A Farmstead on the Norwegian coast, 860 ADWulfric the Ruthless, son of the late jarl of Horgaland, Rollo Redbeard, rosegloriously naked from the fjord near his farmstead. Tall, golden andmagnificently male, Wulf strode toward shore, water dripping down his powerful body in rivulets.Wulf had earned his name and reputation because of his prowess in battleswith raiders like Danes and Finns, wielding his sword, Blood-Seeker, and his battleaxe with skill and dexterity. During a raid by Danes on their farmsteadtwo summers ago, Wulf had lost his wife and unborn child, and the loss hadturned him into a ruthless berserker. Skalds told and retold the saga of Wulf the Ruthless during long winter nights, embellishing his heroic exploits witheach telling.Wulf had just reached for his clothing when a shout brought him spinningaround toward the fjord. Shading his eyes against the glare of the late autumnsun, he stared at the dragonship skimming across the water toward shore.Wulf's first instinct was to reach for Blood-Seeker. Then he recognized thesquare red and white striped sail of his brother's dragonship and relaxed.Hagar had finally returned. His arrival had been expected through somewhatoverdue.The dragonship rode low in the water, laden, Wulf suspected, with silver,glassware, spices and silks from the Byzantine, where Hagar had gone on atrading expedition. Wulf had also gone a-Viking but in a different directionand with different goals in mind. Wulf had spent the summer raiding the landof the Danes, seeking vengeance for the death of his wife, Astrid. Having hadhis fill of killing and plundering, Wulf had returned home to the farmsteadearlier than usual.Wulf pulled his fine linen breeches over his powerfully muscled legs, slippedinto a sleeveless linen tunic and belted Blood-seeker about his narrow waist.He wore no mail shirt this day for no enemy was expected to invade their farmstead this late in the year. Then he pulled on shaggy fur boots and turnedto wait for Hagar's ship to reach the shore.