"Sven! What are you doing?"

"Em… Just… making my bed!"

"…Making your bed?"



"oh, yes…er, in that case I am...eh...stealing! yes, that's it, I am stealing loot and stowing it away in my bunk so I won't have to share it with you scum!"

"Alright then, carry on, and keep up the good work"

As Unnson turned and walked away Sven let out the breath he was holding, causing the baby (which he was also holding) to wrinkle it's nose and turn a light shade of green.

"I'll hide you here for now, I'll return tonight. The chief is having a small celebratory drink on deck, and if I'm not there people will wonder. And no-one else has a limbo pole, I'm vital!"

He leaned in close to get a clearer look at the infant.

"Why did that damn woman choose me?"

There was a thump from one of the other bunks and his eyes darted towards the sound. It was just a shield falling from a bed. If he was caught with this child it would be thrown overboard, and possibly him with it. He looked back to the child. Its small pudgey arms were stretched out towards him, its hand clinging to his nose. It gurgled as Sven flushed a deep red, before brushing the hands away and gently pulling the sheet over its head.

"Damn woman…" he murmured as he walked out. Soon the baby was snoozing quietly, and from the deck above could be heard:


Much later, as the dawn was slowly realising that its presence was required, the door was thrown open. Sven stood silhouetted in its frame for a moment, before he promptly fell over. He muttered something indistinct, which might have been "urgh… probably the best piss-up in the world" before crawling over to the bunk, and dragging himself into it. He lay there for a few minutes trying to collect his thoughts. There had been something nagging him before the ale started to flow, what was it?

"Sven?", a voice whispered in his ear. Of course! The babe in his bed! That demon of a woman had plagued him with her young, and he must decide what to do with it!

"Sven?", the voice softly repeated.

It was discovered it would be trouble for both of them. If the others knew he had just taken a babe they would be furious. Take a woman? Yes, men at sea must have their pleasures. Take a child? Sure, they can work, slaves always fetch a good price, and a servant is always handy, but take an infant? No! They are good for nothing but emptying the larder and stopping your sleep. They can not work, they can not help you, they aren't even your blood! Worthless! What was he to do?


He rolled over to face the baby, "What am I to do with you?"

"Sven, your room is next door"

His eye's slowly focused on a bushy beard.




"If you do not get out of my bunk, right now, I will bury my dagger in your gut"

"Apologies Eric"

He rolled off the bunk, onto the floor, and started to crawl away slowly, muttering something which might have been "Trucken' tanker".

The snores of the Vikings rang out across the deck of the ship and wafted out over the sea like lost souls. All on the ship slept, even the galley slaves, who knew well enough that once their masters were awake, they would be driven hard, so it was best to sleep while you could. The lookout was slumped against the mast, an empty bottle of ale lying in his hand. The moon shone down from above like a smiling mother over her snoozing children, she was the only witness as the shadow broke away from the dark room and stole over to the edge of the ship.

Sven leaned over and looked down at the sea slowly lapping against the hull.

"This is for the best. It's the only way out".

He pulled his cloak fully open and carefully unwrapped the bundle inside, revealing the baby to the moon above.

"If they find you, they will kill you, that is the Viking way, 'the child is your blood or there is spilt blood', there is no other choice."

He looked up to the sky, "I'm sorry woman, but you chose the wrong Viking to watch your child."

His breath hung in the air, a fine silver mist, glistening in the starlight.

The child's was doing the same, a smaller cloud slowly rising and mixing with his.

"I'm sorry..."

He picked up the child and held it out over the sea. One small splash, that's all anyone would hear, the child would sink like a stone, no crying, no screaming, just splash. All his problems gone in a second. Just let go.

"I'm so sorry..."

What was she thinking? Of course this was how it was going to end! How could he, a Viking, look after her child? Insane!

But that stare, that stare she gave him as she thrust the child into his arms. Pleading, trusting, desperate, all at the same time.

He looked back to the child. Staring at its pale, round face.

No! He would not be cursed with this burden! The child must die, and it must die NOW!

He looked back up to the sky, not wanting to see the billowing clothes as it fell, not wanting to see the splash, not wanting to watch that face slowly dissolve into the darkness below. He looked up to the sky, to the moon, and saw the same pale, round face staring back at him. He knew then he would never again be able to look at the moon without seeing that face he was about to drop. Every night he would hear the splash, every dream would dissolve into the darkness, his joys would sink to the depths and die. Just as the child would drown in the sea, he would drown in his guilt. He drew the babe back into his chest, and turned away from the sea.

"Odin help me..."

The shadow retreated back into the dark, snoring bowels of the ship, and up in the sky a passing wisp of cloud made it appear that, just for a second, she smiled.