Tag: Elder Vilding

10.15 – Forest Road

When the sun set that evening, Einarr was as glad for the end of the day’s labors as he was for the return of their scouts. Lundholm would recover: probably without too much trouble, even, for while Urek had instructed his raiders to do as much damage as possible, they had avoided doing much to the villagers themselves.

Still, the cleanup had been back-breaking and tedious. Erik, rising from his work at the boathouse, inspecting their ships, was the first to spot them. He lifted a big hand high in the air and waved. “What ho! Welcome back!”

That signalled the end of work as surely as the setting sun and everyone made their way to the green to hear from the scouts.

“It’s not an easy road,” Troa warned. “Even without the ships, the way is steep, and the forest presses in on either side.”

“In two separate places we had to clear a deadfall from the road,” Boti added. “Those were apparently what kept the old monk away: he seems to be in fine health, and bade us tell you he will arrive with the season’s first and second honey within the fortnight.”

A woman’s voice in the crowd said “oh, thank the gods.” All three scouts smiled as though they had expected that response.

“And the monk accepts that we must go past his hermitage?” Stigander sounded thoughtful.

“Yes,” Troa answered. “I spoke with him myself. He was mostly glad to know the way had been cleared, because he is old and the trees were heavy.”

Stigander’s lips parted in a smile. “Excellent! We leave at first light.”


The wolflings did not launch a second raid on the town that night. When dawn broke and the alarm had not sounded, a quiet cheer went round the waking men of fleet and village alike. As they rose they each headed for the boat house as they chewed a small bit of dried salmon for strength.

Elder Vilding waited for them at the boat house. Stigander, in the lead, motioned the men behind him to wait. “You have our thanks,” he said, offering a small bow.

“And you, ours. I only wish we could have carried out our agreement properly.”

Stigander accepted this with a gracious nod of his head.

“I have sent a guide on ahead to the first fork. He will ensure you do not lose the path.”

“You have my thanks, again.”

A wry smile cracked the old man’s face. “Now go. Give ‘em Hel.”

Stigander grinned, and then they moved on. Each Captain took his place at the bow of his own boat, and then their men put their shoulders to it and lifted.

With no small amount of groaning, of men and wood alike, the Vidofnir, the Heidrun, and the Eikthyrnir rose into the air and began trundling forward like a trio of monstrous centipedes.

The forest road was narrow, as Troa had said. Einarr expected it would also be steep, once they were a little farther inland. Still, it was nothing their crews couldn’t handle. He resettled his shoulder under the weight of his ship. This would be a long portage: perhaps among the longest he had ever attempted. But for all of that, it might just do the trick.


When night fell, the three crews sat atop a mountain with their guide and rested for the evening. In the morning they pressed on, still tired and sore but glad to be past the worst of it.

Mist hung in the air along the road that morning, lending the world around a feeling of unreality. And yet, with the clear sky above and the warm light filtering through the mist, Einarr could almost forget the burden he bore on his back as they made their way down the far side of the mountain. Someone started up a rower’s cadence song. Before long, men all up and down the line were singing it together.

The road led around a series of tight hairpin turns – tight enough and steep enough that it was tricky to maneuver the boats through – but only a little later leveled off. Through the trees ahead, Einarr could see the blue-gray sparkle of the ocean.

“Look ahead!” He called in cadence. “Nearly there!”

Everyone’s spirits picked up at that, and with their spirits rose their pace. The forest opened up ahead of them, and almost before they realized they stood on the edge of a meadow. Off to their left was a small stone house. Smoke rose from the ceiling vent. That must be the hermitage: Einarr could hear buzzing off in the distance.

The road tapered off into nothing from here, but already they could see the grey, rocky shore ahead, and beyond it the beckoning sea.

The cadence song was now replaced by cheerful banter amongst the men. Someone proposed a race: his Mate shot it down.

Einarr maneuvered his Heidrun to move parallel to the Vidofnir so that he could speak quietly with his father.

“We’re not going to just leave the wolflings at the fjord, are we?”

His father shook his head. “If we attack them, we lose one of the primary advantages of slipping out this way. If we don’t, sooner or later they’re going to try raiding Lundholm again. And this time, we won’t be there to help. And that is why tactics must be complemented with both strategy and ethics. No matter the short-term advantages it would gain us, I cannot abandon the town to the wolflings. Not when I’m the one who brought them in the first place.”

Einarr nodded as his boots crunched in the stones on the beach. “You first, father.”

Without breaking his stride at all, Stigander led the head of the Vidofnir into the cold ocean water before them. With only the tiniest of splashes they set the Vidofnir down in the water where she sat groaning on the beach, waiting.


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10.14 – Reconnaissance

Kaldr awoke to the smell of smoke with the rising of the dawn. A low growl rumbled in his throat as he sat up. Those idiots.

That they would conduct a raid was expected. He had given leave, after all – as much because he was certain Urek would have sent one anyway as because it was good to make sure the rebels remembered they were there. But this was not the smell of wood smoke. He smelled meat.

He looked around the deck of his ship: most of them seemed unaware anything was amiss, and that was as it should be. Some, though, wore scowls as dark as Kaldr’s thoughts.

“Thjofgrir?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Find Skon. Send him up the fjord. Reconnaissance only. I want to know what was destroyed and how many died. Tell him to be quick, but not to let himself be seen.”

“Yes, sir.” No sooner had Thjofgrir answered, though, than a familiar and grating laugh sounded from behind them, in the direction of Urek’s ship. Slowly, making sure his expression was properly schooled, Kaldr turned to face the man.

“Now that’s how it’s done!” Urek was leaning on the bulwark of his ship and looking smugly across at Kaldr.

“Do tell me, precisely what is ‘how it’s done’?” If he’s killed the townsfolk, I will put his head on a pike.

“Those cursed rebels will come slinking out of there with their tails between their legs now, just you wait. Lundholm can’t very well resupply them when they have to see to their own stores!”

In spite of himself, Kaldr could feel his face go pale. On the one hand, Urek had complied with the letter of his instructions. On the other hand, in terms of ill will, this was almost worse. “You didn’t…”

The man took a long, over-dramatic sniff of the air. “Proof is on the wind, sir. The men who went raiding last night didn’t draw steel on anyone but rebels, but they burned everything they could.”

Kaldr closed his eyes and counted slowly to ten under his breath. Urek, around the time he hit “two” and had not answered, walked away laughing to himself.

“Thjofgrir.” He opened his eyes and looked at his Mate. “Cancel that reconnaissance. Urek is a fool and a braggart, but not a liar.”

“As you say, sir.”


After all the fires had been put out and the food pulled from the smokehouse and the drying shed, the people of Lundholm had lost fully half their stores before accounting for the damage done at the boat house. Einarr could not fault their anger, although it rankled to be the object of it when they had done everything in their power to stop the attack.

They would not be able to finish the resupply now. The men of Lundholm would have to rebuild their own stores, and there simply were not enough materials to go around to handle both.

At the same time, though, they were in no condition to fight their way out of the fjord. Thus, with the noon sun high in the sky, Stigander turned to Elder Vilding with one last request. “Do you have a map?”

“A map? What in Hel’s name do you want with a map?”

Captain Kormund pressed his hands together. “Elder Vilding. There is currently a blockade at the mouth of the fjord that we would have to pass through one at a time. While we would, no doubt, take them down, we would take them down with us. But if Stigander and Einarr do not reach Raenshold, you will never be free of the Usurper. Thus, we need another way out.”

“Our boats are already on dry land,” Einarr filled in.

The Elder spluttered. “Surely you don’t mean to portage your ships across the whole island?”

Stigander nodded. “If a way exists, it may save us. So, please, as one final favor before you are rid of us.”

Now Elder Vilding sighed. “Such a route exists. Or did, last fall. There’s a hermitage on the southwestern coast with a small, rocky beach. Haven’t seen old Gotlief yet this year, and Dagny needs honey for her mead soon.”

Stigander nodded. “So long as it’s broad enough to launch a ship, that sounds like exactly what we need.”

“There is no map – not like what you’re thinking of. We had one, twenty years ago, but it burned up in one of the Usurper’s raids.”

“That’s fine,” Einarr put in quickly. “If you’ll show us the road, we can send a man or two on ahead to scout out the way.”

Vilding hummed. “And while we wait for these scouts of yours to return?”

“We will divide our men in half, if you allow it.” Stigander answered easily. “The first half will help clean up the mess left by the wolflings. The other half will keep making arrows, drawing water, and harvesting pitch. It’s the only way we have a chance of making it back to Raenshold.”

A low grumble rose from among the villagers, but the Elder shook his head. “Fine. And half of any game you take comes back to us, to replace what was burnt.”

“Done.”

The young man who had hailed them when they first arrived stepped forward. “I will go with the scouts, Elder.”

Elder Vilding scowled at the man. “We need you out hunting.”

“More than we need someone Lord Gotlief recognizes running up to the hermitage? The old monk doesn’t take kindly to trespassers.”

“Have it your way.”

The man bobbed his head and darted off into one of the nearby huts. Meanwhile, Stigander had made his decision as well. “Troa. Boti. You’re our scouts. If there’s an obstacle on the road, it’s on you to figure out how to clear it.”

“Yes, sir!” they chorused, quite obviously pleased.

“You’re to head out as soon as your guide is ready. Make sure you are, as well.”


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10.8 – Promenade

The conference between the three captains and Elder Vilding stretched long into the evening. Well before the end of it, Einarr was very conscious of a pair of eyes trying to bore holes in his back. Every time he glanced over his shoulder, Runa was very pointedly looking elsewhere. She was very plainly expecting something from him, and he hadn’t the faintest idea what. No matter. I’ll be sure to take her walking after supper. Whatever was the matter, even if that didn’t help it should at least point him in the right direction.

The conference did not break for dinner, however, and by the time they did stop for the night nearly everyone else had retired to the ships. When the Elder invited the three of them to sleep on his floor for the night, and both Stigander and Kormund agreed immediately, it was with a sense of impending doom that he joined them.

He rose with the dawn the next morning in hopes of slipping down to the ships to speak with her. He was not, however, in luck: all three Mates were already up and about, and were eager to hear the results of their long conference of the night before. With a sigh, Einarr put aside his intention. She had been in perfect health when they were rescued, and both she and the Jarl had been under Father’s sail. It would keep, whatever it was.

He was less than halfway through his explanation when Jarl Hroaldr himself joined them. He looked like half the man he’d been when Einarr had last seen him: pale and haggard, and bony in a way that suggested he’d been starved down there. Still, he was less pale than he had been when Einarr found them on the beach, so that was something.

After his conversation with the Mates, the day was in full swing. When midday came around and he found himself able to breathe again, the sensation of being watched returned. This time, when he turned around, Runa did not bother to look away.

“It was one thing, Einarr, to ignore me when we were busy running for our lives.”

“I… what?” Had he been? He hadn’t intended to.

She snorted. “Don’t play dumb. You haven’t said a word to me since we landed, nor two since we got to the ships in the harbor. I’ll have you know, I’ll not tolerate a husband married to his ship!”

Oh. Einarr lowered his face to hide the self-mocking smile even as he shook his head. “I’m sorry. I actually tried to come see you this morning, only I wasn’t fast enough.”

She crossed her arms, not looking mollified.

“I don’t think we’ve had a moment to ourselves since the Forgotten Island, have we.” He was sure of it: most of that time, he’d spent away from everyone. He offered his arm. “Walk with me?”

“Very well, Einarr son of Stigander. But don’t think this lets you off the hook.” She was pretending to pout: now it was safe to smile. “Really, though. We’ve been on shore less than a full day. You’d think we’d be allowed a little time to breathe.”

“Runa, we don’t know when Kaldr is going to show up, or with how many ships. We’re not really resting here, so much as catching our breath and stocking up.”

“Kaldr.” She practically spat the name. “Just when you start to think the man might be reasonable, he comes around and starts chasing you like a dog with a rabbit.”

Einarr blinked. That didn’t quite match up with what the other Singers had said. “How do you mean.”

“When he caught us, he was all high and mighty about the ‘perils of magic,’ or what have you. But then, after we’d been there a few days, he caught us snooping around and didn’t do anything about it.”

Einarr hummed. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of that.

“Then, later, when we were making our escape, he actually warned us what to look out for. Accurately, even. And now, this.”

“Wait, he helped you escape? Why?”

Runa shrugged. “I have no idea, but he seems to hate the Weavess as much as you do. More, maybe.”

“Truly?”

Runa nodded. “She is a vile woman, Einarr. Her Weaving is blacker than you know.”

Einarr nodded, not because he knew but because he was not surprised. Eydri had said, after all, that she was the one who had been in charge of Jarl Hroaldr’s care. “Don’t worry. She will be brought to justice.”

“I’m not worried – about that, at any rate.”

“I’m sensing a ‘but.’”

“But I am worried that this assault is going to consume you.”

He smirked. “Runa, I’ve not been on the main island since I was six, or any of the freeholds since I was ten. If there’s someone I’m worried about being consumed here, it’s Father.”

“That would also be bad, don’t you think?”

Einarr was nodding his agreement when a hunting horn sounded in the distance, from the direction of the spit. “They’ve spotted something? Already?”

No further word was spoken. The two raced back the way they had come, headed for the village green.


Four wolf-headed ships slipped over the ocean waves, headed straight for the Lundholm fjord. The three Captains, along with three of their best scouts, stood at the end of the spit, peering out over the water at the wolflings who must have guessed where they were going. Guessed, because after the encirclement was broken they had not followed – at least, not where any of their watchmen could see.

Stigander’s voice was grim. “That’s them alright. And that fjord’s narrow enough, it won’t matter if they’re not all working together.”

“Will they try to raze the town?” Einarr knew he sounded worried, but did not care.

“I don’t know. Probably not right away, at least. We should have some time to prepare.”


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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.

10.7 – Safe Harbor

Lundholm sat near the shore of a narrow, rocky fjord only slightly less treacherous than the waters surrounding the Althane’s grave. Stigander and the Vidofnir led the way, and even from his position in the rear Einarr could see his father’s crew sounding the depths at regular intervals.

The town itself was tiny, and home to not more than four or five households but supporting at least double that living in more remote portions of this remote island. Einarr scowled: this was hardly the place he would have chosen for a resupply, even under such circumstances as these. Could they afford to supply the sheer quantities of goods three ships would require?

Father, however, seemed confident, and their course had never wavered after they broke free of Kaldr’s trap in the bay.

The town, when it finally appeared from behind the rocky walls of the fjord and the tree cover, was little more than a collection of wooden houses, most whitewashed but some treated and cured nearly black. Smoke rose from chimneys, and here and there he could pick out a shop stall. There would be a butcher, and a smith more familiar with horseshoes and nails than weaponry, and perhaps a miller for grain although he wasn’t sure where they would grow it.

Well. He had lived in such a place before – or, rather, in one of the freeholds surrounding such a place. They would all have to sleep on the ship, but the local alewives would do a brisk business, as would the fletcher. With a creaking of wood and the calm splash of water against their hulls, the three ships beached themselves just outside the town.

Stigander vaulted from the deck of the Vidofnir, followed quickly by the other captains from their own ships.

Stigander cupped a hand to his mouth and called out. “Halloo!”

A voice cut out from within a stand of trees just away from the beach. “State your intentions.”

“Shelter and resupply. Does Lundholm still honor the name of Raen?”

After a long moment, a skinny young man emerged from the stand of trees. He held an arrow still nocked to his bow, although it pointed at the ground. “Been a long time since we’ve heard that name. You don’t look like one of the Wolf’s dogs.”

“I am Stigander, son of Raen and rightful heir to his Thanedom. So I ask again: does Lundholm still honor the old agreements?”

The young man’s eyes went wide as he stared at Stigander. “W-wait here. I will bring the Elder.”

Not many minutes later the youth – probably younger than Einarr – returned leading a wizened old man who leaned heavily on his stick as he walked. Einarr’s eyebrows rose: the man was at least as old as Afi, and probably older. When they reached the edge of the sand, the old man held up his hand and his escort stopped.

The Elder continued on, his pace slow but both steady and firm, until he stood directly before Stigander and stared at him – long enough and hard enough that Einarr and Kormund both began to feel ill at ease. At last, though, he nodded his head. “You are the Son of Raen. Is it time at last, then?”

Stigander smiled down at the Elder. “It is time, at last.”

A grin split the old man’s white beard. “The Usurper’s men have not troubled us in many years. Now we will remind them of our existence.”


A pair of watchers were left behind on the boats in case Kaldr sent a boat down the fjord after them. If the watchers on the spit were any good, however, Einarr didn’t think they would have much to worry about. The rest of the crew followed the Elder up into the village proper.

As Einarr had expected, two of the three houses sold ale, and one made mead, but none of them were of a size to accomodate even one crew, let alone three. Even knowing they would have to sleep on deck did little to dampen their spirits, however: the promise of shelter, if even for a night, served to bleed off a good bit of the tension.

“Has your fletcher taken an apprentice? I’m afraid we’re in dire need of arrows,” Kormund asked the Elder as they tromped through the town to their meeting-place.

The Elder chuckled. “I’m afraid we don’t have a dedicated fletcher here. Not a man in the village can’t turn out a brace of arrows in the space of an hour, though.”

Stigander gave a half-smile to his old friend. “Lundholm is one of the more industrious of our freehold allies. They’ll put us to work, but we’ll get what we need. I’m just glad the Weaving spared you.”

The Elder snorted. “You’re welcome.”

Einarr jogged a half-step to come up even with the elder. “Beg pardon?”

After a sidelong look, the old man answered. “Your grandfather tried very hard to make this a proper part of his kingdom – not far short of open warfare, really. Only I was too cussed stubborn to go along with it, and he didn’t want to destroy us and rebuild.”

“You knew my grandfather, then?”

Now the Elder laughed. “Of course I did! How young do you think I am?”

While Einarr stammered, Stigander held up his hands in front of him for peace. “Come now, Vilding. He was only a boy when the Weaver came.”

Elder Vilding snorted again. “Not much more than a boy now.”

Before he could finish the insult, they arrived in a large green surrounding a single large oak tree. “Here we are. Our Herb-witch should be along shortly, and then there are many matters to discuss. For example, what changed?”

Stigander looked Elder Vilding straight in the eye. “That, sir, is simple. My son is the Cursebreaker.”


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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.