Tag: Kettleness

8.21 – Under Seige

Hi, Everyone! Allene here. We’re going to try something special with book 8, assuming I don’t exhaust myself in the process. In an effort to get my rankings higher on TWF and RRL, I’m aiming to post two chapters/day for the next two weeks (so, 28 chapters in 2 weeks, or what will probably be most of the book), and then go straight into book 9 when it’s done. Wish me luck!

“Do it.”

At Einarr’s word, Liupold and Naudrek tossed the bar out of the way and scrambled back over the makeshift palisade.

No sooner had they righted themselves, javelins in hand, than the press of bodies forced open the door to reveal a writhing mass of the kraken’s flesh-puppets.

They surged into the armory, arms and weapons flailing clumsily. Each time one was struck by arrow or javelin they crumpled to the ground, inert, only to rise again moments later. The killing field slowly filled with the bodies of the puppet master’s servants.

Eydri sang even as she drew her bow, but no illusions fell from Einarr’s eyes this time. They were not monsters wearing human skin, but tools manipulated by the monster directly. He fired another arrow: this one took its target in the eye. It did not rise again.

“The eyes!” He called across the room. “Shoot the eyes!”

The point was momentarily mooted as Hrug lit off one of his fire runes in the center of a mass of the flesh-puppets. With a whoosh like the Arkona’s sea-fire cannon a fireball engulfed them and spread. More of the flesh puppets fell and did not rise again.

It wasn’t much, but Einarr would take it. Good shooting and the occasional ball of fire would get them out of here, and then they could turn this island into an ash heap. He drew back his bow.

Another eye shot, another fallen puppet. But so long as Hrug could keep cleaning them out with the occasional fireball, they could escape this without dousing themselves in corruption.

Einarr just hoped his hand would hold out. It had been a very long time since he had done this much shooting.


Hrug was exhausted. Out of all the arrows and javelins they had started with, a bare handful remained both unshot and unburnt. Rambert had a nasty looking gash on his arm from a lucky shot by one of the flesh-pupppet’s pitchforks… but that was the worst of the damage they had taken.

The armor racks they had used as a palisade were well-nigh destroyed, of course, as was the armor they had left on the racks in question. But the flesh puppets no longer surged into the armory like a tide of hungry death and for that, at least, they could be glad. Einarr wanted little so much as to collapse onto the floor and sleep for a week. Hrug must be feeling it even more, with as much rune work as they had required of him.

Liupold groaned and levered himself back up to his feet, slowly. “We should go before the puppet master decides he wants to try us again.”

“Can everyone move?” Einarr asked as he, too, staggered to his feet.

“I think so,” Rambert answered. Eydri had bandaged the gash on his arm. Einarr hoped that meant it wasn’t bad enough to Sing over, and not that it would require specialized ointments she hadn’t brought ashore.

“Then let’s get out of here. Job’s not done yet.”

With groans and mutters, the eight of them took up the last of the ammunition and moved out of the armory and back into the halls, the fatigue all but forgotten as they jogged once more for the front entrance.

What flesh puppets remained in the hallway seemed uninterested, as though, having tried their skill, the kraken was content to leave them alone. The beast was a horror of the deeps, but did it think like an animal? Had they, in fact, asserted their dominance over it sufficiently that it would show its belly?

Einarr shook his head, chuckling to himself as they moved. What did it matter, if the black, corrupted kraken acted like a submissive dog the next time they saw it? That just made its belly easier to open.

As the front gates closed with a resounding thud behind them, Einarr felt like he could breathe a little easier. According to Naudrek, Hrug had managed to lay more pieces of the array while they were in the citadel, which meant that it should nearly be complete. How he intended to complete the array, Einarr had no idea, but that was why Hrug was Melja’s best student.

They hurried back mostly the way they had come, avoiding what few flesh-puppets they saw and detouring towards the northern coast. If the Coneheads wondered why, they did not ask, and Einarr was not inclined to explain.

Striding down one of the island’s many narrow roads, Bea hustled up beside him. “Your father – he is one of your northern lords? A… chieftan?”

Einarr smirked bitterly. “By birthright, he is a Thane, yes.”

“By birthright only? Not in actuality?”

“That is… complicated.”

Bea nodded, a small frown on her almost otherworldly face. “It would be a shame to waste a talent such as yours on a raiding ship.”

Einarr gave her a sharp look, but she wasn’t done.

“My father, I’m sure, will wish to reward those responsible for my rescue. There could be any number of powerful positions available.” She seemed to see his expression now, and the shadow of refusal in his eyes. “Just think on it. We can talk more later.” The princess Beatrix dropped back to walk with Liupold again.

Einarr shook his head and picked up the pace. What did she think she was suggesting? Easy enough, though, to turn her down when they spoke next.

Finally the burnt husk of Kettleness rose into view over the desolate fields. Nothing now stood between them and the relative safety of the Arkona save a mile or so of ocean. The eight of them hurried down the path to their waiting boat.

The boat was not all that waited them in the inlet. Leaning casually against its side stood a tall, statuesque woman with black hair even longer and more lustrous than Bea’s, wearing a gleaming golden breastplate. Beside her rested her winged helmet and spear.


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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.

8.15 – A Slight Wrinkle

Hi, Everyone! Allene here. We’re going to try something special with book 8, assuming I don’t exhaust myself in the process. In an effort to get my rankings higher on TWF and RRL, I’m aiming to post two chapters/day for the next two weeks (so, 28 chapters in 2 weeks, or what will probably be most of the book), and then go straight into book 9 when it’s done. Wish me luck!

The landing party returned to the ship after setting Kettleness ablaze. Even had they not worried about attracting the attention of the heart of the cult, and they did, not one of them had the sort of attachment to place or resident that would have permitted them to stand vigil over the entire thing.

No sooner had Liupold climbed back aboard the Arkona than his Mate accosted him. He asked through gritted teeth, “Already you let them set fire to the island? Are you half savage yourself?”

“Calm yourself, Walter. Yes, we did burn the remains in the village when it became clear that the priests had failed in their task. The funeral rites of the Clans are different from ours, but they still bring peace to the dead. Or would you prefer for this to become a cursed isle of the dead?”

“What do you mean, the priests failed? How does that even happen?”

Einarr, already over the bulwark and giving Eydri a hand for balance, broke in. “The same way any other man fails at their task, I wager. It’s not like being ‘ordained’ suddenly gives a man superhuman ability.” There were priests among the Clans, but not many, and most of their duties revolved around the major holy days.

Walter apparently did not like that answer, however. “Watch your mouth, bar-!”

“Enough!” Liupold cut off his Mate. “These people are guests aboard our ship, whose presence we requested to assist in dealing with a problem within Imperial waters. If you provoke this man into a duel, I will not help you.”

Walter visibly restrained himself, although not enough to keep Einarr from seeing the look of anger directed at Liupold – or the look of hatred he cast at the four from the Clans.

“My people prepared the way, and Eydri Sang them to the gods. Your own Captain lit the first spark of their pyre, and it was well done.”

Liupold inclined his head toward Einarr. “Now. No matter what we might think of each other, the problem of the corruption is not yet resolved, not even in the slightest. Walter, send for a cask of my good Eisbock and plenty of bread. We will be in my cabin. Burkhart, Rambert, go about your duties. We may send for you again.”

“Aye, sir,” the two men echoed.

“Now, this way, if you please.”

Liupold led them all belowdecks once more, and as they clambered off the ladder he spoke again. “My apologies for Walter’s behavior…”

Einarr shook his head and held out a hand to forestall him. “For now, it is enough that you corrected him. It is not as though it is any secret what our people think of one another. I do not intend to let myself be drawn into a duel while I am in your waters.” He did not add – aloud – that if he needed to put a yapping dog in its place, he was fully capable of doing so without a duel. Either way, the Captain seemed mollified.

“Very good. …On the beach, earlier, I saw your sorceror working some spell?”

“Hrug seems to have a plan to trap the kraken: he was laying the foundation of that.” If he understood what the other man was doing properly, it would do more than just trap it, but it would definitely do at least that.

Liupold’s face grew blank as he opened the door to his cabin and welcomed them in. “Runes, you say? There are still people who work those?”

“Not many, and most of them alfs to judge by our teachers. But yes.”

“Ah, I see.” Liupold shook his head, as though there were something about the idea of runes he disliked. “Carry on then, I suppose. But while he’s working on that, what are we supposed to do about the villagers?”

Einarr raised an eyebrow. “Do? Can’t your sorcerors call up winds, or create lightning from a clear sky? If you encourage the fire in Kettleness just a little, no-one has to set foot on that island again.”

“But what if…”

“What if?”

The Captain sighed. “No what if involved. They have captives – maybe more, now that the priests have fallen.”

Now Einarr cursed, loudly and long. “You’re sure they’re captive, and not new members?” He couldn’t quite repress a shudder at that, thinking of what must have to happen to grow their numbers.

“As sure as we can be. So, no, we can’t just put the whole island to the torch. There are young women and children imprisoned on that island. Sacrifices, we think.”

“Why are we only hearing about this now?”

Liupold hesitated.

Einarr narrowed his eyes. “What do you think of the Clans, that you would just assume that would make no difference to me?”

“It is well-known that you take slaves from among the Imperial villages you raid. It is also well-known that a man’s slaves will often be murdered as part of his funeral rites. How is that different from human sacrifice?”

While Einarr was still spluttering with anger, Eydri answered. Her voice, so enchanting before, was cool as ice. “In the first place, a man may earn his way free of thralldom. In the second, no thrall is required to attend to his master in death. Only the most favored are given the option, and of those only the loyallest and most devoted ever accept.”

“Is that so.” Liupold sounded skeptical, but just then a knock came on the door. It was a deckhand, bearing the cask of ale the captain had requested and five cups. “Well, whatever the case may be, we have a handful of young women to save before they find themselves on the altar. Sit down, sip a cup – sip, mind, this is stronger than you expect – and let us determine our course of action.”

“Agreed,” Einarr answered, only somewhat mollified. “Have you a map of the island?”


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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.

8.14 – Kettleness

Hi, Everyone! Allene here. We’re going to try something special with book 8, assuming I don’t exhaust myself in the process. In an effort to get my rankings higher on TWF and RRL, I’m aiming to post two chapters/day for the next two weeks (so, 28 chapters in 2 weeks, or what will probably be most of the book), and then go straight into book 9 when it’s done. Wish me luck!

Hohenwerth island looked like the island of the cult in miniature in many ways, although for the moment it lacked the blackness of that bigger, more northerly island. Steep shale slopes rose from the surface of the water, topped by the green of good farmland and orchards. A sinister silence hung over the area, though, and it didn’t take Einarr long to realize why. There were no fishing boats out on the water, despite the time and the weather.

All eyes on deck were glued to the shore as an inlet came into view and, behind it, a village.

Even from here it was plain the village was a husk. Deserted, Einarr would have said, if not for Liupold’s story. Dead.

“That,” Captain Liupold confirmed, “is all that remains of Kettleness.”

Einarr hated to have to ask it, but: “Have the dead been properly buried?”

“The priests were arriving to deal with them when we left.”

“I do not know Imperial burial practices. But if so much as one body remains in the village, you will do for them as we did for Langavik. Eydri, would you be willing to assist in this?”

“Of course.”

“What happened at Langavik?” Liupold asked.

“While we were tracking the ship that kidnapped Runa, we put into port there. Hoping for information. Well, we got some… although not exactly the way we hoped. The entire city was painted with blood. Men hung from meat hooks. Some of them were disemboweled…”

“Survivors?”

“None. The city became their pyre, and we sailed on. Then we picked up the storm they rode and it led us to the island where all of this started.” The horror remained, although not so visceral as at the time. Still his eyes remained glued to the husk of a village he could see on shore. Had the priests done their job, or had they been corrupted in turn?

“Drop anchor,” Liupold ordered. “Ready the landing boat: I’ll be taking our guests ashore.”

His Mate protested, but the Captain was having none of it. “We’ve both been ashore here already. You have the Arkona, I have responsibility for what happens here.”


An almost eerie feeling of oppression hung heavy over the landing party as they stepped ashore. Liupold was the only one who had been here before, but Einarr was certain he knew what he was about to see. Naudrek, Hrug, Eydri, and Burkhart and Rambert from the Arkona followed. The two Arkonites tried to put on a brave face for the outsiders in their midst, but the four from the Clans merely plunged grimly ahead.

Einarr had thought, based on relative sizes and that someone had already come through here, that Kettleness couldn’t possibly be as disturbing as Langavik had been. And, in a way, he was right.

It was worse.

As soon as they entered the circle of huts the smell of rotting flesh assailed his nose. Blood stained the ground dark and painted the walls of the huts, and though it appeared black Einarr suspected that was due to time, not corruption. After all, he had not known the cultists to murder their own like this.

Bodies hung by the neck from tree branches, although they may not have died from the hanging. Flies buzzed about their bloated faces that still showed evidence of brutal beatings. Some of them also showed open wounds in their sides. Einarr wanted to retch.

Liupold, too, had turned a sickly shade of green. He motioned for them to leave the ruined village, and their companions gladly followed.

Once they had caught their breath, back on the beach by their landing boat, Einarr turned an angry look on the Order Captain. “What became of your vaunted priests, eh, knight? The gods need no intercessors: that could have been avoided if you and your crew had simply given them rites yourself.”

Burkhart looked especially shaken. “There were priests… among the bodies.”

“Aye,” Liupold agreed. “But not all of them. So where are the rest?”

“My guess? Southwaite. I could be wrong, they could be using Langtoft as their stronghold, but I suspect they want some distance from the open ocean to prepare.” Einarr did not try to keep the venom from his voice. “We will perform rites for the villagers in the way of our people, so that this will not become an isle of the dead, but you must light the pyre yourselves.”

Liupold hesitated a moment, but eventually nodded. “Yes, that is fair. Funeral pyres are not our way… but I do not expect the survivors will allow us time to dig proper graves here.”

Inwardly, Einarr breathed a sigh of relief. That the village, at least, and probably the entire island must be put to flame was unquestioned. But if Einarr or any of his companions lit the fire, the Empire could later twist that to their own ends to make war on the north, and that he could not allow.

Eydri took over from here, setting Einarr and Naudrek to preparing the ground while Hrug, with a nod of approval from Einarr, began inscribing runes on the beach.

Finally it was ready. Liupold stood in front of Eydri, lit torches in hand, while Einarr and Naudrek formed an honor guard behind her. Then she opened her mouth to sing the dirge.

It ranked among the most beautiful tunes Einarr had ever heard. He had known, from hearing her perform in Eskiborg, that she was a skilled Singer. He had not imagined, however, that a funeral dirge could transport the living as well as the dead.

As the flames consumed the village, licking the afternoon sky and traveling up the village trees, Einarr imagined he could see the spirits of the dead within the purifying white smoke of the pyre.


Vote for Vikings on Top Web Fiction!

Table of Contents


Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

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

If you’re all caught up and looking for something a little longer to read, I also have other works available on Amazon.Or, if you happen to not like Amazon you can also get the Einarr ebook through 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.