The Dragon Ship HTML version

Chapter One
The wind snapped in the rectangular sail of the long-ship and sea water
streamed down it the sail was plain and red in colour and depicted on it was a
design of Odin’s two wolves Geri and Freki. Leif Gunnarr watched it flap and fill
with the storms powerful wind as he bent his back to the tiller trying to keep the
ship on its course. Of course, the long-ship was clinker built and well capable of
weathering any winter storms that the crew might come across. His ship really
was a damn fine craft it was graceful, long and narrow and the shallow draft of its
hull was designed for speed, but not only this it allowed it to navigate in waters of
only a meter deep. Also the ship could be beached quite easily and its light
weight meant that it could be carried by the crew overland in places where a river
was not deep enough to allow them passage and then placed back in the water
when it was safe to do so. He looked towards the prow where the dragons head
adorned it his ship was a double ended craft with both a symmetrical bow and
stern this allowed it to be rowed in any direction. This and the Beitass which was
a spar that was fixed to the sail and allowed the ship to sail against the wind. As
he battled the elements with the sea spray stinging his eyes he looked down the
length of the ship and saw the crew sitting on their rowing benches which ran
nearly the entire length of the ship trying to shelter from the howling sea. Odin’s
Breath as the ship was known was a Busse which was the largest class of long-
ship and his carried thirty two rowers and another thirty warriors on this
expedition. There had been six ships on this expedition to start with but now
Odin’s Breath was by itself the others having been lost in the storm including his
brother Gardar’s ship.
The purpose of the expedition had been to find a fabled new land beyond
the vast ice packs towards the west which it was believed was a land fit for Viking
hero’s with lush pastures and good soil for growing food and grazing animals.
Leif and the rest were to seek this land out and colonise it sending ships back to
King Ragnar and letting him know if it was safe to send out more colonists and
families. Leif had not seen his own wife Freyja for more than a month now and he
was already missing her shapely body and lying warm and snug with her in their
large bed covered in furs. Still he must keep his eyes on what was going on as
the ship bucked and rolled in the high seas that were now beginning to turn
mountainous. Others might be afraid but not Leif like the rest of his crew he had
been a born sailor and the sea was his world as well as his livelihood it would
take something more than this blow to shock them. He watched as Svart walked
back towards him he took in the huge frame of his friend and second in
command and marvelled at the balance and poise of such a big man. Eventually
leaning into the wind Svart made it and saluted him he stood now on the other
side of the tiller and shouted in Leif’s ear. “By Odin’s balls this is a nice piece of