The Viking (Chapter VI, page 1 of 7)


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He found a place near the water amid the bushes where he was certain Kannak could not find him and sat down on the ground. He should have known Anundi was dead for he surely would have made the Vikings come back for Donar and his only son. Stefan was annoyed with himself for not having guessed he was dead or taken even a moment to mourn the loss of the other men. Who else was laid out on the deck of the Sja Vinna before it was burned and sent to a watery grave? He doubted he would ever know.

Though the image of his father's death did not plague him as much as it had the first few days, the ache was still there and being alone served only to increase it. She had the potential of becoming a real pest, but being around Kannak was better than facing his sorrow head on.

He was about to get up and go back, but in the distance, he heard voices and changed his mind. It was Jirvel's voice he heard first and there was a man with her. As the voices grew closer, he parted the bushes just enough to see that the man was Laird Macoran. He had come back just as Kannak said he did once before. Stefan should have made his presence known, but he did not do it in time and then it seemed too late.

"We had naught to eat," Jirvel said.

"Ye know very well I care about ye. Countless times I have ridden my horse up the path or sat upon the hill just to get a glimpse o' ye."

"And still ye did not see we were alone?"

"Eogan be rarely where I can see him. He hides so I will not see him drunk." Macoran's voice was soft and compassionate when he continued. "Why did ye not come tell me?"

"He took our only horse. The one we have wandered onto our land or we would have been forced to walk to the village to do the marketing."

"Say the word and I will find yer husband and kill him for deserting ye." Macoran took the empty bucket Jirvel carried, dipped it in the river and let it fill with water. Then he pulled it out and set it down on a flat rock.

Her arms were folded tight and it was all she could do to keep her voice down so Kannak would not hear. "I dinna want ye to kill him, I want yer pledge. Ye have taken everything else from me, but ye will not take Kannak. Ye will let her become a lass and choose her own husband."

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