Prologue Three generations of children had been born in the southlands; he was old enough to remember the Northland. Beautiful but cold, sun touched the land there but 3 months a year. Children faced harsh conditions from the time they were born. Learning to survive and become strong efficient raiders by the forge of the Northâ€™s own environment. Since His people had been run from ancestral home by the Minotaurâ€™s taking refuge in the Southlands that they once raided, the children were brought up soft. No Chief ruled the Frost Wolf Clan and he sometimes wondered if the bearded one had turned his eyes from the People. Keian regarded his daughter as she slept and grew sad and proud all at the same time. She was tougher then many of the children born today in the Tribe. What would she become would she survive her life trial and come home with fortune to start a family? The silver pond of life reflected with inner light as the Bearded one looked down on Keian and his daughter. He smiled seeing one of his people that still believed in the old way, who had not forgotten that life was a test. He never interfered they would stand on their own and deeds be reviewed after their death. Hopefully that death would be glorious in battle or in old age having been great warriors that trained the next generation. As he looked on them smiled. Until today, reaching into the nether he cast upon the girl destiny and purpose. Time reversed and he removed woman path and set her upon the warrior way.
Chapter 1 Dawn had not even crept into the lodge where victoria slept when her father shook her awake. “Up girl, dawn is near and it is time for you to go and find fortune. “ Victoria blinked in surprise, and confusion. “You can take the young mare, she isn’t war trained but she will get you out of here.” He regarded her with softness, “You’re everything to me child but it is time for you to go out and become you. “ handing her the travel pack he pulled her up. “Papa the sun’s not even up, why can’t it wait till then?” She smiled impishly “Did you make breakfast?” “Of course child do you think I would let you burn another cook pot up.” It was a statement not a question and she knew it. After she had burned a whole in her fathers iron pot brought from the Northlands with nothing more then water in it he had given up trying to teach her how to cook. If her mother had been there she might have faired better at teaching her. Before the sun was more then pre dawn light she was on her way, but even then women were up and making the morning meal. Her closest friend Shara was up and packing water. Victoria was not found of the men in the village, none of them turned her head. Shara had however fallen in love with one of the few young men in the village that Victoria liked as a friend. Word was she had already become pregnant. Victoria was happy for her and a bit sad that she would not be present when her friend’s baby was born. Shara had been Victoria’s fist lover. Pulling up the horse she looked on her friend with a bit of sadness “I hate good byes Sha, I will bring back the baby something special when I come home.” Sha looked up at Victoria, her smile faded. “Time then?” Victoria nodded “Papa said it is. I am heading to the Twins to see if I can get a guard post.” Sha regarded Victoria, as she had always known that she would leave but was not prepared for her closest and dearest friend to leave. Now that it came to it sadness crept into her and dread. “Be careful and return to me so sister of my soul, I will miss you. Bearded one be ever watchful and destiny guide you.” Quickly turning she entered her hut before Victoria could see her cry.
The last of winters bite was in the air and the snow was clinging to the shadowed underbrush. It was a week of travel by horse back to the Twin cities, in settled tamed lands the biggest worry was a lose bull, or a possible bandit. Both of which she was prepared for of all the old warriors only her father and the blacksmith were a true challenge. Of the young ones none of them could best her one on one. Not without being dishonorable. Brigands tended to be cowards against real fighters even one so tasty as she is. Victoria was not tall even for a Northern woman 5 foot 4 inches well muscled and proportioned. Her hair was brown her eyes green thanks to her southern mother. Thanks to her father she was as tough as any young man and worked as hard. The trip to the Twin Cities was uneventful, not an exciting beginning to her grand life adventure. As she neared the gate the guard there looked on her with little interest other then to ask her “What business?” Victoria smiled and attempted to be pleasant and inviting with her reply. “Looking for work, a place with a inn as a guard, or perhaps the city guard.” He snorted at her only work you will find in the city is flat of your back wench serving the guard’s lust. Best if you try the caravans they are leaving all this week and need grunt labor.” She understood the un-said, she was after all Northern and her people before being driven from the north had raided and unmercifully for many generations the Twin Cities. The layout of both sides of the river mirrored each other and in ancient times been ruled by Twin brothers who were a bit creative. You would find the exact building on the other side of the river for design though one may be a baker the other a meat. She and her father had come once a year with the corn he grew to sell for winter supplies. It still amazed her the size and population of the city were so large. “Step down off of that horse girl none but royalty ride in the city aback.”
Stepping down she headed to the caravan corrals. The sight there was chaos but in a controlled way. Men calling out orders, people moving goods, horses and oxen being moved by the handlers. How would she ever make out who was in charge and hiring? One man barking orders was a mountain of a man. He had the look of a man in charge so she approached him. “Excuse me sir is the caravan hiring guard?” The man looked down from his 7-foot height, “Can you cook?” She could not help but smile and cough “Uh no and you don’t want me to either. It either comes out burnt or tastes so bad you would call me out for poisoning you.” He smiled “Well the cook at wagon 6 needs a pot boy, hard work that is but it will get you in. Guards in the caravan prove themselves worthy of that spot. Head down there tell them David sent you.” For her a job would be a job and if this one did not work at least it put her closer to someplace that may have more work she was suited for. The cook was a bald man decent on the eyes if a little soft around the middle. His arms looked like he had worked hard all his life, and callouses on his hands confirmed it. Hi face was pleasant filled with a bright smile for one that was working so hard. He looked up at her “Can I help you child, you look a bit lost.” His voice was a baritone one that would have been welcome at the village fire at night. She was sure he could sing.” Shifting her weight from one foot to the other “David sent me down here to you.” “Well then work it is for you, see that stack of bags, boxes and barrels on the other side of my wagon.” He pointed “They get put away in the back of my wagon turn that horse of yours out in the remuda and get to it child. I will judge if you are good enough to work with me.” Victoria did as she was told. She was strong and learned to pace herself over the day so as to not tire out. The supplies she packed away she could tell were mostly dried or jerked foods meant for easy storage and to hold for some time. “How long will we be on the road” she asked while she stopped for some water.
“About 9 month, plenty time for your 2 gold a month to build up.” You work well enough but you need to remember to pace yourself stop once an hour drink some water then eat one of those bread rolls before going back to it.” She did as she was told, having learned from experience that not following advice usually ended badly not to mention she did not want the man who would be feeding her vexed. When the sun set her day was done others were still working but she had seen them come to work mid day or later. After checking on her mare she wandered to the inn that serviced this caravan field. The Inn’s keeper was a jovial sort, he greeted her with a smile and chuckle. Victoria was sweaty, dirt covered and her hair was a mess. “What young woman can I get you?” His smile and laughter made her smile. “First off a bath then food if you could sir.” Nodding toward the back “The bathes are communal, if you want privacy you may want to wait till others are done and drinking.” Victoria was not modest, the creek was communal bathing in the summer and the lodge of her father provided little privacy with him and those that came to the stead to help him with the corn. She walked to the back and stripped placing her goods on the bench. There was a young girl there would who inquired about cleaning her clothing. She paid the girl two silver for the service and was handed a robe to put on after her bath. She pulled her clean cloth a magical invention that was useful, especially during her moon time. If you kept the cloth washed out it would last 3 years but it also took less soap using the clean cloth to bath then with soap alone. There were others but they were quietly cleaning themselves. She sank deep into the three-foot deep 10-foot wide pool of steaming hot water dunking her head to clean out the sweat from her hair. When she came back up the man in the pool next to her was regarding her.