We were finally leaving the gulf to follow the river south to uncharted water ways. Lei said The Great Juliana might be too large a ship to sail through small canals, so it was decided that 28 vikings and Lei, himself will take three smaller boats for exploration. Ten vikings per each boat with one boat adding me and Lei to its crew.

The boats were made years ago, but stored in a watershed awaiting for this day to come. It was planned that wed leave today.

In my mind, all I could think about was my dreams and Leis intentions for me after this trip. What will happen after all of this, when weve reached our final destination, and I still feel the same about him? What then? What will he do to me?

It had been a little over a fortnight from the last time Lei had kissed me, we haven spoken since. I feel that his love for me is for the image of me and not who I am. Many things about Lei still lie mysteriously in the back of my mind.

I am in layers of clothing with a fur blanket wrapped around me. I brought very little with me, just the necessities. All that wealth and elegant dresses, I left behind with the image of the person people wanted me to be. I am breaking away with bittersweet joy for that life of was a thing of the past and may just be a thing of my future. The suffocation doesn leave.

Being the only female on this journey makes me a little weary of the men around me. Knowing what they do to the women on The Great Juliana, scares me. Bjork, a big brute with arm and leg muscles as thick as three of my limbs combined, has been staring at me constantly since we started sailing.

We are all sailing down the river way, stopping at the shores here and there to rest. The vikings are extraordinary hunters, so food was never an issue. What surprised me the most was Lei.

He is a completely different person on this expedition. The leadership he presented was where everyone followed. Even the tone of his voice changed.

”Merluc, how is the weather? ”

”No rain, but it seems like a little fog will set in for the night until the sun rises, sire. ”

”And the wind? ”

”Steady now, but will pick up tonight, sire. ”

”Alright. ” Lei turns to his crew. ” We will rest here tonight! Anchor your boats and tie them to stakes. It will be a cold and windy night. You three! ” he pointed to Pane, Bjork, and Clint, ”You will hunt and everyone else will tend to the night. ” Without any questions, they grabbed their axes and swords as they jumped off the boats into the shallow waters, walking towards the woods nearby.

Lei and a few men made a little space for me to sleep in. Branches intertwined to make the walls and moss was pushed into them to fill in the gaps and holes. I am fortunate to have Lei, because I know that without him anything can happen to me with these men.

The night wind started to blow around my little shed-like room. Lei walks in to check up on me.

”My lady, is everything going well for you? ” he asked.

”Yes. ”

”Not too cold? ”

”A little chilly, but not too cold. ”

”Thats assuring. Well, me and a few men are planning to gather some wood. Most of the wood along shore is wet. We can keep a fire with wet wood. ” He starts to walk away.

”Lei ” I called out to him, ”Thank you. For all youve done for me. I really mean it, from my heart. ”

Lei turned and smiled at me, ”Anything for you my lady. Rest up, supper is almost ready. ”

That night we had rabbit stew with some chopped dandelion leaves mixed in as herbs.

It wasn a pleasant meal, but I filled our stomachs. I gave my thanks to the little creatures before I ate, because their little spirits jumped around the campfire in confusion.

I couldn finish my meal, but that was no problem for the vikings. Pane took my leftovers to Bjork and he gulped it all down in one go while his eyes stayed glued onto me. That guy just gives me an uncomfortable feeling.

I went to sleep earlier than I intended to, but I really had no energy in me at all to function. I fell asleep as soon as I laid my head.

*

The next few days we sailed down the river and ended up in a great big lake (known today as Lake Ontario). From there we continued southwest following another river into another big lake (Lake Eerie).

We sailed southwest until we hit land. There were no more waters to travel neither south nor west. The Vikings looked upon their King to lead them.

Lei turns to me and asks, ”My lady, what is the best course of action for us? ” ”

I closed my eyes and opened my ears to nothingness but nature. All the men remained silent as my train of thoughts left me.

In my vision I saw a compass with its arrow pointing north and then west. Two bodies of water lay next to each other. The body of water to the right had rushing water that was turbulent and dangerous, but to the right a river leads to a bigger lake with birds flying overhead towards it. The riverbend hid shadowy creatures rushing in the woods. Yellow eyes peered out at me.

”My lady. ” Leis voice called out to me and I opened my eyes, trying to catch my breath.

”North. ” The words poured out exasperated, ” North, northwest. Another body of water will be there but we should take the river further north to avoid catastrophe. ” At this point my energy is drowned out of me and I fall backwards.

Lei grabs a hold of my waist and steadys me to sit on the boat.

”We go north! ” he shouted to his men and all the vikings grabbed hold their paddles turning their boats to head north.

In half a days time, we were met with another big lake. (Lake Hudson)

Lei kept us sailing northwest until we came to a river. The Vikings whisper amongst themselves about me.

”She may be a witch. ”

”Witch or not, lads, this girl still has holes that I can use for my pleasure. ” Laughters roared amongst the Vikings in one boat as they continued their lewd behavior.

”Ive never lain with a witch before. I wonder what it tastes like. ” Bjork whispered from his boat to the men.

Lei is studying ahead and realizes the setting sun is upon us. ”We rest here tonight and well continue northwest in the morning! ”

We pull off towards shore and Lei does his usual updates on the weather and food for the night. There is the normal commotion of duties the vikings have to perform.

I sat on the large stone and lost in the beauty of mother nature. Spring is still so very cold this time of year. Staying on top water makes it even colder. I shiver at the thought of the icy cold water. Before I knew it the sun had already set and the starry night sky started to take over above us.

”My lady, the fire is warming, come sit over here. ” one of the vikings yelled out.

”No thank you. Id like to wait for Lei… ” I stop to correct myself, ”King Leifae Arkson. ”

”Oh…My lady, he has been back for a while now. ” he continued, ”He was taking a nap. ”

”For how long now? ” I asked.

”Since before the sunset. ”

I quickly rushed to where he was sleeping. ”Lei? Lei, are you alright? ”

There he didn respond. I reach my hand over to feel his forehead. Its burning hot.

”Boil some water, the King is ill! ” I shouted to the men. No on buges. ”I NEED SOMED HOT WATER FOR YOUR KING! ” I yelled. Two of the younger vikings grab a bucket and head to the river.

”Lei, please be okay. ” I said to him, ”Please be okay. ”

I cooled his fever down with a warm wet cloth and gave him some herbal tea. I stayed by his side through the night until morning.

During the night, I swore I heard howling of wolves, but then again, it may have just been my dreams.

When I woke, Lei was already up and shouting for everyone to get a move on.

*

We traveled northwest for another day which eventually led us to another big body of water. Lei dabbed his hand into the water, brought it up to his lips, and tasted it.

”Still freshwater. We are NOT at sea. Everyone this may look like an ocean, but it is not. Rest assured we will find a new home soon. ”

That is probably why he has been sick. That water might not be safe to drink, yet it tastes without caution.

Later that day, Leis fever comes back and he lays ill in the boat.

”We have to make haste for shore. The King needs rest. ” I said to the vikings.

”WE DONT TAKE ORDERS FROM TITLE-ESS GIRLS! ” Bjork outburst.

”I am NOT a title-less girl, I am the lady King Leifae Arkson pledge to marry! ” I rebutted. ”Now bring us to shore so YOUR KING can get some rest, comfortably! ”

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