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Early 800's; Kattegat
Ragnild stood in a dark corner of the great hall as everyone jubilantly celebrated. Feasting and drinking merrily. Music played as a handful of people danced. She leaned casually against one of the hall's wooden support beams, her arms crossed over her stomach as she vigilantly watched everyone and everything around her. Held loosely with the fingertips of her right hand was a black hued drinking horn still half full. Her lithe frame, honed from training and experience, was still enveloped in black leather armor and her axes were still strapped, criss-crossed on her back. Her faithful companion, a large tamed raven that she had taken to calling Muninn had been left in the care of the servants in the newly built barn.
"I have not seen you in Kattegat before." The deep voice rumbled, purring out from a very tall bear of a man with long dark hair and full beard.
She turned her piercing dark eyes in his direction, those keen orbs taking in every detail in mere seconds.
"I have only just arrived with King Horik's family." She replied softly, immediately turning her gaze back to watching the activity in the hall. She felt rather than saw the man move, attempting to step into her field of vision. Her eyes snapped up to his face, annoyance clear in her expression.
"It is a shame that I can not put a name to such beauty."
"You could if I gave it to you." She pushed herself away from the wooden beam, moving around the larger man. His hand gripped her wrist, stopping her from leaving.
"I would suggest that you let go." Ragnild's gaze drifted up from staring at his hand to watch the angry dark haired woman over his shoulder, staring daggers in their direction from where she stood next to Princess Aslaug.
"It would seem that your lady is not happy. Perhaps you might consider speaking with her, not I."
The man let go of her arm, taking a single step backwards. His jaw clenched tightly for a moment before he spoke.
"I am called Rollo. You will be hearing from me again."
Her full lips pulled back from her teeth in a mock snarl as she moved to stand a mere inch from him. Though she was much smaller, she did not let his advantage in height intimidate her.
"I do not take kindly to threats, Rollo. You might want to remember that for any future interactions."
"Who is that woman?" Rollo asked King Horik, indicating to the blonde beauty that now stood towards the back of the great hall. Her long hair was parted to one side, the left half braided tightly to her head.
The King turned his gaze towards the woman that the other man had gestured towards with a nod of his head.
"That is Ragnild. One of my best trackers." He replied, tearing a chunk out of a boars leg. "I wouldn't cross blades with her, Rollo. She can be vicious."
"Believe me, King Horik, it is not blades that I want to cross with her."
Ragnar stood at the back of the hall, encased in thick shadows as he watched. He watched as friends became foes and enemies became friends. To him, knowledge was power and there was no greater leverage than knowedge. He had witnessed the exchange between his brother and King Horik's tracker. Even now, he found himself smirking as he replayed the part in his mind when she had got in the larger man's face. This woman had teeth, there was no doubt about that but he wondered what was hidden behind her seemingly icy demeanor. His bold blue eyes drifted in her direction. She was stunningly beautiful. It was a beauty that seemed as if it was a gift from the Gods themselves.
She felt an intense stare piercing through her. Her gaze shifted towards the shadows a few feet away. There was movement as the darkness seemed to melt away, revealing Earl Ragnar Lothbrok staring in her direction. Their eyes locked immediately and a strong jolt passed between them. A knowing, devilish smirk graced the corners of both of their mouths before they broke eye contact and looked away. She hadn't missed the subtle head tilt he had given, signaling her over. She cast her gaze over the crowd briefly as she took a sip of her drink and pushed herself away from the wall. She moved gracefully, slipping behind the raised platform where the Earl's throne sat.
The Earl was stationed at a long table. An oxen horn resting in his hand. He plunged it into the barrel, refilling it with mead. He had no other weapons, except the dagger that remained on the belt at his west. He was dressed in a simple tunic and leather leggings. Wrists adorned in their usual trinkets. Including the oath bracelet he wore. His head was shaved on either side, and the top falling back in a long thick braid that reached the middle of his back. He kept his back to the rest of the gathering now, better for Aslaug to deal with the pleasantries of their guests. Ragnar turned around just as the tracker turned the corner and made her way closer.
“A daft warrior, will boast and be made a fool…” A piece of roast boar was plucked off the cooked carcass and tossed into his mouth. Chewing and washing it down with a mouthful of mead. “A smart warrior, he watches… Keeps quiet, and lets the foolish talk themselves into defeat.” Head tilted in an almost curious fashion, lips twitching into a sly grin. “I see the same is true for smart Trackers.” He turned back to the table. He never found much enjoyment in the large gatherings, and more so a King in his long hall, but it was necessary to further his own means.
“Do you know who I am, Tracker?” He asked inquisitively. “I know who you are.” Again, that sly grin seemed to overtake his facial features. He had overheard the king speaking to his brother. “I hear you are quite vicious.” With his horn refilled he took steps closer to this strange, yet undeniably beautiful woman. “And I must wonder what has brought you here with King Horik, tell me observer…” A hefty swig from his horn was given. “Why is that?” Curious, and cautious it was what took him from a mere former to killing a man to take his position as Earl. Though this was less that, and more that intellectual curiosity. She had been doing the same as he, scanning the room, watching the tides of alcohol, and exchanges of words that seemed to sway the moods from one extreme to another.
“I know who you are, Earl Ragnar Lothbrok. The King is growing disdainful of your rise in fame and power.” She replied, taking a seat in the space across from him. “Vicious? No. I prefer through. Sometimes my means can be a bit…brutal.” Ragnild watched the Earl for a moment before she casually took a sip of her own mead. She had sat so that she was still able to keep an eye on the Gathering around them, ever vigilant, tracking and calculating.
“I am very good at what I do. I was trained all my life. The King stated a need for my services, though he has yet to say what for. I suspect he may be attempting to use me to persuade decisions in his favor.” Her full lips quirks into a sly grin, a single corner lifting. “I have never sworn fealty to King Horik. My allegiances lie with whom I wish.”
Her lips widened into a devilish smirk as she glanced up and witnessed several pairs of eyes watching them. Rollo, King Horik and even Ragnars Princess Bride was watching them from their respective places.
“They will have lots to discuss, though I think you may hear the brunt of it from your brother and your wife.”
Ragnar pursed his lips and nodded as she knew exactly who he was. Though when she spoke of the king’s disdain, he didn’t act surprised. “Is he?” A soft scoff as he dipped his drinking horn back into the barrel of mead, motioning to sit down on the bench next to her. Back pressing against the table as he gazed out over the crowd. “Well, is it disdain? Or is it envy I wonder... I believe the latter, he speaks well to my front, but I am not ignorant to his envy.” He had been surprised to hear her speak it though, would she so openly give up the king that he had brought into his hall?
“That is the best path to bring one’s means to fruition; to be vicious, and to be brutal…” He glanced back over the crowd seeing the same thing she would soon be pointing out. “It is good to remain untied to any allegiance, though I am sure he assumes he has your fealty, he is a king after all.” There was something in his grin to follow that seemed almost ominous in its design. “Though I will air in caution, it is difficult to remain… Neutral. Lines are always drawn.” He did not know why the king had brought the Tracker, but knowing that she remained unattached to any allegiance was both comforting, and unnerving.
“They always have much to discuss… My wife, and her prophecies… My brother, speaks more than he does not, and the King? Well… The king will not speak much among his subjects.. Your name is Ragnhild, is it not?” The closeness of their names was not lost on him, but for a moment, tactfully overlooked. “It is good that you are hear… This feast is to commemorate the king and I joining forces to Raid the lands to the West. We could use a… Vicious Tracker in those lands, and those that rest beyond it.”
"Hmm. Then a vicious Tracker is at your service, Earl Ragnar Lothbrok." She knew that he would notice that when she said your, she meant him alone and not King Horik. "He has plans to manipulate your people. Siggy and Floki specifically. He sees them as easy targets, but you and I both know that they are not mere push overs. King Horik will attack tonight."
Without another word, Ragnild stood, clasping her drinking horn with the fingertips of her left hand.
"It will be the beginning of your dynasty, Ragnar."
Little did she knew that it would also be the beginning of hers.
Last edited by Draven on Fri Feb 03, 2017 7:00 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Some additional content. Written in part with Trine.)
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