He was a heavy metal nightmare. Garbed in iron from head to toe, he cleaved his opponents with a mighty swing. Axe, sword, bare hands, it mattered not. He was a beast on the field, brutal and cruel. He waged through a river of blood until he was the last one standing.
He was the son of a great warrior, their lineage legendary. A family of berserkers the villagers whispered. None dare look him in the eye. He was a feral mountain moving across the landscape, his thirst for blood never quenched. His shadow frightened the bravest of men. He drug himself from the battlefield, weary, but never showing it.
He trudged through the slain and dying. He dropped the opposing king’s head before his own king. “I’ve done my part, old man. Now do yours.” Without waiting for a response, the berserker reached a hand into the old man’s chest and ripped out his beating heart. He took a bite while the old man watched, dying slowly. The berserker threw the still twitching heart on the ground and walked away.
He was king now, his word law. But his thoughts were elsewhere.
The house was sturdy, but plain—nothing to indicate wealth or power. A stable boy collected his horse and darted away quickly. His boots fell heavy on the stone floor, announcing his arrival. “Sir, the missus is waiting for you,” a servant said in a rush. She scurried off, eyes downcast. He took the stairs three at a time, heading straight for his bedroom. He hesitated only briefly at the door. Stealing himself against the worst he pushed the door open.
She lay in the bed looking pale and worn, a tiny bundle in her arms. He stopped just short of the bed. She smiled at him and held out a hand. “Why so quiet, Love? Come here. Come meet your daughter.” His brow creased, confusion mixed with emotions he didn’t recognize. “Daughter?” His wife laughed a full beautiful laugh and his heart clenched in his big chest. “Yes, Husband. Come meet your daughter.”
He walked over and sat gingerly on the bed. “Are you…” he began, but the words failed him. “I’m fine,” she said and stroked his bloody cheek with the back of her hand. Her knuckles were soft and white and he pressed her hand against his face, closing his eyes for just a moment. He looked at the little baby, sleeping so soundly in her mother’s arms. She was so tiny, so breakable.
His wife seemed to know what he was thinking and she said softly, “You’re not as big as you think. She’s not so small, hold her. Hold your baby.” She pushed the baby into his arms and he nearly panicked. But then a strange thing happened. Wetness dripped from his eyes and he stared helplessly at the teeny creature in his arms. Arms that had destroyed, hacked and cleaved and killed, were now cradling an angel. His wife’s laugh broke the moment.
She grinned at him, enjoying his moment of weakness. “What would the people say if they saw their famed berserker crying over a baby girl!” She laughed uncontrollably and he scowled at her. “I’m sorry, Love,” she said, “It’s just so sweet.” She leaned up, wincing in pain as she did, and brushed a warm kiss over his lips. She was exhausted and had to lay back almost immediately. But his heart filled with love for her and the baby.
He stood up and walked around the room, holding the infant close. He looked out the window and told his wife, “I’m King now. The old man is dead.” He turned to look at her, but she was already asleep. Some berserker he was, ignored in his own home. He tweaked the baby’s nose and laid her in the cradle. Time to wash off the blood.