His moment of hot anger, so long to be regretted, ended with the maiden's scream. Torn instantly from an ale-induced fog, still unsteady, the man threw his sword aside and fell to his knees. Eyes glimmering with tears, he gathered her to him; she weeping now, from pain and disbelief at what he had done.
He was certain she was dying, so great the blood. It pooled between her cheek and his throat, matting her thick, golden hair into tangles. So much now tore at his heart. So much guilt was suddenly upon him. As all present watched in stunned silence, the man carried the young woman from the Great Hall, his head bent to her wounded face.
The Norseman's blade was never meant to slice through the flesh of the young maiden's face--nei, never! His intention was to shear hair from ear down, none other.
Norway 855-56 A.D. Sixteen years later.
Young Asta, with warm affection, watched her mother stroke the newborn's head, held securely against her shoulder. Bere Sturldottir left off smoothing the downy hair to finger the raised edges of the hole in her cheek from the errant blade. In truth, the hole felt to the finger far worse than it appeared to the eye. To this fact, Bere could not be convinced.
The span of time she loathed Brand Ketilsson for the disfiguring wound was brief. She understood wholly the reason he struck out. The simplest explanation was that at the time and prior to the incident, he was in love with her, and that as a man loves a woman. And she loved him. She was certain he did not mean to do it.