The flames of the pyres danced and flickered as the gathered host of warriors both mourned the fallen and celebrated their great victory over their foes. The silence of the night was broken frequently as the mingling sounds of both life and death clamoured through the air around what was once Thetford. Though there was now a great celebration and gathering within the town, many warriors instead chose to hunt those who had not fallen on the field of battle - or worse yet, they tormented those inhabitants who had foolishly remained and not yet fled for their lives.They were now fair spoils to be taken by the victors at will - just as the corpses of the enemy were left for the ravens - thus was the way of things.
The victorious horde had been full of eager men from Daneland, still young and foolish enough to be keen to bury their blades in the skulls of the enemy without having yet tasted real battle. The victory had been costly and many now had instead found themselves prematurely on their way to the halls of Valhalla to drink with their ancestors and the gods. There had been too of course the more experienced warriors. Those who had come for vengeance for the great wrongs done by the English and their ilk. Veterans of many voyages and raids, those who had journeyed far and through fortune and skill had survived to become experienced and wise - or so they thought. The enemy host had been numerous and well equipped, but as always the English were no match for real Danish warriors. Their fear and lack of commitment in battle were their downfall despite their superior numbers and equipment and it always had been.
The massacre of Danes some two years prior, ordered by the foul English King Æthelred was still fresh in the minds of many and had been one cause amongst several for the current invading force that rampaged through East Anglia culminating in a brutal clash with an English army. Tosti considered this and more as he stood starring into the crimson flames of the pyre - his body aching now the thrill of battle was long gone and only the weariness of his aching of his bones remained.
The flickering light reflected and danced off of his battle stained armour, the studded leather and chain mail almost matted with gore and dirt. It had served him well in battle, staying more than a few blows that would have otherwise done some serious damage - instead leaving him covered in bruises that would heal with time. The armour had seen almost as much as he had, originally forged by an Anglo-Saxon smith it was of the finest make. It’s original owner was long since dead, having met with Tosti’s axe many years ago the first time he had set foot in this land. Since then it’d journeyed far with him and seen much of the world, but mostly it has seen nothing but bloodshed. His helmet was at his feet where he had dropped it, beside his dented and battered shield that too now lay discarded. Their weight was for the first time oppressive and restricting and as he stood now free of their burden he let the cool night air wash over him. His recently greying hair still glistened with sweat and though the fighting was over he felt unnaturally unsettled and ill at ease.
His deep cerulean eyes started into the flames as they devoured the hulking logs that surrounded the bodies of the fallen, slowly reducing them to nothing more than ash that the wind would soon steal away. Later there would be nothing left of his brothers-in-arms, nothing more than the memories of those that were left behind. Tosti let out a deep aching sigh as he considered the fact that once he too was gone it would mean the end of his bloodline and everything his forefathers had worked for, not that even that seemed to matter to much to him anymore.
He had sworn to the gods, two years ago, that he would right the wrongs done against his family and avenge their murders. Now that goal seemed nothing more than foolish and hollow. It had cost him the only companions he had left, and at what gain really? Many foes had fallen, enough surly that the gods should have been satisfied. But no, he thought bitterly. Instead they had taken everything and left him to stare at the diminishing pyre that would no doubt be his fate, or worse. Gods… pah, if they even cared about mankind at all. No, his vow now meant almost nothing to him. How could more careless death bring the justice he so badly desired, he wondered as he glanced around the chaotic scene of the camp. He gazed around at those who were now in the midst of their revelry and he envied them - he’d walked their path a great many times, but this time it was different. This time somehow he saw things differently. Though they’d supposedly won a great victory, it was obvious to him that beyond the shallow spoils and loot gained here it was more an empty victory than anything else. Death has brought about nothing but more death, obscuring any path to vengeance that may have existed.
These thoughts and more assailed him as he stood there, gazing into the blaze. He’d always considered himself faithful and and followed closely the teachings of the Gothar, those who spoke the godly tongues amongst men. But now he more often than not found himself thinking over what they had said with a critical mind and a frown upon his face as he again and again found himself questioning the legitimacy of their claims. Somewhat disgusted with his own line of thinking Tosti yanked his mind back to the present.
What would come next, he’d already decided he didn’t care. More raiding and more death. He couldn’t help but think that if there were Gods, these shores had been cursed by them. Or maybe it was just him that was cursed he thought. Either way, it seemed like there was nothing left here for him at all. No, he wouldn’t stay here any longer - that much he knew for certain.
He took a few moments to bind his helm to the small bundle of belongings, all that remained of his possessions, and lifted them along with his shield onto his back with a grunt. Normally he’d have taken time to utter prayers to the gods for his fallen comrades, but instead pushing the thoughts away he simply turned and stalked into the night.