The night torches led the way from the wharf, where the floating bon fire of Valkrik’s uncle was now floating back down to the inlet and onward to the sea. The funeral rites were over and that meant that he could go spend time with his sister, as he had planned to since seeing her at the Inn. Many of the other men of the village were going back to their houses to partake in a late meal and then only discuss certain parts of the funeral of Tebas. Valkrik did not have such things as a woman and child to go home too. Some in the village may have thought it strange, and many mothers tried to push their daughters forward to see if he was interested, but none had what he sought in a woman. He had bedded slaves naturally, but a woman to one day lead alongside him had to be special. Very special.
On reaching Eyyrs’s house he noted right away that there was no glow of fire coming from the windows. No trace of light. This had Valkrik immediately suspicious and rather than knock, he opened the door forcefully. It was only then did he see that all her belongings were gone.
“EYYRS?” He roared as he went through the room and started up ending tables and chairs for clues. Where was she? His eyes darted about as one of the neighbours who heard the din came over. An older man who had many children. Valkrik spun on his heel and gestured with his large hand.
“Where is Eyyrs?”
The old man scratched at his beard and could see no sign of her either.
“By Odin’s word I do not know.”
Angered, Valkrik stormed out of her small house and ran up the road – panting hard. His eyes glowered a strange red colour as the anger started to rise up within him. It took a moment to regain his composure before he realized she had left the village. But why? Curling his hands into fists, he then marched to his own home to start packing and take off after her.
It hadn’t taken long for Eyyrs to become settled on the Lockes. She was a resourceful young woman and had managed to build herself a small hut upon the rocks and dirt. Vor had a small pasture nearby. A few times, she had to dispatch thieves and murders who tried to encroach upon her new home, looking for goods or a roll beneath her skirts. She was not timid by any means, and dealing with the Quartermaster had taught her that no man was to be trusted.
Every once in a while, her thoughts turned to Valkrik, hoping he was taking her disappearance well. But she quickly turned those thoughts off before they could go further. No need to invite the devil to dinner.
He was better off without her.
Another bandit jumped out from behind a boulder as she was gathering wood for her fires. Rolling her eyes in disgust, she quickly beheaded him before continuing her chores.
Barely had Valkrik been back home to start packing a kit to take with him in search of Eyyrs, his father Honrick appeared in the door way. The Chief watched with a curious expression to see his son moving about his home quickly as he pieced together all he would need. With a gruff voice he sung out. “What troubles you, Son?” Honrick cocked his head to the side as he drew his arms together- folding them over and waiting for his son to answer. Valkrick glanced up momentarily, as he paced across the room.
“Eyyrs….she is missing.”
This brought a look of surprise from the Chief, who had not been all to concerned about her whereabouts. He knew she was headstrong, and probably was trying to get a peek at the funeral earlier that night. The Chief lowered his arms and entered the home further. “She maybe washing by the river.” A possibility but not a strong one. Valkrik knew that she would not venture out in the middle of the night to bathe. “I highly doubt it. I believe she has gone from the village because…” At this he paused a moment, for he felt the reason for her absence may be due to him killing the Quartermaster.
“Son? Is there something we need to discuss? I am sure we can send some of our best men out in the morning to find her. This…need of yours to find her right now seems a bit strange. She is just your sister, and more than capable of taking care of herself. Why…I sometimes wonder if she has the heart of a man.” This made him chuckle at the thought, but Valkrik wasn’t buying it.
Finishing packing a kit he slung it over his shoulder and went to leave, his father baring his way.
“Son….you are needed here. I’m getting to old for all this. You have proved your worth in the last battle. Find a wife, and take your place as the future Chief.” His old blue eyes implored him, and this was when Valkrik placed his hand on his father’s right shoulder. “I need to find Eyyrs.”
This angered the Chieftain, who shook with annoyance. “She is your sister. Why are you being so foolhardy? This is the job for another man. ONE that may well break her in and make her into a good Viking woman. She needs to learn her place!”
The look that Valkrik gave his father was one that genuinely scared him. A dull red hidden in behind the veil of blue eyes stared his father down. His father truly didn’t know what his son really was, but part of the truth was emerging.
“SHE IS MY RESPONSIBILITY!” A voice that was filled with fire and passion for Eyyrs burst from Valkrik’s lips
That said, he went around his father, and out into the night. With his battle axe in hand, Valkrik would seek out Eyyrs and bring her home…where she belongs.
Honrick emerged from his son’s home and turned his head to watch the hulking Viking set off after Eyyrs. He knew in his heart that this could only end badly.
Eyyrs was sitting in front of her little hut, weaving a basket for collecting food. Her fire pit was a warm comfort to her as the nights were starting to become colder. She would soon have to either hunt for furs for her walls or find the nearest town to make trades. She sighed, setting aside her work for the moment as she turned to stare into the fire.
Her thoughts never strayed far from home and she was beginning to miss her life there. But she couldn’t go back…not harboring the feelings she was for…
She mentally slapped herself for nothing good could come from thinking those thoughts.
As she stared into the fire, something happened. It was as if she were seeing people in the flames. She saw her father and he was talking to Valkrik. She frowned and tried looking deeper into the flames. She was unaware that she’d made any sort of connection for she could suddenly hear their words as if they were standing right beside her.
“Son….you are needed here. I’m getting to old for all this. You have proved your worth in the last battle. Find a wife, and take your place as the future Chief.”
“I need to find Eyyrs.”
“She is your sister. Why are you being so foolhardy? This is the job for another man. ONE that may well break her in and make her into a good Viking woman. She needs to learn her place!”
“SHE IS MY RESPONSIBILITY!”
A log snapped from the fires bringing her out of whatever trance she’d fallen into.
“What was that?” she muttered to herself. There had never been Seer blood in her family. Was that a vision of things to come or something that had already happened. Whatever it was, she had a sinking feeling it meant nothing good for her. She looked around with a sigh.
“Time to move on, Vor.” she whispered, staring at her horse. He knickered in sympathy as she got to her feet and began to dismantle her home for the past couple of days. She used the wood and covering to make a carrier that she could tie to her saddle and used that to place her things upon it. Once it was secure, she climbed up on Vor’s back and began to make her way out of the Lockes.
If that vision was true, Valkrik was searching for her and she didn’t want to give him clues to her whereabouts. The last thing he needed was her in his life, mucking things up. She wasn’t supposed to have these feelings for someone who was raised as her brother. It just didn’t seem right…and if the witch was to be believed, it would spell doom for their people and she didn’t want to be the cause of it.
Her only option was to stay away from him…for all their sakes.
From the busy river township of Stargorn Bluff, the wilderness was to be found on its doorstep. It was tough going for the faint hearted, but Valkrik knew the hills and mountains like the back of his hand. A boy once with a sense of adventure was always going off on the hunting parties with his father and uncle. Travelling many miles inland and learning a great deal about tracking and hunting the big game. If Eyyrs was out here, Valkrik was going to find her.
His blue eyes pierced through the black of night as the background fire lights of his home were soon to fade into the darkness. The nights creatures were now on the move; their chorus of calls creating a symphony of sounds that relaxed the great Viking. No doubt on his return with his sister, his Father would want to have a stern word with him, but something deep inside him knew this was the right thing to do. He owed it to his sister to protect her, even if that meant protecting her from herself.
She had always been strong willed and hard headed from the time she was born. Valkrik had watched over her from a young age, and was like a shadow to her almost, till he reached the age where he must join his kin and set sail for the southern lands, to defend the territory and reap the rewards of conquest. He was battle hardened, ruthless and renowned for his fighting ability. Many a woman had offered themselves to him, to lay with him in his furs – but none seemed to be the woman he sought. No, she was to be special. No arranged marriages for him, no matter what his Father said.
In the back of his mind, he recalled the moment where he lost himself in killing the Quarter Master. How he changed. She knew the truth; but was that what scared her away? He hadn’t contemplated that. Maybe she did fear him after all. No matter, she was part of the clan and must be with her people. That is what Valkrik kept telling himself, as he pushed his own feelings down deep.
The Viking was on her trail.
After the first six hours, he stopped to make camp for a few hours sleep, then packed up again and set on for the Lockes of Otkatla. Sure enough in the soft earth Valkrik saw horse hooves prints. He knelt down and ran his finger through the grooves. Glancing up he could see the path the horse took. So, she was on the move. Adjusting his kit he continued on his quest to find her.