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Title in progress
2nd February 2011 02:22
I'm still working on this story, so I'll update it every now and then. It's not much, but it's not much...
Coranthin stared at the rain falling in the fields and had to smile. He had been working and tending his crop for a few weeks with no water and was afraid his crops might die, but the raid had come. Just as it always did. It didn't matter when it came, Coranthin would have hauled water to the field himself before he let it die. For the first time in a long time Coranthin felt peaceful. He was content to watch the rain fall from the family's small home. There were eight of them together and two other families close by. Their community was small, but they helped each other through the hard times and that was enough. In the distance small streams and rills were forming in the hills and Coranthin was glad the plants were stable enough to hold the topsoil together. The harvest would be good enough tho get them through the winter, and maybe extra to barter with.
The family made their usual noise as they set out their supper. Young Brigit shouted out orders that no one cared about, while Ragna set out wooden plates. Njord and Vibeke had been kind to Coranthin and he felt at home with their five children. Axel was the oldest and, being the same age as Coranthin, was preparing to start his own farm and family. He had had his eye on a neighbor's daughter for some time, and Njord knew it was only a matter of months until he left to make his own way. Coranthin suspected that that was the main reason Njord was so kind to him. He had no other sons and would need someone to take over his farm when he was gone. Ragna was the next child in line and, being a girl, it wouldn't do for her to take care of the farm and family on her own. Coranthin liked Ragna. She was quiet and had a great sense of humor. She had her mother's looks and her father's temperment, which was a good match. Coranthin had thought about her a lot lately, but she didn't seem interested in him at all. That left Freya who was barely old enough to consider. It was obvious that Njord and Vibeke were trying to match him up with Freya. She was nice and outgoing, but she reminded him too much of someone else. Brigit and Ingrid were like little sisters to him and constantly followed him because he was still a novelty.
Coranthin watched them all for a moment in silence. Freya and Vibeke had finished cooking. Ragna sat at the newly set table in silence while Axel pretended he was in charge. Brigit and Ingrid fought about something only the two of them knew about and Njord tried unsuccessfully to wrangle them. It was all new to Coranthin and he had to say he liked it. Freya crossed the small room to tell Coranthin that their dinner was ready. He knew Freya was trying extra hard to be close to him and watched for any kind of reaction from Ragna. Freya stepped up and softly touched his arm before telling him about the food.
"Thanks Freya," he replied, hardly taking his eyes Ragna, who gave no indication that she had noticed anything. He sat on a wood block at the table and breathed in the smell of steaming potatoes and mutton. It was plain food and nothing compared to what they had in the empire, but he thought it looked delicious just the same. Njord stood, just as he did every evening meal, and remained standing until everyone was quiet.
"I thanks Odin for family," he stammered. Coranthin was grateful he was speaking Latin, but wished he didn't try so hard. "We may meet again in Asgard court." Coranthin smiled at Ragna next to him and whispered so that only she could hear, "Make that Hel for me."
The two laughed softly as the family began their meal. The rain continued to fall on the small home and drench the earth. While the earth was wet and cold Coranthin knew that the whole world was warm within four walls and a thatched roof.
Miles away a giant of a man could be seen taking shelter in the forest. His companion was smaller and less noticeable only because of the giant she traveled with. The man looked as though he was a creature of myth roaming the real world for his size, just as the woman with him did for her beauty. The two slowly picked their way through the trees in a vain attempt to keep themselves dry until they came to a small clearing with a monolithic gray stone standing as a sentinel in its center. The large man looked small next to the stone as the two took shelter in its shadow. The giant removed the blanket he had been using as a cloak to reveal a tan face with blunt features and sun bleached hair. The woman was tall for a normal person, but looked small in her present company. Her long gray hair fell to her ankles in a ponytail, the color having nothing to do with her young age. Both looked in their early twenties, but their eyes spoke of more experience than the most traveled elders. The two waited patiently, listening to the falling rain until a small shadow made its way toward them. The shadow quickly crossed the clearing to the stone and threw off its cloak to reveal the face of a young girl. Short red hair fell around her young face and one beaded tassel of hair fell beside her face. The other two each gave the girl a quick embrace before she started her report.
"I believe I found something, but perhaps you should tell me what you found first."
The man took the hilt of a sword, fashioned like feathered wings, and hefted a blade wrapped in the blanket that had served as his cloak. "Take it," he said, handing it to the girl. "I barely found it and already it's getting to me."
"None of us should hold onto it for too long," the girl answered as she took the sword that was nearly as tall as she was.
"It makes me wonder how he carried it for so long," the woman said.
"That's why we need him back," the girl replied sadly.
The giant gave her a sympathetic look and had compassion in his voice. "You found him then?"
The faces of the other two brightened. "you've spoken to him?"
"No," the girl sighed. "It would be best if you did that." A long silence followed until the girl spoke again. "It won't be easy."
There was another long silence, but this time it was broken by the man. "I miss him."
"We all do," the woman echoed. The three gazed into the falling rain where the two that constituted the rest of their group approached.
Past and Present
Coranthin went about his usual chores the next morning, and as he did, he remembered how he had met Njord and been taken in. He had been looking for somewhere to settle down and disappear when he saw Njord and Axel arguing in their field. Coranthin knew he wouldn't be followed in daylight, but he glanced over his shoulder anyway. He would have to cover a lot of ground if he was going to lose his pursuer. He deviated from his course to go around the bickering farmers, but then thought better of it. His hunter was expecting a chase, expecting him to run, but if he stopped now perhaps they would pass him by. It was a long shot, but he knew how futile an effort it would be to try and out run them. He corrected his course again, this time so that he would pass close by the older man and boy. He glanced over his shoulder twice more out of habit before he reached them. The older man called out to him as he passed and Coranthin wasn't surprised that he didn't know the language. It sounded vaguely germanic, but there were so many dialects around here that even if Coranthin did know the language he still had little chance of being able to communicate.
"Hello," Coranthin greeted.
"Is that Latin you speaking?" the old man asked through a thick accent.
"Yes," Coranthin replied, "how's the harvest?"
The man said something in his native tongue to the boy, then answered. "It going good. Where is stranger from?"
"Over the sea and above the sky," Coranthin replied truthfully, knowing that no one in their right mind would believe it. The older man jabbered excitedly to the boy and the boy laughed in response. Coranthin waited for the man to speak, but instead it was the boy who broke the silence.
"My father wonder's how many of the nine worlds you have been to." The boy laughed again, then continued before Coranthin could explain. "My name is Axel and this is my father Njord." Axel held out his hand and Coranthin accepted it.
"Coranthin," he said as he released the boy's hand. "You speak Latin very well."
Axel smiled at the compliment. "My mother and father taught all of us. Me and my sisters are fluent, but my parents weren't raised with it."
Coranthin didn't know how much these people knew of eastern myths, but he supposed that even if they did it was so far from the truth that they would never suspect his background. "I wonder if perhaps you have any olive oil to trade?"
Axel translated a few words, but before he had finished Coranthin heard something coming out of the woods behind him and turned to look in a defensive crouch. A small flock of sheep came one by one from the forest followed by a young lady who looked as though she lived with the animals. Coranthin's nerves took a few moments to settle, after which he turned back to the father and son. Axel looked to Njord with anxious eyes before the man waved him away. Axel ran to the flock, which was now following a small path toward a distant farm, and embraced the girl that was leading them.
"Heh, kids!" Njord grumbled. Coranthin waited a long moment and wondered if Njord had forgotten about him, then the man gave him a long look. "You in trouble," he stammered, "running?"
Coranthin had to smile at how quickly he had given himself away. "If I could stay the night, I would appreciate it." Coranthin was surprised at his own words. After all he had been through and done he was still willing to put others in danger for his own sake. "No," he corrected himself, "never mind, I'll find somewhere else." He had not even taken a step away before he felt Njord's hand on his shoulder.
"Wait, you stay. We give olive you."
Coranthin knew he would regret it, but something in the man's eyes convinced him to stay. This time would be different. "Thank you."
That had been more than a month ago, and despite what Coranthin had felt then he had never regretted it. He grabbed a spade and trudged his way across the muddy ground. Njord had told him that the snows would come in only a week's time, and he had to have everything harvested before then. He went about his work of collecting roots and turning fertilizer into the soil to prepare it for the next year. The morning wore on. Coranthin could see Njord working in the distance and could hear Freya yelling at their few sheep and cattle. He looked at the small cottage that he had learned to call home and saw Ragna through the open door helping her mother pack food for the winter. He took a moment to take in the sight until Ragna looked up. At first he thought she was looking at him and turned away with red cheeks, but then he noticed she was not looking at him, but past him.
He turned and couldn't believe what he saw. They were still a long way off, maybe they hadn't seen him. Maybe it was a coincidence. Coranthin quickly wheeled his cart full of roots behind the house to the cellar, hoping that if he stayed out of sight they might pass by. He wasn't surprised that they had found him, just that they had only now found him. He was expecting this a month ago or not at all. He dropped his cart off at the closed cellar door and didn't bother to unload it before he made his way to the small stable that housed the family's single horse and milk cow. He closed the door securely behind him, then peered through the gaps in the warped wall boards at the two figures that approached Njord at the far end of the field. He had a sinking feeling in his stomach and knew he was found. His mind raced through what he should do next, and it wasn't until he started pacing restlessly that he discovered he wasn't alone.
"What's wrong Coranthin?" Freya asked as she rose from her stool and dusted herself off. Coranthin saw a half filled pail of milk under the cow and tried to think of an excuse to tell her.
"Just seeing if you need any help," he said with a fake smile.
Freya gave him a questioning look, then shrugged. "Can you feed her while I finish milking?"
"Sure," Coranthin sighed with relief. He took the hay fork and scooped grassy stalks into the feeding trough.
"So, what brings you here, out of the field?" Freya asked with a smile. "You just wanted to be alone with me?"
She said it as if she were joking, but Coranthin thought he heard some hopefulness in her tone. Coranthin was about to answer when there was a knock at the stable door. Freya stared at him in confusion and he realized how frightened he must look. "I'm not here," he whispered right before diving into the stack of hay. He couldn't see anything after that, but he heard Freya laugh softly as she opened the door. Njord's voice greeted her.
"Good morning to Freya. Will you get Coranthin out of hay pile for me?"
Coranthin had to laugh at how easily his meager cover had been blown. "No need," he said as he rose with stalks sticking from his tunic and hair. He knew what he would see before he looked out the open door. Right behind Njord stood a tall young man with sun bleached hair and a long sleeveless red coat, beside a young woman in a green tunic with gray hair that fell past her knees. "I expected you a month ago," Coranthin said as he exited the stable.
"You didn't make it that easy," the man replied as Coranthin motioned for them to follow him to the house. Coranthin could feel Njord and Freya's eyes on him as he led the two strangers to a more private place to talk. Coranthin had expected this to happen some time ago, but now he found himself unprepared. He opened the door of the two room home and saw Vibeke and Ragna, one packing food while the other worked a loom. The two women stopped what they were doing as soon as they saw the two strangers in the doorway.
"I'm sorry," Coranthin said to Vibeke, "but can I borrow the house for a few minutes?"
Vibeke nodded and motioned for Ragna to follow her out. Coranthin was shocked when he saw Ragna hesitate. She was concerned for him, and as nervous as Coranthin was, the idea of it made him glad.
"Come," Vibeke beckoned, and this time Ragna began to follow. As she passed Coranthin touched her shoulder and smiled.
"I'll be alright," he said softly, and with that reassurance Ragna left the room. Coranthin was left alone beneath the shadow of the giant in the doorway, but right then he felt ten feet tall. The two travelers entered and took seats at the far end of the table in the center of the room. Coranthin closed the door behind them and sat facing them.
"It's good to see you, Simon," the big man said with a wide smile.
"Good to see you too, Gabe," Coranthin replied. "Grey," he smiled and nodded to the woman and she smiled back. "But I think you are mistaken, my name is Coranthin now."
"You look good," Gabe said. "You look like you're happy here."
"I am," Coranthin assured a little too quickly for it to be the truth. "You've grown, and Grey you look as beautiful as ever."
The woman shot him a look that would make most men fall to their knees, but Coranthin knew her too well to be caught in her snare. "How long do you think it will last?" she asked softly. Coranthin had no answer, so she continued. "I've tried what you're doing and the past always caught up with me."
Coranthin looked away and refused to say anything. Finally Gabe broke the silence.
"We need you."
"No," Coranthin half shouted. "I can't help you, and even if I could, I'm needed here."
"You can't replace her. You know that don't you?"
"She doesn't want me."
"Do you think she had a choice?" There was a short silence where Coranthin had no fast answer to shoot back. "After what she went through, after what she had to become..."
"She abandoned me, Gabe."
"No, she left to save you. She never abandoned you."
The memories were to strong and Coranthin could feel them start to seep from his eyes. "What do you want me to do?" he cried. "I'm not a Nephilim, not a Varcolac. I'm not Atlantian, or Nosferatu. I don't have noble blood! I'm not even any good with a sword!" He then added in a softer tone, "I have no guardians, no chance, no hope."
The other two sat silently until Gabe softly said, "That never stopped you before."
Coranthin no longer tried to stop the flood of tears that poured down his cheeks. "Do you know what I did?"
"You can't stop now, Simon, we've come too far."
Coranthin stared at a pebble on the floor near his toes. "Tell that to Riga," he whispered. He opened his mouth, but no words came. The memories were too horrible to tell. Coranthin was blinded by tears and didn't notice Gabe and Grey patiently waiting for a few minutes. He tried once more, but the only words that escaped his lips were, "Eighty-two."
"Eighty-two what?" Gabe asked intently.
"That's how many people I killed," Coranthin barely got out each word. "Eighty-two and... My brother."
Gabe and Grey wore faces of such confusion that under other circumstances they would have looked comical. Coranthin took a deep breath and prepared himself to tell the tale.
9th February 2011 13:13
30th August 2011 10:09
Ahh yeah! Cool cool, good suggestion Poem - Thanks again! :D
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