Berserker: Captive of a Viking Ch. 04bylottieH©
(I'm sorry to my readers that this chapter took so long. Writer's block. but hopefully this chapter will not be the last.)
We were walking towards the ladder again. My mind was strangely quiet, I wasn't exactly sure what had happened but it was done. There was nothing to concentrate on now but the next stage of the plan. Asegill's hand was on my lower back again, like I couldn't walk without his support. I turned my head to give him a scathing look, but then my breath left my body and I stopped dead in my tracks. Far off in the distance was a shoreline. My mind raced, it wasn't possible! But sure enough on the horizon, lit up by a setting sun, was no little island. Instead it was a massive sea coast that stretched too far off to the right and left for me to see an end. But by the land's own shoreline I could see massive snow capped mountains, rising up so high, I had to crane my neck to see the tops. I heard voices but I wasn't listening. My thoughts jumped around, like my mind's wet hands were trying to grasp the soapy bar of reason. Could we be back in the states? No, we would never have reached them in a couple of days. And I'd never seen mountains like that anywhere. Canada then? China? Doctor Dolittle's floating island? No explanation made sense, no reason to be found. Except... Asegill's explanation. Oh no, oh god no no nonononono. There was no way what he said could be true? Could it?
I felt a shake of my shoulders and realized that I was staring into Asegill's eyes. He was bent down tilting my chin up. He looked worried. My eyes refocused and I blinked a few times.
"Francine? What is wrong?"
I pulled my chin out of his grip and looked around, we were alone on the deck except for a few crew men going about their business while keeping a distance. I cleared my throat, trying to gather my thoughts into coherent sentences.
"What is that place?" I asked. My voice wavered, but for once I didn't care.
He glanced over his shoulder at the mountains, casually as if he did every day. "Those are the fjallbani." He paused a moment. "The slaying mountains. They are the reason it is easier to travel around Asmondr by ship instead of going through them." he chuckled. "I suppose I should be thanking them, without them I wouldn't have found you in the water."
"So that's Asmondr.."
He looked down at me again, his hands fell off my shoulders as his eyes dawned in understanding. "You believe me now." It wasn't a question.
I felt a massive lump in my throat and a bottomless pit in my stomach. My whole world was crumbling beneath me. Don't cry Francine, for god's sake don't cry in front of him. I spun around and ran to the side of the ship. I guess it wasn't crying that my body had in mind. I heaved the only food I'd eaten in days over the side of the ship and into the waves. Don't think just don't think. I breathed through my mouth and out my nose, closing my eyes and pulling on the old meditation techniques I'd picked up in yoga. I hadn't heard him move, but I felt Asegill pull my hair back and rest his forehead on the back of my head.
"I am sorry." The first and only apology I hear from this guy has to be about the one thing he didn't cause.
"how is this your fault?" I whispered.
"I prayed to the gods to send me a wife. While I don't regret receiving you, I am sorry that I've taken you from everything you've known and loved."
I laughed humorlessly to myself. "You didn't do this. And there's no such thing as gods." I spat in the ocean and wiped my mouth, keeping my mind blank. Pushing down any emotion that crept to the surface. With any luck I could just do this for the rest of my life. But the knowledge sat in the back of my mind and wouldn't move, your not on earth anymore Francine. I don't think we're in Kansas anymore Toto. I'd never watch a movie again... Shut up! Stop thinking. I straightened and turned around to face Asegill. The thought of going through anymore ceremony was daunting. "Do we have to do anything else?"
"Ketill, my cook, prepared a feast. But you should retire." He never asked always commanded. But I didn't care anymore. I didn't care about anything. I was in another world, he had been telling the truth. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, even the salty air didn't smell right. It was too cold. I opened my eyes again and kept them centred on the deck of the ship. I didn't want to see those massive snow capped giants that seemed to flaunt their other worldliness.
"Fine." I whispered.
Asegill had shared many wedding feasts and he'd certainly tasted better, though Ketill would never know, he'd never attended one with such a heavy heart. He smiled at the good natured ribbing, and cuffed a few shoulders at the bawdy remarks. The jibbing went on long into the night and escalated with more of the drink. It got even more personal when the shifts changed and the deck workers came down to talk about how Asegill's bride got sick... Right after his kiss.
He sat though it all with a stoic but humorous attitude. But inside there was a restlessness that he didn't understand. Though he had been frustratingly trying to bend Francine to his will all this time, he never wanted to see her like this again. He would take her spitting fire and punching him over the dead defeated look in her eyes. She hadn't fought him when he'd commanded her, she hadn't pulled away when he led her to his room, she didn't say a word more. He was such a stupid fool, all this time thinking about what he wanted. He hadn't even considered that she had a family on her world, friends, maybe even a lover.. a husband? Jealousy rushed through him.
Falki clapped Asegill roughly on his back. He leaned close and said in an undertone. "be strong, friend." Asegill glanced at his hands and saw they were clenched into fists over his cutlery. He could tell from the look in Falki's eyes that his own eyes were going pointed. He plastered a fake smile on his face and continued to eat, pushing the unwelcome thoughts to the back of his mind. The deliciously seasoned and fried fish tasted like ashes in his mouth. It was gloriously flaky Agerit Trout stuffed with a creamy mushroom sauce, but he couldn't bring himself to enjoy it. He may have taken her from everything she knew but he would give her a good life. She would always have any clothes or finery she desired, and there home would always have fire in the hearths and life in the halls. But far more importantly he would protect her and keep her happy for the rest of their lives. This thought soothed his beast, she may have had a husband before him, but she was his now. And he would see to it that he bested any other man her world contained.
The night was long, even once he had finished his plate, Grimr would come forward with another platter of fresh bread and seasoned vegetables, and ask if he wanted more. Asegill knew that the boy was just trying to be helpful though he was getting increasingly annoyed. But it would be impolite to leave the table with a full plate. He suspected that this custom might be an explanation to why so many Asmondr countrymen were so large. The men were taking shifts, manning the ship and then coming down again to have fun. Asegill found himself thinking of what Francine was doing in that moment to often. Visions of her curled up in his bed and crying softly were tormenting him. He should be there for her.
The men were currently singing an old song about a sailor who had braved the oceans and monstrous sea creatures, only to return home and cower in fear of his wife. It was all in good humour of course. That would never be him. Though, thought Asegill wryly, it would not be for lack of trying on Francine's part.
Finally, late into the night as the men were winding down, Falki proposed they move the celebration above deck. Asegill smiled gratefully at his friend and took care to be the last to leave and made his way back to his cabin. He hesitated outside the door. He should be quite after all, she may have only just fallen asleep. Taking care to be silent, he unlocked and opened the door.
Though Asegill's eyes were immediately drawn to the bed. He was startled to see it empty. The lantern in the cabin was flickering as bright as ever and Francine was seated at his desk again, she was sorting through various drawings she had made on his expensive paper. Her eyes looked fine, not red and puffy. There were no tear tracks on her face. She seemed to be so focused on her work that she didn't even glance up when he entered. For some inexplicable reason, disappointment twinged inside him. He knew it was foolish, but he had been looking forward to comforting her and holding her with out her trying to attacking him. He felt like a fool for thinking that realizing she was on another world would make her fall apart. He never should have left! If he had stayed with her he might have been able to comfort her enough so that she would feel she could let go of her grief. But no, he was quite sure that he was back to the beginning of this battle.
He shut the door loudly behind him, she glanced up for a moment but turned back to her work before he could decipher her expression. Asegill pushed away his frustration and walked over to the edge of his bed seating himself to face her.
"What are you doing?" He asked as patiently as he could.
Francine set down the charcoal shaft and picked up a piece of paper. She held it up to him. it was a carefully drawn large land mass, not extremely detailed around the edges. But he knew a map when he saw one.
"Is this Asmondr?" Asegill watched her eyes for a moment, but whatever moment of weakness she had had before was long gone. She was calm and collected now. He studied the paper, it wouldn't do any harm to humour her.
"No," He said surely. "nor is it Heidinnland or, Fuglfit. Or any part of each." Francine's brow furrowed in anger and she balled up the paper and made a slash through a word on another paper. He leaned over to read the words on the paper. Canada, China, Scotland, Italy, Russia.. the list went on and on. He didn't recognize any of the words. Asegill sighed impatiently, "I told you this is not your world."
"How do you know that? Maybe your world is in a part of mine." She didn't look up at him, she just kept drawing. She picked up her finished work and looked at him with the same question in her eyes.
He glanced at it "No."
She made a noise of frustration and set the charcoal down on his desk. "what does your world look like then?"
"Come. We have both been awake for far to long." Asegill made to reach for Francine but she pushed her chair back.
She got up quickly and stood with the chair between them. "I'm not going to stop until I figure out where I am." Asegill considered picking her up and throwing her in the bed, but he knew there was only one way to end her obsession. He stood up and walked to the wall of books, sliding back a panel at the top of the bookcase. Inside were a few dozen scrolls of varying size, he pulled out the second largest and walked back to the side of the bed. It only took one quick practised motion to roll the scroll out on the bed.
I walked over to the side of the bed slowly, I was afraid to look at what Asegill had to show me. It felt like every one of my hopes, dreams, and certainties were written on that scroll, what if, what if. I shook mentally shook myself, standing here like a coward wasn't going to solve anything. I peered down onto the bed. The massive scroll stretched further than my arms spread wide. It seemed too soft and oiled to be paper yet to thin to be leather. Yet more evidence that you aren't on earth. Shut up brain! Just shut up. Black ink swept over the massive landscapes in stunningly detailed coasts and dozens of mountain ranges. The occasional small drawing of ships and mythical creatures dotted the land and sea. There were hundreds of small drawings of medieval looking settlements of varying size. They all seemed to be on a shore line or river. I tried to look at it as a whole, but no countries sprang to mind.
"where are we?" I asked.
Asegill reached out and set his finger on a shore line to the north east. Next to it were a line of mid sized mountains. Wait, midsized? I glanced to the south and saw other ranges that doubled its size. I felt woozy, but maybe that's because I hadn't eaten or slept in the last... I couldn't even remember how long. I closed my eyes and tried to picture the map as landmass, without the mountains or intricate detail. Nothing.. I pressed the palm of my hand on my forehead. I felt a sharp pain over my left eye. I think I was starting to have a migraine. I was so angry and frustrated and tired and miserable. I couldn't ever recall feeling so terrible in all my life. I wanted to rip the scroll to shreds. I heard a smooth ruffling and opened my eyes to see Asegill rolling up the scroll. I made a hurried grab at it, holding tight to one end.
"I'm not done with that." I said.
"Yes you are." Asegill moved to remove my fingers from the scroll.
"I told you! I'm not stopping until I figure out where I am!" I avoided his hands.
Asegill exhaled sharply and dropped the map, throwing his hands up in the air. "Your never going to figure out where you are! Your not in your world anymore!" He said angrily.
"You don't know that!" I shouted. I took that moment to gather up the massive scroll in my arms and back away.
Asegill paused and took a deep breath, when he looked into my eyes I could see the anger in his expression. But I also saw pity, I didn't know how I felt about that. "I do know that." He said slowly. "I know that because I know about your world, My people have countless legends of it. And I know that our worlds are connected in the slightest way, but according to legends no one has gone to or from your world in ten generations. But even when they did come through, they never got back. Everyone in Asmondr knows this." I didn't want to hear this. There had to be explanation, there was always an explanation. I closed my eyes and cleared my head. He was right, his land didn't resemble anything Id ever seen, and holding his map hostage wasn't going to change that. I opened my eyes again and held out the heavy awkward scroll. Asegill handled it with a ease I envied. He looked ever so slightly relieved for a moment and he carefully rerolled the strange paper, I realized that it was probably worth a lot of money. When he had finished replacing the map in his shelving, Asegill turned around and looked at me with quite intensity. "Believe me Francine there is no way back to your world."
"But you said that people have gone to my world!" I said desperately.
"Never someone who had already been brought here. Why would the gods undo something they had done." There he went with the gods again.
"I need to get back.." I pleaded with him with my eyes, trying to make him understand. Trying to appeal to whatever non Neanderthal part of him existed. But if anything his face hardened more.
"Why? Who do you need to return to? A man?" The last words were more of a growl. For a moment I could of sworn something had happened to his eyes again.
Was he jealous? he didn't own me. "What? No. My family! They need me." I tried not to look like I was lying. My family was filled with independent people, which included me. No they didn't need me, but still I knew that they would be worried sick about me.
He seemed satisfied. "Daughters always leave home eventually. I am sure it will not be easy but they will move on."
I wasn't giving up that easy. But I pretended to let his words placate me. I thought about how important it was to him that I wasn't with anyone and an idea formed in my mind. Maybe if he knew that I wasn't a virgin he would consider me soiled goods. After all that's what people from the dark ages thought. "Well I'm sure my old boyfriends will worry about me."
His jaw clenched with an almost audible click and his eyes took on a possessive gleam. "I thought you had no man in your life." he spoke in a deadly quite tone.
"Well I'm not with them currently, but we do keep in touch. You didn't think I was a virgin? No, I've had plenty of men in my life." Technically I wasn't lying.
There was no denying it, his pupils lengthened again and stayed that way this time. Rage boiled in his eyes and I backed up until my back hit the wall. Calm down. I told myself. This is what you wanted to do, convince him you not a prospect. I swallowed and stared into his blue lizard eyes. He took a slow predatory step forward, my pulse raced. "You kissed them.. They bedded you." He stepped closer a dangerous look of his face.
"Yes." I squeaked unsteadily.
"None of them married you." He was right it front of me now.
"No." If anything he looked madder.
I shouldn't have to explain anything to him. But what little self preservation I had kicked in. "It's not exactly uncommon where I'm from."
He reached out and threaded his fingers through my hair and holding the back of neck in a steel grip. He bent down until his face was inches away from my own. My entire body was frozen like a deer in the head lights on an oncoming car. "It is good then, that there is no way back to your world. Else I would hunt those men down and kill them myself." I only had time to assume a wide eyed panicked look, before he kissed me the second time that day.
He didn't bother with a charade of an invitation this time. His lips encased my own with fire again. His other arm snaked around my waist and chained me against him, hard. He attacked my lips with a savage force that almost hurt. But still I couldn't keep the flames from consuming me. Heat scorched my body from head to toe, but I held still. I could feel my nipples harden beneath my shirt. I could feel an ache between my legs I had never felt before. I couldn't keep my mouth closed from him. he had me pinned against the wall so I pushed against him with my hands, I might as well be trying to push away a brick wall. I could feel his hard member again pressed into the V of my thighs, for the first time in my life I ached for a man to be in me. But I wouldn't let him win. What was there to win though? This was passion.. NO! No, this was a predator. With one had in my hair He pulled back just enough to growl out a barely intelligible. "Your mine minn hyrr, minn orsimmi" He grabbed both my hands in his left hand and pinned them above my head. And then he continued to plunder my mouth. I repeated the word in my head like a mantra. predator, predator, predator. Yes he was a predator. Like a savagely intelligent jungle cat. But the fire, the attraction would not abate. I couldn't say how long he kissed me. But I know I was hanging by the thinnest threads of self control when finally, mercifully, he stopped with a growl.
He pulled his head back breathing heavily and raggedly as did I. Even though this was not what I had wanted my mind and body cried out in disappointment when he pulled away. I opened my eyes and took stock of my situation. I wasn't even on the bed, I was pinned against the wall by him. When had that happened? At least all of my clothes were on. I had won.. So why did I feel like I had lost?
Asegill stared at the swollen lipped beauty below him. She was strong. His beast continued to thrash at his control. She is ours.. claim her, it whispered. He had seen oh to clearly the men she had spoken of earlier. He could see it in his mind's eye, her face in sexual bliss and hunger as men crawled all over her. Just looking at her all he could see was places they had gone, they had touched. Never in his life could he have killed a man so easily as right then. Not even in the wildest battle rage. Not even if one of his own people betrayed him could have felt like this. She played with forces beyond her imagination. One moan from her lips, one press of her hips. And he would have shredded those clothes from her body and taken her then and there. But she was smart, she knew that even he wouldn't take her completely by force. There were some men who would, of his people. But they were foolish men who would awaken to blade at their throat one morning by the very woman they had considered theirs. No, a true man gained his wife's trust. Asegill could see the heavy lidded look in her eyes. She would succumb eventually. He wasn't surprised that she felt his fire, a berserker did not choose his mate idly. Francine appeared to be coming back to herself again. She blushed and looked away from him. Asegill moved his hand from the back of her neck to hold the side of her face. His thumb brushed her sensitive moist lips. She looked so sinful in that moment. Like a goddess of sex. Her darkly tanned skin was flushed and hot to the touch. Her hair so dark in the flickering oil lanterns it was black. And those green eyes with tones so dark on the outside and so light within. Her face had a softness to it that other women of the north lacked. He wouldn't change one feature on her, she was exotic perfection.