Regnarr coughed, holding a fishing rod in hand and bait in another. The sounds of the ocean filled his ears, and the sounds of fishes swimming about were in there too. His rowboat, one of oak make, sat far out into the sapphire blue sea, and the area around him was void of any other boats save for his own – and it felt quite peaceful to say the least. It was rare for him to be alone by himself when he sailed out to catch fish, for most of the time, there would be other fishermen trying their luck out in the open ocean, hoping for a big catch or just enough to make it through the day. Soon, a ship came into his view, lingering beyond the horizon, and as the old fisherman rubbed his eyes to focus on the sail of this said ship – he was quite surprised with what he saw. “A merchant ship… with a purple sail. Huh.”
While Regnarr had seen plenty of sails of the colour red, blue and white adoring the ships of both merchant and military – a purple sail was one that his eyes had never had the pleasure of seeing. “Too expensive to dye an entire sail purple, Fisherman Regnarr. Besides, Emperor Erlander would never waste the royal treasury on such nonsense. Only those… black armoured men do. I have heard rumours of these people having fleets with entire ships having sails of purple, but do not take my word for it.” He recalled a sailor of the Roylian Empire telling him as he loaded a crate of fish back onto the hulls of the vessel that had parked in the port of his village only mere days before. The ship had departed earlier this morning, and now it had already disappeared with the waves, like every other ship that had docked before here alongside the seaside village that Regnarr called his home.
And yet there it was, in the horizon, a purple sail upon a ship of rather large make. The colours of the sail bled into the dark sunset that hung over the straight sea that separated the lands of Roylia from the harsh, cold lands of Vesthorlia, and it was a very pretty sight – Regnarr had to admit. While it was too far to make out who owned the ship, for the flag that flew at the mast was but a blotch of white and orange from where Regnarr sat – he admired the beauty of the ruffling purple sail, which rippled with every gust of wind that passed through the seas and onto his village. But it was getting late, and he had no time to admire something that would never come to him. Pulling in the line that hanged from his fishing rod, he quickly shoved it into the bottom of his rowboat. While he had made some catches today, the amount of fish that sat within his nets was… less than the usual amount that he usually got everyday. It would still make him a tidy profit of a few gold pieces, and leave some for his family to chew upon… but still, it was odd not to see more in his nets.
“Ivarr.” He then turned his eyes to the sleepy boy that was lying down on the other end of the rowboat. The boy replied with silence, as he snored loudly against the sounds of sea birds chirping. With a groan, Regnarr grabbed an oar, and pressed its end against his legs, making sure that it grinded against the flesh of the sleeping lad. That woke him up within seconds, with a loud yelp of pain and a look of confusion.
“What? What is it? Has a serpent attacked our ship, father?!” Ivarr shouted, his voice clearly audible against the silent waves of the sea.
Regnarr shoved his face into one of his palms, before pressing it against his face and pulling it down into his mouth so that his greenish eyes could look at his dumbfounded son who was still confused on what was going on. “No. Nothing is attacking our ship. And serpents do not exist, how many times have I told you that?”
The younger fisherman on the ship simply gave a shrug as he realised there was no danger. “Well… the priests tell me that a large serpent sleeps beneath the very ocean, waiting for the world to end in a storm of downpours and earthquakes,” He stayed silent for awhile as Regnarr gave him a stern look with glaring eyes, before looking to his right into the endless sea. “Is that a ship with a purple sail?!” There was a brief moment where Ivarr tried to clamber closer to the edges of the ship to get a better look, but Regnarr immediately settled him down with a soft strike of the oar to his arms.
He wondered if Ivarr was truly his child, for unlike his brothers, he was overly excited over anything and everything – and had no patience of a fisherman. Ivarr would rather swing axes than hold a rod in his hands, and that saddened Regnarr quite a bit, for he was the only son that did not suffer from some sort of affliction. Ivarr’s eldest brother, Sigurnn, suffered from a case of weakened bones, preventing him from carrying large amounts of fresh catches back home – and his second eldest brother, Artyhorr, had the curse of blindness in one eye. Ivarr would be a perfect fisherman, if his temperament matched Regnarr. But he could change nothing now, for it was the Gods of the Cold that decided their fates – and this would be the life he would had to lead.
“Help me row.” Regnarr threw the oar to his son, and soon the rowboat began its way back to shore with short and slow strokes, as Ivarr continued to marvel at the purple sails that sat so far away from them. The old fisher wondered if the people on the ship even knew that there were others watching, and he also wondered if the sailors were watching this small humble rowboat making their way back home. But he wondered no more as a headache began to pound against his skull and head, and the only things he could think of were a nice cup of boiled water and his bed in his quarters.
But the colour purple would haunt his dreams that night, and it would not leave him until the next day. Men garbed in purple cloaks walked about a burnt forest, and spears of purple danced about the fires that raged around him. The nightmare was swift and brutal, and he awoke with cold sweat, deep in the night. All he could see in the dark was the moon that hung in the sky, shown through a window at the foot of his bed. And a ship with a purple sail, docked against the jetty of his village. There was shouting, but soon it ended.
He had wanted to peer through the curtains, to see if there were sailors hanging about the exterior of the ship. But his head felt too heavy, and he soon seeped back into a deep slumber.
As his eyes opened once again, flames filled his vision. The warmth burned radiated against his skin, and the smelt of soot and smoke filled his nose. His mind trailed to his children, but they were no-where to be seen, and they were not in their rooms as well. His wife was not in bed with him too, and there was nothing to show where they had went.
With a quickened pace, without wearing anything save for a pair of breeches, he stumbled out of his house with a groggy mind.
The men he had seen in his dreams were here. Their purple cloaks fluttered in the midnight wind, and their faces shaded with the bright orange hues on the torches they held. The garb they wore – mail and plate, gleamed with a glare, and the swords they had in their hands did the same as well. They were shouting commands to one another, and although he could not understand their tongue – he knew that the words they shouted were of hatred.
As one of these guards took notice of Regnarr, they simply gave a wicked grin, and soon, he felt a searing pain in one of his shoulders. An arrow. But all he could see now was the purple the men wore. Purple. The northern raiders were here.
Another part of his body soon felt the same searing pain. Another arrow had struck him, this time in the shin of his left leg. He dropped to his knees as one of the men inched forward, laughing to the others as his head looked behind his shoulder to his comrades. Soon, he came face-to-face with the man who would probably take his life – and the only thing he noticed was the purple cloak that hung from his back.
Purple. A colour that he thought beautiful only mere hours ago.
And then darkness.