The freshly fallen snow crunched under Hans’ boots as he tried to keep up with Gyda’s longer stride. The snow came up about mid shin, so he had some trouble sloshing through it while Gyda just plowed through it was an odd grace and ease.
The blacksmith had done an exceptional job with the greaves, making them look good as well as fit perfectly. The Smith had even sharpened up Hans’ sword some before they took off for their adventure.
Hans had to paused and pull his long coat closer as a gust of wind whipped by. Hans enjoyed the duster style jacket with a fur-lined hood, but the tips of the jacket drug in the snow, getting soaked and he frowned at the less-than-brilliant purchase, but… at least it kept him warm.
Hans had to hop through the snow a bit, looking like a mentally deficient antelope as he tried to catch back up with Gyda. He wondered how she didn’t freeze to death with the small amount of armor she wore. She wore little more than a glorified skirt if anything, but then again… she was a norn. They were built and bred for this type of climate, so Hans really should stop being surprised at this point.
“So where to first?” He called to her, grateful that she slowed to glance over her shoulder, allowing him time to catch up.
She tapped a finger to her chin, pursing her lips some, “Where ever our feet take us.” She flashed pearly whites at him and proceeded through the snow without issue.
Gyda had packed and stacked her travel pack so high that from behind, it looked like a travel pack with really shapely legs, and Hans found himself just kind of… watching them move, to and fro. Another cold blast of air rushed by, almost smacking Hans for his pigheadedness.
After a while, they found the road and Hans was insanely grateful for the fact that he didn’t have to trudge through nearly knee deep snow anymore. He easily caught up with Gyda and managed to keep pace next to her, probably for the better, so he didn’t keep staring at her legs.
“Do you find much trouble when you travel?” He asked, gripping the straps to his travel pack as he glanced up at her.
Gyda shrugged nonchalantly, “It really depends on the area and if I decide to venture off the road and look for trouble. But in this area? No… It’s pretty docile around here.” She explained, watching as a rabbit skittered past.
“What about further north?” Hans inquired, glancing back up to her, just watching her face.
“Svanir.” She replied evenly, her brow creasing a bit at the word.
“Oh those are those… angry norn who think Jormag is a Spirit of the Wild or something?” He asked, looking forward again to watch where they were going.
“Something like that. They’re just stupid assholes that are dumb enough to skewer themselves on my blade as far as I am concerned.” she shrugged, not even remotely bothered by what she just said.
Hans frowned, “So you just… kill other norn?”
“I defend myself. They usually chase after me first. They aren’t keen on norn women, thinking us weak.”
“I like norn women… I-I mean that I don’t think you’re weak at all.” Hans stammered, his face growing warm with a soft blush.
Gyda smiled and patted the top of his head, causing his hood to obscure his vision some. “That is very kind of you to say, Hans.”
Hans nodded, adjusting his hood and trying to hide his obvious blush, but maybe he could blame it on the cold, should she notice. Luckily Gyda never seemed to notice, or if she did, she never pointed it out.
The two traveled further north, as Hans admired the mountains and distant landscapes as they went. Thankfully Gyda slowed down so he could gawk and stare. “Are you having fun?” She asked with a pleasant smile.
Hans nodded, smiling up at her a bit in return. Gods was she pretty… and so nice too. “I am, thank you for… tolerating my slowness.” he muttered nervously, a blush lining his cheeks.
A warm laugh replied him and she shook her head, waving a dismissive hand, “Not a problem. I am glad you are enjoying the Shiverpeaks. But the sun is beginning to set, so we should find a spot to camp for the night, yes?” She seemed to ask for his opinion on the matter and Hans just shrugged.
“What ever you feel is the right thing to do, I am fine with finding a spot to camp for the night.” He nodded and followed her as she led him off the path and up a slope.
“I usually make a base camp on a small ledge on the mountain here for my hunts. It provides safety and shelter from harsh winds. Just promise not to tell anyone.” She grinned playfully and Hans nodded and gave a bit of a comical salute.
“Yes ma’am! Your secret spot will stay secret!” He affirmed, but smiled in return.
It took a bit of a hike up the steep slopes along the mountain, but Gyda eventually led Hans to a small ledge nestled against the side of the mountain with a small overhang perfect to fit a tent under and still have room to make a fire in front.
Hans helped Gyda stake up the tent which was large enough to hold two people, well, rather one norn and a human. Hans was nervous sharing the same tent with a woman, feeling that it seemed too forward on his part, but Gyda seemed to have no qualms over them sharing the tent for the night.
The sun was about half way past the horizon, casting scarlet bands across the sky in one defiant act of giving light to the land. Hans shivered as he watched the sunset, a small smile of content lining his lips.
“Hans, if you set up the fire, I will unpack and make up the bed rolls inside the tent.” Gyda offered, to which Hans nodded and handed his pack off to her, watching her disappear behind the tent flap.
He made good on his part of the deal and set up the fire as he had been taught in the Seraph.. hmm... guess he did learn some survival techniques from them… at least they were good for some things, he thought a bit bitterly.
Hans watched the aurora borealis light the night sky, the beautiful ribbons of greens and blues dancing across the sky. He had never seen anything like it and he forgot how cold he was for the moment as he craned his neck skyward and stared.
Remembering where he was, he lit the fire and stoked it, letting the wood catch and burn properly, smiling at the satisfying crack the wood gave in surrender to the flames.
Hans stood and headed towards the tent to let Gyda know that he had the fire going. He paused, hand holding the flap back, his mouth ajar as he was greeted with quite the sight. Gyda sat on her bedroll, hair over her shoulder, her bare back towards Hans.
His eyes traced the intricate tattoo lining her muscled back with a brilliant white color to contrast her tanned skin. The image of the Raven Spirit stared back at Hans as he gawked at the poor woman.
Gyda turned and smiled, “Get the fire going?” She asked, turning just enough that Hans’ eyes trailed down to her chest, following the soft curve of her bare breasts.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t-!” Hans turned on his heel and nearly fled from the tent, his face burning hotly with a blush as he went clear across to the other side of the fire and crashed to his knees before scooping up snow and shoving his face into it.
The cold snow sure as hell woke him up, but the hot, embarassed blush lingered and he kept his back to the tent, unable to get rid of the memory of Gyda’s back and chest. He felt like a pig. Now she probably didn’t want anything to do with him, probably thinking him a pervert - and she wouldn’t be wrong in this case.
Hans jumped at the gentle hand to the crown of his head and he looked up. Gyda stood there, in a loose linen shirt now, offering a warm smile, “I’m sorry. I forget humans have odd standards and customs when it comes to men and women.” She… wasn’t… upset?
“I-I’m sorry, Gyda! I should have asked if you were decent!” He whined.
Gyda rolled her eyes, clearly amused and hoisted the poor man to his feet and dusted the snow from his clothes. “Oh please, you are fine. I see no issue with it. You humans are quite silly with your customs.t is endearing, and I appreciate the sentiment, but please do not feel bad.” She reassured, putting some order back to his wind whipped hair.
“Hush, how about some food? We’ve had a long day.” She smiled and went back over to the warm glow of the fire and set out a pot to set over the fire.
“Food sounds excellent.” He trailed behind and went to squat next to her and stoke the fire as she prepared the meal.
Despite his best efforts, Hans couldn’t get the image out of his head… she was gorgeous and he couldn’t get over that. Hans was sure that he was developing feelings for Gyda, but he wasn’t sure how to feel about that in itself.
Supper was an excellent, rib-sticking bowl of stew with hearty norn potatoes, carrots, and dolyak meat in a thick brown sauce. Hans wondered if norn cooking took the term ‘rib-sticking’ literally since it felt like it coagulated in his chest cavity rather than sliding into his stomach.
None the less, Hans was stuffed to the brim with excellent food, and the blond contently curled up on his bed roll, his back respectfully facing Gyda.
He was half asleep when the norn settled next to him, and apparently was having none of this ‘polite space’ crap, and pulled him close to her chest, cuddling him like a stuffed animal.