The Vikings are Sweethearts
Maggie woke up early, cold and covered in dirt. It had started to rain already and, although Maggie loved the rain, it was not ideal for a walk across the country.
"Kalen and I will go and find some wood for a fire." Maggie announced to the group before heading into the woods.
"Alright, well, don't be too long." Nikita said from behind her.
They walked the same track they took yesterday, collecting the driest pieces of wood and sticks they could find.
"Why do I have to come with you all the time?" Kalen moaned from behind her.
"You can turn back if you don't like it."
"No, I like your company, Mags, I'm just very sleep-deprived." He slurred through a yawn.
"You slept next to Thalia, I thought you would have slept easy."
"Very funny. But believe it or not, mud isn't as soft as a mattress."
"Really? I had no idea." Maggie said Sarcastically.
She was about to add another comment, before the screaming cut through the woods behind them.
It was coming from the camp and sounded like Thalia. They dropped the wood and ran but before Kalen could jump into the small clearing, Maggie shoved him into a shrub.
She placed her hand over his mouth and, after giving her a rather harsh glare, he nodded to be silent.
She pointed towards a man and a woman dressed in leather and metal.
"Vikings." She whispered, her mouth so close to his ear it must have tickled.
They both were still for a moment, like a deer caught in headlights.
"We can't just leave them." Kalen almost sighed the words.
"We can't risk being taken, we need a plan." She said carefully. Maggie knew he hated to watch their friends be taken, she did too. But if they stood a chance at getting them back, they'd need outside help. And she knew exactly who to go to.
A few minutes passed, and the silence returned. The rain fell harder, turning to hail.
"What do we do now?!" This was the first time Maggie had ever actually seen Kalen freak out.
"Now" Maggie began, "We follow them back to their camp, then we go find someone who hopefully, is as fair as the history books makes her out to be and ask for her help."
"And if this mysterious woman says no?"
"Then, we'll figure it out on our own terms."
He laughed, but there was no humour in it.
"We should have gone with them." He snapped.
Maggie picked up the empty bag and the map that had landed in the mud.
"You can't barter your way out of something, when you yourself are part of said exchange." She glanced at Kalen who was now frowning at her, then started in the direction the group left in.
"Come on Kalen, tracks don't last forever. The muddy ground is helpful, but the Vikings were— are, extremely good at covering their tracks when they want to."
He followed on her heels, keeping quiet, as if in deep thought.
Maggie wanted to say they would be fine, that the Vikings were sweethearts and settled in England peacefully. However, she knew that would just be a lie.
They were amazing, brutal warriors and did not fear death, so any threat would be void. That's what made the Vikings so unstoppable, they, much like many others back in the twenty-first century, believed in a grand afterlife.
Maggie hoped there was such a thing, that no matter what happened on Earth, death would bring peace, but she just couldn't wrap her head around that idea.
"Will they kill them?" Kalen cut through the silence.
"...No." Maggie stated rather matter-of-factly.
"If they were going to do that, they'd be lying in the mud back at camp right now."
"Doesn't mean they won't hurt them though?"
"I don't know, Kalen. This is a whole new world we've stumbled into. We have to be careful with what we do here."
He was silent for a beat, before speaking.
"Because of the butterfly effect?"
"Yes, actually. We can't take a life or save a life, we act like a nature documentary. We are observers only."
"You say that, but we're about to go get involved in the affairs of Vikings and Saxons." Kalen shot back.
"Because it's absolutely necessary. I'll be taking one hell of a risk just asking for help.
Nevermind, trading." Maggie sighed through her nose, shaking her head. "Who knows what we might end up changing back home."
"Wait, so could we fade? Like, if we killed someone, and it ended up being one of our ancestors."
"You mean like Marty Mcfly? From 'Back to the Future'?" Maggie asked rhetorically, with a smirk on her face. "Yes, we could. So don't go around purging villages." She said, keeping her eye on the tracks in front of them.
A few hours passed and eventually, they come to the edge of the treeline, looking out at a clearing. There was a small wooden fence– a rushed build, and a number of tents and huts dotted about. They had reached the Viking camp.
Maggie scanned the area, looking closely at the men and woman and where some stood on guard. A few possible exits were spotted, but nothing relatively easy.
They'd have to sneak in at night when they were drunk or asleep, but even then, Maggie had no idea what tent her friends were trapped in.
She pulled Kalen away, back into the woods. She tied a ribbon to a branch to mark the way.
"We can't walk into there, not by ourselves. We're pushing our luck as it is."
"What's your plan then?"
"Kalen, I'm taking us to Wessex in Mercia."
"Alright, but what makes you so sure you'll find who you're looking for?"
"Because a Queen doesn't move around that much without people knowing."
"I'm sorry, 'Queen'?"
They started walking further into the woods until all they could hear was bird song and leaves rustle.
"Queen Emma of Normandy ruled England, Denmark and Norway. She was a strong political figure and a great mother. She also ended up siding with the Vikings."
"Which means she'll help us... how exactly?"
"She won't want war, she'll make a peaceful trade or something."
"I hope she as great as you make her out to be Maggie. Or we're all screwed."
Maggie took a deep breath and shook her head.
"I hope I'm right too."