“Runes.” Runfrid rested her hand on the leather bundle. “Bones from a fallen enemy, carved with a knife dedicated to Freja, Our Lady of the Slain.”
- Forgive and forget
- Iron Age
- Old faith
- Hildri Gormsson, father (deceased)
- Arna Korisdotter, mother (deceased)
- Snöfrid Hildrisdotter, sister
- Mór Bjalfisson, husband (deceased)
- Ragna Mórsdotter, daughter
- Bjalfi Mórsson, son
- Yngvi Mórsson, son
- What's your name
- Runfrid Hildrisdotter
- How old are you
- I have seen twenty-five midsummers
- What do you look like
- Strawberry blonde hair down to my lower back. My eyes are mis-matching, with one sapphire blue and one pale grey
- Where were you at the start of the story
- Visiting my husband's memorial. It had been six months since he threw himself into Rán's embrace
- What did you want, when the story started
- I wanted to forgive him for what he did to me, to his family, to his children
- Who are your parents
- Hildri Gormsson and Arna Kórisdotter. They died in a fire three years ago
- What was your education like
- I think quite normal. I learned all the things I needed to keep a household, and when I was fourteen midsummers, I married Mór Bjalfisson. Of course, my grandmother also taught me runes and the art of magic
- Do you make friends easily
- Yes, I am good at diplomacy. I had to, to handle the household after my father-in-law died and Mór was out on Viking
- Do you have a best friend
- My sister Snöfrid, but she moved to the other side of the country, so I rarely see her
- Can you get people to do what you want them to? If so, how
- As I said, I am good at diplomacy
- Do you have scars? Where did they come from
- None I wish to speak about
- Can you navigate without getting lost? To what degree
- It has never been something I needed to do
- Can you bake a cake
- Quite a few different kinds
- Do you know how to perform basic maintenance on a car
- I am not sure what that is
- Is there something you do that most other people don’t
- I practice runes in secret, so my brother-in-law does not find out. Mór never minded, but Leifr is Christian and does not like the old faith
- What is the most formative moment in your past
- Holding my daughter in my arms. That something so precious could come from me and Mór
- Do you have any phobias
- What are some of your bad habits
- I talk to myself
- Do you have a moral code? To what extent are your actions dictated by this code
- Honour and family above everything
Runfrid knelt by the rune stone, lighting the incense she had brought with her. On the flat granite surface in front of it, she lay down three locks of hair bound with copper threads.
“Six full moons have passed since you choose Rán’s embrace to mine.” She whispered the words, closing her eyes as hot tears trickled down her freckled cheeks. “And I still do not know if I still love you, or if you killed my love.” Grief wrecked her body, with sobs forcing themselves out despite her best efforts.
“Cry not, mistress.” The melodic voice, with a broken accent, of her husband’s thrall broke through her grief. The woman lay a tanned hand on her shoulder.
Runfrid straightened, shielding her emotions with her pride. “I was not crying.” The discomfort flittered up her spine, and again she wondered why she had not sold her when Mór threw himself off the cliff.
At the rejection, Esti’s face stiffened into a mask of hurt. “Of course, mistress.” Her hand resting on her swollen belly stung in Runfrid’s heart, and tears flooded her eyes again. She sank to her knees, unable to stop herself, sobbing against the ground. The thrall knelt with her, taking her hand and holding it, while the storm washed over Runfrid, until the grief ebbed away and left only the emptiness she was used to.
She met Esti’s grey eyes and read only sympathy in them. “Why are you comforting me?” She pulled her cloak around herself.
Esti shrugged. “You not sell me.” She smiled lightly. “You not hate me, despite …” She gestured at her stomach with an awkward movement.
Despite. The thought bit into Runfrid as she rose again, hoping she could wash the redness away before anyone else saw her. She stalked into the low house, her head bowed, leaving Esti by Mór’s rune stone and memorial. The only one they had, as his body had not yet washed ashore.