This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Friday, 12 October 2012


When I came back to the mead hall silence had fallen at last. Smoke drifted in eddies below the ceiling, and the shattered furniture lay tumbled where it had been thrown during the struggle, and afterwards.
I looked around indifferently. A couple of my men lay snoring on the floor, overcome with exertion and wine. I stepped over one of them. A yellow stain of vomit spread over the floor by his head; it matted his beard. His right hand still gripped his sword, and it was crusted with blood. I was careful not to touch him. He would lash out with it instinctively if disturbed.
A few headless corpses still lay in the corner, where we had thrown them after the battle was over. The heads now decorated the palisade round the village, beards ruffled by the wind, eyes dried to dullness.
The women lay where they had fallen. White skin and blond hair mixed liberally with sticky black patches of clotted blood. Most were already dead; a few still moved a little, a tremor of a hand or foot betraying them. I walked past them with distaste. While I do understand that women are the spoils of war and should be used as such, I pride myself on being above such instincts.
I was looking for the body of the chief of the enemy clan. I had taken his head myself, in fair combat, and had spiked it myself on a post outside the mead hall, but I wanted his sword. I had noticed it while we had fought, long and wickedly sharp, much better than mine.
My sealskin boot touched a woman’s hand then, and she sat up suddenly, covering her bare breasts instinctively with one hand. She cried out and rolled over, trying to crawl away from me, but went the wrong way and bumped into my knees. I tried to sidestep, but she clutched desperately at my knees, trying to pull herself erect, and I realised then why she apparently could not see me – someone had taken a knife and slashed her across the eyes. Her sockets were full of clotted blood.
Something happened then. Maybe it was the smoke and the smell of wine and blood in the room; maybe it was the tension that had built up all the while since before the battle began. I kicked her savagely, knocked her down, and when she screamed I kicked her again. She tried to back away on hands and her heels, and I threw myself down on top of her, ripping at her, thrusting away into her in a joyless explosion, wanting to hurt and hurt. Her screams were silenced immediately, but I thrust and thrust at her, smashing her down with my body, unable to sate my anger and my wish to hurt until she gave a last shudder and lay still.
Afterwards I found the old chief’s sword and cut off her head. I was a warrior, and the sword was a tool; one had to make sure it was sharp enough to do its job.
It was. 

Copyright B Purkayastha 2008


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