Ten years went by.
During this period, Dag grew up with the conviction of becoming the greatest warrior of Skjold, to discover more about his past, under the attentive gaze of his sister Gridd, and that of his mother.
He was a boy of average height, with an athletic body and long blond hair, that he used to tie with a leather lace.
Sometimes, after the Arena, he and Gridd used to continue the training in front of their house, near the wood.
She spent a few year teaching Dag some of her combat skills and tips, giving him an edge over the other young warriors he daily fought against.
She was now 25 years old and 7 years earlier, she joined the Sons Of Freya Clan, like her mother.
For this reason, two weeks a month, she moved to Hevnen, where her Clan was set.
Stein and Eirik continued their profession: Eirik turned 22, growing as a big, muscled boy.
He never really got along with Dag, not even trying to talk to him deeply, taking an interest in his progress as a warrior.
Like his firstborn, Stein was focused on the job, starting with him to build pieces of furniture with the chopped woods, selling them at the market, where they finally opened a woodworking shop in recent years.
Asa turned 50, five years younger than her husband.
During these ten years, she never spent a word about Brann and their past together.
It was a sunny day.
Although he and his brother had both grown up, all the family members still slept in the same room, being the farm too small and the 'secret door' always locked and that room unusable.
He got out of the house and walked towards Asa, who was milking the cows as she did daily.
"Hey, Dag! Good morning my son" she said, calmly, looking him in the eye, while he kissed the top of her head from behind, while she was bent down.
Her hair smelled of warm bread and dewdrops.
During his teenage years, he grew so attached to his step-mother, feeling her like his biological one because, since the day they met for the first time, she was always kind to him, also because his temper, being Dag half an earthling, had never hardened like that of his brother, much ruder and 'Viking', less sensitive on certain topics.
He loved her as she was, sometimes forgetting about the unconfessed truth about Gridd's real father.
"I'm going to the Arena, mom… do you need anything from the town?" he asked.
"No dear, you can go… see you later, take care of yourself!" she cheered, keeping on milking the cows, while Stein and Eirik were probably already in the woods, intent on starting another tiring day at work, while Dag had woken up late, as always.
He walked down to the street, following the path he had learned, going every day to the Arena and memorizing every plant, rock, and spot.
It was a downhill straightaway at the beginning, with several bends, leading to the city gates, cut short by Gridd's shortcut, that he refined in the last few years, cracking the rocky wall of that steep descent to fastly climb it down, engraving some customized footholds.
As he walked, Dag thought about the time he spent training, both to please his sister, who case by case valued his progress, and to become more and more versatile, to be able to use all kinds of weapons, as she did, also if she was specialized in dual-wielding.
After an hour he arrived at the Arena, entered its gates and walked to the weapons rack, picking his usual wooden sword, with a small letter 'D' carved in its hilt.
During his training sessions, he tried out almost any type of light and heavy weapons, from axes to hammers, daggers, and bows, but his final choice seemed to be the sword, with which he felt most confident, probably because of Gridd, who, during their combat lessons, promptly emphasized its strengths as the celerity and the precision, not ensured with the other bulkier weapons.
As his sister taught him, he was now able to use the sword using both one and two hands together: in this way, his stance had a perfect balance between attack and defense moves.
"Today, you will fight against each other, switching after a short time, until the end of the training. Follow my signal and respect the rules" Taya exclaimed, that was a bit aged, but always a strong Shieldmaiden.
Sometimes she fought with fake weapons against her apprentices, making them understand how important experience is during combat and encouraging them never to stop training.
Her combat style was quite common: a spear and a small, rounded shield.
After those words, all the Arena warriors stood in position, ready to prove their worth to their Master.
In front of Dag, Karl stepped forward, holding a sword and a shield.
Although he was a little younger than Dag, whose physique had developed earlier, he was still short and skinny.
Dag knew Karl's combat techniques and didn't found him so hard to defeat.
When the fight started, after Taya's hand signal, Karl's stayed still in his position, with his shield up, ready to interrupt Dag's advance.
But he didn't move at the beginning, studying his opponent, even if his moves had not evolved much over the years, having Karl still much to learn.
After a few seconds, he snapped to him, fainting a half-height sword swing and making Karl hide his face behind the shield, raising it even more and leaving his left side open.
The faint succeded, and Dag moved again his sword, but this time aiming to Karl's right leg, right under the shield, hitting him and forcing him to kneel, pointing the tip of his sword on his forehead and slightly touching it.
Karl left his weapons on the ground, realizing that also if just a few seconds have passed, the battle was already over.
Taya also witnessed the scene, but considering that result quite common, she merely looked somewhere else, attracting Dag's attention, that when he turned his gaze towards her, noticed that his Master was watching Freydis.
The girl's red hair slightly twirl in the air, while she dodged his opponent hit, shifting on her side.
Then she twisted on herself, punching the other guy on his ribs, making him bowing for the pain and hitting him again with a kneeing right on his face, knocking him to the ground.
"Hahaha, that's what I call 'fighting'! Well done, Freydis!" Taya clapped, while Dag kept on staring at her, who, growing up, had become so beautiful.
Despite her look and fighting style that perfectly embodying the Viking soul, Freydis was thin and graceful and flaunt a magnificent tattoo on her right arm, representing a kind of phoenix with a long feathered tail that twisted around it.
"My sister still doesn't notice you, am I right?" Karl asked, getting back up from the ground.
"Oh, sorry Karl… I was stunned on her… yes, she doesn't. Your sister has become a woman now and her beauty always leaves me breathless" Dag answer back, turning to his friend and helping him to get up.
"Yeah, okay but…how can she know about you if you've never even tried to speak openly! You're like a brother to me, you can use this as an advantage!" Karl replied, trying to put himself in the shoes of his best friend.
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