Tag: Runemaster

7.16 – Runestones

In the middle of the night, Einarr was awakened by an idea. The keepers of the lodge might not think too highly of him for learning the runes, but Einarr had known very few who would refuse magical aid outright. Besides, he hadn’t practiced since he left the village.

Quietly, although he thought it unlikely he would wake the stupefied men at arms, Einarr made his way from the Lodge into the garden they kept. He had done this as practice some weeks ago in Mira’s garden, and while tedious he thought it would be some measure to repaying their aid and hospitality.

Einarr let himself into the vegetable patch and made his way carefully to the far corner. There, in the dirt around a pumpkin mound, he traced the ᛃ and willed it active, strengthening the plant and encouraging the fruit to grow. He went on, repeating this process as he went. About halfway through the garden, an idea occurred to him: he knew he could use one rune to affect multiple plants, although at somewhat reduced effect. He also knew that one could power more than one rune at a time, else how would inscriptions of multiple runes work? Thus, could he inscribe the rune multiple times, once for each plot, and then activate them all together?

He might have preferred to test this in Mira’s garden, but based on what they had taught him it should work – and let him finish before dawn. He went to work.

The sky was just beginning to lighten as Einarr traced the rune in the dirt by the cabbages. With a deep breath, he looked out over the garden and nodded. He focused his will and activated each of the runes he had just laboriously traced.

A moment’s lightheadedness came over him and he blinked, but then he saw the leaves of the garden vegetables grow lusher and straighter, just as if he had done each plant one at a time, and smiled. On that note, before any of the men of the Lodge were awake, Einarr took his leave.

The morning wore on as Einarr retraced their steps from the previous day, and as he walked it began to grate on him that he was neglecting the training he was brought out here for. Inscribing a rune, though, took little enough concentration that he thought he could at least get practice with the forms as he walked. There would be no trail to pick up until he reached the old campsite anyway.

Einarr picked up a long stick he found by the side of the trail, and would periodically pause to inscribe a rune in the ground – something that would either benefit what was nearby, or at least do no harm. He would inscribe a rune, with one of its characteristics firmly in mind, and activate it, and move on.

Eventually, though, he ran out of runes he could practice in this way, so instead he found himself a strip of birch bark and charred the end of his stick – with his flint, not the rune – in order to write things out as he traveled. Now then. He hadn’t wanted to practice hagall – scrawling in the dirt with a stick. The rune was far too finicky for that, and even on his birch bark with a shorter implement he found he needed to stop and concentrate on what he was doing.

As he finished the last stroke and examined his work for flaws, the rune glowed faintly sky blue and a chill breeze began to eddy around him. The breeze was oddly constant as he took a few steps, and then a few more. He looked again at the bark in his hands: the rune still glowed, faintly, although Einarr was not aware of powering it. Was this how the wards on the shroud had worked? He laughed, pleased at the discovery, and tried willing the wind rune on the page to stop.

He was more than a little surprised when it did. How convenient. With a grin, Einarr paused at a large rock by the side of the path and used his knife to cut free the section of bark that could call the wind. This he put in the pouch at his belt before moving on.

Next he drew the rune of wisdom – – and cut it free, as well. If there was one thing he had often wished for over the course of the past year, it was wisdom beyond his years. This he followed with the rune of self – ᛗ – and the shield rune – ᛉ.

Fatigue settled over Einarr’s limbs as he walked, although it was not yet noon. That’s what I get for rising in the middle of the night, I suppose. Einarr shrugged. He would stop and rest for a little once he found a promising spot on the trail. He wasn’t far from the campsite, though, even with how this had slowed his pace, and so he pressed on.

There was still birch bark left. On a lark, he made a chip for the generous rune (ᚷ) and one for the ocean rune (ᛚ). After all, if he could make these in advance and then use them at need, there was no reason not to.

His feet felt like lead now, inexplicably. Had he truly grown so soft during his time with the alfs? He shook his head. There was enough bark left for one more, and then he would stop to focus on his hunt. The rune of journeys, I think. With a nod, he began to inscribe the ᚱ on the birch bark. As he finished the last stroke, he felt his awareness begin to swim. A powerful feeling of vertigo swept over him, and the forest faded to black.


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7.13 – Lodge

The same qualities that made the woods about the Shrouded Village pleasant to live in – their brightness, their openness – also made them accursedly easy to get lost in. Within half a day Einarr learned to set his blazes within sight of each other to avoid walking in circles.

The hunting lodge he sought sat in a clearing much like the one that held the elven temple. Had he not wasted time getting turned around, Einarr thought he should have found it by midafternoon. As it happened, though, he stepped into the clearing to the smell of wood smoke and the sound of chopping wood just as the golden afternoon began to dim into grey twilight.

“Hallo there!” He called from the tree line. Einarr approached openly, making a point to keep his hands visible and empty. He had no intention of being mistaken for a bandit.

Einarr had crossed about half the distance when two men appeared. They wore simple tunics and trousers, and one of them had an axe slipped through his belt.

“Evening, stranger,” said the one with the axe, wary.

“Good evening.” Einarr stood with his open empty palms facing the two men. “Is the Lord of the Hall in?”

It was, evidently, the wrong question. Both men tensed, and the woodcutter reached for his axe.

Einarr raised his hands defensively, open palms out. “I have come from the alfr village near here. I just want to talk.”

“But you’re a human,” said the apparently unarmed one.

“I came to learn how to read the runes.”

The woodcutter did a poor job of smothering a sneer. “So what brings a sorcerer’s apprentice here?”

“There’s trouble afoot. Have either of you seen anything unusual in the last few days?”

They didn’t relax, exactly, but they lowered their guard. “Trouble, you say,” said the woodcutter. “Perhaps you had better come inside.”

The chief’s hunting lodge was well-kept: Einarr suspected it served as a secondary court or perhaps as a summer entertainment for his men-at-arms. The usual trophies were on display: reindeer antlers, animal skin rugs, the teeth and claws of various predators.

The two guardians gestured at the long table as they led Einarr inside. “Sit,” said the unarmed one. “Speak. Supper will be on soon.”

Einarr swung a leg over one of the benches at the long table, glad to be off his feet. “Two days ago, a stranger showed up in the alfr village, after the artifact that they guard.”

“The Muspel Shroud. Everyone on the island knows of it.” The woodcutter sounded grim.

Einarr inclined his head. “Then I think you know where this is headed.”

“Aye, as soon as you said trouble, although I wish I’d been wrong. I suppose it got the young fool?”

“Yes, we believe so – him and his horse. They’re working on a way to deal with the thing again. Meanwhile, I’m trying to find it.”

The unarmed man, over at the soup pot, could not quite control the tremor in his hands as he dished up three bowls. “Eat up,” he said, bringing the bowls to the table. “It’s not much of a last meal, but at least it’s hot.”

Einarr half-smiled, but when the implication hit he half stood, pushing back from the table. “Last meal?”

“Relax,” the woodcutter said. “We’re not such cowards that we’d take our own lives without even an enemy in sight. Just if the Shroud is loose, that means any meal could be your last. Best to enjoy what life you have left.”

“…Ah.” Einarr sat back down slowly, and smelled of the soup very carefully before taking a sip. “Why do you know about the Shroud?”

“Because the alfs wanted to avoid witch hunts and panic should the thing ever get loose. They’re big on their secrets, the alfs are, but that’s not one of them. Unfortunately…”

“Unfortunately, that probably means our Lord is lost, as well. He sent word that he would be coming out, but he should have arrived yesterday.”

Einarr sat up. “While I hope that is not the case, would you tell me the route he usually travels to come here? And what sort of remains I might be looking for, should the Shroud have consumed him.”

The woodcutter laughed. It was not a happy sound. “You think the Shroud leaves remains? If you’re lucky, you might find some ash.”

Einarr took another sip of the soup, pondering that. Back at the temple, had he smelled burned flesh? Had there been too much dust in the air as he climbed out of the cellar? He nodded, slowly. “I see. That has been extraordinarily helpful.”

The other man shrugged. “Not a one of us wants that thing loose. Stay here tonight. In the morning, I’ll trace the path with you.”

“You have my thanks.”

“Just find the thing so that the Runemasters can deal with it.”

“That is my intention.” And if I’m lucky, Mira and Melja will get an answer to me before I find it.


A fine misting rain fell when the three rose the next morning. It would be gone by midday – it always was, on this island – but it meant the morning’s travel would be damp and cold. Einarr shrugged and buckled his cloak about his neck: maybe the rain would help if they encountered the artifact. Not likely, but a man can dream, can’t he?

Onnir – the man who had been unarmed yesterday – today carried a scramasax and a hunting bow, and was dressed for hunting. He was checking over his bowstring as Einarr left the hall. “Are we ready?”

“To find a trail? Absolutely. Lead on, friend. How are you with that blade?”

He shrugged. “Passable. Better with the bow.”

“I’ll trust you with my back, then. Shall we go?”

Onnir grunted and started off down the path in an odd, almost bouncing gait. Einarr followed close on his heels.


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