Arrgh to Fanfictiondotnet. Several of you complained that you never got the any notice about my last chapter and some of you couldn`t review it. I`m very grateful for your PMs and tweets on the matter though the problems annoyed me to no end.
I will try to post a chapter to this story every Sunday (or Monday) so if Fanfictiondotnet acts up again, check out the story next Sunday and there may be a chapter waiting for you.
I want to thank Suki59 for all her great betaing and encouragements.
I don`t own Eric and Sookie. Charlaine Harris does. If they`d been mine they would have had swords and said their prayers to Odin, Thor and Freya.
The next couple of nights I slept in Jason`s and Claude`s bed, not wanting to accidentally hurt Eric by touching his back in my sleep. During the day I made sure Eric had enough to eat and drink and I carefully rubbed the ointments Pam had made into his wounds to make them heel faster.
Claude volunteered to help him whenever he needed to pee – walking him to the place close to the forest where everyone went.
On the fourth day, Eric`s wounds looked better and he seemed to have some of his old energy back –if one was to judge from that wolfy grin he sported when I entered the house after an afternoon of sparring with Jason and Claude. I`d been down by the river and had washed myself after the practice but my clothes were dirty and wet from a combination of sweat and river water and my hair was in a very messy braid. In short, I was not in a state to cause any kind of horny looks.
Eric had probably been in his bed for too long and was bored.
Jason had decided to go check out Nordby which translated into checking out anyone who would let him have sex with her. Claude came back with me and was currently brooding on his bed.
I walked over to Eric, told him to turn to lie on his stomach and then I started spreading the ointment on his back. When I was done, I pulled back and looked at him lying there. Eric was handsome and even if I wanted to, I couldn’t deny that fact.
I hadn`t been attracted to anyone in a long time and Eric was the wrong place to start. He was too handsome. I`d seen what being handsome had done to Jason – and Claude for that matter – so I avoided men with great looks. Unless it was just for one night and even the one-night lovers had been sparse the last couple of years. Or non-existing.
Eric was definitely not a one-night lover and therefor he wasn`t a lover at all. Eric had heartbreak written all over him and I liked my heart non-broken, thank you very much.
“Come lie next to me, my wife,” Eric said in a low voice.
“I`m not your wife.”
“Come lie next to me,” he repeated as if he hadn`t heard what I said.
I was just about to get up and walk out when the door opened. Before I could turn to see who was entering, Eric scrambled to get up.
A quick glance over my shoulder made me straighten up too and then I helped Eric who was off balance from trying to get out of his bed too quickly.
“My Queen,” Eric said and nodded.
“Eric,” she responded. Andre Beardless was with her and so was another man. A dark haired man who, in stark contrast to Andre Beardless, smiled. He was one of those people you couldn`t help liking because of his very simple facial expression of making his lips curl upwards. “You were to come and introduce me to your new wife but I understand you`ve been indisposed. I hope you will be better soon.”
She may have hoped Eric would be better but she sounded indifferent.
“I am much better already.”
The queen looked from me to Eric and back at me, waiting for Eric to continue talking.
“This is Sookie the Shieldmaiden,” Eric said. “And this is Queen Sophie-Anne.” Eric looked at the other two men. “Andre Beardless you already know, and this is Rasul the Friendly.” Eric made a gesture to the dark haired man with the heartwarming smile. I could certainly see how he`d won his name.
I wasn`t sure how to greet royalty so I made an awkward curtsy. Queen Sophie-Anne gave me a nod.
“I am pleased to have you among my warriors, Sookie,” she said. “I pride myself with having shieldmaidens in my army and I hear you are an even better sword fighter than Pamela. Your skills will become very important soon. When I use you on the battlefield, my uncle will learn a valuable lesson.”
Since I wasn`t sure what she was referring to I just nodded.
“Felipe claims women can`t fight or rule.” It was Eric who came to my rescue and explained the situation. “Pamela has taken down more of his warriors than anyone else, thus proved him wrong on several occasions. Felipe doesn`t appreciate that.”
“Which is why I try to keep sending shieldmaidens his way.” A small smile touched Queen Sophie-Anne`s lips but disappeared quickly again. “I should like to see you follow in your sister-in-law`s footsteps” Queen Sophie-Anne continued. “I enjoy having my uncle ridiculed. I shall enjoy it even more to see him dead.”
I knew the queen was my age but she looked years younger. Her eyes, though, were old. I figured ruling a country would do that to a person.
“I shall do my best.” I curtsied again, cursing myself for my lack of knowledge about the proper way to address a queen and then reminding myself that I wasn`t her subject. Or was I – through this pretend marriage to Eric? Or by being her warrior?
“I will look forward to it. This last raid of ours has brought Felipe close to a breaking point. He is losing support and knows he has to kill me soon or he will find himself a head shorter. His men will slit his throat before I do if he doesn`t find a way to get me off the throne. With you fighting for me, Sookie, he will be one step closer to dying. My uncle`s days are numbered and I should love to take a bath in his blood.”
I enjoyed a good fight and never minded the blood pouring over me when I had slashed someone`s artery. But I never talked about the pleasure of killing. Especially not the killing of family members. But what did I know about being a queen and the ruthlessness it took?
After stressing again how much she looked forward to using me in some elaborate plan to kill her uncle, Queen Sophie-Anne and her retinue left Eric`s house and Eric sat down on the bed.
“I need to get back in fighting shape,” he said and slid his hand through his hair.
The door opened again and Pam and her kids entered, carrying what smelled like food. She looked at Eric and me and then she gave Claude who was still lying on his bed in the far corner of the house a nod. It wasn`t until now I realized he had been in the room all along and neither Eric nor I had introduced him to the queen. I guess I had been too busy curtsying.
“Will you help me get dinner ready, Claude?” she asked.
Claude grunted something but got up and started helping Pamela. I went over there to help out too and soon we had bread and meat on the table and mead in our cups. Eric came over to sit down next to me, Claude sat down next to Pamela and we all dug in. Now that food was gliding down my throat, I realized just how hungry I`d been. After all, Jason, Claude and I had been sparring all day.
I thought of Jason but figured he was fed somewhere else. Or at least he was sated somehow.
Pamela`s children were excited and couldn`t stop talking. Claude was frowning but I couldn`t help smiling at the children. You would have to have a heart made out of rock – or be named Claude – to not be charmed by Quinn and Frannie.
When we`d eaten, the children started begging their mother to tell them a story.
“Which one do you want?” Pamela asked.
“We want to hear the one about Odin learning how to read the runes,” Quinn yelled before his sister could come up with a different suggestion.
Pamela started telling the children about Odin being tormented and almost killed and then hanging from the mighty tree of Yggdrasil for nine nights.
“And when he woke up after the ninth night, Hel, the mistress of the kingdom of Death taught him the secrets of the runes. He learned the magic of reading them,” she finished. Pamela leaned back after having told her story.
Pamela was a good storyteller. The story of Odin and the runes was slightly different from how we told it back home but it was still a story that took my breath away – just like runes did. One could almost feel the magic coming out from them and one would have to have special powers to understand them – just like Amelia the Witch did back home.
“I have another story of runes and magic.” Claude had been silent for some time but now he spoke up.
I smiled. Claude was an amazing storyteller and though I`d heard his stories plenty of times I looked forward to hearing one of them again.
“Go on, then!” Frannie yelled.
Pamela smiled, first at Frannie and then to Claude. “Yes, go on, then,” she said.
“A wanderer came to a village,” he started and I knew which story this was. “The village was struck with grief because the daughter of the chieftain was sick. She was on her deathbed.”
Both Quinn and Frannie looked at Claude with huge, round eyes. “Was she pretty?” Frannie asked.
“Oh, she was very pretty. Every young man in the village was in love with her but none more than that young man who sat outside her house and cried.”
“He cried?” Quinn asked, apparently stunned that this could happen to a grown up.
“He was devastated,” Claude continued. “And soon the wanderer found out why.”
“Why?” Frannie whispered.
“The man who was crying was the reason why the girl was sick. The wanderer found a whale bone with a rune inscription in the girl`s bed and as you know, the runes are magical. This magic had turned the girl sick and would have killed her if the wanderer hadn`t found it.”
“Who had put the runes in her bed?” Frannie held her breath, waiting for the answer. Actually we all did – even I and I had heard the story before.
“The man who was crying,” Claude said in a low voice.
Frannie gasped and her eyes were huge. “Why did he want to kill the girl?” Frannie asked. “I thought he loved her?”
“He did, but she didn`t love him.”
“Did he try to kill her because she didn`t love him?” Now it was Pamela`s turn to ask.
“No, he really did love her and he didn`t want her dead. But he was not very good with the magic runes. He thought he had made runes compelling her to love him back but he had gotten them wrong. Runes are very easy to mix up, you know.” Claude looked at the kids.
Both children nodded.
“The young man wasn`t patient. He didn`t want to wait for the girl to love him back. Instead he was rushing her. And he could have killed her. Runes are very dangerous.”
The children nodded again.
“What happened to the young man?” Quinn asked.
“He died from grief,” Claude said in a low voice.
“Why? I thought the girl he loved survived.” Frannie leaned over the table to get closer to Claude.
“The girl survived but she could never love a man who couldn`t wait for her love to come naturally.”
I`d been looking at the children throughout Claude`s storytelling but something made me turn my head in his direction. Claude was staring at Eric.
“Love can never be rushed,” Claude said with a nod.
And with that Claude leaned back and smiled one of his rare smiles. Eric looked at him but I couldn`t read his expression.
Pamela started getting the children ready for bed and I went outside. I needed to wash and get ready for the night too so I went down to the stream and washed my face, neck and arms.
When I came back, Pam and her children were in bed but both Claude and Eric were gone.
“Claude is helping Eric get ready for bed,” Pamela explained when she saw me staring at Eric`s empty bed.
I walked over to the bed I was sharing with Claude and Jason and pulled the covers back. I got under the all the furs and blankets and stretched out – exhausted after the day`s exercise. I was half asleep when Claude crawled under the covers with me.
A giggle woke me up hours later. I was trying to fall asleep again when Jason whispered – as much as a drunken man can whisper – into my ear. “Could I have the bed? I want to …”
Then I heard the giggle again. Jason had met a girl and instead of taking her to the woods or down to the beach, he`d decided to take her back to Eric`s house so that he could kick both his sister and his cousin out of the bed where they were so deeply asleep.
“Jason,” I groaned, hoping he would go away in shame. Of course, Jason didn`t know the concept and pulled back our covers to make us leave.
“You can sleep here, Claude,” Pamela whispered from the other side of the room.
Why had she asked Claude and not me? I knew the answer, of course. Pamela saw me as Eric`s wife – or at least Eric`s something. I sighed and got up. Then I walked over to Eric`s bed and got in, hoping Eric wouldn`t pay too much attention to suddenly having a bedmate again. Soon I was fast asleep again and just before I fell asleep I felt Eric`s arm around my waist.
Eric`s hand wasn`t on my waist or stomach when I woke up in the morning. It was on my left breast. I could hear from his even breathing that he was still asleep so instead of telling him to move his hand – something I probably wouldn`t have done anyway since I was a doer, not a talker – I got out of bed and went outside to wash myself and to pee.
When I came back inside Eric was awake and lifted the furs and blankets to invite me back into bed. As tempting as the warm furs were, lying down with Eric was not. Especially not with him grinning the way he was. The waggling eyebrows were also a warning sign. So I got dressed instead.
I looked around and saw Jason snoring alone in his bed. Apparently the woman he`d thrown all of his immediate family out of bed for wasn`t the type to stay and say hello to his sister. Which was fine by me. I`d greeted too many women with high hopes of being “the one” in Jason`s life. They would always try and befriend me – their future sister-in-law. And when Jason eventually broke their hearts, most of them blamed me. As if I had any control over Jason`s love life. I was more than busy enough trying to keep him alive.
A discreet glance at Pamela`s bed landed me a bigger surprise. Pamela was in the middle of the bed, sleeping on her side with her arm around her children. But what had me looking closer was Claude, who was curled up behind her, and the hand he had around her waist. There was nothing sexual about it, of course, but there was a tenderness I`d never seen in Claude before.
I shrugged and started a fire so that I could cook the porridge we were having for breakfast. I was so busy trying to make the little glows of fire lighten up that I didn`t notice Eric standing next to me. What was it with Eric and his ways of surprising me?
“I need your help today, Sookie,” he said in a low voice.
I nodded slowly without looking at him.
“I need to get out. I need to work on my fighting skills,” he explained.
I nodded again. “I was planning on training after breakfast,” I said. “You could come with me.”
I preferred training with Jason but that was mainly because I wanted Jason to be in the best shape he could be in. It would be good for me to work out with someone else. Someone with different moves and skills.
Plus I wasn`t saying no to beating Eric again. He was healed enough for me to stop nursing him. Now was the time to start knocking him down.
It would be good for him.
I hope you got your alerts for this chapter – and that you liked it, of course.
The Nordic Gods
First of all – their name. I prefer referring to them as Nordic gods like I refer to Zeus and Athene as Greek gods and Mars and Venus as Roman gods. I know it`s common to refer to them as Åsatro (which means Åsa belief) but around here that`s mainly used for people who believe in Odin and Thor today. And I could write chapters, most of them very sad, on how the Nordic gods have been used and misused these last 100 years.
We refer to the old gods as Norrøne, which can be translated as Norse, but I`ll go with Nordic. Easier on the tongue to say Nordic gods instead of Norse gods. Not that I`m actually talking to you right now…
As I`ve said earlier, the Vikings didn`t write much down. They were a society of story-tellers and the stories of the gods were some of the most popular stories told on those long, dark winter evenings – and on the sunny summer nights..
I`m sure most of you have heard the names of some of the Nordic gods before but I`ll give you a run-through of some of them anyway. But first I have to say that to understand the Nordic gods, you need to put aside all thoughts of gods always being right, just or kind. The Nordic gods had human traits and human flaws and sometimes those flaws were so serious it would cost the lives of other gods.
Odin: He was the most powerful and wisest of all the gods. He ruled Valhalla and was married toFrigg – the most powerful female god. He got his wisdom from sacrificing one of his eyes to be allowed to drink from the Well of Knowledge. He did it because he needed to understand the world he`d created. His two ravens Hugin and Munin saw everything that went on in the world of humans. Odin had his own shieldmaidens – the Valkyries. They would search every battle for courageous men and would bring them to Odin who would throw them a party like only a god could.
Even if Odin was married to Frigg, he had children with other women too. Thor was the son of Odin and Fjorgyn. Thor was the second most powerful god. He was the god of thunder and the weather in general. Like Odin, Thor was also a warrior god. Odin`s mood would change quite a bit and he wasn`t known to be very smart.
He owned the hammer Mjølner which would always come back to him when he called for it.
Frigg was very beautiful and also very powerful. She is the goddess of love and destiny. I`ve always found her a bit of a sad character because of what happened to her son Balder. Frigg asked all plants and creatures to never hurt Balder. But she forgot one, the mistletoe. Loke (I think you call him Loki in English) – who was known for his mischiefs – heard this and had an arrow made out of mistletoe and through deceit, he had Balder shot and killed by this arrow. Frigg always blamed herself for her son`s death since she`d not made the mistletoe promise to never hurt him.
Loke was Odin`s blood brother or foster brother and was therefore respected among the gods. But he was a trickster and a god most people today have a hard time understanding. He would trick his fellow gods and would be severely punished but he was not looked upon as “bad”. He wasn`t like Lucifer in the Christian belief. Loke was a shapeshifter and has been portrayed as taking the shape of a number of different animals.
Loke was the one to cause Ragnarok – or the end of the world. This was his final trick.
Freya: She was one of the most popular goddesses and was the goddess of love and fertility. She was called upon when women were pregnant and also in matters of love. Freya was also a warrior god (who wasn`t?) and a god of death.
Freya was so popular the Icelandic chief Hjalte Skjeggson was made “peaceless” or an outlaw in the year 999 for making fun of her in a poem. He had to escape Iceland or he would have been killed. Ring any bells for religious practices today?
There were a lot of gods but these were the most important. If you want to know more about other gods, or want to hear some of their stories, just let me know. And please let me know if you think it`s boring because I might just tell you the stories of the gods if no one stops me.
Final note: Do you think the first two people on earth were Adam and Eve (or Lucy and some other prehistoric man)? You would be wrong, of course. The first two people on earth were Askand Embla. Ask any Viking and he or she will tell you