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Only Time Will Tell

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Eivor regrets her actions every day. She knows that she shouldn’t have attacked Dag how she did – she shouldn’t have killed him in front of the settlement. He was asking for it though, he just wouldn’t let it go. Eivor gave him plenty of chances to walk away, yet he took none of them. Instead, he goaded Eivor until she snapped.

She’s visited him every day since then. She’s not sure why but there’s some inherent need to do this, somewhere deep down. It feels as though she owes him.

Randvi has noticed this, of course, she has. She sees everything that Eivor does. Today is just the same – it’s raining heavily, and the camp is waterlogged. There’s a squelch of mud beneath her boots as Randvi wanders out of the longhouse, greeting some of the clan as she wanders around. She knows where Eivor likely is, but it doesn’t hurt to have a look around. And it gives Randvi a chance to show some leadership here, even if the true leader is Eivor. It should be Sigurd, but it's been so long since he was here that it's questionable if he's even a member of the clan anymore.

Yanli is in her shop, as per usual. Randvi doesn’t purchase anything, though they do talk for a few moments.  Yanli expresses concern towards Eivor and the warrior’s mental state. Randvi takes it in, promising that she’s going to talk to Eivor about it anyway. Next is Wallace and Petra, Randvi was never keen on Petra, though she now understands why that is – Petra loves Eivor too. Wallace has the remains of… some animal on his table, the hut smells of blood and meat. They talk for a while, though it’s clear to Randvi that they too are concerned about Eivor.

As she speaks to the various residents of Ravensthorpe, Randvi quickly learns that Eivor’s actions have filled the camp with worry. Most of the clan are undecided on if Eivor should be punished – though it does seem to be more of an agreed consensus that Eivor shouldn’t, that Dag had asked for it and refusing him would be showing the camp that she’s weak. Eivor isn’t weak. Instead, she swallows her emotions for too long until eventually, they overwhelm her. It’s a dangerous mindset, yet Eivor has gotten here with it.  

Randvi eventually decides to go and speak to Eivor. She follows the path away from the settlement, up towards the make-shift grave for Dag. Eivor is sitting on the bench as usual. She has her hands clasped in front of her as she talks.

Randvi doesn’t want to intrude at the moment though – it feels too… insensitive. Instead, she leans against a tree and watches Eivor.

“You’re a stupid bastard, but you were family. I’m sorry it came to this…” Randvi lets a slight smile fall to her face – Eivor’s words are entirely correct. Dag was hot-headed and an asshole, but he was loyal – to Sigurd and Ravensthorpe alike.

“Randvi” Eivor’s voice is curt, dragging Randvi from her thoughts. She looks over to the warrior, who has that distant, faraway look in her eyes again. Hurt.

“Hi Eivor,” Randvi says, wandering over. She sits beside Eivor on the bench, rubbing Eivor’s knee slightly.

“How are you doing?” She asks. Eivor shrugs, flicking an arrow between her fingers for a few moments. Randvi is concerned, and takes the arrow from Eivor’s hand – one wrong move and Eivor would have a hole in her finger, or worse. There’s a slight shrug from Eivor, though no words are spoken.

Words have never truly fit well with Eivor. Sure, she’s brilliant when it comes to flyting. But at times like this, there are no words. There’s an overwhelming sense of anxiety, sadness even. It’s all emanating from Eivor.

“Come, my love,” Randvi says. She stands up, holding her hand out for Eivor. The warrior looks between Randvi’s face, her hand, and Dag’s grave for a moment or two, before standing. She squeezes Randvi’s hand slightly, it still feels foreign in her own. The relationship is new, if it can be called as such.

A trip to a deserted tower had… something forming between them both. They made love under the stars. Randvi rested her head on Eivor’s chest as the night passed. They spoke about anything and everything, with Randvi tracing her fingers over some of the scars that litter Eivor’s body until the sun was rising, at which point they both returned. If they were to be gone for too long, suspicions would be raised.

No one has suspected anything yet, and they hope to keep it that way. Sigurd eventually returned from Fulke, though only a few days had passed before he was riding away again – this time under the premise of wanting to form another alliance. Randvi was upset, that much was obvious. Her husband had been back, after several months of being held captive and he left within days of his return. Though, when she ponders it further, she isn’t that upset. It gives her and Eivor many more moments like these.

They wander through the longhouse. It’s mostly empty, though the few people who are in here are too drunk to be certain if what they’re seeing is correct: Randvi appears to be leading Eivor down to her quarters, they’re holding hands too.

Not that it matters, the clansmen don’t care about what goes on between the pair.

As Eivor comes back to herself from her thoughts, she’s met with the concerned eyes of Randvi.

“You know, people around here are worried about you,” Randvi says, sitting Eivor on the bed before sitting beside her. Eivor shrugs slightly, staring off into the distance.

“Petra, Yanli, Wallace, Tarben, and so many more than I can name. We’re all concerned about you” Randvi continues. She squeezes Eivor’s hand, though the warrior is still lost in her own head. Randvi isn’t quite sure what to expect as a response, though she was at least expecting something. Eivor is… not right, as though she’s experienced a great loss. She has.

“It’s fine, I’m fine” Eventually, Eivor responds. Her response doesn’t sit well with Randvi though.

“You’re not” She states, her eyes meeting Eivor’s for a moment.

“Perhaps we should ride for a few days. You need a break, and I don’t trust you to not get yourself killed” Randvi says, raising a slight eyebrow. Eivor shrugs. It does sound nice.

“And… I believe Ceowulf has asked to see you, they’re burying Ceolbert soon. We could attend his rites, representing Ravensthorpe. He aided us greatly, both us and Ravensthorpe. We should pay our respects” Randvi adds. Eivor shrugs again, still staring at the flooring beneath her boots. Randvi frowns slightly, before dropping to her knees in front of Eivor. Their eyes do meet, and a slight smile hits Eivor’s face.

There’s a deep sadness in her eyes though. Instead of trying to find words that just won’t do, Randvi leans up and kisses Eivor. It’s soft, it’s gentle. It’s what Eivor needs though. She’s responsive as Randvi lays her back against the bed. Their hands roam over each other, though Eivor still seems somewhat restrained, holding herself back. The kiss parts with shared breaths. Eivor’s eyes meet Randvi’s, there is some happiness buried deep within. It’s clouded by sadness though. Eivor always has been a bundle of emotions though, hidden deep beneath the warrior façade.

Love is hidden even deeper, it always has been a challenge to learn who Eivor loves, though that’s amplified due to the warrior’s aversion to love. She’s been hurt one too many times to let herself have that weakness anymore.

“If you want to go, say the word” Randvi murmurs. Eivor nods slightly, her eyes flickering away from Randvi’s again. A small smile covers Randvi’s face as she stands up, holding her hand out to Eivor.

They make their way out to Eivor’s horse, and Eivor is the first one to hop on, while Randvi disappears for a moment – likely informing some of the clansmen that they’re visiting Ceowulf, and they’ll be back in a few days.

Eivor’s eyes land on Dag’s grave again. I wonder if he knew, maybe that’s why he challenged me how he did – he knew I was betraying Sigurd and he was loyal.

“Eivor, are you okay?” Randvi asks, dragging Eivor from her thoughts.

“About as okay as I’m going to get” She shrugs. Randvi frowns slightly, though she doesn’t show any affection beyond rubbing Eivor’s shoulder – they only have to ride for a few more minutes before they can be back to their normal selves – sharing kisses, amongst other things.

The clobbering of horse hooves against the dirt path fills their ears for a while, until they’re far enough away that Randvi doesn’t feel so scared to hug Eivor tightly. She presses a warm kiss to the spot along Eivor’s neck where a scar lingers.

“My love…” She murmurs, though she isn’t entirely sure what she wants to say. That’s fine though because Eivor seems to be on the same boat. Though, Eivor’s thoughts are so conflicting.

She hasn’t told anyone – she hadn’t even written it in her diaries. She’s considered leaving Ravensthorpe. There’s too much going on for her to stay comfortably. She feels awful for betraying Sigurd how she has, Dag too. She sees the looks that she gets from clansmen and residents alike, she hears their murmurings too. They don’t trust her anymore; they’re scared that she’ll attack them like she attacked Dag.

Of course, if Eivor was to voice this to Randvi…

Before she can lose herself in her thoughts too much, Eivor pulls off the path. She hops off her horse, watching as Randvi appears in front of her with confusion etched onto her face. Eivor glances over her shoulder – that tower is only a few hundred meters away, the tower where this all started.

They wander over, Eivor is trying her hardest not to give in to her desires. She isn’t entirely sure what’s going on – she doesn’t know why she’s done this, but she’s here now and can’t change the past. They clamber up to the top of the tower, back to where this relationship began. It’ll end here too, a fitting location.

“I’m leaving the settlement” The words have slipped out before Eivor can stop them. She watches as a range of emotions flicker over Randvi’s face.

“I’m coming with you” Randvi eventually says. Eivor shakes her head.

“You need to stay… you have Sigurd, you have leadership in Ravensthorpe and everything else… What do I have? An axe and a horse, and that’s all I’ll ever need” She responds, looking away from Randvi. The hurt inside of Eivor is almost overwhelming the pair. Does she want to leave Randvi behind? Hell no. But Randvi has Sigurd, and Ravensthorpe, and everything else that she could want there.

The jolting pain of a slap to the cheek overwhelms Eivor, though before she can yell, Randvi is pulling her into a deep kiss. Eivor melts into the kiss, letting Randvi overpower her. They move back until Eivor is hitting the wall with a thud and a grunt. Their hands are raking over each other’s bodies, but Eivor still has the sense to stop it. I can’t give in. It’ll hurt more when I’m gone.

“Randvi…” She murmurs, though Eivor doesn’t know what to say. No words fit.

I should leave. I could run away. Maybe I’ll die at the hands of a bandit, a Mercian perhaps. Hell, even a Pict could do it. I wouldn’t be upset.

“No. You’re not leaving” Randvi states. She lifts her hand, showing the wedding band.

“This oath to Sigurd? It means nothing to me” She states. She pulls the ring off of her finger, tossing it over the edge. It lands somewhere near the edge of the road – easy pickings for any bandit or traveller who wanders past.

“It’s you. It’s always been you” She adds. Eivor looks between the ground, the sky, and just about anywhere that isn’t Randvi. She shakes her head again. There are tears welling in her eyes, she can feel them. She tries to blink them away, though it’s much easier said than done, especially while she’s so overwhelmed by emotions.

“Stay, for your sake. You don’t need me” Eivor says, looking down to her axe. She’s not entirely sure when it appeared in her hand, but here it is. She hooks it back into her belt, before eventually dragging her eyes to meet Randvi’s.

There’s a deep sadness there – a hurt that’s rarely seen. Hell, Eivor doesn’t think she saw this hurt when she told of Sigurd’s capture by Fulke.

“Gods, you really are fucking stupid” Randvi rolls her eyes. Eivor frowns slightly, though she isn’t going to disagree with Randvi. Instead, Randvi grips Eivor’s hand.

“It’s you that I want. My alliance with Sigurd was purely for gain. If not Sigurd, it would’ve been you. Would my parents have agreed? Of course not. But who cares?” Randvi responds. Eivor shrugs, shifting to sit down. She swings her legs over the edge, dangling them beneath her. A moment passes before Randvi is sitting beside her.

“You’re not going to let me change your mind, are you?” She murmurs, resting her head on Eivor’s shoulder.

“You have Sigurd and Ravensthorpe to worry about, you don’t need me forcing you to run away” Eivor responds. She squeezes Randvi’s hand, though she knows that she needs to let go. It doesn’t mean that she wants too though. After a moment, she rests her hand on her knee, watching as Randvi takes her hand again.

“If I leave with you, it’ll be of my own choice. Nothing to do with you forcing my hand. Get that insane idea out of your head” Randvi chastises Eivor, though there’s a slight smile on her face. Eivor shrugs and sighs.

“I know I can’t stop you, but I’m giving you the opportunity. Run away now, while you have the chance. You don’t want to be stuck with me forever, trust me. I’m flawed, I’m messed up, I’m… well… you saw what I did to Dag” Eivor lets out some of her darkest thoughts, and yet, Randvi stays.

“You’re you. And I think you’re perfect.” Randvi says.

“What happened between you and Dag was… something. He had asked for it though, and you had to do what was right at that moment. Was it a mistake? Maybe, but only time will tell us that” Randvi responds. She lifts her head, staring at Eivor. The warrior is staring off into the distance again, with that faraway hurt that fills her head on the darkest of nights, those nights where Randvi is a shoulder to cry on, and so much more. Randvi doesn’t know what else to say, she can’t find the words that would fit.

Instead, she leans up and presses a soft kiss to Eivor’s cheek.

“If you want to leave, Eivor Wolf Kissed, then go. Please know, though, you’re always welcome in Ravensthorpe. I’m not going to stop you if you want to leave me behind” Randvi says. Eivor shrugs slightly.

“I don’t…” She says, not looking up to Randvi.

“I don’t want to leave you, but I know that I must. I’ve damaged Ravensthorpe, and the trust that I had with everyone…” Eivor whispers. She looks down to the depths below, flicking a coin for a few moments before tossing it over the edge. She hears the ping only a moment later. It breaks the tense silence.

Randvi frowns, before pulling Eivor into a deep kiss. They move together until they’re laid naked to the world above. Randvi drags her eyes up to meet Eivor’s, though the warrior has her head thrown back.

It’s not rare for them to have sex, though it’s not a particularly common occurrence either. Randvi smiles slightly as she shifts until she can comfortably kiss Eivor while dragging her hand down the warrior’s body.

“I love you” She murmurs. It’s the first time that either of them has said it – and it’s the first time that Randvi feels truly ready. She hasn’t even said it to Sigurd, and she has been in her alliance with him for many years. A slight flush covers Eivor’s cheeks as her legs part under Randvi’s hand.

Just like that first day, they make love atop the tower, away from any prying eyes. Randvi and Eivor lay together, settling slightly. Neither of them knows what’s going to come of today – maybe they’ll leave, maybe only Eivor will. Who knows?

Randvi is tracing her fingers over the scars littering Eivor’s torso. There are several new ones that have caught her attention – though Eivor’s battles have always been plentiful, whether mental or physical.

“I won’t object… if you want to come with me” Eivor murmurs. She’s looking directly up, staring right into the blinding sunlight. Randvi shifts to straddle Eivor’s hips, a slight smirk on her face. Eivor smiles up to Randvi.

“I think you know what my answer will always be,” Randvi says.

“It was always you… long before I told you even, it was you that I wanted, not Sigurd” She adds. Eivor doesn’t say anything, though her eyes falter away for a brief moment. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, she pulls Randvi down into a tight hug.

Only a few days later, Eivor and Randvi have left. They packed up their gear in the middle of the night – when the settlement was still. Weapons were sheathed, nothing else was needed. They ran, well actually they rode. The clobbering of horse hooves filled the night’s silence, the only sign that they’d left.

By the time the camp has woken, it’ll be too late. Neither Eivor nor Randvi is sure of where they’re going to go – maybe they’ll stay in Mercia, maybe they’ll explore further. Who knows?

Only time will tell.