The two men came back into camp as Farulf was giving Ellisif a drink. She sputtered and coughed as she tried to swallow with a swollen throat. Gundar went to see to the others as Lothar crouched near Farulf and Ellisif.
“Farulf, rest of Pechenegs dead.”
Farulf acknowledged him with a nod. “You save Ellisif. Thank you.”
“I was doing fine,” she rasped.
“You be skraling’s trophy, without Lothar,” Farulf growled. “You hurt anywhere else?”
Ellisif shook her head no. She wasn’t going to count a couple of cuts and bruises. She held out her hand to be helped up. Farulf pulled her up and she went to find her basket of bandages and salves. Lothar stopped her to check her throat. He turned her head and touched the skin which was bruising quickly.
“You be sore, but live.”
“Yes. You bleed.” She pointed to his hand.
Ellisif blushed. “Sorry.” She grabbed the basket and headed to where the injured men gathered next to the fire.
“Lothar, come help,” called Bjorn. Lothar walked over and helped Bjorn drag the dead raiders into a pile on top of the slit trench. Lothar understood the message Bjorn was sending anyone who came looking for the men. They were shit. To emphasis the message, Bjorn pissed on the corpses and then headed back to the fire. Lothar followed.
They picked up swords, knives and arrows to add to the trade bundles or their own weapons. Lothar kept the bow and quiver full of arrows. Then he sat down next to the fire as the adrenaline wore off. He shook with exhaustion.
Ellisif wrapped Kafi’s arm tightly after she’d stitched it. Next she worked on Tindr. His leg still bled in spite of the stitches she’d put in. She stuck her dagger in the fire to heat it. When it was hot, Gundar held him as she brought it down on the wound. The smell of burnt flesh filled the air along with Tindr’s scream. Then he passed out. Ellisif finished cauterizing the wound and then wrapped it as tight as she dared.
“He keep his leg? Life?” asked Gundar as he wrapped up the unconscious man.
“Gods know. I just fix it best I can.” Ellisif wasn’t too certain. Tindr had lost a lot of blood. Then she turned to Brynki. She looked at the wound. The arrow hadn’t cleared his back. She put her dagger back into the fire and then held out her hand for Gundar’s. He gave it to her and then braced Brynki. Ellisif slammed the flat of the dagger against the end of the arrow, driving it through Brynki’s flesh until it showed on his back. Brynki cried out through gritted teeth.
Ellisif broke off the arrow close to Brynki’s skin and then with a rag wrapped around the arrowhead, she pulled it the rest of the way through Brynki. He gasped once more and passed out. She rolled her eyes. Checking the wound, she pulled out pieces of his tunic and when she was sure it was clean, she took her dagger and cauterized it as well. Once again, the smell of scorched flesh hung in the air. After that, she packed it with salve, moss and then wrapped it tight.
Looking around, she asked if anyone else was hurt. No one admitted to it. She put her things away and then started to get out bread and cheese. Lothar wasn’t the only one shaking. Olaf helped her and soon everyone was eating and talking.
“Damn close. You see that Lothar shoot in the dark? Hit those Pechenegs right smart,” said Ragnar.
“Yeah. You see Ellisif fighting like a Valkyrie? She tried to send that bugger to Hella, and nearly took Lothar too,” laughed Hafr.
“I would have too, if I’d been out in the open. No more tent hiding!” she growled at Bjorn. He nodded in agreement. It hadn’t been such a good idea after all.
“Lothar, you did well,” said Farulf. “Keep sword.”
Lothar smiled weakly as he ate the hard bread.
“Snorri, you help Tryggvi load the boat. Then we move camp. Not going to stay next to shit pile,” Farulf said pointing towards the dead with his hand. The two men nodded and got up. Ragnar, Dagr and Olaf helped. In less than the time it took for the sun to come up over the trees, the boat was packed. The wounded were loaded onto the boat and the rest took their places at the oars. Farulf sat heavily at the tiller as they pulled into the current.
They sailed down the river until they reached the next decent sized village. There was a traders inn, and Farul spent the money to get rooms for the men. It was run by a Viking who’d sailed the Dnieper until he was tired of fighting the water and the raiders.
“Come tell me your adventures,” the innkeeper called as the men came in.
“Damn Pechenegs getting bolder,” groused Farulf.
“Or maybe you are older and less observant?”
“Leif, you bastard, you tell me?” Farulf said as he flicked his dagger under the man’s chin before the innkeeper could stop laughing.
“Okay! The skralings are bolder. Bolder.”
“Bring us beer and food. I’m tired of my cooking.”
“Fader! You haven’t cooked in nearly twenty summers!” Ellisif said as she moved up beside him. He sighed and nodded.
The innkeeper laughed as he headed back to the kitchen, hollering to his servants to bring out food and beer.
The men ate well and then while some traded with the villagers, others slept. Farulf walked over to Lothar. “You and Gundar. Sleep in the boat. Guard the trade goods.”
Lothar nodded. He went to find Gundar and the two of them headed for the boat. Each of them made a pile of bedding at opposite ends of the ship. Lothar took of his sword belt and placed it so he could grab it quickly if needed. He’d just sat down when Gundar walked over.
“You sleep first. I watch. Then I sleep, yes?”
Lothar nodded. While he was still a little tense, his full stomach was making him sleepy. He pulled the robe over his head and fell asleep.
Lothar felt something nudge him. He startled awake, and grabbed for his sword. His hand was stopped by another hand and he turned to see who it was. “Ellisif?”
She smiled at him. “Shush. Gundar watches the boat. Told him I’d wake you.” She dropped her cloak and crawled under the robe dressed in her undertunic. “This is the only sword you will need.” Her hand traced his cock under his clothes. It bounced in response to her touch. She was pleased with the size of him.
“Ellisif… your fader…” he managed before she closed his mouth with a kiss.