“Come on, Angela,” Bergen says taking my hand. “Baby steps. You don’t have to write a perfect chapter, just…try stepping into the world.”
I nod and study the stubble on Bergen’s chin and the black of his eyes.
“Very well,” I say.
Bergen fits his fingers between mine and pulls me back into third century Ireland.
“Now,” Bergen says. “Look around. Tell me what you see. Paint the scene.”
I look around and see the rolling green, the fences made of stone. The herds of sheep. The smell in the air is like dew and sheep farm. In the distance, I see the village of Golden.
“Is the wind blowing?” Bergen asks.
“It is,” I say. “It grazes my legs and smells of the sea from the west. The grass is cold on my feet. My hair is blown about and I can feel the rains moving in. It will be pouring within the hour. The sky is gray and filled with dark bulbous clouds. There’s a chill in the air that accompanies the crisp spring wind.”
“And what of the buildings? The village?”
“Beyond the fence there is the village built of stone,” I say. “A dirt road winds around an inn, the stables and blacksmith, shops, and homes. One building in particular stands out among the rest. It looks like a monastery almost. In its center, there is a garden. A tower rises into the sky to the south closest to the village entrance.”
“How many people are there?”
“Several. It’s a busy village. There are women out shopping with their children, men are farming alongside their sons, and the smith is plinking away at his anvil. Monks are working in the gardens.”
“The first of the rains are falling,” Bergen says. “Let’s switch to 3rd person present tense.”
“Very well,” Angela said.
“Now, let’s head into the village.”
By the hand Bergen led Angela toward the village as the rains moved in.
“If we don’t move quickly and find a place, our feet will be mud from the road,” Bergen said. Already the rains beat at them like sharpened pellets that stun the face as the wind blew. “Head to the inn,” Bergen said. “After we get a room, we can check out the monastery.”
Angela nodded and they made their way to the inn. The door flew open and the low rumble of quiet chatter encompassed her. The place reeked of ale, peat fire, and the wet from her clothes.
“Excuse me,” Angela called and slid into a chair at the bar. “We’re in need of a room,” she said.
The innkeeper peered down at the petite lady and furrowed his old heavy brow.
“We?” he asked.
“Well, yes…” Angela said. “Bergen and I—”
Angela shifted to point her thumb at Bergen behind her and froze when she realized Bergen was gone.
“Son of a bitch!” Angela cursed. “The Nordic snake slithered off.”
“Will you still be needing a room?” the innkeeper asked.
After a moment, the negotiations ended and Angela shuffled the coin to the innkeeper who directed her to a room on the second floor.
Outside the rains spattered the mud road. Angela paused while she watched the mud splatter under the onslaught of droplets. In the short time that Angela had rushed into the inn and rented a room, the streets had emptied. The herder and his sheep were long gone. The day was prematurely darkening, but there was no mistaking the familiar silhouette in the shadows of a Nordic prince with an eye for trouble.
Grabbing her traveler’s cloak, Angela wrapped the wool cloak around her shoulders and ran down the steps to catch up with Bergen. By the time she reached the door of the inn, Bergen was nowhere in sight.
Angela squinted to better see through the rain and the dark. She strained to listen, but heard nothing over the winds and rain.
“Here!” Bergen said and Angela jumped with a fright as he dropped his hands on her shoulders.
“Now let’s focus on feelings,” said Bergen as Angela put a hand to her heart to steady her breathing.
“You scared the piss out of me!” Angela said, slapping Bergen on the arm who just laughed.
“Don’ tell me you’re scared,” Bergen said. He leaned himself against a support beam and withdrew a long pipe from his jacket. “Show me!”
Using the eaves to guard from the rains, Bergen lit his pipe leaf and took in a few draws.
“My heart is beating,” Angela began. “I feel jumpy and nervous.”
Bergen released a stream of smoke.
“You say jumpy and nervous, but show me!” Bergen said.
Angela rolled her head with her eyes and began bouncy on the balls of her feet.
“Better,” Bergen said and took in another draw from the pipe.