Here’s a new excerpt from Sons of Alba, Book 3: Son of Courage. Uilleam is about to embark on his missionary journey, alone for the first time.
Dawn found the folk of Thorsbjorg gathered on the strand. The dragon-prowed longships bobbed at anchor, laden to the gunwales with cargo, eagerly pulling at their ropes as the tide turned. The sailors lingered on the shore as long as they dared, bidding farewell to their women and children and clapping brothers on the shoulders with stern injunctions to keep their homes in their absence.
Uilleam embraced his mother briefly, conscious of the watching men. Her eyes shone with unshed tears, her lips trembling with unsaid words, but she held them back, but for a whispered “I love you.”
Then the Jarl lifted up his booming voice over the sound of the ebbing surf and held up both his massive arms. “May the blessing of Hvitr Kristr go with your ships. May his mighty hand protect you on the sea and on the land, and may you find favour wherever you go.” Then he turned, his blue eyes lighting on Uilleam. “Willhjelmr Alfarinsson, will you pray to Kristr for us?”
Uilleam’s heart caught and tripped over a beat. Certainly he prayed as easily as breathing, but he’d never prayed before so many people before. Usually it was his grandfather, or his mother, or his uncles. But now it was his turn, and if he was to be a missionary across the sea, it wouldn’t be the last time. He squared his shoulders and closed his eyes, holding in his mind the words of his father’s tongue.
“Great Father who made us and sustains us, be with us on this voyage. Keep our ships from harm and let the wind blow true. Guard our loved ones while we are away. Let us be your hand of deliverance and love to those we meet. May you claim the land we tread for your great Kingdom. Amen.”
The pounding of his heart eased, and he opened his eyes to his mother’s proud gaze. He smiled as one with her. Her tears were gone, now. She was at peace with his leaving.
With one last goodbye, the sailors splashed into the shallows and clambered into the waiting boats. Uilleam crowded in with as many broad-shouldered Lachlannaich as the boat could hold, grasped the oar nearest him, and set to rowing with as much vigor as he could muster. The men shouted together in time with their strokes, and Uilleam joined in eagerly, relishing the splash of the water and the warm strain in his muscles.
By the time they reached the ships his hands were already stinging slightly – he would have blisters within a day from handling ropes and oars. But he smiled nonetheless. This was what he was made for, what he was born to.
The ship’s captain, a lean, leathered man named Geirr, called the order to unfurl the sail, and Uilleam untied the nearest rope, letting it out as he’d been taught and retying it. The wind instantly bellied the striped square sail with a snap and a creak of ropes. Others hauled up the anchor, and the insistent tide that had rocked the ship now drew it along, and suddenly the figures on the beach grew smaller.
Uilleam shaded his eyes and saw his mother a bit apart, alone. But with the fiosachd, he saw a light upon her, like a stray beam of sunlight breaking through the cloud cover, and like a bright shadow, a tall, shining figure standing with her, overshadowing her as if with wings. He blinked and the vision vanished, but Uilleam knew she was safe. She was in God’s hands, just as he was. With a smile, he turned his eyes out to the open sea and his future.
As always, please feel free to comment and critique! 🙂