Jorund spoke to Sigurd about the ships, but the king seemed uninterested. Only his oldest son, Brandt, took any notice. He made a quiet remark that he would keep a close eye upon the ships. The king's wife, Hilda, did appear thoughtful about the arrival of the wedding guests. "I will see to it that they have a place to sleep in the longhouses."
He started to return toward Kirsten's home before he realized what he was doing. She wasn't his and never would be. And the more time he spent at her side, the harder it would be to let her go. He needed to remain focused on his purpose.
Jorund turned back toward the coastline, watching as the horde of visitors approached. Although he had notified Sigurd, it did seem that he ought to speak to Alarr, since the man held the respect of the other warriors. At least then he would feel that he'd done everything he could to warn them.
He strode toward the training grounds and saw Alarr with his youngest brother, Sandulf. The two were speaking quietly together, and Kirsten was approaching them.
She had no intention of remaining in hiding, so it seemed. But then, that wasn't the sort of woman she was. Kirsten held more courage than most, and it appeared that she'd had the same idea as him—to warn Alarr.
He hung back for a moment, studying her. There was tension on Alarr's face, as if he were fully aware of the danger.
When Jorund drew closer, he heard her speaking to the men. "There are dozens of ships arriving," she said. "Wedding guests, I think."
Alarr glanced in the direction of the coast, and he saw the approaching visitors. "Thank you for telling me."
She hesitated and then added, "Be careful, Alarr. While they may be here for the wedding celebration, I fear they could also be a threat. There are so many."
"Do you want me to go and find out?" Sandulf was asking his brother.
The young warrior was eager to prove himself, but Alarr shook his head. "We should meet them as a large group. They need to see our forces to know that we are strong enough to defend ourselves. Tell our brothers to arm themselves, and we will ride out to meet them."
Sandulf departed, and Kirsten took a step back. Alarr regarded her for a moment, then said, "Keep your weapons with you at all times." She touched the blade at her waist and nodded. He added, "Stay alert."
Jorund felt like an intruder watching them. He was about to leave when Kirsten caught sight of him. Though she met his gaze, he didn't miss her embarrassment, as if she'd suddenly remembered their kiss.
Alarr greeted him. "Kirsten was just telling me of the ships."
"I told Sigurd, as well," Jorund responded. "I thought he should know that the…guests are arriving." He didn't bother to hide his suspicions that the visitors were more like invaders. "Some were from Éireann."
"I don't recall inviting anyone from that island," Alarr said. "Unless there is a connection to Danr or Rurik." Their mother had been Irish, though she had died years ago.
Jorund shrugged. "Possibly. I can dwell among them in the longhouse and try to learn what I can. At least, until your wedding. Afterward, I will be returning north. I intend to seek vengeance on behalf of my family."
"Let me know if you learn anything," Alarr answered. "Especially if there is any threat."
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