The spray from the ocean crept over the bow of the Nordic long ship making my face have a cold light dampness as I stared out over the water toward my destination. My bright red hair billowed in the stiff wind from behind and I constantly had to move the stands from my face to see but the sight was a glorious one. Thankfully the main body of my hair was braided down to the middle of my back. I would cut it but my father loved it long like this. I wonder though if practicality will eventually make a way through a daughter’s love for her dead father and I would cut it shorter. Right now though I might cut it purely for the desire for my green eyes to see my destination clearly.
Ahead of me was the sight I had journeyed two weeks to see. The City of Ragnar, capital of the Nordic people lay like a grey granite wall that rose up out of the forest of pines on both sides of it. The Jarl’s longhouse squatted up on the top of the hill the city was built around. It was clearly made of very old dark wood that had been pitched in black multiple times to the point it looked black itself. The long house was covered though in blue banners with the black crow of the house of Ragnar. It looked long dark and menacing down on the city which from my perspective was only five times as wide as it was. If the city was actually the size of the city. My guess is that on the other side where the land gate was might be some sort of shanty town outside the gates. The turrets along the wall were grey and square probably every fifty feet or so.
“Lady Rosenhall, will you want to be changing before we dock?”
I turned my head but kept my body facing toward my destination which was difficult as I had to hold my hair out of my eyes. It was my ‘servant’ – Mya. My last servant and the only one who had stuck with me even when the money had gone thin as water with only a drop of wine. Blond hair cut short like a boy’s and blue-eyed, Mya was my lady in waiting, seamstress, advisor and healer. She was also probably one of the most knowledgeable than any woman I know of history and medicine. If she had a flaw it was that she was a hopeless romantic with a long list of love poetry memorized.
She was shorter than I by a half a head but I am considered tall by my people’s standards. Compared to Nordic women I stand as tall as they and they are tall as most men. Nordic men are tall and large with powerful muscles from hard labor and living. Giants among other men in many ways. Mya was no giant but if you were to ask any man she had a nice figure and her boy cut hair only added to the attractiveness. She was my same age so and she had been a playmate as a child so we grew up together.
“No Mya, the captain says we will be arriving as the sun sets so we will probably just find the nearest inn and bed for the night. Might as well just wait until morning to dress up and see the city.”
“Very well my Lady.”
“Mya, you can call me Sophia. The moment we land in Ragnar, you are no longer in service to me.”
“Nonsense, who would help you dress. You have no sense of fashion.”
“Companions then. No more of this ‘Lady’ this and ‘Madam’ that.”
“Sorry, My Lady, I didn’t hear you.”
I sighed deeply. It was going to be useless to talk to her about this and even more useless to get her to leave. She had a point though, I have no sense of fashion. I was dressed right now in a way that would give both women and men the opportunity to stare. Men at my backside because I was wearing skin tight breeches and women to raise an eyebrow in that condemning sort of way. My issue is functionality and comfort. I had learned the functionality part from my sword master when he was teaching me movement. I can pull swordplay off in a dress if I need to but the breeches make movement easier.
That was probably why I wear my loose flowing white shirt with full length sleeves most of the time. It helps, along with my binding cloth around my breasts, to offset the modesty I lose from the breeches but most importantly it helps when I am engaged in swordplay. I don’t think people would call me top heavy, but Mya says if I ever have children I will have no lack of milk to feed them. I think she is a little jealous when she says this because she is more flat chested. Of the two of us she could pass as a young man. I have been involved in riding and swimming all my life have made me curvy but athletic in build but I am still very female in my appearance unlike Mya. My black leather sword belt and sword frog held the scabbard where my father’s sword currently rested and I keep my feet covered in the seal skin boots my father gave me.
I was actually glad for the outfit on this trip. By wearing the sword, I kept most of the crew of this ship away except for the more rowdy types that still give you a rude compliment from time to time. I take it as both though, rude and a compliment. Men are creatures I refuse to change, because I expect the same from them toward me. I only had to draw the long sword once during the voyage and that was actually because the first mate tried to take it from me. There was a puncture wound in his right had for his efforts and as a not so subtle reminder that I am no one to be trifled with. Other than it is really sharp there is nothing real special about the sword other than some priest blessing on it means I never have to sharpen it. Steel one piece weapon with a shark skin grip that is about three feet long in total. Perfectly balanced.
The sword was about the only thing I really had from my father that I actually took after he was dead. He had gambled away the family fortune. Because he was war hero, his creditors didn’t have the heart to go after him but extended his credit all the time. When he finally died of a mysterious aliment while I held his hand, the problem came to roost. I took the sword and the banner over the fireplace.
The banner of the house of Rosenhall. Not much but a four-foot long, two foot wide piece of cloth. Red field with a white symbol of a rose and stem in the middle. The whole thing was framed in white as well. Nothing special, but it was the symbol of my house and my title although now Rosenhall Manor was occupied by some banker and the land forfeit to the local Baron. The banner was declared by my father’s creditors to be effectively useless, so they let me have it. They wanted the sword too, but I lied and told them he gave it to me before he died. It would have been wasted on them anyway as the blessing only works for someone of Rosenhall blood of which I am the last.
Right now I had what I was wearing, a few other clothes in the cabin that we women had taken from the captain, a small amount of money, a few provisions, the sword on my hip and the banner stashed away in my backpack wrapped around the book I had from my father’s library. It was the record book of the house of Rosenhall. Family tree laid out for ten generations back with their story in the pages afterwards. Still a quarter of book had empty space and I was determined to fill it. That was why I was on this ship to start over in a new land.
The island continent of Ander lay before my eyes with its six kingdoms of which the Nordic Holds was only one of them. A land of turmoil and conflict where bands of warriors roam the countryside plying their trade to make a living. Nobles rise and fall in this land and peasants become kings and that is why I had come. I planned on making the house of Rosenhall live again by blood and cunning. The Banner of Rosenhall would fly again or I would perish in the attempt.