Eira came down for breakfast the next morning and greeted Dag with a smile. They met gazes and laughed.
“His face!” Eira said laughing, “Oh, Uncle Dag. I can’t.”
He chuckled, “He will reconsider trying to pull that again.”
“I love you,” Eira said wrapping her arms around his shoulders and squeezing tightly, “Truly.”
“I would believe it, but I know what you’re actually after,” he lifted a letter up and offered it to her. Her eyes lit up and she glowered at him.
“I do love you.”
He rolled his eyes, “From one Bregðask Hjálp Harvard the sixth.”
She took the letter from him with a kiss to his cheek. At the sound of Solveig’s feet coming down the stairs, she tucked the letter away in her pocket and sat down at the table. Solveig asked about the outing which left Dag and Eira sharing a secret smile while Sefi retold the entire afternoon. If Solveig seemed disappointed, Eira would never know for sure because as soon as she was done eating, she left to meet the Harulf siblings at their honorary Calder residence on the way to class.
They would be on the island for a few more days while in talks with Calder’s advisors regarding the infrastructure of the island and she wanted the chance to chat with Kata before she got too busy.
As far as she knew, the talks had been forced to a screeching halt thanks to the goðar getting in the way, but none of that was as surprising or painful as what was in Bregðask’s letter.
I thought once upon a time that Calder had the worst weather in the history of weather, but I’m finding that isn’t the case. It’s been raining all day, off and on in thick, cold sheets. Bjørn is definitely, not somewhere I’d suggest to enjoy sunlight and beach time. We’ll see when it clears up if there’s anything I can suggest about it.
Hopefully, this gets to you in one piece.
I’ll be staying in the “bad son hut” it seems, but any courier should be able to find me in the capital town of the island.
How are you? How is training for the competition coming along? I wish I could be there to see you and Kata take the thrones again. Unfortunately, it looks like I’ll be here for far longer than a few months or even through winter. I’m sure I’ll get the answer before he leaves Bjørn, but I’m betting on up to four years before I leave Bjørn.
I have no idea where my path will take me after that, but I promise to see you take the Ørlǫg Raun for Calder, whether he wants me to or not.
Best of luck, milady,
She smiled at the little doodle on the corner of the page of the coast of Calder, and then, her heart sank.
The Ørlǫg Raun?
That was a long time to wait to tell him how she felt, and there was no way she would ever see him before with how dangerous the seas had become for traveling between Bjørn and Berk, and doing it via a letter just wouldn’t be right. Curse Frigg for not looking upon her kindly, though she supposed that it was mostly her fault for not taking the numerous chances she’d had while he was still on Calder.
At the same time, the distance and the time might have gotten her free of these other strange feelings, maybe even give her time to sort things out.
“Good Morning, Eira!” Kata said waving a letter of her own as she walked out of her house. “Bregðask wrote. I’m surprised it got here so fast. I suppose he sent it via Freyr carrier. Was yours filled with romance?”
Eira wasn’t sure what it was in her expression, but Kata’s eyes turned sad, “Is it bad?”
“He’ll be in Bjørn probably until the Ørlǫg Raun.”
Kata’s eyes widened as she winced, “I’m sorry.”
Eira shook her head, “It’s fine… At least we can send letters, right? There are worse things.”
“Well… you’ll be eighteen next year so you could go visit.”
Eira worried her lip, “Won’t that be awkward?”
Kata rolled her eyes, “We’ll go with you if it makes you feel better… Look at my Eira, all shy.”
Eira glowered at her, “Very funny. Where’s Dagur?”
“Probably arguing with old men. He was gone when I woke up.”
Eira chuckled, “Well, can’t blame him. Will he meet us at the training pitch later?”
“Probably,” she said, “With any luck, a certain someone isn’t there.”
Eira shuddered in horror, “I don’t know what his father said to him, but he has been creepier than usual.”
Kata laughed, “That’s a feat.”
“That’s what I said. Should have seen the way Uncle Dag threw him around on the pitch yesterday. Never loved him so much as then.”
“He came with you and your uncle?”
“Thanks to my aunt,” she sighed, “I don’t understand what she sees in him anyway. He’s so…”
She didn’t have a word for it but Bregrhask’s voice chimed in from a memory.
An asshole beyond reason, his laughed dark and grunted in pain as he righted himself against a wall.
“He’s an asshole. She married my uncle, I don’t understand why she would want something like something like a Renouf for me”
“I think you know why, and I think you know more importantly that it’s not her choice.”
Eira nodded, Dag would never sell her to the highest bidder or allow Solveig to make a decision about Eira’s marriage potentials without Eira’s approval. He wanted her to be happy above all things and that spoke volumes. The Bloodhawks were staunchly against any sort of arranged marriage on principle which made them in staunch opposition to Solveig’s machinations.
If she wasn’t family by virtue of Helka and Fin, she was sure that there would be a fight every time a Bloodhawk encountered Solveig on the island.
Wouldn’t that be a shock? she chuckled thinking of her very dainty, proper noble Calder aunt Solveig going up against any of her Bloodhawk aunts.
“Let’s not think about it, hm? How’s Harulf?”
Kata laughed and fell into step with her towards the school’s compound, “The entire island is in an uproar. The east side is all filled up, and they’re wondering when the next phase of development will start.”
Eira bet so. She laughed, “Pretty soon we’ll have guns.”
“I doubt that,” Kata said with a laugh, “We’ll probably never leave axes behind. Too close to the heart, you know?”
Eira grinned and waved her goodbye to head to classes. It was a short day so before she knew it and could get too irritated with anyone, she was free and heading to the training pitch. Kata was already there warming up idly. Eira joined her, and when they were ready, they began their usual training regimen.
Dagur joined them just as they were sparring with his usual excitement, teasing and warrior’s advice. By the time they were done, it was nearing time for Eira to head to work for the island’s seamstress and launderer. It was a service reserved for specialty mending and sewing needs, but more often than not the noble clans sent their furs and things to be cleaned to the shop.
Eira counted this along with her help on the docks as her secret trades that only a few knew about. She wondered if she should share it with Bregðask as she seemed to know so much about him. It would go a little farther towards cultivating an actual relationship in the years apart.
Wouldn’t it, but what would he think of it?
She scoffed. The fear was absurd. Of all the people in the world, he wouldn’t think that it was strange. If anything, he’d probably be curious as to her level of skill and how much she enjoyed it. She’d taken up the jobs after finding out that Bregðask worked.
It had been an accident really. Everyone knew the Gardar kept him as an apprentice, but she hadn’t known that he actually worked there as a real employet with authority and his own projects.
But you’re the þjóðann and the arfi of the Harvard clan, why are you working? Doesn’t your father give you an allowance?
There was no other arfi that worked outside of their family’s trade, and even then, she was pretty sure none of them were paid for their work. They were noble and expected to inherit. If she as a daughter of the Osulf clan didn’t need to work, why would Bregðask need to earn money? What could he possibly want to buy that wasn’t covered by his allowance?
It’s just a skill, he’d said with a shrug as he sharpened her ax, I won’t be hilmir, so I might as well have a skill. Besides, if I earn it myself, what say does he have in how I spend it?
He’d been so confident in his reply and so different that it had inspired her. He was right. It was nice to have family that would pay for things or provide a means, but if anything happened, if anything changed, that could all be gone. A skill was something someone kept for life and might have meant the difference between eating and not one day.
The problem was that Bregðask had so many skills that his near flippancy about blacksmithing was hard to grasp. It made her smile and warm on the inside just thinking about how capable he was.
“You’ve got the I’m thinking about Bregðask look on your face. Admiring how capable he is again?” Eira glowered at Kata as she laughed.
Dagur grinned, “My little brother is pretty capable. A quick learner too. I’m sure you’ll enjoy that.”
She felt the wind on her eyes and the corners of her eyes stretching almost to uncomfortably at Dagur’s statement. She heard Kata cackling as her face heated.
“Eira?” Dagur frowned in concern, “Are you okay?”
“I think you broke her,” Kata said, “Or maybe–”
“And no,” Eira said finally as Kata slung an arm around her shoulder and Dagur laughed, “We are done with this conversation.”
“It’s a fact of–”
“I don’t want to hear it, Dagur.”
“I wonder where people think you go,” Kata hummed as they walked away from the training pitch, “Do they not think you work too?”
“I don’t know. Probably not, I’m a noble, remember, but if I can keep it under wraps for as long as possible, I’ll be glad for it.”
If it got out where she spent her free time, who knew who would come looking for her? Even her Aunt Solveig didn’t know that she worked or where. Dag knew and seemed impressed that she was interested in gaining a skill for herself. Solveig came from a family that believed their women above such things, but the Osulf clan, to her surprise, encouraged as much independence as possible.
It’s probably how they survived all the raids without a bit of aid. She tucked the thought away for the future.
Perhaps in that thought was hope for Elli and Elis’ situation.