The Viking (Chapter II, page 1 of 6)

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It was Anundi who would do most of the teaching and the first lesson was to make it from one end of the ship to the other without stepping on anyone or falling overboard. He explained how to either slip under the sail or hold on to it and swing out to reach the other side. Stefan chose the latter. The first couple of times, he nearly fell overboard, but with a little more practice, he excelled and his father was pleased, not so much that he had mastered it but that he was willing to try.

For the remainder of the day, the boy watched the men adjust the sail according to the wind, watch for sea monsters or unfriendly ships, sharpen their swords and break out the food for their evening meal. Then as the sun began to set, they lowered the sail, stowed it, dropped anchor and began to settle in for the night.

It was not until after the rest of the men were settled that Donar motioned for his son to join him in the bow. Both wore their warm cloaks and as they sat down, Donar reached for his son's blanket and handed it to him. "I am pleased to have ye with me, Stefan. I have dreamed o' it often."

Stefan's jaw dropped, "Ye would have taken me to sea even without all me beg'n?"

"Aye, but I enjoyed yer beg'n. As soon as ye learned to speak ye began to demand it. When ye were five, ye threatened to kill me if I dinna take ye."

Stefan smiled. "I meant it too."

Donar scooted back until he could comfortably lean against the large cloth sacks stowed in the bow. "For these many years ye have had questions and I have had no time to answer them. Now there be the time…ask, my son."

Stefan had to think about it for a moment. There were thousands of questions, or at least seemed to be, but he could only think of one just now. "I want to know…"

"Go on, I will answer any question ye ask."

"Ye will think me still a wee laddie."

"If ye are, the fault be mine for not having helped ye become a lad."

Stefan quickly glanced at the exhausted men laying between the benches and taking up every inch of available space on the deck. Only four of them were still sitting upright with their eyes held out watching for other ships and the dreaded sea monsters.

"'Tis that my aunt will not speak o' her and I dinna even know my mother's name."

"Ah, well yer aunt loved her sister very much and 'tis painful to speak o' her. 'Twas painful for me too, but I dinna mean to neglect telling ye about yer mother. Her name was Sheena and she asked me to give ye this." He tossed one side of his cloak over his shoulder, found the thin strap around his neck and pulled a pouch out from inside his tunic. All the men wore small pouches to carry a scrap of clean cloth, coins, flint, tinder and a small piece of "c" shaped metal with which to strike the flint. But Donar's pouch was larger and from it, he withdrew a gold medallion.

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