Wlvn did not stay asleep for very long in that dim light of dawn. The girl had the others help her take his cloak off so she could fold it into a pillow. It seemed a nice gesture, but Wlvn’s arms and legs got cold fast and that brought him back awake. When he opened his eyes, he found the girl sitting beside him, on her knees, staring down at him, and smiling for all she was worth.
“Do you have a name?” Wlvn asked.
“Elleya,” she said.
“Hmm. Not from around here I assume.” Wlvn sat up and put his hand to his head to ward off the headache. He saw Thred there, safe and sound, and Number Two came over and nudged him while he patted the horse’s nose. The girl looked every which way.
“No,” she said at last, while a touch of confusion rose up into her eyes. “I’m not from around here.” She helped Wlvn stand. Meanwhile, Wlkn and Badl had been banished to the fire where they sat cooking several flounders. As Wlvn and Elleya went to join them, Elleya spoke again. “I prefer mine fresh and raw,” she said, and she picked up a fish and took a bite and smiled. The fish had not even been cleaned and they could all hear the crunching on the scales. Wlvn looked at the girl more closely. Though a buxom one, and with plenty of flesh, she did not appear to be what might call fat. She had yellowish hair, though maybe it leaned toward the green side. Otherwise, she looked normal enough. She also looked rather scantily clad, and even as Wlvn pulled his cloak tighter, lest he be asked to give it up, he had to ask.
“Aren’t you cold?”
Elleya shook her head while Wlkn spoke. “I asked her that. She says she never gets cold.”
Elleya took another bite and appeared to nod in confirmation of Wlkn’s words.
“Lord.” Badl handed him a piece of fish.
“Thanks,” Wlvn said. “I don’t know any life when I especially cared for Sushi,” he added, as an offhanded remark.
“Sushi?” Elleya asked. Wlvn pointed at her fish, but she thought he was pointing at her. “No, my name is Elleya.”
“And we’re all pleased to meet you,” Wlkn said, sincerely, which got the girl to smile where they all got a good look at the fish guts and scales stuck between her teeth.
“Could we use her as N. C. bait?” Badl asked.
“Hush,” Wlvn said, but he didn’t say, no.
After breakfast, the newly rejuvenated Wlkn got promoted to Gndr’s horse while Wlvn got Elleya up on Brmr’s mare. Fortunately, she proved lighter than she looked, and when he got her legs around the horse in the right way, he thought he would hand the reigns to Wlkn to bring her along. Meanwhile, she started spouting.
“I have nice legs, don’t you think?”
“Very nice.” Wlvn patted her thigh while he noticed they were utterly hairless, not as soft as they looked, and a bit shiny in a way that felt hard to describe.
“I think you can have me if you want,” she said. “I didn’t know what to think at first, you know. I’m really very shy, but you are very handsome for a man. I would not mind being with you as a wife. Of course, I would like to see my family again, and Wlkn is very handsome, too, even if he is a skinny one. I didn’t know anyone could be that skinny.”
“Wlkn!” Wlvn interrupted her. He handed the man the reigns. “Here you go, Skinny,” he said as he got Number Two’s reigns, got up on Thred, and made sure he rode out front and hopefully out of ear shot. He wondered, what on earth made her think he wanted a wife?
They rode all that day, once again by secret paths that only Badl knew, and in this way, they put some real distance between them and any remaining night creatures. Since they were out of the swampland, they made a good day of it. When they settled in for the evening, Badl announced that even night creatures could not cover that much ground in a single night. That seemed a good thing, because they all needed some real sleep, and would have got plenty if they could figure out how to turn down the volume on Elleya.
The morning came with a red sky in the East. Elleya immediately declared that a storm was coming. “I thought that was only if you were at sea,” Wlvn commented, and that set her off on a whole host of stories about the beauties of the sea, and storms at sea, and how lightning could flash across the sky in an endless display of beauty, and the thunder could make the waves roll and felt where it tickled her tummy. To his credit, Wlkn listened patiently to every word, and Wlvn only thought, better him than me.
Sure enough, the drizzle came by nine that morning and Wlvn immediately started looking for some place where they could shelter. This flatland seemed just the right kind of environment for the swamps. They got out of the undulating hills of the upland, so the land did not have all the rocks and boulders spread here and there. Wlvn knew if a blow really came up, it might not be a good idea to shelter under the trees. He looked hard, and just before noon he got rewarded to find a very short cliff with a reasonable rock overhang. Wlkn almost had to duck to get under since he stood rather tall. Not much they could do about the horses but hobble them, and otherwise let them roam and seek what shelter they could find. But for the people, this rock overhang would do, and they immediately set about gathering as much wood as they could find before it became too wet to burn. It had been raining lightly for a couple of hours by then, and it felt like a cold icy rain besides.
At noon, just as they sat around the fire wondering what they might eat, the sky opened up in all of its fury. The lightening felt like it never stopped, and the thunder echoed continually in their ears.
“Freakish weather this late in the season,” Badl pointed out.
“But lovely,” Elleya said, as her eyes stayed on the heavens, and she even applauded several times. Wlvn could tell that Wlkn did not think it lovely at all. He had his back to the cliff wall and his eyes closed most of the time. Wlvn mostly tried to count the time. He thought if they did not make enough distance that day, the night creatures would surely be on them in the dark.
The whole storm came to an abrupt end around two in the afternoon. Wlvn gathered the horses while Wlkn put out the fire and cleaned up the camp. Badl helped and scattered their unused wood back into the wild. Elleya watched. She was good at watching. Once they were ready, a man came striding out of the mist straight toward them. He looked like a big man with wild looking blond locks kept barely beneath his helmet of horns. The helmet matched the armor the man wore, and the weapons he carried. They were sophisticated weapons for that age, like Wlvn had, so it told Wlvn that here was another one of the gods. He had figured out that the man by the river, the one who saddled him with Elleya had to be Njord, god of the sea; but which one was this?
Thy run across Thor and Frigga before they find a human village and pick up another young woman to travel with them. Their journey is getting crowded and they are running out of horses. until them, Happy Reading