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.
4.18 – Grendel - The Vidofnir and the Grendel slipped past one another in the half-light of the underground river, the passengers of each staring at the other in shock. For the moment, the Grendelings did not appear monstrous, although Einarr was certain that would change the moment battle was joined. Stigander reacted first. “Onward, men! Put your backs… Read More 4.18 – Grendel 4.17 – Pursuit - For a moment Einarr stared dumbly after her. It had only been a few months since he’d seen her, and yet he could not tear his eyes away. His reverie was finally broken when Barri, his winter rival, elbowed him in the ribs. Einarr turned to look and the man wagged his eyebrows before gesturing… Read More 4.17 – Pursuit 4.16 – Hammer & Anvil - Trapped. Five of them to fight of dozens of the local guards and protect Runa, when the wall of men ahead of them appeared nearly as solid as stone. If they could just reach the Vidofnir they could escape, but it would take a miracle for them to get that far. A miracle, or… “Runa?”… Read More 4.16 – Hammer & Anvil 4.15 – Breaking Out - To their credit, Einarr’s companions did not caution him about noise. Likely they knew it would be fruitless. Still, his improved vantage did little to aid his search. Reckless abandon seized him, though, and rather than climb back down Einarr hurried from cage-top to cage-top, searching for any sign of flaxen hair while the others… Read More 4.15 – Breaking Out 4.14 – Temple Guards - The hallway that Einarr crept down, following the sound of the voices, was not long. What struck him as strange, though, was how empty it was. The guards who had passed earlier never returned – assuming they were, in fact, guards and not priests or thralls on some errand. They knew they were under assault,… Read More 4.14 – Temple Guards 4.13 – Secret Passage - For a long moment, all five men stared in shock at the figure on the floor. Finally, though, Einarr was able to focus on her face. “That’s not Runa.” Barri and Bollinn blinked, looking harder. Sivid shrugged, as though trying to rid himself of a weight. “…Are ye sure?” Jorir ventured to ask, even his… Read More 4.13 – Secret Passage 4.12 – Dungeon’s Depths - Their vigil over Sivid’s work seemed to last for ages, even though the fact that no other guards arrived suggested he made fast work of the lock. A grinding of stone on stone signalled the opening of the door. “We’re in,” Sivid confirmed. All five men vanished through the doorway, with Einarr in the lead… Read More 4.12 – Dungeon’s Depths 4.11 – Blitz - The area of the yard in front of the dungeon entrance was, if anything, more heavily guarded than the front had been. As Einarr had feared, their hasty disposal of the torch before had given them away and made getting back in much harder. He glared at Sivid, despite knowing why: should Runa be lost,… Read More 4.11 – Blitz 4.10 – Strike Team - “I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news,” Einarr said when the crews were assembled on the deck of the Vidofnir. “The bad news, some of you already know. This is definitely a stronghold for some sort of cult, and it seems like a well-established one.” He and Sivid had managed to slip back… Read More 4.10 – Strike Team 4.9 – Descent - For a moment all was blackness in the stairwell where Einarr and Sivid stood, hearing only the sounds of their breathing to know they still existed. Then their eyes adjusted to the tiny bit of light that snuck past the edges of the door – just enough that Sivid was able to strike a torch… Read More 4.9 – Descent 4.8 – Temple - Sivid hopped down from the crate he had perched himself on, oddly buoyant now that they were past the guards. He jerked his head toward one of the many streets leading away from this little market and turned to go. “You’ve heard something?” Einarr spoke quietly as they left the crowded square. “I have an… Read More 4.8 – Temple 4.7 – Infiltration - Einarr was among the first to slip, cloaked and hooded, off the Vidofnir’s deck and onto the stone pier below. Moments later he was joined by Sivid: Jorir had argued long and hard for the “honor” of accompanying his liege, but the jump to the pier was awkwardly long even for the humans. With stealth… Read More 4.7 – Infiltration 4.6 – The Isle of the Cult - The remains of Langavik were an inferno behind them as the Vidofnir and the Skudbrun sailed out of port. While the sailors had put the town to the torch, the Singers stood on the dock and performed proper rites for the dead. No-one aboard either ship cared to look back at the horror they had… Read More 4.6 – The Isle of the Cult 4.5 – Runes - Not without some trepidation, Einarr and the others led the two Singers back to the warehouse where they had found the hanged butcher. Aema covered her mouth with a cloth as they approached to avoid the worst of the smell. Reki’s shoulders shuddered once under her heavy cloak, but she did not hesitate. The door… Read More 4.5 – Runes 4.4 – Massacre - Bulging eyes stared blankly out of the gray-blue face of the hanged butcher. Black scabbed-over gashes formed runes on the man’s chest. “Trabbi… what didn’t your captain tell us?” Einarr could not tear his eyes from the scene that faced them. A sigh sounded from over his shoulder. “We stopped, or tried to, twice before… Read More 4.4 – Massacre 4.3 – The Search Begins - For two weeks the ships pressed on, following the last path the Skudbrun had for the storm, certain that it would only dissipate when those who rode its winds willed it. Even the last known path of the storm, however, was nearly a week old by the time they put out to sea. Every available hand was… Read More 4.3 – The Search Begins 4.2 – Alliance - When the Vidofnings gathered for supper that evening, they were joined by the greatest part of the Skudbrun’s crew – all of both ships, in fact, save those left to keep watch. In the Wandering Warrior that night, an air of confusion quickly turned to the sort of friendly banter they had all enjoyed the… Read More 4.2 – Alliance 4.1 – An Unexpected Arrival - When the Vidofnir had emerged from the narrow fjord that served as a gateway to the ship-barrow, someone spotted the black storm clouds that had washed over the island on the southeastern horizon. The sail was unfurled and they gave chase, building speed faster than wind alone with the oars. For three weeks they chased… Read More 4.1 – An Unexpected Arrival
Book Four - Somehow I missed posting that Tuesday’s chapter was the end of book 3, so there will be no regular post today. The as-yet-untitled book 4 will begin on Tuesday, Jan. 23. 3.33 – Hidden Maze - The passing of the storm took with it the ever-present gray of the sky of the ships’ graveyard. If there was one advantage they had on the trip out that they had lacked on the way in, it was the lack of fog – at least for the moment. If there was a second, it… Read More 3.33 – Hidden Maze 3.32 – Casting Off - When Einarr opened his eyes the next morning, it was to the whistle of wind across the Vidofnir’s rails, the slate-gray sky above, and the dull ache of overworked muscles not yet ready to be worked again. He sat up, blinking blearily: those around him appeared no more alert than he was. Einarr growled low… Read More 3.32 – Casting Off 3.31 – A Full Hold - In spite of their exhaustion and soaked feet – and trousers – Einarr’s crew was in high spirits as they returned to the Vidofnir late that morning. The sun said it was nearly midday: as they stepped out of the marsh and onto the sandbar Einarr exchanged a look with Reki. They’d been luckier than… Read More 3.31 – A Full Hold 3.30 – Rite of Passing - The only difference Einarr could see in the barrow cave this morning from when they had left was the lack of shades hovering ominously between himself and the Allthane’s would-be barrow. “Where do you want us?” Reki strode deeper into the cave without looking back? “You? With me. The rest of you should guard the… Read More 3.30 – Rite of Passing 3.29 – Battle’s End - Surrounded by the ravening dead once more, Einarr and his companions moved shoulder to shoulder to shoulder. Not one of them would leave their backs exposed this way… and now that the Allthane’s chanting had ceased the men of the Vidofnir would be able to end this fight. Einarr frowned as they circled, fighting off… Read More 3.29 – Battle’s End 3.28 – Duelling the Shade - Einarr prowled around the clearing formed by the Allthane’s shades, his focus narrowing in on his opponent. With Troa and Jorir at his back, he had nothing to fear from the ring of enemies and so he waited, watching for his chance. The Allthane’s sword may have grown rusty, but Einarr thought the man’s spirit… Read More 3.28 – Duelling the Shade 3.27 – Breaking Through - The torrent of undeath would have no end if someone did not take out the Allthane. Einarr knew the responsibility was his, both as his father’s son and as the one who had noticed the source of their trouble. He lunged forward and ran through one of the shades that pressed him. He cut at… Read More 3.27 – Breaking Through 3.26 – A Little Illumination - Reki heard their story with a small, sad smile. When it was over she shook her head. “I may know a way… but you must ask yourself if it is worth the lives of any more of the crew, or how many Vidofnings we can afford to spend here. We are already short-handed.” In the… Read More 3.26 – A Little Illumination 3.25 – Blood Binding - The Allthane nodded solemnly. “We had been adrift at sea for weeks when the storm washed us up here. What little food we had left was washed away, and I was not the only one killed as we battled the storm. When they found themselves on such a pitiful bit of land as this, the… Read More 3.25 – Blood Binding 3.24 – Unification - “Once upon a time, I too was a young man,” the Allthane began. “Strong of thigh and quick of wit, I was a thorn in the side of our chieftain. Though all knew it, none dared admit that the Chieftan I was bound to serve, as my father before me, had grown weak and stingy… Read More 3.24 – Unification 3.23 – Telling of Tales - “Very good, my Lord. In that case, let me begin with how I won the Isinntog from the Jotün Fraener of Svartlauf.” “The who of where?” “Ah, but surely my Lord should know that story! It was ancient when my grandfather was still a babe. Once, long ago, the elves of Skaergard created a torc… Read More 3.23 – Telling of Tales 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