The pounding in his head was the first thing he noticed. He tried to move, turning slightly and groaned in pain as the jug hit the floor and shattered. He groaned again and returned to laying flat on his back.
From somewhere seemingly across a great gulf, he could hear the sounds of someone moving around in the cabin; a sigh; the pieces of jug being picked up. He tried to say something but it didn’t come out right, only strange sounds followed by a moan. Then the welcoming cool of a cloth was pressed against his forehead, beginning to ease the pounding of his head. He reached up aimlessly until his hand came in contact with whomever was there and he sighed.
“You’ve looked better,” a voice said, his head exploding at the sound. He groaned and brought his other hand to his head. It was a voice that seemed so familiar. He knew it, he did, but he couldn’t place it just yet.
“Would you like some water?” This time it was softer, and his head didn’t object quite so painfully.
“Water,” he croaked. His tongue was thick and his mouth dry, making it hard to speak. He tried to nod but the shards of pain pricked him all over and he at last whispered, “Yes.”
The sound of water being poured into a glass soon followed, and the heavy clunk of boots kept echoing in his mind as the stranger – yet, not a stranger – walked back and forth across the floor. Soon a cup was held to his lips and he took a few sips, choking a little but drinking most of it down.
“Thank you,” he managed weakly. Then he dared to open his eyes.
“Seems to me this is not much different than the last time I saw you.”
He groaned, recognition hitting at last.
“You’re too good to me,” he mumbled.
“I have to be, I’m the only consistent woman in your life.”
A grin spread on Herger’s face. “You’re my girl, alright.” The fuzzy form of Imogen began to take shape in his eyes as he gazed at his young cousin crouched over him. Reaching up, he took her hand and rather haphazardly brought it to his mouth, kissing the back.
“You’re my girl,” he repeated. “The best.”
“Yes I know,” she answered quietly and with a hint of sadness.
“What brings you here?” he asked, half-looking around the place and noticing she must have cleaned up. “I’ve missed you, lately.”
“I came to get you,” she said as she stood, moving to where she had already packed his things for travel.
His attention was now focused a bit more. “Oh? Where are we goin?”
“Jorvik, the Faire is only a few days away.”
Something seemed vaguely familiar about that.
“Jorvik,” he said, mulling the word over as he tried to remember why that meant something to him. “Brandr gonna be there?”
“He already is,” she smiled.
He lifted his arms and she helped pull him from the bed. Looking around he realized it was morning, the sun sitting low in the Eastern sky. He rubbed his head and tried to recall the previous evening, but not much was forthcoming from his memory after he had angrily left his forge. Just the whiskey. Jorvik wandered through his mind again, and he felt a sharp pang.
He rubbed his hands over his face and tried to order his thoughts. “Alright,” he said, “right… ok… I- I just need something to eat. When did you want to head out?”
“Well you are in no shape to ride out now, how about we leave tomorrow morning?”
He nodded. Yes, that sounded good; tomorrow. One more day before he had to face her again.
[to be continued…]