The End of a LONG day

Kicking the door shut behind her, Astryyd steps into the brewery, arms carrying the heavy buckets of water.  She sets them on the floor their contents sloshing droplets on the rough wooden floor of the hut. She leans heavily against the door and rubs her sore arms.  The four trips to the river and back to retrieve the water for a bath on top of all else she had done this day had exhausted her.  She reached up tussling her hair, shaking most of the snow off of the blond curls.  As she lifted the last of the buckets and carrying them to the stove, her arms protested the action.  It had been a long and arduous day to say the least.  The tasks she undertook this day were not difficult but the snow that insisted on falling that day made even the simplest of tasks monumental.  She had managed to find the herb she was searching for in a grove of trees just before the snow thickened, covering area completely.  She was happy to have found it all and it would be just the flavoring she wanted for the mead she was concocting.

She also spent the later part of the morning cleaning the mead vat.  She did not wish to cross contaminate the flavors and planned on making the last batch of Peppermint mead before the season’s end.  She pours the water into the kettle over the fire to heat the last of the water.  Her mind wanders to the events of the last several days and smiles.  The village was growing and that was a good thing, more Axes the safer they all were, the more tradesman and woman the more appealing the village would be for trade.  She had had a wonderful conversation with the blacksmith and had invited him to the brewery to discuss some things concerning the bonds in the village.  Soon, Astryyd was going to have to have help in the brewery, someone that she could trust to help with the brewing and to help take some of the load.  Maybe the Jarl Ran would have some suggestions for her though it did not matter of what they talked about, she would be happy just to have is company.  She finds herself grinning like a teen and turns back to water.  Once it is all hot, she looks at the ladder to the loft and sighs with resignation.

One by one she hauls the buckets up the ladder and pours them into the tub that the High Jarl had given her.  She dips a finger and pleased with the temperature, she begins to slip off her clothing.  She sits herself down on the floor of the loft dangling her feet over the edge and pulling at her boots letting them drop to the floor below with a ‘thunk’.  She then removes her brooches and beads and sets them on the table beside the tub.  The apron with intricately embroidered knot work comes off next then the rough woolen under dress.  The linen chemise was the last to slip over her head, the hem cold and wet from a day spent in the weather.  She shivers as the hem brushes past her skin.   Leaving the wet clothing in a pile on the floor, she lowers herself into the tub of hot water.  She tugs at the cording holding her hair back loosening it letting her locks fall down and rest about her shoulders and down her back.  Easing back in the water, she lets the warmth fill her, her toes tingling from the sharp temperature change.  Slowly her muscles relax.  She closes her eyes and thinks to herself that she will have to remember to make the High Jarl a special gift.  This was quite heavenly.  Being able to bath in the privacy of her home was priceless to her.  She lowers herself up to the chin in the water and soaks until the water is almost cold dozing off and on.

a bathing

She reluctantly pulls herself from the tub wrapping a length of woven felted wool around her.  Quickly climbing down the ladder, she then plops on the fur in front of the fire to dry.  She runs her fingers through her wet curls fighting with the tangles and silently cursing the damned curls.  ‘Always an unruly mess’ she thinks.  Her mind wanders for a moment to the blacksmith to a certain Jarl.  A slight smile curls her lips as she stares into the fire and sees his muscular form in her mind. Sweat beading on finely tuned muscles, his hair damp and pulled from his face tied back.  She draws in a breath holding for a moment then letting it out with a sigh.  A log shifts in the fireplace shooting sparks pulling her from her musings.

She rises letting the wool just drop on the rug, enjoying the feel of the fire on her bare skin.  While her front was warmed by the fire, her back felt the sharp cold in the hut.  She grabs her fur cloak and wraps it around her naked body and climbs back to the loft.  Crawling across to the warm furs, she wraps herself tightly in the cloak, her body pressing against the fur, the hairs tickling her face and body.  Tucking her feet in under the cloak she closes her eyes and drifts off to sleep.

a asleep

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Family history on Astryyd

Astryyd’s father had never talked too much about life before they came to live in the small community high in the Hrimgar mountains.  They were about 50 in number, all free save one bond owned by the farmer.  She was comely girl and Astryyd always got the impression that he owned her just to keep someone else from owning her.  She rarely went without her kirtle even in the small long hall that the village had built.  Her village didn’t have a High Jarl so to speak but was equally ruled by the men of the village.

Much was kept from Astryyd by her father to ‘protect’ her he would always say.  But one night while drunk on paga, her father told her much.  This is what she could gather from his drunken babble:

He and her mother were brought here (she assumed the mountains) from a place called Earth (she assumed a different continent).  They lived in a thriving village until shortly after her birth.  Raiders from the south attacked.  He mother had hidden her in a trunk of clothing to keep the baby from the raiders.  Her mother was captured while her father fought and was wounded, being left for dead.  Her mother being a defiant sort, managed to kill her captor but in return was cut down by other raiders.  Her wounded father took her and the few remaining alive in the village and travel north high into the Hrimgar mountains to rebuild their lives.  

Astryyd was told very little about the world outside of her village.   The men in her village were harsh but very caring.  There was one boy in the village that she was sure she would one day marry.  Blond hair, blue eyed Sven Daggelson.  He was the son of one of the farmers in the and they had grown up playing laughing together.  Astryyd watched as her friend grew into a man and she felt something for him though she did not know what to call it.

It was a month before the attack on her village that Sven and some of the other young men in the village announced that they were travelling south to see more of what lie beyond the mountians.  Astryyd asked him not to go but he and others insisted.  When they returned a few weeks later missing two of there number and dragging three barely dressed bonds behind them that she realized what they had done.

Furious with the boys, Astryyd crossed the small courtyard and met them as they entered and slapped Sven squarely across the jaw.  Her father grabbed her and stopped her from a second slap and the look on Sven’s face could have cut steel as he glared at Astryyd.

“I should lock you in a collar!” he growled at her.  She realized then as her father pleaded with the man for pardon for his only daughter that she no longer recognized her friend.  She turned on her father and saw he was afraid.

Turning back to Sven, Astryyd spoke, “You are not a man, Sven Daggelson, none of you are!  You are all stupid boys who have NO idea what you have done for these.” she pointed to the abused bonds.  “You will bring to ruin to this village.  Do you think that those you attacked will not come for what is theirs?”  She turned on her heel and stormed proudly back to her hut with her father.

That night she went to the long hall where the bonds were being kept.  Sven glared as she entered with a bucket, sponge and brush.  “What do you think you are doing, women?” he barked.   She glared back at him,  “Do you want a bunch of filthy sluts tending you tonight or would you like to have a presentable bonds?”  he left her alone as she went to the bonds and helped them tend to wounds get them bathed, hair brushed and made presentable.  If she thought they could survive the harshness of this land she would have freed them all but she knew they were better off here.  Maybe the idiot boys would fall in love with them and take pity on them.  She did not speak much to any of them but they looked on her with puzzlement as she helped them.  As she finished the task and turned to leave one of the girls reached out to her and spoke, “Mistress?  You will be here tonight? in the Long hall?”  Astryyd looked into her hopeful eyes, she knew what the girl was hoping, that Astryyd’s presence would keep the men from abusing then girls they had just captured.  “No, girl, I will not.  Do as you are bid and they will have no reason to take out anger on you but if I stay in the long hall this eve, I might wind up with such the same fate and I will not risk not being able to hold my temper.”  The girls face fell at her words.  “I will come tomorrow and check on you all.”  The girl gave Astryyd a brief smile, “Thank you Mistress” .

Within two weeks, the raiders came while Astryyd was out collecting what herbs she could find and more honey for mead and destoryed the entire village, everyone dead including the three bonds.

The Overseer

Sitting at the brewery table, knees pulled up to her chest she thinks on the events of the last two days.  The High Jarl appointed a new overseer, Jarl Asjer.  He is a dark man with piercing eyes, obvious not from the north.  His demeanor very harsh upon first meeting him but Astryyd is a patient women and one not quick to judge.  His conversation was pleasant in the long hall.  Somewhat disconcerting was the way the mans teeth were sharpened to a point.  When questioned about it, his reply was that his people do that to tear through flesh and muscle better.  Makes since for a tribe of people whose diet consists of game.  It was not his dark handsome looks or even his teeth the plagued her thoughts now.  He had ordered Astryyd to do something and when she turned asking Jarl Ran’s bond to complete the task he took offense.  She was not used to being treated like a common bond and would not be ordered so.  He stated that it was a request and he was not used to being questioned.  That should have been her clue as to this mans demeanor and to the conflict that she was about to encounter with him.  It was to get much worst though.

The previous day, a new bond arrived on the docks seeking a place.  She we quickly taken to the smithy and collared by Jarl Ran.  He used the same gentleness that he has show to all the others he has collared yet this girl showed defiance and a self important delicacy that screamed southern silk.  When she refused to answer the overseer or follow his commands, he struck her down on the spot.  A shiver runs up Astryyd’s spine as she can still hear the sickening thunk of the mans ax in the girls skull and the iron smell of blood filled her nostrils again.  The overseer was harsh in his judgement in her opinion but within his rights.  It was not even that act that disturbed her as much as it was the overseers orders to the other bonds to take the body and have it cooked into a stew for him……

She had been appalled and sickened by the order.  The thought of eating another human brought back the bile to her throat.  Closing her eyes, she squeezes back the tears.

The very next evening upon entering the long hall, she had to face the overseer once more.  She could not help fidget uncomfortably and when he asked she what was on her mind, she stupidly told him.  She did not question his right to punish as he saw fit but she did want to know about his ‘custom’ of consuming the body of the bond.  Her father had more than once spoken to her about the time to speak and the time to stay silent.  Again she failed to heed those words.  Jarl Asjer was furious and lashed out at her for questioning, crossing the room and snarling at her splintering the table with his massive strength, stating that she had no right to question his customs in front of his brothers.   Astryyd was terrified of the man but held her chin high in the face of his anger.  She would not let him see her fear.  There would be time for tears later.  She did not understand.  If this was his custom, and not something he was ashamed of, what difference would it make if his brothers knew about it and her certainly made no secret of it ordering it of the bonds in the middle of the forge.  She had heard of the Mamba but it never occurred to her that they actually killed and ate people.

She laid her head in her hands and wept.  She was not sure about the mans temper.  She feared what it would do to the moral of the bonds, what he was capable of or how far he would go.  She knew that she needed to speak to Jarl Wolf about her concerns but she feared doing that as well.  He had appointed this man overseer.  Would questioning him about it anger him as well?  Are the men in the village in accord with this kind of fear among the villagers?  Jarl Ran was of the opinion that while his methods were not of his choosing, the High Jarl did appoint him and it is not for us to question this.

‘Tomorrow, I will decide what to do’, she thinks and eventually falls to sleep…….

Taking up weaving

I have finally finished building the loom and have begun a project.  I find little time to work on it though the girls making the mead and tending the grain fields is helping immensely.  I have noticed the Blacksmiths girl busy with the bees.  She seems to have the hang of getting the honey without getting stung.  I am happy for it gives me more time to do other things.

WEAVING