“Yes. Like I have a choice.”
“Get snarky with me and it will be even longer.” He gave her a look over the top of his glasses that she called the “hairy eyebrow.”
“Sorry. It’s just that when you curl up to me, I don’t seem to have a choice. One minute, I’m awake and the next, it’s 6am and the alarm is going off.” She tried not to sound exasperated, but she knew from the look on his face that it wasn’t working.
“Well, it’s bedtime.”
“I… I have half a story written. Can I have time to finish it?”
He looked at her. She was looking far less stressed. Granted, it was hot and they both needed a shower. “I’ll give you ten minutes.”
“Thank you!” She kissed him and ran for the computer. Pulling up a story she’d started over a week ago, she began typing.
Ellisif stood at the prow of the dragon boat looking out for snags in the river. The Dnieper could be dangerous in the late spring when the waters ran fast. She thought she saw something blue in the river. “Fader! There is a man in the river!”
“I don’t know!” she called back. The dragon boat shifted towards the man snagged in the branches of the tree.
Farulf leaned over and poked the soggy blue shirt with an oar. It groaned. “Man, not corpse. Bjorn! Give me a hand.”
Bjorn moved to the side of the boat and the two men moved the shields that lined the edge of the boat. Leaning over, they grabbed the man and pulled. He was heavy and his clothing soaked. It took three good tugs to pull him aboard. They deposited the man in the boat, replaced the shields and moved away from the snag.
“Ellisif, he’s yours to deal with. Cure or kill.” Farulf headed back to the steering oar.
Ellisif moved between the men to where the water poured off of the man. He coughed and wheezed, and was barely conscious. She knelt beside him and began checking for wounds. She cataloged the cuts and bruises, including the large knot on his forehead. His pulse was strong and he’d begun to shiver. She pulled her cloak off and wrapped it around the man. The day was sunny enough if you weren’t soaked with river water full of snow melt.
“Well, at least he’s not a runty looking man,” laughed Snorri. Gundar next to him elbowed Snorri in the ribs. That made all the men on the dragon boat laugh. Gundar was short, barely reaching his brother’s shoulder.
Ellisif ignored the men and tended to the stranger. She figured his face would be handsome once the swellings from various bruises went away. When she’d checked him for broken bones, she’d felt the muscles under his clothing. Muscles you only get from sword and shield work. His hands were callused as well, and while there was no sword at his side, his belt was worn and damaged in the right spot. She was startled when he started to cough.
He coughed. Then he vomited up river water. He coughed again, and then lay there trying to breathe. Opening his eyes, he realized two things. He was on a boat full of Rus or Varangian traders, and a woman was crouched next to him. He blinked. She was still there. He shook his head, thinking that he must be dreaming.
Dreams don’t touch your head with a cloth and try to wipe your face. Nor do they smell of wet wool, and… lavender. He opened his eyes once more, and looked into the bluest, most intense eyes he’d ever seen in his life.
“Vad? Var kommer du ifrån?” Ellisif was perplexed. She knew a lot of the trade languages, but she had no idea of what he’d said. “Unde es tu?”
He looked at her, and while he understood her greeting, the rest just made his head hurt. Varangian wasn’t something he spoke. He thought he recognized the last bit though. “Latine?”
“Etiam paulo. Vos?”
He nodded. “Paululum”
She smiled and pointed at herself. “Mihi nomen est, Ellisif.”
He translated what she said in his head and then slowly formed the Latin phrase. “Mihi nomen est, Lothar.” Then he slowly passed out.
Yes, a new story. 🙂 Part two will be under the title, Dragon Boat. Hope you enjoy it. Oh, and there will be a twist… or three.