tagRomanceEleanor Ch. 09

Eleanor Ch. 09


This chapter is a little gory...but I hope you still enjoy it. I promise nxt chapter is more of the romance!


"Shhhhh Varin, she will hear us." Anika nudged her guard gently as they hid in the tapestry covered window.

Jostling to stay on the ledge, and keep their feet from the ground beneath the tapestry, Varin held Anika on his lap, arms holding her steady against the window, while struggling to keep his large legs from falling. At the click of the door, Varin held his finger to his lips to motion silence to Anika, and held his own breath at the thought of capture.

For three days, Inga had been coming to Anika's room, looking for her to beat upon, to demand she tell the wretch where her mother Matilda had hidden her most valued objects. The first day, Anika had taken the beating, and revealed nothing. Varin would never forget his little Loki curled in a tight ball in the cupboard sobbing, bruises marring her pale skin, chunks of her midnight black hair ripped from her scalp. And blood pouring from a cut above her eye.

And yet his little fighter had known mercy. Begged that he not avenge her, begged him to hold her, soothe her. All the while his eyes were rabid. The murderous glint saved for their retribution. And by the Gods, he would deliver it.

Holding tighter to his treasure, Varin listened intently at the intruder, hoping it was friend rather than foe, there was not much he could do without a weapon.

"Where is the little wretch Inga?" Sibbe's growl echoed around the room. "You were meant to be watching her!"

"She keeps disappearing with that bastard guard of hers. He keeps her hidden."

"Well then, we will have to get rid of him first."

Stifling Anika's intake of breath with his hand, Varin preyed they had not heard it. He had seen the members of her house arrive this morning. Six men, all well built, with tough armor, they were definitely hired guards.

Most likely to be paid from the money here. Varin had thought. And right now, he did not want to have to fight them, while looking after Anika.

Keep her hidden. Keep her safe.

Kissing the top of her head, Varin felt his blood boil at the thought of harm coming to her.

"Inga. Find the little bitch, or I will hand you over as payment to the guards." Sibbe snarled. "Understood??"

The sound of the door banging open against the wooden frame made even him jump, as he listened to the resounding boom her Sibbe's footsteps on the wooden floors.

"I will find you, you little bitch." Inga spat into the empty room. Before slamming the door and following her mother.

The silence stretched between them, as they waited before drawing breath. The fear that they were standing right outside the door rang strong through both of them as Varin gently released his hold on Anika, and poked his head around the tapestry.

"It's alright now Anika," he whispered, "We will get out of here. I know where we can go."

Picking up a small satchel, Varin packed what was left of Anika's belongings. Not very much was to be seen. Inga had burnt most of what Anika had held dear two days ago after their fight. Everything from her trunk was gone. Her drawings, her books, and her beautiful dresses. But it was an item that had her sobbing as he had found her in the cupboard, not the pain from the blows she had suffered, or her ruined beautiful hair. Inga had burnt her teddy.

A teddy made by hand, brown leather skin, with sewn patches, and hand stitched eyes and nose, it was not the most beautiful looking bear Varin had seen in his childhood. It was old, and haggard from being dragged everywhere by a child who loved it.

It was made by Ragnar's hand.

All he could put into her little bag was a brush, an old tunic, and the hand stitched cover from Anika's bed, before he wrapped his little Loki in a cloak and went back to the window. His last prayer was that he would see the tips of the Auden or Haur boats coming past the point in the North signaling either Matilda or Ragnar's return. At the sight of nothing but rolling bay and sea, Varin steadied himself for getting Anika out of the Haur castle. And away from the women that were intent on harming her.

What Varin had dared not tell Anika was that he knew why boats coming over the point may well not occur.

As he had crept in and out of Anika's real room, he had listened intently to the conversation going on in there as he removed Anika's belongings to the hidden room. He knew of Sibbe's plans for Matilda. How she planned to take over in the castle. How she was going to kill Anika and himself. Her daughter Inga talks in great detail while asleep. Varin laughed, he had thought he would have to get mean with his fists if he did not find out what was going on in the Haur lands since Matilda's departure, but all it took was ransacking Anika's possessions and getting them to safety...and a little eavesdropping.

Inga's midnight discussions were made truthful to his ears, when he had heard her and Sibbe discussing her plan over a vast feast. That was the last straw. Poor Anika lay beaten from that day; starved from the second evil Sibbe had arrived, with Varin resorting to stealing food just to keep his friend alive, and to nourish his own screaming belly.

If Ragnar did not arrive soon; Varin did not think he could control himself from the bloodshed his mind was already engaging in.

"Varin, where will we go?" Anika choked on a quiet sob, desperate to protect her pride in front of her friend. "They are not coming back, are they?" Her throat constricted beneath the soft fabric of her cloak at the thought she had been dismissing since Sibbe had revealed herself to be more than the monster she usually was.

Varin felt his heart skip a beat; he needed Anika to stay positive, he did not think he could cope with her anguish, every tear already tore at him savagely, demanding blood payment for each delicate drop shed from a child he thought of like a sister to him. Kneeing down, Varin wrapped her tightly to him.

"Anika, they will be on their way. Then we will make her sorry she ever came here. Together."

He hoped he would never lie to his little Loki.

He hoped that was not lie number one.

Hearing voices of Sibbe's foreign guards, panic washed anew over Varin. These bastards were Gaul.

"Anika, we must leave. Whatever happens, do not speak. Do not let go of my hand." He whispered, looking straight into her now dark expressionless eyes. "Anika? Do you understand?"

"You told me not to speak." Anika smiled.

"Loki. Indeed you are his child." Varin smiled despite himself, despite the danger now not far from their door. Ensuring the tapestry was covering the window fully, he stepped from the open window out into the pitch black, landing silently, with a short roll to protect Anika from any impact. Taking a final look over his shoulder, Varin prayed this went well, hoped he had thought of everything to protect them. While the keep had been asleep, he had been stowing more and more in the hidden room between Anika and Matilda's rooms.

He knew the possibility Sibbe would tell anyone who could threaten her that he had taken Anika, but he knew that Ragnar and Matilda would both look in that room first. Well, he laughed at his own thoughts; Sibbe would be sorely disappointed that her plan to deceive them would not work. He left a note containing all the information Ragnar or Matilda would require to hang the evil wench, along with a promise to bring Anika back.

He was not fool enough to include their location.

Eirik and Ragnar had taught him well.

Anika knew he could not carry her for long, she felt his body in tension, coiled to break into a dead run into the woodland at any moment. Burying her head against his shoulder, Anika refused to see the ash that marred the centre of their lawn. The burnt material of all that was left of her teddy. She could not even bring herself to cry anymore, the hatred she felt for them burnt at her soul like an itch she could not scratch. As they broke into the woods, Anika took one last look at her home before closing her eyes.

Ragnar, why have you abandoned me?

Feeling the slight weight sag gently on his shoulder, he cradled her in his arms. Varin had to move faster, he had heard the shouts of the Gauls from the Haur keep, knew they would be closing in fast. Quickening his pace, Varin felt the muscles burn, his legs aching with the rugged landscape he was clearing so fast, the branches ripping at his calves as he broke into a clearing.

And drew his sword.

Feeling her feet hit the ground, Anika jolted fully awake, if the jostle from Varin's run had alerted her to the danger surrounding them in the woods, him dropping her had instilled it fervently. And if it had not, then the sight of four devils appearing from the darkness between moonlit trees, would have.

"Stay away from us you bastards." Varin shouted, his broad sword extended, as the four foreigners moved silently towards them, their curved blades glinting in the early rising moon. Varin backed towards Anika, desperate to usher her towards the shore, anywhere away from the hired guards.

"Yeah, stay away from us you bastards!!!!!" Anika shouted, as the man closest to her fell to the ground, unconscious from her well aimed rock. Stunned did not do Varin's expression any justice, as he gaped at the little creature throwing such heavy rocks. And he smiled broadly as the first of the men darted towards them.

Bellowing with rage, the dark skinned guard ran at Varin, his lethal blade seeming contorted in the light, the razor edge swinging through the air as he advanced towards him, and returned a battle cry his father would have been proud of as he countered the almost clumsy swing of the blade, slicing through the unprotected belly of the guard, spraying him with the fallen guard's blood.

Anika threw the last of her rocks, she had made sure she had picked the most jagged she could find, but as the remaining two guards had approached her, she had given up being picky and threw anything she could get her hands on. Varin slaughtered the guard furthest away with a strong slice to his belly, and was moving towards the guards who were stalking her.

Anika gasped as the guard Varin aimed for caught sight of the attack and twisted away from the embrace of Varin's broadsword and hit her friend back with a brutal punch to his jaw.

"VARIN!!" Anika screamed as she darted towards him, only to be knocked to her back, the breath knocked from her lungs, and a sharp stinging in the back of her head as it connected with the rock strewn ground, and the crush in her chest as the hired guard bore down on her, his strangling hold tight around her neck.

"Anika!!" Varin screamed. "Get the hell from her you bastard!" He pulled away from tackling the guard who had punched him, rushing to her. Grabbing the guards head, Varin pulled his sword through the man's neck and dragged the dying body off of Anika before turning back to the tackled guard.

Advancing on the lone Gaul, Varin wanted him to pay, for all little Loki had seen in the clearing, for the markings on her throat. He wanted them all to pay for all the death he and Anika had endured these past two years, he wanted retribution for his father, for his brothers. But most of all, he wanted retribution for Anika, who's life should have been one of a child's, filled with laughter and play. Yet all her eight years had been marked by death. Wars against the invading Gauls; the invading Germanics; infighting of the Northern Norse men. All he had ever wanted to do was protect her. Yet tonight he had not been able to get her to the sea from the keep.

Raising his sword ready to fight this last lone Gaul, Varin was almost shocked by the sardonic look the man was casting. Moving swiftly towards the Gaul, Varin swung his sword, but the man ducked; avoiding the solid blow with ease; and blatant mockery as he neither parried nor backed away.

As Varin swung again, his arms tense from the sheer weight of the broadsword, sweat coating his skin both from exertion and nausea from Anika being in danger, Varin swore he could hear his death coming, the swish of the Gaul's blade moved so slowly, he almost believed that he could move away with an entire week to spare, had he not been rooted to the spot. The glint of the curved, ragged edge of the foreigner's blade flashed the reflection of the moon, as he shut his eyes and begged Freya for forgiveness for being unable to protect one of her angels.

The moonlight and predawn light was burning his gaze, yet the splash of cool water was reviving his senses, the rainfall heavy in the still air. We are alive, Ragnar, he thought, Ragnar must be home. Turning over from his belly, he swallowed a dry heave of his belly at the sight before him. Bathed in the moonlight, the angel before him was clouded by red. Her hair whipped around her, black as the night, as the rain washed down her face.

Moving towards the creature, standing as still as any statue, Varin swallowed another dry heave as he neared the fierce looking angel. All mercy gone from her retribution, displaying the want of her anger and bloodshed for those who would seek to harm her, Varin was near terrified to approach the tiny blood soaked figure standing in the clearing. Her bloodied rock held in her hands, as she stood above her defeated Gaul. As the first of the lightening flashed in the sky above them, Varin knew he would forever more have that image before him branded in his memory.

Of his little Loki, an eight year old as akin to death as any man from their world, let the bloodied rock fall from her hands to the corpse with the rumble of the deafening thunder, and walk towards him.

She would never be the same again. And he hated himself for subjecting her to such horror.

Taking the outstretched hand she offered, Varin dared a glance to her eyes, his shame barely hidden beneath the surface as he beseeched her soul for forgiveness.

"Please tell me you brought me a clean tunic Varin." Anika began, growing concerned with Varin's worry. "I appear to have stepped in a Gaul."

The look of disbelieve swept across his handsome features, as Anika smiled up at him. The truth was that she was appalled with her lack of caring that she had killed the man. Anika had always afforded herself with the self-assertation that she would never have to kill a person, not that she would not be in the situation, more that she had believed she could talk a fat man out of a sweet pastry.

Yet tonight, as the Gaul had been swinging that blade towards Varin, she had snapped. Launching herself at his feet, she had accidentally knocked him into Varin, sending her friend crashing to the ground, and taking the Gaul down similarly. Unfortunately, the bastard had not followed the impact into oblivion and had attempted to reach his sword. All the while, his smile had tainted his face. Anika had never once encountered anyone who seemed to lack a single ounce of humanity somewhere. Even Sibbe has greed, a negative of humanity, but still a feature.

This hired killer had nothing. Did not grunt when in pain, did not fall easily, he was truly evil. As she had stood above the killer, the boulder in her arms, Anika had worried it would not be enough to kill him, even as she had dropped her weapon over his smirking face and heard it crack, she had kept going, and going, bringing the boulder back up and hurling it down again and again, bitter tears flowing freely as she spoke curses she had not even known she knew of. When she had seen its chest no longer rise, Anika had waited, poised for its attack. Refusing to look at the damage she had wrought, looking instead at the moonlight at play with the crystals of the boulder. When Varin had awoken, she could have cried anew. She could not stand the worry in his eyes, her friend; her guardian. This was not his fault.

"Varin, it is not your fault, you are my trusted protector, my friend." She said, as she followed his path.

"I nearly got you killed Anika, I am hardly the best protector."

"Nah. See, not even a flesh wound, yet those four are dead," Anika paused as she motioned behind her with her free hand. "I believe we did quite well!"

Smiling at little Loki, Varin moved towards the cliff edge, and lifted Anika into his arms once more.

"We are going down there Varin?" Anika shuffled, burying her head back into Varin's shoulder in fear of the height of the cliff.

"We are, hold onto me tightly Anika." Varin began his decent down the rock face when he felt the little arms around his neck tightening. A hundred more feet and they would be safe. This place was Ragnar's plan for when anything went wrong, a canopy of rock disguised it from above, and a plateau raised it from the sea, giving the cave protection. Foliage and brush grew in abundance, and they would be safe. She would be safe.

And from here, they would see the boats.

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