by Jardonn Smith
based on Aquadude’s single-plate fantasy, Dreams of a Young Viking
So thought young Sigvid. Even he knew one Viking ship held too few men to overcome such greater numbers inside the Vergunthi village, but the elders commanded an attack regardless. Sigvid dared not speak in protest. This was his first voyage, first venture from his homeland, and whereas he’d looked forward to the wonders he might see, now he longed to return to his peaceful village, his comforting hut surrounded by those who loved him.
Instead, he now rested in the clutches of his enemies, inside their grand hut, the largest structure of the village where Vegunthi gathered to make law or mourn deaths or celebrate unions or, in this case, torment prisoners taken in battle.

Sigvid was willing to die for his Viking brothers. Not more than two weeks had passed since he’d sworn his oath of duty and sacrifice, and although he did fight with reckless abandon alongside his fellow warriors as they fell one by one beside him, Sigvid was not allowed to die in battle. He alone survived, for the Vergunthi chieftain, struck by the young Viking’s blindingly blonde hair contrasting with handsomely bronzed skin, had other plans for this young warrior.
They could have placed Sigvid upon the table of elders, the place of honor reserved for the wise and battle-proven Vergunthi men, where twelve at a time could sit down to feast. But no, the Vergunthi chieftain would not desecrate their table of honor with such a vile being. This fallen Viking was given to a table suitable for seating two per side. Kindly, however, they centered him.
With all clothing removed, Sigvid was laid atop the table face up, his wrists and ankles roped, his ropes stretched in four directions to the floor, where stakes were tied to them before being driven deep into the ground. One edge of table cut into his shoulder blades; the other into the calves of his legs, and the remaining lengths of his limbs angled down in midair towards the stakes. His chest rose high. His abdomen sunk low, while his buttocks barely touched the table surface. His head dangled off the table edge, face inverted.
By tradition, the prisoner was given to female Vergunthi for preparation. And because this particular prisoner was wholly masculine, his musculature young, vibrant and perfectly chiseled, his manhood young, vibrant, perfectly shaped and sized, the females chose to use Sigvid as an example, as a tool for teaching. For juvenile Vergunthi, Sigvid was to be their introduction to the wonders of a fully-grown male physique, stretched and exposed in all its glory. And to entice their children with interest, the females made into poor Sigvid a model.
While some stayed with the children to watch Sigvid writhe, expanding his chest and straining his muscles in a useless attempt to break free, others ventured outside. They returned with buckets, and in these buckets was snow. The children packed Sigvid in ice from his arm pits to his knees. His genitals were not touched, left exposed to the warm open air, surrounded by ice-cold crystals.
The children watched in amazement the results of their playtime. Their prisoner’s body shivered, teeth chattered, and as the temperature of his body fell, the exposed skin of his face, arms, calves and feet changed color. From white to pink to red to blue, Vergunthi youth witnessed the slow death of Sigvid’s flesh, while marveling at his continued resistance, his straining against the ropes and flexing of muscles to circulate blood.
But Sigvid could not die. He was captured by Vergunthi males, their prisoner for their torments, and with the remaining snow in buckets both females and juveniles formed spheres packed tightly by hands. They pummeled their prisoner with round balls of icy snow, striking him anywhere and everywhere. Gaps were made in the ice pack encompassing his middle torso, his skin too numb to feel any of their spheres. And when all buckets were emptied, the female Vergunthi revived Sigvid with their warm tongues and warm mouths. They licked the ice from his frozen flesh, tormenting him, humiliating him, hordes of thirsty females assaulting him.
As the color of life returned to him, Sigvid abandoned his fight. All muscles surrendered and he helplessly awaited his next torture, not knowing that his past torture was but a tease.
The Vergunthi chief was summoned, told that the prisoner was ready. He announced that the victory pyre had reached its zenith, and as night fell Sigvid was released from his bondage. Men carted their stiff and naked prisoner to the celebration feast, outside in open air of their village clearing. All Vergunthi would participate with food, drink, and endless tortures inflicted upon one man alone — a hapless Viking, Sigvid. His true suffering had yet to begin.
Quickly did the Vergunthi men thaw their frozen blonde beauty.
During the time of Sigvid’s suffering at the cold hands of females the men had split into three groups: one to hunt; one to prepare the fire; one to prepare the instrument of torture. And as the young Viking prisoner was brought to the central clearing of the village he was greeted by three items: a long row of burning embers; a turning spit above the fire, upon which was impaled one healthy buck (an eight-pointer before its beheading) with buckets hanging below to catch its drippings; a wooden construct designed for the evening’s entertainment. That would be Sigvid.
A simple device, really, it was made to represent a weapon of the mighty Vergunthi hunter-warriors. Two cut tree limbs stripped of their branches were tied together, one nearly straight and 15 feet in length, the other curved to 8 feet of length. The diameters of each were at their greatest five inches, at their least four. Bound together by strips of hide made from recently skinned buck, the two poles appeared as a giant bow, four men steadying the construct so that the curved pole arced towards the night sky.
They laid Sigvid atop the arc, bound his wrists and ankles with strips of buckskin, used more strips to bind his strips to those connecting the poles, and as a deafening cheer enveloped the village they raised their victim to vertical, setting the foot end of his pole deep into a shaft of dug out earth.
The bend of his pole thrust his chest and stomach towards the fire. His toes wiggled but a few inches from hot embers. His bronzed skin instantly became painted with sweat. Sigvid, the hapless Viking, the bound and captured prisoner, glowed against the darkness of night a beacon of manly beauty.
By tradition, the Vergunthi gathered in clusters seated on open ground with their chieftain’s tent behind them. In their line of vision first came the succulent venison roasting and ready on the spit, while directly behind, Sigvid, straining and suffering on his pole. And in this same order did they celebrate — first the feast of their forest quarry, and then the torture of their captured Viking. After their chief consecrated the victory of the hunt, victory of the battle, men of the tribe approached one by one in order of importance. Giant chunks of meat were hacked from the buck, as each man gathered amounts to feed his entire family. Soon, nothing remained of the succulent carcass but tendons and bones, all of which collapsed into the fire below. Women salvaged the skeleton for making of tools, while children, always first to finish eating and eager for after-supper play, taunted poor Sigvid with sticks. They poked his ribs, smacked his belly, thrashed his legs until the chieftain stood and ordered them away, commanded they go to their beds.
It was time for the adults to play. They removed the turning spit, giving themselves an unobstructed view. They sat in awe and wonder, admiring their sweat-drenched prisoner in all his naked beauty. With his wrists tied close together, his impressive laterals flared and chest expanded. The arcing of his spine caused great separation between his rib cage and pelvic bone, which dramatically elongated his powerful abdomen. So horrifically stretched, his once oval belly button now was a mere vertical slit. Every curve and rippling muscle of his abdominal cavity danced in a sparkling orange of heated glory, as he pitifully gasped for air, valiantly doing battle against his crushed diaphragm.
The temptation was too great, and so they rotated the giant bow of torture to display every possible angle of their masculine marvel, stopping so those seated could take in a side view — a view even more majestic. Now, the belly of Sigvid appeared a flat wall of stone, its hard flatness enhancing the equally-magnificent power of his expanded and thrust-forward chest. The sounds of bony fists driving deep into that wall of stone further stimulated. Each man took his turn, and with such a long mass of belly between ribs and pelvis they attacked two at a time — that’s two men, four fists. Deep thuds accompanied each penetration of knuckle to gut, as did deep grunts and groans emanating from the owner of that gut. His strength amazed them. His defiance and resolve impressed them, for not once did he cry out, not once did he beg for mercy as they relentlessly drove one fist after another into his stretched and defenseless belly. Only muscle could protect him. His muscle held firm. Sigvid the Viking took his beatings like an unbreakable statue, like an indestructible god, like an heroic he-man.
And because he was such a man, a man perhaps of greater strength than any Vergunthi present, Sigvid the Viking was spared from the fire, spared from the ritual of smearing with grease of the buck to set him aflame. Instead, the smearing of grease was applied to him in reverence, removed from him in worship by means of lips and tongues. All Vergunthi adults praised him, male and female, and although he could never be set free, Sigvid became part of Vergunthi tradition.
By day, he was fed, cleansed, allowed to sleep in the comforting warmth of Vergunthi arms, rejuvenated and made ready for future celebrations. By night, he was affixed to his bow of torture, planted into the earth at shoreline, warmed by fire built inches in front of him. There with Sigvid, a Vergunthi acted as sentinel, along with a sign of warning: Vikings, beware! We are Vergunthi. See what happens to those who dare invade our land.
Hour after hour and night after night did Sigvid suffer on his bow. His eyes gazed towards his unseen homeland, the moonlit sea from which he and his fellow tribesmen arrived to do battle with the Vergunthi. In time, his memories faded, as did his hope. But still, even though his fate as a nightly beacon of fire was sealed, he remained a Viking. He accepted and suffered like a Viking, taking his punishment without complaint until the day he journeyed to Valhalla, where his brothers proclaimed him Sigvid, the honorable; Sigvid, the defiant; Sigvid, the mightiest of Viking warriors.

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