A New Home
- The Grave of Valkyries – Part 1
- The Grave of Valkyries – Part 2
- The Evidence
- A Stopping Place
- The Storm
- Ragnar’s Hall
- Not Like Indiana Jones
- A Homecoming, A Gift
- Dragon Heads
- Dust and Misogyny
- Stone Walls
- The Vikings
- Circumstantial Truths
- Dance With Me
- Find a Question
- A New Home
- The King
- Three Springs
- Goodbye, Hello
- Unexpected Arrivals
- Bishop vs Rook
- Cause of Death
- Midnight Visitor
- Dark Nights
- Good Morning (pending)
They boarded a small ship on the beaches near Ingrid’s family house. Sigrid and Rionan sat aboard deck and held tight while Ingrid, Helgi, and Bo threw their weight at shoving the stout frame into the water. The sand crunched and shifted beneath their feet. Foam and cold seawater dribbled into their shoes, but the hull finally budged and bobbed into the bay.
“Move,” Ingrid commanded. Helgi dashed across the shallows and tide pools to grab the railing and catapult himself into the boat. Rionan watched him glance up to see if Sigrid was looking. His face fell when he saw that she was busy watching her father’s figure vanish as they left the shore. Rionan knew how she felt.
She pulled Helgi towards the paddles and directed him to grab one so they could prepare to row.
“Ingrid,” she yelled. If the other woman heard her, she gave no sign. Her master’s tall build disappeared into the murky gray waters inch-by-inch as she hauled the boat further into the bay. Rionan cupped her hands around her mouth and tried again. “Ingrid!”
Ingrid turned, waist deep in the brew, and yelled something, but the wind snatched her voice and shrieking gulls and terns congregated overhead.
“What?” Rionan wished Ingrid hadn’t used such a long rope. It was only her second voyage in this life. She didn’t know how to prepare a ship for a journey.
“Man the oars,” Ingrid yelled. Waves slapped her on the side or back with every shouted word. “Paddle!” The deck beneath her bobbed as Rionan ran to comply, screaming for Helgi to start. Sigrid seemed to snap out of her reverie when she saw them run to the benches.
“What should I do?” She wrung her hands while waiting for instructions. Her mother had dressed her in the warmest gown she owned and layered her with scarves and gloves. Her eyes were swollen and her nose red from sobbing through her goodbyes. She’d never looked more like a young girl than she had at that moment. Thankfully, Ingrid had mentioned what to have Sigrid do.
“Make sure the rudder stays locked,” she said. It was a simple task that required Sigrid to stay out of the way. Sigrid manned the rudder while Helgi and Rionan paddled.
Slowly, the ship moved without Ingrid’s tugs. Despite that, she didn’t appear. While she was stuck on the bench rowing, Rionan couldn’t see over the edge of the boat. She kept looking for a hand or head to appear over the railing. It didn’t, but they continued to pull, moving further and further toward the mouth of the bay. She chewed on her lip nervously. Surely it was too deep for Ingrid to still be walking? A part of her wanted to turn and see if she had been left behind and was watching them sail off, but she refused.
A hand slapped the rail next to her face, startling her. She dropped the oar.
“Good work,” Ingrid grunted as she hauled herself over the side and flopped onto the deck.
“What took you so long?” she snapped before grabbing Ingrid’s offered hand to pull her upright. A quick glance up and down told her that Ingrid was fine, just soaked and a little blue around the lips. She shivered as she stood.
“They did not gift me with the ability to fly,” she grumbled while wrapping a coat around her shoulders. “Keep our pace steady. Once we breach the mouth, I’ll set loose the sail.” Rionan nodded and continued to row. Ingrid passed her to offer a few words to Helgi and her sister before fiddling with the knots that held the sail in place.
The open ocean greeted them with heavy gusts that tried to push them back to shore, but they paid them no mind. With one last look back at the beach, Ingrid sighed and loosed the sail.
As the heavy canvas dropped and billowed full, Ingrid kept a white-knuckled grip on the line, barking at Sigrid to hold the rudder on course. Slowly, they gained speed. Rionan pulled her oar out of the water and tucked it beside the bench. She motioned to Helgi to do the same.
They spent the next few days like that, catching the wind when they could, rowing when it was unavailable. This boat was much smaller than the ship Ingrid had commanded on Rionan’s first voyage. Its deck was just big enough to store the two trunks of clothes and valuables they’d collected, along with enough food and water to last until the next port. At night, they anchored and slept side-by-side under heavy, oiled skin. A fine layer of salt crusted over it during the nights, but it kept out the damp.
Sigrid tried to learn a bit to be helpful; she held the oar and the rudder and assisted with raising and lowering the sail. Her greatest assistance came from helping Helgi when his sea sickness was too much to bear. By the time they anchored in Laithland, the two had become quite close.
Rionan stuck close while Ingrid spoke with the local tradesman and shop owners. The dialect differed from what she’d learned from Bo, and she could only understand every third word. They bought more dried fruits and meat and paid for information on a settlement near Hjaltland. They spent the night on deck and left with a new heading in the morning.
“They say it’s in an archipelago, and plenty of Norsemen have settled there. We won’t be alone,” Ingrid explained. “Land is plentiful, and we’ve enough coin to buy.”
“Papa sent my dowry for insurance,” Sigrid chimed in. “Use it if you need to, Ingrid.”
“I will not touch your dowry,” Ingrid snapped. “You’ll need it in the future.” She glanced at Helgi, who dreamily watched Sigrid. “Possibly sooner than you think.”
Sigrid grit her teeth, but nodded. “I just wanted to help.” Ingrid wrapped a hand around her sister’s shoulder and squeezed.
“I know,” she said. “But I have enough gold to buy land and a few animals for us. There’ll be plenty to help with then. I won’t leave you to sit idle. I promise we’ll have a house as good as Father’s, one that even Yrsa would approve of.”
Sigrid sniffed and swiped at her eyes. “I believe you.”