spot but the leader of the village had a better idea.
Grimmr awoke chained to a pole jammed into the ground. He looked to see several other people similarly chained over looking a rocky pit. Grimmr noted the blood stained walls of the pit. A man stood before them spouting something in a language Grimmr didn't understand as others began lighting torches and moving in large chairs for the leaders of the village at the opposite side of the pit.
As the sun set Grimmr was dragged to the edge of the pit and thrown in. A man was tossed in after him and a guard tossed in two poles with sharpened ends and motioned for the two in the pit to take them. At first the boy was confused but the man with him was quick to take the weapon and charge the boy. Grimmr dodged and rolled for the makeshift spear. The man continued his charge as Grimmer picked up the pole and turned. The man ran into the point and it ripped through him. Grimmr was nearly as shocked as the man was by this. The man fell to a chorus of boos from the crowd. The guards chuckled at the boy's accidental victory as they pulled him out and tossed two more combatants down.
From then on he was kept like a mistreated dog. He was given only enough food to survive and night after night he was thrown in the pit to fight for the amusement of the the villagers. With each fight his skills improved until he became a crowd favorite. Some of the people began to claim the boy must have a god watching over him as he won battle after battle. At first most were accidental like the first and when he did attack it was clumsy. As he got more experienced his skills improved. As he improved crowds grew larger as people from neighboring villages started to flock to see the fights.
At the height of them the village began to change. A pair of brothers had ridden into the village one day and had quickly risen to power. Their names were Romulus and Remus. They were powerful warriors from Greece who had taken charge of the Latin tribes and formed them into a formidable force. Some claimed that they were the sons of the War god Ares while others claimed them princes. They made the leaders of the village uneasy as their Etruscan lords began to lose ground to them.
Near Grimmr's eighteenth year things came to a head. The Latin tribes took control. Remus set all the pit slaves free, he had no moral issues with the fight he just wanted to show the old leaders that he had more power than them. As the warrior cut his chains he didn't care why, he just ran. Later he would hear tales of a falling out between the brothers that led to the founding of Rome but none of that mattered to Grimmr. He was free and he planned to stay that way.
He stole a horse from the village and rode as fast and far as he could before stopping to rest. He finally stopped for a rest when he was well into the land of Gaul. He trapped a few rabbits and lit a fire to cook them. He noticed two ravens staring down on him as he ate and briefly considered making them a second course but the notion passed. He slept under a tree for a few hours but was wakened by the sound of a scream.
He jumped up to see a woman on a spooked horse holding on for dear life as the animal ran erratically through the forest. As she neared on her horse Grimmr noticed several wolves giving chase. He stepped out into the path of the horse with his arms raised. He gave a curious look as they neared because the wolves seemed to slow and veer away from him. He managed to catch the horse by its reigns and calm him. As the horse panted he helped the woman off the horse. She caught her breath then looked him over, "Thank you. I don't know what I would have done if those wolves had caught up."
Grimmr nodded, "I suspect they were more interested in the horse. Wolves don't go for people often despite the reputation."
She sat down on a fallen tree as he tied off her horse. She noted his tattered clothing, "You aren't an escaped prisoner are you?"
He shook his head, "I was a slave of sorts. There was a bit of a power struggle where I was being held, I simply took advantage of the situation."
She gave a nod and decided not to pry. He lit the fire again and sat down beside her, "What brings you here?"
She leaned back a bit, "I enjoy the occasional night ride, the wolves caused me to go a bit further than I'd like."
He slid down and made himself comfortable, "Feel free to warm yourself by the fire as long as you'd like, if you're here in the morning I'll escort you back home if you'd like."
She looked down at him,"You have a name?"
She smiled a bit, "Aisling."
(To be continued I know some of the things here seem glossed over but it was a set up for what's to come)