Part of a long story:
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
When the Vikings would take captives, few would try to escape, and even fewer tried it alone. Riley was a young Irish girl who did just that.
Riley O’Malley had long hair that fell all the way down to her waist, and except for her dog, she lived all alone. She was an orphan, or at least assumed that she was.
When Riley was just a baby, the village that she and her parents lived in got in a small war with a neighboring town and somehow Riley got separated from her parents. No one knew what happened to them, but there where barely any survivors because of all the houses that where set alight during the battle. When she was older, the people that had been looking after her had to move away, but before they did they told Riley the whole story, and the assumed truth that her parents where dead.
Since then, she lived in a very small, village named Larkford off the northwest coast of Ireland. Riley helped out in the smithy a couple days a week, to get enough money to buy food.
Her dog, Madigan, was a small, mixed breed with golden fur she had found wandering on the street one cold winter day when she was six. She had nursed him back to health and the two had been friends ever since.
A few families knew what an honest lass Riley was, and sometimes gave her a bed for the night. And if not, she would sleep in a haystack or a bed of moss. But most of the time, this was hardly necessary.
One family in particular, the O’Neals, was like family to Riley. They didn’t have much, but their door was always open to orphans like her.
They had many children and a large (but not very tidy) house. The father and mother’s names are Brendan and Kathleen. And the children’s names in age order are: Catlin, Sean, Keely, Quinn, Liam, Owen and baby Thomas.
One thing made her relationship with the O’Neals all the tighter; the O’Neal’s father was the blacksmith that Riley worked for. Sean was his father’s apprentice, so soon Riley and Sean became fast friends. Mr. O’Neal had to remind them both constantly to keep working instead of talking.
Word was going around the town that the O’Neals were talking with the leader of their town about ways to adopt Riley. And Riley believed every word of it.
Her life was about as normal as an orphan’s could get, but one day, that all changed.
The night before, she had convinced the O’Neals that she would sleep outside that night.
“Even though I can sleep inside, sometimes, I just prefer to camp out.” She had said to Mrs. O’Neal.
In the morning, she woke up on the bed of moss she had made. She yawned, scratched Madigan behind the ear and picked him up.
“Come on Maddy! Wake up! This is our day to help out at the smithy’s!” The dog gave a little yawn, and then licked her face. She laughed, “Come on!” she said to him. “We don’t have to go ‘till later. Let’s play in the forest!”
With that, they both started racing across the field to the forest. After a couple hours of playing, Riley knew that it was time to go to the village. She whistled, Madigan ran to her heels and looked up expectantly.
As if in answer to his question, she said, “It’s about noon. We need to get to the village if we want to be on time.” Madigan understood immediately, he tugged at the hem of her dress and barked. She laughed, nodded and ran after him as he sprinted across the field.
As she ran onto the main street, her greeting died on her lips. One of the biggest houses in the village was burnt to the ground! She stood there, rooted to the spot, staring at what was once the grandest house she had ever seen. “Are the O’Neals safe?” she wondered.
Maddy tugged at her dress and whimpered. Then she remembered what she was there for. “Maybe I can see if Mr. O’Neal is still in the smithy!” she thought.
She ran into the smithy and called, “Mr. O’Neal!” No one answered. As she got ready to call out again, she heard heavy footsteps behind her.
Riley froze; She motioned for Madigan to keep quiet and stepped farther into the store. She moved silently past the workbench of tools. She made sure she was facing the opposite direction as the noises.
As the footsteps advanced, Riley stood stiff and scared. The footsteps stopped briefly and she heard the grating of metal across metal. She whirled around and finally saw the person who had been following her. It was a Viking!
He had picked up a warped metal bar and had it raised up in the air, ready to hit her! Riley reached over, picked up another bar and swung it towards the bar that was swinging towards her. “KLANG!” The bars smashed together with jarring force.
The two continued to swing at each other. Riley decided to try to get information from this stranger who came out of nowhere and attacked her.
“Who are you?” She asked, dodging a blow to her ankles. His only reply was to knock the bar that Riley, held out of her hand.
“Hey!” she said. Ignoring her, he raised his bar over his head. Riley dove under the workbench just as the bar smashed down, cracking the bench in two.
She scrambled out from under one half of the workbench and ran for the door as she ducked two more swings directed at her head. Madigan tucked his tail, yipped and scampered after Riley.
She ran through the dark alleys, Knowing she had the advantage. She knew her way around better than he did. But when she looked behind, she was shocked to see that the Viking was only a couple of feet behind her!
She started running for the forest, there where so many hiding places there. Riley put her head down and ran as fast as she could! She splashed through the stream, and then looked behind her. He was still in sight, but with this head start she should be able to get away.
Riley started running again, then suddenly a sharp pain jabbed through her ankle. “OW!” she yelped, she fell to the ground and quickly looked over her ankle. “I think I twisted it.” She said, and then added as she got up, ”But I think I can still walk on it.” She could, but she still ran with a limp.
Riley dashed behind a large rock, with Madigan at her heels. For a while she sat there and caught her breath, then she peeked around one side of the rock. “I think we lost him,” she said quietly. Then suddenly she heard Madigan’s sharp bark, felt a stunning blow to the back of her head, then everything went black.