Tag: Lundholm

10.20 – Berserker

Einarr heard the warriors aboard the trapped wolfling ship give a battle roar only moments before they swarmed over the boarding lines. The ship swayed under the weight of reinforcements even as the fire spread from the arrows along the deck boards.

Einarr set his mouth in a grim line. They needed to take out the wolflings quickly, before this became an inferno. And if they escape, Lundholm is done for.

Their line was solid: he stood shoulder to shoulder with his own men and the men of his father’s ship – it was still odd that those were two different things now. The first boots were pounding across the blackening deck boards. “Brace yourselves!”

Einarr lowered his shoulder. A heartbeat later, the wolflings collided with their shield wall. Einarr stabbed through the gap between his shield and Jorir’s and Sinmora’s tip came away wet with fresh blood.

The wolfling screamed, pain mixed with rage, and did not fall back. Blood ran down his leg from the wound in his thigh, and he brought his axe around to strike at Einarr.

Jorir took the opportunity and drove his axe home in the man’s already-wounded leg. The wolfling hit the deck, hard, and Jorir ensured he would not rise again. Einarr’s attention was already forward, on the next man coming to fill the hole, wondering if their captain, too, would come forward to join the melee.

The next man up tried to put his scramasax in Einarr’s side and lost his hand for his trouble. He staggered backward clutching his stump and Einarr shouldered his way forward into the gap. The crackle of fire on the deck and the reek of smoke lent an unusual urgency to Eydri and Reki’s Song. Still he resisted it: no Captain worth his salt gave in to the battle chant, not if there was any other way.

Slowly, relentlessly, he began cutting his way through the wolflings in search of their Captain. His arm began to tire, and a thousand small wounds burned across his forearms and his legs. The wolflings were falling, but they were falling hard. Where is Kaldr?

He wasn’t even certain this was Kaldr’s ship, based on what the Singers had said of the man.

One man, bigger than the other wolflings, laid about himself with a formidable hammer. Not Kaldr. Might be a leader, though. Not many men wielded hammers on the battlefield: it took a special combination of brawn and coin. Leader or not, though, the man with the hammer was plowing through Einarr’s allies like they were nothing. He raised his sword and pointed across the deck at his target.

Jorir, beside him, grunted agreement.

Einarr shouldered his way through the throng, trying to ignore just how hot it was getting on the wolfling ship. That was another reason to hurry: he couldn’t let the fire spread to the Heidrun.

There was Sivid, giving the enraged hammer-wielder a taste of his own wolf pack tactics. Sivid would bait the man into a wild swing, and while he was open dash in to cut at his legs. It looked like the other wolves were interfering, though. With a grunt, Einarr slid in between Sivid and the man about to take a stab at his kidneys.

Clang! The blade instead hit the boss of Einarr’s shield. “Got your back,” he shouted over his shoulder.

Sivid spared him a glance and a breathless “thanks” before turning back to the enemy captain.


Sivid became aware that the pressure was off his back abruptly. He risked a glance over his shoulder. Einarr? “Thanks,” he managed. Almost immediately he had to duck another swing of the massive hammer the enemy captain used.

This was, without a doubt, Frothing Urek. Tyr had said the man had made Captain somehow: Sivid had just not expected to have to face the man on the field. Why is he in the fury, though? Captain Stigander never takes it…

The hammer still whistled through the air. Sivid bounced out of the way, then lunged in to stab at the man’s exposed leg. Urek was big, but not as big as Erik. Urek was strong, but not as strong as Arring. And even Arring would have had trouble not leaving openings with a weapon like that. Sivid just hoped his stamina would hold out.

The hammer came from above this time. Sivid danced off to the side as the heavy steel head splintered the deck boards where he had been a moment before. The fire crackled, licking at the newly-made kindling.

One way or another, they needed to take Urek out of the picture before this ship took everyone to their graves. It was time to gamble.

Sivid dropped into a low lunge, darting inside the berserker’s reach and stabbing his blade home in the man’s thigh. He couldn’t stay there, though: his blade still in Urek’s leg, he dropped his other hand down to the deck and kicked his heels up.

Urek roared as the blade twisted in his thigh. Sivid’s first boot caught him in the teeth: the second in the jaw, and as he regained his feet he finally drew out the blade.

Urek turned to face Sivid again, a level of disgust showing through the rage as he popped his neck and once more started his hammer moving. Sivid scowled: he hadn’t really expected much out of the kicks, but it had been worth a try.

Urek pressed forward, sweeping his hammer back and forth in front of him, and Sivid was forced to hop backwards with every sweep. He wasn’t getting in under the man’s guard again anytime soon, it looked like.

Sivid glanced to either side nervously: those flames were far too close, and far too high, for his liking, and they hemmed him in. By the same token, he couldn’t go backward too much farther without going over the wrong side. Can I kick the rafters well enough to get clear?


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10.15 – Forest Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Stigander accepted this with a gracious nod of his head.

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

“You have my thanks, again.”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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10.11 – Night Raid

Now that the ships had been brought fully onto land, their crews moved to sleep among the villagers. Some managed to find space on the floor in a man’s home, but most crowded onto the village green. Einarr thought, although he could not confirm, that the villagers were happier to have them there, as an added measure of security against the wolflings.

Well, they would do what they could, at least. Poor recompense to the villagers was the least of the reasons they did not want to allow the town to be raided and razed. A watch was set, two men from each ship at every change of the guards. When they all finally bedded down with full bellies and clear heads, the sky had been dark for hours already.

Einarr started awake to the sound of the watchmen’s cry in the darkness just before grey dawn. The rattle of maille from all around told of the others also rising as he belted Sinmora about his waist.He paused, straining his ears for any sign of where their assailants were.

The smell of smoke tickled his nose, from off in the direction of the fjord he thought. Had they gone for the boathouse? Einarr started off at a jog, following the smell of smoke.

He was halfway across the town when the hairs on the back of his neck started to prickle. Without thinking he threw himself forward into a roll. With a whizz, an arrow clipped his hair and embedded itself in a house rather than in his thigh. Sinmora slid from her sheath and he brought her to bear even as he rose to his feet.

Einarr stood stock still, studying the night and the shadows around him. There! A dark blur moved between two buildings. Einarr followed, venturing a glance around the corner before stepping out to keep on the trail of the archer who thought to ambush him.

Their path led closer and closer to the boathouse, and now Einarr was almost certain that was where the wolflings had attacked. The archer ducked between a pair of sheds along the road: had he noticed Einarr?

He pressed himself into the shadow of one of the sheds and tiptoed forward. He could hear the other man’s breathing, heavy and labored, as though he was frightened or hurt. Einarr flattened his lips into a thin line and lunged around the corner. “Stand down,” he growled.

The wolfling lunged forward with a desperate shout, and at the last moment Einarr caught a glint of light on the blade of the man’s scramasax. He batted the man’s blade aside with his own.

“Who are you?”

“I have no name to give to rebel scum!” The man’s words were brave, but his voice was more than tinged with desperation.

“Surrender, or die.” Einarr hated to kill a man so obviously out of his depth. Why he was even on a ship was a mystery, let alone a raid – but when one went raiding, one accepted the consequences.

The wolfling’s only answer was to try once more, with another mad cry, to stab Einarr in the belly, through the maille. With a sidestep and a single chop, the man fell to earth unconscious. Einarr allowed himself the luxury of a sigh.

Once more the smell of smoke impinged on his mind, stronger now. Much stronger. He set out at a run for the boathouse, scanning the sky as he went for the telltale reddening of fire.


The first hint of day touched the sky when Einarr arrived at the boathouse. Fires had been set beneath each of the three ships, but none of them had caught. That probably explained why men still tended each of the three blazes with an air of annoyance and desperation.

None of them seemed to have noticed him – yet. Einarr smirked and swiftly traced a pair of runes on the ground. When he poured his will into them, all three fires winked out at once. For a long moment, the wolflings sat blinking at the charred wood that now barely smoked sitting beneath the waterlogged wood of their ships. “Excuse me, sirs, but I don’t believe you belong here.”

As one, all six of them turned to stare blankly at Einarr. Then, one by one, they blinked, and realization began to spread over their faces.

“Hey, isn’t that…” started one.

“Don’t he look a bit like…” a second asked his companion.

A third, back near the Heidrun, jumped to his feet. “It’s Stigander’s whelp! We’ll be heroes if we bring him back!”

Einarr sighed, taking in his surroundings. Other than the boathouse and the three ships, both likely out of reach, he had very few options for cover. With a shrug and a grin, he raised Sinmora and his shield. “I’d like to see you try.”

All six charged him at once, but Einarr was ready.

One of them sprouted an arrow in the back of his thigh before he was halfway across the yard and fell.

A second fell sideways as the stocky figure of a dwarf barrelled into his knees.

With a grin and a shrug, Einarr charged forward as well. He suddenly had friends to watch his back, after all. When he reached the dwarf, he stood back-to-back with him. “Took you long enough.”

“These stubby legs don’t cover ground as fast as yours,” Jorir grumbled back.

Einarr chuckled and changed the subject. “Who’s the archer?”

“Captain Bollinn himself.”

The four wolflings still in the fight circled warily even as Einarr barked a laugh. “Just like old times.”

“These men go down rather easier.” Jorir actually sounded disappointed about that.

One of the four tried his luck, only to stumble when the pair in the center turned to let him run right past them. Before he could recover, Einarr struck with the flat of his blade to the back of the man’s neck. He crumpled.

“Three down, three to go.”


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

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

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10.9 – Seige

Stigander frowned out over the water. The four ships were near enough that you could make out the wolf’s head on the prow. Much closer, and they risked being seen in turn. “That’s them, all right,” he said again.

“I had hoped to have a few more days before they showed up,” Einarr mused.

“Bah! That was never going to happen, son. Not after they chased us from Eskihus.”

“I know, Father. I still hoped. But let’s face it, we haven’t been near here in more than a decade.”

“And they live in these waters. Yes, exactly.”

Kormund cleared his throat. “And they are continuing straight for the island. Might I suggest we draw back at least far enough to have tree cover?”

Hasty nods and grunts of agreement were heard from all around, and everyone save the village scout started walking back to Lundholm.

“Elder Vilding assures me we will be able to replenish all our arrows three days from now. Water, of course, we’re on our own, but one of the woodsmen showed Arring to a spring we can use. That just leaves food and pitch, plus any repairs that can’t wait.”

Kormund harrumphed. “I think any repairs can wait – unless one of you was taking on water?”

Father and son shook their heads.

“Good. We’re not going to have time to waste. Did the Elder say anything about food stores?”

“We’re in the wrong season for much of that. I’m sure there’ll be some who can sell us their excess, but most of what they have is going to be fresh or foraged.” Kormund must not have had a chance to speak with his Mate: this was exactly what Einarr had told them that morning. “If we can spare some men to hunt, though, what they do have is salt. And some others should make sure we all have good fishing nets.”

Stigander hummed. “Not sure I want to rely on fishing just now… but I suppose if we have to we should be able to.”

“My thought exactly.”

Kormund chuckled.

The other two answered at the same moment. “What?”

“Nothing. It’s just that your son is a born Mate, Stigander, and here he is a Captain already. At his age, neither of us would have given the resupply a second thought.”

“At his age, neither of us had earned our ships. He’s been riding the whale road for half his life already.”

Kormund chuckled again and left it at that.

Einarr hated to bring the mood down, but they had all been avoiding one important matter. “The real question is, will they give us time enough to even do that?”

“You’re worried they’ll attack the town,” Stigander said with a sigh. “I am, too, but I don’t think they will. Not if this Kaldr is the man I think he is.”

“He’s not the one I’m worried about.”

“The mad dog? What was his name, Urek?” Kormund ventured.

“That’s the one.”

Stigander hummed again. “If they do decide to raze the village, either because Kaldr is not as savvy as we think or because he doesn’t have the others properly in hand, there’s not much we can do save fight them here.”

Einarr nodded, thoughtful. “I had a feeling you’d say that.”


Kaldr studied the narrow fjord leading to Lundholm. It was almost certainly where the three rebel ships had fled, given the path they had taken after Eskihus. Lord Ulfr hated the place, he knew – when he bothered to remember it existed. But that Lord Ulfr hated a place did not render it fit for destruction. Now he only needed to make sure Urek and Vittir understood that they would lose more in good will than they gained should they raid the place.

Hopefully, the logistics of the assault should help with that. The fjord was impossible to navigate in more than single file: for that very same reason, it would be trivial to blockade and wait for them to try to slip out on their own.

Still frowning in thought, he gave a decisive nod. “Thjofgrir.”

“Sir!”

“We will blockade the fjord. There is only one way out of Lundholm, and we’re looking at it. We will take center, along with Broki. Vittir gets the right flank, and Urek the left.” That should mollify them some, at least. They could hardly accuse him of cowardice when he placed himself in the center. As an added benefit, they would have a much harder time of it to slip past him and do something foolish.

Another thought occurred to him. “Stretch nets between our boats.”

“You intend to fish?”

“I intend to keep them from fishing.” He bared his teeth at his Mate in a vicious smile.

“Very good sir.”

The signals were given and the ships moved into position. Not long after the nets were in place, as ordered, a clatter of planks could be heard from the flanks of the blockade. Here we go. It was a struggle not to roll his eyes.

Sure enough, within moments, Urek came storming across the gap between their two ships. On the other side, Vittir was slowed by Broki’s temporizing, for which Kaldr was thankful.

“Urek,” he said, turning to face the man. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“You call for yet another blockade? Are you Captain or coward?”

“Peace, Urek. There is more to a successful strategy than attack. Even wild wolves know that much.”

The other Captain, never known for his self-control, glared at him. “And now you insult me?”

Kaldr was careful to keep his voice bland. “Not at all.”

“Three times now we have set a trap for the rebels, and three times they have slipped the noose. Now you try it again, when they have landed at a rebel stronghold. Why?” The man’s face was already red with anger, and spittle flew from his mouth as he ranted.

“Urek-”

“No! I will say my piece. They are weakened, they are tired, they are low on supplies. If we press the attack now, not only do we deal with that pesky rooster, we also eliminate a thorn in Lord Ulfr’s side.”

“If we press the attack now, Lord Ulfr will never hold his lands without his mother’s interference.”

It was the wrong thing to say. Urek’s face turned from red to crimson, and his eyes bulged out, staring at Kaldr in obvious rage and disbelief. “Traitor!”


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

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

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

10.7 – Safe Harbor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

The Elder snorted. “You’re welcome.”

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

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

“You knew my grandfather, then?”

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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