Lorcan stepped onto the gunwale and stared across the ocean. It was brighter tonight than it had been most nights this cycle, the sky strained beneath the weight of its stars. The ocean was just as sleepless, though not from the pull of the luminous full moon that hung above.

Lorcan’s people were a seafaring race; he knew the flow of the waves against the sand better than he knew the steady thrum of the blood pulsing through his own veins. Tonight, the restless waves heralded not a storm, but an invasion. Sighing, Lorcan flicked the boat latch and slipped his oars into the water to begin the journey back to shore. 

Since his punishment at the hands of Gunnar last month, he’d become an outcast amongst the clan leaders. Barred from entry to the meeting rooms, yet denied a carriage back to his home in the mountains further inland. For the past month, he had kept close to the shoreline, sinking makeshift hooks beneath the waves in the hope of a decent bite, and foraging for berries and tubers stained salty by the sea spray. It was pitiful, and he knew it.

He tried to stay away from his peers, who jeered at and jostled him each time they emerged from the warmth of their huts. Sod them all. That they shunned him was slight; that they shunned his strategy was a fool’s error. By his calculations, the Brits would make landfall in a mere two days, and still, the Vikings refused to believe their rivals had even managed to claw their way out of the Stone Age. Instead, Lorcan’s people insisted on cloistering themselves away in meeting rooms to argue about which clan had the best custom marine fabrication Melbourne offered.

Lorcan scowled and stabbed his oar into the current. A fat glob of water splashed into his face, blinding him. He sputtered and coughed, rubbing at his stinging eyes. Was this really the end that would befall his great people? Centuries of steel craftsmanship and revolutionary fishing endeavours, felled by pride?