Tag: Gufuskalam

9.9 – Refugees

Silent as ghosts, the three ships slipped through the night towards Breidelstein and Raenshold. The air of anticipation was almost palpable on the Heidrun: Einarr could only imagine what it must be like on the Vidofnir.

Hrug busied himself about the ship inscribing runes based on what they had discussed with the Matrons on Breidhaugr and his own knowledge of runes from the Shrouded Village. So far as that went, Einarr could only trust he would know what to do when the time came.

A low whistle rolled across the water from the Vidofnir, the signal that another boat approached. The men of the Heidrun, having put on their maille before they sailed from the fjord, limbered their bows. Einarr moved forward, peering over the water to see what they were likely to be dealing with.

Only a fishing boat. For no reason that Einarr could fathom, he was put in mind of the Gufuskalam – the boat Runa had bought after she convinced him to elope. Soon. Just hang on, and I’ll have you free soon…

Someone in the boat waved a torch, as though trying to catch the attention of the ship captains. That was curious. A moment later, the signal to stand down came from the deck of the Vidofnir. Einarr turned his attention there as the fishing boat drew up next to his father’s ship. Right at that moment, Einarr wished he had a rune combination that would let him be part of whatever was going on over there, but so far as he knew even Melja could not do that.

A third time a whistle sounded, this time followed by waves of the torch indicating a change in course. That was very curious.


The Vidofnir led them unerringly to a little cove with a sheltered, sandy shore on an island not far from where they encountered the fishing boat and all three longships sent people ashore to learn what was going on. A tiny fire was already lit on the beach, with a small group of Vidofnings clustered around it, when Einarr vaulted from the deck of the Heidrun. Jorir and Naudrek were not far behind. From the Eikthyrnir, Captain Kormund was joined by his Mate and his Battle Chanter.

Einarr was nearly upon them when he realized who it was that sat, huddled under a shawl, her fingers curled around a steaming horn of something. “Runa?” He all but ran the intervening distance.

There she was: disheveled, with great dark circles beneath her bloodshot eyes, her skin pale except where it showed either the yellow-green of old bruises or, more damningly, the purple of new ones, but still the loveliest creature Einarr had ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on.

“It is you,” he said, a little breathlessly, as he joined the small circle about the fire. “How did you get here? What have they done to you? Are you all right?”

She smiled wanly, but her lip trembled. “So you did come for me. I knew you would. But… but I… I couldn’t wait.”

Einarr felt his throat go dry. He didn’t try to say anything, just pushed forward to take a seat next to her. Runa threw her arms around his neck and started to cry.

An unfamiliar man sitting on her other side spoke then. “His lordship wanted her broken, he said. Said that was going to be the way to get information out of her pabbi. Only, that didn’t sit right. So me an’ another fellow went to talk with the Lady. Seems like the next thing I know, I’m rowing out toward you lot in a fishing boat.”

“You blanked out?” Reki demanded.

“No, ma’am. Only the Lady is very persuasive, and she talked us into it before we quite knew what we were about. I’m mighty glad we found you, though,” he continued. “Gods only know how long before they send out boats to search for the Lady.”

“She is very persuasive, at that,” Einarr said, rubbing Runa’s shoulder. “Did they…?”

Runa shook her head, still without raising it. “But that’s why I couldn’t wait. I thought… I thought these two were sent to…”

Einarr hushed his betrothed soothingly and met his father’s eye darkly. “Never you fear. They will get what’s coming to them.”

Stigander nodded silently at him.

“Beggin’ yer pardon, my lords, but it might be best if we hurried up and got out of the islands. His lordship won’t be pleased once he knows she’s gone, and then he’ll have these waters crawling with boats searching for her.”

Stigander hummed. “Well, you’re right about one thing, anyway. We had best be getting on again. The night’s wasting away while we sit here gabbing. But we’re not leaving.” A wicked grin split Stigander’s yellow moustaches. “Oh, no. The Wolf and the Weaver aren’t getting off so easily this time.”

“No,” Einarr muttered. “No, they are not. Although, one thing confuses me. I was told the Weavess’ curse bound your loyalties to her son, and no matter what you couldn’t act against him. So then, how?”

The one who had been relating their tale sat up proudly. “I’ve not acted against his Lordship. I’ve kept him from staining his honor.”

Somehow, Einarr doubted Ulfr would see it that way, but that was hardly the point. He nodded. “It’s a courageous thing to do, to act against your lord for their own good.”

Elsewhere around the fire, someone hummed. In Einarr’s arms, though, Runa was finally beginning to calm herself. Gently he extricated himself and stood. “Father is right, though. We need to be getting back out on the water. If there will soon be a full fleet out looking for the three of you, then we have even more reason to make haste.”

“Quite right.” It was Captain Kormund. “Let’s load back up and push off before the night grows any older. We don’t want to be caught out on the open water at dawn, after all.”


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4.1 – An Unexpected Arrival

When the Vidofnir had emerged from the narrow fjord that served as a gateway to the ship-barrow, someone spotted the black storm clouds that had washed over the island on the southeastern horizon. The sail was unfurled and they gave chase, building speed faster than wind alone with the oars. For three weeks they chased the storm this way, always headed vaguely southeast and ever more convinced that the storm itself was unnatural. Chased, but never gained. In the middle of the third week, Snorli approached the Captain and Mate.

“We must put in to port soon, sirs. We’ve a week’s worth of water and mead left, at best.” They could live off of fish for so long as they had water, but once that was gone…

Reluctantly, Stigander agreed and the order was given to make for Mikilgata Harbor, not many days west of them in territory nominally held by Thane Birlof. Not exactly friendly territory, but safe enough if they kept their noses clean. In this way the Vidofnings found themselves holed up in the guest bunks offered at the Wandering Warrior on the port’s edge.

The benefit of a place like this, of course, was that finding buyers was a simple, if not straightforward affair, and as their first week in port passed they converted no small amount of their treasure from gold to gems or more ivory to lighten their hold.

The drawback, however, was that there were very few men interested in going out to sea, and even fewer that Stigander would feel comfortable bringing aboard. So, for the most part, they waited and they drank until the hold was empty enough to accommodate the food and fresh water they required.

Two days before Stigander planned to leave, when most of the Vidofnings were gaming to while away the hours or off in search of a good training field while Snorli and Bardr arranged for the delivery of supplies, a familiar figure trudged into the Warrior and leaned on his arms at the bar.

Einarr, going over the manifest with his father, looked twice before he realized who it was in front of him. He was on his feet, heading for the bar himself, before he had time to consciously process what he was doing.

“Trabbi?”

The old man looked up, weariness and desperation obvious in his face. “Oh, good. When we saw the Vidofnir in port…”

“We? Are you on the Skudbrun now? …Never mind, come sit down.” Truth be told, Einarr hadn’t given the man a second thought since their glìma match in the spring, but even if the fisherman had taken up whaling there wasn’t much that should have brought him this far out.

“For the moment, yes. Lord Stigander, sir.” Trabbi greeted Stigander as he took a seat at their table and slumped against it.

“Trabbi.” Stigander’s voice held a note of caution. After all, the last time they had spoken with this man, he had been competing with Einarr for a bride. “What brings you to Mikilgata?”

“He was relieved to find us, so nothing good.”

“Oh, aye, nothing good at all.” Trabbi looked around for the master of the bar, who was nowhere in sight. He shook his head, sighing. “That letter your new Singer had when you came back last time? It was summoning Runa for – and I quote her – ‘Singer business.’”

Trabbi’s eyes scanned the room again, although less like he was looking for something and more like a man taking in his surroundings. “My Jarl, he asked me to go along as bodyguard – not that he mistrusted the men of the Skudbrun, but that he wanted someone who would stand out less on shore. What else could I do but agree to that?

“Only… on the way… a storm blew up, and riding the winds was a black-headed ship…”

“So then Runa is…” Einarr sat back, stunned. He couldn’t say the word… couldn’t admit to himself the possibility that she might have been murdered the same way Astrid was.

“Kidnapped.” The word Trabbi supplied was far less despair-inducing than the one Einarr had come up with, but still it took a moment for father and son to process what they’d heard.

“Kidnapped?” Stigander was the first to recover.

“Kidnapped. …And I’m no warrior, but I’m to blame… We lost sight of that strange storm they rode four days ago.”

Einarr met his father’s eyes with a wordless plea.

Stigander nodded once, slowly. “You say the Skudbrun is in port? Here?”

Thane Birlof’s waters were even less friendly to Jarl Hroaldr’s Thane than they were to the sons of Raen. Still, Trabbi nodded.

“We’ll go back to your ship with you, speak with Captain Kragnir. I think, all things considered, my crew will be more than willing to help you go after the scum.”

“You have my thanks.”

All three men stood and headed for the door, the manifest tucked beneath Stigander’s arm.

***

Trabbi led them through the port, his shoulders more square than they had been in the bar. The Skudbrun was moored in an out-of-the-way location where it wasn’t likely to be seen by anyone too loyal to the supposed thane. This placed it on the same dock, although much farther back, than the Vidofnir. Bardr looked up and watched as the three of them passed by, but he did nothing to interfere.

The Skudbrun looked exactly as she had when they had come after Einarr and Runa in the Gufuskalam that spring. Captain Kragnir, a white-haired man who only looked small in comparison to Stigander, stood on the deck near the gangplank. Whether he was looking for their party or for porters, who could tell.

“I hear you’ve had a run-in with our old friends, Captain,” Stigander drawled.

“So it appears, Captain.”

“May we come aboard?”

Captain Kragnir stepped to the side and motioned for the three men to join him.


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3.1 – Leaving Attilsund

Bardr must have purchased miles’ worth of extra rope for this expedition, and as much fresh water as they could store. Even still, it was a short journey from Attilsund, and spirits were high as they loaded the Vidofnir with supplies for a six-week trek to investigate the ship barrow.

To Einarr’s mind, most of the crew were too focused on the potential rewards once they got there by half. He didn’t doubt they could do it, of course, but those who failed to respect the sea were often claimed by her. For his part, he joined his father in reviewing the local charts.

The waters of Svartlauf seemed an apt comparison indeed. While there was unlikely to be an eternal tempest surrounding this area, the rock formations suggested terrible winds indeed.

“I’m glad we’ve a Singer with such a powerful voice,” he said at one point, tapping a particularly narrow passage where the currents were likely to be troublesome. “I’m not sure we would have been able to hear Astrid over these winds. What do you make of this? Will we fit?”

Stigander hummed in thought. “Hope so, otherwise we’ll have to back out and circle around, come in over here.”

Einarr shuddered. “You mean where we’d have to pole off the rocks to get anywhere? I’ll take my chances with the chute. That was bad enough in the Gufuskalam.”

“Which reminds me. Has anyone thought to ask about kalalintu?”

“No more than an ordinary harassment,” Bardr put in. “A flock, maybe two. Nowhere near a colony.”

“That’s something.” Einarr glanced up to see Irding and Svarek hovering just within earshot of their conversation. “A moment.”

The two newcomers to the crew tried to make themselves look busy as he approached. “What seems to be the trouble?”

“Ah, no trouble, sir.” Svarek started, but he wouldn’t look at Einarr while he said it.

“Bollocks. You two are nervous as fresh-weaned deer, and I’m quite sure I saw you joining in with everyone when we voted. Out with it.”

Irding scratched the back of his skull sheepishly. “Ah, well, it’s like this. We were talking in the square earlier, nothin’ too serious, about what we might find out there. One of the village boys must’ve overheard, ‘cause he comes by and tells us we’re fools fer goin’, ‘cause even if we get past the rocks we’ll have spirits to deal with.”

“Spirits?” Einarr raised an eyebrow.

“The restless dead,” Svarek filled in.

Now Einarr smiled, shaking his head. “Lads, if that’s all you’re worried about, get back to work. Even if the island is haunted, we’ve got one of the finest Singers I’ve ever met. She’ll keep our courage up, and so long as we’ve got that spirits can’t touch us. Okay?”

They both nodded, although Einarr thought he saw them swallow first. “Good work, finding that out though. Now get back to work. We’ll be sailing soon.”

Bardr raised an eyebrow as he returned to the table where the charts were spread out.

“One of the locals brought up the possibility of spirits.”

“Ah.” Bardr nodded. With as many sailors as were likely unburied on that island, it was a reasonable concern, but not one they were totally unprepared for.

“I’m sure she does, but Reki does know the grave songs, right?”

“I’ve never met a Singer who didn’t,” Stigander grumbled. “But I’ll confirm.”

***

When the Vidofnir put off from Attilsund with the evening tide, it was with an odd mix of sobriety and ebullience. Reki, as she stepped to the bow of the ship to begin the recitation, carried silence in her wake: there were two who had not yet heard the Song of Raen, for they had not been in port long enough at Apalvik to warrant its recitation. Truth be told, were it not for the dangerous waters they approached, they might have let it slide for the few days they had been here.

Watching the new crew’s reactions to the Song was interesting. Svarek wept – as some few did, their first hearing, although it felt to Einarr as though there were a personal note to it. Irding, on the other hand, stood by his father’s side, clenching and unclenching his fist. He’s going to fit right in.

Then, as the last lines faded over the water, Einarr sidled back to the prow to join his own father, Bardr, and Jorir with a cask of mead. Knowing he was their way of breaking the curse brought them little closer to actually doing so, after all.

Dawn this far north, when it came, was crisp and bright, with little of the warmth you might see in the sky farther south.

“All right, you lot, let’s move!” Bardr was bellowing to bring those still addled by last night’s drink to their feet. “We’ve got two weeks before the waters get rough, and we’ve still got a few things left to repair from those thrice-cursed Valkyries.”

Einarr yawned, well aware that they were all above the water line, and not much more troublesome than a split in a deck board or a weak patch of sail. It would have been nice, though, if Bardr had shown a little consideration for the morning after the recitation.

The rest of the crew was stirring, with about as much enthusiasm as Einarr felt. Fine. We’re up. Best get moving or I’ll freeze. He stood, stomping his feet in his boots to start the blood flowing. It was strange, though: they had only just left Attilsund, and already the temperature seemed to have dropped rather drastically. Mentally, he cursed.

“Eyes open for ice, everyone.” They might not see any today, but with as unseasonably cold as the air was Einarr wouldn’t be surprised to see a floe or two. This was going to be a long few weeks.


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2.31 – Ship-Barrow

The hike back down the mountain the next morning was cool and crisp and surprisingly straightforward, with the sun washing everything in fresh hues and no visions to slow their progress.

Einarr could not quite have the spirits fitting for the day. Before he met Runa he’d thought he could be perfectly happy with a life spent roaming the waves. He knew if they found a way to undo the Weaving that would end… but the possibility had never quite seemed real. To be honest, this new reality didn’t quite seem real yet, either, but it was a somewhat heavier reality to the one he had not quite managed to let go of yet.

Still, though, Jorir seemed happy, as did Father, and a Calling like this was a call to glory. Einarr shoved the weightier aspects to the back of his mind, turning his focus instead to enjoying the hike ahead of them. The clouds had nearly cleared from his head by the time the trail leveled off at the bottom of the mountain.

The noises coming from the village were nearly as joyous as the conversation among the group that had gone up the mountain, although perhaps somewhat more focused. As they stepped up to the village square, it became plain that Bardr was preparing for something big. They stood there for several moments before the Mate looked up from the stream of supplies he was directing – in both directions, evidently.

“Captain! You’re back!” A surprisingly boyish grin split Bardr’s face as he hurried over to greet the five of them. “The Elder said you’d be down today.”

“And here I am. Looks like you’ve been busy while I was away.”

“And how. Heard a fascinating story from the locals. Provided you agree, we all thought it might be worth checking out.”

Stigander raised an eyebrow.

“It seems some time ago one of their whaling boats caught sight of a ship’s graveyard not many weeks northeast of here. Treacherous shoals keep most ships away… but this whaler thought he saw the figurehead of the last Allthane’s ship.”

Einarr raised his eyebrows in surprise. Jorir whistled. While supposedly the last Allthane had been lost at sea, that was hundreds of years ago.

“D’ye think there’s anythin’ left?” Jorir voiced Einarr’s concern. Stigander nodded along. Sivid, on the other hand, looked like he might have caught Bardr’s enthusiasm.

“Not a whole lot of folks come out this direction, and I’m not gonna lie. Tyr and I looked at the charts the locals keep. Getting in there’s going to be tricky. Getting out, too. But if we can manage it, I’ll lay odds we’ll be set for the year.”

Stigander puffed out his moustache. “Knowing you, you’ve already bought a copy of these charts. Show me.”

***

“All right lads. I understand Bardr’s been filling your heads with all the treasure we’re likely to find if we get in to this ship-barrow, or you all wouldn’t be so excited. I’ll tell you now, though, unless every last one o’ you signs on after I tell you what we’re up against, we’re headed south.” Stigander looked over his men, waiting a moment until he was sure he had everyone’s attention.

There is a reason this island is a ship-barrow. Based on what I’ve seen, the only ones among us who even might have seen waters as dangerous are the three who went to Svartlauf this spring. The currents are tricky, and unless I miss my guess the wind will howl. Once we’re inside, whether we find anything good or not, we have to get out. If we find something good, we’ll have to get out with a heavier ship.” Now he paused to let the murmuring die down again.

“If our circumstances were different than they are in any conceivable way, this would not even be a question. We would head south, and leave the barrow for men with more guts than brains. Now my crew has never lacked for guts. There’s no shame if your good sense overrides your glory seeking here. So. Do we attempt to reach the Allthane’s wreck, or do we seek our fortune through more conventional means?”

Father was being over-cautious, Einarr thought. He’d gotten the Gufuskalam in and out of Svartlauf with only three men, after all. Given that their line was at stake, however, he had trouble faulting his father for it. Too much.

The silence built after Stigander’s question. A few of the men exchanged glances and whispered thoughts. Stigander stood ahead of them, his arms folded, watching.

Then someone called out “All-thane!” It may have been more than one someone speaking together: Einarr couldn’t tell from where he stood.

Then more joined in. “All-thane! All-thane!”

It became a chant. Einarr, too, joined. As Father had said, the Vidofnings had never lacked for bravery, and in just a few short months they would have to provide payment for a new ship… and men to crew it. The promise of treasure, and maybe a little adventure, was sufficient.

Bardr looked smug, standing off to the side. Einarr sidled around the edge of the crew to stand between his father and their second in command. “I think that’s your answer, Father.”

Stigander harrumphed, but his expression said he had expected no less from the men of Breidelsteinn.


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1.34 – Homecoming

By the time the Gufuskalam made landfall in the Kjelling lands, not far from where the Vidofnir once again moored, nearly a month had passed since they departed Kem. The seas were smooth and the wind friendly, thanks probably in part to the presence of the Isinntog, and Erik could now move about with the aid of a crutch acquired during their resupply.

Erik was at the rudder as the Gufuskalam approached the shore under the orange light of sunset, his mending leg extended out straight ahead of him. Einarr, for his part, was just as glad to have to row: it helped distract from the gnawing anxiety that had built over the course of their return. I have the Isinntog in hand, he reminded himself. And I have a friend who is explicitly loyal to me. Surely this will settle things.

It was no longer even strange thinking of the ruddy-faced, black-haired dwarf as a friend: after more than a month largely confined to a skiff like the Gufuskalam, the only other option was hatred. For his part, Jorir was presently sounding the depths off the prow and watching for rocks, even as he regaled them with a tale from before he was trapped on Svartlauf.

“Easy does it,” Jorir interrupted himself.

Einarr’s oar scraped sand. He pulled it in as Tyr did the same on the other side, moments before they heard the low grind of wet sand against their hull. Jorir vaulted the side of the boat, landing with a splash. Once he was out of the water, Einarr tossed him the line. A moment’s thought gave him another idea, and he, too, hopped out of the Gufuskalam.

“What are you doing, boy?”

Einarr waded toward the back of the boat, where the still-frigid water came nearly to his chest. “Making it easier for Erik to get out.”

Tyr raised his hands in a “what can you do” gesture, and Einarr heard Erik’s answering guffaw. He probably did not, in fact, need the help out, but Einarr still thought it better to ease the transition. Better to be doing something by far. He had wanted to provide something extra for Erik’s sacrifice, but now that extra would become Jorir’s reward.

“Line secure,” came the call. Only a moment later, the stern lodged itself on the sandy shore. Einarr pulled himself into the boat from the water side to see Tyr offering Erik a hand up from his seat near the tiller.

“Go on ahead. I’ll be right after.”

Erik accepted Tyr’s shoulder for balance as he sat on the edge of their boat and swung his legs out over the shallows. Once his feet dangled, he lowered himself the rest of the way down and balanced against the boat until Tyr passed down his crutch. Einarr waited until Tyr had descended to pull the treasure sack from beneath the deck boards. Only then did he join the other three on shore where they set to making a camp for the night.

* * *

The spruce wood their path led them through in the morning was in full bloom. That, combined with the knowledge that his father was already returned, lightened Einarr’s heart as they stood at the head of the path for Kjell Hall. “Before we continue,” he said. “I just want to say it has been my honor to travel with all of you. Thank you for accompanying me on this quest.”

His odd moment of sentimentality was met by laughter from the two who had joined with the Vidofnir, and statements to the effect that there had nearly been fighting over who would be released to go. Jorir, though, said nothing, and his expression had something of the odd twist it had shown when he received the tafl king as a token of his oath. In the full light of day, it almost looked… wistful.

“But. I’m sure the Jarl’s lookouts already know we’re here. We should get going.”

* * *

Einarr led his crew up to the open gates of the Hall, stepping two strides outside. “Einarr, son of Stigander, son of Raen, and his companions have returned from their quest!”

“The son of Stigander and his crew are well-come to this Hall,” came the formal response – somewhat less warm than the response his father had gathered last winter, but that was only to be expected. He could not help breathing a sigh of relief: that they were invited in at all meant that the Jarl had probably not changed his mind.

When Einarr stepped through into the perpetual dimness of the Hall, he saw his father striding across the room toward him, arms outstretched. “You made it!”

Before he could blink, Einarr was clapped into one of his father’s infamous bear-hugs. “Good to see you, too, pabbi.”

“What kept you? I thought you’d beat us here.” Then he looked more closely at his son’s companions and his brows knit. “Where’s Erik?”

“On his way.” Einarr offered a smile of reassurance. “He’s not moving so quick right now, but I’ll let him tell you why.” He shifted the weight of the shield on his shoulder, his eyes scanning the room and not finding the one face he hoped most to see. “Any luck on your hunt?”

“Not as much as I’d like, but unless I miss my guess you’ve brought something.”

He turned his attention back to Stigander’s cheerful face. “A few somethings. Before that, though, there’s someone you should meet.” He gestured behind himself for the dwarf to come forward.

Once again, Jorir went even a step farther than Einarr expected. When he stepped up to Einarr’s side, the dwarf knelt.

“Father, this is Jorir, who swore to me on Svartlauf under circumstances better described later. He has served admirably and well in the time since, and so I am pleased to call him my liege-man.”

Stigander raised his eyebrows, but the expression was proud. “Well well well. Rise, Jorir, and I will welcome you among the Vidofnings. We three shall discuss this later, however, when the company is not quite so public.”

“Agreed, and I believe I see Erik coming up on the palisade.”

Stigander spared a look outside. Einarr wished he could have spared his father more of the shock of seeing one of his strongest warriors hobbling along on a crutch, but it was not to be.

“It’s why you beat us here. We took a detour to find a healer.”

Stigander nodded, mute for but a moment. “Since everyone’s here, you’d best be on with it.”

Anxiety grasped Einarr’s belly, but he nodded. His first step towards the Jarl’s throne was hesitant. Deep breath. One step at a time. Einarr swallowed, and then strode forward as though his father’s kingdom still outranked the Jarl’s. As he walked, he slipped the Isinntog out of the sack he carried. Two paces from where Jarl Hroaldr sat, staring with what to Einarr felt like contemptuous amusement, he dropped to one knee and bowed before his father’s oldest friend.

“My Lord Jarl. At the dawning of spring, you sent me forth on a quest to prove my devotion to your daughter, and declared that the artifact you sent me after was to be her morning-gift. Today I return to you with the Isinntog, as you demanded.” He held the torc between his hands as though about to crown someone with it and raised it toward the jarl. “I have fulfilled the quest you asked of me, my lord, and I would ask that you now fulfill the promise it rested on.”

The torc was lifted from his hands. Jarl Hroaldr examined it, still standing, and spoke. “You have demonstrated your devotion amply enough, but you still have not demonstrated your ability to provide. You bring me her morning-gift, but there is still the matter of a bride price, still the matter that you have no hall, and still the matter that you have no men to crew the ship you also lack.”

“I beg your pardon, jarl, but that is no longer strictly true. We left as three, and returned as four.”

Jarl Hroaldr’s lip curled in a sneer. “I see one svartdvergr. You have no men. Even should we accept your dwarf, however, there is still the matter of a bride-price, of which I will accept none until you have a hall. Or did you intend to give me grandchildren aboard your father’s ship?”

Laughter rose up around the hall: Einarr blushed.

“I accept the Isinntog as we agreed, and as proof of your intentions toward my daughter. I shall not attempt to marry her off until you have returned to me with proof of lands of your own, and at least a handful of loyal men, or until five years have passed.”

Einarr’s blush turned to a blanch. Five years, to undo the Weaving or found a new holding. “I understand,” he said.

“Excellent.” Now Jarl Hroaldr smiled, and for the first time in a long time Einarr thought it friendly. “Rise, and enjoy the merriment.”

“My thanks. If I may, there are some few gifts I should like to present those who helped me.”

The Jarl raised his arm in assent, and Einarr turned to face the rest of the room. It was odd having so many eyes on him – odd, but not bad. “Well then, first off, Father. This would have been impossible without Erik and Tyr along, although I understand competition was fierce.”

Stigander came forward slowly, evidently a little perplexed as to why he would be honored even still.

Einarr pulled the gold flagon from his sack. “I saw this during my search, and since the best one on the ship was buried with Astrid I thought you should have it.”

“Thank you, son.” Stigander’s voice was unacustomedly quiet, and he slipped back into the crowd as soon as Einarr nodded.

“Tyr. Without your quick thinking by the kalalintu islands, I don’t think we all would have made it to Svartlauf in the first place.” Tyr came forward a little less reservedly than his father had. His place in the quest had definitely entitled him to a reward. “I’m afraid everything I saw that you might have had use for was sized for the giant, but I thought you might find something to do with these.” He handled the string of rubies almost as reverently as he had the Isinntog just minutes before.

The older man grinned, and Einarr knew he, too, was thinking of his wife. “Lovely.”

Tyr tucked the rubies into his belt and melted back into the crowd. Einarr was down to two, and choosing who to honor first was one of the more difficult choices he had ever made. In the end, he settled on “Erik.”

He paused to give the burly man time enough to hobble forward on his stick into the clearing ahead of Einarr.

“Your bravery and sacrifice on the island of Svartlauf is worthy of more than I am capable of rewarding. Thank you, my friend, and I hope you find some merit in this.” Einarr now held out the giant-sized ivory ring with pearls. It seemed to shine in the dimness of the Hall, but thankfully was not nearly so effeminate as the Isinntog had been. Erik turned it over in his hands before blinking and peering at the inner ring.

“There is more merit in this gift than you give it credit for,” he said as he bowed his way back out and into the crowd.

“And now, finally, Jorir, if you will step forward.”

The dwarf moved unhesitatingly, either to spite the Jarl’s scorn or because it did not reach him.

“When you swore to me, I had my misgivings, and yet over the past weeks you have been as loyal a retainer as I could have asked for. If it were not for your efforts, we might have lost Erik before we reached Kem. As your lord, it falls to me to equip you. Please, take this shield, and use it well.”

“Gladly.”

Einarr could not later have said how he managed it, but in a single smooth motion Jorir accepted the golden shield from his hand and pressed his forehead against Einarr’s knuckles. Einarr stood a moment longer, perplexed once again by the level of loyalty his liege-man displayed. He did not notice that the rest of the hall was surprised into stillness until he, too, slipped away from the Jarl’s seat.


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2.1 – Coming Soon

Table of Contents

1.33 – To Catch a Thief

Einarr took off at a sprint down the pier. The two could not have got far yet, and he remembered their faces. Jorir kept up admirably well, despite his shorter legs.

“You remember what they look like?” Einarr asked between breaths.

“Well enough.”

They pulled up short where the pier met dry land. There were only two ways the boys could have gone; a disturbance in the dockside market crowd said the answer was left. A heartbeat later Einarr, too, was dashing off after the ripples his fish made as it swam through the crowd.

He did not hear the dwarf’s footsteps pounding after him; a glance over his shoulder revealed Jorir examining something on the pavement. A glance was all he could spare, however, as the crowd was reluctant to be shouldered aside a second time in so short a period.

Scowling, Einarr gathered his breath without slowing. “Stop! Thief!”

Now the crowd parted for him easily. He began to close on the fugitive more quickly: it seemed some of the people farther ahead didn’t care to let the boy escape either. Bellowing like that had been risky: while Kem was at least nominally Northern, and the Gufuskalam was here on legitimate business, this close to Imperial waters it was still chancy.

“Thief!” He yelled again for good measure.

A dark-haired man in a butcher’s apron sauntered towards Einarr from down the street, clutching the boy’s arm in his outsized hand. The treasure sack was nowhere to be seen. “This the brat you’re looking for?”

“One of ‘em. Where’s your friend?”

The thief spat at the ground. For his trouble, Einarr boxed his ear.

“Seems like every other week this one an’ his lads are in and out of the guard-house.” The butcher jerked the young man forward and offered his arm to Einarr. “Do as you will.”

Einarr gripped the arm hard enough the boy winced. “Come with me.” Hopefully Jorir got the other one.

* * *

Jorir had, in fact, found the other one. He returned to the Gufuskalam only a few minutes after Einarr did, dragging his prisoner rather more unceremoniously than Einarr had. From the looks of them, Tyr hadn’t gone overboard without a fight. Both boys were shoved down on unattended crates on the pier, where a somewhat drier Tyr had joined his crewmates.

“These the ones?”

“Them’s the ones.”

“I think this is what you were looking for?” Jorir handed the sack he carried in his other hand to Einarr.

A quick glance inside revealed that everything was accounted for. He inclined his head to the dwarf in thanks. “Now. What to do with the two of you.”

The two young men sat sullenly, not yet seeing an escape.

“You see, as the son of a Thane, ordinarily I’d have my choice of punishments. Couple of strong backs like yours would make valuable thralls. I could gift you to my future father-in-law.” Now they looked nervous. That’s more like it. “Lucky for you, I don’t have room for two more people on that little boat of mine.” He waited until their expressions brightened, as though they thought they might get away with it after all.

Einarr smirked. “Or maybe not so lucky. In the process of stealing from me, you also attacked an unconscious man, and tried to drown another of my men. Back home, I’d be well within my rights to have you executed. I could hand you over to the guard and let you take your chances with the gallows.” Not that he would, even if he had a home port, but if he could put the fear of the gods in these two so much the better. “…Hm. Now there’s a thought. You see, I have little enough coin on me, and I expect to owe a fair amount to Master Mathis, there, who has been so kind as to treat the man you assaulted. Master Mathis, would you have a use for a pair of strong backs and deft fingers that plainly have nothing better to do with themselves?”

The apothecary studied them for a moment. “Not I. Keeping thralls in the city is frowned upon. But my brother-in-law maintains a homestead elsewhere in the Islands, and is forever complaining about a lack of hands to keep up with the work.”

“There you go, then,” Einarr said, looking at the boys as if that sealed the deal. “As you were so foolish as to steal from a Prince, plainly what is required is for you to learn the value of honest work. Master Mathis, will you accept these two scoundrels as payment for your services to my friend there?”

The apothecary’s smile was thin and not at all pleasant as he looked over the two thieves as one might inspect a horse. “Yes, I think a farm is just the place for a pair like the two of you, and I suspect I will more than make up for the loss in the foodstuffs of my sister’s gratitude.” He extended a hand toward Einarr, and the two shook on the deal. “Now, since that is dealt with, I’ve already explained to Tyr the treatment your patient will require while you sail. The medicines are in an oilcloth, I’m sure he can point it out if one of you will be taking charge of the care. He should recover his senses any time now.”

“We appreciate it. Will he… will he walk again?”

Mathis shook his head. “I’m afraid it’s too early to say. The knee didn’t seem to be too badly damaged, so it is possible.”

“Thank you. …Your brother-in-law, he is a good man, yes?” Einarr whispered the last: most men saw the value in treating their thralls well, but there were always exceptions.

The apothecary nodded. “My pleasure. And now,” he turned his attention to the newly-minted thralls, who were looking around as though for an escape route. “I must be going, before these two get it into their thick heads to do something stupid. Again.”

Mathis took the boys by their ears and led them off towards his apothecary.

“Well. That took gratifyingly little time. We should be able to get out with the next tide. Tyr, do we have the coin to reprovision?”

“Already seen to.”

“Wonderful. Next stop, Kjell Hall!”


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1.32 – Physician

Einarr had been sure the map was because the harborman didn’t expect he could read right up until he saw the directions that were sketched therein. “Many thanks,” he said, gesturing with the paper. Then he had set out with Jorir into the twisting warrens of Kem’s back streets, glad he had left the bag of treasures stowed under the Gufuskalam’s deck.

“Have you ever been here before,” he asked Jorir quietly.

“Not recently enough to be any help,” the dwarf grumbled back.

“Wasn’t after help. Harborman’s map covers that.” Einarr glanced sidelong down at his new liege-man. “What’s got you so sour of a sudden?

“A man’s life hangs by a thread, and mine’s tied t’it. You’d be sour, too.”

Ah. That. He turned to the left down a not-quite-muddy street, shaking his head. “My apologies. Neither Tyr nor I doubt that you’ve done everything in your power to keep Erik alive. That was a far stronger oath you swore back on Svartlauf than I asked for: it should have been enough on its own, but…”

“Fine.”

“I will release you if you wish. We have no hall, and only my Father’s ship, to return to.”

“You think me so fickle?”

“I’m not sure what to think of you.” Einarr shrugged. “But, I think this is the place.” He gave the courtesy of a rap on the door before stepping inside the healer’s shop.

Einarr’s first impression was of stepping into the home of an herb-witch. Shelves filled with vials and bottles and tiny sacks lined the walls, and the spicy smell of bog myrtle hung in the air. He also smelled something metallic, though, and no herb-witch he’d ever known kept a stock this large. They appeared to be the only two people in the room. “Hello?”

Einarr had to look twice to believe what he saw when a man’s head popped up from behind the counter. It was uncommon, but not unheard of, for a man to be trained in song-magic, but this was no Singer’s place, and no Northern man would be allowed near the apprenticeship of an herb-witch. The face that appeared, though, had the bearing of an Imperial – the second surprise. “I am Mathis.” He glanced at the dwarf as he stood, his height nearly identical to Einarr’s. “Might I ask what brings such an interesting company to my apothecary?”

“My friend, back on our skiff. He’s injured. The harborman sent us.” Truth be told, Einarr wasn’t entirely certain about trusting Erik to some Imperial “apothecary,” but he thought seeking out a Singer here would likely be fruitless.

“Can you be more specific?” Mathis was already gathering supplies into a sack, however.

Jorir spoke up. “Took a nasty hit to the leg. It’s crushed. I think I’ve managed to break the fever, and I’ve got it splinted best I could, but it still doesn’t look right t’me.”

“How long ago?”

“About ten days.” Einarr could ignore for now the strangeness of a male herb-witch: his manner was the same as the best ones in the more northerly ports.

Mathis tisked. “Well, I’ll have a look.” Several vials and smaller sacks moved from the shelf behind his counter into the bag he packed. “Gerrit! Mind the counter. I’m headed to the docks.”

***

As they drew near the pier, Einarr sped his pace as the sound of shouting carried over the water, forcing Jorir to break into a jog. He heard a splash from the direction of the Gufuskalam. Moments later, a pair of scruffy-looking teenagers dashed past their little party. Einarr didn’t get a good look, but he thought they were more likely Imperial than of the North. Einarr loped forward, anxious to find out what had happened on their skiff.

When he reached the Gufuskalam, Einarr received his second shock of the day. Tyr was just then pulling himself from the water, cursing a blue streak. On board, the deck boards were tossed about. Erik still lay with his foot in the air, but he had acquired a rather red mark on the left side of his face. “What happened here?”

“Thieves is what happened, and right cheeky ones at that!”

Jorir led Mathis down to the patient, explaining quietly what had already been done, what had seemed to help and what hadn’t.

“Thieves? The wisest sailor on the Vidofnir, and you got taken down by thieves?”

Tyr glowered at him. “You won’t be laughing when you think about what they were after. Bastards kicked Erik in the face, knocked me into the water, and made off with the whole cursed sack!”

“Godsdamn!” Einarr kicked at the concrete under his feet. “I saw them on our way here.” Chasing down a pair of thieves on his own left him at a disadvantage. Taking Jorir meant hoping the dwarf could keep up. Taking Tyr meant he left the two unknowns alone on their boat, and while he didn’t think Jorir would try to take off without them… “Tyr, go ahead and dry off, keep an eye on things. Give Mathis a hand if he needs it. Jorir, we have some thieves to catch.”

The dwarf’s black beard split in a wicked-looking grin.


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1.31 – Kem Harbor

For more than a week the Gufuskalam sailed south, pushing as hard as its crew could drive the boat with sail and oar, and for more than a week the black-haired dwarf on board hovered over the injured sailor who had been given into his care. If Erik did not seem to be improving, neither did his condition seem to worsen. He even regained consciousness a few times. In spite of his better judgement, Einarr found his attitude toward Jorir softening. Even Tyr could acknowledge his efforts were genuine.

Mid-morning of the eighth day, Einarr stood up to stretch and caught sight of land on the horizon. “Hey Tyr, double-check the chart, will you?”

The older man was still unrolling the parchment when he answered. “That should be the place, and if I’m right we can make landfall today.”

Einarr whooped, the last week’s worry lightening in a rapid burst of exuberance. Jorir looked up like a spooked cat before his gaze darkened to a glare.

“Don’t disturb me patient.”

“Does he look any more disturbed now than he was five minutes ago?” It was a nagging concern of Einarr’s that his friend had hardly stirred during their journey. He still breathed, though, and the leg looked a little better since it had been elevated. “If you’ve got nothing better to do than fuss you can help me row. The sooner we make port, the sooner we can find us a proper healer.”

“An’ how will we be paying this healer?”

“All else fails? It can come out of Erik’s share. Given the choice between keeping his leg and having a pretty for a mistress, I’m sure he’d choose the leg.”

“You might hide that bauble about yer neck, then, before we go ashore. Anyone who sees it will know it’s the most valuable thing aboard.”

Einarr nodded. “Good thinking. I hadn’t intended to keep wearing it, mind, although it’s been good having the goddess of winds on our side this trip.”

“’Course not.”

* * *

The Flatey Islands were among the southernmost lands controlled by the thanes and jarls of the north, and the influence of the Empire could be seen even before one made port. The harbor was built up, and ships of all sizes docked to either side of concrete piers. Those piers were the first, most obvious sign of the southern influence, though the roads that came into view behind them were pale dirt. Two- and three-story buildings rose up behind the harbor, but if the building materials were the same the construction still looked alien to Einarr.

A man in official-looking robes with a pair of glass lenses resting over his nose already stood at the pier as the Gufuskalam nosed between two larger karves that sat high in the water, their hulls evidently empty for the moment. The wood of their hull knocked against the pier and the harborman motioned for Einarr to toss him the docking line.

A moment later their skiff was tied and Einarr took a large step up onto the concrete pier.

“Welcome to Kem. What business are you on?”

“We require a healer.” He gestured toward where Erik lay, his leg still held up by a rope tied above the yardarm.

The harborman’s eyes widened to see the extent of the injuries. “I’ll say. …How?”

“Fimbulvulf. This was the nearest port where we thought there might be aid.”

“I see. …Well, for a boat this size, there is just the small matter of the harbor tax, and then I believe I can direct you where to find a capable healer.”

Einarr suppressed a groan. He had not expected to need coin on this voyage, given their route and their goal, and so had little on him save the gifts from the jotünhall. “How much?”

“For a craft that size, and given the nature of your business, two silver marks per day.”

Einarr growled, but he already heard the knocking of wooden planks. What would be pocket change for his father was going to be a near thing for the four of them. “Tyr, I believe you’ll find some silver belowdecks. Will you pay the man?”

“Already got it.” Tyr met Einarr’s eyes and held it for a long time, his expression saying plainer than words that they would not have many days’ toll for this.

“Thanks.” Einarr nodded his understanding to Tyr, and the marks were passed from Tyr’s hand to Einarr’s to the harborman’s. “Now. You said you had a name for me.”

“Indeed. This way, please, and I will sketch you a map.”

Jorir stepped up to the prow of the Gufuskalam. “If it’s all the same to you, my lord, I would come along.” When Einarr gave him a questioning look, he continued. “His condition’s not changed in days, and anything more I could do for him at this point Lord Tyr could, as well. It might be good if I talked ta the healer meself.”

Tyr looked amused every time the dwarf called him a lord, but had not yet told him to drop it.

“You may be right at that.” Einarr reached down to give the dwarf a hand up to the pier. “We’ll be back as soon as we can.”


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1.30 – Field Medicine

With Erik down, Tyr took the rudder and left the rowing to the strength of youth. Tempting as it was to let out the sail to travel nearly halfway around the island, everyone aboard worried that the jotün would notice something amiss. They were not safe until they crossed out through the storm. And so, Einarr rowed while Tyr kept their course and Jorir wrapped Erik in every woolen blanket on the boat and battened him to the deck.

What felt like hours later they turned away from the island, into the squall surrounding it. The oars tried to pitch out of Einarr’s frozen hands. Tyr fought with the rudder. Einarr was pleased to see Jorir taking his new position seriously: it seemed like every time he looked up he was either shielding Erik’s face from a breaking wave or mopping the man’s face – of sweat or seawater or rain, who could tell. And yet, for all of this, the storm seemed lighter now than it had when they broke through the first time.

When they all four made it through to the open seas outside the eternal storm, Einarr breathed a sigh of relief. The cold had nearly killed them on the way in, when they had Runa’s song to bolster them. That they hadn’t needed it this time was well-nigh miraculous.

“Thanks to Eira!” Jorir exclaimed, sitting back on his heels now that the sun shone on his shoulders again. “It’s the Isinntog that got us out, after all. ‘At’s why Fraener was so keen on keeping it.”

“And why you had to leave once you determined you couldn’t stop me?”

“Aye, and that. But you’ll not regret having me along.”

“With the oath you took? I should hope not.”

“Now will someone give me a hand with these sodding blankets? He’ll overheat in the sun, but they’re soaked.”

Einarr pulled in the oars, glad for the chance to move about a bit. While he unwrapped Erik’s wool cocoon, Tyr let down the sail. His hand brushed against his friend’s face as he worked: Erik’s face may as well have been on fire, as hot as it was. Einarr looked up from under his brows at the ruddy dwarf

He saw the look. “I’ll do what I can. But the quicker we get to Kem, the better.” A long pause followed, while Jorir dug about for the herbs he wanted. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t’a said he got what he deserved.”

“What sort of oath did you offer the jotün when he caught you?”

Jorir snorted. “I promised him my smithing services, nothing else, until such time as he was no longer willing to provide food and materials. Old bastard never did hold up his end of the bargain.”

“Huh.” He still wasn’t sure how far he could trust his new liege man, but for the moment he seemed sincere enough. If he tended Erik well it would go a long ways toward remedying his past offences. “I believe you.” To his surprise, he did. “Once we get to Kem, I may have other tasks for you.”

“I will serve as I can.” While they spoke, the dwarf had mashed the herbs he chose into a pungent poultice that he then dabbed on Erik’s forehead. Einarr noted he only applied about half of it there. “That should serve to keep the fever down, and maybe numb the pain a little while I work on the leg.”

Tyr had long since cut away the pant leg on the afflicted side. The leg itself was a swollen mass of red-and-purple flesh, shading yet darker around where the fimbulvulf’s teeth had pierced the skin. Einarr shook his head: he may have threatened to toss Jorir overboard if Erik died, but even a skilled herb-witch might have trouble here. I can be reasonable and still make him prove himself.

Jorir trundled toward the prow of the Gufuskalam. “Might be a good idea to move what you can to the back,” he said, crouching down to lift up a deck board. “I’ll need this for the splint, and maybe one other besides.”

Tyr’s brows drew down, but Einarr stopped him from speaking with a raised hand. “We can deal with that. Is there anything else you need?”

Jorir drew his thick eyebrows down, studying his patient. “If there’s some way to rig up a sling, it would be good to let the blood drain out of his leg. Shame ye didn’t think ta bring a jar o’ leeches; they’d bring the swelling down right quick, and probably make him more comfortable besides.”

Tyr spat over the side. “Leeches are hard to come by in Kjelling lands. Too cold, not enough marshland.”

The dwarf harrumphed, sliding the deck board underneath Erik’s leg as carefully as he could. The unconscious man’s face twisted in spite of the precautions. “As ye say. Thus, if we can hang a sling from the yardarm it will at least keep his blood flowing.”

Einarr eyed the oar setup. “So long as we’re under sail it shouldn’t be too much of a problem, should it?”

Tyr studied the mast for a long moment. “I can make it work. First sign of a storm, though, and he’ll need to be moved.”

Jorir nodded, not looking up. With the leg resting on its board, he had moved to dabbing the remaining poultice on the least-healthy looking portions of the badly injured thigh.


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1.29 – Escape from Svartlauf

“That piece was given to me before I left on this journey by the woman who will be my bride, so do not scorn it. I’m afraid I’m still going to have to bind you until we’re underway on my boat.” Einarr strode behind Jorir and swiftly wrapped the rope about his wrists in a figure-eight pattern.

“Better than staying here, an’ it’s not like I’ve given you much reason to trust my word. …Satisfied?”

Einarr finished tightening the rope around Jorir’s wrists and let his hand drop to the long tail he’d left to keep hold of the prisoner. “Yeah. Lead on.” He patted the dwarf’s axe that now hung at his own belt near Sinmora.

A small hallway led off from the main chamber they had tumbled into. The Isinntog was now so bright Einarr was tempted to take it off, but that would require trusting the dwarf enough to loose his leash. Instead he squinted against the silvery glow as the sound of water lapping against rock reached his ears.

Jorir led Einarr to a small wooden pier jutting out into an underground stream – the source of the lapping noise. Tied at the pier was a small fishing boat, sized such that the dwarf could have operated it alone.

“It’ll be a bit cramped, but it’ll get us to your boat.”

“Seems seaworthy enough. Get in.”

Jorir shrugged, as though he had been half-expecting something else, and climbed into the prow of the boat. Einarr didn’t trust the dwarf enough to let him row out to the Gufuskalam, and so he would have to sit on the deck boards still trussed.

The seat was uncomfortably narrow and low to the deck when Einarr took his place at the oars. Nothing he couldn’t bear with, however. He slipped the dwarf’s half-hitch and cast off towards the waters inside Svartlauf’s storm.

The only sound was that of the oars slipping through the water until the mouth of the cave came into view around a bend, bright white against the blackness of the rock. “All right, blacksmith, you’ve got until we escape the storm to convince me of your sincerity.”

* * *

To his credit, Jorir had not bored Einarr with begging for his life or babbling. He spoke quietly of his skill as a smith, and during his time on the island he had learned more than a little of carpentry, shipbuilding, and herbs – for the jotün had paid no attention to his well-being unless it should happen to affect his smithing. Jorir preferred that, for even serving Fraener he preferred to avoid his attention when possible.

“If you preferred to avoid his attention, why did you warn him?”

“Oh, envy, partly. But my tunnels were always the most likely way for another thief to get in. I’d have been blamed if I just let you alone.”

Einarr harrumphed and went back to rowing. The dwarf kept up a steady stream of talk: once his skills were in the open, he launched into the story of how he had come to try and steal the Isinntog that now adorned Einarr’s neck. The cave opened out onto a tiny bay some distance around the shore from where the Gufuskalam awaited, but the tiny boat was quick in spite of the size of its load, and within the hour Einarr was able to stand and wave to catch Tyr’s attention.

“And who, pray tell, might this be?” Tyr asked as the fishing boat bumped against the side of their skiff.

“My liege-man, apparently. Former servant of the gods-cursed jotün. Calls himself Jorir.”

Tyr harrumphed even as he gave both man and dwarf a hand into the ship. “And you trust him?”

“If I did, do you think he’d be tied? Little bastard fought tooth and nail to kill me, right up until he decided to surrender and get off this rock. But he has sworn. How’s Erik?”

“Still breathing. Feverish.” Tyr gestured toward where the burly redhead was laid out on the deck, breathing heavily. His leg was splinted but still looked mangled.

“Will he make it to Kjell?” Einarr noted that the dwarf moved as quietly as his stubby legs could carry him towards the sick man, trying to look unobjectionable. Einarr kept one eye on him even as Tyr reached for the sea chart.

Tyr shook his head. “Not with what I can do on the boat. I’ve been studying the charts, though.” He unrolled it, pointing to a nearby chain in the wrong direction. “I think I can keep him alive until we get to the settlement here. Big place, that. They should have an herb-witch if not a songstress we could take him to.”

“Beg pardon,” Jorir interrupted. “This is the one who got chomped by Lord Fraener’s pet?”

“Aye.” Tyr’s answer sounded wary.

“You’ll want the two of you to navigate the storm. If you’ll let me, I’ll see to him. But the sooner you find a real healer, the better.”

“If he dies, I’ll throw you overboard myself.”

“I know you will. But it were no lie when I said I knew a bit of medicine. Enough to be able to splint that leg right, maybe save it for him.”

Einarr shared a look with Tyr. The older man looked nearly as skeptical as he felt, but shrugged. “Worth a shot. I knew that splint wasn’t likely to hold.”

Einarr gave a curt nod. “Very well. Make ready, then: we head for Kem, on the Islands of Flatey.”


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