Fenwulf and Alfhild Jul 1, 2018 18:28:25 GMT -5
Post by Char-Vell on Jul 1, 2018 18:28:25 GMT -5
Fenwulf and Alfhild
In an age undreamed of…
Alfhild felt the familiar heat and shudder in her throat and behind her eyes as she picked up the small wolfskin cloak from the packed earthen floor of her family’s hut.
“Wolves. Ymir damn them all!”
With a great exertion of will she stopped the tears before they could fill her steely blue eyes, and stifled the sobs ere they were uttered. It was growing easier to hide the pain, but it had not lessened.
She folded the tiny cloak and placed it in the rude timber chest against the wall opposite the hearth. She strode to the bubbling pot suspended above the fire and stirred it’s content, careful to keep her long flaxen locks away from the flames.
“I’ve made too much.” she reflected. “I will have to be mindful now that it’s just Fenwulf and I once more.” she stirred the stew a few heartbeats longer, then pulled out the ladle and hurled it against the wall. “Atali’s tits!” she shrieked, then stood stiffly, fists clenched in anger.
At that moment the front door swung open on its leathern hinges, admitting a snow flecked gust and Fenwulf, husband of Alfhild. In the crook of his mighty left arm he carried a fur wrapped bundle. He pulled back the bearskin hood from his head and removed the wool wrapping from his face. He grinned at his wife through his yellow beard, somewhat sheepishly, it seemed to her. A familiar gleam was in his eye.
“Fenwulf, what have you done? By Ymir I am in no humor for any of your buffoonery! I’ll…”
“Be still, woman, and behold.”
He sat down at the long, rough-hewn dining table and placed the bundle on his knee. Unwrapping it, he revealed a girl-child. Her cherubic face was framed by an unkempt mass of tawny hair. She looked about the interior of the cabin with great, wide green eyes. They rested on Alfhild, and the child smiled and cooed happily.
“What is this lunacy?”
Fenwulf grinned and bounced the child on his knee. “I was hunting with the lads, as you know, and as we crossed the Giant’s Tracks, we found this little urchin, flitting stark naked among the drifts, happy as you please. We lured her to us with some dried meat and bundled her up.”
“And brought her here? Ymir’s teeth, Fenwulf!” Alfhild exclaimed incredulously. “Her people no doubt seek her!”
Fenwulf shrugged dismissively and tickled the child under the chin, bringing a squeal of laughter. After a space he replied to his wife. “I don’t think so. We followed her prints backward for some time, hailing and bellowing the whole time, not a wise thing to do mind you! But we found no sign of anyone nearby. Her prints seemed to lead out of the frozen lands. How a naked toddler could survive, let alone be in such good spirits in that cold, I know not.”
Alfhild regarded the child carefully. “She must be of stern stuff. How old do you reckon her to be? I’d say three summers?”
“Perhaps.” shrugged Fenwulf. “But she seems younger, she has few baby teeth. Perhaps she’s younger and just over-large.”
“Why did you bring her here, Fenwulf?” Alfhild asked again, more sternly.
Fenwulf’s face grew solemn. “The other lads have full houses and enough mouths to feed. We don’t. I know it has not been long since our Fenric was…since… Well what would you have me do woman? Leave her to freeze? She needs a family! And we need…”
“A replacement for Fenric? As though he were a bull or cock who’s place can be filled by another?”
“No, wife. Fenric was our blood, our treasure, he will never…”
“I can bear you more sons, Fenwulf. I am no crone.”
“Bearing Fenric nearly killed you! No! I could not bear the loss of you, my Alfhild! You will bear no more children!”
There was silence for a space, as the couple reflected on what had passed between them. At length, Alfhild went to the cauldron and dished out a bowl of stew, she placed it before Fenwulf and sat on the bench beside him. “You say she has a few teeth? Feed her some of the stew. Careful with the meat though, I used the dried stuff.”
Fenwulf held a heaping spoon to the child’s lips. She hesitated but a moment, then slurped at it hungrily.
Alfhild’s demeanor softened. She brushed the wild yellow bangs from the girl’s eyes and felt her face. “Poor thing probably hasn’t eaten in a long while, and her cheeks are chilled. Aye, she is made of strong stuff indeed. Whatever shall we do?”
“She’ll live with us. Until her people come for her.” Fenwulf stated with some finality. He mussed the child’s unruly hair and held another spoonful of stew to her lips. She struggled to bite into the great chunk of dried venison that filled the spoon. Alfhild sighed and shook her head.
“Give her to me you great oaf! She’s not ready for such fare.” Alfhild held the girl in her arms and fed her the broth from the stew, rocking her gently. “What should we call her? Until her people come for her, of course.”
Fenwulf grinned wickedly. “I’ve given that some thought. I found her wandering in the midst of a blizzard, and your mother was a frigid old bag of bones! I say we name her after your mother”
Alfhild scowled at her husband. “You are lucky Fenwulf; I will not spill your blood before this child! We will call her after mother, if for no other reason to remind you of that fine woman!”
The couple stared at each other grimly for a space, before bursting into laughter. The child stared at the two in bafflement, then began giggling. Fenwulf threw his mighty arms about his wife and the foundling and drew them close.
“I like a child who is in such good humor.” he told the babe, tapping her nose with a grubby finger. “I think you will thrive here in our house, Sigyn!”
thus it begins...