The small village hardly seemed worth the stop. Lothar turned to Snorri. “Why we stop here?”
“Rapids. Must take the boat around them.” Snorri pantomimed carrying the boat when he realized Lothar didn’t understand at first.
Snorri nodded. The men then spent time trading. When they were done, the contents of the boat was lashed down and the long portage began. Lothar was surprised when Ellisif helped instead of just walking alongside. His ribs still hurt, but he helped as best he could.
Kafi saw Lothar watching Ellisif. He smiled and leaned towards Lothar. “She tough. The son Farulf never have. She like you.” Kafi smiled and then went back to helping move the boat along the path next to the rapids.
Lothar blinked and tried to wrap his thoughts around what Kafi had said. If Ellisif liked him, that would explain the chance meetings and smiles.
When the board reached the river, everyone sighed with relief. They weren’t on the river for more than a few ells until they had to portage it again. After the third set of rapids, Farulf called a halt for the night. No tents were pitched. Everyone ate cold meat and bread and then crawled into their robes to sleep.
Lothar felt cold and rolled over to snuggle deeper into his sleeping robes. Instead, he realized that there was someone next to him. Opening his eyes, he tried to figure out who he’d bumped into. It took him a second to realize it was Ellisif, and she was awake too.
“Two robes warmer than one.”
“Ellisif, your fader…”
“Shush. He not know. Not care.” She leaned forward and kissed Lothar.
His first reaction was to pull back. She wrapped her arm around him and kept on kissing him. He gave in and kissed her in return. Her lips were warm, and so was her body, which pressed against him. She curled up against his body and wrapped an arm around him. It took him a moment to realize that she’d gone to sleep. It took a while longer as his cock was hard and throbbing from her kisses.
Lothar woke with a start. It only took a second to realize that he was alone. Ellisif and Ragnar were getting food out for breakfast. No one else was awake yet. Lothar got up carefully, as Dagr had rolled up against his back. For a moment, Lothar thought that the whole thing had been a dream, until he realized that there were two robes on top of him. He quickly got up and began to move around.
Ellisif smiled as she watched Lothar blush and get moving. It had been Gundar who’d suggested crawling in with Lothar. She’d given Gundar a kiss for it. She wondered what it would take to get Lothar to bed her. She knew he was afraid of her fader. Most of the men were, but that had never stopped her from getting what she desired. Lothar was the first man in a long time she even liked the look of.
The dragon boat made seven portages before there was clear river. Farulf dug into another of the trade bundles and pulled out a sword and scabbard. He walked over to Lothar. “If needed.”
Lothar nodded and took the sword. Turning to Gundar he asked why Farulf had given him the sword.
“Pechenegs. They sometimes attack. Stupid, but dangerous.”
Lothar nodded and wished he had more than a thick woolen tunic covering his chest. The rest of the men had some kind of armor, even if it was boiled leather. As they moved along the river he kept his eyes on the banks.
Camp that night was quiet. Tents were pitched and Ellisif roasted rabbits over the fire. The men laughed and drank beer they’d traded for earlier. Lothar relaxed and went to sleep that night with his sword under his hand.
Ellisif got up in the middle of the night, intent on crawling under Lothar’s robe. However, Farulf was sitting by the coals of the fire and called to her when she left her tent. She walked over and sat next to him in the shadows.
“You like this ouslander?”
Farulf looked at his daughter and saw that she was serious. He sighed. “Be careful.”
“Yes, Fader.” She stood up, kissed him and then froze. “Fader,” she whispered and pointed off in the darkness were something rustled.
Farulf saw where she was pointing and grabbed his sword. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, a pheasant burst out of the underbrush. He sighed with relief and sat back down next to the fire. “Go back to bed Ellisif.”
Ellisif kissed her fader on his head and then went back to her tent. Sleeping with Lothar would have to wait for another night. She crawled under her furs and was soon asleep.
In the dark underbrush, the Pecheneg scout waited until the camp went quiet before he crawled away.