The sun set in the west as all remained quiet and tranquil. Thoridyss gathered cut wood for the fire in front of her hut. She turned, looked up, and was startled to see Jhens standing in front of her. “Good evening, maer.” He greeted warmly, “Allow me.” Jhens grabbed the split logs in her arms and carried them to the fire ring as Thoridyss thanked him, followed, and sat on the aged log near the edge. Jhens dusted off his hands and sat next to her as she could smell the faint scent of split mead and ale on his person. “You don’t mind if join by the fire, do you, maer?”
“Not at all, Jhens.” Thoridyss replied a bit reserved as she rubbed her palms and extended them to the warmth before her. “Is there something I can do for you?” Jhens smiled, untying his cloak strap and attempted draped it over Thoridyss shoulders.
Thoridyss shrugged of the motion. “I am fine. Thank you.”
“Please, maer, I insist.” Jhens pushed as she relented uneasily. He reached behind him and produced a small bouquet of wildflowers. “I got these for you. I hope you like them.”
Thoridyss took them with reservation as she looked to Jhens.
“They are quite pretty, Jhens, yet you still have not answered my question.”
“I saw you all by yourself up here and thought perhaps I would take the opportunity to spend some time with you.” Jhens grinned. “I also had a question for you, though.” Thoridyss looked at him puzzled. Jhens edged a little closer to her. “It has to do with today’s affair. You know what I speak of, correct?”
“You were honored to be recognized for leading a successful catch and give the offering to Njord. Is there something amiss?”
“Yes and no, maer.” He said reassuringly, “I was more referring to the blessing you bestowed upon me.”
“Jhens…” she sighed discouraged, “It was merely part of the rite to do such. There is no true power I have given to you by placing the rune. I am sorry to tell you this but it is nothing beyond symbolic.”
“That is not what I was referring to, maer.” Thoridyss eyed him surprised, “I was more referring to the kiss.” He smirked shrewdly.
Thoridyss turned towards him and took a heavy breath, “It is tradition, Jhens. Had a man presided over the rite, he would have clasped your arm and embraced you like a brother. A woman is expected to kiss the man. Pending the gender, the custom adapts and a woman would kiss the priest and a female would embrace as sisters.”
“It did not seem like you were simply obliging custom.” He smirked, “There was more feeling behind it. You and I know that.”
“I’m sorry to say this to you, Jhens.” She replied consolingly, “You have been gracious, kind, and considerate this eve, but I must ask that you put aside such notions. What you are thinking and feeling are not true. The mead may have mustered your nerve but it is clouding your mind and teasing your emotions.” Thoridyss took his hand gently, “Please under-” she was cut off as he leaned, pulled her in closer, and kissed her. Thoridyss resisted in the moment, push him away, and rose up putting some distance between them. “Jhens! Stop this!” She threw his cloak at him, “Have you not heard a word tha tI have said!?! Have you gone touched in the head!?!” she exclaimed nervously.
Jhens chuckled, “I have only been ’touched’ by your lips, which have made me this way.”
Thoridyss shook her head appalled, “Jhens… please… just leave. Let us not speak of this again.” Jhens slowly rose to his feet scornfully. He tried to speak but she waved him off. “Just go.” She repeated. Jhens grumbled and turned for the small declining path as she averted her eyes from him and moved towards her hut.
As she reached for the door she felt firm hands grasp her arms, pinning her back to the outer wall. Jhens over powered her and glared down into her frightened eyes. “You want for me as I you, admit it.” Thoridyss struggled against his grapple but was far weaker than he. She felt his kiss breach the exposed skin of her neck and face as she writhed, shouting for him to stop. Suddenly, she felt a rending force wrench him off of her as she stumbled and fell to her knees. She looked up to see the butt of Olyn’s axe plow into Jhens’ abdomen, causing him to double over, only to be met with the flat side of the axe head across him face. The blow spun him around wildly as Jhens landed face down in the dirt.
Olyn took a couple steps, grabbed the back of the young man’s collar, and jerked him to his feet, spinning him around to face him. Olyn fiercely clenched Jhens shirt, pulling him nose to nose. “You so much as THINK of laying finger on her again, I will take great pleasure in cutting you down and feeding you to the gulls, boy.” he growled in a low tone. Thoridyss yelled at Olyn to stop as he pressed the edge of his axe against Jhen’s cheek; a trickle of blood ran down his face from a knick. He pushed him away with a growl and kicked Jhens in the backside, hastening his departure. “You’re drunk, boy! Go home and sleep it off.” He watched Jhens stumble away dizzily and turned back to Thoridyss.
Olyn imbedded his axe into his chopping stump and helped Thoridyss to her feet. “It’s over, little one.” He whispered soothingly as Thoridyss wrapped her arms tightly around Olyn’s torso, letting her cry it out of her system. Thoridyss soon released her hold on him and resumed her place by the fire. Olyn followed a few steps behind and propped himself against the log leaning in on his knee. Moments passed in silence between them till Thoridyss realized she was still holding onto the flowers Jhens gave her. She stood and looked upon them deep in thought. “Don’t dwell on it. Thori.” Olyn groused, “Learn from it and move on.”
“I know,” she sighed, “it was wrong, yet at the same time I hold no ire against him. He was a different person of different mind.”
“He is a smitten and drunken boy who wasn’t thinking with his brain.” Olyn retorted bluntly as Thoridyss bashfully covered her face. “It won’t be the last time you’ll be faced with the situation. If they try, I’ll give them the same as that foolish one" Olyn placed his broad hand on her shoulder, "Just don’t put yourself so vulnerable next time when I’m not around.”
Thoridyss nodded and smiled, “I will do my best.” Thoridyss looked at the flowers once more, silently issued a pray to the Grumfather to forgive Jhens foolishness and tossed the small bouquet into the flames, watching it turn in on itself and burn away.