The Cross and the Curse (The Bernicia Chronicles Book 2) by Harffy Matthew

The Cross and the Curse (The Bernicia Chronicles Book 2) by Harffy Matthew

Author:Harffy, Matthew [Harffy, Matthew]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
ISBN: 9781784978839
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Published: 2016-07-31T16:00:00+00:00


16

Sunniva hit the glowing metal hard. Sparks flew. She turned it using the tongs in her left hand and beat it again. It was a simple piece. A large nail for the new hall. She had made several over the last few days. It was an extravagance, but she wanted the door of the new hall to be iron-studded and grand. She gave it one final tap to straighten the point then, judging it to be complete, plunged it into the bucket of water. It hissed briefly, like an angry cat. She set the finished nail alongside the others.

She wiped sweat from her forehead. The heat from the forge and the exertion from the ceaseless effort kept her warm despite the bitter chill of the day. She looked up the hill. The frame of the new hall stood there, stark and bare against the drear sky. She could see movement there. Progress was good. Beobrand would be pleased. Proud of her.

She bit her lower lip. Felt the tears threaten.

“What is it, Sunniva?” Edlyn asked. The girl spent most of each day with her. She worked the bellows for her, and Sunniva was showing her the art of the smith. She was a hard worker. Sunniva enjoyed her chatter. It helped her to keep her mind away from the dark places it threatened to travel. Now, Edlyn’s eyes were full of compassion. The girl worried for her. Sunniva knew it. Edlyn had sensed the change in her mood in the last few days, and sought to buoy her spirits whenever she could.

“It is nothing, dear one,” Sunniva said. But she knew the girl would not rest without an explanation, so she added, “I was thinking of Beobrand.”

“He has been gone a long time.” Edlyn paused, then seemed to hear the words she had spoken and how they would sound to Sunniva. “But the snows have been very bad this winter,” she continued in a hurry. “Mother says they would be even worse further north in Dál Riata.”

Sunniva forced a smile. She missed Beobrand terribly. Every day without him was a trial. She found herself constantly looking to the ford. Hoping to see him returning on the huge steed, Sceadugenga. But Geola passed and snow had covered the land. Rowena had told her not to worry. The men would return. But the winter nights were long and cold. And Sunniva was lonely. Edlyn and Rowena were good company in their way, and she felt welcome in Ubba’s hall. The wives of Beobrand’s gesithas were friendly enough. But they did not invite her to dine with them. Or cook with them. Or weave with them. She was their lord’s wife now, and not for the likes of them.

Sunniva had no family here. Edlyn was but a girl. A girl who had recently lost her father and brothers. Sunniva could not burden her with her worries.

Her secrets.

Absently, her fingers brushed the leather apron she wore, flattening it over her stomach.

She watched as in the distance, two of Beobrand’s warband lifted a plank.



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