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Pen Your Pride

Born Immortal Chapter 19

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Astyr awoke to find herself in her big bed upstairs. The light coming through the windows was diffuse and had the dreamy quality of gloaming. She couldn't tell if it was morning or evening and she had no memory of getting upstairs nor of anything that had happened after the arrival of the strange woman at Gunnar's birthday.

Remembering the attack, she sat up quickly looking around to make sure she wasn't in immediate danger. The sudden movement sent a sharp stab of pain to her head and she sat back with a moan. Hakon, who had been dozing by her side, jerked fully awake at her motion and leaned over to check on her.

"Astyr!" he said urgently, "Astyr, are you awake?"

She gave another moan and tried to put her hands up to her aching head but she found that she had no energy to move. Hakon jumped off the bed and ran out the door leaving Astyr alone in her misery. He was back again in a moment and Grima and Gunnar came in behind him.

"Astyr, dear," Grima said in a mix of concern and relief, "How are you feeling?" 

Astyr just moaned and gave a very slight shake of her head. "Don't try to move, dear." Grima told her right away. "You've had a terrible shock to your system and you'll need more time to recover."

"What happened?" Astyr asked in a small voice that was all she could manage.

Grima picked up Astyr's hand and checked her pulse as she answered. "You tried to stop an Alfar from hurting me." That was a very short explanation and it gave Astyr many more questions than it answered but she was so weak she didn't know if she would be able to ask them.

Gunnar handed Grima a glass that he was holding and Hakon put his arm behind Astyr's shoulders and lifted her to a sitting position. Grima brought the glass to Astyr's lips and told her to drink the dark red liquid. "You'll feel a lot better after, dear. Try to finish this." Astyr leaned forward to take a drink but she smelled a dark coppery scent coming from the drink that made her gag. "What is it?" she said before Grima could get the glass to her lips. Grima took a deep breath and then sighed, "It's blood, Astyr. Human blood. And if you don't drink it, you'll get weaker and weaker." Astyr could see the concern on her face and she knew that Grima would never tell her to do something if it wasn't necessary so she steeled her nerves and held her breath and started to drink. It wasn't as bad as she had feared; it was still cold from the refrigerator and reminded Astyr of thick vegetable juice.

She drank the entire glass and when she was done she laid back against the pillows behind her. She could actually feel the blood working its way through her body; it felt the same as when her foot went to sleep and she had the same pins and needles feeling as the blood brought much needed energy to her system. After a few minutes she felt almost back to normal and she started asking her questions.

"Who was that woman and why was she trying to kill you, Grima?"

Grima sighed and smoothed the blanket with her hand before answering her. "That woman is Elianna, Queen of the Alfar, and she was trying to kill me because she found out that her daughter had married an Aesir and she blamed me for it."

"Why?" Astyr asked. "What did you have to do with her daughter getting married, and why is she so mad about it?"

Grima avoided looking into her eyes as she answered this question. "She blames me for her daughter turning her back on her duties and marrying outside of their kind because her daughter, Arianna, was my best friend. She often traveled with me and spent years living with me, avoiding her life with her mother who was strict and often cruel. It was during one of those times that she met your father and fell in love. Elianna is so mad at me because first, it is against Alfar law for any of them to marry someone of a different race and second, because Arianna is her mother's firstborn and is her heiress. She didn't know that your mother had married and I don't know who could have told her."

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