10.46 – Unweaving

Einarr set about drawing the rune circle he and Hrug had devised while the Usurper’s former thralls made trip after trip from Urdr’s workroom, each time returning loaded down with tapestries which were then piled haphazardly in the center of the circle. “Draw” was perhaps a misnomer, though: the area he chose for this was in the center of a small grassy field. No chalk or charcoal would do: he cut the lines into the soft soil with the end of the Örlögnir. The distaff felt warm to Einarr’s touch as he worked: he hoped that meant that the Lady Frigg understood.

At some point during all this, Arring arrived with some proper iron shackles for the old woman, and even distracted Einarr did not miss that he brought both arm and leg irons. Well. Based on his answer from the Oracle, perhaps Arring had more reason than some to despise the witch. Even as he locked the shackles around her frail-seeming limbs, though, she watched.

As they began piling her life’s work in the middle of Einarr’s circle, she cackled. “Those tapestries are woven of the blood and bone of the clan. What do you expect your half-learned runes will do, Cursebreaker? You are no immortal.”

Einarr raised an eyebrow, but continued to draw. “So I am not.”

“And yet you will try your mortal will against the lifeblood of the clan?”

“If it were only my will, or even my will and Hrug’s, perhaps we would fail – although I suspect the ‘lifeblood of the clan’ rather objects to being used in such a way. Tell me, witch. Do you know what this is?” He lifted the Örlögnir from the line it carved and showed it to the growing crowd.

“A rather pretty distaff.” Somehow Urdr managed to sneer down at it even locked in irons as she now was. “Probably never been used for actual spinning.”

“That I couldn’t say. You see, this distaff belongs to the Lady Frigg herself. Do you happen to know the properties of hazel and ivory?”

She scowled, but did not answer, and Einarr went back to his work.

“I didn’t, this time last year. This, lady Urdr, is the Örlögnir. According to the Matrons, it purifies.”

Urdr contined to scowl and turned her head away, her chin thrust forward stubbornly. Einarr went back to ignoring her.

At last, all the warriors and a good number of the townsfolk had gathered around the working, as much out of curiosity as anything. A number of them, Einarr suspected, did not quite understand what it was he was ending. They were there because the rule of the Usurper and the Weavess had been intolerable, and so they had thrown their lot in with the so-called rebels.

He hoped this would not cause them too much distress. Kaldr had spoken of a bad headache when he first broke free, during the assault: Einarr suspected that might not be the worst, for some.

Finally, though, it was ready. Einarr straightened from his rune circle and walked once around its perimeter, taking in the faces of those who had come to watch. Some faces stood out, of course, primarily those of the Vidofnings and their allies in the assault. Jarl Hroaldr stood by Stigander’s side, tall and nearly as proud as his old friend, and much improved since his rescue from the witch. Kaldr stood with the Mates – including his own. A few others. Everyone met his gaze steadily, somber and expectant.

Satisfied, Einarr stopped on the south side of the circle, facing north. There was nothing to be said. Not yet. Very deliberately, he placed his feet on the edge of the circle, his stance a little broader than usual. The polished wood and ivory of the distaff gleamed in his hands in the light of the sun.

Einarr gripped the Örlögnir in both hands and raised it overhead. I hope this works… With a sudden violent thrust, he brought the base of the distaff back down to the ground, resting its end in the line of the rune circle he stood on. At the same time, he willed the runes to life.

Golden light spread around the circle like the light of a sunrise. Even in the full light of day, Einarr was sure that anyone near enough to see the ground could see the magic at work. Then the outer circle was completed, and the light rushed inwards. As it touched the edges of the tapestries piled in the center, they began to shimmer and smoke.

Urdr shrieked as the shimmer crawled along the surface of her work. Einarr would not be surprised if she fought to rush forward, but it was Arring who held her chains. She would not be able to throw herself on this conflagration. His attention was held by the light, and his will was currently captive to the Örlögnir.

As the light-fire grew over the pile of tapestries, Einarr was fascinated by what he saw. The cloth did not burn, not precisely. It was the dyes that smoked. His gaze was drawn ever inward, until it became plain that the individual threads of the cloth were pulling themselves apart, dancing in the light-fire like a million tiny worms.

Einarr blinked, actually grateful at this moment for Urdr’s panicked shrieking, and pulled his attention outward. Already he could feel a headache forming. There was no sense allowing himself to be swept away on the magic. He glanced over his shoulder.

A number of the townsfolk, and all of Ulfr’s former men, held their heads as though the dissonance were coming through. Urdr dropped to her knees, panting, as Arring stood firm, the chains that bound her hands and feet grasped firmly in his hand. In this moment, Einarr could almost pity her. Almost, but not quite.

He turned around the Örlögnir to face the onlookers. Behind him, the light-fire consumed the curse that had beset these islands for almost twenty years.

“The Norns always correct their weave.”


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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

If you like what you read, it would really mean a lot to me if you clicked through to Top Web Fiction and voted for Einarr there. It’s a visibility boost in the ever-growing genre of web fiction, and that helps me out a lot. There’s no sign-up, and votes refresh every 7 days.

If you’re all caught up and looking for something a little longer to read, I also have other works available on Amazon.Or, if you happen to not like Amazon you can also get the Einarr ebook through Draft2Digital, B&N, Apple, Kobo… you get the idea. Direct links are available here.

Lastly, if you really like what I’m doing, I also have a Patreon account running with some fun bonuses available.

10.45 – Return

Einarr, Troa, and Jorir traded off at the oars for the rest of that afternoon. The sun was setting as they reached the lake Troa had spoken of.

“If we’re going to be out overnight, we should fish.” Urdr mentioned. “You’ll need your strength in the morning, after all.”

“I don’t think you have any room to be making suggestions, witch,” Runa spat.

Troa shook his head. “It’s not a bad idea. There’s good fish in this lake, and with the assault I don’t think any of us have eaten since yesterday.”

“You intend to eat raw lake fish?” Jorir asked, querulous.

“I suppose we would have to land to cook it properly.” Troa mused.

“Is that a problem? There’s no honor in starving an old woman.” Einarr peered at the lake shore. It looked like the forest came right up to the water’s edge most of the way around, but there was a rather large rock they could use in the south.

Urdr smirked. Runa clapped her hand to her forehead. “Are you all idiots? No! We’re not landing.”

Einarr gave Runa an arch look, annoyed in spite of himself. “Excuse me?”

“She’s a Weavess! They read the future! Furthermore, she’s as black-hearted as they come. She dyed her threads in human blood, for crying out loud! You’re all smarter than this. If a Weaver wants you to do something, think about why!”

“The lass is right,” Jorir rumbled. “We shouldn’t land unless we want to try to catch this one again. And I’m somewhat less certain of my chances on a second try.”

Einarr blinked, bringing his attention back to the present moment. “You’re right, of course. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Urdr slumped again and turned her face down. “Tcheh.”

Runa crossed her arms and stared at the old woman seated on the deck. “See?”

They stayed on the lake overnight, sleeping in shifts so that one person was always guarding their prisoner and one was keeping them from drifting toward shore. Urdr slept fitfully through all this, but with Runa’s reminder to beware of plots, none of them relaxed their guard enough she could try to swim for it. When the sun rose, she lay huddled in the middle of the deck. She had tried, unsuccessfully, to procure one of her tapestries as a blanket, but not one of them was willing to trust her with that.

In the morning the river carried them swiftly downstream, and Einarr realized where they were significantly before mid-morning.

So did Runa. “This is the river we escaped to with my father!”

“So it is.” Einarr eyed Urdr and the pile of tapestries, then shook his head. “Probably we could get her up to Father through that tunnel, but I think taking her into such a warren as the dungeon would be hazardous. She will walk through town as a prisoner.”

She did not blanch at the statement. Perhaps the men of the city did not know who she was, but that would be easily remedied.


Urdr held her head high as they marched through town, announcing as they went that this woman was the Usurper’s mother and was being brought before the Thing to stand for her crimes. The people of the city stared, openly hostile, but neither jeered nor attacked the prisoner. For the best.

At the bottom of the cliff road, they hired a cart to carry their prisoner up to the Hold. Troa held her upright as the donkey cart trundled around the switchbacks while Runa and Jorir carried her workings. Finally, perhaps an hour before the sun reached its zenith, the five stood before the open gates of Raenshold.

“Einarr son of Stigander and his companions Jorir, the svartdverger, Troa son of Lonir and Runa daughter of Hroaldr return with the prisoner Urdr,” Einarr announced from his place at the head of the cart.

Arring stepped forward out of the gate and gave them all a warm smile. “Welcome back. Your father awaits you in the courtyard before the Hall.”

“Thank you. Are the chiefs here?”

Arring shook his head. “Messengers have been dispatched, but I very much doubt we’ll see anyone before that thing is destroyed.”

“I understand.” That would be why his Father waited for him outside, he expected. “We will need to guard this one carefully until the Thing is assembled,” he said.

Arring nodded and stepped out of the way. “I will see to it.”

Einarr continued forward with the cart and their prisoner. Arring would need time to arrange for the special guard – and Einarr, if he was honest, wanted her to see her wicked weavings destroyed.

The difficulty was not in finding his father in the courtyard, but rather in getting to where he was. The courtyard was a press of people, between sailors taking their ease to warriors carrying messages every which way, to men of the town anxiously looking for reassurances. At the very center of this maelstrom stood Stigander, Kaldr, Bardr, and a man Einarr did not recognize.

After a good deal of jostling and very little progress, Einarr stopped the donkey and spoke over the hum of the crowd: “Einarr son of Stigander son of Raen has returned with the Weavess in custody.”

Stigander and Kaldr looked up as everyone else fell silent together. A path opened, only barely wide enough for the cart to pass.

“Einarr. Welcome back.” Stigander clapped him on the shoulder. “I was beginning to worry.”

“Father. Sorry that took so long. Kaldr.” He nodded to his former enemy. “I see things are progressing smoothly here.”

“As smoothly as they can. You have the tapestries?”

“Everything she fled with, as near as I can tell.”

“So we can finally be rid of the thing?”

Einarr took a deep breath. “I think so.”


Vote for Vikings on Top Web Fiction!

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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

If you like what you read, it would really mean a lot to me if you clicked through to Top Web Fiction and voted for Einarr there. It’s a visibility boost in the ever-growing genre of web fiction, and that helps me out a lot. There’s no sign-up, and votes refresh every 7 days.

If you’re all caught up and looking for something a little longer to read, I also have other works available on Amazon.Or, if you happen to not like Amazon you can also get the Einarr ebook through Draft2Digital, B&N, Apple, Kobo… you get the idea. Direct links are available here.

Lastly, if you really like what I’m doing, I also have a Patreon account running with some fun bonuses available.

New(ish) Release(s)!

Okay. So first off, I am apparently a bad publisher who never wrote a post informing everyone that Einarr and the Demon Fleet was available for sale. That only happened in April… Here’s your link for Amazon, and here’s your link for everyone else.

The cover image for Book 4 of the Adventures of Einarr Stigandersen: Einarr and the Demon Fleet

And since Demon Fleet has been out since April, I am very pleased to announce that Einarr and the Tower of Ravens is now available as a preorder on Amazon and elsewhere! William is doing a great job on these covers, and this is one of my favorites. He’s got more of his art up on Eyster Artistry for anyone who wants to go take a look.

The cover for book 5 of the Adventures of Einarr Stigandersen: Einarr and the Tower of Ravens

10.44 – Capture

Einarr burst out of the passageway and into the bright afternoon light on a portion of the island he did not recognize. He blinked, his eyes adjusting to the light, and saw that they were in a forest. Just ahead, he saw a small river not unlike the one he had rescued Runa from before. A fishing boat bobbed in the river. He did not immediately see the old woman.

“There!” Runa pointed urgently. Light caught on a long, silver braid as the woman it belonged to hobbled through the underbrush. She had nearly reached the water.

His quarry spotted, Einarr hurtled off through the brush, leaping bushes, ducking branches, and praying she hadn’t left any pits or loosed any caged wolves.

Gratifyingly, Troa was right there with him. Jorir and Runa were obliged to take things more slowly, but if the two of them couldn’t capture one old woman, no matter how crafty, they may as well hang up their swords and take up farming.

Einarr vaulted another bush and looked up. The old crone – and a crone she was, stooped and withered and looking like she hadn’t seen the sun in a decade – had reached the boat, but the tapestries she carried were hampering her. He tried to find some more speed, but the underbrush was too thick. He growled, but he could think of nothing they could do to slow her.

Oh Frigg, let us catch her. He was unaccustomed to calling on Frigg, but under the circumstances it seemed most appropriate.

They were getting close. He could see Urdr’s whole stooped figure as it stood unsteadily in the boat, pulling her tapestries after her. But she saw them, too. She looked straight at him and cackled: he could not tell if it was glee, like she was almost away, or madness.

It didn’t matter. His foot touched the river bank and he gave one final leap, landing in the small fishing boat with the woman who had caused them so much grief. “It’s over. Give up now and save us both some trouble.”

“That was a mistake, Cursebreaker.” She launched herself forward at Einarr with surprising force for a woman of her age, but she struck with all the force of a barn cat.

Einarr grabbed her by the arm without recoiling even a step. “What did you expect that to —” then he cried in surprise as her knife plunged into the extended wrist.

“That. Now drown!” She scrambled back to the far side of the boat and bent over.

Einarr took one stride forward and stopped when he realized he was walking not on deck boards but on a rug. Or, more likely, one of her tapestries. One of her tapestries that she had grabbed the edge of. She gave a mighty yank. Einarr felt the tapestry pull around his boot, but not enough to trouble him.

On shore, Troa had taken hold of the mooring line and was wrapping it around his arm. Runa and Jorir were nearly there. Good.

Einarr closed the distance to the old witch and took hold of her wrist. She stared at him, panic plain in her eyes. Even as she started to bring her knife back up, though, he spun her around and left her lying on the deck, her arm pinned against her back.

To her very slim credit, she did not scream and thrash about. “What do you intend to do with me?”

“That is for the Thing to decide.”

She went very still then. Whatever the Thing decided, it would not be pleasant. Einarr saw her look towards her knife, in the hand he had not pinned.

“I don’t think so.” He pivoted on one foot as he stood, still holding the first arm, to pin the second under a foot. “You have turned the Norns and Frigg herself against you. Their justice will be no more merciful than ours. Jorir. Tell me you have some shackles or some rope or something.”

“Nay, lord. But your man Troa has that mooring line well in hand.”

Einarr grunted. That was far from ideal, but it would have to do. “Fine. Get aboard, then. We’ll need to take the boat back around to Breidelstein city.”

Jorir cut a length from the end of the mooring line to bind the witch’s hands with before climbing aboard. While he bound Urdr’s hands behind her back, Runa climbed aboard. Troa seemed to be staring about at their surroundings.

Einarr looked at the scout. “Tell me you know how to get back.”

Troa smirked. “That is exactly what I was just considering, my lord. I believe if we row up stream we should come upon a lake with another outlet near the city and the hold.”

Once Urdr’s hands were securely bound and Runa had rolled up the tapestry she had spread on the deck, Einarr moved her to sit in the center of the boat. “Runa, I leave her in your care until we reach the city.”

Urdr sat up straighter, a glimmer of hope in her eyes until she turned to look at Runa, but wilted under the other woman’s cold regard. Even Einarr quailed a little at that expression: his bride was a formidable woman.

With a nod, he turned to the others. “As for us, we have some rowing to do. You’re sure of this lake, Troa?”

“Reasonably. It’s been some time since I hunted this island, but if this is where I think it is we’re in good shape.”

“In that case, let’s go. We’re wasting daylight.”

As Einarr and Troa began rowing up river, with Jorir taking up position to help guard the prisoner, Urdr pushed herself up to a seated position. “Tell me one thing. I don’t know how you managed to best the rest of my traps, but you lost at least one ally, and neither the Cursebreaker nor the Thief shows signs of having fought. How did you leave the Glutton behind?”

“There were only ever four of us.”

Urdr fell silent, evidently unsettled.


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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

If you like what you read, it would really mean a lot to me if you clicked through to Top Web Fiction and voted for Einarr there. It’s a visibility boost in the ever-growing genre of web fiction, and that helps me out a lot. There’s no sign-up, and votes refresh every 7 days.

If you’re all caught up and looking for something a little longer to read, I also have other works available on Amazon.Or, if you happen to not like Amazon you can also get the Einarr ebook through Draft2Digital, B&N, Apple, Kobo… you get the idea. Direct links are available here.

Lastly, if you really like what I’m doing, I also have a Patreon account running with some fun bonuses available.

10.43 – Flood

Jorir led the way into the underwater passage, wary as though he were expecting an attack from any side. The Weavess wouldn’t have sent them underwater if she didn’t have something terrible planned. In spite of himself he jumped when the shutter sprang closed behind Runa. She squeaked. Shaking their heads, they continued forward. Her lamp was flickering badly now: he hoped it lasted long enough for them to get out of this nonsense.

The hallway appeared to come to a dead end perhaps sixty feet further on. The passage had not split, however, so hopefully there was some way through he just couldn’t see. A lever up near the ceiling looked promising. “Ye see that?”

“I do. Can it really be that easy?”

Metal clanged, the sound of more shutters opening overhead, and water began to gush into the hallway.

“That answer your question?” His boots would very shortly be full of water.

“Less talking. More running.”

They splashed through the rapidly rising seawater. They would make it there in time: the only question was, what was the trick to the lever?

“At least it’s easy to float in seawater. You shouldn’t have to stand on my shoulders this time.”

Jorir grunted. “I don’t float so well, Lady. Even if I did, seawater’s like to foul the mechanism. I expect you’ll be able to handle that one, though.”


Troa and Einarr hurried down the hall, the water already deeper than their boots and threatening to freeze their knees. When they reached the lever, they only studied it a moment before Troa spoke. “Get on my shoulders.”

“This is not exactly my skillset…”

“If it’s more complicated than thumbing a catch and pulling the lever, I will trade you places. Your shoulders have taken enough abuse.”

Einarr shrugged. There wasn’t exactly a lot of time to argue. “All right.”

Troa winced as he went down on one knee in the cold water. Einarr wasted no time in vaulting on the scout’s shoulders, and then he faced the lever.

“You were right, Troa. Here goes nothing.”

Einarr pulled. There was a click followed by the grinding of stone on stone.

They waited, the water continuing to rise up Troa’s legs. Nothing else seemed to happen.

Panic rising in his gut, Einarr looked back at the lever. Now that it was down, he could see there was writing inscribed on the wall.

“There is no salvation here – for you,” he read, splashing down into the water off of the scout’s shoulders. “Something happened, though.”

“Too bad we have no way of knowing what…”

Einarr stood, staring at the dead end of the hall, wondering if this was how he was going to meet his end.


Jorir braced himself against the wall as Runa – slender, delicate, and surprisingly clumsy – stood on his shoulders. The water was as deep as his chest and climbing alarmingly. “Tell me it’s just a lever.”

“It looks like there’s some writing on the wall, but I won’t be able to read it until I pull the lever.”

“Well? What are you waiting for?”

The sound of grinding stone reached their ears and the water stopped climbing even as Runa pulled the lever.


Einarr was beginning to grow numb below the waist as the water approached that level, and he thought it was probably for the best. The rise of the water had been the only way they could measure time, and a grim measure it was.

“Troa. I know things have been difficult lately, but —”

“Shh. Hear that?”

Einarr snapped his mouth shut and listened. The sound of grinding stone reached his ears even over the noise of the rushing water. He turned a surprised look at the scout as a new current picked up in the water: one moving forward. “They did it!”

Before long, a door stood open before them and the water had drained so it only covered their boots. Einarr had only thought he was numb before, but still it was better than being up to his waist in seawater. Here and there, he saw a fish swimming along the passage with them.

Through the door they went, the water dissipating even further as the passage ahead grew wider.

Not many paces ahead, they came to a Y. A sound of wet footsteps was hurrying up from their right. Einarr turned to look, and did not even try to suppress a grin to see Runa and Jorir coming up behind them looking nearly as soaked as he was. As much as he wanted to throw his arms around Runa, certain that her path must have been just as treacherous as his own – but there was no time.

“Everyone’s alright, then?” A quick series of nods confirmed it. “In that case, we’ve already lost too much time.”

“The exit’s sure to be near at hand, if we’re out of her sadistic little maze.” Troa’s eyes were already fixed on their goal.

Runa hiked up her skirts and looked at Einarr like he was holding them up.

“Let’s go, then!”

Reunited at last, the four started to run down the third leg of the Y, the floor growing dryer as their legs grew warmer from the exertion. Where the trail before had gone steadily downward, now they moved somewhat uphill. Not surprising, given that before they had been under water, but Einarr wondered if she didn’t also hope it would slow her tired pursuers just a little longer. As expected, they could see a bright splash of daylight ahead. Einarr pushed himself faster, and the others kept pace.


Vote for Vikings on Top Web Fiction!

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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

If you like what you read, it would really mean a lot to me if you clicked through to Top Web Fiction and voted for Einarr there. It’s a visibility boost in the ever-growing genre of web fiction, and that helps me out a lot. There’s no sign-up, and votes refresh every 7 days.

If you’re all caught up and looking for something a little longer to read, I also have other works available on Amazon.Or, if you happen to not like Amazon you can also get the Einarr ebook through Draft2Digital, B&N, Apple, Kobo… you get the idea. Direct links are available here.

Lastly, if you really like what I’m doing, I also have a Patreon account running with some fun bonuses available.

10.42 – Traps

Troa stopped suddenly enough that Einarr nearly ran into his outstretched arm. Better that, though, than to fall into the crevasse that had brought him up short.

“Did we choose the wrong path?” Einarr wondered.

Troa shook his head. “Not likely. I think she had her own path past all this. Probably some sort of bridge, here.”

“Think you can jump it?”

“No chance. And I’d be very surprised if you could.”

Einarr had to agree. “Okay. So she destroyed her bridge once she was past. Now we just need to find a path. There’s nothing up here, though.”

Troa ran his hands along the walls on both sides of the tunnel before he agreed to that. “I think I see something, but you’re not going to like it.”

Einarr followed Troa’s gaze down into the crevasse and groaned. There, about eight feet down, a trio of levers stuck out of the rock. “You’re right. I’m not. And it looks like it’s just out of reach, too… What’s that?”

“What’s what?” Troa turned around to look where Einarr pointed.

“I think it’s another one of Urdr’s… hints.” Einarr bent down to pull the roll of bark out from the tiny crack it was wedged in on the edge of the crevasse. “So you’ve sacrificed a friend just to catch one old woman, have you?” He read. “Best choose carefully: the wrong lever will kill your support. Or don’t: I don’t mind if you die here. …Bah.”

Troa glanced down into the crevasse again. “So if we pull the wrong lever, we’re both dead.”

“Seems like it. And you’re both lighter and better with traps than I am.”

The scout swallowed. “I won’t let you down, milord.”

“If you fail, we’re both dead, the witch lives, and the weaving remains. Be absolutely sure of your choice.”

“I understand.” Troa looked uncomfortable, but he dropped his sword and shield and got down on his belly. He started inching over the ledge.

“So long as you do.”

As Troa lowered his chest over the ledge, Einarr got down on the ground as well to grab hold of his ankles. It was for the best that Troa was not much bigger than Sivid: Einarr could only just get the grip he needed. Worse, Einarr’s shoulders and fingers very quickly let him know exactly what they thought of this position. “What does it look like?”

When Troa answered, his voice carried much less strain than Einarr felt. “I see them. There are three levers, all completely unmarked. This is going to take me a minute.”

Please make it a short minute. “I understand.”


“No, wait, not that one!” Runa cried as Jorir started to move one of the plates on the puzzle lock. Quickly the dwarf shoved it back into place.

“Ye said the fourth from the bottom right, did ye not?”

“I did. I must have miscounted. It’s the one right above that.”

“I thought we already did that one?”

“That was a temporary place while we moved others out of the way. It should slot into that hole you just made and finish this up.”

“You’re sure?”

She opened her mouth to say of course, but then thought better of it. She took a few moments to confirm her arrangement. “I’m sure.”

“Fine.” Jorir stretched up to reach the last of the pieces and shove it into place. Then he stepped back and crossed his arms, waiting.

With a slow grinding noise the door slid open. Beyond it was a long, straight hallway. Water trickled down the walls and pooled shallowly on the floor. Runa smelled brine.

Jorir grunted. “We must have been going down all this time. That’s taking us below sea level.”

Runa hummed in agreement. “No place else to go but forward, though.”

“None. And that is why I’m sure it’s another trap.”


Einarr’s shoulders were on fire. His fingers were cramping, and he was sure Troa’s feet must be as numb as his face was red. A steady scraping sound came from below where Troa worked by the light of his rune. “Almost ready?”

“I found the mechanism the levers control. It’s almost the same as the one on the doors. Just hold on: I’ve nearly bypassed her little booby trap.”

“Hah! Glad to hear it. Will that open the path?”

“It should.” The scraping sound continued. Moments later, Einarr heard a snap, but it was not followed by cursing. Instead, a rope ladder dropped from the ceiling down into the crevasse – which was not actually bottomless, as revealed by Troa’s light rune. If the trap had sprung, Troa could have survived the fall.

Troa stowed his knife and the thin steel picks he had been using and grabbed hold of the ladder. “You can let go now.”

Einarr nodded. It took him a minute to convince his cramped fingers to relax, but once they did Troa performed a rather impressive flip to right himself and descend the ladder. Einarr tossed Troa’s shield on his back and slid the man’s sword through his baldric. It was awkward, but far preferable to the other options.

At the bottom of the crevasse, they saw before them a very regular rectangular doorway. Einarr smelled brine, and the rock up ahead was distinctly damp. “She has us going underwater. I don’t like it.”

“No. But forward is the only way.”

With a nod of agreement, they stepped into the hallway – as straight and regular as the door behind them. Almost immediately a shutter slammed closed, blocking their retreat. Einarr felt cool air on his foot and looked down: the shutter had clipped his boot. With a grimace, he continued on.

About halfway down the hallway, he could see that it ended in a wall, with yet another lever up near the ceiling. That was also the moment he heard the sound of many shutters opening, followed by the sound of rushing water. The hallway began to fill with seawater.


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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

If you like what you read, it would really mean a lot to me if you clicked through to Top Web Fiction and voted for Einarr there. It’s a visibility boost in the ever-growing genre of web fiction, and that helps me out a lot. There’s no sign-up, and votes refresh every 7 days.

If you’re all caught up and looking for something a little longer to read, I also have other works available on Amazon.Or, if you happen to not like Amazon you can also get the Einarr ebook through Draft2Digital, B&N, Apple, Kobo… you get the idea. Direct links are available here.

Lastly, if you really like what I’m doing, I also have a Patreon account running with some fun bonuses available.

10.41 – Logic Puzzle

Troa bristled, as Einarr knew he would. “Now look here —”

“The longer this takes, the farther ahead she gets. You’re a scout, I’m not. So prove you’re as good a scout as Sivid is a thief and open a door.”

Troa clamped his jaw shut, grinding his teeth, and thrust the charcoal at Einarr.

The rune was already starting to give Einarr a headache: he set about marking the doors as quickly as he could. Then he finally allowed himself to shift his focus away from all the details he would ordinarily pass over. One more thing to do. “Hand me your knife.”

“What in blazes do you want that for?”

“You want light or not?” He’d gotten a little better at controlling how bright the sun rune was since last fall.

“Ah.” Rather than draw his knife, Troa thrust out his off-hand. “Draw it there, instead. Easier to see by.”

With a shrug, Einarr traced the ᛊ on the sleeve of his tunic. He knew it was possible to inscribe runes on a body, but that was not a line of questioning Elder Melja had encouraged.

When the sleeve began to shine Troa lowered his arm and stood looking down the hall for a long moment. “There are three doors,” he said finally. “Two on the inside, one on the outside. Construction would be easier on the outside wall…”

“But that seems too obvious. I agree.”

“So then, which of the two inside doors do we want to try?”

Einarr frowned. They hadn’t been able to find the path back to the prison room, so there was no way of knowing which was nearer to it. Still… “The Weavess is old. Probably she would want to shorten her path as much as she could. But which one is that?”

Troa shook his head. “You’re making this too complicated, and I may be an idiot. Whichever door she used should show signs of disturbance. Take the outer door. I’ll start here. Footprints are unlikely, but there might be bits of thread or scrapes on the floor or the wall around the edges of the door.”

The search took longer than either of them was happy with, and Troa’s efforts to open the door longer still, but finally they managed to pry open what they judged to be the most likely of the three doors. In the end, they stood before the yawning gulf of another passage, and once again Einarr’s neck prickled. Only this time, it didn’t feel like magic.

“If its all the same to you, Troa, I think I’m going to leave that light on your arm.”

Troa looked nearly as spooked as Einarr felt as he nodded. Silently they stepped into the new passage, searching as they moved for the cause of their nervousness.

Eventually, Troa came to a sudden halt, holding out an arm to forestall Einarr. His eyes were glued to the floor at his feet. Or, rather, the lack of floor.


After being thrown bodily across a pit filled with spikes dripping poison, Runa walked for quite a ways before she and Jorir ran into Urdr’s next trap. (She really was going to have to think up a suitable vengeance for that. Some other time, though.)

Before them, the passage was barred by an elaborate puzzle lock. That’s plainly what it was, and yet when Runa had tried to manipulate the clues, they refused to budge. It wasn’t that they were stuck – no. They were large and solid pewter, possibly with stone cores. In its center, a roll of birch bark stuck out from between two of the plates. Runa puffed air up as if to blow away hair from her forehead as she unrolled the note.

Part of her had hoped for a clue, but no. The old hag just wanted to gloat. Runa shook her head and tossed the bark away. There were runes on the plates, that much was clear… but the puzzle didn’t seem to fit together. “And me stuck with the one blacksmith on the sea who can’t read the runes.”

“Not by choice, Lady. Can you think of any smith who would shut himself off from the Art of his craft like that?”

She shook her head. She hadn’t actually meant to say that aloud. “My apologies, sir dwarf. I am merely irritated, and we cannot collaborate.”

Jorir frowned, looking at the puzzle pieces he could not read. To him, they must look like nothing more than smooth pewter disks. “Weavers most often work in images, though,” he mused. “What if the runes are merely there to obscure the plain image?”

Runa smacked a fist into her palm. “Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?”

“You’re a Singer. How many times have you actually consulted a Weaver?”

She hummed, her mind already manipulating the runes into possible combinations of less symbolic images. Eventually, she nodded to herself. “Alright, Jorir. I think I have a solution. It’s a little fuzzy towards the end, though, and I can’t move the pieces myself.”

He grunted. “Fine. But tell me, what happens if your ‘fuzzy at the end’ is wrong?”

With a sigh, she shrugged. She’d be lying if she said she wasn’t worried. The Weavess only needed to slow them down, but Runa would be shocked if the old witch didn’t want them all dead anyway. “Probably nothing good. Do we have any way of finding out without trying it, though?”

Jorir studied the lock another long moment before shaking his head. “All right. Fine. Let’s get this over with. Hopefully my shade won’t have to explain to Einarr why you were buried under a rockslide.”

Runa rolled her eyes. She didn’t think he saw. “So cheerful. Come on, we’re wasting time. I do not intend to let that woman get away. Start near the bottom, second from the right corner. You’ll feel diamond-shaped ridges in the middle.”

She could hear Jorir grumbling even as he reached for the indicated plate. Now she just had to hope the image in her head matched the one that had been in Urdr’s.


Vote for Vikings on Top Web Fiction!

Table of Contents


Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

If you like what you read, it would really mean a lot to me if you clicked through to Top Web Fiction and voted for Einarr there. It’s a visibility boost in the ever-growing genre of web fiction, and that helps me out a lot. There’s no sign-up, and votes refresh every 7 days.

If you’re all caught up and looking for something a little longer to read, I also have other works available on Amazon.Or, if you happen to not like Amazon you can also get the Einarr ebook through Draft2Digital, B&N, Apple, Kobo… you get the idea. Direct links are available here.

Lastly, if you really like what I’m doing, I also have a Patreon account running with some fun bonuses available.

10.40 – Doors

Runa’s scream cut off as the ledge on the opposite side slammed into her stomach. Her chest and her arms folded over the top, and she had pulled herself up to be firmly on solid ground before Jorir had crossed the distance.

“Roll!” He shouted.

“Huh?” She rolled from her front to her back even as she spoke.

Jorir’s boots thudded loudly into the ground a moment later, exactly where she had been laying. “Nice reactions.”

She took a deep breath and let out a cough. “Somehow, I don’t think Einarr would approve of that method.”

“Perhaps not,” he agreed.

“You will regret that, you realize.” She was still catching her breath. He couldn’t allow her too much more time for that, though.

“Perhaps. But it was the fastest, most assured way of getting us both across – as long as you didn’t see it coming.”

She harrumphed – an amusing sound on any woman, but most especially on one so young – and rose, dusting herself off. “You haven’t heard the end of this. Let’s move on.”


Einarr and Troa had made it past the knives that stuck out randomly from walls and floor and were probably poisoned – they thought. Then the passageway opened out into a small room. In the center of the room was an uncomfortable-looking stone chair with manacles built into the arms. Einarr raised an eyebrow at Troa, who shrugged. They started across, and when they had nearly reached the seat the door behind them slammed shut.

Startled, Einarr turned to look behind. Where there had been a door, now there was another of those blasted steel shutters. He shook his head: they weren’t coming back this way, anyway. There did not appear to be anything else in the room, and then writing on the back of the seat caught his attention.

“Cursebreaker, Glutton, and Thief,” Einarr read. “Fate decrees that only two may continue. The one who remains will find that they envy Loki’s fate.”

A strange clicking sound echoed through the room, like clockwork, followed by a faint scraping of stone on stone. Einarr looked up, and then had to duck back quickly to avoid the drop of liquid that fell from the new opening in the ceiling. Whatever it was, the smell was putrid. Likely it was related to the smell on those knives that popped up seemingly at random in the hall.

“There are weapons on the wall.” Troa mused. “As though she expected a bloody fight in this room.”

“There are limits to her Sight after all, I think,” Einarr answered. “There’s nothing we need to do in here.”

Troa hummed and followed Einarr toward the door. “You’re plainly the Cursebreaker. We all know that by now. I can own that I’m probably the Thief. But who in the name of all the gods would the Glutton be?”

Einarr just shrugged as he hurried on.

A few moments later, Troa spoke again. “Even if there had been three of us, I don’t think that fight would have gone like she expected.”

Einarr chortled. “Likely not, no. We may have come to blows over who was to stay behind, but because we all had good reasons it should be ourselves.”

Troa gave an answering chuckle and then the two fell silent again.

Some time later, Einarr broke the silence. “Is it just me, or has this been too easy?”

“How so?”

“The Weavess has had well nigh twenty years to plan her escape. So why haven’t we run into anything more deadly than dripping poison?”

Troa stopped ahead of Einarr and turned to face him. “You think we’re missing something.”

“I do.”

Troa pursed his lips, thinking, and all the while he examined the space around them. “…I think there’s a curve in this wall.”

“It’s felt too long to you, too, then?”

“Far. I think she has us going around in circles.”

“But if there was an open passageway, we’d have seen it. Just a moment.” Einarr opened his belt pouch and dug around inside. Before too long, his fingers closed on exactly what he was after: the runestone he had carved last fall, engraved with ᚨ. Along with Wisdom came Sight, after all, and he desperately needed to see right now. He closed his eyes and willed the runestone to life.

When he opened his eyes again, it was as though the tunnel was lit with the full light of the sun. The fading glow from Sinmora almost hurt his eyes, but if Troa was going to be of any use at all he needed to be able to see, too. Even with the apparent increase of light, though, he could see details on the walls he never would have without the rune. He blinked several times, trying to get used to the sensation. “Well. That’s… bizarre. And distracting. Don’t count on me to do much other than notice things for a little, Troa.”

“Never fear, milord. I’ll have your back, same as always.”

Einarr was sure he would: he shrugged, a little uncomfortably, but Einarr was going to have to get used to that sooner or later. He turned about where he stood, searching for a join that might indicate a secret door in the rough stone walls.

“Not here. Let’s keep going.”

Troa marked the wall with a piece of charcoal he kept on hand and on they jogged, Troa keeping his eyes open for immediate threats while Einarr scanned their surroundings for any sort of a clue. By the time they returned to the mark on the wall, Einarr had spotted three likely locations, and no way to return to the room with the chair.

The other thing he had not been able to see was any way to open the doors from inside the hallway. “There must be a mechanism somewhere,” he mused. “Even if the trigger for the doors to open was meant to be someone sitting in the chair, something would have to operate out here, as well.”

“And now is when I wish you had Arring around instead of me. He could make short work of this stone, I’m sure.”

“But Arring would never have spotted those blades in the hall,” Einarr answered without even thinking. “I will mark the three doors and then give you some light.”

“What do you expect me to do?”

“Open them. One of them, anyway. Find the catch. I plainly don’t know what to look for.” He looked straight at the scout, weighing his options. Then he decided to take a chance. “Sivid could do it. Prove to me you can.”


Vote for Vikings on Top Web Fiction!

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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

If you like what you read, it would really mean a lot to me if you clicked through to Top Web Fiction and voted for Einarr there. It’s a visibility boost in the ever-growing genre of web fiction, and that helps me out a lot. There’s no sign-up, and votes refresh every 7 days.

If you’re all caught up and looking for something a little longer to read, I also have other works available on Amazon.Or, if you happen to not like Amazon you can also get the Einarr ebook through Draft2Digital, B&N, Apple, Kobo… you get the idea. Direct links are available here.

Lastly, if you really like what I’m doing, I also have a Patreon account running with some fun bonuses available.

10.39 – The Pit

The passage ahead looked much as it had before: a long stretch of rough stone. In the dim light given off by his glowing sword, he could not tell for how much longer it continued straight. There was nothing to learn there – not yet.

Instead, he turned a weighing eye on Troa. He’d managed to avoid working directly with the man for almost the whole year. It was stupid, and he knew it was stupid, but the scout had interfered in his duel.

It was stupid, because the Althane had not fought fairly from the beginning, but that niggling annoyance that he’d tried to put away at the time still crouched in the back of his brain like some mangy cur. Einarr pursed his lips.

“Look, Einarr, I know —”

“The Althane was an honorless dog. We should have been better.”

“Yes, my lord.”

“So long as you understand that, come along.”


Jorir looked up at Runa. They had worked well together at the Tower of Ravens last year, and then in getting off that gods-forsaken island. On the other hand, based on what he’d seen this spring, he wasn’t entirely certain she’d learned anything from that. He harrumphed. “Looks like we’re working together again.”

“I should think you’d be used to me by now.” Runa spared him a glance, but turned back to studying the space around them even as she spoke.

“No place to go but forward, milady. Every breath we stand here, the crone gets farther away.”

“You’re right. Lead on: I’ll be right behind with the light.”

They had gone no more than another ten paces when they were brought up short by a high rough wall blocking the passage.

“A dead-end?” Runa whined. “We can’t climb that.”

Jorir stood staring at it for a long moment, thinking. The wall was, if his estimation was correct, a good seven feet high, but her lamp illuminated a deeper darkness above. “We can, and we have to, I think. There’s a ledge, about seven feet up. I’ll wager that’s our way forward.”

“Seven feet? And how do you propose we reach that?”

“I make more than half that distance just by myself. If you can hold me steady on your shoulders, I can climb up there and pull you after.”

Runa looked at him long and hard, blinking once or twice. In the flickering light from her lamp, she looked like a fish. Jorir had to work not to chuckle.

“Fine. All I have to do is brace myself while you stand on my shoulders, right?”

“Right.” He pursed his lips, thinking. “Crouch down. I’ll climb on your shoulders directly. Your legs’re plenty strong, right?”

“Strong enough.”

I hope so. He wasn’t entirely certain how he’d explain to Einarr the necessity of climbing his betrothed like a tree otherwise. Dwarves were stockier than humans in general, though, and Jorir was not only a warrior but a blacksmith. If the girl wasn’t stronger than she looked, they might have to think up another way.

Runa crouched down low to the ground, and Jorir clambered up to sit on her shoulders before resting his hands on the wall before them.

“By the gods, man,” she complained once his weight had settled.

“Can you stand?”

In answer, Runa slowly began to rise. Jorir could feel the strain in her back as she struggled to lift both of them. But, at last, she stood. The ledge was only a little out of reach from where he sat.

“Doin’ well so far.”

She grunted in answer. “Hurry.”

Carefully, Jorir rose to standing on her shoulders.

“How can someone so short be so heavy?” she complained as he sought for handholds on top of the ledge.

“Y’ever paid attention to how much a cat weighs, compared to a chicken?”

“I can’t… say I have.”

Jorir finally got both arms braced on the ledge above and gave a tiny jump, just enough to pull himself up. “Muscles. Dwarves have lots of muscles. Hand me the lamp.”

She held it up towards his outstretched hand. It would have been much easier to grab had this not been a standard bedroom lamp, but as it was he had to stretch to catch the handle. “If I’d known you were so heavy, I’d have gone up first.”

“Oh? And then pulled me after?”

He regretted, a little, that he could not see her face in the silence that followed. The wall had evidently only been the first part of the trap. Shaking his head, he set the lamp down near the wall of the passage and stretched out on the ground, his hands held out for Runa to grab.

Once she had a firm grip, she pressed her boots against the rough surface of the wall and climbed that way until she could rest her torso against the upper floor. Then she saw it, too.

They now stood on a narrow ledge, just wide enough for Jorir to lay flat across like he had been. On the other side of that ledge was a pit, the bottom of which was staked with vicious-looking pikes. She could not see an opposite edge in the poor light.

“Now what?”

“D’ye see that lighter patch, right there?” Jorir pointed.

“Yes…”

“Unless I’m mistaken, that’s another ledge.”

“How does that help us? It’s far too far to jump.”

Jorir harrumphed again. “Maybe for you. It’s also our only way forward, as near as I can tell.”

Runa rolled her eyes. “Great. So what am I supposed to do, wait here? I can’t make that jump.”

Before she had quite finished speaking, Jorir had grabbed her by the shoulders. Then he kicked her feet out from under her and began to spin. Once, twice, and on the third time he released, like throwing a discus.

Runa sailed across the gap with a squawk of fury. Jorir shook his head, knowing he would pay for this, and leapt after.


Vote for Vikings on Top Web Fiction!

Table of Contents


Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

If you like what you read, it would really mean a lot to me if you clicked through to Top Web Fiction and voted for Einarr there. It’s a visibility boost in the ever-growing genre of web fiction, and that helps me out a lot. There’s no sign-up, and votes refresh every 7 days.

If you’re all caught up and looking for something a little longer to read, I also have other works available on Amazon.Or, if you happen to not like Amazon you can also get the Einarr ebook through Draft2Digital, B&N, Apple, Kobo… you get the idea. Direct links are available here.

Lastly, if you really like what I’m doing, I also have a Patreon account running with some fun bonuses available.

10.38 – Secret Tunnel

The four burst into Urdr’s workroom, Runa in the lead but only by a pace. The sailor’s report had been not quite accurate: the witch was gone, and there were a number of blank spaces on the wall and on her racks where tapestries had been until very recently, but she had been smart enough to leave her equipment behind. Einarr was a little surprised she had taken the tapestries along, truth be told. The only reason he could think of were the workings they must support. And, therefore, the workings I must destroy. He hoped Frigg did not decide to reclaim her distaff too soon.

The other thing Einarr did not see was the door Runa had mentioned. Then again, if it were cleverly hidden he probably wouldn’t. Runa, however, walked confidently across the floor of the room, her hair flashing like spun gold even dirtied as it was. Let the Jarl try to keep her from me now…

Troa had already joined Runa at the door, and together they searched for the mechanism. Einarr shook his head: he couldn’t very well afford to lose his focus watching her, so instead he made a circuit around the outside of the room, examining walls and racks and the tools of her trade.

He had not thought the Weavess could inspire more than disgust in his bones, but her workroom looked to be as much torture chamber as weaving workshop. The rage began to build in his chest and behind his eyes as he moved to stand beside his beloved. “Death is too good for her,” he muttered for Runa’s ears alone.

“You’ll get no argument from me,” she answered in the same tone. “Don’t forget we have to take her before your father, though.”

“Never fear.”

“There,” Troa announced to the sound of a click. A long crack opened in the joins of the wooden wall. “We’re in.”

“Let’s go.”

The door swung open into the room, revealing a dark passage that seemed to go on too far. A quick glance around the room revealed a mostly-full oil lamp on one of the tables. Runa grabbed it almost as quickly as Einarr spotted it, and then they crossed the threshold.

Almost immediately the hairs on the back of Einarr’s neck began to prickle. He didn’t know if there was actually magic in the air, but given whose escape route this was… He drew Sinmora and held the blade ready. “Be careful, everyone. She may well have traps set up for just such an occasion. Troa?”

“Yes, sir.” The scout moved up beside Einarr, his eyes carefully scanning every surface of the cave as they moved forward. Between the two of them, they should be able to avoid most of the surprises Urdr could have left behind.

They hurried down the tunnel as swiftly as they dared. After a time, the smooth worked stone of the keep ended. Einarr stopped in his tracks before he crossed the line, swiftly enough that Runa and their lamp nearly collided with his back.

“What is it?”

“I’ve been feeling magic in this tunnel since we stepped in. It’s… different, just ahead of us. Stand back a bit: I’m going to try something.”

Even as they all withdrew up the hall he was focusing on his sword. It had been a while since he needed to do this, although perhaps not so long as it felt like. Just like in the working earlier, he focused his will, only this time it was on Sinmora.

The blade seemed to pulse before him like a living thing, and like a living thing it felt hungry for the magic that surrounded them. Einarr hesitated only a moment: he had seen nothing to suggest that the magic was integral to the tunnel, after all. He raised Sinmora overhead and cut the air over the threshold.

A rushing sound like wind screaming through jagged rocks filled the room around them. Jorir brought his shield and axe up as though expecting an attack. Runa and Troa looked around frantically, trying to spot the source of the sound.

When the noise ended, Einarr relaxed. The oppressive feeling of ambient magic ahead of them had faded.

“Einarr – your sword!” Runa stammered. “It’s glowing!”

Oh. Right. Of the four of them, only Jorir knew about that, and even he hadn’t seen it. “Over the course of last winter, Sinmora… awakened. It’s a long story, but we shouldn’t have to worry about magical traps any longer.”

“I still say we need ta grill Lord Stigander over the provenance of that sword. I’ve never heard of any smith as could do that.”

Einarr shrugged and sheathed his blade. It couldn’t hurt, he supposed, but there hadn’t yet been a good time. “Later. For now, we have a witch to catch.”

Again they trotted down the hall, now somewhat more confident on their way than before.

“I don’t get it,” Troa grumbled. “The Weavess has had almost twenty years to build her escape route. Surely this can’t—”

“Look out!” Jorir bellowed, grabbing Runa by the waist of her skirt and pulling her back even as he kicked out with one booted foot to send Einarr reeling forward.

A metal shutter shot upward, dividing the team neatly in half. Einarr swore. Runa yelped. Troa spun on his heel and gaped.

Einarr stared at the shutter for a long moment. Unless his eyes deceived him – and in the poor light, it was possible – the upper edge of the shutter was a blade. That thin wetness sliding down their side of the barrier could have been blade oil, but Einarr suspected poison. “Are you two all right over there?”

“Fine,” Runa answered, sounding a little breathless and a lot exasperated. “It looks like there’s another path forward over here, too. What about you?”

“Fine, thanks to Jorir.” He cast a sidelong look at Troa, but refrained from asking how the scout had missed this one. Sinmora’s glow had just gone from interesting to necessary: he hoped it would last. “You two go on ahead down your path. We’ll keep on this way and meet you at the end.”

“Yes, milord,” Jorir answered.

Runa’s voice followed almost immediately: “Be careful.”

“Of course. You, too. I’m counting on you, Jorir. Make sure you both get out of here.”

With the dwarf’s answering grunt, Einarr turned to look down the passage he faced with only Troa at his back.


Vote for Vikings on Top Web Fiction!

Table of Contents


Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

If you like what you read, it would really mean a lot to me if you clicked through to Top Web Fiction and voted for Einarr there. It’s a visibility boost in the ever-growing genre of web fiction, and that helps me out a lot. There’s no sign-up, and votes refresh every 7 days.

If you’re all caught up and looking for something a little longer to read, I also have other works available on Amazon.Or, if you happen to not like Amazon you can also get the Einarr ebook through Draft2Digital, B&N, Apple, Kobo… you get the idea. Direct links are available here.

Lastly, if you really like what I’m doing, I also have a Patreon account running with some fun bonuses available.