Tag: Hrug

7.34 – Master’s Prerogative

Three days later, Einarr was buoyant when he caught his first glimpse of the easternmost farm of the village. He had returned from a quest, and for the first time since Jarl Hroaldr had sent him to rob the jotün he actually felt richer for the victory. There was, after all, no-one to bury this time.

As the three men walked past, Hrug cradling the bandaged stump of his arm as best he could, the alfs of the village welcomed them warmly. Einarr suspected word had come ahead, somehow – or, as was always possible, they had performed another of their divinations. The welcome was far warmer than he would have expected, even just for himself.

Melja stood in the village square, dressed as he always was in the rough, almost monastic clothes that Einarr had come to expect from the villagers. “Well, well, well,” he chuckled. “If it isn’t the hero of the decade, returned to us. With friends, no less!”

“Ah, yes. Elder Melja, allow me to present Naudrek and Hrug,” he said, gesturing to each in turn. “Formerly of the Bjorn. Their assistance ensured the Shroud was destroyed, and in turn they have no ship to return to.”

Melja glanced at Hrug and nodded: why he could no longer sail was obvious. But then he turned his eye towards Naudrek and raised an eyebrow at Einarr.

“I’m afraid we, ah, stepped on his Captain’s toes a little in the process of fighting the Shroud.”

Naudrek snorted. “He treats that ship like it was his only child. I bullied the lookout to let you on, and we cut up the deck. I shoulda known better, really.”

Einarr turned back to Melja with a shrug. “And there you have it.”

The Elder nodded. “I take it you managed to discover the key to awakening Sinmora?”

“Yes, thanks to a Singer in the port. Sinmora… she seemed to eat the Shroud. Just like she seemed to eat the magic of the wards. All she needed was to touch it, once she was resonating.”

“Resonance, you say. Interesting… Well, we’ll have time enough to examine the sword while you’re here.” Melja looked back at Hrug, considering. “Well, in that case, you are well come to the Shrouded Village. The quest was a part of Einarr’s training… but I think we can see about some reward for the two of you.”

“Thank you, sir.” Naudrek bobbed his head, as though he weren’t sure if he should bow or not. Einarr remembered the feeling.

“Mira and I still have some room. Einarr, show them to the house and then meet me at the archive. There’s much to do yet if you want to rejoin your ship in the spring.”

“In the spring? I thought I was to go back in late fall, before the end of the Season.”

“Oh, goodness, no,” Melja chuckled. “If you’d had no talent for the working, maybe, but you’ve got the knack and you’re clever besides. I simply can’t send you back half-trained.”

“What do you mean, you can’t send me back?”

“You have shown surprising talent for the runes – far more than I expected when our mutual friend brought you here – and you have already stumbled upon an excellent way of killing yourself with them if you leave here half-trained. Which you would, if I sent you back to your ship this fall. Especially given the time you lost to hunting the Shroud.”

Which, he did not add, would not have been free in the first place were it not for Einarr’s mysterious sword. He did not need to: it had been said already.

“My Father expects me back. He has commissioned a second ship, one which I’m to helm, which will be ready on our return to Kjell.” Runa also expected him back, but he did not intend to mention her. Or his eagerness to brag of his deeds before Jarl Hroaldr.

“Nevertheless, you will stay. I daresay your father desires a live heir more than a dead one, and if the price of that is that someone else helms your ship in the interim, then that is the price that must be paid. You cannot leave here. Not so early.”

“When Ystävä arrives to take me back to Breidhaugr—”

“Our mutual friend has already been made aware of the situation. He will not be coming until the spring.”

Einarr gaped for a long minute. Was this what came of dealing with alfs? “This is not what we agreed on!”

Melja drew himself up to his full height and stared down at Einarr, all trace of warmth gone from his demeanor. “I am modifying the agreement. As your Master in the art of Runes, I declare that you are not ready. Should I let you loose on the world as you are now, you would be a menace to yourself and those around you. Now. Show your guests to the longhouse. There is work to be done.”

The old alfr turned and stalked away into the village. Einarr must have twitched, as though he intended to go after him, because he felt a pair of restraining hands on his arms. When he turned to look, Hrug shook his head.

“Pretty sure that’s a fight you don’t want to win.” Naudrek looked more serious than Einarr had seen since he got kicked off the Bjorn.

“I only came here to learn how to read them in the first place.”

“And yet, you’ve not hesitated to use them once, that I’ve seen. An’ you’re an honorable man, but you’re also a clever one. Best listen to him, don’t you think?”

Einarr grumbled, still staring after Melja. Finally he gave a sharp tug at the hem of his tunic. “Fine. You’re… not wrong. This way.”

Spring, then. Spring, at the earliest, before he could boast of his deeds to the Jarl. Before he could hear Erik and Bardr and Jorir’s tales of what had happened while he was away. Spring, at the earliest, before he could see Runa. He quashed a growl, knowing that Melja and Naudrek and the old Singer, whose hands he saw in this, were right.


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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading!  Here ends book 7: Einarr and the Crimson Shroud. Book 8 will begin on Oct. 1, 2019, and marks the beginning of an entirely new arc in the story. I hope you’re looking forward to it!

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.

7.33 – Leaving Eskiborg

“Ah. Right.” With a thought, Einarr withdrew his will and the deck of the Bjorn ceased glowing. “But we cannot leave yet. As much as it pains me, I do need to make arrangements with your Captain for the damage we caused.”

“Fine, but right now is not the best time for that.”

“It has been my experience that delay in these matters tends to worsen things, not improve them.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you…” Naudrek stepped quietly back from Einarr, toward the dock, but did not turn his back on the Captain’s awning.

Einarr turned to face that direction, his face cool and composed in the face of the tawny bear of a man approaching like a squall. “You have my apolo-”

The man, self-evidently the Captain, did not give Einarr a chance to finish his statement before his fist embedded itself in Einarr’s stomach. “That was for coming aboard without my say-so.”

Einarr doubled over, momentarily winded. Of all the reactions he had been expecting, immediate violence was not one of them.

Before Einarr could catch his breath, the man growled in his ear. “Now. You going to tell me why you came on board and vandalized my newly repaired deck, or am I going to turn you two into new deck boards?”

“Had… to… destroy… Shroud,” Einarr managed to gasp out.

The captain took a step back and crossed his arms: evidently he was willing to give Einarr a moment to breathe.

Once he got a deep breath, he introduced himself and told how he had come to follow Naudrek out to the Bjorn.

The captain glowered at Einarr and snorted. That was all the warning Einarr had before the man pulled back and planted a second fist in his gut. “Fine. Now we’re even. Don’t let me see you here again.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Einarr choked out. As he staggered back toward the docks, the Captain called past him.

“That goes for you, too, Naudrek! What were you thinking, bringing a stranger aboard?”

The man swallowed before he answered. “I was thinking that thing got Hrug’s arm, sir. But I’ll be going, just as you asked.”

The Captain grunted. “Hrug was a good sailor. Sorry to see the two of ye go.”

“Me, too, sir.”

Once they were a good ways up the docks, Naudrek breathed a sigh. “That was why I’d wanted to wait for morning. Captain’s got a temper, and he sticks with whatever he decides when it’s up. Guess it’s time to find me a new ship.”

“I just might be able to help with that…”


Day was dawning as the two men returned to the Pewter Pot, and it seemed a pale and wan thing after the night’s exertions. Einarr disliked that he had gotten the man thrown off his ship, even if Naudrek denied that he was to blame.

Hrug’s face was as wan as the morning light, but he slept peacefully in one of the Pewter Pot’s few bed closets. It was perhaps for the best that he had not awakened yet: better to face reality in the light of day, with friends on hand. And, on the subject of misplaced blame, Naudrek hovered over his former crewmate like a mother bird over its nest.

The mute finally awakened around midday, although the cast of his eyes said he wished he had not. By supper, though, color had come back to the man’s face, and he sat up and acted lively again. Einarr brought his bowl of greasy stew with its slab of dark bread over then.

“The two of you helped me in my quest, and it cost you. But I bet if you come back to the Shrouded Village with me, there will be some sort of reward to be had.”

Hrug only shrugged, but Naudrek urged him to go. “After all,” he said, “if the blessed alfs can’t help you, who can?”

Thus it was decided, and on the first day of autumn the three men set off from Eskiborg, with only a brief stop at the Bronze Archer. Einarr wanted to let Eydri know she’d been right about Sinmora – and to remind her that, if she was still in want of a ship come spring, he would likely still be in need of a Singer.

Business in the city concluded, they set back out on the main road leading into the interior of the island. It struck Einarr that he still had no clear idea where in the seas they were, other than near waters claimed by the Konneul Empire, nor did he know the name of the island, or even if it was a lone island or an archipelago. Mentally, he shrugged. He could always ask the alfrs, before they sent him back to Breidhaugr and the Vidofnir.

As their feet carried them down the road, only half-remembered but impossible to miss at this stage, and Einarr regaled his two new companions with tales of his adventures on his father’s ship, it occurred to him that something was different now, not in him but in the world around him. He fell quiet a moment as it struck him: not once during this elf-quest had he cursed his Calling as Cursebreaker.

“Einarr? Everything all right?” Naudrek asked.

Einarr shook his head, unsure for how long he’d lapsed into silence and unwilling to ask. “Right as rain, Naudrek. Right as rain.” Here he paused again, finally deciding against telling them that right this instant. “Just thinking how surprised master Melja will be when he hears how we did it.” And that was true, too. Now they just needed to get back to the village.


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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! This marks the second-to-last chapter of Book 7: Einarr and the Crimson Shroud. Book 8 will begin on October 8, 2019.

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.

7.32 – The Muspel Shroud

The shadow of the Shroud was a deep blood-red in the faint illumination still coming off the deck of the Bjorn. Sinmora practically hummed in Einarr’s hand as he stood on deck, facing the target of his quest once more.

Naudrek faced the Shroud at his side, and for that Einarr was grateful. He wasn’t sure how much help the other man would be against a living piece of cloth, but it was still good to have an ally.

Sinmora’s hum increased in time with Einarr’s resolve. Over the water, the Shroud seemed to quiver in place, almost as though it were cornered.

Why, though? Einarr was not going to complain, but it was puzzling. Why did the Shroud need to bother with a boat at all? It could fly under its own power, and it was not a creature to need rest. Whatever the reason, it was working to Einarr’s advantage. Still, though, he needed to get it back over the deck to end the standoff. Einarr took a testing step forward.

The Shroud began circling back around toward the deck, almost as though the water was as fearsome to it as Einarr’s awakened blade. Of course. The wards that were used to contain it were based around the water runes. That’s why they collapsed when Sinmora first awakened. As fascinating as that was, however, it didn’t solve the problem. By the time the Shroud stood over the deck, Einarr would be in the water.

Naudrek snorted and sheathed his blade. “Keep its attention a minute.”

Einarr hummed in answer and turned his full attention back to the Shroud as Naudrek quietly slipped away. Frowning, Einarr took another step towards the Shroud where it hung like a banner in strong wind. The Shroud, predictably, circled back the other direction. Marginally closer to the deck, he supposed, but not enough.

They repeated the steps of this dance a few more times, the Shroud always remaining a few feet out over the side of the boat, where Einarr could not hope to reach it with Sinmora.

“Incoming!” Naudrek’s voice rang out even as Einarr heard the whistling of a spear through the air and saw a barbed bident flash out over the water. Reflexively (does it have reflexes?) the Shroud wrapped itself around the fishing spear’s handle even as Naudrek began to pull it in.

A grin split Einarr’s face: so the man was clever as well as impetuous, was he? Good. Maybe Einarr would try to steal him away from the Captain of the Bjorn.

The Shroud jerked and tugged on the spear point, but drew inexorably nearer to the wall of the ship and the blade that devoured magic. Naudrek’s arms strained, but did not falter.

Einarr shifted on the balls of his feet, ready to lunge. Sinmora he brought up, ready to slash at the fabric. Please let this work.

Sinmora pulsed, much like she had back in the vault. Einarr took a deep breath.

Naudrek had the spear haft in hand again, and slammed the point of the bident down into the deck boards.

Now the Muspel Shroud thrashed wildly, pulling at the spear where it was pierced like a wild animal in a trap. It would keep pulling, Einarr knew, until its fabric tore and it could kill again. He had already seen that a simple thing like a pin or a tear would not stop the Shroud.

Sinmora pulsed again, and he brought his blade down in a mighty chop. The still, quiet voice in the back of his head remarked that the Captain would be right to demand damages of them. He silenced it.

A flash of red light nearly blinded him, and lines of a fiery energy converged in a whirlpool around Sinmora’s blade.

There was a sound like steam escaping a kettle, and the edges of the shroud went from red to black to grey. Underneath the screaming whine, though, Einarr heard the telltale sound of ripping cloth.

Sinmora pulsed again, and the fire energy began to flow faster. Unlike in the vault beneath the temple, though, this time the magic did not manifest immediately on the blade.

The shriek grew louder, echoing across the water below, but still the tearing noise continued as an undertone.

No you don’t… He drew back, and drove Sinmora down into the cloth once more.

Abruptly, the transition from red through black to grey accellerated. A moment later, Einarr and Naudrek stood panting, their weapons still embedded in the deck, with a small pile of ash between them. The steel of Sinmora’s blade had taken on a red-gold cast, and Einarr could still feel his sword pulsing with power.

With a deep breath, Einarr loosened his blade from where it had stuck fast in the deck boards. It was finished. He had hoped, on some level, to have a trophy to take back to Melja and prove his deed, but such was not to be. As it was, he had the fire pulsing in the sword (for how long? He did not know), and Naudrek’s witness, and a pile of ash.

“Is it… over?” The other man asked, a little tentatively.

With a nod, not tearing his eyes away from the spot where, not even a minute ago, the Shroud was doing everything in its power to escape. “Looks like it.”

Naudrek gave a tug and a bitter laugh. “Well, Hrug, at least you’ve had what little justice we can give you.”

Einarr stood a long moment, staring at the still faintly-glowing sword blade. “I almost can’t believe that worked. And I still don’t know why you can do that, Sinmora.”

“Really?” Naudrek laughed again. “It’s time we got back to our bunks for the night, if you’re talking to your sword.”

“Heh. I suppose. Not like you don’t want to check on your friend at all, though.”

“Not at all. And not like I want to avoid the Captain right this minute, either. Let’s go… and if you can stop the deck from glowing, it might not be a bad idea.”


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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.

7.30 – Midnight Assault

They were well into the midnight watch, and shadows cast by the fire flickering in the hearth sent shadows dancing over the walls. Hrug grunted and jostled Einarr with an elbow. Dutifully, but without much hope, Einarr turned to look, expecting just another false alarm.

Something slid through the smoke and down into the firelight. For just an instant, Einarr thought he saw red.

The color only lasted a moment, but now Einarr could see something moving even after it was out of the light. He nodded for Hrug as he shifted to face the fluttering Shroud, unsure if the man saw. Either way, he reset his grip on Sinmora’s handle even as he brought the blade back up to guard.

Naudrek moved around, as well, and now the three men formed a line watching the movement of deeper darkness through the room. If it knew they watched, it gave no sign.

Einarr focused his will on Sinmora, feeling for the humming vibration that he thought meant he was close to awakening its power, even as he followed the Shroud’s path through the room (for there was no mistaking it for anything but the Shroud).

Still the thing ignored them. It was headed for the side of the room where the trestle tables never were, where the proprietress put down rugs that kept down the mud and made the hallingdanse, which she actively encouraged, treacherous sport indeed.

Carefully, Einarr stepped forward, followed a moment later by his two unexpected allies. They, more than anything, made him feel that this was possible tonight. Thus it was that as they stalked toward their apparently unwary prey, a smile played at the corners of his mouth.

As they approached, Naudrek took hold of a long candlestick and held it up like one would a brand.

The Shroud began to glow with a light the color of molten rock, casting the entirety of the hall in an evil red light. The temperature of the room seemed to grow noticeably hotter, to the point where sweat began to bead on Einarr’s forehead almost immediately.

That was the moment the Shroud abruptly changed direction, zipping back toward the three who had thought themselves unnoticed.

Naudrek thrust forward with the candlestick, and as it momentarily tangled itself around the would-be brand Einarr saw that there were no tears to be seen in its fabric. A moment of fear pulsed behind his ears, followed quickly by the resolve to end this here, and Sinmora began to hum.

The Shroud untangled itself from the candlestick to reveal a half-melted, burning candle. Hrug gave a wordless yell and slashed at the delicate-looking material, only to have the artifact wrap itself around the blade. Soon after Hrug’s yell changed in timber from defiance to pain as the sword flashed white hot. The guard melted against his hand and fused to the hilt, which glowed red even through the leather bindings. The smell of burned flesh rose like smoke. Eldritch fire began to climb up Hrug’s arm and the man screamed again.

Einarr did not think, he merely acted. Fast as lightning, Sinmora cleaved through Hrug’s arm at the elbow. The forearm was ash before it hit the floor.

Hrug staggered backward, clutching at the stump of his arm, his face grown pale and his eyes and mouth open wide in a silent scream.

“No!” Naudrek screamed.

Einarr ripped the hem from his tunic. Hrug would still die, if Einarr didn’t move quickly, and that was something he could not allow. The man had stepped up to help with no thought of reward. The malign red light in the room faded as Einarr wrapped the tourniquet just above the cut he himself had caused. Someone caught Hrug as he began to collapse and lowered him gently to the floor – Naudrek, Einarr saw.

The rest of the hall was beginning to rouse itself, now, in response to the commotion.

One of the sailors who had turned their backs on Einarr before demanded “What goes on here?”

“The Muspel Shroud was here. Someone call for an herb-witch!”

“The Shroud…” Naudrek muttered, his voice full of hate.

“We’ve still got one more chance.”

“It got away. Up through the smoke hole.”

“We know where it’s going. He will live, and he will have vengeance.”

The other man grunted.

“Is someone going for a healer?” Einarr asked the room. The owner had stumbled out, bleary-eyed and somehow even more rumpled than when Einarr had first met her. “This man needs an herb-witch, or a Singer.”

The owner shouted out a name, and a boy some years younger than Einarr appeared from the loft – one of her sons, he guessed – and slipped out the door. “He’ll have one. Shroud gone?”

“From here.”

The owner nodded, then turned and went back in to her bed closet.

Einarr looked to Naudrek, who was checking his friend’s body over for other injuries. “We should go after it.”

With only a little reluctance the other man agreed. “You will be avenged,” he muttered to the fallen Hrug. “Follow me.”

The two of them stepped out into the moonlight streets of the docks district and Einarr was struck once again by how large Eskiborg was. Naudrek took off at a jog, and Einarr followed. Not many minutes later, they passed the boy from the Pot leading a rather bleary-looking middle-aged woman going the other way.

Naudrek did not lead them to the broad, main street that cut through the city like a sword, but rather deeper into the twisty, narrow streets of the Docks district. Before long the only thing Einarr was certain of was that they headed generally east, toward the water’s edge, where the Bjorn floated, awaiting both its stowaway and the pursuers.


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Table of Contents


Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

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

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

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