Writing Prompt – Honour him

This is for a Writing Prompt competition http://www.creativewritingink.co.uk/resources/writing-prompts/

“There lay Ingar the Terrible, beneath a shattered cairn of grey-stones. His followers stared down at the dishonoured grave, their hearts sunken and their leader left with only a few deep stones hiding his body.

“This is not how a leader should lie.” some said.

“Our enemies have dishonoured our customs, we should dishonour them!” others shouted.

This was typical of our peoples, to rape and to plunder, to raid and destroy in ravenous revenge. We were Vikings, it was our way and what we knew best. But some among us had no interest or quarrels at this, we knew they hated our leader as much as we hated them, perhaps more.

I was just a simple man, I worked the farms and fought in wars the same as any, I followed Ingar to the end of the earth and almost fell from its borders. I would have willingly followed him into death, some of our men did, but I was not there on that fateful day. Today the lying stones were just a symbol of hatred, and of his hatred too.

Yet as my shield brothers, my companions in the battlefield and the greatest vikings set out to the sea behind, to find their ships we had long since abandoned, I paid my respects without ship or bloodshed. Quietly, while mourners still wept and bowed to their fallen master’s grave, I went forward and too the first of the grey stones. I took them slowly, carefully, not to drop one on this sacred, bloody ground. I strode perhaps a yard away, then placed the stone deep in the ground, smashing it down into the soil with my maul, then returning to take another.

Stone by stone I began to lay them in a wide spiral, then a few of the mourners joined me in laying the stones down. We beat them into the earth so they may never move again, even our enemies were not so hating that they would spend an age digging the stones up. We lay them all around the last stones of the cairn, surrounding the body of our fallen leader, our chieftain, our king.

At last we came with the stones to the end of that flat plain, and the last of the stones. A sense of completion, of satisfaction came over us. Many of the mourners remained a while longer, others set off with weapons ready to have their revenge on our enemies. I knew I could serve my master no longer, so I took up my arms and set out into the world, to find a new leader and a new land to work.

It was many years later that I found myself back on that sacred ground. By now the grasses had grown high, the plants had grown too and some of the hills had been dug into revealing stone, yet all the spiral stones remained, the grasses sealing them in strong, hardy earth. Following the spiral stones was also a spiral path by their side, leading up to our great leader’s tomb where a handful of coloured mountainous flowers were placed to honour him.

It took me a while to realise that perhaps I had given him a second honour, after the dishonour our enemies had brought. I lay there for a while longer, staring down at the ground from the last bank before the sea. I lay there until sunset, when only a few wisps of cloud passed across the sky, and in the far distance, glowing red-orange in the light, I saw my old farms. This sight was how I knew that it was truly a sacred, precious ground.”

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