Lucia woke up to a scream and the smell of smoke. She jumped out of her bed, feeling terrified and confused. She put on her tunic and sandals and ran to the garden, where her father was lying on the ground, covered in blood.
“Father!” Lucia cried, kneeling beside him.
“Lucia, my sweet,” her father gasped, his eyes filled with pain. “You have to run. They’re here. They’re here to kill us all.”
“Who? Who’s here?” Lucia asked, looking around.
“The barbarians,” her father said, coughing up blood. “They came from the north. They burned our town. They slaughtered our people. They’re after our honey.”
“Our honey?” Lucia repeated, bewildered.
“Yes, our honey,” her father said, his voice fading. “They believe it has magical powers. They want to use it for their rituals. They want to summon their gods.”
“What gods?” Lucia asked, scared.
“The gods of chaos and destruction,” her father said, his eyes closing. “The gods of the mist.”
Lucia felt a cold shiver run down her spine as she remembered the night before. She had seen the mist creeping in from the sea, enveloping the cliffs and the countryside. She had heard the cries of the ghosts of the Siren’s Call echoing in the night.
She had felt a connection with them. She had felt like she understood them.
She had been wrong.
The mist was not a natural phenomenon. It was a sign of evil. It was a portal to another world of darkness and horror.
A world where the barbarians came from.
Lucia saw them coming: Men and women with pale skin and red hair. Wearing animal skins and bones. Carrying axes and spears and torches. They were chanting in a strange language that sounded like hissing and growling.
They were heading toward her father’s apiary, where he kept his hives and honey.
Lucia felt a surge of anger and courage. She grabbed a knife from her father’s belt and stood up, ready to fight.
She did not want to leave him. She did not want to leave her home.
She wanted to protect them.
She ran toward the barbarians, screaming at them to stay away from her father’s bees.
She did not see the arrow that pierced her heart.
She fell to the ground, dead.
The barbarians reached the apiary and set it on fire, destroying the hives and the honey.
They laughed and cheered as they watched the flames rise into the sky.
They thanked their gods for their victory: Loki for his trickery; Fenrir for his hunger; Jormungand for his poison; Hel for his death; Surtr for his fire.
They left the farm, taking their spoils with them: food, wine, olives, bread—and honey.
They returned to the mist and disappeared into another world—where they belonged and ruled.
To be continued…