The Adventures of Einarr Stigandersen updates Tuesdays and Thursdays by noon Eastern time. I am now cross-posting on royalroadl.com, about 2 chapters behind once it catches up.
2.22 – Hall Dance - Sivid gave himself a few turns to size up the opposition before venturing in for his warmup round. The puffed-up rooster of a man who looked just about to take his leave was not likely to be much competition, but he thought he saw a few others who could put on a show. Others like… Read More 2.22 – Hall Dance 2.21 – A Tune for All Seasons - Einarr furrowed his brow at Runa’s suggestion, confused. “A… tune? But Song Magic is fundamentally ephemeral.” “Indeed.” All hint of sensuality was gone from Reki’s voice, and Einarr heard what sounded like a warning threat in her tone. He bristled: this was his wife she used that tone with, after all. “Song magic is utterly… Read More 2.21 – A Tune for All Seasons 2.20 – The Third Trial - They finished their lunch in silence. For his part, Einarr kept turning over in his head Jorir’s revelation – the one he plainly did not wish to speak more of. He wasn’t quite certain what to make of his father’s new scrutiny, either. That ‘cursebreaker’ had the ring of a title about it. I’m not… Read More 2.20 – The Third Trial 2.19 – A Moment of Respite - The deck of the dromon and the rolling waves and the salt sea air faded gradually from Einarr’s consciousness to be replaced by the sound of wind through the trees and the rustling of grass in the mountain meadows surrounding them. He looked about to get his bearings: he was several paces farther forward than… Read More 2.19 – A Moment of Respite 2.18 – A Father’s Honor - “If your heart does not remain with the Weaver and the Wolf, swear again before me as you once did before my father Raen.” A number of grim faces around the hall met Stigander’s request, but no-one protested. Stigander would have been well within his rights to have them put to death, or trial by… Read More 2.18 – A Father’s Honor 2.17 – Vision of Home - Stigander caught the sound of silver bells in the wind and steeled himself. The last trial had tried to make him choose between his birthright and his son’s future, as though the two could be separated. That had been bad enough, but surely the trials ahead would be just as wrenching. He took a step… Read More 2.17 – Vision of Home 2.16 – Desperate Battle - One down, five to go… Four. Einarr stared through the gap in the circle where his fallen opponent had been and set his jaw. A cry of shock from the other side of Arring said his partner had felled another, but already more Valkyries rushed towards their circle. In only a moment, the two fallen… Read More 2.16 – Desperate Battle 2.15 – The Second Trial - Einarr rounded a corner in the track he had blindly followed toward the well and breathed a sigh of relief to see his companions there. In terrain such as this, you might not have to fail a test to become hopelessly lost. Stigander and Arring were blinking back out of the dream, confusion turning to… Read More 2.15 – The Second Trial 2.14 – Heart of a Dwarf - Thane Soggvar turned to the advisor standing behind the throne to his left – a cadaverous shaman Jorir did not recognize. In that same moment, his attention was caught by a figure who very much did not belong in this hall: an elven woman in white, her tall and willowy figure exaggerated by the short,… Read More 2.14 – Heart of a Dwarf 2.13 – Fidelity & Honor -
“Runa is my only child, and likely to remain so. He who marries her will become my heir. Rise, son, and take the hand of the prize you’ve fought so hard for.”
Raenshold. The Jarl was asking him to forswear Raenshold… his father… his birthright… and accept a jarldom in its place? Einarr shook his head as he climbed unsteadily to his feet, certain he must have heard wrong. “My lord, surely you jest?”… Read More 2.13 – Fidelity & Honor
2.12 – Faithless Hospitality - The tinkling sound of silver bells filled Einarr’s ears. Testing the fidelity of my love for Runa? Nothing simpler… surely that can’t be it, though? Well, no matter. He hefted the sack of treasure slung over his shoulder so the weight rested more comfortably and the coins tinkled again. Walking along the path up towards Kjell Hall, he whistled a jaunty tune. Jorir was only a pace behind him with another sack of treasure, and over this last quest they had filled out the crew of the Hvalaskurdr. His longship Hvalaskurdr. He had a ship. He had a crew. He had brought more gifts than even Jarl Hroaldr could have thought to ask for. If that wasn’t sufficient, even yet lacking a hall of his own, Einarr could rightly accuse the man of faithlessness.… Read More 2.12 – Faithless Hospitality 2.11 – The First Trial - Morning in Attilsund was marked not by the sun climbing over the tops of the pines but by a gradual lightening from black to grey of the cloud cover that had not yet broken. Einarr awoke groggy after a night filled with restless dreams, that all seemed to end with the realization he was being watched. He stomped into his boots anyway, warming his toes a little in the process, and hoisted his baldric over his shoulder as he joined his father and Jorir near the edge of the green.… Read More 2.11 – The First Trial 2.10 – Attilsund -
A week and a half from Apalvik, the craggy green fjord of Attilsund rose into view beneath a steel-grey sky. Stigander ordered the sail furled and the oars deployed as they nosed the Vidofnir into the narrow channel. The ship passed into the shadow of the cliffs to either side.
Einarr shivered and wished he had an excuse to join the rowers. Nearly summer, and still he saw ice on the rock near the water line. He didn’t bother looking up: the sky would be little more than a line between the tree-limned rock faces. He would be with the group going ashore, however, and Father had made sure the landing party would be fresh by keeping them off the oars. And if Father wanted them fresh, that meant he anticipated trouble ashore.… Read More 2.10 – Attilsund
2.9 – Son of Erik -
Einarr returned to the Vidofnir late that evening with Bardr and Jorir several silver poorer and an equal number of tankards less thirsty, with only two potential recruits found.
Bardr clapped him on the shoulder as they approached the Vidofnir’s mooring. “Don’t worry about it. Two men in an afternoon, on your first day out? That’s hard to complain about.”… Read More 2.9 – Son of Erik
2.8 – Butcher’s Bill -
The days following the battle with the Valkyries were somber, as well they should be: five Vidofnings fell to the Order’s hunters. Three of them had remembered Raenshold better than Einarr himself did. Those five had ridden the enemy ship to the afterlife in a blaze of glory, and left five more empty berths on the Vidofnir.
If there was one bright spot, it was the treasure they had found in the Geirskögul’s hold, packed into every spare inch beneath the deck boards of the Vidofnir. The morning after the funeral, Stigander had directed them north to a friendly port, only a little out of their way. No-one could quite get out of their head, though, what those five newly empty berths meant.… Read More 2.8 – Butcher’s Bill
2.7 – Song of War, Song of Peace -
The Valkyrian hunter's aim was steady. Any moment could give him the clear shot he needed to take out Reki.
Einarr ran, every footfall pounding a resounding ‘no’ against the deck of the Geirskögul. A fighter dodged someone else’s blow into Einarr’s path: Einarr shoved past him roughly, not even noticing if it was hunter or Vidofning. Three steps further on his leg lit up with the heat of being cut. It would hurt, later. Now, all that mattered was the crossbowman whose sights were set on Mother/Reki. The reasoning part of his brain flagged that juxtaposition for later thought.… Read More 2.7 – Song of War, Song of Peace
2.6 – Valkyrie! -
For the Vidofnir’s first week at sea, they saw no-one. In the second week, three ships crossed their path, from three lands Stigander preferred not to antagonize. Boredom was beginning to set in by the end of that fortnight, although not a man aboard but was glad for clear skies and fair winds.
On the first day of their third week at sea, sharp-eyed Sivid called a warning from his lookout. “Valkyrie, hard to starboard!”… Read More 2.6 – Valkyrie!
2.5 – News of an Oracle -
The beach they cast off from was little more than a glimmer in the moonlight when Stigander passed command to Bardr for the night. Sivid had drawn the short straw for watch this night, although even among those not on duty few slept. Most drank.
Stigander sprawled in the stern, staring up at the unblinking stars from under where his awning would ordinarily cover. Einarr approached, his boots deliberately loud on the deck, and took a swig from the skin he had just filled. It sloshed as he flopped down to sit by his father. He held it out by way of offer: his father’s paw nearly enclosed his hand when the offer was accepted. Neither man felt the urge to talk. There was little to talk about, until Stigander was deep enough in his cups that he started telling stories of home, and Einarr didn’t think there was enough in that skin to get that far.… Read More 2.5 – News of an Oracle
2.4 – The Song of Raen - The sun touched the water’s edge and the sky took on the color of red gold. The tide would begin to ebb soon, but the crew of the Vidofnir had not yet taken up oars and her sail was still furled. Fifteen years ago, they had fled their homes, and for fifteen years the start of every voyage was marked the same way. Stigander stood in the stern, his feet set wide and his arms crossed as he looked out over his men. Einarr joined him.… Read More 2.4 – The Song of Raen 2.3 – Reki - When Stigander had told him he would be acting as porter for the resupply, Einarr had not quite realized that meant he would be the only porter. He spent the better part of the next three days hauling salted fish, fresh water, and the other sundries that would make their summer on the seas tolerable overland between Kjellvic and the Vidofnir. He could not tell if Jorir had been kept in the dark as to the nature of his task those days, or if the dwarf had declined to intervene: in either case, it did not bear mentioning.… Read More 2.3 – Reki
1.34 – Homecoming - By the time the Gufuskalam made landfall in the Kjelling lands, not far from where the Vidofnir once again moored, nearly a month had passed since they departed Kem. The seas were smooth and the wind friendly, thanks probably in part to the presence of the Isinntog, and Erik could now move about with the aid of a crutch acquired during their resupply.… Read More 1.34 – Homecoming 1.33 – To Catch a Thief -
Einarr took off at a sprint down the pier. The two could not have got far yet, and he remembered their faces. Jorir kept up admirably well, despite his shorter legs.
“You remember what they look like?” Einarr asked between breaths.
They pulled up short where the pier met dry land. There were only two ways the boys could have gone; a disturbance in the dockside market crowd said the answer was left. A heartbeat later Einarr, too, was dashing off after the ripples his fish made as it swam through the crowd.… Read More 1.33 – To Catch a Thief
1.32 – Physician - Einarr had been sure the map was because the harborman didn’t expect he could read right up until he saw the directions that were sketched therein. “Many thanks,” he said, gesturing with the paper. Then he had set out with Jorir into the twisting warrens of Kem’s back streets, glad he had left the bag of treasures stowed under the Gufuskalam’s deck.… Read More 1.32 – Physician The End of Book One Approaches - UPDATE: Patreon poll is live! So I’ve been calling it out in the comments for a couple weeks now, but this is the official announcement. There are exactly three chapters remaining before the end of Book One. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride so far, and I hope you’ll stick with me for Einarr’s next… Read More The End of Book One Approaches 1.31 – Kem Harbor - For more than a week the Gufuskalam sailed south, pushing as hard as its crew could drive the boat with sail and oar, and for more than a week the black-haired dwarf on board hovered over the injured sailor who had been given into his care. If Erik did not seem to be improving, neither did his condition seem to worsen. He even regained consciousness a few times. In spite of his better judgement, Einarr found his attitude toward Jorir softening. Even Tyr could acknowledge his efforts were genuine.… Read More 1.31 – Kem Harbor 1.30 – Field Medicine - With Erik down, Tyr took the rudder and left the rowing to the strength of youth. Tempting as it was to let out the sail to travel nearly halfway around the island, everyone aboard worried that the jotün would notice something amiss. They were not safe until they crossed out through the storm. And so, Einarr rowed while Tyr kept their course and Jorir wrapped Erik in every woolen blanket on the boat and battened him to the deck.… Read More 1.30 – Field Medicine 1.29 – Escape from Svartlauf -
“That piece was given to me before I left on this journey by the woman who will be my bride, so do not scorn it. I’m afraid I’m still going to have to bind you until we’re underway on my boat.” Einarr strode behind Jorir and swiftly wrapped the rope about his wrists in a figure-eight pattern.
“Better than staying here, an’ it’s not like I’ve given you much reason to trust my word. …Satisfied?”… Read More 1.29 – Escape from Svartlauf
1.28 – Midden Maze -
I’m going to regret this, Einarr thought even as he fell. The darkness was nearly complete. Nearly, because the Isinntog about Einarr’s neck gave off a faint white glow.
Einarr’s legs plunged into the moldering kitchen refuse of the jotün and his dwarf. The smell that assailed his nose nearly made him vomit. Putrid meat, rancid fat, and rotting vegetables all mingled together in a slimy slurry that, by some miracle, only came to Einarr’s waist. He covered his nose and mouth with a hand.… Read More 1.28 – Midden Maze
1.27 – Chase - The giant’s steps fell like boulders as he entered the room and stopped. Einarr peeked around the treasure mountain he had ducked behind. The giant stood, his blue-white body draped about with filthy furs, and stared at the now-empty pedestal with eyes as black as midnight. Einarr bit off a silent curse. All thirty-plus feet of the giant had stopped immediately in front of the door, and thanks to the dwarf he knew Einarr was in here somewhere.… Read More 1.27 – Chase 1.26 – The Isinntog - After what felt like an eternity of creeping, during which he kept expecting to hear the creak of hinges or feel the vibrations of the giant’s steps on the floor, he made it to the pillar on which he had glimpsed his goal.… Read More 1.26 – The Isinntog