Lothar slept as the dragon boat moved out onto the river. Between the battle and sex, he was exhausted. He found a number of bruised and tender spots as well, where the fighting had torn muscles or weapons has smacked flesh. He knew that the others had similar issues. The men creaked and groaned as they climbed onboard. Tindr was pale, but seemingly better. Kafi was back at his oar and Brynki sat in the prow of the boat, as lookout.
Ellisif smiled as she sat next to Gundar. She was working on a tunic. She kept the men clothed, even though she had to buy the woven goods. Living on the boat, she could spin, and weave belts, but there was no room for a large loom. She didn’t miss the work, and it was much easier to just sew.
“Who gets a new tunic?”
“Fader. He is wearing that one thin where the tiller hits. Too many patches.” She pointed towards Farulf.
She shook her head. “He has a new tunic. Maybe later.” She bent back to her sewing.
The villages turned into small towns and then into cities as they moved down the river. Each night that the men slept in an inn, Gundar and Lothar guarded the boat. Each night, Ellisif visited Lothar. Lothar kept expecting Farulf to say something, or for one of the men to poke fun at him. Nothing. Not even when Tindr went out of his mind with fever and Ragnar had come down to the boat to fetch Ellisif.
That had been a rough night. They’d no sooner began to kiss and cuddle when Ragnar called for Ellisif. She kissed him and then ran back to the inn. Lothar had laid awake until his body had calmed down. Gundar woke him up later to take his turn.
“How is Tindr?”
“Dead. His fever ate him. Ellisif cut open his leg, and all the poison drained out, but it was too late. The poison hit his heart. He should have said something sooner, and maybe he would not be dead. While the men built his pyre, she checked Kafi and Brynki. Their wounds are fine. Good scar for Kafi.” Gundar handed Lothar a skin of weak ale and a chunk of bread.
Lothar took it, thanked Gundar and let the man go to sleep. Life was rough for a fighter. Fevered wounds were nasty. Tindr was stupid, but lucky he died quickly. As he looked over the river edge, he saw the torch light off to one side and then the pyre begin to burn. He said his goodbyes to Tindr and hoped that the gods would greet him in Vallhala.
The Varangians were subdued for a day or so, but when Ellisif came to him a night later, she was full of passion.
“Ellisif, you worry about babies?” he asked. It was something he’d been worrying about as it would be a sure sign that they were lovers.
“No. Drink herb tea. No babies.” She snuggled close to him and stroked his cock.
“You are not my first lover. Always drink tea and never have babies. Stop worrying. It make your cock soft.”
Lothar realized that his cock was still soft, but there were other things worrying him. “Ellisif, your fader. He knows?”
“You tell him?”
“No. He find out when Ragnar have to come find me.” She kissed down his stomach unconcerned.
Lothar gasped when her lips wrapped around his soft cock. “But… your… honor…”
She stopped what she was doing. “You like me? Want me? Be good to me?”
“Of course. I… I just don’t understand this… us.”
She propped herself up on his stomach, his cock under her breast. “I like you. Want you. First man in a long time I want. Fader is happy I am happy.”
“Is it a problem that we aren’t… married?”
Ellisif sat up. “Gundar! Come here!”
Lothar pulled the robe up over his body and tried to cover Ellisif as well as Gundar came down to their end of the boat.
“You two fight? I have to kill him? Throw him off the boat?” Gundar gestured towards Lothar.
“Lothar not understand. He… says he wants me, but is all worried.” Ellisif sighed.
Gundar grinned. “Lothar, you afraid you need marry Ellisif to enjoy each other?”
Lothar nodded. “Marriage is more… complicated where I come from.” What he didn’t voice was that sex before some sort of agreement was simply not done. Unless you wanted your balls cut off.
Gundar nodded. “We have different kinds of marriages. You want Ellisif?”
“Yes,” Lothar said without much hesitation in his voice.
“Ellisif, you want Lothar?”
“Yes.” There was a tone of exasperation in her voice.
“There. Done.” Gundar started to stand up.
“Wait! What did you just do?” Lothar was confused.
“You want to be happy with Ellisif. Now it is okay.” Gundar stood.
“Married? We are married now?” Lothar was really confused. He didn’t understand the Varangian customs.
“Agreed to be together. Lesser marriage. Least marriage. No children, you two decide you don’t want each other, you divide your goods. Say goodbye. If children, you take care of them if you part. Say goodbye. Understand?”
“I think so. Do I need to dower Ellisif? Give bride price to Farulf?” Lothar was still nervous as he had nothing he could call his own.
“Would be nice. Not needed. Be good and tell Farulf. He will decide.” Gundar turned and went back to the other end of the boat.
Lothar sat there stunned. “Ellisif, you are alright with this?” He was worried that somehow he’d cheated her or misused her and forced her into a relationship.
“Yes. Only thing I not happy with is this.” She tugged on his cock, which was still soft.
Lothar pulled her into his arms and began to kiss her. It didn’t take long for his cock to stiffen enough to satisfy her.