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  • Writer's pictureLaurel Knight

Valkyrie Fallen - Chapter 7



Fortunately for me, Skarde wasn’t a one-and-done kind of viking and I was eventually able to get off. By that time, I was ripping drunk and fell blissfully into a deep and dreamless sleep.

The waking up part was a lot rougher.

My valkyrian body may be ever youthful, but I’d never been great at getting over hangovers. It’d been years since I drank that much, and there was bound to be a price to pay.

That price caught up to me sooner than I’d hoped. 

“You should get dressed,” Skarde grunted in my direction, slamming the wooden door and cutting off the eye-searing beam of daylight that had woken me. “It’s midday. My wife will be home soon.”

“Your wife?” I struggled to grasp the concept over the pounding sensation in my skull. “Why did you invite me to stay if you have a wife?”

“She was gone, you were here.” He shrugged. “But now she will be back and it’s better if you go before that happens.”

Typical fucking egotistical asshole. I almost cussed him out, but I realized my favorite insults were in a language he wouldn’t appreciate and I would waste it on him. I found my dress and my underclothes and slipped on my shoes, wondering if I should treat him to my steel after all.

These thoughts fled when I looked up and saw what he offered: a fresh mug of beer, and a handful of silver pieces. “I can’t let you stay here, but as a thank you for your help, please accept this silver. It should be enough to help you survive until you can start earning your keep. Several of the farmers up the road are looking for help. And the beer will help with the headache.” Skarde grinned, and I let the resentment slip from my face as I accepted his gift.

“Thank you, Skarde.” I threw back the warm beer and accepted one more mug before I left. Outside, he showed me to a rain bucket where I could wash up, and even let me use his bone comb to tidy my hair.

Even though he was showing me the door, Skarde watched me brush my mane with hungry eyes. I knew my hair was unusual, even among the fair-haired vikings. Its silvery tones appeared almost like the chunks of metal I hid in a pouch tied to my belt, and no one on earth had hair quite like it. To be honest, it was nice to be back to my natural color again. I suppose I could thank Odin for that. No matter how many times I dyed it, nothing felt as good as the way I was meant to be.

Face freshly scrubbed, hair combed and loosely braided, I was a good deal more presentable than I’d been the night before, with straw in my hair. I’d left my sword propped against the side of his house, and now Skarde held it, examining the ornate hilt and pommel. When he caught me watching him, he handed it over, grinning.

“That is quite a sword, Brenna. How do you have such a weapon and nothing else?”

“I’d give up any possession in order to keep it,” I answered. “And I have, many times. It’s worth more to me than its weight in gold.”

Skarde nodded. “You are a good fighter, but a fighter is nothing without a sword.”

My link to this weapon was beyond his ability to understand, but I nodded as if I agreed. “Where did you say I might find a place to stay and work?”

“Further up the hill, away from the harbor, are several farmers that have no slaves, so they may be willing to barter work for pay or lodging. If you go back into town, the chieftain’s house is right in the center. You should go there and ask for help. He may allow you to stay there, or he may direct you to someone interested in accepting your silver for food and lodging. He will want to know how you came to be here… I suggest you have more of a story for him than you gave me,” he raised a brow with intent. “You may give my name as a recommendation, if he asks.”

“Thank you, Skarde. I appreciate your help.”

“Consider my debt for your help paid,” he grunted, then pushed off from the side of his house.

“Goodbye, Brenna.” And with that, he turned and walked back into his house.

Fucking infuriating vikings. Gruff and rude as all hell, and yet thoughtful and generous and almost endearing. The sooner I wrapped my mind around these people and their habits, and forgot the civilized society of the twenty-first century, the better off I’d be.

Speaking of mind… the beer had helped to ease my headache, but it was still a dull throb in my temple. The sun was high in the sky, warm on my exposed face and neck, and the air temperately cool enough for my grey rough spun dress. But I knew it would only be a few hours before the sun dipped behind the jagged mountain walls of the fjord and the temperature dropped dramatically.

Skarde’s home was on the flat of a hill overlooking the small collection of houses that huddled around the harbor, forming the village. The path he’d pointed out split, one lane going to town and the second heading up toward the farms where he said I might secure work.

I chewed over my options. On one hand, it might benefit me to throw myself on the mercy of the village chieftain and use the pity angle. It could get me hooked up much faster, and much easier, than I could do on my own. Plus, I had Skarde’s name to use as a reference, which he seemed to believe would help me.

On the other hand, I’d never been the type to ask for any kind of handout. I chafed at the idea of what a chieftain might expect in return for granting me favors, and it would be difficult for me to prove myself a warrior and convince him to give me a ship to captain if he saw me as some pathetic near-slave.

No, it was probably better for me to lie low, put in some work, and start making connections in town. Once I was more known, properly clothed and armed, I could get on a raiding party and start earning a reputation.

My feet followed the narrow rocky trail where it angled uphill toward the looming walls of stone.

Day labor for now, but it wouldn’t be long before I was earning my keep at the tip of a sword.

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