Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Collections: Clandestine Desires, Divine Desires, Empassioned, Midsummer Nights, Mind Over Body, Taking Flight, Undying Passions
Editor(s): Lon Sarver
Cover Designer(s): Siol na Tine
Cover Art Credits: Original art by Siol na Tine
Production Editor(s): Erika L. Firanc
Length: Short Story (10,000 Words)
Publication Date: December 6, 2012
Serialization Date: March 19, 2016
Archive(d) on April 9, 2016
Tags: f/m, het, magic, Novella, Sword & Sandals, Taking Flight, wings
Content Labels (What they are and why we use them)
Astyr lay back down, heart hammering in her chest. Was what she was contemplating such a fool’s errand as all that? If Keir chased her away, could she still go to the shrine on her own? Can I even find it unaided? Sighing, she closed her eyes, grinding her teeth together as she struggled to come to a decision. In truth, she wasn’t certain she even wanted Keir. He’d have to do a whole lot of apologizing to make up for taking her hair. She’d tried to lie her way out of what happened, but the missing hair had been her undoing. No one had believed she’d cut it herself. Astyr snorted inwardly. Men didn’t ask forgiveness. It wasn’t in their nature.
The scent of cloudberries filled her nostrils. She sucked it in hungrily. Where had it come from? Searching the darkness of the cave with her eyes, she didn’t see a thing, yet there was that bewitching odor. Inhaling deeply again, the scent of ginger, tinged with nutmeg and lavender, blossomed in her heart and made her choice for her.
Spreading out her favorite sleeping skin, she laid her few possessions on the soft rabbit fur. There was her boar-bristle hair brush, her willow toothbrush, her sewing awl, her extra gown—made of a lighter weave for the warm season—and her birth ring and necklace. Girls were given the ring and necklace when their first moon blood appeared. The stones in the jewelry were specially picked by the shaneera to compliment a young girl’s energies. They became part of a dowry for women lucky enough to be allowed a mate.
Astyr shook her head, knowing she needed to hurry. I can think about this later. Moving silently as one of her mother’s feral cats, she gathered her things, picked up her reed sandals and tiptoed from the cave she’d been born in. Hesitating at the doorway, she looked back. Good-bye Mother. Good-bye Aunt Ragnhild.
Resolve weakened by the anguish sluicing through her, and close-to-immobilized by the enormity of what she was about to do, Astyr knelt before Gunnr’s shrine. Bowing her head, she prayed to the Valkyrie, asking her blessing though she had no right to expect it. Touching her lips to the statue, she emerged from the cave into a clear night with stars scattered like a million points of light in the sky above her.
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