|The Darkness: Lodbrok's Hand|
Michael Avon Oeming
December 1, 2008
The Darkness: Lodbrok's Hand is a one-shot comic issue, telling the story of a former Darkness bearer in the viking times.
Lodbrok's Hand is a darker Viking tale. Set in an age of blood and war, Lodbrok was a viking warrior who made a deal with the wielder of The Darkness of his time to free his village from the tyranny of Grimur. Despite the advices of his brave sister, Lodbrok thought that any price would be woth to pay in order to save his village and family. But the price The Darkness demanded was more than he could withstand.
Plot Summary Edit
It's night and Lodbrok with his crew are rowing through the sea. The young crewman ask the older warrior if their captain ever sleeps. Old warrior answers that during his twenty years of being his service he never saw Lodbrok sleeping or leaving his post at the bow of the ship. The young men that laugh about how Lodbrok probably lost his arm when it decided it wanted some rest and finally ran off on its own or the salty spray rusted it away after standing so long in the bow of the ship.
The old warrior then decides to reveal the true story behind Lodbrok's lost hand. Long ago when Lodbrok was younger than the two crewmen, his village was raided by the Mad King Grimur. His father, his older brother, every able warrior, fishermen or farmer was pressed into service in the Mad King's army. Only Lodbrok's youth saved him from the same fate. Although still being very young, he managed to rally the young warriors of his village and set out to free their families from Grimur's thrall. Now, this was in itself was an act of heroic courage, for every town who dared rise up against Grimur met its end at the claws of a fiery dragon bound to his service.
Lodbrok together with his sister Freydis who possessed magical powers bestowed by the ancient witches and a small band of comrades, travelled through frozen wastes in search of a forbidden horn. Their comrades questioned this decision, believing they should instead be marching on Grimur's keep instead of chasing after some old tales. Freydis explains that their strength wouldn't prevail over the king's weakest guard post and thus they need the horn. Lodbrok then interrupts them, shouting that he has found the fjord where the horn should be residing and proceeds to climb down the slippery slope. Although one of his comrades Hemrir warns him about scaling down the slope, Lodbrok ignores his warnings, saying that the horn must be blown in the first hour of dusk, before high tide.
As he scales down, Lodbrok slips and falls down the slope. Freydis manages to slow down his fall with the help of her magic, saving his life. At the bottom of the cavern, Lodbrok discovers the horn and his band of warriors gather around him. Freydis tries to convince Lodbrok that calling Black Captain is a bad idea and his aid will with a terrible price. Lodbrok answers that he has no choice as only Black Captain's power can match Grimur's. He then proceeds to blow the horn. At first, his crew doesn't hear anything, but as Lodbrok draws another breath, a black ship emerged from the sea and glided silently into the fjord.
The Black Captain then emerged from the ship, wanting to know as to who called him. Lodbrok proceeded to introduced himself and plead for help in defeating Grimur. The Captain, fully knowing as to what has happened them, decides to aid them, but in return he tells them, that at the completion of his task, he will take the bravest among them as his shipmate to sail with him forever. Lodbrok agreed and his comrades boarded the ship. As the Black Captain's ship sailed through the sea, Freydis noted Lodbrok that the dawn was upon them. According to her, Black Captain's ship couldn't survive in direct sunlight, which he quickly confirms. In order to avoid daylight, the ship formed a seal around itself and proceeded to go below to the darkest depths of the sea.
As they reached the shore, the Black Captain waited until sunset to march onto the Grimur's keep. Meanwhile, Freydis suggests that they should scout the keep as their observations may serve the Captain's plan of attack. Under a cloak of invisibility, casted by Freydis, the warrior reached the keep. At the keep, Grimur observed as his soldiers beheaded one by one, man from Lodbrok's village in order to consecrate his temple with their blood. Then they saw Lodbrok's brother being taken for beheading. As Freydis saw this, she quickly jumped to action and attacked Grimur's soldiers with her magic. Although she fights bravely, Grimur's army overrun her and mortally wound Freydis. With her death, the invisibility spell disappeared, revealing Lodbrok's company to Grimur's soldiers.
Stricken with loss, Lodbrok cried over Freydis dead body as his men are slaughtered by Grimur's army. At that moment, as the sun set, the Black Captain's army took the field. They rip apart through Grimur's army. Seeing this, Grimur ordered her slave to attack the Captain by turning herself into a giant, fire-breathing dragon. The Black Captain response by summoning his own dragon and setting it against Grimur's beast. As the beast fight against each other, Lodbrok, filled with hate and sorrow, proceeds to cut through Grimur's guards and attacks the king himself. Although Grimur threatens to kill his brother if Lodbrok's comes close to him, the young warrior ignores him and proceed to kill the mad king. With Grimur's death, his enslaved dragon gave a scream of both anger and relief before soaring away from the battlefield.
With the battle over, the Black Captain notes that neither war or victory is as it is portrayed in songs, sung in Lodbrok's fathers halls. Lodbrok then gives in to the Black Captain, prepared to pay his price and become his crewmen for life. The Black Captain then corrects Lodbrok, reminding him that he wanted the bravest one of his company to become his crewmen, which as it turns out is Freydis. The Captain tells Lodbrok, that Freydis is still alive and under his care will soon recover. Lodbrok refuses to give up Freydis to the Black Captain and proceeds to attack him. Black Captain admires Lodbrok's bravery and decides to spare him a shred of honor by cutting his arm off, so none can say he failed to give his full measure. The Captain then leaves with Freydis over his shoulder as Lodbrok screams of pain and anger followed them.
In the present, the old warrior finishes telling his story, adding that since then Lodbrok stands at the bow of his ship, day and night, hoping to spy the that mysterious black ship and her even blacker captain. The End.