Bored Bond….Clean Hall

Standing back looking at the Kitchen floor, sponge still in hand, Adira assesses her work.  The floors both upstairs and down had been completely scrubbed, the Kitchen table scoured, the fireplace ashes had been removed and placed in a bucket set just out of the door to take to the fields for compost and the hearth scrubbed clean.  She had had a thrall bring in more wood and had re-lit a fire.  The Jarl and axes chairs had been scrubbed as well.  The shields on the walls were cleaned and polished though she was careful to not touch the weapons hanging there.  Earlier that day she had fluffed and aired out all of the furs, beating the dust and dirt from them, combing them clean and replacing them upstairs.  She climbed on one of the chairs to evict the spiders and insects that had taken up residence in the dark high corners of the hall, swatting them as they fled her cleaning frenzy.  The grill on the kitchen stove gleamed brightly in the firelight from the sconces, scrubbed of the grilled on particles of meat cooked in the past weeks.  All of the pots and pans had been cleaned and sanitized over the last two days and the oven ashes scooped out and added to those from the fireplace.  Fresh logs had also been placed in there as well.  She had organized the dry goods and checked the freshness of the salted meats, cooking anything that looked to be close to spoilage.

She had repaired and polished the Jarl’s old boots and mended one of his kilts.  She had woven a rug for sale at the market and organized the remained threads in the basket beside the loom.  She had gone over the notes that Kat had brought from her schooling, tossing out what Skye did not need to know and rolling up the scrolls that she wanted to go over with Skye.  The chore board was updated and straighten.

Sighing deeply, she replaces the sponge in the bucket and picks it up carries it outside to dump the now filthy water from it.  The bright sunlight made her eyes squint.  She had been inside too long and she ached for the comfort of the outside.  She could hear the quiet bleating of the calves that were born earlier and her heart falls a bit.  She scowls a bit and runs her fingers lightly over the brand.  The skin still warm around it, the scabbing flesh raised and rough under her fingers.  She can not help the grin that slips across lips, a warm glowing feeling spreading through her at the implications that one mark carried for her.  Turning and walking back into the hall, she climbs the ladder to the loft and pulls the red kirtle from beneath her furs and lays it out on the floor.  She pulls the bone comb that she and the girls shared and sits on the floor of the loft, dangling her feet over the edge.  Releasing the tangled mop on her head from the ties that held it back from her face she lets her hair fall down about her shoulders, its tips grazing her lower back. She slowly and methodically begins to work out the knots and tangles, at a loss of what else she can do in the hall.  Gods above, she hoped her Jarl would let her resume normal chores soon.

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The branding of a bond

Adira rises from her knees and slips out of the kirtle she had worked so hard on to please her Jarl.  Absently, she tosses it to the ground.  Standing before him, staring at his feet, swallowing hard she whispers, “I am ready my Jarl”
Rammer looks up where he sorts through irons near the large forge.  Looking over his shoulder a moment  “Beast” he calls to Kat.  “Prep her properly”
Kat looks soulfully at her sister and nods “Sister, please, get onto the log.  I need to secure your leg so the brand will be clean and true.”
Still looking at the ground, Adira wrinkles her brow and turning on heel goes to the log and lays down on it,  stretching her arms above her head.
Rammer pulls a proper Iron and then walks to the brazier and slips it into the coals.
Lifting the coils of rope that lie at the foot of the log, Kat wraps the first rope around and round at the top of the thigh.  Then lifting up the second rope, she ties the second one below where the brand will go pushing lightly on the leg to ensure it  will not move during the branding.  Seeing her Jarl approach with the brand, Kat softly remarks,  “She is ready for you my Jarl.”
Adira pulls slightly against the bonds that hold her turning her head away from the brazier and the Jarl, tears stinging her eyes at the Jarls harshness with her.  She struggles inwardly, confused by her desire to be marked and her need for his love.  Her body tenses and begins to shake as the silent sobs begin.
Kat touches Adira’s foot lightly trying to sooth her.
Adira feels the rough log scratching against her back and Kats soft touch on her foot. She can not bring herself to look at either Kat or her Jarl for fear of losing herself to the emotions in her.
The Jarl steps to his brewer and leans over the log where she lies, his head close to her ear he speaks to her.   “I will be as honest as I can be with thi,s mine.  It will hurt.  You will want to scream but you wont. You will endure and you will show your worth as mine.  They say a brand increases the value of a girl. Even later if they become freed, It shows they know the world from all sides and I want you to know the fullness of the world around us.  You have known the halls of the free and now the collar of a jarl. Know the kiss of my iron and the level of love that I place putting my brand on your flesh marking you as my girl.  Be strong.  Be brave.  Know I am with you.”  He turns back to the brazier, pulls the heated iron and goes to circle the log.branding
Kat unconsciously places her left hand upon the brand that was given to her by the school  nearly a year old, marking her as a slave.  She was told it would make her more valuable just as Adira was being told this now.  She continues to caress her sister’s foot, hoping it will take her mind off of it.  She looks up and sees the fear that is in her sister’s eyes at this and doesn’t blame her for it.
Hearing the Jarls words is all the impetus Adira’s body needs to lose its grip.  Tears loose from her eyes streaming down her cheeks, she turns and looks into his eyes at he speaks of love.   “This girl understands my Jarl.”  Watching him circle the log to stand before her left leg, she squeezes her eyes shut tightly and slips her lower lip between her teeth, fearing her body will betray her and scream.
Rammer holds the glowing brand to his eye level a moment and he nods to him self feeling the heat on his face.  He runs a gloved hand over her thigh, massaging the flesh a moment and nods now smacking hard on the flesh the sound of leather on her thigh like the crack of a whip.  Stepping up, he then, with practiced hand and skill, places the iron to her flesh.  Deep and hard he presses.  The sound of the skin absorbing the heat, the flesh singing and the smell of seared meat fills his senses.  His eyes glance to the girl on the log and then as sudden, pulls the iron from her.  Stepping back, he tosses the iron back to the brazier to let the heat cleanse the metal.
As the hot iron seers into her flesh, the pain is more than she could have imagined.  She arches her back and guttural cry comes from her throat but does not escape her lips.  Her teeth clamp on her lower lip and the iron taste of blood floods her mouth.  Her skin tingles from her toes to her scalp and her eyes slam open wide and lock on her Jarls.  The tears freely flow, her mind focusing on him, his words, his love……….gods she loved him.  Blackness threatens to creep into her vision as she realizes she was holding her breath and she gasps in a gulp air, panting through the pain.  Her hair drenched with sweat.
Kat turns her head as the iron touches Adira’s leg.  The smell of burnt flesh reaches her nose causing her to relive the same nauseous feeling that she did on the night that she was branded.  Upon hearing the iron sizzle once more in the heat of the brazier, she turns her head back.  The bright red mark of the brand stood out.  Reaching down on the other side of the log, she picks up the healing salve that she had prepared to help ease the pain and help with healing.  She looks pleadingly to her jarl.  “My Jarl, may this beast be permitted to treat the brand and bandage the wound?”
The Jarl nods “Tend to her beast.  Then give her meat and mead and take care of her.”  He turns and walks back to the forge, and begins stoking the coals.
“Yes my jarl”  Kat states.  Standing back up, she begins to untie her sister from the log.  Picking up the salve, she sticks two fingers into it, scooping out a small amount and gently touching it to the wound explaining it’s effects.  “The salve will cool the sting and help in healing, sister.  In three days, you will feel better.  This what was used on me when I was branded.”  Placing the lid back on the jar, she picks up the roll of bandages and slowly wraps the leg taking great care upon it.
[20:31] Adira (astryyd) slumps on the log, releasing her swollen lower lip from between her teeth.  Her limbs stiff as they are released from the ropes.  Feeling the cooling salve, she manages a weak smile as the tears pour from her eyes silently, her body trembling with the stress of the branding.
Helping Adira to stand, Kat speaks as she helps her into the longhall.  ” I will see to your chores my sister.  Come let’s get you into the hall for food and drink.”

Making Cheese

Emerging from the forest in the early morning light, Adira passes the lake that she has spent so much time fishing on recently to make her way to the shed housing the cheese table.  The air is cool and crisp this morning, its chill brushing across her skin causing a slight shiver to course through her.  She carries a jug of milk in her arms, its contents sloshing as she walks.  The north facing shed holds the Paga still as well and the smell of pungent cheese mixes with the liquor to create an interesting aroma.  Setting the jug beside the milk vat, she take the flat paddle and stirs the milk there settling, skimming the fat from the top.  Scooping the fat off and placing it in one of the bowls on the table she sniffs in the sharp scent.  Her stomach growls in protest.  Unscrewing the press, she releases the round of cheese that had previously been curing and sets the hard block to the side.  Soon, she will need to wrap these blocks for storage.  Taking the curd from the bowl and pouring it into the press, she screws the wooden bolt down, watching the liquid squish out of the bottom of the machine.   Quickly grabbing a rag, she wipes the milky fluid from the table and cranks down on the press again.  Again wiping the excess.  Satisfied that she had pressed this block enough, she leaves it to settle.  Turning her attentions to the blocks on the table, she examines each placing the ones that had dried enough on the bottom shelf.  A small crumble breaks from one piece and falls to the table.  Her stomach again growls in defiance, angry for her slipping out of the house without food this morning.  She wrinkles her face and picks up the tiny morsel from the table without really thinking about it and pops it in her mouth.  The sharp tang floods her mouth causing her taste buds to water as she rolls the cheese over her tongue, savoring its flavor.  The aroma fills her nostrils as well.  ‘Oh! This is excellent cheese.’ she thinks to herself.  Smiling, she is pleased with outcome as she opens the milk jar that she brought and adds it to the vat.  She presses out a few more blocks for drying then carefully cleans her mess.  Peeking around the shed, she looks at the rising sun assessing the time.  Maybe there is time for her to catch a fish or two before she needs to return to Aett to finish her chores.

Visit with the Nomad slave

Adira makes her way toward the fields but today, her goal is to stop by the nomads wagon and take them some fish chowder and larma fruit.  The Jarl wanted to extend his hospitality the the wagon people and though Adira did not know that connection between he and the women that camped between the fields and the house, she accepted them and smiled as she approached.

The dark haired slave was out tending to the chores as normal and glanced up as Adira approached.  She lifted her chin, green eyes blazing assessing Adira with a haughty pride.  Those emerald eyes narrowed suspiciously and Adira found herself affronted by the slaves reaction to her presence in their camp.  She smiled as sweetly as she could muster, fighting back the urge to preen back at the women and held out the basket full of muffins to the slave.

“My Jarl would have me give these to you and your mistress, girl.” she said attempting to keep the disdain from her voice.

The slaves black hair hung wildly about her face and trailed down to the top of her buttocks.  She wore a black leather vest and a thong of red and black leather about her groin.  She was less dressed, Adira took notice, then some of the Kajira she had seen in the past but she was also not required to disrobe in the hall.  Sometimes in the chilly morning, she had seen the girl in boots and full cloak, her loose hair the only thing given away her station.  Her mistress wore her red locks braided back.

The slave took the basket, her gaze softening a bit, a slight smile reaching her lips.  Adira noticed the fine gold ring that pierced the middle of her nose, like that of a bosk ring but much more delicate and beautiful.  About her throat, her collar was a round bar that hung loose making it easy for her master to grasp if there was need.

“I am called Adira by my Jarl.” she politely introduced herself waiting to see if the slave reciprocates.

After a moment the girl speaks, her voice husky with an air of one who has seen far too much in her life.  “My mistress simply calls me Bri.” she states flatly her lips curl into the briefest of smiles before she continues brushing one of the bosks that Adira had seen pulling the wagon.

“What is it called?” she asks the slave girl.  Perking up at the interest in the animal and B smiled.  “Just beast” she cocks her head to the side and gazes at the animal with reverence.

Stepping forward, Adira reaches for a second brush, “May I help?” she questions.  Bri looks a bit shocked but then give a nod.  Adira croons at the beast as she begins to stroke the beasts fur.

They work in silence for a few moments before Adira remember the muffin in the basket.

“Oh, I almost forgot.  There is a muffin the basket for you.” she nods towards the basket with an inclination of her head.

Bri looks at her strangely and stoops, reaching into the basket and producing the muffin.  She holds it up and regards it with a grimace.

“What is in it?” she asks.

“Milk, cream, fruit, flour…..” Adira trails off seeing Bri slowly nodding her head and handing it back to her.  Adira takes it slowly looking at Bri in confusion.  The nomad smiles kindly and smiling she states, “I can not eat this.  We do not eat that which grows in the ground….flour.  It is made from grain, yes?”

“Yes it is……nothing that grows in the ground?” Adira asks surprised.

“No, nothing, not suls, or grain or any of your ‘vegetables’” she pushes the word strange to her from her lips.

“What do you eat?” she says attempting to keep the shock from her voice.

Bri stoops again picking up the covered bowl of fish chowder, “This, meat, milk, cheese, some fruits as long as they grow on trees.” she stated matter of factually.

Adira gives a resigned “hmmm” and sticks the muffin in her apron pocket.  “Good thing I brought you fish then.” she says with a hint of laughter in her voice.

“Yes, it is.” Bri’s voice flat but with a note of humor.  The pair go back to brushing the bosk.  Adira noticed the ring similar to Bri’s but larger in the snot of the great beast.

After a bit, Adira asks again.  “Your people think very highly of the bosk, don’t they?”

“Oh, very much so, Adira.  The bosk is the Mother of the Wagon people and our lifeblood.  We never kill one without purpose and we use everything; the meat, skin, horns, organs……you must join us for spiced brains one evening.”

Adira screwed up her face at the thought of spiced bosk brains but politely nods her head at the invitation.

“I would you wager you something that you would find them delicious had I anything to wager.” Bri laughs.

Adira had heard her Jarl speak of the wagon people weakness for wagering and had heard some of the Jarls grumbling over lost bets with the Free women of the Tuchuks.  “Might as well just hand over the coin as soon as the wager is made.” one man complained.

Adira spent the better part of the morning helping Bri with her chores learning about the the wagon people; the fierce warriors, the fact that they don’t bother naming children until a coming of age so to speak, the scarring that is so respected among the warriors.  She also learned that the slaves of the wagon people were much like the bonds of the north.  They worked hard and were rewarded greatly being allowed a freedom of expression that the bonds also shared.  When asked about her mistress, Bri smiled and looked in the direction of the Tuchuk women in green leathers.  “The women of the wagon people are fierce and proud.  The are allowed thing that I have not seen in other cultures.  The may fight to protect the wagons and the children.  But like the slaves, they can be ordered to a man’s furs if they are not mated.  They are loved and protected by all of the men in the caravan.”  It was obvious by her tone that she adored the free woman that owned her.

Looking to the sky and noting the time, Adira jumps realizing the amount of time spent there was much longer than she intended.  “I have to get back to my own chores.  Kat is going to kill me.” she exclaims as she gathers herself to leave.

“Wait.” calls Bri as she bends and scoops a handful of dirt and grass from the ground and places in Adira’s hands clasping them in her own hands.  “We together have shared dirt and grass.” she smiles broadly.

Adira smiles back at her not understanding the importance of the gesture but recognizing it at a honor of some kind.  “Thank you Bri.”

Adira’s Project- Part 5

The sun had long since gone to bed along with Kat, Skye and their Jarl.  Adira slips from the warmth of her furs and quietly descends the ladder from their loft.  Padding quietly across the longhall to the wool baskets, she lifts the raw wool from one of them revealing the crimson fabric she had hidden in the bottom.  She longed to surprise her Jarl with the new kirtle in a color that she knew he was fond of.  She remembered from questioning his girl in Vahalla Cliffs on his favorite color.  She wanted to wear something that pleased him and made him proud of her and want her.  He mind wandered back to Vahalla Cliffs and her inability to show him then how she felt about him.  The dinner they shared, then his disappearance from the village.

sewing

She settled herself on the fur beside the fire pulling the thread and needle from the basket nestled there.  Holding the fabric up, she takes the cleaned divesting knife and makes the necessary cuts on the fabric to have the garment hang in the way she wishes.  She then threads the needle carefully and begins to stitch up one side and then the other keeping her stitches tight and durable.  Moving to the exposed hem and neckline, she stitches a decorative stitch that serves as both beauty and function as it kept the woven fabric from unraveling.  The hours pass and her eyes grow heavy as she finally finishes and holds it up in the dim light.  Smiling sleepily, she folds the kirtle neatly and tucks it beneath her arm.  She straightens the corner fur and cleans her mess.  She gives the fire a poke to keep it burning through the rest of the night.  Then carefully climbs the ladder back to the loft.  Tucking her new creation neatly under her fur on the backside, she settles back down and falls quickly to sleep.

A Fishing Trip

As the sun peaks in the kitchen window, Adira finishes up the chores on the house and gathers the basket and rod from the corner.  Stepping out into the yard she sees the Jarl working the forge.  He turns and regards her as she moves her lithe form toward him.

“I am going to fish at the Inlet, my Jarl, unless you need something else from me.  The house chores are done.” she speaks, her voices carrying a smile.

“Be gone with ya, girl.”  He states, swatting her on the behind and winking at her.  “Be back in time to feed me lunch.  I will be famished by then.”

Jumping and squealing at his playful assault, she laughs, “As you wish my Jarl.”  She head off over the bridge into the woods that lead to the Inlet.

fishingShe emerges from the woods at the edge of the lake behind Jarl Xmaten’s longhall.  Several of the land Jarl’s girls are busy about the Ka-la-na trees and tending to the animals.  She waves and yells, “Tal” to the busy bonds.  She is greeted with smiles and welcomes in returns.  Making her way to the lakes edge she sets the basket down and pulls from it an earthen crock.  Pulling a wadded piece of linen from the mouth of the jar she sticks her fingers in feeling around for one of the items inside.  Biting her tongue as she wiggles her fingers about finally grasping a slimy fat worm and plucking it from the jar.  Holding up dirty fingers she examines the bait and satisfied, sets the jar down lifting the line of her fishing pole.  Careful not to prick her finger on the sharp hook, she impales the wriggling worm on the end and checks to make sure it is secure.

She lets the line drop and dangle from the end of the pole.  Hoisting the pole and the line she gives it a flick and deftly flings the hook and worm into the water.  ‘A good cast’, she thinks to herself.  The cork piece on the line bobs up and down on the calm water.  Giving the rod a few sharp tugs she lets the bait settle and waits.  The warm sun shines on her skin.  She looks at her arms noting how much darker her skin had gotten since coming to live at the Aett.  She snickers to herself realizing that she worn much less then she had her entire life and marvels at that fact.  She had grown accustomed to the kirtles.  The were so comfortable that if she had known this much earlier, she would thrown herself at her Jarl’s bond circle much sooner.  That thought makes her laugh out loud.  She is pulled from her thoughts by a tug on the line.  She gives it a sharp jerk feeling the hook snag its victim and she pulls the line in, dropping the rod and grasping the line hand over hand pulling it to the shore.  Yanking the fish onto the shore, its silvery body flopping on the bank, she holds it down with one hand and removes the hook with the other.  She picks it up and looks it over.  ‘A good catch’ she thinks as she drops it in the basket.  She fishes another worm from the clay jar and repeats the process for the next hour.  Looking at her haul for the day, seven fish and a random bag her hook snagged, she is pleased.  She hoists the basket on her back and slings the fishing rod into the slot she had sewn in for carrying it and heads back towards the house.

A most Beautiful view

WAtching the sunset

Emerging from the woods at the Inlet, Rammer and Adira head for the long hall hoping to meet the Land Jarl and his new girl there.  Not finding anyone about, Adira looks to her Jarl and smiles, “My Jarl, may I show you something?”

“Aye girl, what is it?” he answers.

With a huge smile she grabs his hand and begs him to follow her excitedly.  She heads towards the waterfalls then turns and scrambles over the rocks heading up the path that climbs the mountian.  Looking over her shoulder at her Jarl she smiles and waves a hand for her to follow.

As she crests the top of the mountain, coming onto the grass strewn plateau, she stops as does her breath.  The view from the top of the mountain takes her breath every time and she was finally getting to share it with her Jarl.

She watches his face as they slowly walk to the edge.  Rammer takes a knee looking out over the lands to the ocean below.

“Isn’t it the most beautiful thing you have even seen, my Jarl?” she asks as she turns to look out at the view, sunsetting, the three moons rising over the crest of a distance mountain.

“Aye, girl, it is.”

Adira sits down on the rock and the two just watch the beautiful sunset.