Chapter 75:

Vinland

Elyon - Gods among us


It took almost a month for Rodrigo and his company to reach Vinland.

The members of Orniskem arrived in Greenland the day after their feast in Asgard. There, they were greeted by Norse priests and fed by them. As the order to take the gods to Vinland was already scheduled, the ships were ready for the expedition. Although the Vikings no longer traveled that route, they were determined to help these divinities in any way possible.

Five Norse merchant ships were ready, along with an experienced captain, who was supposed to have already navigated these seas with Leif Erikson, the man who had reached these lands and established deals with the natives there, the so-called Skræling.

The cold was terrifying and nothing could be seen because everything was in a huge fog. Despite it being spring, the terrible cold in the land of Greenland persisted, but at sea between Greenland and Vinland it was much worse.

The captain explained that Vinland was really the name of the southern land of that huge island they found, and that the northern regions were called Markland and Helluland. Vinland, which meant the land of wine, was the only one where they were able to settle, as it was not occupied by the Skræling, and had a much better temperature than Greenland.

Rodrigo, Epona, and Anpiel went on one boat, Ana and Tania on another, and finally, Susanoo and Menrva on the third. The other vessels carried food and supplies. Each ship had rowers, and in the meantime, the captain led from the ship where Menrva was. While all the gods didn't feel much cold, no one could avoid seeing Rodrigo freezing.

All the gods wore winter clothes that had been donated in Greenland. The goddesses wore very cozy coats made of sheep and bear fur. Tania and Menrva had braided their hair to look more in style with the Vikings, while Ana and Epona covered their heads with their coats' fur and their eyes were not visible.

Anpiel changed his clothes to a red sheepskin tunic; Susanoo wore a brown tunic that completely covered his body; while Rodrigo wore a green tunic and a black coat underneath. All wore belts and furry boots for winter. Although the gods didn't really feel cold, except for Rodrigo, they had to appear normal humans, as only Odin's priests knew about their divinity.

Ana had requested a fruit against seasickness so that Rodrigo could travel comfortably, so at least he wasn't dizzy, but he was shaking with cold. Since there wasn't much to do, the gods listened to the stories of Erik the Red and Leif Erikson that the captain told.

Erikson found Vinland just about ten years ago. They settled there, but apparently, due to a conflict with the Skræling, they were made to flee. Unlike the men in Norway or Denmark, in Greenland there were no warriors, just sailors and farmers, and to face those men, although they lacked iron or steel weapons, they didn't have the experience or discipline to defend themselves.

—And what brings you to travel to such remote lands?— asked the expedition's captain. —I had not met anyone, outside of Greenland, who would like to know there—

The captain knew how to speak Anglo-Saxon, a language that everyone, except Rodrigo and Susanoo, could understand; so Ana and Epona were translating everything the captain said to the young Tannin and the Eastern god.

—Well, you see, we love adventure, and we want to explore other lands— Menrva replied, who was sitting listening very attentively and excitedly to what the captain had to say. Quite the opposite of Rodrigo, who couldn't pay attention to those stories because of the cold he was feeling, plus the names seemed strange and odd to him.

—Well, you must be careful with the Skræling, they may seem friendly at first, but know that they will see you with fear, and at the first mistake you make, they will pierce you with their spears— replied the captain.

—I know, we will be very careful— Menrva replied.

After about twenty days of travel, everyone began to feel strange in their bodies, as if they weighed more, in addition to constant dizziness.

—This must be... the barrier that Frigg told us about— Tania commented.

—Do you feel it too, Tania?— Ana asked surprised.

—Yes, it's an anti-divinity barrier, it's incredible that the gods of this region have this technology. I'd be terrified to know if Lel could ever get this— Anpiel commented.

—This means we are now closer to Vinland— Menrva said excitedly with a sinister smile.

Epona looked at Menrva as she remembered the words she had said about the destruction of Pallas.

—What did she mean by that?— the goddess wondered. But she knew she couldn't take her eyes off her; and that, possibly, she would plot something in Vinland. This barrier made her feel like vomiting, but she didn't know if it was because of fear or the effects of that power.

After a few days, they finally glimpsed land on the distant horizon. The captain affirmed that that land was Markland, and they had to go further south to reach solid ground.

After about ten more days, they finally anchored on the shores of Vinland. It was a huge green prairie with tiny wooden houses, very similar to the houses in Greenland. Rodrigo assumed that this was the style of construction of the Norse, as, although in a less ostentatious version, it was very similar to the buildings in Normandy.

The cold, although still strong, had diminished considerably, even though there was a light snowfall still happening, and the sky was grayish, completely hiding the sun. What was impressive was the wind, it was very strong and it made chilling noises all over the area.

—We are sorry that there is no one to receive you, Leif recently abandoned this village because of the Skræling attacks— the captain commented.

Rodrigo could see that the houses and fences, indeed, had traces of having suffered burns not long ago. In fact, there were still one or two arrows stuck in the ground or in the houses that were there.

Tania, then, took the huge bag that was in one of the ships, and slung it on her shoulders like a backpack. In it were the food resources they would use, such as cheeses, meat, and milk. Since they were in very cold areas, they did not spoil.

—Would you take these resources and use them to return to Greenland?— the redhead goddess suggested, putting the backpack back on the boat where the captain was.

—Are you mad? How will you survive in this inhospitable terrain?— the captain asked, terrified.

—We'll hunt, it's that simple— Menrva replied, disembarking from the boat.

—And how will you return to Europe without boats?— the captain continued to inquire.

—Listen, this is dangerous territory without soldiers, right?— Ana said, trying to calm the sailors.

—We'll see how to survive and return, but we can't afford for you to die here because of us. Since we left, we had planned to give you this part of our resources, which is why we requested five ships instead of four— she concluded.

—We understand, please, may the Lord Jesus Christ protect you— the captain commented, making the sign of the cross towards the gods, who had all already disembarked.

—May the Lord Jesus Christ and his Holy Mother take you safely to Greenland— Tania said with a smile.

The sailors hoisted anchor and set off from Vinland to Greenland.

When they were no longer visible, Ana used her dark abilities, and magically, a sort of cabin appeared.

—Wow, despite this reduction in power, you were able to use your matter creation ability— Tania commented, looking at the cabin.

—I didn't create it, I just had it stored in one of my portable dimensions— the Irish goddess explained.

—Although we can't create dimensions here, it seems we can make invocations from our pocket dimensions, which makes it easier for me if I need to use my Gram sword— she added.

—Don't you create Gram with your matter creation magic?— Epona asked.

—No— Ana replied. —When a weapon or object is too complex or powerful for me to understand, I can't copy or reproduce it, so I store it in alternate dimensions that I maintain with my ability—

—Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go inside the cabin!— Rodrigo shouted and quickly went inside.

The cabin already had a fireplace lit. Inside, there were some beds, a table, a small kitchen, and on the table, were the jars of mead they had obtained in Asgard. The cabin was nice, albeit quite simple. Rodrigo, without thinking, got in front of the fire to warm up.

—It's a shame, Rodrigo-san, that this cold is enough to defeat you— Susanoo commented indignantly as he also entered the cabin.

—Can you?— Tania asked Menrva.

The goddess tried to fly, but only levitated a few centimeters and fell hard to the ground.

—No, it's completely impossible— the Etruscan goddess replied, disappointed.

—I'll try to run to that hill in less than a second— Epona said, positioning herself 'On your marks'.
The goddess ran and reached the hill, but when she looked back at her companions, they made a denial face.

—What good is it that you're a mare, Epona, if you run so slow?— Anpiel sarcastically commented.

—You took two minutes, Epona. Just slightly above an average human, who would have taken five— Tania replied.

—Darn, I was already used to feeling useless, but this is absurd— Epona commented as she returned to where her companions were.

—We can't fly, we can't move quickly— Anpiel commented disappointedly. —That caravan we sold in Normandy would come in handy right now—

—Calm down, guys; don't get nervous— Menrva said as she walked among all those present.

—Perhaps this Sedna girl can help us, there must be some technology here to get to Haida territories— she said.

—That's another thing, which way are we going to take?— Tania asked, confused.

—We need to locate Odin, Thor, and the others, in addition to visiting Tula for Rodrigo's personal mission— Ana said. —It would be best to split up into three groups—

—Agreed, but before that, let's get to the entrance of Adlivun— Menrva said when suddenly, she felt that someone was watching her.

—There are people here— Tania said as she looked around.

—Yes, I'm sure we've been ambushed— Anpiel agreed, also on guard.

—Remember that even though we can't use our powers to the fullest, they are enough to seriously hurt humans; so, whatever happens, don't overdo it— Menrva ordered.

—If you'll allow me, I can handle them— Anpiel suggested.

—Do you know how to fight in the human world?— Menrva asked.

—Yes, I've been on several missions in the human world and learned to fight without using my divine power— the angel replied. —This won't be a problem—

—Agreed, but we need to extract some information— the Etruscan goddess said as Anpiel bowed to thank her.

—You, stable girl, watch how one should fight so you can learn something— Anpiel shouted at Epona, who just made a disgruntled face.

Anpiel began to walk with his arms raised, shouting: —We come in peace, we want to be taken to your leader— he said. Words that the men who were watching them did not understand.

At that moment, an arrow quickly aimed for the angel's chest, but he evaded it with ease.

—I reiterate my interest in achieving a peaceful agreement— the angel continued, but this time, five arrows flew towards the angel.

Anticipating the attack, Anpiel grabbed a log from the ground and blocked three arrows, while quickly evading two.

Anpiel threw the log on the ground and raised his hands again.

—We come in peace, please, we want to see your leader Sedna— he said.

In that moment, an uncomfortable silence ensued, although the whispers of the lurkers could be heard.

—Sedna?— asked a man who came out of hiding.

He had a bow and arrows, a light tunic, and long black hair. Even though he had come out, he continued to point at Anpiel, who still had his hands raised.

The man said something to the angel, but he was unable to understand. In the midst of the nonsense words he heard, he recognized the word Sedna.

—Yes, Sedna— the angel replied, making gesturing movements. —We want to see Sedna— said, while he made a gesture of reverence.

—It would have helped a lot if they had taught us the language of these people— Epona said frustratedly, while she, along with the other goddesses, also had their hands raised.

The men began to come out of their hiding places with their bows and arrows aimed at them. They all looked similar with their dark hair, brown skin, and beige tunics and pants.

The men started to murmur, when among their words, Anpiel was able to identify the word 'Erikson', to which he abruptly interrupted with a position of denial.

—We are not part of Erikson or his group!— he said while shaking his head.

At that moment, Rodrigo and Susanoo came out of the cabin in a state of surprise, when several Skræling surrounded them with their bows. Susanoo quickly placed his hand on the hilt of his katana to defend himself, but Menrva shouted at him not to do anything.

One of the men, who seemed to have a higher rank because he wore feathers on his head, approached Anpiel and began to try to speak in the divine language:

—Sedna...camp... go— he said.

—It's incredible, these people have heard the divine language and try to speak with it— Tania thought hearing the man speak to Anpiel.

—Thank you, we will follow you— Anpiel replied with a bow.

The man made a sign and all the other Skrælings lowered their weapons. He turned around and walked east of the abandoned village. The other men started to follow him.

—We have to go with them— Anpiel said.

—Amazing, I thought you were going to fight these people— Epona commented as she approached the angel.

—Don't you remember what we were told, clumsy mare? We are the guests and we must follow their rules— Anpiel retorted.

—Also, the fact that that guy can say a few words in divine language is enough proof that they have direct contact with deities. A conflict, and surely their masters would have killed us— he added.

—Could you explain that to me without insulting me?— Epona responded, pouting.

—You're a good negotiator, malak— Menrva commented approaching Anpiel. —Now I understand why this girl, along with the others, risked their lives to save you from Ares—

—I'm flattered by your words, Lady Menrva— the angel replied bashfully.

—I wish one day you'd treat me with that same respect, Anpiel— Epona continued, pouting.

The malak then indicated to his group that they should follow the Skrælings because they would lead them to Sedna. Rodrigo and Susanoo took a relaxed stance and agreed, while all the members of Orniskem gathered in a small platoon and followed the group of men; although these, had them likewise surrounded in case anything happened.

Near the bay, there were several rafts and boats anchored. These were small, and while the rafts were only for one person, the small boats could fit between five or six people. The group leader indicated to Rodrigo's group that they should get on the boats, making signs.

—He wants us to get on those boats— Anpiel told the group.

—They don't look very safe— Epona protested.

—Is there a single day you don't complain about something?— Ana asked, disappointed.

—And what will happen if you fall into the water, Epona? Please!— Menrva said irritably as she got on the boat they had pointed out to her.

—Alright, fine. I was just commenting— the goddess of horses replied, annoyed.

Rodrigo was worried. They had just survived a boat journey of almost a month, and now they had to use another. Memories of seasickness came to mind, but he hoped that the fruit would still be effective.

—Don't worry, Rui. Where we're going isn't far— Ana said, approaching the young Tannin as she saw his look of frustration.

—There is no need to fear the water, Rodrigo-san— Susanoo commented, and he and Ana got on the boat.

The Irish goddess lightly patted a seat next to her for Rodrigo to sit there.

Just as Rodrigo sat down, Epona, Tania, and Anpiel approached, but there was only space for two more on the small boat, so Epona jumped onto Rodrigo's lap, which upset Ana.

—Hey, mare, go somewhere else!— Ana shouted at the Celtic goddess, furiously.

—Didn't you see, crow? There's no more room— the goddess sarcastically commented as she held onto Rodrigo.

Tania and Anpiel got on the boat with a disappointed look.

—Could you tell them that I don't know these individuals?— Tania asked Anpiel, annoyed.

The boats departed from what appeared to be a huge island. The individuals who were in small rafts, which they called kayaks, got inside them, leaving half their bodies out, and with a paddle, they sailed on the seas. The boats also had oars and sails, although they were quite small and rustic compared to those used in Europe.

The journey lasted about two hours until they could see huge stone islets with grass on the top. The men skirted the place until they reached a gigantic plain, full of green grass and blue sky.
On these plains, there were several tents made of what looked like bear skin. In addition, there was a bonfire in the center of that place. The tents had symbolic animal drawings on them.

As the boats and rafts anchored, the men pointed Anpiel towards where the bonfire was so that he would follow them. When the other members of Orniskem tried to get off, the men prevented them.

—It seems they believe Anpiel is the leader, and he will be the one to meet Sedna— Menrva commented.

—Or it could be a trap!— Epona commented nervously while still on Rodrigo.

—You being negative? How unusual for you, Epona— Ana said sarcastically.

—It's called being cautious— the Celtic goddess huffed irritably.

—These people are allies of Asgard, I doubt anything bad will happen— Tania commented with a serious expression and her arms crossed.

Anpiel, then, was escorted to where the bonfire was. There, seated, was a very old and tiny woman. The woman was completely covered with a huge bear coat, and in her right hand she held a wooden cane with the antler of an antelope at the top. Her skin was brown, and her grayish hair was gathered in two braids.

The expedition leader approached the woman with a bow and said a few words. The woman moved her left hand, indicating that she understood the situation.

The old woman stared fixedly at the malak, and then, in clear divine language, she asked.
—Who are you and why have you come to Nitassinan?—

Surprised, Anpiel bowed to the woman.

—My name is Anpiel and we have come to seek the great Sedna— he replied.

—And what would you do if you saw the great Sedna?— the woman asked with a smiling gaze.

—We are on a mission to see her so that she can help us find a certain person in this land— Anpiel answered.

—And why should she help you?— the old woman continued to question.

—Because, well, we are allies of Asgard and we came here on their recommendation— Anpiel continued to comment.

—Asgard? Those are the men who come from across the sea, right?— the old woman commented.

—Some of them came here, they settled; but their warlike nature ended up breaking the relationship between my people and them. For the moment, we do not want to know anything about these 'Normans' in our lands— the woman concluded, and with a gesture of her hand, indicated Anpiel to withdraw.

At the sign of the old woman, the men who were escorting Anpiel quickly pointed their spears and bows at him again.

The woman said a few words in her language to the Skræling warriors, and they began to push Anpiel out of the camp with their spears for him to retreat.

—Madam, please, it is necessary for the great Sedna to help us— Anpiel said as he was being pushed by the spears.

At that moment, the angel knelt down and prostrated his head to the ground.

—We beg you, we need your help. Please!— he said.

The old woman was silent and signaled her men to stop pushing the malak.

—Why would a divine being prostrate his face before a simple human?— she asked the old woman.

—Because I need your help, great old woman— the angel commented, still in prostration.

—You could easily end all these men and my life; and get to where Sedna is— the old woman replied to the angel.

—I have come in peace. I would never commit an act that involved the genocide of a group of people— the angel continued explaining.

—Alright, messenger— the old woman commented. —I'll take you to Sedna—

—Thank you very much!— Anpiel commented excitedly as he raised his face again.

—I am Sedna, what specific matters do you have with me?— the old woman said as her eyes opened, and they were as clear and pure blue as the sea in Vinland.