Thorgaut Kabbisson walked along the edge of woods trying to get his bearings. He was lost and he knew it. Something was wrong. He should have been back at their little camp. It wasn't very big, but there is no way that he could have missed it and walked past it.
The sun hung low on the horizon. Darkness would soon be upon him. He wanted to stop and build a fire to warm up, but he needed to keep moving. If Thorgaut didn't find his friends before the sun set, he would be alone in the woods at night. He tried to shake the thought from his head and focus on something a little more pleasant.
The nights were growing longer and he didn't want to spend it by himself here at the edge of the woods. Not that there was much that scared Thorgaut. He was the firstborn son of a feisty little Earl in a small village. Thorgaut was the oldest of 12 brothers. His brothers were all small like their father.
But Thorgaut was taller than his father. Taller than all his brothers. Taller than anyone else in his village. Head and shoulders above the next tallest man. His body was wider and broader. Thorgaut was built like a bull. He didn't have the lanky build his father and brother's possessed. He was also the only member of the family with red hair.
People talked of course. Rumors ran rampant. Some suggested he was special. A gift from the gods. Others whispered behind his back though and suggested otherwise.
Either way, Thorgaut knew what they said about him not being the rightful heir to his father's throne. He knew his brothers would try to keep him from sitting on it after his father's passing.
What the people said, didn't bother him. Neither did his brothers plans to keep him off of the throne. He planned on sitting on it and ruling the people well.
A partridge burst out of a bush in front of him. His steps must have spooked it. The loud beating of its wings spooked him at first. He jumped back but managed to keep his wits around him fast enough to pull up his bow and notch an arrow. He shot straight and true. The partridge fell behind a small mound of snow, and he veered off the path to collect his supper.
Thorgaut relished the thought of sitting on the throne. He smiled as he continued walking. He had been born to rule. He felt it in his bones. The desire to reign flowed through every fiber of his being. Everyone else knew it too. Or rather they could sense it.
He was a natural leader and easily influenced those around him. He didn't even put much effort into trying to be persuasive. He seemed to have a hypnotic hold over people that made them want to follow him. The intensity of his focus had a magnetizing effect on those around him.
He knew that ultimately his father's throne would become too small for him. That was one of the reasons he led these yearly raids farther and farther away. He wanted to explore everything and see how other people lived and fought. The entire time, he was planning and scheming how he would expand his empire.
But it wasn't just about conquering new lands. Thorgaut knew that ultimately, he wouldn't be content to sit around. He didn't want to resolve daily squabbles and petty arguments among the villagers. He would soon grow tired of trying to get them to hunt and store up food for the winter. Thinking about those things bored him.
No. Thorgaut was ambitious. Much more ambitious than anyone imagined. He was a mighty warrior. He would become a mighty king. He would lead a mighty army. He would sail hordes of ships. He would conquer many villages. And he would rule them all.
He would eventually leave his brothers behind to squabble over his throne. That way he would know who was the strongest among them. Then he would allow the strongest of them to rule over other lands he conquered. He planned to keep his family united. And keeping his brothers under control would be easy by tossing them crumbs from his table.
Thorgaut knew that the great king already feared him. He could see the fear his eyes. Thorgaut knew that he could already challenge the king to a duel, kill him, and take his throne. He didn't even have to wait for his father to die and suffer through a family feud. But Thorgaut wasn't in any rush. He enjoyed his freedom to roam, hunt, and explore the land with his friends. He didn't want to tie himself down to the duties of a king yet.
He would bide his time and slowly climb his way to the top. He knew that these raids allowed him to gain invaluable experience. Thorgaut enjoyed leading small bands of ships and warriors on these exploratory raids. He planned to start implementing his conquering strategy soon, but he wasn't in any hurry. He was young and had plenty of time.
Thorgaut heard the howl of wolves off in the distance as he continued walking. A pack of wolves preparing for their nightly hunt. He smiled. He loved wolves. All wolves. They were majestic creatures.
He wasn't afraid because knew they wouldn't attack him. He had seen plenty of game in the woods throughout the day. There was easier prey to be had in the woods. They wouldn't attack him unless he posed a threat to them. But Thorgaut knew he could handle them even if they did attack.
Wolves were no match for him. He had faced down a pack of them three summers ago during the time of the great famine. Everyone was hungry and his sister extremely ill.
Thorgaut had shot a deer, and a pack of six white forest wolves wanted to fight him for it. He knew they had been waiting to jump the deer. But Thorgaut killed it first.
He needed it for his family. He felt bad and would have left it for them if it hadn't been for the famine in the land. His sister needed the nourishment.
He tried to shoo them off, but they wouldn't leave. They moved between him and the freshly killed deer. Then they attacked. The leader of the pack rushed him first.
Thorgaut had already prepared his bow. He had made it himself. It was long and powerful. None of the other men in his village could fire it. It had taken him a long time to build up the strength and stamina to bring it under his control. But after that, he had shot farther and better than any of the other warriors in his village.
Thorgaut let the arrow fly and his shot rang true. He bowled the wolf over with a massive arrow straight to the chest.
A second wolf followed close behind but fell when he sank his ax through its skull. "It was almost too easy," he thought to himself.
Two other wolves attacked in unison. He ran one through with his sword. Then he kicked the other back as it snapped at the legging of his thick fur pants.
Thorgaut attempted to shake it off and swat it away with the broad edge of his sword. It pulled back from the blow, but then dove back in for a second attack. This time Thorgaut felt the pressure and its teeth on his leg. He drove the sword down through its neck above the shoulder blades.
The other two wolves had ignored the fight and started tearing into the deer's underbelly. He yelled at them and they paused trying to decide what to do. Thorgaut picked up his bow and pulled the ax out from the wolve's head before it froze in the blood and brains.
The wolves looked at the meal before them trying to decide if it was worth the fight. They looked at each other and then lowered their heads to growl in unison as they turned to face him.
"Okay, boys. So, you wanna fight, do you? Let's go!"