Sigurd & Triss Reunited

The wooden door creaked a loooong creak, as Sigurd swung open the barrier to the darkness. He stepped inside. The roof had collapsed in one or two minor places, letting afternoon shine upon a dusty interior. Rusted, cobwebbed stoking tools propped where they’d been left. Ancient floorboards complained under the weight if his boots. He sat on the edge of the bed where he had left his wife to protect her. Her body, swelling with their third child, her unconscious face peacefully serene, the taste of berries on her lips …were not where he had left them. The laughter of his toddlers did not call out in this tomb where breezes saw fit to run through and hide. The fire pit across from him sat like him, an older man, an old thing, not warming anyone for quite some time. His sad rueful eyes tried to put down his memories in the place where they once lived, but each memory refused to stay in this empty place. Sigurd inhaled deeply, just about to bury hope when the door burst open! A middle aged man with long strawberry blonde hair swept back and braided either side with a beard traditionally cropped like his succeeded in knocking the door of its remaining hinge. Slam! The door hit the floor, rushing a stream of dust past Sigurd’s boots and reverberating the timbers of the home. Sigurd gasped inaudible. Panicked momentarily that the roof might not hold. The younger man too, realizing the headlong error, paused listening to the home groan his hearty greeting. Both men’s eyes silently studied and listened to the timbers complain and settle, holding their breaths. Sigurd turned to the young man, one brow raised in question. “Sigurd?” He asked. Sigurd regarded the young man closer. Recognition and confusion registered in the old man’s eyes. “Halvor?”

“Halvor was my father. I’m his son, Egil”

Egil motioned Sigurd outdoors. The village was starting to come to life. He could smell eggs and milk, hear the sounds of livestock. Yet Sigurd felt very out of place. Egil sensed Sigurd was overwhelmed. “Come, my father’s friend. Come to our table and eat of our hospitality. Please. Please.”

Sigurd turned to look toward his home, uncertainty and dilemma punctuated his silence. At that moment, the roof caved in. Sigurd gave a loud cry and clutched grasping his hands to the grass and stones at the threshold. His shoulders shaking in defeated sobs, like a broken little boy. Egil knelt by the older man. What had his father’s friend been through? What was it like to watch everything you built with your hands go right before your eyes and think your family was gone as well? He rubbed Sigurd’s arms up and down reassuringly with his hands. Giving them a manly squeeze. Speaking, “Well, the old girl would laugh that this place actually stood up for this long.” Sigurd looked quizzically at him through welled up eyes. “Come to our table. Eat of of our food and drink. There is lots to tell. You hear the tale fed and warm, eh?” Allowing Egil to lead him away from the collapsed monument as neighbors gathered and started to whisper and stare at him, he entered into a warm home with little ones running and shouting, a teenage boy and girl coming in and out taking to the chores of the homestead. His tongue tasted warm wine, milk, his belly warmed with meat and eggs as he listened to the long story that had continued in his absence. He stopped when Egil mentioned Triss was still alive and well. The old man spluttered over his questions that interuppted the story of the village diverting down the stream to know how Triss looked, details. How old were his children. What did they look like? Why did Triss no longer live here in the village. Assured that Perth had been slain and recounting the tale from the horse’s mouth, it was overwhelming. His eldest child held the Royal position in a faraway country and they had not grown in farm life. Oh, but they had, Egil assured Sigurd. The two younger ones stayed on with their mother once she retired from being regent. His first born son is betrothed to a European highborn. His second son is upcoming leader and their daughter still has some years to go until marriage. I think they have been holding on for you to return.

Sigurd’s mind swirled with questions that could only be answered on the morrow. Egil told him that after some sleep and more food, he would point Sigurd toward where Triss now lived.

How had she lived these 7 years without him? Why would she choose to live outside the village on her own? Did she feel she was capable and didn’t want or need him anymore? Sigurd slipped under the covers, playing over and over the times Triss and he had made love, all the little things he said, all the little smiles and glints in her eyes that his edification elicited. But for the first time in a long time, the memories felt tangible amongst the village he had called home. He could almost feel her next to him. Almost hear her soft, low humming. Almost smell the dried flowers and berries she insisted on collecting each summer to make into soaps and other items that brought pleasant aromas into their house and pleased him immensely to inhale her femininity.

Just as the night was melting to deep periwinkle sky, Sigurd woke. He took the bar of lye soap, the clean set of cloths Egil had given him, a razor and set off for the river. Upon reaching it, Sigurd ducked behind a cluster of trees, undressing. He plunged into the cold water thoroughly awakened and emerged shaking his golden river of hair. “Brrrrah”. Scrubbing himself, splashing water and dipping into the current with the lye bar and the other plant glop for his hair, he trimmed his beard. He also rubbed on overhanging pine branches and other specific requested plants that he remembered Triss had loved so much that had led to quite a few times  of her turning into a wild woman. Dipping under the water, he untangled his long strawy hair with his fingers, remembering how Triss used to brush through his hair with her delicate fingers picking at tangles or knots. As water rushed past his face and ears, so did the memories of their spot up in the mountains their first time as man and wife.

But even before that, he had hauled a bedraggled, sopping wet, woolen-logged, nearly drowned Triss out of the ocean. Many a conversation they had enjoyed by the seashore. Somehow…suddenly…and inexplicably…going to meet her at her home now in the forest…just didn’t feel right. Maybe he should just let things be? He had been playing over in his mind the memories of the home they had had, but that was not where their journey began. Inexplicably, he wanted to go back to the start. Back before they were wed, reflect more on things that he hadn’t touched in his mind for a long time.  So, donning his clean apparel and clean cloak and boots, he blotted his long hair as dry as he could with a cloth, striding off in the direction of the seashore.

Triss woke to the chirps and symphonic variety or morning heralds. She smiled. Her daughter, Eira, and herself had finished planting the gardens this week. Though she was tired from the labor, she was comforted by good dreams of Sigurd. She ached for her children to have their father back. It had been three years since she last had that dream knowing he was alive. The dreams she had recently were merely fanciful hope perhaps, but comforting nonetheless. It was nice to have pleasant dreams for a change. She crept into Eira’s shelter. Should she let her son, Heirlief, just rest? Hmm. She hated waking him, but decided to give them both the choice. Knocking at the posts to their shelters, she asked each of them if they would like to accompany her to the beach on the day of rest to relax by the sea and collect for shells. Something they had not done for a long time. The prospect of fun in the tone of her proposition (and no work) bounded both youths from sleep in excited exclamations.

The morning turned out a pleasant walk down the mountain paths to the sloping long grasses that led to the creamy white sands. Morning was the best time to collect shells. One had enough energy at the morning tide rather than evening and the air was that more invigorating. The scent of the salt tickled her nostrils and she smiled. Loons and gulls called to one another and the repetitious rush of water over the sandy stretches called to her heart. They left their footware behind and Triss enjoyed squishing her bare toes into the watery sand. She watched as little Eria and Heirleif competed for who could bring their mother the biggest shell. Or the most colorful. Triss smiled. She picked along the sand, to see if she could find shells suitable to make a necklace. Looking up at an argument breaking out between siblings and readying herself to step into the fray, something else broke her peace. A stranger on the seashore. At a distance, but still, an unwelcome uncertainty to their peace. Silencing her growing children, drawing them to her, behind her, she stood fast…watching the strange man. He was tall, strong, had removed his shirt and cloak, having slung them over his shoulder in one fist. Long straw colored hair billowed out behind him breathed on by the sea breeze. His chest muscles and arms and indeed the rest of him muscular…what was this man doing out here, alone, without a shirt? Oddly familiar… Shaking her head, she again told Eira and Heirlief to be quiet and if she gave them their agreed signal–to run…no matter what happened to her. Run up through the mountain to the village. One arm crooking her basket of shells, her opposite hand to her dagger hilt, biting the right bottom of her lip, she began walking forward. The man turned toward her and the children upon hearing the contention and turned to walk away back into the long feathery, light-green grasses further away down the shore. He walked about 20 paces, then turned again, facing her. She stopped, hand on hilt. Unsure of what his next move would be. Though the shore was still overcast in the morning, she put a hand over her eyes, mainly to keep the wind from blowing her hair in her face. The man released his grip on his cloak and shirt. They drifted away on the wind, tumbling and swirling on the sand. She strained her eyes. The man called out her…name. “NIAAA!!” Her heart jumped into her throat. She KNEW that voice! She felt like the wind was knocked out of her momentarily and her feet refused to move. He called out her name again, “NIA!!!!”  joyously…and started running toward her. She threw up her basket of shells above her head, letting it land behind her. With a cry of recognition washing away the sandcastle of disbelief. Hiking up her skirt fronts, her bare feet splashing the tideline, hope propelled her headlong. She could not…would not, stop! Sigurd must have realized this, because he slowed down and stopped himself, opening his arms wide to his wife, tears of joy streaming down her face as she choked back sobs from years without him. Breath sucked from her lungs, his pine eyes drew her in like a beacon. She rammed into him, knocking him flat backward into the wet sand. Kissing him and kissing him and sobbing and kissing him. He put his hands round his wife’s face, brushing away her tears with his thumbs. Her beautiful, freckled, snivelling, tear-streaked face, her copper tresses framed by white strands. Smile wrinkles about her mouth and eyes. Good. Even though they had had their share of sorrow, her life had still held joy. His prayers on that had been answered. One more question remained. He turned his head slightly left and took her left hand. His wedding ring was still on her finger. He started to cry in relief. His wife was wiping her nose on her right sleeve. He kissed her left hand. Taking his arm, he put his hand round back the nape of her neck, holding a handful of her hair underneath and gently brought her down. Mouth to mouth. Long and deep and exploring.

His hands cupping her cheeks, not wanting to let go of actually touching his wife’s face. He let go, though–pushed himself up to sitting, washed the sand from one hand in the surf water and stroked her sleeved arm. She wrapped her arms round his neck. He caressed her side. Slipping his fingers to the underdress through the side, and beginning to take concealed liberties as her husband, long missed. Nose to nose, Triss smiled. Neither of them said anything. Not yet. They just sat. Gazing at each other. He glanced behind her. Two older children stood, clutching one another fearfully. “I think the children are not sure if you or I are the victor of this attack.”

Wiping the streams from her eyes with the back of her hands, she straddled off of him, chuckling through happy sobs. He stood. It felt good to have Triss fussily attentive dusting sand off his back with a clean part of her cloak. Satisfactorily tidied, she folded her cloak over her arm. Her took her right hand, placed it round under his left forearm, his right hand on top of hers as they walked side by side toward the children, who relaxed, seeing their mother was respected and smiling. They stopped a few feet away. Seven-year-old Eria had fewer freckles than her mother, but she had her father’s green eyes and fiery blonde hair. She lifted her brow like her mother, unsure of who he was. She hadn’t even been born when he had been called away. His arm round her, her older brother, eleven-year-old Heirlief looked concerned, but confused. Sigurd knelt on one knee, held out his right hand for his son in a manly greeting, choking back emotion, “Son?” Heirlief looked intently at him…then registration dawned on his small face at faint memories. Painful regret and relief twisting his sons countenance, he shouted “Fatherrrr!” He jumped into Sigurd’s arms.

Tears broke out again on Triss’s cheeks. She knelt and hugged her husband from the left side. Little Eira cautiously joined in on the family hug. Leaning into her daddy’s side, enjoying the protectiveness of his big muscled arm and shrieking with delight when Sigurd lifted her with ease off the ground, clinging to him like a squirrel, making Heirlief and Triss laugh. There were challenging days ahead on learning to be a family again and accepting Sigurd making the final decisions instead of just her, but today held unforgettable joy of reunion. They were a family again. She looked at Sigurd. Though years wore around his eyes…she could tell…when he was rested, He would come for her and slip into the forest for a talk and …and things…out of earshot of their children.

Perth

Triss ran through the aviatic conversations and squabbles ending with a reprimand at her passing disturbance and the occasional hum of bees up in high deadened trucks, Sigurd’s counting faded softer and softer as she giggled her way winding deeper into the pines shafted with golden light shafts, darting glances up for any trees she might shimmy up to hide behind with low enough branches, while she also kept her eyes on what was in front of her, not wanting to disturb or give away breaking shrubs or give clues to her trail. Panting, she bit her bottom lip excitedly. She needed to find a place quickly! Padding silently under some bushes beside the path and up a small jaunt she decided to slip over the crest of the hill and find a tree there…hopefully. As she emerged from the bushes on the hill’s opposite side taking a curved path to the left, she nearly collided with a man coming round one of the trees, carrying firewood! Both parties surprised, Triss gasped! She reached for her dagger hilt. The man in the black cape backed up a few steps, quietly and calmly, not letting go of the logs, perhaps which he anticipated as using as a weapon or tossing to distract her. Instead he calmly stated, “my apologies, lady for startling you.” She blinked. Yes. He had spoken Gaelic. Frowning, confused over what someone who spoke her mother tongue was doing here in the far north regions but also not wanting to ruin her fun with Sigurd, and very awkward feeling being with a strange man in the woods even though he made no sudden or threatening moves toward her, something deep down unpointed and undiscovered made her uneasy around him, despite him having a well shaven styled black thin beard framing the front of his chin and a line from the chin to bottom lip and long, shiny, slick, black hair falling either side of a pale, stouter, southern face with amicable and regarding grey eyes and lips of a winter masculine mauve tone, as if he belonged in such a season and not the happy warmth of the earthy and emerald scents and colors of early summer. Distrust written on her features, and hearing Sigurd getting closer, roaring exaggeratedly like a bear, crashing around, the strange man also looked in that direction. Still unsure of whether this man was a threat or not to her or Sigurd, she spoke brokenly in the tongue she had long left behind. “I am playing hide and seek with my husband”.

The stranger raised his black brows, grey eyes widening, in both surprise that she spoke Gaelic and an “ah” understanding expression, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. The man walked past her to the smokeless fire he had built and went about fueling the fire next to his pine branched shelter he had made.   She scanned around for a hiding place. Picking a tree, she quietly climbed, watching the stranger, hearing her husband roaring animatedly and wondering silently if she should or could outrun the stranger, if she was putting Sigurd in imminent danger or overreacting about odd things? Should she give her husband a signal? She hated the whole thing. The stanger’s presence tugged at her with questions. Seemingly unthreatening physically, his presence either way had ruined her and Sigurd’s play at the core. Time running out on her thoughts, Sigurd barreled into the clearing, encountering the strange man for himself. Composing himself and looking at the man suspiciously, Sigurd asked in Norwegian if the man had seen a woman, scanning the forest inconspicuously for her wherabouts or a sign from her. The man in dark cloak looked confused. Sigurd pantomimed the word woman and ran in place, then motioned a sweeping motion around the forest with one hand. The man in the dark cloak exaggeratedly shrugged, pantomiming back in hand gestures he saw no woman, but that he had seen a red headed bird in the trees, whistling like a bird and waving his hands like the wings of one. Sigurd’s hearty laugh rang through the small clearing chasing away, at least temporarily, the shadows. Even the man in the dark cloak grinned halfway, good naturedly, around his mouth and eyes. Triss quietly slipped to the side branches and pounced on Sigurd’s strong back. “OO..oohph” Sigurd expelled knowingly as Triss planted her lips firmly on his high cheekbone bared just above his cropped blonde beard. He scooped her thighs up behind him, dipping a bow as a thank you to the pale faced southerner and bounced and jostled Triss on his back lumbering back telling her silly things he was going to do with her all the way to the village until she laughed, but her laugh was tinged nervousness. She could sense the stranger’s eyes boring into her back, following them as they returned home. She didn’t want to know why he was here. She didn’t want to go back in the forest. She didn’t want Sigurd out there alone. She didn’t want the man with the unsettling, yet calm grey eyes coming into her village. She blamed herself for answering in Gaelic. Foolish. But something told her this would not be the last they saw of this man. And she didn’t like thatonelittlebit.

Zedekiah Weds Muskat

The village women spoke animatedly and made admiring noises punctuated by some doubtful last minute suggestions as they fingered and finished putting the last touches on Muskat’s braids and bustled about the room, fabric swishing and hand swatting and giggling. Although Muskat couldn’t see herself, she knew the women had done beautifully. She had requested the gown be a lighter blue cotton with white, scarlet and purple floral embroidery. Hands gently took hers beckoning her to stand as someone wrapped a long colorful belt round her waist. And tucked it in at her side, pulling it down to secure it, patting her on the shoulder. Multiple “Oooohhh’s” of admiration swept and bounced around her followed by a few comments brimming with choking emotion and nose sniffling.

Although she still was getting to know these women, she could speak brokenly in their tongue and they had come to her aid, visiting after Josiah had been killed, and Triss had departed for Scotland with her children, bringing her extra loaves, a few of them and their husbands and the father coming to help her in the wheat fields this summer. She was still learning to see things through her hands. She could still see the picture of the fields in her hands, picture birds flying, though she could not remember their different forms. She listened to their different calls. She turned her sigh into a smile. Outside she heard jovial instruments coming up the path. A flute, a harp, other stringed instruments and the bouncy fast and slow percussion of the deer hide drums, hands clapping in celebration. The ladies around her followed suit, clapping and stepping in time to the approaching music, lifting her heart with their loving respect honoring her. The atmosphere felt filled with love.

Two women led her out to the front porch as the wedding party approached in their Israeli tradition. Though she could not see Zedekiah,  she knew he was there, walking at the front in his tall confident stride. What did his tunic look like? She couldn’t wait to trace her fingers over the sewn patterns, over his smiling face, to ask him to tell her what he thought when he saw her in her wedding dress. She gulped down nervous excitement at the thought of trailing her hands down the bare chest, wrapping her hands round his arm muscles and other body parts of this man who was joining himself to her, knowing and facing the challenges of her not being able to see. This new man who would be husband. The ladies squeezed her hands and let go. As the music and the villagers whooping and exclaiming joy filled banter approached the house she was leaving behind that had been sold with Zedekiah’s advise to another and arranged for them to move in after they were wed.

Light excited footsteps descended past her. She folded her hands. After a minute, she felt a leather tough hand take her hand. Zedekiah! Warmth washed over her from head to toe. Delight radiated from her cheeks supported by her soft rose colored lips. His voice held a smile as she heard him say, “Step… Step… Step… Step.” As she took her skirt in her free hand to avoid tripping. Zedekiah eased his forearm under hers to help guide her, their fingers woven into each others. They walked down dirt paths to the stave church, now completed with the Zedekiah’s help and his convincing the men in the village to help.

The heart of the music danced around her body and blew on her heart like a life giving wind as a contrast to the sorrow she had been thawing from. The sound tasted and sounded like what she imagined the return of Messiach must feel like with joy like a wind sweeping through the souls and sailing, ascending out in beautiful expressions of leaving sorrow and frustration and all things sad or divisive to live in the present and celebrate two lives becoming one. As they walked, the flutists, the harpist and other strummers, the women carrying and beating the metallic timbrelled hand drums, danced on either side of her and her bridegroom. Singing a song about coming away. Yes. Muskat thought as she laughed and smiled on her dancing feet. Away from trouble. Away from sorrow. The Song of Solomon spoke in her heart, “Lo my love, the winter is past.”

Days prior Muskat had thought this day might hold some bit of sadness since Josiah could not share in this gladness. But she realized now, not just in her mind knowing the scriptures, that her Messiach was gifting her with a taste of joy that was eternal that Josiah was experiencing and living in forever. So, he was not missing out after all. And neither was she. For whatever reason, she and Zedekiah were granted a different gift. Life here. Together. As they approached the Stave Sanctuary Steps, she heard the hubbub of voices of even more people. She also smelled the various aromas of cooking mest and lovingly baked breads. The villagers, many whom she had come to know and be blessed with hailed Zedekiah and Muskat with a hoisting roar, “Heyyyyyyyy!!!”

Zedekiah gave her hand a loving quick squeeze. He laughed heartily back good-naturedly to their neighbors and unfolding friends. They danced to the huppah at the doors to the church in front of the grinning father. The rowdiness quieted to listen to Father Aeduuin.

Quickly clearing his throat, Aeduuin asked loudly, so people could hear, “Does anybody here have any reason or impediment that these two should not be co-joined?”

The air was hung full of hushed honesty.

“Anybody? …Anybody at all?”

Only the fires cooking the meat crackles noisily.

Father Aeduuin grinned and jested, “Good! You passed the first question”

Chuckles broke out amongst the guests as well as the couple.

Lowering his voice to address the couple, Aeduuin asked, “And what about you, Zedekiah Ben Joseph?” Aeduuin turned to him a little more serious, “Do you know in your heart any reason why you should not take Muskat Beir Levi to be your wife?”

Zedekiah replied, “I know no reason that Muskat and I should not marry.”

Aeduuin turned to Muskat, “And what of you Muskat. Know you of any inward impediment that you should not be Zedekiah’s wife?”

“I know no reason why I should not be Zedekiah’s wife” Muskat said, tears of joy escaping her sightless earthen eyes.

“Well congratulations to you both.” Aeduuin made a slight bow,  “May you keep one another in honesty and kindness.”

Returning to his crowd voice, the father stated in Norse, “Neither Zedekiah nor Muskat have any reason or impediment to be conjoined in Holy matrimony.”

Cheers and warlike whoops and high pitched lelelele’s waved over the crowd like a sprouting field.

Father Aeduuin waved them back down to silence, smiling. Looking around, he said, “Who has the rings?”

Egil moved forward, handed the rings to Aeduuin before returning to his spot where he had been standing, who in turn passed both rings to the proper party.

Zedekiah looked down at her hand, and held it, placing the ring on her right ring finger as was tradition in the North. Swallowing he said, moved in Norse, “Muskat Beir Levi, I first saw you in the fields in your orange headscarf and simple dress like you had popped out of the sacred word of Torah, portion of Ruth. Like Ruth had Boaz, you had me from that moment. Wondering about you, wanting to know your story. As I heard all you have been though, I only grow in admiration of your trust in our Lord and Savior and our heavenly Father Yaweh. I am so so happy that those who cared for you until I came can celebrate with us today…” Zedekiah wiped his sleeve over his eyes, his voice full of emotion, and squeezed Muskat’s hand. She squeezed back. “My beautiful, gentle, determined, big-hearted Muskat, with this ring, I promise to honor you, protect you, love you, respect you. If you are ill I will do whatever is in my power to help heal you. When God gives us bounty, I share it freely with you. We are one. When God puts us to the test with little, I ask you to pray with me and steward what has been given well. Today is a day celebrating life, but because of our forefathers we have to face the reality of death daily. We both know that very well…” tears welled in his eyes, “but…” he continued in a determined tone, “until the day death separates us, I promise God and I promise you that I will lean on and seek His strength love you, Muskat, not my own. With this ring, I wed thee.”

Tears were flowing freely down, and even Aeduuin blinked to keep from crying. Smiling, she cracked a joke to transition the mood, “I guess this is what happens when a father and a rabbi attend a wedding feast.”

Laughs broke from the sniffling, joy teared onlookers who then quieted as their beloved and respected widow of their village put the ring on the finger Zedekiah pointed from his other closed fingers to make it easy on her. Waiting to hear what she had to say:

“Zedekiah bar Joseph, out of the heart the mouth speaks. The words that pour from your heart touch my own. Your heart has wonderful things to say and without my eyes, words and action speak at greater volumes before I lost my eyesight. God has taught me through you the deeper meanings day by day what it truly means to walk by trusting and not just by seeing what is ahead of me. I did not see myself losing my sight and I did not see or know you would come into my life as such a gift. I pray God give me the strength as well to love you, not that you are not lovable, just that love is tested. May he refine the metal of our vows as just as the metal for these rings. I thank God for smiling on me…bringing me you…I had almost forgotten what it was to smile in this life so deeply. I want share smiles with you with the days God grants us. If you are ill, as your helper, as the Spirit is God’s helper, I will stay with you, praying health over you and do what is in my power to restore your health. Having been a widow, I have little economy to bring, but what little I have I share with you. We are joining as one. I freely share all the inheritance God has given me with you. It is my joy to steward what has been given with you, Zedekiah. For I know what it is to steward things alone. We have been entrusted to one another. I pray you know as we go forward, I will seek to bless you and bless the heart of Yeshua by doing so. Love is as powerful as death, so even though we are older and that prospect is ever possible, long life to our life together. With this ring I wed there.”

Father Aeduuin added a few words, as he dabbed his sleeve, “I have preached on the power of God, my neighbors, but know that His power shining in the union of these two whom you have gotten to know is worth thinking upon. I would like to honor the couple with a blessing of the Scripture.” Aeduuin sang in Hebrew then translated into Norwegian, “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you. May the Lord be gracious to you and give you peace.” Finally Aeduuin concluded in a loud, smiling voice, “I present to you, Zedekiah and Muskat Ben Joseph!!! Zedekiah, kiss your bride!”

Zedekiah held onto her one hand in his and lifted her chin with the knuckles of his other hand, bent and gave her a long kiss which she reciprocated as the sound of a myriad of pairs of hands clapped and clapped and clapped and the feasting commenced.

Muskat enjoyed basking in the cheer and the smells of food as Zedekiah repetitively cued her to open her mouth or “Here, try this. So and so made/cooked it” for her to enjoy the meal they shared, as she sat on his lap. Many people came to them and offered personal congratulations and reflections on what was spoken. Men kissed her hand, and patted Zedekiah on the shoulder, women kissed her cheek. Zedekiah even whispered laughing the description of Father Aeduuin giving dancing a try with the villagers. It was all so wonderful.

However, time came soon enough for her bridegroom and her to go to their new home. A chant went up, getting louder as more and more joined in, “Plant the trees! plant the trees! Plant the trees!” Amidst long “whoooooop”s. Zedekiah led her to their new home as people flowed in step alongside them like water. He led her to her space by the right of the door, setting her kneeling and handed her a digging tool while he went to work on the opposite side. When she had dug some, he came over and inspected her work. Then put the tree her tree in and they patted the earth round the young sapling together.

“Here, wipe your hands on my tunic.” He said. She gratefully complied, thanking him. Looking worried, her features telling him she hated to get his wedding tunic dirtied. “It’s a memory I want to keep.” He whispered in her ear. He hoisted her into his arms, carrying her over the threshold of their new home, closing the door with his booted foot behind him as the silent onlookers outside listened, waiting dutifully.

Setting Muskat on her feet, Zedekiah turned and placed the bar across the door to keep it shut. Turning again he stood before her. The smell of the fit trees and dirt lingered on his hands and the smell of lye and his own comforting scent filled her nostrils. He rubbed her earlobe in circles between his thumb and finger. She lifted her hands to his face tracing it, lightly. He stood still letting her “see” his face, rubbing his chin stubble. Her hands trailed to his strong neck, tracing his veins down to his firm chest. She attempted to pull his tunic from the front. Quietly, he took her hands in his studying her expressions. Guiding her to take the hem of the tunic, he let her raise it up. He completed taking it off, settling it aside, letting her hands run down his sculpted chest and muscled abdomen and back up again. Placing his hands around her slender waist, he backed her up to the bed edge and sat her down gently. He knelt in front of her, his face in front of hers, kissing her. She dipped her tongue into his mouth, so he started untying her bodice front, loosening the the ribbons slowly. When they were, still kissing deeply together, he nudged her on her back, the back of his fingers caresses the top of her bosoms. She felt the hair on the back of his hand and the cool metal of his wedding ring. The beautiful stillness was shattered by an impatient, disappointed sound crowd outside.

She felt Zedekiah mouth turn up in a smile as he was kissing her mouth. “They are eager for our consummation.”

Muskat sighed exasperatedly.

His voice mischievous, he asked quietly, “I know how to get them to leave us alone.”

“How?”

Unexpectedly, Zedekiah let out a cry as if they had peaked together. He clapped his hand over her mouth firmly, before they could hear her bust out laughing. She shook with muffled laughter so hard, tears streamed out her eyes. She felt him laughing quietly as well. When he was sure her giggles had bubbled out, he lifted his hand from her mouth. Switching modes, she followed suit, letting out a cry. Zedekiah, caught off guard, paused momentarily before leaning down to whisper earnestly in her ear and nibbling it, “Oh, Muskat, you undo me with your cries.”

Triss & Sigurd Start Their Year Together Part 1

Triss breathlessly and fleetly followed her newly declared husband through the forest as dark green and black hues swept by them as they ran, as their hearts bubbled laughter, his hand sure and warmly enveloping over her small one. She watched as his golden streams billowed as he charged into the darkness. She just followed the wonderful sound of his laugh. Sigurd was a sage and quiet person, mostly talking with his eyes or summing up his speech concisely, but he let her see and hear into his world. Now that they were legally man and wife she wondered what made him laugh, what did how think about deeply? What did he like to learn about? His laugh, deep and richly unbridled had power. The power to make her smile. He whooped and grabbed her round her waist, lightly tossing her and catching her, making her shrill in surprise setting her firmly in front of himself. Chest heaving beneath his bridegroom shirt, not unlike a stallion who had been galloping, Sigurd leaned his forehead down tenderly to touch hers. “Nia. Inhale. Nia. Inhale. She lifted her face to touch her forehead to his. His eyes were open. He was smiling…yet, there were tears brimming in his eyes. What was wrong? She looked up at him her big green eyes shaded with questioned concern. Sigurd looked at her. “You are beautiful.” She cried herself, relieved. “Sigurd, you are stunning. She placed her hand on his calming tunic atop his chest. I am safe in your heart as home. We are a gift to one another. I pray and hope I can meet your hopes expectations.”

“We can both pray and work through what we expect and what more importantly God whom now you and I both call Father, expects. He is who brought us together.” Sigurd nibbled her ear and kissed her cheek. “We have much of the night to talk as we go to the place I have chosen for us to spend some time together.” His grin a mixture mischievousness and self-assuredness.

Tilting her head to the side, she eyed him. Smiling. One brow raised, “Well, I certainly look forward to seeing this place you have picked for us.”

Sigurd, still grinning, gasped her hand in his, tugging her gently to his side. They had the whole night to speak as they ascended to his mountain refuge. He picked off the tree the blanketing and material for their tent once they reached the place he had scouted to bring his bride, deep into God’s creation as waning moon and ever present stars sang a lighted pathway to their feet to the heights.

An Antler Ring

The paddle heaved aquatic sloshes and drips as it Sigurd rotated the oar of their small boat through the clear, cold waters of the bay. The wind frolicked down the tall mountains, winding its way like an ecstatic toddler through the slopes and meadows to the beach sands, like a refrain between the chorus of an aviary symphony occasionally interrupted by the cries of geese, gull, and occasional loon. It was a gorgeous spot. Sigurd watched her, sitting knee to knee with her in the small craft. The smell of salt mingled with the sweet aspen.  The lengthening shadows of evening added to the untamed excitement of this wild scape. Triss inhaled deeply this wild placenta she felt so safe within, the song of the sounds she heard through closed eyelids as if it were drumming a heartbeat of comfort, as if she were surrounded by her own mother’s heartbeat, hearing it within the belly. Exhaling, she opened her eyelids slowly and contentedly. Sigurd smiled in his eyes back at her. He stopped rowing and the boat came to a standstill on the serene water. He studied her, letting her relax and taking the a short time to enjoy the various sounds to which their own seemed to add such dissonance. Emotions moved cross his countenance just as wildly as the wind as he sat pondering, but finally alighted on concern and doubt.
” You look happy, froken.”
She smiled. “I am quite happy.”
He leaned forward, clasping her hands in his…looking at their every little blemish a princess considered ought not to have as if they made up partial, unique, beloved characteristics. His big hands were shaking along with his voice, as he stated softly, ” I brought with me a gift.” In a tone that registered uncertainty whether she would accept his gift. He unwound a small, hand-beaded pouch from his belt. This he gently placed in her hands. Inside the pouch she could feel something small and heavy. Undrawing the string, she reached inside with her one hand. Her lips slightly parted as her heart pounded in her chest. The round antler ring was carved with minute scenic depiction of tartan with a thistle on one half and the words of his mother tongue on the other half.
“What does it say?” She asked reverently, placing it in the light fiery orange drowsed atmosphere.
“It says, ‘I love you.’ Nia,” He clasped her hand that had remained on her lap, gulping, “I have given this much thought. You too are thoughtful and wise, which is only one reason I admire you. I desire to make you smile. I long to hold you and kiss away your grief. I cannot imagine life without you. Walking beside you is a treasure enjoying God’s vast creation, working together on zeh farm. You listen you give prudent input. And when I most need presence, you are there. Everything our Savior designed in your features makes me long for you. You, patient Nia, are exquisite. This ring is rough, as is my very long speech at which you are smiling, and your life thus far having experienced widowhood and being unloved. I hope your smile is a smile of affirmation…will you take me as your husband?”
He knelt in front of her. Ring still firmly in her free hand, she stroked a stray small piece of his sunshine locks behind his ear.
“Yes.” She firmly and joyously said smiling, a tear running down her own cheek.
Sigurd let exhale a breathe of relief, a happy tear escaping down his cheek in agonizing ecstasy. He held her face in his gentle big palms and drew her lips to his, both of them drinking in the kiss deeply. He pulled away ending the kiss with two small kisses upon her now closed lips, leaning next to her ear whispering, “I cherish you. I promise, when our wedding arrives, I will not hold back my heart from you. I ache to hear the depths of you in conversation and in love.”
As he moved back into his position to row, their eyes met. Locked. Neither one yet being able to feel the other’s heart beating within their chests.
Around them, the now darkening water shimmered green with the mysterious lights above, seeming to do a dance in celebration of the coming union. Once again, Sigurd plunged the paddle stroking the water to carry them back to the village around the bay’s bend. Nia placed the ring on her finger. Fortunately it wasn’t too loose. She turned it clockwise with her thumb, admiring it, smiling into an almost grin and content in her eyes.
Her attention shifted from the ring to her beloved in front of her. She was not dreaming, though night time was falling. The friend she respected, reciprocated her respect as he had consistently. She was cherished. What she had so yearned for. She was yearned for. Passionately. She touched her lips again absent-mindedly, momentarily breaking her gaze from Sigurd’s back to the dancing lights above, then to the night scape surrounding them. What did lay ahead for them? How soon could the wedding take place? She closed her eyes, still smiling, twisting the ring via her thumb, praying, listening to the water rush by the boat as Sigurd paddled.

Sigurd: The Victorious Guardian

Icy painful shoves half woke Tristinia sending stabbing shock through her sapping her of energy to cry out, or even move away. Her gritty sopped hair lay like a freezing woven fabric over her face. She must have been chattering her lips and teeth but they were numb. Her ears came into focus. The sound of surf on the sand all around her. A human voice. Distant. A man’s voice. Still in the hypothermic darkness, the sounds faded.
Tristinia emerged from the dark realm again. The aroma of thistle, flour,  cooked fish, wood and wool offered its friendship to her senses. The crackling of a nearby fire met her ears. Otherwise all was quiet. No pounding of the waves and hiss of sea foam. Her body felt warm, wrapped in…blankets? And no soaked clothing. Even her feet were covered. Yet her cheeks still felt a slight chill. Wood creaked as she slightly moved about while laying down. A warm, big hand grasped her smaller quite cold one. She dared to open her eyes. Blinking a few times from a groggy fog, a kind concerned face came into focus. This face had a hardy, yet symmetrical nose, half smiling lips framed by a well groomed, thick, short, blonde beard and blonde hair that cascaded just over his shoulders and the most bright, friendly, concerned eyes the color of hills in sunlight which were darting about taking in her hue of health and possible symptoms. She mmphed and turned her neck, partly to unkink it, partly to look at more of her surroundings inside, not wanting to gape or stare at the handsome stranger. Ker achoo! Her nose rebelled quite loudly and she snuffled.
The stranger grabbed a thick cloth hovered it near the fireplace and walked over again, placing the warm fabric on her forehead, then her cheeks. Gently. Oh that felt quite heavenly! She sighed and closed her eyes again, letting the warmth seep into her face. As she sighed though a sharp pain stabbed her in the side and she gasped! “Ah!” Triss cried out. Oh, but that hurt! What had happened?
The intensely watching man spoke in a dialect of elongated vowels and clipped consonants of much farther northern clans than she knew. “Your ribs are broken. Stay still. You are healing. You are safe.” Willing herself to take smaller, slower breaths waiting for the pain to fade, she then asked, “what is your name?” He smiled. Not just with his mouth but around his eyes. “My name,” he paused, “is Sigurd. This means, ‘victorious defender.'” Indeed, she felt safe and fortified here. But where was ‘here’? Not chancing to intake another sigh to unanswered questions, her quizzical concern must have registered on her face quite clearly. Sigurd lifted her hand to his lips. “Rest now, froken. No one will hurt you. I will rest there by the fire should you need anything. My sisters will be here tomorrow as well, so there will be much to say and they will bring food and other necessities. It was they who helped put you here and dressed your wounds. You were unseen by men.”
She gulped relief. His eyes shadowed a darker hue, not angry but disturbed at recollection. “The way you screamed…” Sigurd shook his head, as if trying to shake the sound from his ears and he shuddered. “I am very glad you are mending.”
Contentedly drowses by the friendly scents and warmth, she yawned. “What does froken mean?”
“It means ‘young miss'”
“My name is Tristinia. My family called me Triss.”
“Tris…ti..ni..ah. Tris…tin..niah”
Mmm. Hmmm. She mumbled as her mind snuggled under the covers.
“Sleep well Nia,” Sigurd whispered softly as he kissed her hand again, patted it gently, placed it down, tucking it under the blanket and walked over to the fire to sit down in a big chair with long bowed legs that creaked in a comforting rhythm as firelight danced with shadow along the grainy surfaces.

The Ocean’s Grave

The sea swelled in a tunneling wake, then went still. Tristinia peered into the dark, deep blue with her crew. She didn’t like the stillness. She ran to the ropes connected to the main mast. Climbing one of them, she bellowed the oarsmen to turn the boat around and backward, quickly. In the wood and ropes, she felt the vibrations from the sea. “ROW!” She ordered. “ROW FAST! ROW HARD!”

 

A great wave swept them to the side as a giant slimy eel like body, coupled with a head of ugly teeth shot the ocean surface. Spray showered the deck timbers. The yells of horror at the creature rang in her ears. The serpent let out a deep rumbling, gargling hiss. Its body was lined with lights that twinkled like jewels in a night sky that it probably used to navigate the darkness where it lived, even though it was broad daylight. She focused on its head that sported antennae much like a snail. It reared back.

 

The Tiennrod from the deck below caught the wild glint in her eyes. “NOOOO!” He yelled. Tristinia severed the rope with her sword, which caught the breeze, carrying her forward and upward toward the serpents head. Letting go she flew right toward the creature with its ugly mouth gaping. She withdrew her other sword. Swiping she dug her blade in its eye. Digging her other into its flesh as it recoiled from striking, flailing in pain. For a moment she was doused with blood, dark and thick, making it hard to hold on to her weapons. Withdrawing one as the creature crashed into the water.

 

She felt the cleansing cold galvanize her. The beast was diving. She needed to kill it, before it attacked or dove, sending her to her death. She didn’t have time to find its heart, so she stabbed its head again, alternating swords, stabbing as she went, discouraging it from taking them further down. The dim blue filled with roiling bubbles.

 

She stabbed again and again, releasing one sword, digging in with the other, working round to the throat. She felt her ears pressured as water seeped in her mouth. Her eyes so only bubbles and the wrinkled blueish green gray of her opponent and the light of the surface momentarily before things darkened in the water thick with blood.

 

Underwater, she could feel the vibrations of her ship as well as the creature’s weaker movements as she had stabbed its throat. It sagged below, dragging her with it. Withdrawing her sword, she pulled back just in time. The dying head whirled around to face her in the swirls of red. With one last effort, she knocked out a few teeth with her weapon as its face came toward her. She saw the light die from its eyes as it descended and its dark body twinkled no more. With slowing effort, she grabbed two of the long teeth, sticking them securely in her belt and sheathed her sword. Her brain realized she wasn’t able to move but she couldn’t act on that realization. Tristinia felt her lungs descend and gravity’s gentle pull on her body as if she were falling asleep.

 

Above, on ship, the vikings saw the water boil and redden. Several times the serpentine body emerged from the water in its death throws, spattering the ships with blood. Then the sea stilled to reduced ripples. Tiennrod searched, panic strickened, but didn’t see her emerge. He dove into the ocean. Swimming downward, he looked around. A short distance he saw her, limbs akimbo slowly drifting down. As fast as he could he began covering the distance. The beast lashed out in one last attempt to strike at its foe catching Tiennrod’s arm. He twisted her in the water out of the way as the giant head streamed past with blood clouding visibility. Its hateful eyes glowing venomous purple light. Tristinia let out a stream of bubbles in a scream of terror as it sank pulling Tiennrod down with it. She grabbed his shirt with both hands, shaking her head. Water filling her lungs to bursting. “NOOOOOOOO.”

 

One could barely hear her neath the surface. She swam upward with all she had but felt herself as well being pulled down. Tiennrod pushed her with his good arm away from himself toward the golden lit blue. She could not cry in her watery environs. Her mind was slowing at this depth. She would NOT watch him disappear into darkness. She grabbed his dagger from his boot and sawed at his arm lodged in the serpent’s mouth. Its eyes were now flat and turned inside. She felt Teinnrod in pain, felt him grip her arm. She thought her arm would be crushed and heard the final crack of release as his bones separated.

 

Tiennrod went limp. Letting go of the dagger, she swam toward the surface where the sun danced among blue ripples. Air. She thought. Air. Each kick and stroke seemed heavier. No. She had to get them both up. She saw one of the vikings who had jumped in to look for them. The last thing she remembered before all color faded was someone swimming downward to them.He grabbed her shirt, pulling her upward, gasping as he emerged, tasting sweet air. He dragged her limp and sodden form. She wasn’t breathing.

 

The ship had turned toward them broadside. Vikings lowered rope. Grabbing it and twisting it round his wrist, Tiennrod’s brother by choice scaled the side of the ship while the others hauled him aboard. His people helped him as he tumbled over the railing, releasing his precious cargo onto the deck. Pale and limp and wet she lay next to Teinnrod. Taking her head in his hands, calling her name. An elder of the crew rushed over, trying to pump the water from their queen’s lungs by pushing down with both hands on her chest. After several attempts with a hushed crowd gathered round their leader, Tristinia coughed and sputtered sea water. Still weak and near deaf from so long in the water, she felt Tiennrod beside her, limp and breathing shallowly.

 

She turned over, cupping his face in her hands to elevate his head to breathe easier as she still coughed up ocean water. She looked into his kind and relieved face and the admiration of her crew. He couldn’t speak, but she could see everything he said in his eyes. Her eyes welled up in tears. Even as he was passing away, he squeezed her hand and smiled his eyes dancing in admiration. She was beautiful. Tristinia saw the spark she had come to love so well fade like a torch flicker and slowly fade in the wind. She whimpered, first in disbelief, silent in shock, her hand which was not holding him, still clutching his cold hand. She shivered. Held her husband to her. “Tiennrod?” she said softly. “TIENROOOOD!” She screamed. “TIENNROOOOOD!” Her body lurched with sobs and she wept, holding him, his name now a legend carried on the wind across the vast blue waters as she screamed it, echoing into the vastness. Her crew took off their helms, those who wore them and silently stood in mourning of the loss of their king.