Tag: acrobatic pirates

10.20 – Berserker

Einarr heard the warriors aboard the trapped wolfling ship give a battle roar only moments before they swarmed over the boarding lines. The ship swayed under the weight of reinforcements even as the fire spread from the arrows along the deck boards.

Einarr set his mouth in a grim line. They needed to take out the wolflings quickly, before this became an inferno. And if they escape, Lundholm is done for.

Their line was solid: he stood shoulder to shoulder with his own men and the men of his father’s ship – it was still odd that those were two different things now. The first boots were pounding across the blackening deck boards. “Brace yourselves!”

Einarr lowered his shoulder. A heartbeat later, the wolflings collided with their shield wall. Einarr stabbed through the gap between his shield and Jorir’s and Sinmora’s tip came away wet with fresh blood.

The wolfling screamed, pain mixed with rage, and did not fall back. Blood ran down his leg from the wound in his thigh, and he brought his axe around to strike at Einarr.

Jorir took the opportunity and drove his axe home in the man’s already-wounded leg. The wolfling hit the deck, hard, and Jorir ensured he would not rise again. Einarr’s attention was already forward, on the next man coming to fill the hole, wondering if their captain, too, would come forward to join the melee.

The next man up tried to put his scramasax in Einarr’s side and lost his hand for his trouble. He staggered backward clutching his stump and Einarr shouldered his way forward into the gap. The crackle of fire on the deck and the reek of smoke lent an unusual urgency to Eydri and Reki’s Song. Still he resisted it: no Captain worth his salt gave in to the battle chant, not if there was any other way.

Slowly, relentlessly, he began cutting his way through the wolflings in search of their Captain. His arm began to tire, and a thousand small wounds burned across his forearms and his legs. The wolflings were falling, but they were falling hard. Where is Kaldr?

He wasn’t even certain this was Kaldr’s ship, based on what the Singers had said of the man.

One man, bigger than the other wolflings, laid about himself with a formidable hammer. Not Kaldr. Might be a leader, though. Not many men wielded hammers on the battlefield: it took a special combination of brawn and coin. Leader or not, though, the man with the hammer was plowing through Einarr’s allies like they were nothing. He raised his sword and pointed across the deck at his target.

Jorir, beside him, grunted agreement.

Einarr shouldered his way through the throng, trying to ignore just how hot it was getting on the wolfling ship. That was another reason to hurry: he couldn’t let the fire spread to the Heidrun.

There was Sivid, giving the enraged hammer-wielder a taste of his own wolf pack tactics. Sivid would bait the man into a wild swing, and while he was open dash in to cut at his legs. It looked like the other wolves were interfering, though. With a grunt, Einarr slid in between Sivid and the man about to take a stab at his kidneys.

Clang! The blade instead hit the boss of Einarr’s shield. “Got your back,” he shouted over his shoulder.

Sivid spared him a glance and a breathless “thanks” before turning back to the enemy captain.


Sivid became aware that the pressure was off his back abruptly. He risked a glance over his shoulder. Einarr? “Thanks,” he managed. Almost immediately he had to duck another swing of the massive hammer the enemy captain used.

This was, without a doubt, Frothing Urek. Tyr had said the man had made Captain somehow: Sivid had just not expected to have to face the man on the field. Why is he in the fury, though? Captain Stigander never takes it…

The hammer still whistled through the air. Sivid bounced out of the way, then lunged in to stab at the man’s exposed leg. Urek was big, but not as big as Erik. Urek was strong, but not as strong as Arring. And even Arring would have had trouble not leaving openings with a weapon like that. Sivid just hoped his stamina would hold out.

The hammer came from above this time. Sivid danced off to the side as the heavy steel head splintered the deck boards where he had been a moment before. The fire crackled, licking at the newly-made kindling.

One way or another, they needed to take Urek out of the picture before this ship took everyone to their graves. It was time to gamble.

Sivid dropped into a low lunge, darting inside the berserker’s reach and stabbing his blade home in the man’s thigh. He couldn’t stay there, though: his blade still in Urek’s leg, he dropped his other hand down to the deck and kicked his heels up.

Urek roared as the blade twisted in his thigh. Sivid’s first boot caught him in the teeth: the second in the jaw, and as he regained his feet he finally drew out the blade.

Urek turned to face Sivid again, a level of disgust showing through the rage as he popped his neck and once more started his hammer moving. Sivid scowled: he hadn’t really expected much out of the kicks, but it had been worth a try.

Urek pressed forward, sweeping his hammer back and forth in front of him, and Sivid was forced to hop backwards with every sweep. He wasn’t getting in under the man’s guard again anytime soon, it looked like.

Sivid glanced to either side nervously: those flames were far too close, and far too high, for his liking, and they hemmed him in. By the same token, he couldn’t go backward too much farther without going over the wrong side. Can I kick the rafters well enough to get clear?


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5.8 – Lost in Fog

For five days they sailed east, by oar as often as by wind, before they caught so much as a glimpse of a reef in the water. Even then, it was little more than a damp spot, big enough for the skua nest it held and nothing else. It was too late in the year for eggs, but Irding checked anyway. Fresh eggs were a rare treat on the water, after all.

Over the next two days they saw more small rocks, much like the bird’s nest. Once in a while they would spot a seal slipping back into the water: that, too, would have provided some nice variety in their diet of gravlax and hard tack had they only had a javelin to catch one with. For all that Runa was the one least accustomed to eating like a sailor, however, she only complained once, and that was when the pack of hard tack she was bringing up from below got drenched by a rogue wave.

After just over a week out of port, Einarr realized that the haze on the horizon was not just haze, and not so far away as the horizon: they were sailing into a bank of fog in the middle of an otherwise sunny and warm day.

“Well that’s not natural,” Erik grumbled.

Jorir raised an eyebrow. “Think we’re getting close?”

“Hm. More than likely. Runa?”

“Probably, yes. You wish me to sharpen your eyes?”

“Please.”

Einarr peered forward as the song began to pour forth from Runa’s mouth, but as they grew nearer the fog became if anything more impenetrable. Finally, as their boat slipped into the mist and the air grew dim around them, he told her to stop. “It’s not working. I guess we’ll have to do this the hard way.”

“Be careful…”

“Through this? As careful as I can. Watch for rocks, everyone.”

Runa shook her head, but did not explain.

“If you know something, now would be a really good time to tell us.” Einarr tried not to growl at her.

She shook her head again. “I don’t, really. It’s just that for the song not to pierce the fog, that probably means its magical. And there’s no telling what might be hiding in a magical fog.”

“So long as the Tower of Ravens is, we’ll deal with whatever it throws at us.”

“As you say.” She sounded dubious, but as she was the one experienced in magic he let it pass.

“Steady as she goes! We run aground here and paying Sor for his boat will be the least of our worries.”

A chorus of ‘aye’s echoed from out of the mist, and only then did Einarr realize he could see no-one but Runa. Jorir, the next closest, looked like nothing more than a shadow. Here goes nothing…

The mist began to swirl about his feet, the only sign they were still moving save the creak of the oars and the occasional thump against a rock. He had to resist the urge to hold his breath in the muffled field of the mist.

After a while – none aboard could have said how long – the air began to grow brighter. As they continued, the forms of his companions resolved into flesh and blood once more. Einarr raised his head hopefully, eager to catch a first glimpse of the tower. The sight that greeted him instead was the open ocean. The position of the sun said they were now facing West – back the way they had come. “What devilry is this?”

“Perhaps the best circumstance we could hope for.” Runa’s voice now sounded weary, as though she had expected no more. “The fog exists to keep people away from the sanctum of the bird-spies. I had feared much worse than a maze.”

Einarr swore. That she was almost certainly right made no difference: they were ill-equipped for such a challenge, and would have been even in the Vidofnir. But ill-equipped or no, there was no way around what they had to do. “Turn her around, boys. Let’s try this again.”

Not all of the groaning came from the old wood of the boat as Erik and Irding hauled on the oars and Einarr pulled at the tiller. “Since we’re dealing with a maze, I guess we need to be a bit more methodical about this.”

Once more they edged into the fog, Einarr wracking his mind, trying to figure out a way to track their progress in this situation. When the fog grew dim again and he heard the characteristic thump of an oar pushing off a rock, he thought he might have a method. “Stop!”

There was a hurried splash and a scraping sound from the oars as one of them came into contact with another rock.

“Those rocks we just found – light a torch, I want to have a look.”

A glowing ball of light appeared aft of the tiller and shortly resolved into Runa. At this proximity, in the glow of the torch, her hair shone like gold.

“Thank you, my dear,” he murmured.

“How far away do you actually think you’ll be able to see these torches?”

“I don’t know, but I aim to find out.” He took the proffered torch and strode forward to where Erik and Irding held their oars out of the water. He held the torch out over the water, leaning over the railing himself in search of a crack to wedge the light into.

“Ah! Let’s try there. Erik, a rope.”

“What are you even thinking of?” The big man’s voice rumbled out of the darkness.

“A way to mark our path, I hope. Come on, tie it around my waist. I think I can just reach.”

With the rope secured about him and Erik bracing the other end, Einarr climbed over the railing. He hooked his top foot around a slat and braced the other against the hull as he leaned out over the water. The crack he had spotted in the rather damp rock was just barely within reach of the base of the torch, which he jammed forward.

“Okay, Erik. Pull me in!”

Something cold wrapped itself around the leg braced against the hull and pulled. Einarr let out a surprised yell as the cold water closed over him.


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Hi, everyone! Thanks for stopping by!

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 Smashwords, 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. I just reworked my reward tiers, so I hope you’ll give it another look.