The birth of a child is always a cause for celebration. On Peaceable Country, however, it is not; especially if the child is deemed a runt by the Naming Dame.
Unfortunately, this happened to a young family, who had given birth to a daughter a week prior. Their daughter was unusually small, much unlike her parents who were big and strong, the ideal image for a Viking. Because of this the baby girl was declared a runt, and going by the orders of the Chief, all runts must be cast out to sea within a week of their birth.
The young family stood at the edge of the island, preparing to send their baby daughter out to sea. The baby’s father had made several attempts to plead with the Chief, however the old man was not about to change the island’s tradition. Runts were becoming more common on the island, and soon there were only a handful of children being born on Peaceable Country each year. The population of the island was shrinking, and many new parents demanded the law be removed, yet the Chief still stood by the archaic tradition.
The mother slowly and carefully wrapped her daughter in several blankets and put her in a lobster pot, trying to hold back her tears. The baby girl would not be alone on this journey, as there were three other babies sharing the same cruel fate. Winter had come early to the Barbaric Archipelago, and the ocean was frigid and hostile. Large waves crashed into the side of the islands cliffs, and the wind was bitterly cold. It would be a miracle if any of the runts managed to survive an hour at sea.
At the sound of a horn, the parents of the four runts lined up and said their final goodbyes to their newborns. Slowly, one by one, the lobsterpots were pushed out into the frigid and violent sea. Most of the villagers went home after the lobsterpots disappeared beneath the waves but the parents of the little girl remained on the beach. Hand in hand, tears streaming down their faces, the pair remained standing there, hoping and praying that somehow their child would survive.
The following year, the Chief had become quite ill, and had his son take up most of his duties. The number of babies born that were not runts was devastatingly low, and because the Chief’s son was a soon to be father himself, he decided to remove the archaic law, much to the relief of every new parent on the island.
The parents of the daughter the cast out were both happy and sad. They were sad because they cast out their firstborn, but happy that their second child, a daughter, and third child, a son, would not share the same fate. Both parents however, would never forgive themselves for not doing more to save their daughter. The mother often spent hours wondering what her daughter would have been like had she not been deemed a runt.
The baby girl in the lobsterpot was lucky, however, as she was found by a family of fishermen just off the coast of the Island of the Quiet Life. Besides being a bit cold and hungry, the baby girl was in good health. She would be raised by this family, being named Seasick, and would live an extremely long life, filled with fishing, sailing, dragons, and lots of rebelling.
She awoke to the sounds of a dragon screeching in the sky. In the darkly lit room the young 13 year-old Seasick stumbled towards the door, and made her way up to the deck. It was early morning and her family’s ship was already miles away from the port they docked at the previous night. Seasick slowly made her way towards the captain of the ship, her adoptive father Hafsteinn. He was a tall, muscular man with a large brown beard that was beginning to turn grey.
"Ah my little Seamew, you’re up early!" he called out to her.
"I would still be asleep if it wasn’t for that loud dragon." Seasick replied, climbing up the steps to her father.
"That dragon was just saying good morning to you," he joked.
"Really? How do you know it wasn’t calling out to its dragon friends, telling them that breakfast was sailing away?" she replied.
"Eh, dragons don’t eat humans. Well, most of them anyways…" his voice trailed off.
"So where are we heading to now dad?" she asked.
"Wherever the wind takes us!" he gave a hearty laugh.
Rolling her eyes, she headed towards where her mother and two older siblings were.
Her eldest brother Sævar was the spitting image of her father, beard and all. Similarly, her older sister Særún was the spitting image of her mother, who had long brown hair that was kept in a messy braid.
"Morning," Seasick mumbled.
"Morning Sædis. Wanna go up to the crows-nest and look out for dragons?" her sister asked.
Seasick rolled her eyes at being called by her real name. She had changed it to express how tired she grew of the sea.
"Eh, we do that almost every day, and we never see any. What’s the point?" she replied dully.
"The point is, we get away from mom" her old brother looked at their mother and laughed.
Their mother Hafrós was a woman in her late forties and much like her husband, also had hair that was turning grey.
"We’re stuck on a ship in the middle of the ocean, son. You can only get so far from me," she playfully punched her son’s arm and walked off towards her husband.
Up in the sky, a large dragon screeched, catching Seasick by surprised.
"Alright,” the young viking sighed, “I suppose I’ll join you guys."
The three siblings had spent the entire day up in the crow’s nest, talking and laughing about anything and everything.High up in the sky, Seasick spotted a pack of dragons, flying lazily in the wind, and for the first time in her life, became quite interested in the creatures. Both Sævar and Særún followed her gaze and looked up at the dragons.
“I’ve always wanted to see a dragon up close” Særún confessed. “They have their own language called dragonese. That’d be so cool to learn.”
“How can you learn to speak dragon? Isn’t it just a bunch of growls?” Seasick asked with a hint of sarcasm.
“Apparently there have been a few humans over the years that have learned it. I’m sure it’s possible. The only thing stopping you from learning it would be the dragons themselves.” Sævar answered. “You would have to get up close to one and gain its trust. Become friendly with it, and I’m sure it would be more than willing to teach you.”
“Wow,” after a short pause, Seasick laughed, “imagine flying on a dragon, wouldn’t that be amazing?”
“Again, apparently it’s been done by a few humans. But now dragons are more wary of humans and tend to hide from us. Some people dedicate their lives searching for dragons and try befriending them but come up empty.” Sævar explained.
“Seeing a dragon up close, learning its language, flying on its back… that would actually be amazing.” Seasick said dreamily. “Maybe one day we’ll get to do that….”
While docked at a small island, Seasick, now 15, had wandered away the village they were staying at, and made her way towards the forests and cliffs that surrounded the island.
After wandering for an hour, Seasick had found herself among a dragon’s den. Most people would run in fear, but Seasick was too transfixed on the large Monstrous Nightmare that was sleeping before her. Her father was a strong believer that dragons weren’t vicious beasts, but gentle creatures, and it was in this moment that Seasick believed him. After watching the sleeping dragon for a few minutes, Seasick attempted to retreat to a safer distance, but snapped a twig on the ground that caused a loud enough noise to awaken the beast.
Slowly the Monstrous Nightmare opened its eyes and turned its head and focus on Seasick. Barely breathing, she stared back at the dragon, doing her best to not move.
The dragon lowered its head, eyes still on the young viking, and made a noise similar to a growl. Seasick remained frozen, her eyes following the dragon’s movements.
Again, the dragon made that noise and Seasick remained still. Slowly, the dragon moved towards the small viking. The monstrous nightmare was soon right up in front of her, and it brought its face down to hers, eyes meeting each other.
Expecting the dragon to attack, Seasick was shocked when the dragon nudged her slightly, and made another noise, a lighter almost happier sound. Seasick let out a gasp and moved slightly, looking up at the dragon, who was now towering over her in curiosity.
The dragon opened its mouth revealing its numerous teeth and long tongue, and instead of spitting fire at her, it let out a high pitched screech and again nudged Seasick’s right arm. Slowly she put her hand forward, and the dragon nudged it just as it had done her arm. Seasick let out a small laugh and the dragon let out a cry of joy.
For the next few days, Seasick returned to this spot and spend most of the hours with the Monstrous Nightmare as well as many of the other dragons that lived in the den. It was here that she learned how to gain a dragon’s trust, and learned a few words in dragonese. It would take a few more years for her to fully learn the language as well as ride a dragon, but it kicked her interest in dragons into full gear.