Standing stiff and silent before the roaring fire the knight breathed slowly and deeply. His dark grey eyes closed briefly while the heat thawed the icy chill from him bones. The welcomed warmth mingled with the cracking wood and relaxed him dangerously close to sleep. He had not rested since leaving the mainland the night before. A storm had ran upon them about half way across the channel and left them all soaked and near frozen as they battled to keep the boat on course for the island. He was nearing exhaustion and eager to seek a bed. He prayed sincerely that his audience with the King would not last long. The journey to the northern corner of the kingdom still lay long and treacherous before him.
The flames danced angrily as the heavy wooden door opened and the bitter breeze from outside again wrapped around the knight. Frowning, he pulled his thick black cloak closer while bowing low as the King swept quickly into his private solar.
“I am glad to see you made the crossing safely.” The King clasped his loyal knight by the shoulder with familiarity, lifting the much younger man up. Taller than most men, the King was always impressed that the knight towered several inches above him.
“Everyone in your group is well?” he asked, his voice filled with concern.
“Oui.” The knight inclined his head, fighting the shiver that coursed through his body suddenly.
“Genevieve?” the King questioned lightly pouring a goblet of warmed red wine and handing it to his Knight. “From Normandy,” he said with a flicker of his wrist towards the wine. The Knight drank deeply, closing his eyes with pleasure as the warmth spread over him.
“She took to the boat as if she were born on the sea, Your Highness.” Both men smiled, the Knight, in pride that his daughter had fared better than several of his seasoned soldiers.
“It’s the Viking in her blood.” The King’s aging face grinned, making him seem ten years younger. He knew that his bloodline was strong in the tiny fair haired girl the knight had fathered. “Normans were Vikings long ago.”