Tag: Order of the Valkyrie

9.6 – Sinmora

The blue and gold sail of the Eikthyrnir and the gold and white of the Heidrun flanked the blue and white of the Vidofnir as they sailed past the island where Einarr’s grandfather had once taught him to hunt, one summer after the curse was laid but before he was old enough to join the crew.

Einarr had been a little concerned with allowing Bea on any of their boats – not because she was Imperial, but because she was a princess – but those fears had rapidly proved unfounded. On their first full day out of Kjellvic she had asked Irding to spar with her – what the impetus for this was, Einarr never learned. He became aware of it when a circle formed just ahead of the mast and the laying of bets caught his ear. Curious, he went to investigate.

The spearwoman at the head of the most aggressive faction of the Order of the Valkyrie faced the most reckless of the warriors aboard the new-minted Heidrun and proceeded to mop the deck with him. What’s more, she did it in such a way that Einarr was convinced the result would have been the same against Erik, Sivid, or even Arring. Then she reached out a hand to help him to his feet, and just like that she was a sailor like all the others.

Now they were entering the waters around Breidelstein, and the princess who had thought to lure him to the Empire seemed just as determined as all the others to end the usurpers’ rule. Well, perhaps he shouldn’t be surprised. She’d had a strong sense of justice since he met her. Still, though, that she was like this when she knew they were aiming to rescue his betrothed… he could not think ill of her, no matter who she was affiliated with.

The main island was just peeking into view over the horizon as they passed Afi’s old freehold – long since fallen to ruin, after the Wolf’s raiders came. Einarr shuddered involuntarily. Before the raiders had left, Afi had given him Sinmora and sent him up into the mountains to live and watch for the Vidofnir. Einarr had never seen either of his step-grandparents again after that. Just one more crime to be laid at the feet of the Wolf. Soon, though, they would be met by ships under Urdr’s and Ulfr’s control.

Einarr’s hands itched. He wanted very much to take up the Örlögnir and study it, much as Hrug was now doing from beneath the awning, but he didn’t dare. The theft had been not only detected but allowed, and who knew when Wotan or his wife might demand the artifact’s return. He couldn’t count on being able to use it more than once: what if, in examining it, he activated the thing?

From behind him, Jorir cleared his throat. When Einarr turned to look, his Mate and first man-at-arms beckoned him back to the stern. The dwarf sat at his whetstone and drizzled a fine line of water over it.

“Something amiss?”

“You. You’re making the men nervous, pacing up there like some sort of caged animal. Now. Take a seat, and hand me your sword. Magic-touched or not, I’m sure her edge could use a little loving care.”

A little sheepish, Einarr handed Sinmora to the svartdvergr and sat cross-legged on the deck. “Sorry.”

“Now nobody faults your nerves, under the circumstances. Your first command, and the culmination of your father’s bloody quest? Who wouldn’t be. But no-one wants a Captain so wrapped up in their own heads that they’re not sure he even knows where they’re sailing.”

“You’re right, of course.”

Jorir harrumphed, as though that much were obvious. “So tell me what happened with Sinmora here.”

This wasn’t the first time Jorir had asked to hear that, nor the first time Einarr had told it. He wasn’t sure what the dwarf thought he could learn, hearing it again, but the act of telling the tale did help calm his nerves.

When he was about halfway through the tale, around the time he was working with Eydri, Bea arrived. Quietly, she folded her legs under herself and sat listening as intently as Jorir. When he was done, she continued to stare at the blade Jorir was sharpening.

“Do you have any idea what you have in that sword, there?” She asked, finally.

“A good blade, sturdy and true, that’s been by my side for more than a decade.”

She shook her head. “Maybe so, but that’s not what I meant. Whoever forged that blade must have had uncommon magic about them. In all my schooling, in all the histories I’ve read, nowhere does it mention anything about an enchantment that allows a blade to eat magic. Nowhere, in more than a thousand years of history. Do you know who forged it?”

Einarr shook his head. “It was given to me by my stepmother’s parents when I was still a boy. I assume it was his sword, back in his raiding days, but I don’t know. But after last summer, part of me feels like it would have been stranger if something hadn’t happened to it. I’m just glad it was something good.”

She nodded, still watching Jorir as he worked. Fourth princess or not, how had she come to be in charge of a division like the Hrist Brigade? She seemed far too earnest and kind for the leader of a group that hunted longships like whales.

Bea glanced at him briefly and smirked: had he been staring? That was something he could not allow, no matter what was on his mind at the time. He could not allow Runa to get the wrong idea.

“How long have you had that Valkyrie feather in your buckle?” was all she asked.

“Since the Tower of Ravens,” he began, but was interrupted.

“Draken, dead ahead!” came the lookout’s cry.


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.

9.1 – Burn

With Hrist’s ominous parting words ringing in his ears, it would have been an understatement to call Einarr impatient to return to Kjell. Where before he marveled at the Arkona’s speed, especially for a ship of her size and draft, now it would not have been enough had she been able to fly.

He shared his encounter with Hrist only with Eydri, Naudrek, and Hrug, and while they, too, were now anxious to return that word, too, was insufficient. He spent his days pacing the deck, cursing under his breath the alfs and their High Roads for keeping him from his place on the Vidofnir.

His relentless pacing meant he was among the first to notice the unnatural light on the horizon as they approached Kjell. His throat went dry: had the whole island burned, in some dark reflection of their purification of Hohenwerth? He shook his head. No, that couldn’t be. Whatever it was, though, was bad. He tried everything to make himself sleep, but even under the effects of Eydri’s Lullaby he was subjected to terrible nightmares and fitful slumber.

The next day Kjell came into view and he saw smoke before he saw anything else – great inky clouds of it. The largest of these rose from what was obviously Kjellvic, and Einarr could soon see large swaths of untouched forest. That meant, though, that the other two merging pillars of smoke rose from the Hall and the Chapel, respectively.

Liupold could not coax any more speed out of his ship at this stage: he had done all he could in that regard in the days after Einarr’s encounter with the Valkyrie had led to a shift in his mood. He did, however, keep the Arkona at speed for far longer than he otherwise would have dared.

The Arkona sailed into Kjell harbor far faster than anyone considered safe, for this reason. The people on shore seemed on the verge of panic, held in check only by the keen memory of the harbormaster, who recognized them. When a landing craft was put down, Einarr practically flew to its deck. His companions were close behind, followed by Bea, Rambert and Liupold, and every one of them save Eydri manned an oar.

Eydri sang. Even with the boost she lent them, though, Einarr wanted to tear his hear out for how long it was taking. Threads can be cut, Cursebreaker, Hrist had warned. He did not see the Vidofnir in port: that could only mean it had been Runa under threat.

After minutes that felt like hours, the rowboat sidled up to the dock and Einarr leapt out in front of the harbormaster. “What has happened?” He demanded without preamble or introduction.

The harbormaster studied him for a long and wary moment before he answered. “Ah. You are the Lady Runa’s betrothed, are you not?”

“Yes!” It was an effort not to snap at the man, although that he remembered at all could be counted a small miracle.

For his part, the harbormaster was visibly relieved. “Three days ago, Kjell was hit by a raiding ship with a wolf’s head on the prow. They seemed to be looking for something, or someone. I’m afraid no-one seems to know what. Apparently they didn’t find it, because after they sailed off refugees started arriving from the Hall. They had been asking the same questions there, and stealing everything that was not nailed down in the process. The town is still burning, as you can see, but I think we’ve finally got it contained…”

“Good, good,” Einarr broke in at the first convenient moment. “Horses. We need horses. Are there any available?”

The harbormaster gave him a look as though he’d made a particularly bad joke. “With the town still in flames?”

Einarr shook his head. “No. No, of course you’re right. It’s just… I need to get to the Hall.”

“I understand, my lord, but unless you’re wiling to walk, or take that Conehead ship there back around the island, there just isn’t anything.”

Bea spluttered a little. Einarr heard her whisper “C-conehead?” as though she had never heard the insult applied to them before.

“Oh, wonderful.” The harbormaster sounded genuinely pleased about something. He was staring over Einarr’s shoulder. When he turned to look, he saw what would ordinarily have been the sweetest sight imaginable: the Vidofnir and the Ekthyrnir sailed into port together, both of them under full sail.

“Oh, no.” Einarr’s face dropped. “Back in the boat! Everyone, get back in the boat. I have to talk to my Father, immediately.”


In spite of their best efforts, arrows flew between the two longships and the Arkona before Einarr could get between them in their rowboat. He stood in the middle of the rowboat and shouted. “This is Einarr, son of Stigander. Do not fire! Repeat, do not fire!”

Arrow fire tapered off from the Vidofnir first, then from the Arkona as Walter realized that not only had the other ship relented, his Captain was in the line of fire.

A very familiar face peered over the bulwark at their small boat.

“Bardr! By the gods, it feels like forever. Permission to come aboard?”

“For you? Always. Who are those people?”

“Eydri is a Singer. Naudrek and Hrug are friends who helped me out last fall,” he began the introductions with their own people. “Liupold here is Captain of that vessel you’ve been firing on, and Rambert is from his crew. And this–” he gestured. “Is Her Imperial Highness Beatrix Maria Gundahar, Admiral of the Hrist Brigade and recent captive of that damn kraken the Grendel let loose.”

Bardr stared for a long moment, and Einarr could see him doing the mental gymnastics required to accept this. In the end, though, Einarr’s tenure as a Cursebreaker had subjected them all to far stranger circumstances than those.

“Come aboard, then,” he finally answered, after some guffaws and jeering from further back in the boat. “I look forward to hearing just what the hel happened out there.”


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.

8.22 – Hrist

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 boat that waited to take the eight of them back to the Arkona was not unattended. Leaning casually against the side of the boat, as though she had been out for a stroll, stood a woman who looked remarkably like an older Bea, only if possible more supernaturally beautiful.

Einarr subconsciously slowed, his feet dragging to a stop, even as Captain Liupold and Bea hurried forward. The two oarsmen hung back with Einarr and his companions – not, he thought, out of any great trepidation at the woman’s presence, but out of respect for rank.

“Lady Hrist, you’re back,” Liupold said, taking a knee about ten paces in front of where the woman lounged.

…No. Einarr took a closer look. Her hair was a different color, and she wore trousers instead of the impossible skirt armor, but breastplate, helmet and spear alone should have been enough for him to realize. That was a Valkyrie ahead, and one apparently known to Captain Liupold and the Princess.

Better to the Princess, apparently, than to Liupold. The ship Captain had stopped a respectful distance back. Bea, on the other hand, went right up to her and knelt before her in an oddly familial gesture. The Valkyrie – Hrist, Einarr assumed, cupped the princess’ head in her hands.

Now Einarr’s caution turned to confusion. That was definitely an honest-to-goodness Valkyrie. So why…?

The grin on Bea’s face was positively girlish as she stood and turned to beckon the rest of the group forward. Liupold, too, looked delighted as he turned back around.

“Everyone,” he said. “Allow me to present the Lady Hrist, Patron of the Order of the Valkyrie.”

Liupold made no attempt to introduce them to her: probably, Einarr thought, that meant she was already aware of their identities.

The last time Einarr had met a Valkyrie, she had tried to kill him. On the other hand, Liupold had said it was Hrist who said he would be required. He swallowed his nerves and stepped forward as smoothly as he could. “I am honored, Lady.”

She inclined her head slightly. “Cursebreaker. My sister tells me you acquitted yourself well.”

“I am glad to hear it.” That didn’t seem to match with what she’d said at the time, but perhaps distance lent perspective even to Valkyries.

“Are you still wondering why I required your presence here?”

He looked pointedly between Hrist and the Princess. “I would guess you wished for some insurance as to the health of a… favorite?” Or she wasn’t entirely above midgardian politics. If Bea wasn’t somehow related to the Valkyrie, he would eat his own foot.

“A not unreasonable venture, Cursebreaker, but don’t get ahead of yourself. That the horror is loose in the seas at all is your responsibility, and therefore I will have you clean up your own mess.”

She sounded harsh, but he did not miss the implications of the first statement. “I understand,” he said.

“Do you?” The Valkyrie met his eyes, challenging.

He returned the gaze unyieldingly. “Was it you who ensured the Arkona could always find the Eikthyrnir?”

“In a way.”

“Were you on board the Arkona when we left Kjellvic?”

“No. I had other matters to attend to, I’m afraid.”

Einarr hummed, but did not challenge it. The Valkyrie’s were Wotan’s reapers, after all: why should they be limited to mortal means of travel?

“At any rate, you have rescued Beatrix, and for that I thank you.”

Einarr inclined his head again. “You’re very welcome. But to what do we owe the honor of your visit? Surely you didn’t come out here just to talk pleasantries?”

She smirked now. “Indeed, I did not. When my sister spoke with me about you, she said it was a shame she could not have claimed your soul. I wish to witness your mettle myself.”

Einarr could not quite keep a straight face at the idea. “My Lady, I have yet to finish the task you set for my companions and I. If I am to face you-”

She snorted. “Who said anything about facing me? You may have survived your exchanges against my sister by luck and by guile: such would not avail you against me. No, this task is my test.”

A million retorts sprang to Einarr’s mind and his lip curled in a sneer before he could stop it – but none of those retorts would be wise under the circumstances. She had tried to provoke him, but Einarr was not some mad dog.

Bea was looking at the Valkyrie with something approaching disapproval, to Einarr’s surprise. Could this have something to do with that strange offer she had tried to make earlier?

“I have already sworn that we will help the Arkona to destroy the black kraken. All that remains to be done to cleanse this island is to burn it, although I leave this task to Liupold and his crew.”

She raised an eyebrow. “You are cannier than I have come to expect of your vaunted Clans. Very well: but in that case, we shall not burn the island before you have defeated the beast.”

Einarr glanced at Hrug. The man nodded slowly: Einarr hoped that meant his array would still work. “Fine,” he said. “There will be other ways to draw it out.”

Now, finally, the Valkyrie straightened. “Good. We’re agreed, then. I have other matters to attend to, but I’m sure Beatrix can keep you barbarians in line.”

Naudrek and Hrug bristled, but Einarr wasn’t at all sure she was only referring to them. That disdainful glance had encompassed the Conehead men, as well.

Hrist strode off up the path toward Kettleness, and as she moved her armor and her hair began to shine with an otherworldly light. As she neared the top of the rise, just before she would have gone around a bend and been lost to sight, she vanished in a flash like sunlight on glass.

Beatrix rolled her eyes. “She’s always like that. So, now what do we do?”


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.

8.12 – A New Quest

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!

“Of course not.” Einarr paused. “Father. I’m glad that you recognize I’ve met your requirements, and look forward to formalizing the terms of our engagement upon my return.”

Jarl Hroaldr fell silent for a long moment, studying Einarr. It had been a gamble, but the way Einarr saw it he won either way. Either the Jarl corrected him, in which case he didn’t have to go fight the kraken. Or he didn’t, in which case all he had to do was make it back and their engagement could proceed.

The Jarl opened his mouth to speak, but the man from the Order cut him off.

“Excellent! I am glad to hear you have such faith in your future son-in-law, and look forward to working with him to eradicate this menace.”

Well, that was that. Einarr watched as the tendons in the Jarl’s neck shifted as he swallowed whatever it was he’d been about to say. He couldn’t take it back now.

Of course, neither could Einarr. But all that meant was he had to come back alive and uncorrupted. He gave Liupold a slightly wan smile. “I’ll do what I can. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go speak with my companions.”

As he rose and walked away from their circle, he felt someone watching him. Glancing surreptitiously over his shoulder, he saw the Jarl glaring daggers at him. Einarr rolled his other shoulder in half a shrug.

The four friends he had brought from Eskiborg reacted to the news with surprising equanimity – a sure sign, Einarr thought, that they did not truly understand what they would be facing. Still, what could he say but ‘thank you’?

“Eydri, will you work with Runa and see if the two of you can figure anything out about these creatures or the corruption or what have you? She’s quite a good scholar, despite being ‘only’ an apprentice.”

“I don’t mind. I’d like to make her acquaintance anyway, if I’m going to be working with you for any length of time.”

Einarr nodded and Eydri went to speak with Runa.

“Naudrek, Liupold seems like a personable fellow. See if you can’t get on his good side, would you?” He lowered his voice. “It struck me, just a bit ago, how this could be some sort of Imperial trick. Do what you can to make sure we’re not walking into a noose, would you?”

“Gladly. Valuable information, that.”

“Excellent. Hrug, I want you to help me figure out a way to trap the thing, like the Village used to imprison the Shroud, sort of. Are you up for that?”

The other man grunted and flashed half a smile. Good: it wouldn’t be easy, but at least it should be interesting, and a good use of the man’s newfound expertise.


Liupold was, of course, in a hurry to be on their way, but the Arkona and the Eikthyrnir both needed to be resupplied, and after Captain Kormund’s tale when they arrived at port the two ships needed to leave together, as well.

Kormund, for his part, readily agreed to take a message to Stigander at Breidhaugr. Considering that the last contact he’d had with the Vidofnings had been before he traveled the elven roads to study in the Shrouded Village, this took a considerable load off of Einarr’s shoulders.

“Thank you, and good luck.”

“I believe I should be saying that to you, don’t you think?” Kormund raised an eyebrow even as the two shook hands. “Stay sharp. There’s something about this whole situation that smells fishy to me.”

“I will, and me, too. Thank you for all your help so far.”

“My pleasure. I look forward to having an ale with you and your father in Raenshold.”

Then Kormund climbed aboard the Eikthyrnir and Einarr strode up the plank to the deck of the Arkona.

Einarr’s first impression of the dromon was of luxury and spaciousness. No-one’s bedroll sat on the deck: it looked like, no-one’s had to. He saw a ladder heading down to a lower deck. Is that why dromon were so much taller than longships?

Evidently so. Liupold, still chatting in a friendly manner, led the four of them down the ladder to a room that seemed somewhat smaller than the deck above. A door let out on the far end, and the room was lined with mats laid out on the floor and hammocks strung from the walls. “This is where most of the crew sleeps, in shifts. Out that door is the lower tier of oars, but we shouldn’t need to use them while you’re aboard.”

Einarr grunted. On the one hand, no-one would have to sleep out in the rain. On the other hand, even with no-one else in it the air in here was close and stifling.

“There’s also a galley on this deck, and a few small separate rooms. I have one, and I have prepared a second one for the lady Eydri. This is also the deck where the galley is.”

“I’m sorry,” Naudrek interrupted. “Galley?”

“The kitchen? Where food is prepared?”

Einarr wrinkled his nose: no wonder the steerage room felt so hot. He had gone from being impressed to being once more convinced of the longship’s superiority rather more rapidly than expected. “So the men sleeping off-duty are the first ones to burn if there’s a fire?”

“Not at all. There’s a fire wall of clay between the two rooms.”

Einarr nodded his understanding. If he’d tryed to say anything, he would have insulted his host’s ship, and that would have been poor form. Still, he was getting some ideas for how to fight off the black kraken that was supposedly waiting for them. The Arkona might even still be able to fight afterwards.

Einarr did not dislike Liupold. He seemed like an honorable fellow, for all that he was a Conehead. But the Konneul Empire was not above trickery, and the Order worked hand in hand with the Empire. It would be acceptable if the Arkona was not in fighting shape, so long as she could still sail.


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.

8.9 – Into the Night

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!

As the Eikthyrnir retrieved the two men on lookout on the cliffs, Einarr and Naudrek were the first to step up and offer them a hand back to the boat. Both men seemed shaken and pale, as though they had just seen some sort of apparition.

“What happened out there?” Einarr asked without thinking.

Bjar, the first of the men, shook his head. “Where’s the Captain?”

“Here.” Kormund stepped forward from his position near the mast. “Go ahead.”

“That ship… There’s somethin’ not natural about it.”

Kormund audibly rolled his eyes at that. “Yes, we’d all gathered that much already.”

Bjar shook his head, though, swinging it wildly from side to side. “Once that ship got up close, we couldn’t have blown that horn if we’d wanted to. Was all I could do to stay on the ledge.”

Einarr and Kormund both turned their attention to the other lookout.

“Is that so, Vold?”

The other, smaller man nodded as vehemently as Bjar had shaken his head. “It was like… when you were a boy, did you ever see a bear while you were hunting?”

“Of course…”

“Well, think how this would have felt. Your ten-year-old self is out hunting with a friend. You build a nice blind, and you’re in a prime spot to bring home some venison for dinner. Now imagine if the biggest bear you’ve ever seen, big enough maybe to swallow you whole, came up and started sniffing around that blind. That’s more or less what it was like being near that ship.”

That was certainly an… evocative description. The captain turned back to Bjar, an eyebrow raised.

“Er… yeah, that’s basically what it was like… although I think you’ve been spending too much time around the Singers.”

“So the ship moves faster – far faster – than it should,” Einarr mused. “It glows, and it can scare the living daylights out of grown men just by being there. If it wasn’t for that last one, I might give some credence to the rumors of bound wind spirits.”

“You can’t bind wind spirits,” Naudrek objected. “It’s against their very nature.”

“We can’t bind wind spirits. We can’t get magic out of paint, though, either, and the Coneheads can. Who knows what other strange magics they might have.”

Naudrek raised an eyebrow at him, but did not say what they were both thinking – what if it really was the Valkyrie he’d fought in the tower, out to finish what she’d started? Father would kill him if he became Einherjar now. …The thought almost made him laugh. Instead, he asked “Captain, what did Hrug’s divination show you?”

The Captain sighed. “Not as much as I hoped, honestly. I saw them chasing us, dogged as any hound, but not an inkling as to why.”

Einarr wanted to kick himself: that was why they should have done the full divination, of course! He should have seen it at the time. It still would have been a problem to set up the array on the deck of a moving ship, of course. Still, the time for that had passed. There would be other ways, now, of figuring out what the Order was after.

“You’re sure they’re actually gone?” Naudrek was asking the two watchmen.

“As sure as we can be. They sailed off out of sight, but we were sort of stuck against the side of the island.”

The Captain nodded and clapped Bjar on the shoulder. “Good work. Let’s get back on the water. I want us rowing under sail again, as long as the wind is with us. Let’s not give them a chance to catch up so easily again.”


All that afternoon and into the night they sailed on. No-one was yet willing to believe they’d actually given the Valkyrian ship the slip, but that night an undercurrent of excitement filled the gossip.

“That ship shined like gold,” some said.

“The wood must come from alfheim,” others answered.

“It’s not the wind carrying that ship along, it’s an otherworldly team of horses!”

“Are you sure,” Naudrek asked him quietly, after the ship had settled into its night routine. “That Valkyrie you told me about isn’t after your head?”

Einarr slowly shook his head. No, he wasn’t. She had said she was unsatisfied by the result of their duel – as well she might have been. He had survived five exchanges, barely. A sixth likely would have done him in. But so far as he knew the Order of the Valkyrie did not actually have anything to do with Wotan’s harvesters of the slain. They were, perhaps uncharitably, a group of mercenaries running a protection scheme on outlying Imperial villages. Why, then, would a real Valkyrie want anything to do with them? “It just doesn’t seem likely,” was what he said.

“If you say so. There’s just a lot of little things that start to look an awful lot like that ship has some sort of divine help.”

Einarr grunted. He couldn’t disagree. “They don’t seem to want to fight us, though. But what do they want us to show them? That’s the only other purpose I can figure out.”

“Is there anything we really want an Order ship to see in Clan waters? You’ve said it yourself: they hunt us for sport.”

“No, nothing I can think of. I just don’t know as we have a choice other than leading them along right now. What are we going to do, lay another ambush? Not likely, the way they shot us down before.”

Naudrek groaned. “I don’t know. I’m out of ideas. What do you think we should do?”

“The only thing we can do. Sail on, and wait. I’ve got a hunch they’ll tell us what they want. I think they might even do it in such a way that we can make a choice.”

“What makes you so sure?”

Einarr barked a laugh. “Do I sound sure? This is all gut feeling and conjecture. We’ll see, come morning, if the Captain agrees.”


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.

8.7 – Gossip

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!

Captain Kormund turned downright broody as the Eikthyrnir sailed away from their ill-fated ambush. It seemed he was also troubled by the other ship’s behavior.

No-one on board could explain why they had started to board and then simply disengaged. Some agreed with Einarr – plainly there was some sort of power struggle happening, as no rational captain would break off an attack at that moment. Others held with Vari, that the whole matter was an elaborate display of dominance.

What the Captain thought, no-one was sure. He ordered a double lookout, set them on course, and then retired to the stern of the ship, where he stared out over the water. No-one was willing to disturb him at this, at least not yet.

At dawn the next day, the dromon was once again visible behind them. It was plain when a sailor noticed its return by the moment they let out a curse entirely unrelated to what they had been about at the time. By breakfast there was not a soul aboard not speculating about the dromon save the Captain and his Mate.

The chatter became a dull roar of consternation and excitement as the day wore on, until there were some who forgot their duties as their speculations grew ever wilder.

“Enough!” Captain Kormund roared at this point, and chatter ceased.

“I don’t know any more than you, right now,” the Captain admitted. “About how they beat us at every turn, or why they let us go like they did, or why they’re after us in the first place. But they are unmistakeably after this ship.”

A brave voice piped up from among the sailors. “But why can’t we give ‘em the slip?”

The Captain shook his head. “I don’t know how they tracked us at night, and I don’t know how they found us again after they broke off yesterday. But what I do know is – we’re not licked yet.”

A cheer of agreement traveled around the deck.

“We’ve got a good wind now, although nought but empty seas for quite a distance. We’re bringing back the one hour rowing shifts, but I’m keeping us under full sail. If they can keep up with the Eikthyrnir with her at a full clip, I’m going to have to get clever.”

The cheer went around again, a bit more enthusiastic this time. Einarr nodded to himself. This was a very different ship than his father ran, but Kormund managed it masterfully. Einarr would be shocked if each and every one of these men weren’t as loyal to their captain as Erik or Tyr were to his father.

“That’s what I like to hear. Now, get to it! I want the first team manning their oars before the lookouts are back to their posts.”


They rowed under sail for as long as the wind was with them, but still the Valkyrian ship remained on their tail. Einarr began to wonder if they really were under the command of the Valkyrie that had nearly killed him last summer, and if so what reason she might have for coming after him. When he caught himself thinking this, he snorted. “That was a stupid jest, and you know it.”

He did, but he would have sounded more convincing, even to himself, if the other ship did anything other than gain on them, slowly but surely. And Einarr was not the only one beginning to fall prey to the more ludicrous theories.

Finally, though, the Captain turned them to the north after days of sailing, not knowing if or when the dromon would decide to attack in earnest. There would be another tiny archipelago, or shallows, or some other hazard that they could use to lose the dromon. Anything, he thought, to break the monotony of the chase.

The wind turned against them and they furled the sail. Even then, rowing against the wind, they only managed to gain a little on the other ship. Mutterings started again among the sailors, in spite of the confidence built from the Captain’s earlier speech. It should have been impossible for a dromon of that size, especially one with sea fire, to keep up with a longship built for speed over the open ocean. And yet, for more than a week now it had kept pace or gained on them. Dark mutters of black magic and captive vindstenger became more frequent around the deck of the ship.

Dark shapes were coming up on the horizon, somewhat larger than the rocky atoll they had played hide and seek in before. If they couldn’t lose the dromon here, Einarr thought they would have to hope for a storm – or they would have to catch the Order ship by surprise, which he felt less confident in since they had been trounced the other day.

The islands that rose into view as the Eikthyrnir scudded northward seemed somehow familiar to Einarr, in a way that left him feeling fainly queasy. He didn’t think he’d ever been near to Eskiborg, however.

One island in particular caught his eye. It rose tall out of the water, like the hand of a giant or a god. Dark cliffs fell toward water almost as dark, with no hope of a beach or a cove for shelter. Einarr’s breath caught in his throat: all this lacked to be the island where they had rescued Runa from the cult was a roiling storm above.

“Sir?” He hurried to where the Captain stood before the mast, his gaze continually scanning the horizon.

“What is it?”

“Where are we, exactly?”

“Somewhat north of where we wished to be, I’m afraid.”

“No, sir, this is important. Are we near Langavik?”

The captain’s mouth twisted in distaste. “What’s left of it, yes.”

A groan escaped from Einarr’s chest. “This is an evil place, sir. Please, even if it means we cannot shake our tail, do not tarry here.”

That got a furrowed brow and crossed arms from Captain Kormund. “Explain.”


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.

8.6 – Ambush

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!

For a day and a half they rowed in short shifts, although by the morning of that second day Einarr could see what the captain was leading the Valkyrian ship toward. Just ahead in their path stood a collection of tiny, rocky islands not unlike the ones where Einarr had fought off a flock of kalalintu with Erik and Tyr the year before. The sort of waters one typically tries to avoid – unless, of course, he idea is to lose a tail, or to lay in wait.

“Half speed,” Captain Kormund ordered. With a gesture, he personally relieved the man at the tiller.

All that afternoon they wove in and out of the rocks, sometimes moving deliberately into full view of the Valkyrian ship before ducking back into hiding behind one of the larger rocks. The Eikthyrnir had the sleekness and swiftness of the deer on her figurehead, but that did not make her prey.

That night, the sea anchor was dropped near the center of the grouping in a place sheltered by the rocks. Come morning, no-one should still be fatigued from rowing.

As the sun rose, with the dromon now also approaching the rocks, the Eikthyrnir crept out of the grouping to lay in wait behind one of the larger exterior masses – one large enough to be thought a small island.

Einarr and Naudrek prepared to board. Eydri conferred with the regular Singer aboard, coordinating to ensure they harmonized properly. For hours they held like this.

A sound like a rushing waterfall came suddenly from their stern. Einarr turned in time to see the last of the gout of flame dying, far short of the Eikthyrnir’s hull, let alone her mast. Now flames flickered on the surface of the water itself.

They had sea-fire. And that was plainly a warning shot. But, how did they know where the Eikthyrnir hid? Or even that the ship was hiding, rather than fled? Those thoughts were quickly tamped down as Einarr raced for the stern. Battle was at hand, and thus there would be no time for pondering why.

More questions arose, though, when he reached the stern. The two watchers had been felled by a single arrow apiece – one in the throat, the other, more impressively, through an eye. If they could do that, why had there not been a volley of arrows?

“To oars!” The order came in the moment Einarr stood staring dumb at the two fallen men. About half the crew took up oars. The rest took up position to repel boarders with Einarr. Hrug, he saw, was strapping a shield to his stump. Did he intend to fight with his off hand? Einarr checked his grip on his shield and drew Sinmora.

Still he wondered why they had not yet launched a proper volley. The Eikthyrnir had been caught unawares in her own ambush: had the dromon wished, the battle could be already over, the ship ablaze and half her crew dead to arrow fire – especially if they had the sort of archers aboard who could take a man in the eye like that. What was going on? Why risk boarding?

He was out of time for wondering. The other ship, too, had been coming about, and now boarding lines flew in both directions.

Two voices raised in harmony and Einarr felt the battle fury begin to build. If the Valkyrian ship wanted a fight, a fight they would have. He hacked through an enemy line that tried to find puchase just ahead of him, and then their own lines drew taut.

He was not among the first across the lines, out of long habit more than anything else. On the Vidofnir, his father had forbidden it: he was the only heir, and likely to remain so. He was, however, among the first of the second wave, after the initial clash over open water. No sooner had he leapt up to the bulwark, however, than the lines fell slack again, tumbling a good number of sailors from both sides into the water.

Einarr braced himself, but something stopped the boats before they could collide and crush their sailors between them. They had hardly even crossed swords, and already this was one of the strangest battles Einarr could remember. What was going on?

He was not to have his answer then, as the boarding lines were cast off of both ships and lowered to allow sailors to climb back aboard. Another gout of flame issued from the bow of the dromon, as though warning them against trying to board again, and the other ship unfurled her sail and turned for open ocean.

The battle chant stopped before the fury could take full hold – thank the gods for perceptive Singers – and leaving the boat in confusion.

Mate Hraerek’s voice cut across the noise on the deck, encapsulating the moment. “What in Hel’s name just happened?”

“That’s the Order. Not only did they force that fight, they broke it off, too.” Einarr said to no-one in particular. He remembered Naudrek’s jest from the other day. Actual Valkyrie or not, it did look like someone’s orders got countermanded. “So who ordered the attack, and who ordered the belay?”

“Was it belayed, or was the whole action just a warning?” Vari wondered from just behind Einarr.

“What do you mean?”

“Their Captain obviously figured out that we were trying to drive them off with an ambush. Really, I’ve never seen the Captain outmaneuvered like that before. If the Order has leaders like that…” He trailed off, then shook his head. “Anyway, like I was saying. Neither shot of sea-fire came anywhere near us. They released no volleys. That whole thing looked like a warning to me, like they wanted us to know they could crush us whenever they wanted. So if that’s the case, why are they following us?”

“Maybe they want us to lead them somewhere?”

“That’s my thought. Only, where?”


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.

8.5 – Pursuit

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!

Captain Kormund froze a moment, staring at Einarr. He blinked, then swore quietly. “You. A Cursebreaker. How long?”

“Almost a year now.”

The Captain swore again. “So you’ve made it long enough to know you attract trouble. When were you intending to tell me about this?”

Einarr paused in his preparations. He hadn’t even thought about that: it felt like ages since it had come up, although in reality it was only late last summer. “You’re right. I should have mentioned that. My apologies: I was named Cursebreaker by an alfish Oracle early last spring. She recommended I learn the runes. By midsummer, I agreed.”

Captain Kormund looked at him flatly for a long moment, then sighed. “You’ve made it this far, and I suppose I can’t just strand you somewhere. Carry on.”

Einarr blanched. It was truly lucky that Kormund thought well of his father, he thought.

Neither Hrug nor Einarr saw the point in setting up the full divination ritual. Either the dromon was a Valkyrie, or it was not: either it was after them, or it was not. Even the more limited reading,though, would have been a problem to set up alone on deck.

At length, the circle was drawn and the runes were set Hrug gestured for the Captain to seat himself at its center.

“Excuse me?”

“The one in the center of the array recieves the revelations,” Einarr explained.

“Ah. Very well, then.” With no further hesitation, the Captain stepped into the ritual seat, taking care not to disturb the charcoal markings on his deck. “I am ready.”

Hrug nodded and sat at the edge of the circle. His brow furrowed as he focused his will, and then he reached out to touch the line.

Captain Kormund’s eyes grew wide momentarily before he closed them. The double vision caused by these visions could be quite disorienting otherwise.

The vision was a brief one: only a minute later, his eyes opened again and he exhaled sharply. Kormund looked directly at Einarr. “Damnit all. I appreciate you sounding the alarm about the ship early, but part of me is still inclined to blame you. Yes, they are of the Order of the Valkyrie, and yes, they are pursuing us. But, in that case, fine. I’ve outrun Order ships before.”


That evening, they lit no torches, and the hearth was extinguished immediately after dinner. Once the sunset had faded into full night, Captain Kormund gave the order to unfurl the sail. They would be sailing by starlight, as thankfully there was no moon: with luck, it would suffice.

The ship was almost eerily silent as it slipped off into the night: all Einarr could hear was the lapping of water against the side of the boat and the occasional rapping of knuckles against the hull in a set of signals unique to the Eikthyrnir.

Still, he kept a watchful eye behind them. He had no real hope that he would see them at that distance in the dark of night, but to not watch seemed the height of folly. And, perhaps, he would be able to catch their silhouette against the indigo sky. All night, he stared at the horizon behind them, never sure if he saw the other ship moving or not – certain, only, that they were too far to hear the sound of oars.

At some point he slept, and all the while refought his battle against the Order from nearly a year ago. At dawn he awoke with a groan.

“You’ve got that right,” Naudrek said from where he stood, leaning against the bulwark.

Einarr stood and went to look out over the water. He groaned again, lowering his forehead to the wood. There was the dromon, the wing-and-spear symbol of the Order plain on its sail. They had not lost it in the night: on the contrary, the ship appeared to have drawn closer in spite of their efforts. “Why does this not surprise me.”

“Because nothing is ever easy, my friend. Nothing is ever easy.”

“Especially not when the gods decide someone has to clean up all the black magic floating around, and you look like a good candidate.” He wished the Captain hadn’t reminded him of all the trouble his calling brought along with it. After the winter, he’d almost managed to put it behind him.

Naudrek laughed. “Yep, that’s a Cursebreaker all right. But based on what you said about last Season, I think we’ll be all right here.”

“You say that now. Just watch, it turns out they’re all possessed and under the control of that monster cult.”

“An Order ship? More likely they’ve got an actual Valkyrie giving them orders, and she wants a rematch.”

Now it was Einarr’s turn to laugh. “Nope. Not doing that again. She can have the feather back if that’s what she’s after.”

Naudrek smirked at Einarr. “That’s more like it. Last night can’t have been the only trick up the captain’s sleeve, so let’s not despair just yet, shall we?”

“Deal.”

As Naudrek expected, Captain Kormund had more tricks up his sleeve than the nighttime evasion. All that day they kept the sail furled and rowed. Every hour or so Hraerek would ring a bell and the rowers would change shift so that everyone stayed relatively fresh.

By all rights, they should have left the dromon in their wake this way. But all through that day they rowed, and they never seemed to put any distance at all between themselves and the Valkyrian ship. Einarr started to wonder if they really had bound a vindstang to the ship.

For his part, the captain seemed only mildly impressed. As the day wore on, Einarr noted that they had shifted course somewhat to the east. He wasn’t overly familiar with the waters in these parts, but he had to assume there was some sort of obstacle they were aiming for. Captain Kormund was a canny fellow, after all. Einarr did his best not to clench his fists around the oars, lest white knuckles betray his nerves.


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.

8.4 – Setting Sail

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 Eikthyrnir was not due to leave port for several more days. Einarr chafed at the delay, but preferred not to take his chances on searching out another boat. Especially given that Captain Kormund only brought them on board out of half-remembered friendship for Stigander. Einarr was well aware of how tenuous that made their position on board, and so advised his companions to work twice as hard as they had before. Accusations of favoritism were pure poison on the open sea, and Einarr had no desire to bring that down on his head.

Finally, though, the day dawned when the Eikthyrnir was scheduled to leave port. The weather was clear and cool, as Einarr had come to expect from this island, and his new shipmates did not seem to begrudge him their Captain’s regard. If anything, they seemed to pity him for it. But if there was one thing Einarr was growing used to, it was meeting unreasonably high expectations. If the Captain expected him to live up to his memories of Stigander, well, at least he wasn’t trying to steal from Wotan or escape the forgotten island.

The ship slipped out of the harbor as silently as she had entered it. Had Einarr not been on an oar, he might not have believed they were rowing out, she moved so swiftly and silently. There was barely a ripple as the oars dipped in and out of the sea, and while he could hear the waves lapping at the sides of the Eikthyrnir, it was rather akin to hearing them lap against a sandy shore. Even more than most raiders she was built for speed and for stealth, and Einarr soon discovered that everyone from the lowest deckhand to Hraerek, the ship’s Mate, were quick to boast of it.

Unlike the Vidofnir, there were no post-sailing rituals among the Eikthyrnings. It felt odd to leave port without hearing the Lay of Raen, but neither Eydri nor her senior Singer on board was familiar with it. He shrugged, and that first night out on the water he took some time in his watch to recite the lay to himself. He’d heard it often enough, after all: he’d had it memorized by the time he was 14.

Four days out of port, before they had yet turned north to head towards Kjell but well outside the territory claimed by the Coneheads, Einarr happened to glance toward the stern during supper.

A dromon sat on the horizon, plain as the nose on his face. For an hour, and then two, Einarr watched and waited. The ship seemed, if anything, to be gaining on them. He pursed his lips, thinking. “Excuse me,” he muttered to the men he was eating with.

The men patrolling on watch seemed unconcerned, though, when he pointed the dromon out to them.

“I see him. Nothing to fear,” said Vari, a tall, slender man who nonetheless looked like he would be a terror with the blades at his belt. “We’ve outrun dromon before.”

Einarr looked back out at the dromon, then again at Vari from the corner of his eye. That may be so, but something about this gave him a bad feeling. But, he swallowed his protest and nodded. He was never likely to become anything other than ‘new’ on this ship. Still, he kept his eyes astern.

His turn for watch came around. He gave it half a candle-mark, or so, before he reported the vessel. He definitely thought it was gaining on them.

“Mate Hraerek, I’ve something to report.”

“The dromon off our stern?”

“Aye.”

“Good work. Spotted it hours ago.”

A swell of relief washed over Einarr. “Does it look like it’s gaining to you, sir?”

“Unlikely. I expect it will turn aside eventually. It has no proof we’re raiders, after all.”

“If it’s a Valkyrie ship, that might not matter.”

“What do you mean?”

“Last spring, in the waters between Kjell and Apalvik, the Vidofnir was attacked by one of their hunting ships – and I can tell you from experience that there’s nothing to raid in those waters.”

The Mate furrowed his brow. “Apalvik? Why in the world were you headed there?”

Einarr snorted. “We weren’t, until we had a hold full of Valkyrian treasure to sell.”

That got a laugh out of the man, at least. “Keep an eye on it if it makes you feel better. I assure you, you won’t be the only one. But I wager it will turn aside soon enough. There’s not a lot between Eskiborg and Kjell, either, and our business in Eskiborg was peaceful.”

“Thank you, sir.” While not exactly reassuring, at least the Mate knew about it. He returned to his watch, all the while keeping one eye on the mysterious dromon to their south.

Matters continued like that for another day, and another, during which Einarr became increasingly sure that not only was the ship gaining, it was tailing them. He could see, now, the all-too-familiar wing-and-spear of the Order of the Valkyrie when the wind was right. But if he could, so could the Mate and so could the Captain.

On the seventh day out of port, Captain Kormund called on the skills of Hrug.

“All right, fortune teller. We’re far off the normal trade routes by now, and well out of anything the Coneheads even try to claim. Divine for me who mans that ship and why they follow us.”

Hrug made an exaggerated bow, even going so far as to flourish with his stump. The request had sounded more than a little pompous, although at this point he had come to expect that from this captain. Then the mute looked at Einarr and raised an eyebrow.

“Of course I’ll help.”

“What, you’re a fortune-teller to?”

“Not exactly.”

“Then how is it he asks you for help?”

“Oh, I’ve received the same training. At the same time, even. But he’s better at it. I’m just a Cursebreaker.”


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.

3.30 – Rite of Passing

The only difference Einarr could see in the barrow cave this morning from when they had left was the lack of shades hovering ominously between himself and the Allthane’s would-be barrow. “Where do you want us?”

Reki strode deeper into the cave without looking back? “You? With me. The rest of you should guard the entryway to the room with the ship for now.”

“Against things coming out or things getting in?” Irding sounded sheepish, but it was a good question.

“Yes. And remember you’re basically on your own against anything that does try to stop me. We’ve no guarantee all of the revenants fell last night.”

Nervous chuckling came from behind Einarr before Troa answered for the group. “Understood.”

Reki may have nodded in response. “Now. Einarr. As I understand it, my predecessor was your stepmother? You were involved in her funeral?”

“Mm.”

“Good. I need you to lash a raft and find the Allthane’s remains. There should be bones, at least. Then get a few things from the old barrow to go down with him.”

“Ah… of course. And you need me to do all of this…”

“You have an hour.”

Einarr frowned. He turned around to face the others in the group. “Irding, Troa. Sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to handle the raft. Jorir and I will come help if we locate everything else we need in time.”

The three he named looked rather more pleased than offended to be taken off guard duty when the most likely opponent would be insubstantial. The rest of the team took their positions in the entryway, to a man their mouths set in a grim line. Einarr had no desire to fight the shades again, solid forms or not, so he could hardly blame them. “The rest of you… good luck. We’re counting on you.”

Even with the help of his three friends, Einarr passed a tense hour searching the cave for the Allthane’s remains. The grave ship, piled high with gold, contained no bones. Neither did the floor around it. Finally, though, his search carried him over to where the ghostly feast had been set up. Where before there had been nothing, it seemed here were the bones of every man who had fallen to the cannibals.

“How does one tell the bones of a king from the bones of a sailor?” Einarr muttered as he lifted another skull. Handling them sent shivers up and down his spine, and he found himself wanting to wipe his hands every time he rejected one.

“Is it too much to ask that they leave his crown on his pate?” Jorir’s grumblings were of a kind with Einarr’s own.

Einarr growled. “Jorir, I’ll get this, you go pick out some fitting grave goods for the revenant of a thane.”

“You sure?”

“No. But the Oracle seemed to think highly of my perception… maybe that will help? All else fails, we pile the raft high with skulls.”

“As plans go, not the worst I’ve heard.”

“Mm. Go. At least one of us can get away from the charnel miasma.”

Jorir stopped mid-step. “Miasma?”

“Haven’t you felt it?”

“Nay. Just the usual darkness of an old battlefield. …Methinks your superior vision is serving you well already, milord. Find the source of the miasma -”

“And find the body of the Allthane.”

***

Einarr and Reki stood on the shore of the deep water pool that dominated the main cavern, the others arrayed around them to bear witness. At every man’s feet was a torch, and in every man’s hand an arrow, its head wrapped in oil-soaked cloth. Ahead of them floated a crude raft patched together out of boards cut from the Allthane’s rotting grave ship. Some of the ends were already charred, from the abortive funeral three centuries earlier.

The song Reki sang over the ancient royal bones was not what she had sung for the sailors who fell against the Valkyrie, sending them on to Valhalla. Nor did it bear any resemblance to the song Runa had sung at Astrid’s funeral. No. This song was one Einarr had rarely heard, for it was the song of those who were destined for Hel’s dank domain. There was no joy in it – not for a peasant, and less for a fallen king. Little wonder the Allthane had resisted.

A faint green glow arose from the center of the raft, reflecting off the gold Jorir had so carefully selected.

Einarr’s shoulders tensed. He nocked his arrow but did not yet touch it to the torch at his feet. Other witnesses stirred around him. Are we too late? Reki had said by mid-morning, but it was impossible to get a sense of time down here.

The tempo of the Song remained steady, either because it must or because Reki did not see. Einarr swallowed. The cue was soon. With luck, it would be soon enough.

A pair of burning green embers formed in the air above the raft. Then, above them, a ghostly crown faded into existence, less substantial than the fog that had hemmed Einarr’s group in on the beach.

There was the first cue in the music. All around him, arrows blazed to life. Einarr, too, lit his arrow. The crackle of fire was soon followed by the stretching sound of drawing bows.

The outline of a face came into being, now, below the crown and around the eyes. It was the Allthane, not as he imagined himself to be but as he had appeared after Einarr shattered the illusion of the feast. The hair on Einarr’s arms stood on end.

A clawed, ghostly hand stretched out towards the observers.

The song shifted, now, and the minor key grew strident.

Einarr loosed. The whistling of arrows filled the cavern. The first of them – Einarr’s own arrow, he thought – pierced the half-formed face of the Allthane’s shade and the ghost dissipated. Even as the arrow sank beneath the ocean with a plunk this was oddly satisfying. The corners of Einarr’s mouth pulled up into a grim smile as the planks of the raft caught and the gold once again looked like gold.


Vote for Vikings on Top Web Fiction!

Table of Contents