Annoure awoke with a start, unsure why. She felt a tingling along her spine and sat up on the sleeping bench, listening. Inside the room was quiet for Njal and his family still slept.
Outside the wind howled and a branch repeatedly hit the side of the house. She wondered if the branch was what had disturbed her sleep. Since Thorstein had left, she slept uneasily and the feeling of danger never left her.
Annoure rolled onto her side, so large with child that it was hard to get comfortable. She tried to fall back asleep but the baby shifted positions and she suddenly felt the need to make water. These days there wasn’t room for anything but the baby in her large belly.
Reluctantly she slipped her feet out from under the warm furs and onto the cold floor and crossed to the door in her linen under-dress. The sun was just starting to come up and the gray forms of nearby houses began to take on color as she hurried to the outhouse.
When she started back to the house, she spotted dark figures approaching from the shoreline. As they drew closer, she recognized Edgtho and Ketil. She drew in a sharp breath as icy terror pumped through her veins. She glanced toward Njal’s house, wondering if she could reach it before the men reached her.
“That’s her! The gods are in our favor!” Ketil exclaimed. The men split up so one was between her and Njal’s house and the other blocked her way to Garth’s.
Annoure took a stumbling step backwards, knowing she was trapped. Edgtho strode forward until he was a few feet in front of her. “We’ve decided to take justice into our own hands,” he said, his eyes filled with malice. “Thorstein should have been made an outlaw at the ting. We won’t accept silver for Rethel’s life.”
Annoure opened her mouth to scream, but the sound caught in her throat. Edgtho smiled sadistically and drew out his sword. “I should carve out your heart where you stand.” The tip of his sword cut through her under-dress and pricked her left breast. Inwardly she cried, Don’t kill me and my baby.
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