Luke watched as Kiena dashed though the door into the little cabin. White as a sheet she looked as though the devil himself chased her. Dropping the bow and the rabbit she’d caught for dinner as she went.
“Are you alright?” he asked, hauling himself out of the chair as quickly as his injured body would allow watching as she locked the many bolted door. He had never noticed how many locks it possessed before.
“Fine” she replied quickly, slamming the shutter’s to the windows closed and locking them with the same eagerness. It was clear she used to fear… fear she clearly felt now.
Holding his hand out he caught hold of the shutter before she managed to close it on the final window. “Whats out there?” he asked, peering into the darkness.
That was when he spotted him. A man on the edge of the treeline but even the darkness could not hide the markings of tattoo or the flame red hair on his head. He was the strangest man he’d ever witnessed, at least he was the strangest man he imagined he’d witnessed had he memories of any.
He had read about them in a book. It was strange he remembered that… He knew he’d once owned or had at least read a book. An educated man for a hunter.
He was a northman, from one of the high tribes. Barbarian’s many concider savages. “Who’s he?” he asked.
“One of ‘them’ she whispered, as though she feared the name itself “the wolves”
“Oh” he nodded, “what does he want?”
She didn’t answer instead she pulled the shutter from his hand and slammed it closed. “They don’t normally come down here” she muttered, “Not over the waterfall”
“Do you have a sword?” he asked, glancing around the cabin.
“Just a knife and a bow”
“Give it here” he urged taking it from her. “Don’t worry I won’t let him hurt you”
“You wouldn’t be able to stop him” she replied grimly.
“Well hopefully it doesn’t want us” Luke dared to hope “Perhaps it’s just scouting”
“Perhaps” she agreed, but something in her eye told him she knew why it was here.
Several tense minutes passed and nothing could be heard eventually Luke took a seat; it didn’t seem to be coming. “Why do you stay if they come?”
“They never have” she reasoned, “I sometimes I think they will but they have never come, my papa said there was something in the ground here they didn’t like… that it was safe here”
Kiena remained vigilant at the window for almost an hour after he’d seen the man but eventually she picked up the rabbit she’d dropped at the doorway and took it to the table to prepare.
“Have you never thought about moving into the villages?” he asked, “Surely it would be safer?”
“It ain’t safer” she reasoned, “there are other dangers, my mam died in the villages she went out one night but when she came back she wasn’t me mam anymore. Ma papa had to kill her before she killed us”
“Is that why you moved out here?”
She nodded “Pa said it wasn’t safe in the villages no more”
“Well I’m tired” he decided, “I’m going to sleep, but I think it’s time I gave you your bed back. I’ll be fine on the couch I’m healed well enough”
“No should take the bed, you still bleed a little sometimes. You need the rest”
“So do you, you’ve got that baby to think about” he reasoned watching as she tensed as she did every time he mentioned the baby. She wouldn’t talk about it, goodness he’d tried but every time the baby or it’s father where mentioned she swiftly changed the subject. It was almost as if she though if she ignored it long enough it would go away. “So how far along are you?” he asked.
“Shall I make a stew?” she replied.
“I don’t want to talk about stew” he reasoned, standing from the couch. “I want to talk about the baby”
“What’s to talk about?” she snapped. “It is what it is”
“Well I don’t know…” he replied suddenly stunned, “woman I think sometimes like to talk about their baby’s but you never talk about it, you don’t even make clothes… there’s no basket.. is this baby coming naked into the world?”
“Aint that how nature intended it” she retorted, letting the knife she’d been using to skin the rabbit fall to the table with a clatter she stood to meet him abruptly.
“Well yes I suppose” he replied flummoxed. “But they aren’t supposed to stay that way”
“I should go and get some carrots If I’m to make a stew” she reasoned, trying to push past him.
Catching hold of her if didn’t let her go “It’s dark” he replied, “You aren’t going out tonight, carrots can wait till the morning”
Suddenly she kissed him, it was so unexpected out of the blue that he was taken back. It wasn’t as though he hadn’t thought about it, she was a pretty girl. Perhaps not a classic beauty but she certainly had what he considered a home grown charm.
However now was not the time pushing her away he realised her intention and it had nothing to do with attraction “You’re trying to distract me”
“An if you were any sort of man it would work” she growled.
“So tell how far along are you?” he asked, not letting her go.
“Two seasons or their bouts” she replied, “it’s due in the spring I guess”
“That soon and you’ve made no preparations for its arrival?”
“No” she replied her face stern. “There ain’t no point, it ain’t got no papa to accept it into the house so there isn’t no point preparing fer it”
“Because it’s a bastard?”
“So what, it has no father so you intend to what… let it die?”
“The wolves can have it” she replied simply.
Stunned he let her go… she was so cold about it. Yet everything else about her and her actions since she’d found him told him she was not a cold woman. She was not uncaring or unforgiving… but over this she seemed so resolute it scared him.