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.
3.22 – Unexpected Allies - Einarr’s eyes rolled up into his head as the warm odor of food tried to fill his nose, his mouth, take over his mind. Someone who evidently had not seen the exchange with the show-off took his strange expression to mean that Einarr was choking. Before his vision could truly cloud, a pair of very… Read More 3.22 – Unexpected Allies 3.21 – Enticement of Food - Einarr once more offered Jorir the hilt of his sword in token of their pledge, and the dwarf grasped it without hesitation. “A test, my lord?” Jorir raised an eyebrow, his voice held low. “I was the one on trial, I think. Well, we gave them a story, anyway.” “You!” The show-off from the circle… Read More 3.21 – Enticement of Food 3.20 – Sword Dance - Einarr made his opening moves especially eye-catching this round. From his hop-skip out he did a handspring and landed on his toes in a crouch. Rather than rising from his crouch, he bounced around the ring like that, kicking a foot with each bounce, his arms folded. Once he’d completed his circuit he moved to… Read More 3.20 – Sword Dance 3.19 – Dance with the Devil - The tune the musicians played was an unfamiliar one to Einarr, but that hardly mattered. The rhythm was heavy enough no-one could mistake it, and the fundamentals of the hall dance were in the central competition. Everything else was just warm-up. What quickly became clear was that Einarr had his work cut out for him… Read More 3.19 – Dance with the Devil 3.18 – Allthane’s Feast - “You’re about to go engage a dead man in a battle of wits. I’m coming.” Tyr dusted off his palms as he stepped over toward the other two. “We’ll be relying on you, then.” Einarr clapped the old sailor on the shoulder. “Y’got that right.” “Let’s get to it, then.” Einarr turned from the gathering… Read More 3.18 – Allthane’s Feast 3.17 – Underground - The maw of the cave seemed to yawn behind them as they were pressed ever back. It offered an opportunity, though: he could see no ghost light from within its dubious shelter. They could make a stand there… …Although it seemed they would quickly do so with steel rather than flame. His flaming brand was… Read More 3.17 – Underground 3.16 – Ghostly Assault - “Make ready for company, men!” Einarr rose, burning brand in hand, and turned his back to the blaze. Nothing seemed to have materialized from the ghost light yet, but he would not be caught unawares when and if it did. The others in his team were looking about, trying to spot whatever it was that… Read More 3.16 – Ghostly Assault 3.15 – Lost in the Mist - Once again they stood before the hasty flag Jorir had constructed to mark their find. Even in the fog, Einarr could see the frosty puffs of his breath. “This may have been a terrible idea.” They were the words on everyone’s mind, he was sure. “So, what next?” Jorir asked the practical question. “I don’t… Read More 3.15 – Lost in the Mist 3.14 – Unnatural Chill - The crack of falling stone echoed through the cave and Einarr flinched from the noise, reflexively covering his ears. His men did, as well. As the sound died down and the ringing in their ears subsided, it became plain that their ears were not the only thing wounded in the onslaught. The slab they had… Read More 3.14 – Unnatural Chill 3.13 – Darkness - For a long moment, darkness and silence held sway. Einarr strained his eyes and his ears, but no light seeped into this cavern from above, and the only sound that reached his ears was the occasional plink of a drop of water falling into a pool below. Finally he heard the distinctive scrape of a… Read More 3.13 – Darkness 3.12 – Vanishing - The first thing that caught Einarr’s attention about the cave was the scattering of skulls not five paces in. Someone had thought to take shelter here, long ago, and been eaten by kalalintu. At least, he assumed as much: it was possible they had died of starvation before the kalalintu nested above, but the other… Read More 3.12 – Vanishing 3.11 – Threatening Storm - The repair crew headed out while the others divided themselves as they saw fit. Einarr went with Jorir – no surprise – but also Erik and Irding, Tyr, Troa, Fjorkar, Geiti, Odvir, and Boti. All good, reliable men who had been on the Vidofnir at least as long as Einarr had – well, with two… Read More 3.11 – Threatening Storm 3.10 – Search Parties - Stigander knitted his eyebrows at his son’s declaration. “Explain.” “Those screams we heard? Those were the death-screams of their captain and a few others. Four warriors were quite literally frightened to death on their wreck. Others were torn apart on the beach while they prepared another raid on us. The restless dead walk this isle.”… Read More 3.10 – Search Parties 3.9 – Investigation - The screams of terror from off in the distance brought Einarr out of his half-doze immediately. Almost before he knew it he was back on his feet, pulling on his chain shirt and reaching for his sword. He was not the only one. From all over the ship he saw bodies moving about. Stigander lit… Read More 3.9 – Investigation 3.8 – Relics - Einarr and Jorir carried their findings somewhat awkwardly between the two of them, Jorir’s reduced height more than offsetting his greater strength. A pair of small piles was already building on the sandy shore near where Stigander, Bardr, and Reki observed. The pieces of timber they dumped in the pile that would be used to… Read More 3.8 – Relics 3.7 – Battles’ End - The quick man had at the end not been quick enough, and the enemy leader wasted a precious moment in shock. The first man still stared in horror at the blade protruding from his chest when Arring lunged past him and the blade of his axe took off the enemy leader’s arm at the elbow.… Read More 3.7 – Battles’ End 3.6 – By Man & Monster Beset - The chatter of kalalintu from above rattled Einarr’s nerves. They were starting to feint at diving, trying to keep their prey from escaping, nudging them ever closer to the ledge. Not good. “Henir!” The blond man snapped his head around and Einarr tossed his bow back to him. The archer wasted no time nocking another… Read More 3.6 – By Man & Monster Beset 3.5 – Between Wind & Water - “What’s this?” Erik paused to look back at Einarr. “Stop and listen a minute. Hear that?” After a moment, a growl came from low in Erik’s throat. “Better us than the repair crew.” Einarr nodded and pushed forward. Father and Bardr, at least, needed to know, and the rest probably should as well. Jorir, at… Read More 3.5 – Between Wind & Water 3.4 – Rivals - From where Einarr stood he saw nothing but mist and ocean and the bones of ships. “What happened?” Sivid’s head popped over the railing from above. “Those freeboaters following us seem to have missed a turn.” “They’re freeboaters?” “Pretty sure. Cap’ and Bardr are ‘discussing’ sending aid.” “What’s there to discuss? Of course we should… Read More 3.4 – Rivals 3.3 – Grave of Ships - “Port side, push off! Starboard, brace and pole forward!” The grinding sound continued and the Vidofnir began to slow. The sail fluttered disconsolately as the tailwind faded away. “Put your backs into it!” Stigander added his weight to one of the starboard oars before the order was fully out of his mouth. Einarr stowed his… Read More 3.3 – Grave of Ships 3.2 – Icy Seas - Over the course of a week the seas plied by the whalers of Attilsund and, now, the Vidofnir grew colder, until it felt more like they were out early in the spring rather than the middle of summer. That they had not yet seen floating ice did not reassure Einarr about the lack of icebergs… Read More 3.2 – Icy Seas 3.1 – Leaving Attilsund - Bardr must have purchased miles’ worth of extra rope for this expedition, and as much fresh water as they could store. Even still, it was a short journey from Attilsund, and spirits were high as they loaded the Vidofnir with supplies for a six-week trek to investigate the ship barrow. To Einarr’s mind, most of… Read More 3.1 – Leaving Attilsund Book Three - In case you missed my note at the end of Tuesday’s chapter, Book Three: Einarr Stigandersen and the Allthane’s Masquerade will begin next Tuesday, 9/26/18.
2.31 – Ship-Barrow - The hike back down the mountain the next morning was cool and crisp and surprisingly straightforward, with the sun washing everything in fresh hues and no visions to slow their progress. Einarr could not quite have the spirits fitting for the day. Before he met Runa he’d thought he could be perfectly happy with a… Read More 2.31 – Ship-Barrow 2.30 – Feast - For as nervous as Einarr had been about the answer to his father’s question, he felt no trepidation at all on the matter of his own. The Oracle, too, seemed less reluctant before his question than she had before Stigander’s, spending less time than she had for anyone save Arring reviewing her materials. She turned… Read More 2.30 – Feast 2.29 – Unweaving - The sky was still pink when the younger apprentice woke father and son with a hand on their shoulders. As they sat up she placed a bowl of the same nut mash they had been eating in their hands and then, as quietly as she’d arrived, slipped back towards the dias where the three elves… Read More 2.29 – Unweaving 2.28 – Seeking Kin - The root Avrindân gave him to chew tasted like moldy bread, but he did feel more alert by the time he and Arring stood together on the stone dias. The strong man looked at Einarr for a long, awkward moment before accepting the presence of his prince alongside him for this. Einarr shrugged. He couldn’t… Read More 2.28 – Seeking Kin 2.27 – Reading the Weave - The Oracle turned her back on him almost languidly and walked back to the finished tapestry. She raised a hand to touch the lyre that tied itself to a tafl king whenever the instrument appeared. “Tell me, the harp. Is that the pretty young maiden from your vision? The one whose father you wish to… Read More 2.27 – Reading the Weave 2.26 – Jorir’s Pledge - Blue sky greeted Einarr’s eyes when they opened, and grass beneath his hands and neck that was soft rather than scratchy. He furrowed his eyebrows, trying to recall how he had wound up on the ground and failing. Already the details of the mushroom-visions had faded from his mind, leaving him with only the feeling… Read More 2.26 – Jorir’s Pledge 2.25 – The Weaver’s Palace - Although the mountain continued to rise off to the north, its tip hidden in clouds even from where they stood, the path Jorir led them on proceeded around the side of the mountain, rather than continuing up it. If anything its general progress was down. “Not far now,” Jorir called back over his shoulder as… Read More 2.25 – The Weaver’s Palace 2.24 – Arring’s Vald - The platform rose eight feet in the air once the woodcutters had it built, and as sturdy as wood could make it. If Arring judged aright, there would be exactly enough room between the platform and the log for him to put his back into it. While the woodcutters worked at moving the split out… Read More 2.24 – Arring’s Vald 2.23 – Felling the Bunyan Tree - The sound of silver bells rang in Arring’s ears just as he stepped off the ascent and into the broad meadow at the top of the cliff. He rushed to take another step forward, ending up with his chest uncomfortably close to the Captain’s elbow. Then he blinked. When he opened his eyes again, he… Read More 2.23 – Felling the Bunyan Tree 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 2.2 – On the Way to Market -
The rest of that day and into the next morning, there was still no sign of Runa at the Hall, and that left Einarr unaccountably anxious. While he was assured that all was well, none would tell him where she was. When Stigander informed him the three of them - Einarr, Bardr, and himself - were headed for the village boatwright that morning, he nearly refused.
“What good will it do to sit around here?” Bardr elbowed him in the ribs. “Beyond that, we’ve matters to discuss.”… Read More 2.2 – On the Way to Market