Skor rowed the little boat with a steady rhythm. It is a motion that his muscles knew well. He had been rowing little boats since he was a child and that was many many years ago.
He was fast approaching the little island. It was only a half days row away. He stopped the rowing and looked at it with one eye. Then adjusted the eyepatch over his other eye. He had been wearing the patch over his right eye for two days now. It would be extremely sensitive to light. Wouldn't want the patch to slip now.
He resumed the rowing and continued toward the little island.
Four young adventurers had made this same journey and none had returned. Skor grit his teeth. The women of his town, the young women, the mothers, the grandmothers all were in a terrible uproar of pain and loss.
Four good young men had all come to this island seeking their fate. Looks as though they found it.
In his near fifty turnings of the sun he did notice that the people of his town tended to beat together with a feeling. Most often it was a feeling of goodness. That life is good and plentiful and the gods are gracious. Sometimes the feeling changed to othr things, fear, anxiety, anger ... and sometimes mourning. Like now.
The needless loss of the young men who had traveled here to this island was a source of mourning and pain. No one denied a young man his opportunity to challenge the world, the opportunity to make something of himself. But everyone mourned when he failed.
Skor didn't necessarily mourn them. It wasn't quite like that for him. He knew all four of them. They were fine young men. And they each no doubt died honorably. They were all drinking mead with the gods now.
He rowed up to shore, jumped out into ankle deep water then pulled the boat onto shore so it woudn't slip out in the waves.
He paused for a moment and looked up with one eye. There was a rope hanging from the cliff and just beyond he could see the cave. Inside a pair of red eyes stared at him. It already knew he was there.
He checked his eyepatch then make a quick check of his sword and shield.
He walked the twenty yards to the rope on the cliff and with hardened muscles easily drew himself up, hand over hand, to the top of the cliff. After the climb he paused again and looked into the darkness of the cave. The only thing he could see was the pair of red eyes staring intently at him.
Skor removed his shield and placed it over his right arm. Then he drew his sword off his back and hefted it firmly in his left hand. He then proceeded to walk directly and evenly the final twenty yards to the entrance of the cave.
As he entered the darkness of the cave all light was lost to him and his eye could see nothing other than those two red eyes. An evil and gravelly voice spoke at him. Skor kept walking forward.
Ahhh... you are of more seasons than the others. You move slower and you are much plumper. You will make for a tasty m.....
While the beast was voicing it's sentence Skor had closed his left eye and with his thumb he flipped up the eyepatch over his right eye. That eye had been in darkness under the patch for two days now. The pupil was fully open and in the darkness of the cave he could see very well with it. All the while he had continued his steady walk forward.
In less than a fraction of a second, with his good eye he assessed the situation. The pair of red eyes was not the beast. It was a small owl like creature perched on a rock. Right in front of him and a little to the right of his centerline.
And standing very close to Skor, a little to the left, was the beast. It was tall and fat. Lazy in the slow way that it raised it's clawed hands to strike him.
Before it could finish it's sentence Skor swung his sword and lopped it's head right off. Clean as that. As the head fell to the ground it finished it's sentence with the word "meal".
He picked up the head and looked at it with his one open eye. Then looked around the cave. It was a mess of bones, armor, swords and shields. The owl like creature just continued it's stare as if nothing of import had happened. It was ok after all.
Skor put the sword and the shield back over his back and walked out of the cave into the sunlight. The brightness of it hurt his eye so he popped the eyepatch back over it.
He walked the twenty yards to the rope, climbed down the cliff on it with the severed head in one hand. He tossed the head in the little rowboat, hopped in and started his row back to town.
The steady rhythm was comforting. He thought about the many many years he had been rowing. You know there is a time for talk and a time for decisive action. It took wisdom and time to know when each time was upon you.