Thunder cracked and rolled, shuddering the ground under Inka’s feet. She felt it through the stiff hide of her boots, through the thick fur lining. Peering into the downpour, she tugged her cloak tighter around her shoulders and tried to dismiss a lurking sense of apprehension. Trees bent and tossed in the cold wind, sending rain spray against her face as she stared into the gray deluge.
She saw no one. But she couldn’t make herself close the door.
Someone was out there.
Moments later, the dark figure of a man loomed, walking and leading a horse. As they neared, she could see another man slumped on the horse’s back. Inka briefly considered whether she should seize the heavy dagger she kept by her bed.
She should have felt them coming. How had her vision failed?
They approached her entry and stopped, giving her time to read their energy. It radiated in pale blue waves.
“We need your help,” the walking man said. “Will you provide succor?”
Inka locked eyes with the man, searching within him for evil intent. Sending blue energy could have been a shield. His weathered face streamed with water. Peering from under his soggy hood, his pale eyes reflected the gleam of her fire pit and spoke of his desperation. And his honesty.
“Come in, then,” she said, opening her door wider and stepping back.
He turned to his companion, pulling him off the horse and holding him up with his shoulder as they staggered into the cabin. Inka seized the horse’s reins and led it through the opening as well, walking it past the fire to a bed of straw where her own horse had once bedded. The horse shook itself, rattling the ornate breastplate. She slipped off the bridle and left the weary beast to the hay cradle.
With the door firmly fastened against the howling wind, she turned to study these strangers. The injured man had collapsed at the fireside as his companion peeled off his wet hat. With their hooded cloaks removed, she could see that both men wore a small dotted line along the right jaw, the mark of the distant Eirikr tribe.
“You’re far from your home,” she said, squatting to add more wood to the fire. Coals shifted and sent sparks into the air. Water droplets fell through the smoke hole at the top of her roof and vaporized in the flames with tiny hisses.
“Three days,” the man said. “I’m Darnoc. This is Conrad.”
The injured man lifted his head enough to make eye contact with Inka. His pale blue eyes created a shocking appearance in a face so dark with grime and blood. But it wasn’t the appearance alone that caused her breath to catch in her throat. His gaze conveyed a message so unexpected that her hand dropped to her waist belt to clutch her pouch of talismans.
“He’s a seiðmaðr,” she said in a hushed voice.
“And you a seiðkona,” Conrad said. His voice, though weak, cut through the roar of thunder and rain crashing outside, as though his lips moved only inches from her ear. His stare burned into her briefly before he shivered and his head dropped again.
“He’s suffered grievous wounds,” Darnoc said. “For myself, I ask nothing. But can you help him?”
Inka reached her hands to the fire. It wasn’t the weather that chilled her fingers but the sudden shift in her blood flow. What must she do? She had made oaths to the gods.
She stood with her fists on her hips, considering. At least she could offer brief shelter. “Remove your wet garments and warm yourselves.”
Darnoc hesitated then pulled off his outer vest and heavy tunic. A baldric with long sword clattered to the ground. His hands lingered at the waist tie of his trousers.
“I’ve seen men before,” she said, briefly glancing to his groin.
He yanked the tie and the garment fell in a soggy heap. She diverted her gaze from his cold-shriveled organ and muscled thighs and turned to her bedding where she gathered up two blankets of rabbit skins. At Conrad’s side, she helped Darnoc remove the baldric, vest, and woolen shirt. A long wound oozing blood crossed under Conrad’s arm along the bottom of his ribcage.
“Hold him,” she said, dropping the blankets at Darnoc’s feet. She knelt, tugging down Conrad’s wet trousers and lifting his feet one at a time to remove his boots. His skin felt like ice.
She grabbed a woven cloth from her basket and scrubbed his legs dry. Conrad grunted but did not flinch away. The force of her rubbing caused Darnoc to stagger slightly in his effort to hold Conrad’s weight and well he should. Conrad stood taller than Darnoc and every limb wrapped in muscle. A powerful man in more ways than one.
She swallowed in renewed apprehension.
“He’s lost too much blood,” Darnoc said. “I feared he’d die before we found you.”
“How did you know to come here?” She wrapped the rabbit skin blanket around Conrad and held it secure as Darnoc lowered him to the ground. Already she felt the force of his lovemaking against her breasts and thighs.
These two men did not arrive by accident. The gods had guided them here. Could she trust her instinct? The words of her oath haunted her.
“He told me the direction,” Darnoc said. “As if he followed scent.” He grabbed up the other blanket and tied it around his waist.
Inka briskly turned to the bronze cauldron she had earlier placed in the fire’s edge. The rabbit stew had cooked down. She lifted a nearby pitcher and poured more water into the thickened broth, then crouched at the far side of her hut to dig through her store of roots and herbs. Kneeling at the fireside, she quickly sliced a handful of parsnips into the pot as well as a measure of angelica seed. Dried chives sent up pungent scent as she stirred. With a smaller clean pot made purely of copper, she sliced angelica root and burdock root and added water before placing it into a nest of coals she mixed carefully with ash to yield the desired amount of heat.
Her shelter had long since provided ample space for her life. Built by men who came to her from the tribes of the river lands and mountains in search of her healing sorcery, the sturdy log and stone structure divided into three parts. To the right of the door, a line of hanging skins, baskets, and hay-lined pits held her food and medicines. To the left, a long bench separated the entry area from her sleeping space with its sumptuous bed of skins stuffed with straw. Beyond, a large work space held her loom, extra skins, tools, snares, cooking utensils, and weapons. At the back in her stabling area stood the horse, the first to occupy the space since her aged horse had died the previous year.
She was not yet old, but the years continued to pass. Nothing of the future held promise or threat and her days had lapsed into a monotony that she feared worse than age. She didn’t mind dying alone, only that whoever found her long-dead body would finally hold power over her. Not since the slavery of her youth had she yielded to another man’s will. The gods had been kind. If their kindness continued, if she upheld her oath, she would not rot but dry like fine herbs or meat hung to smoke. She wished her dried remains to be kept in a cairn or cave in the old way of the ancestors.
But her family had died long ago and as pledged, she’d borne no children. No one attended but for occasional tribesmen with offerings and requests. As the years passed, fewer tribes than ever knew she existed.
But now? Her future suddenly seemed irrevocably changed. Her blood ran hot. She saw herself in the hands of both men, her skin flushed, her legs spread. Why had her prophecies not shown her this?
As she stirred the stew, she studied these two men. The strong lines of their bodies bespoke their abilities as huntsmen and warriors. Whatever evil had fallen upon them, they must have fought bravely. Several gashes marred Darnoc’s chest and arms, and besides the wound on Conrad’s side, there were cuts on his arms and a bloody patch on his head that required attention. Despite the injuries and weakened condition, their powerful presence piqued her awareness in ways she had nearly forgotten.
If she broke her vow, what would be the outcome? She felt no more able to resist this fated meeting than to cut off her own hand. Her energy flowed in great looping spirals so strong she could see the purple color against the shadowed walls of her shelter. With her pulse rising, she checked the small vessel with its burdock and angelica root. The steaming concoction had turned dark.
She padded her fingers with a square of leather and lifted the medicine pot out of the fire pit, then retrieved the cloth she had used to dry Conrad’s legs. Squatting beside him, she examined the spot on his scalp where blood had dried black in a knotted mass of hair.
“He complained more of the head injury than his side, but the blood has long since stopped flowing there,” Darnoc said. “It’s his side that needs attention.”
“If the head wound is deep, it could be the source of his weakness,” Inka said. “I need to see it.”
She wet a cloth in warmed water and squeezed it partly dry, then began sponging the matted hair. Her gentle pressure on the area elicited faint groans from Conrad, who otherwise lay motionless on the skins. The wash water soon turned brown but her efforts revealed a short cut in his scalp. Probing gently with her fingertips, she examined the cut and the rest of his scalp before satisfying herself that the wound was, as Darnoc had said, the lesser of his injuries. The bone was not broken. With the healing liquid drained into another container, she mashed the softened roots and placed a poultice on the gash.
Inka pulled the rabbit skin blanket back from Conrad’s body. A trickle of blood oozed from the upper section of the wound on his side. She refreshed the bathing water and started sponging the area, careful not to tug at the wound. The swollen area around the cut had become an angry red color and felt hot to the touch.
Scenes flashed in Inka’s mind, his body healed and hovering over her, his lips sending magic through her veins. As she wiped his chest to remove the last of the blood stain, her brief glance caught his gaze, a thin glimmer of blue from slatted eyes. Her nostrils flared and she looked down.
Did he incite her wayward thoughts or did they spring from her long celibacy? She had sworn never again to mate with a man. Why did she suddenly think of such things?
“The wound requires stitches,” she said roughly, glancing at Darnoc. “You may have to hold him.”
“I can hold myself,” Conrad said. As before, his voice came clearly to her ears. Did he speak at all? “How deep is it?”
“Not into your vitals, for that we can be thankful,” she said. “The ribs are bruised but not, I think, broken.”
He grunted. She glanced up at Darnoc then returned her attention to Conrad’s wound. She took her time to examine the length and breadth of it, calculating the best method of closure and where she would need to leave a wick of cloth to drain off infection. Conrad stiffened as she rinsed the opening with root tea.
“Will you need mandrake?” she asked.
“No, woman. Do your work,” Conrad grumbled.
With her bone needle, she drew thin threads of sinew through his flesh, tugging the gaping opening together. He flinched and his hands formed fists as she worked. She knew the force of those hands on her body, how he would lift her up in violent lovemaking. So great was the impact of her imagining that by the time she had fully closed the wound, her breath came in short gasps and moisture beaded between her thighs.
Again she found his eyes barely open, watching her. He sent thoughts to her, scenes of her ravishment, of the pleasure wrought by his hands and mouth. Again she turned away with the weight of desire in her chest.
She smeared root paste along the seam then placed a clean cloth over the long line of stitches before helping Darnoc move Conrad to a sitting position. She secured the dressing with a wrapping around his torso. Her fingers lingered on his skin, the muscle of his back and chest, the lines of his abdomen. A man of substance and intrigue—she wondered at the scene she suddenly viewed of him fighting, men on all sides, his sword breaking…
“Did your sword break?”
“Yes,” he said. “Why bother to ask?”
Gooseflesh spilled down her sides. Hurriedly, she fastened the binding and adjusted the rabbit skins, causing it to slide away from his loins. His prick had awakened and loomed half stiff in its thicket of hair. Her breath caught as she quickly covered him.
“Already your magic heals me,” Conrad said. The corner of his mouth lifted in a half smile.
She fled to the far side of the fire to dip out bowls of stew. What of her oath? This man’s magic equaled hers. The old taboos of men who practiced seiðr rose fresh in her thoughts. Despite the myths, this man exhibited no signs of unmanliness. How could that be?
Ancient tales exalted men with the same or greater powers than the vǫlur even though in her lifetime only women practiced the craft. It must be true that some of them remained. In Conrad’s presence, she struggled to remain earthbound. Her thoughts flew from her in streams. No doubt he heard them.
Inka delivered two steaming bowls of rabbit stew to the men and sat across the leaping flames to enjoy her dinner. Darnoc, freshly washed and his hair tied back, made quick work of the food. Conrad’s hand shook as he lifted the bowl to his lips, but he refused Darnoc’s assistance.
“Spring comes in anger,” she said, seeking to ground herself. “The river will flood.”
“As we traveled here, the lowlands stood in water,” Darnoc said agreeably.
She dipped more stew for the men and gave them dried apples. They spoke of the season, the growing numbers of small-eared men infringing from the south, the need for new seed for their grain fields, the increasing value of amber. Conrad spoke little but the force of his thoughts overshadowed Darnoc’s words.
“What happened to your people?” she said finally. It was the question he wanted her to ask.
Shadows crossed the men’s faces. Darnoc spoke.
“The invaders came first as traders, only a few. Still, despite our desire to exchange goods, Conrad knew them as enemy. They wanted our gold and our women. By night, we sent the women to the caves with the children and gold, led by some of the older men. The rest of us prepared to fight.”
“The full force came at first light two days later,” he continued. “They arrived like ghosts with the rain, slipping in silence through our outposts.”
Conrad’s eyes opened fully as he gazed on her. “They threw a hare into our midst. Owls called from the forest, and it was not night.” He seemed to strengthen as he spoke. “From that we knew their spinners wove us in their magic.”
“Even with their magic, they fought like men,” Darnoc said. “They outnumbered us, but we killed and injured many as they came against us.”
“I fended them off with the force of magic. And I paid the price,” Conrad added. “They struck my sword and shattered my staff. They must have had a prophecy.”
“Why would the Norns weave against you?” Inka said. “Have you angered the gods?”
Conrad’s eyes flashed intense blue in the fire’s light. “This was not the will of the gods,” he said. “Men of the south have disturbed the work of Odin’s loom. I flew above them and danced to the drum. The blood stopped flowing from my wound.”
“He had no strength after that,” Darnoc said.
“The most grievous wound he suffers is not of the flesh,” Inka said. The truth of this test came fully to her thoughts. She turned her gaze to Conrad. “Their magic still binds you.”
“Hence my coming,” Conrad said, as if he had waited for her realization.
For the first time, the course of her life, her hard work, the long waiting, all made sense. This was the moment she had prepared for, the man who’d been promised. It had been so long, she had nearly forgotten she’d ever expected it. Now, with him here, she trembled at the prospect of their entanglement.
The storm raged as she instructed Darnoc. With Conrad resting full length on her bed, she removed her clothing. His prick stood erect without her touching it. She placed more wood on the fire and took her wand, brushing her breasts and thighs with its distaff head as if she spun linen threads for the loom. Her voice rose in a chant.
Lǫng es nótt, lǫng es ǫnnur,
hvé mega ek þreyja þrjár?
Opt mér mánaðr minni þótti
en sjá halfa hýnótt…
Soon Conrad’s voice joined hers. His words called to her. They held hands with Darnoc and spiraled above the clouds and into the starry night sky. She knelt at his side, placing her wand first on his chest where it rose and fell with his breath. Briefly she held it across his wound then lowered her lips to the line of stitches.
With soothing caresses, her lips urged the spirits of destruction to leave his body. Her incantations rose and fell, at times matching the howl of the outside storm. She draped her body over his.
Her form took the shape of a whirlwind teeming with insects, leaves, and hail. She became a turbulent stream and flowed over him, touching him with her lips and sweeping him with her long scented hair. Voices rose and fell, voices of spirits both fair and foul. She hovered in the air above him, reaching with her wand to touch his hands, his feet, and his forehead.
He seized her wrist. “Make me whole,” he said. “It is our fate.”
The strength of his grip told her what she needed to know.
“The spell they cast is weak magic,” she said, settling her hips astride his loins. “But they will return, and with greater force. Your people must hurry to these hills and start anew. That is your future.”
He grasped her breasts as she straddled him and his touch sent lightning through her veins. The swollen tip of his prick found her wet opening and with a thrust of his hips, he drove himself into her.
“So it shall be,” he said.
The powers of wind and rain held nothing to compare to the storm that broke between them. Inka bucked and cried as his organ fed her long hunger. Her juices flowed. His stones gathered to hard knots that teased her buttocks at each full seating. Up then down, they danced the oldest dance. Her breasts swelled in his grasp. Her hips spread and opened to bring him deeper.
His ardor bloomed, increasing his girth until he stretched her belly with his manhood. She shook in need, called on the gods, and uttered Conrad’s spirit name. She had not known it before now.
She saw in his eyes the truth of her knowledge, demanding,. His eyes, now fully open, shone with his gifts. The fire leapt and curled and in its golden light, she saw them both transformed.
“And you Vé,” Conrad said. “Darnoc, fulfill us with your ecstasy,” he commanded.
Inka glanced at Darnoc and knew his hands had long since caressed both their bodies. His blue eyes glimmered as she stared at him. He was the vardyger, the spirit of Conrad present in equal time. He grasped her thighs, moving her legs forward as he too straddled Conrad’s thighs.
“Give me your mouth,” Conrad said. His eyes darkened. “Your lips like honey, your skin like the petals of flowers. I have never known a woman so fair. Even the gods desire such a woman as you, dear Inka, sacred made flesh.”
Her lips brushed his jaw, the sharp jut of his cheekbone, the line of his brow. When her mouth touched his lips, a fresh spike of need pierced her so intensely that she cried out and shuddered. Sweat covered their bodies.
Conrad’s tongue thrust and licked in her mouth. Darnoc’s teeth nipped at her shoulders. Their hands moved over her shoulders, her breasts, her buttocks until she didn’t know which man touched her in which place.
The ride rose and fell over rough land, hooves clattering as the wolf’s teeth nipped at her heels. Darnoc tugged her hair back, holding on as if a horse’s reins. Sheets of fire coursed over her skin. Her nipples stood at hard points. Waves of need lapped in her center, circling ever tighter until their breath came as one, their voices mingled.
Wanton desire had been denied to her for so long. Now this man with his broad shoulders, with his clever glance, this man whose life fit hers like a hand in a glove—he had arrived. Tears filmed her eyes. Her body trembled with his sorcery.
Hot seed burst from his prick to fill her center. For a moment, she hovered at the brink of a precipice. Then his thumb found her stiff clitoris and pressed. Her hips shook as her vagina brought him to her sacred altar.
Together they flew skyward, arms outstretched to the stars. Joined, they kindled fire and lightning. Their voices mingled in primal song, the song of songs from whence flowed the wealth of life itself. For unmeasured time, Inka knew nothing but the spell of Conrad’s arms.
“The magic is not yet complete,” Conrad whispered. His hand motioned to her. She watched as he lifted himself, turning over her. She saw that he was Darnoc then, holding the lengths of her golden hair in his fists as he spread her legs with his knees.
With her legs pushed open, Darnoc thrust his erect organ into her cleft. The force of his taking shocked her. She turned to look at Conrad lying beside her. His blue eyes watched her, his white teeth gleamed in his smile. Her gaze fell to his bandages. No blood marked the white cloth.
They slept in each other’s arms. Darnoc fed the fire during the night and she fed their appetites during the days. Each day Conrad grew stronger, driving out the threads of the Norns to block their wicked loom of fate.
Each day she rode Conrad, shielding him from the infecting spirits. Each day he grew stronger, his gaze more provocative, his words more enchanting. She sat beside him while they spoke of mysteries in their lives that they now knew they had shared. Her need to understand slipped away. She accepted the truth before her eyes.
Hours slipped past as the men changed from one to the other, one man in two forms. They dipped their lips between her legs, tasting honey. Her breasts swelled. Essence fed to her and from her, freely given. The room whirled with purple and blue light as Darnoc then Conrad quenched her long hunger, as she fulfilled her destiny.
Full of health and strength, Conrad took his cock in hand. He called her name. She rode like a Valkyrie, bringing his semen to flood inside her. The room spun with light. Their chants rose and fell. Her loom of linen thread sang. Their song wove a cloth of bright colors, red crossing blue, yellow crossing red.
“Will you have me?” Conrad sat across the fire, slowly chewing his dried apple slices. Perspiration shone on his chest. His long hair fell across the side of his face, hiding part of his blue gaze. His image shifted and she saw both men.
“Both of you,” she said, smiling. “My oath barred me taking a man. It did not ban me from taking two. But what do you take in return?”
“Long life in our joined magic,” he said, his face gleaming in the firelight. “Wood for your fire, meat for your hearth. In turn you will weave our cloth in all three colors. You will join me in serving our tribe.”
“So the gods have asked,” she replied.
She lifted her mug of mead and watched as he lifted his mug in their promise.
Visit my Pinterest board “Magic” for some enchanting images.