"Over my dead body," Gwen growled her hands fisted tightly at her sides. Luther gave a hearty laugh. Gods but Gwendolyn would only ever be adorable when she was angry…
"Over who's dead body?" Bowen called out, and the three of them turned to see Bowen and a stately-looking Ticarthis making their way across the top deck towards them.
"Nothing..." Gwen informed him before looking back to Luther. "You have my word Luther... Waela will be with me, we can protect them if need be." She reached up and cupped his cheek then and gave him a smile. He smiled back and turned his head to press a fleeting kiss into her palm. "But you don't have to worry... you will win, and you will be king... and you can usher in a new era."
“Damn straight,” Luther grinned, releasing her. But even behind the confident and jovial tone he used, there was the obvious hint of desperation that would not leave him until the very last line of blood had been laid down in the snow. He would win- because there was no other choice.
“I’ve got your back, brother,” Ticarthis, wrapping an arm around Gwen’s shoulders. Luther smirked and nodded before turning back to face the shore which was now close enough he could make out the opther soldier’s faces. They looked nervous, but fierce.
“Let them come. I will see them rue this day…” Ticarthis glanced down at Gwendolyn, who turned and set her dainty hands against his thick jerkin, encased in fur-line gloves. She looked like a winter princess, and he smiled at her with all the love in the world.
"When you walk off this ship," she told him, her tone firm, "keep Luther in one piece... and by gods you had better walk back on this ship when it's over."
“Have no fear- this is no day to die.” She cupped his cheek in her hand, coaxing him down to her short height before gifting him a sweet kiss. “You be safe too, my star,” he said softly and lifted her hands to his lips; kissing them both before releasing her to go below deck.
Raiyla was going to be sick. Pale from nerves, she sat atop the fur-piled bed of the longboats master room and cradled Alex to her chest. Yet even in her fear she wore a hardened expression- almost angry. She would not lose him; she refused. Their terror was over and she was done with the hardships! Odin’s laughter rang out in the hollow room and she turned to see him, bouncing about as he attempted to stand the way he’d been doing for the last couple of days. Mathais was sitting crossed legged on the floor, both hands wrapped around the red-haired, infant prince. Raiyla smiled as best she could at the sight. Mathais was an excellent big-brother and she had exploded with happiness when he’d told her he’d wanted to come with them; to live with them. Her little bear was as good as a son to her now, and she cared for him just the same. And the babies? They knew his face as well as hers or his father’s. Especially Odin. The two were inseparable. Attica loved him too, and seemed already smitten; cooing when he held her in his arms and wrapping his finger in her hands as if it were her favorite doll to hold…
“You okay?” Yanai asked. Raiyla glanced up at the Zabine woman who sat at the end of the bed. Make that one very pregnant Zabine woman. “You look a little pale. Do you want to lie down?” Suddenly Raiyla started to laugh.
“I think we should be asking you
that, Yaya! Good lord but you are the strongest woman I know! You don’t even act like you’re pregnant.” Yanai grinned. It was true- up until only a month ago Yanai had acted exactly the same as ever. Now she was a little more tired than normal and had trouble using stairs, but she was still more than capable. Of course, the worst of it was the hormones. And not the crying type that Gwendolyn had experienced, or the angry hormones that Raiyla had suffered. No, they were the ‘dear gods if I don’t have you now I’ll die’ kind of hormones that involved Bowen and a very skilled hand late at night. Even now she blushed slightly to think of it. It often happened late at night when she would wake up heated and needy. Bowen, however, was either already awake or came too only moments after she opened her eyes. They were always that delicious burning gold- even if he was half asleep. He would take care of her until she’d had her fill, which needless to say usually lasted no longer than a few minutes she was so sensitive, and they both would fall asleep again. Yanai smiled and patted her full stomach with a sigh.
“Oh I feel wonderful. Heavy, but wonderful.” Raiyla smiled.
Suddenly the door opened and they turned to find Gwendolyn entering. Mathais looked up and grinned. "Look at Odin..." The red-haired baby bounced and laughed and Gwen smiled.
"He will be walking very... very soon..." She looked at Raiyla then. "Your life will be over once he starts."
“I worry for that one only,” Rai laughed. “He is already driving Luther mad!”
"No, mama will be fine, she has me! I'll keep him in line!" Mathias said with a nod of his head. Raiyla’s face softebned and she reached down to run her fingers through Mathais hair. He looked up at her with a smile that broke her heart it was so sweet. She looked at him with so much love. Gwen nodded.
"That's good of you Mathias...Raiyla, we near land...” Only then did Raiyla freeze. Nibbling on her lower lip she swallowed and looked to Gwendolyn who made her way to the bed and took her hand. “Luther and the men will be leaving soon... I'm going to stay here with you...”
“A-alright,” she said nervously.
“It will be okay,” Gwen assured her. “I have all the confidence in the world for your bastard husband." Gwen grinned then. "But I thought you'd like to go out and see him before we dock..."
“Oh! Oh yes, of course,” Raiyla said and allowed Gwendolyn to take Alex from her as she stood.
"Go on... I don't suspect they will lollygag on deck when we dock," she whispered. Raiyla glanced to Yanai who gave her a supportive gesture.
She climbed the stairs and exited up through the main hatchway, clutching a thick cloak about her; her thick cream gown fluttering at her ankles. What she saw made her heart skip a beat as she made her way onto the deck. The ferry had slowed, readying itself to dock. Fear consumed her at the sight of the contingent of guardsmen that had come to greet them. Dressed in battle armor and wielding lethal looking weapons, they were terrifying to her. Raiyla felt faint as she realized that even should Luther win- that would make her Queen- queen of these barbaric norsemen who could rip her apart with a single blow.
“Raiyla?!” Raiyla turned and saw that Luther and seen her and was marching towards her, Kyrian at his side. “What are you doing up here? It’s not safe.” He gripped her shoulders in his hands. “Go back down below and stay there until I come to get you. Gwendolyn will keep you safe.”
“I- I know!” Raiyla said, her voice laced with fear as she stared up at him; their blue eyes locking. “I just wanted to see you. To wish you luck.” Luther smiled and gripped her chin betwixt his fingers, tilting her head back so he could press his mouth over hers. The taste of him was divine and she wanted nothing more than to remain as they were in that moment. Her eyes fell closed and a tear slipped over her cheek.
“Come now, what’s this?” he asked softly when they had parted. Raiyla kept her eyes closed as he wiped it away. “Crying? For me? Don’t waste your tears my love. I’ll be victorious. You know I shall.”
“I know,” she whispered and fell against him. He hugged her tight.
“Aisling don’t,” Kyrian said quickly, a hand against Luther’s shoulder. Luther sighed but nodded and forced himself to pull Rai away from him.
“Kyrian’s right, Rai. They can’t see us like this. They’ll know you’re important to me. They can’t know too much. It’s not safe.” Raiyla opened her eyes and stared at him with tears but she nodded. Suddenly the entire ferry seemed to vibrate and the shudder to a stop and Luther stiffened. “We’ve docked. Go.” She stepped back and looked over at Bowen.
“Bowen? Keep him safe.” She looked to Luther once more. “Show him no mercy,” she said with all but a glare and turned to head back down. Luther watched her go, hands fisted at his sides.
As soon as the gangway had been lowered with a thud onto shore, Kyrian strode down followed by Luther, Ticarthis, Bowen, and Otto. Their faces were set in stone- their demeanors as still as the unwelcoming soldiers who immediately lowered their weapons until the spears and arrows were aimed at the newcomers. Luther gripped the hilt of his blade and frowned, but made no move otherwise; flanked on either side by the other men. Waela stood tall on deck watching them with arms crossed.
They were met by a man Luther did not recognize, but Kyrian did. He was at least a head shorter than the general, his long hair pulled back and eyes ringed with dark circles. He looked just a trite psychotic, but the glitter in his eyes informed then that he was very well aware of himself and his surroundings. Most of all, however, he was young; and he did not move, arms crossed over his chest with a smirk. “Kløggen,”
Kyrian growled in thick Cruig. “Where is Karrot?”
The young warrior called Kløggen arched a brow and grinned, curling his lip.“He’s not available to do your bidding anymore, Kyrian. He’s been dead nigh four months. His eminence tired of him.”
Kyrian looked furious, stiffening as Kløggen approached and raked his gaze over the line of men. Those blue eyes settled on Luther who glared back. “So…. You’re the bastard who thinks he is king.”
Luther arched a brow and much to Ticarthis’ astonishment replied flawlessly in the same tongue. Apparently while he and Bowen were away- the Luther had been taking lessons…“No- I am the bastard who knows he is king. And if you don’t mind, my friends here don’t speak our language. Why don’t you be a good little boy and speak Anglish.”
Kløggen actually barked a laughed as he glanced to the soldiers on either side of him.“Did you hear that boys? He wants us to speak Anglish! For his friends!”
The soldiers all around them broke out into laughter that reminded Ticarthis of the courtroom in Troth’lenka during Antigone’s trial.
asking,” Luther smiled darkly and unsheathed his sword. The impressive blade made Kløggen and those around them step back. The Ta’taran immediately recognized the sword. “That blade!” he snapped, voice thick as he spoke finally in Anglish. “Where did you get it!” Luther palmed the hilt with a sneer, the sapphire glittering.
“A good friend gave it as a gift- and I’ve got to say, she’s beautiful…” Without warning he swung out and the sword struck one of the crystal pikes that a soldier had- cleaving it straight in two. “And handles real
well.” The soldiers looked astonished. Ticarthis and Bowen shared a look. Kyrian just looked proud- though he hid it behind his stoic mask. “Now then- I ain’t got all day. Take me to Auldran or your head will be next.”
“There’s no need for that,” a dark voice said. Luther blinked and turned his head to watch the sea of soldiers part to reveal Auldran dressed like a king, making his way towards him; eyes as steely as ever. Just as angry and heartless as ever. Luther could feel Kyrian beside him, go so tense he was liable to snap like a string.
“Well, well boy. Didn’t you learn your lesson? I thought I beat the lies out of you last time we met.” Luther offered him an equally evil smirk.
“I’m Ta’taran,” he said, using Kyrian’s very words. “I don’t go down easy…”