The ship rocked wildly as the waves crashed against the starboard side, driving the ship closer to the rocks. Stig, her horse, shifted nervously, pulling on his reins. Karyna held the gelding’s head, whispering softly in his ear to calm him as she stroked his neck. The storm was coming in fast, and the waves were making a quick landing nearly impossible.
“Hard to starboard! Hard to starboard! If we hit that rock we are going down!” The ship slowly turned, the Viking oarsmen straining and grunting as they fought against the howling winds and waves. Narrowly, the ship avoided the menacing rock as the ship turned into the harbor. It was with enormous relief that the Viking sailors finally docked the ship and set foot on solid ground once more.
“Karyna! Bring that horse of yours and hurry up!” Karyna ignored her uncle, taking her time getting Stig off the ship. The men may have been eager to be on land, but the horse was clearly the most relieved, leaping onto the shore enthusiastically, stomping his feet as if testing to see if the ground was now solid. Reluctantly, Karyna took Stig’s reins and began up the path towards the village, situated amongst the rocky hills.
Despite the impending storm, half the village was out to greet the new arrivals.
“Oleg! You are late!”
“I do not control the weather, Imrich. We are here now, that is what matters.”
“So this is the famous Bloody Rose,” Imrich said, moving closer to Karyna. His examination made her uncomfortable, but she remained still and emotionless as he walked around her slowly.
“Yes, I can tell she is strong. She will be able to bear many sons. Come, we shall feast tonight in celebration!” The hoard of men behind Karyna cheered, looking forward to strong mead and mutton. She just winced as they brushed passed her. Following them slowly, she made her way towards the chief’s hall, looking around for somewhere to put Stig so he would be sheltered from the storm.
“Do you need any help?” said a kindly voice from off to the right. Karyna looked around and saw a pale, dark-haired woman smiling at her.
“I was looking for a place to keep my horse, actually,” Karyna said, emotionless.
“I can help you with that,” the woman said, gesturing for Karyna to follow her. “I am Freydis. Daughter of Imrich.”
“I am Karyna. I am here to marry your brother Garik.”
“Do not look so displeased!” Freydis said with a laugh, entering the stables and indicating a place for Stig among the other horses. “Garik is a mighty warrior and will make a fine husband. Together you will prosper and have many sons.”
Karyna did not reply. She would reserve judgment on Garik until she met him.Serealities
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