Both Stein and his son were drinking mead and eating some slices of bread, while in the chimney, the boar was hanging, skinned, and deprived of its hooves and tail.
"Where's Asa?" Dag asked.
"She's just outside the door… don't worry kid, we will not eat you" Stein giggled.
Eirik continued to stare at Dag, suspiciously and then grabbed a slice of bread from the center of the table, hungry.
In the meanwhile, female voices came from the outside, getting closer.
When the door opened Asa entered the house and after her, a beautiful blonde girl, who blew on her hands to warm them up, but after a step, raised her head and looked at his new brother, Dag.
He noticed that she had deep blue eyes, fleshy lips, and a small nose, probably looking like her mother when she was young.
"Dag, she's Gridd, your older sister. I already told her about you" Asa said, looking at him in the eye and waiting for his reaction.
Although Dag was totally charmed by that unknown girl, he managed to say a shy: "H..Hi".
"Hey" Gridd answered with superficiality as if she already knew Dag.
She sat at the table, next to him when Asa walked toward the chimney and whirled the boar while Dag continued staring at Gridd.
"Hey puppy, don't get any ideas about her. She's your sister now, am I right?" Eirik said, side looking at Stein, shrugging his shoulders and seeking the support of his father, that didn't say anything.
In a second, Gridd gripped the table and pushed it with extreme strength, unfit to a girl of her age.
The table hit Eirik's chest, and he spat bread from his mouth, coughing up and slapping his hands on its surface.
"Cough! Cough! Are you crazy or what?! I was just defending you!" he said with a thread of a voice.
"Do I need your protection, dumb?" she replied in an unusual calm tone.
"Enough!" interrupted Stein, stopping the two siblings to struggle against each other, as always.
"Nobody needs protection here! This kid is my son now, as you two thugs. From now on, he needs to learn about us, about our planet, our culture… our Gods" he continued.
"I thank you for your interest, but don't worry… when I was on Earth I learned a lot about yours and other cultures, starting from my baby age. Some old Ladies teach to children like me everything we need to know to start our new life, on our Ancestor planet…then we enter the Temporum. My teacher's name was Ysabel" Dag answered, trying to break the ice.
"Oh right, right, I've heard about these things some time ago. The Temporum… it's a machine that establishes where you'll be sent, using numbers or something similar… am I right?" Stein asked, keeping on eating what was before him.
"Yes, the Xis built it. They created everything I know, actually. They saved us after our Sun died. Your planet and other planets' atmospheres have been created by the Xis as well and from my childhood, I was taught my destiny is here on Skjold. I'm for the 94% Norse, so… Viking blood flows into my veins, that's what they taught me" Dag continued, letting anyone understand his will.
Eirik and Gridd stopped eating and stood frozen, listening to the newcomer and Asa took out the meat from the fire.
"Your appearance is Viking, yes. Blonde hair, light blue eyes, light skin…" Stein thought out loud.
"What about your mother? Is she an incubator now?" Asa replied, showing Dag that she already knew about his past, while chopping some piece of meat with a long knife, placing it on the table.
"We're not allowed to know this. I'm not sure… probably she is. I've never met her, so…"
When he spoke, Dag looked at the table, with empty sad eyes.
Asa saw the scene out of the corner of her eye, feeling a sense of protection toward him, a sense of motherhood as if she shared his loneliness.
"Your father? Was he imprisoned by those Xis? They seem so powerful judging by your words…" Eirik interrupted, joining the conversation while wildly biting a piece of roasted boar.
Gridd was still not moving, hearing the speech with her arms folded.
"He's dead. The Xis killed every single man on the Earth. They don't need male humans for their plans" Dag sighed, trying to hold back the tears.
That answer was cold like winter and both Eirik and his father stopped eating, as Gridd, who looked at Dag, trying to find out who he really was, listening to the only sound in the room, made by Asa, who continued to chop the boar meat.
"I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to…" Eirik tried to say, apologizing to Dag when Stein interrupted his words, knowing that that was not the right moment to create such a sad atmosphere, being Dag already upset.
"It's fine, you're home now kid. We will look after you, you're safe now. Try to eat something, you need to strengthen your muscles a little bit" he smiled.
For about thirty seconds, the silence ruled the room and the fire kept on burning the wood, warming the surrounding area.
"What about killing the Xis? Are they that strong? I saw even the strongest warriors falling against a good axe's swing" Gridd exclaimed, who finally took part in the conversation.
"K…killing the Xis?! T…they're not so evil, they helped us to survive! Why should anyone kill them?!" Dag gasped surprised, puzzled by her uncommon question, thinking that, during his short life, nobody did ever told him such an absurdity.
"Killing them would mean take back what is ours. Humans could also claim Xis' machines, right? I spoke to Hallr weeks ago: he told me that he looks after a machine called the Vortex… that allows anyone to teleport between worlds and it's made by Xis. Is it true?" she continued, self-confident.
"Yes, it is. I reached this planet through that machine, but it doesn't mean that…"
"I think we've asked Dag enough questions for today. He needs to rest and then, tomorrow, he will decide what path he wants to follow" Asa intervened, stopping the conversation.
When she finished chopping the meat, she sat at the table, next to her husband, keeping on speaking, while Dag and Gridd looked at each other, as if communicating only with their eyes.
"Can we eat now? I'm starving!" Stein concluded, who had already eaten most of the food on the table.
The atmosphere finally came back to be relaxing and Dag shily ate the boar meat with his new family, while the words of his sister continued to resound in his mind.
He couldn't help but look at her, noting the details of her face, her lips, her eyes, her mouth while she ate.
It was so weird that no one had ever thought a simple thing like this and he started wondering if her speech was something heretic, thinking that it could be, relying on his actual knowledge.
"No matter what I think about her… I need to be a Viking now! I already knew about their Gods and the way they worship them… the books of Skjold said that the Gods are the only thing Vikings believe in… will it be true?" he thought, swallowing a bite of meat.
The dinner finished with a mug of mead, from which Dag drank a little sip, spitting some of it on the floor soon after, coughing.
"Hahaha, it's strong, isn't it? My wife makes the best mead of all Jernhest!" Stein laughed at Dag, then kissed Asa's forehead.
"It is, you're right… but I like how it tastes" Dag answered, wiping his mouth with his shirt's sleeve.
After dinner, the whole family stood up from the table and each of them moved one by one towards the common bedroom.
"Give me a minute, I'll set up a bed for you, next to your siblings" Stein said, touching Dag's shoulder and trying to make him feel at home.
He opened a kind of wardrobe next to the wall, looking for something and meanwhile, Dag looked at the other room's door: it was still half-opened, but he couldn't see what was behind.
"Okay, ready. You can go!" Stein continued clumsily, not being accustomed to treat one of his children with such apprehension and pointing to him his bead, between the two other ones, destined to Gridd and Eirik.
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