Tag: All’s well that ends well – right?

10.49 – Epilogue: Feast Days

Hi, everyone. Allene here. This marks the last chapter of Book 10: Einarr and the Ice Wolf – a book that is nearly half again as long as any other book! This wraps up the first half of the story fairly neatly, and so as opposed to my normal one-month hiatus, I am going to take TWO months in order to plan out the second half of Einarr’s story. I hope, since you’ve stuck with me thus far, that you will return on November 10, 2020, to see Einarr get married and find out what happens with the cult and with Jorir – not necessarily in that order. Thanks for reading!


The second day of the Thing began with the recitation of the law by one of the town elders – a far more festive event than Einarr had expected it could ever be, but more than a decade of misrule may have made a difference there. Afterward everyone was free to attend to their own business, and there was business aplenty to be had. Merchants had set up stalls within the walls of the hold and were displaying the best of their wares. Jarls took tankards together and sat in serious discussion over matters of trade and of weddings and funerals and ships.

At some point midafternoon, Einarr received a summons to attend his Lord Father in the Hall. He had expected this, in truth, but still his guts churned like water.

When he arrived, the doors stood wide open to allow in light and air, but even with the open doors and the torches burning over near where Stigander and Jarl Hroaldr sat in conference the Hall was dim and smoky. Einarr took a deep breath and strode across the hall to the bench where they conversed.

“You sent for me, Father?”

Stigander peered up at his son from under heavy blond brows and smoothed his beard. “Einarr. Have a seat. We have some business to hand, do we not?”

Jarl Hroalr harrumphed. “So it seems.”

Einarr pulled a stool up and swung a leg over. “After everything that’s happened, and you’re still against it?”

Hroaldr grumbled something unintelligible and waved his hand at the other two.

Stigander chuckled. “It’s more that he finds himself in something of a sticky situation. The son of his Thane has also made overtures for Runa’s hand, you see, while we were away, and Runa is his only child. Whoever she marries gains control of Kjell.”

Einarr frowned. “But after everything that happened, Kjell could justifiably cut ties with Thane Thorgnyr and become one of our holdings.”

“Son. I know you’re too young to know this, but even at the height of Raen’s power our control didn’t stretch even halfway to Kjell. When Thorgnyr tries to take back his holding, we will be too far away to do anything about it. And probably otherwise occupied, besides. And Thorgnyr will assume he needs to do that when you marry Runa.”

“Oh, aye, it is a when,” Hroaldr agreed irritably. “I can’t very well deny you’ve met my conditions at this point.”

Einarr brightened. He had been ready to argue that exact point, and here it was conceded without a fight.

“Now we must set a date,” Stigander broke in. “Set a date, and set the wheels in motion.”

Einarr cleared his throat. “If that is the case, aren’t we missing someone?”

The two older men looked at each other – Stigander blankly, but Hroaldr chuckled now. “Runa knows exactly what this meeting is about. She is with the Princess Beatrix and Aema, drafting the first of the letters that will need to be sent. Her idea.”

Einarr could not quash his smile. “It seems like most things are, doesn’t it?”

Now Stigander laughed. “Get used to it, son. Women are good at that.”


The date was fixed for midsummer’s day, a year hence. Einarr had argued for a shorter span as hard as he dared, but it seemed there was no way to get through all the preparations before then. Even without counting the thorny political situation (and getting thornier – Bea’s continued presence made him antsy, even though she had thus far been a reliable ally), apparently wedding mead was supposed to ferment a full nine months.

Not that he recalled his father waiting that long to wed Astrid. Einarr shrugged the thought off: there may have been other considerations there, and he was sure to be occupied in the interim. It’s not like there wouldn’t be plenty to do while he waited: Einarr was sure he was going to have to go knock some sense into some of the jarls who hadn’t come to the Thing.

But, all of that was a matter for another day. Right now, he was home for the first time since he was six years old. He had old friends to celebrate with, and new friends to make.

There, off on the edges of the festivities, Jorir and Kaldr each sat on a stump with a flagon of drink, watching the revelry before them. Jorir’s expression said this was exactly how he wanted it, so Einarr left them to it.

Cheers erupted from a broad field near where Urdr’s spells had quite literally come unraveled, and so he wandered that way. The smell of roasting meat tickled his nose, but after the discussion he’d just had food was the last thing on his mind.

“Einarr! There you are!” Erik’s voice boomed across the field. “The glima tournament’s already started!”

With a grin, Einarr broke into a trot. He hadn’t had a chance to wrestle much since his bout with Trabbi. “Count me in! Who’s up next?”

“Me!” Irding shouted, standing shirtless on a stump with his chest puffed out like a rooster’s, grinning like a loon.

Einarr laughed. “You’re on! Just try not to hold a grudge when I swab the deck with your head.”

He arrived moments later and stripped to the waist. Irding stood ready on the far side of the ring, still grinning.

There was much yet to be done, to restore Breidelstein and the glory of Raen. But as Einarr’s boots joined his tunic on the grass, and his feet pressed into the ground, he knew in his bones that he was home.


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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.

6.29 – Dispositions

Though the spirit had evidently dissipated the wind still howled about the little town. Somehow, now that all sense of threat was gone, the empty streets felt even more deserted than before.

Einarr took a deep breath and promised himself he would press Runa further – later. “At least the townspeople can come back now.”

“Assuming they want to.” Erik looked around and scratched his beard. “Based on what Arkja told us, I’m not sure that’s a good bet.”

“If the town is actually abandoned, that’s even more reason to start our resupply. Arkja’s men should be here soon: let’s have a look around while we wait.”

***

By the time Arkja and his would-be bandits showed up, the four of them had gathered three barrels of clean water, four casks of ale, and sufficient salted fish to last five men as many days. It was a start, but that was all.

“Good news!” Arkja announced as they swaggered in to the square.

Einarr raised a hand in greeting. “Good. We could use some of that right about now.”

The farmer who’d gone to fetch them wool stepped forward. “After I left with the roving, Brynja – my neighbor, with the sheep – called together the village women, y’see.”

Einarr nodded, reasonably sure he liked where this was headed.

“An’ seein’ as you was doin’ us a good turn, they all decided to do one in return, y’see.”

“What Hàkon is getting at,” Arkja said, clapping his friend on the shoulder. “Is that we’ve most of a winter’s worth of preserves we can take with us, an’ access to the well besides.”

Einarr grinned: they would eat well on their way out, it seemed. Then another thought crossed his mind. “Arkja… how many of your men have families on the island?”

Arkja shook his head. “How many men d’ye think would be willing to turn bandit in a place like this if they had a wife? Only people to rob are the locals and your occasional newcomer, like yourselves. And those are few and far between.”

Einarr pressed his lips together and nodded. The question of who, exactly, these men robbed was one he had not let himself think on too hard, and also why he had not guaranteed a berth on the Vidofnir. “And yet your neighbor was willing to help you?”

Hàkon looked sheepish, and scratched at the back of his head.

Arkja shook his head again. “Hàkon didn’t join my little merry band until everyone was fleeing the town. Anyone who knows, probably doesn’t care anymore.”

Jorir harrumphed. “Lucky for us. So, how did you end up stuck out here, cursed to be forgotten?”

“What makes you think I wasn’t born here? Some are.” Arkja’s face was pure innocence, like a child caught stealing pies.

Jorir harrumphed again. “Your armor, for one, and your sword for two. But your answer just confirmed it.”

Now the man laughed, and Einarr was put in mind of Sivid’s mirth whenever he was caught out in a prank. The laughter only lasted a moment, however, and when he spoke he was deadly serious.

“Aye, you’re right. I washed ashore a decade ago, after my own rank cowardice left me lordless, shipless, and adrift. I can assure you, I’ll not make that mistake again.”

Erik and Jorir both hummed in thought, but Einarr waved it off. “Our offer was made, and help has already been received. I’ll not rescind it now. Father has the last word as to a permanent berth anyway.”

“Einarr is right,” Runa said. “We would make villains of ourselves if we backed out now, and likely never escape because of it.”

Einarr inclined his head to her in thanks. The other two hummed again, but let it rest.

“We should gather together everything we have and make a tally. Arkja, am I right in thinking you were the owner of the public hall?”

“The Maid? Right as rain. Never thought I’d actually need that escape tunnel…”

Runa raised an eyebrow. “And yet you were the leader of your little band of misfits? How did you stay in business?”

He winked. “Trade secret, milady. Trade secret.”

“By which he means that so long as the ale was good and they didn’t push their luck, most of the men were willing to look the other way.” Erik crossed his arms, but Einarr suspected had frequented such places more than a few times.

“Putting that aside for now,” Einarr said, cutting off the topic before it could devolve into an argument. “Arkja, run a tally. We need provisions enough for twelve people, preferably to last three weeks of rowing. All we have is a fishing boat, though, so mind the cargo space.”

“Aye, sir.” The man did not salute, but it was a near thing.

“Good. The rest of you, we need tools. Got a boat to fix, and I want to leave her better than I found her.”

“Low bar,” Erik chuckled.

“You’re not wrong. But we’ve been out a lot longer than expected. Like to make it worth the owner’s while.”

The rest of Arkja’s ‘merry band’ headed down toward the docks, fishers and farmers alike.

“Hold a moment,” Einarr called after them. “We haven’t cut our new mast yet. Remember that in your search, please.”

One of the fishermen did throw a sloppy salute. Perhaps his Captain liked them?

“Yer pardon, Lord,” Hàkon began, looking embarrassed. “Is the sail still in good condition?”

Einarr froze a moment, thinking. Had they checked? “Just Einarr, please. But assume it requires patching.”

“Yes, milord.” Hàkon stiffened, but when Einarr offered no further rebuke relaxed and headed back off toward the harbor.

When it was once more just the four of them within earshot, Jorir turned a stern gaze on Einarr. “Let it be said that I do not trust these new sailors you’ve found, milord.”

“Duly noted. For what it’s worth, Jorir, I don’t trust them either. At least not yet.”

The dwarf grunted. “So long as that’s understood, then. I am going to go ‘lend a hand’ to Arkja.”

“Thank you, Jorir. That sounds like an excellent idea.”

A funny expression flickered over Erik’s face and he cleared his throat as Jorir stalked off after the former sailor. “In that case, I shall go and ‘assist’ the poor souls who’ve never really sailed before.”

Einarr raised an eyebrow – they were just searching for tools, after all – but shrugged, if somewhat bemusedly. “Very well.”

As Erik strode off after the group of six, Einarr was suddenly hyper-aware of Runa’s arm snaking into his. He felt himself blush even as a smile spread across his face. “As for you, my Lady Singer, I have questions.”


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 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.