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.”
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.