Chapter 3 – Escape
He trembled with rage and his breath came in short angry bursts. His shirt had been ripped off in the confrontation and he was now squatted, bare chested, over the corpse of the headless man. The small alley resembled a slaughterhouse, blood had pooled beneath the dead body and bits of brain and skull littered the area. Wjolnir had not avoided the bodily debris and was covered in what was left of the bandit’s face. His fists throbbed and ached from pummelling the bloody mass of flesh underneath him and as the adrenaline left his system he became more aware of that pain. His hands darted to his infected shoulder as he remembered his stab wound, however when he inspected it he could only feel mottled flesh and the tumorous tissue of his affliction. He had not imagined the wound, for blood and milky pus still clotted and dried on his chest. He thought that the infection had spread further up his neck but couldn’t be sure without a mirror. Gods, what had come over him! He had never considered himself a violent man and this, this was far outside of his morale capabilities. A sudden sense of shame overwhelmed him and he scrambled to his feet off the desecrated body. A cloying sense of fear creeped in like a cold breeze and his head swam with the realisation of how fucked he really was. He couldn’t stay in the settlement now, someone would have heard the commotion and the thugs that passed for the town guard were probably already alerted. True, these bandits probably wouldn’t be missed by many but no one wants a killer around while they sleep. Wjolnir bent down and retrieved his coin purse from the first bandit’s fingers. They were colder than fingers ought to be and had already begun to stiffen. He pocketed his coin and fled toward the docks.
Wjolnir fumbled with the knots that bound his vessel to the mooring post, his usually deft fingers failing him in his panic. His vessel was nothing more than a small sailing boat with a cabin on the rear of its deck. It had no name painted into the hull and no fancy etching or paint work. In the smuggling trade, it had paid to be inconspicuous when travelling and he thanked the gods for that foresight now. Gripping a long wooden pole from within the boat he pushed away from the dock and began to punt the boat towards the flow of the water way. The sail raised easily in the steady evening breeze and began to carry him away from the town. He left the boat to its own devices momentarily while he nipped into the cabin and retrieved a flask of fresh water, a chainmail hauberk and a fur lined coat. He rinsed the filth of the attack from himself with the water and took a long gulp from the flask. The water was cool and made his teeth ache intensely for a moment before dulling away. The chainmail hauberk proved far colder than the water however its metallic rings felt almost soothing against the rotting flesh of his tainted shoulder. Finally, he slipped the coat around his aching body and stepped back on to the deck and the glistening moonlight. The boat had veered toward the bank slightly so he grabbed the wheel behind the mast and corrected its course. From the deck of the boat he could see torchlight at the docks behind him. Judging by the number of torches he could see it appeared that this was not the early rising fishermen attending their vessels. Pulling a tightly wrapped cord above him, he dropped the main sail fully and aimed for the ocean. He had no location in mind, however anywhere but here sounded fine to him at that moment.