Tag: Shroud

7.34 – Master’s Prerogative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

7.32 – The Muspel Shroud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

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

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

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

7.31 – The Bjorn

Einarr and Naudrek came to the water’s edge at an area of the docks that Einarr doubted he’d have found on his own, it was so far removed from the main road. Naudrek stopped, briefly, when they heard their footfalls echoing over water instead of ground and pointed out towards the sea.

“There, at the far end of the pier.” Then they were both running again, sure that their quarry had arrived ahead of them. Noises of startlement came from several of the ships as they passed, reacting to the sudden clamor but not chasing after its source. Einarr paid them no mind: they were ship lookouts, nothing more. He’d have been more surprised if they had begun to follow him.

Before long he could make out the shape of the ship floating at the end of the pier, an inky black against the indigo night. They picked up the pace.

Naudrek slowed once they could see the lamps burning underneath the Captain’s awning and announced himself to the lookout. He was waved through, but waited just on board.

Einarr stepped up into the light of the lookout’s lamp. “Einarr, son of Stigander, of the longship Vidofnir, hunting the Muspel Shroud. Permission to come aboard?”

“And why, praytell, does that require you to board the Bjorn?”

“He has reason to believe,” Naudrek interrupted. “That the artifact intends to secret itself aboard this ship.”

“This is credible?”

Einarr tried not to roll his eyes. He understood the guard’s suspicion, mentally, but his honor still rankled.

Naudrek nodded solemnly. “And from what I’ve heard, letting that thing off this island is a bad idea.”

The guard pursed his lips, then finally nodded. “Fine. But he’s under your care. If this scrawny fellow causes any trouble…”

“I swear to you on my honor as the blood of Raen of Breidelstein, my grandfather, I seek only the Shroud, to capture or destroy it.”

“Breidelstein? No ship’s come out of there in -”

“More than twenty years? Aye.”

“…I see.” Only slightly less reluctantly, the lookout stepped aside to allow Einarr to board.

“Have you lamps we can use?” He asked when both feet were on deck. It should, he thought, have been a reasonable request, but the lookout gave him a look that could have iced over a wave.

Einarr shrugged. “We need light to search by, still. I’ve a trick I learned from the elves, but you might not like it any better.”

The lookout snorted and turned his attention back to the pier. With a shrug, Einarr pulled a stick of charcoal, wrapped in a leaf, from his coin pouch and unwrapped one end. Evidently being “scrawny” was more of a mark against him than Naudrek’s word could counter.

“Give me just a moment, would you? This will make the ship easier to search, if I can do it without accidentally blinding us.” Calmly, Einarr bent over to draw a large ᛊ – the sun rune – on the deck of the ship.

“What are you…?”

“I’ve been learning from the elves for months now. Picked up a thing or two.” Einarr smiled vaguely at the deck as he straightened. He had intentionally drawn the three-line version, since the lighting was not such to allow him to check his inscription. With a nod of satisfaction, he willed the rune into life.

The deck of the Bjorn burst into bright light, which quickly faded to a dim glow. Cries of surprise echoed around the deck.

“Sorry,” Einarr said. “I’m not very good, I’m afraid.”

You,” Naudrek demanded, incredulous. “You know magic?”

“Elder Melja would dispute that.”

“I never would have taken you for a sorceror.” Naudrek seemed suddenly wary of him, in spite of everything.

Einarr sighed. “I’m not. I’m a Cursebreaker. It became very plain to me that it was learn the Runes or die. So I’m learning the runes, and hoping it doesn’t kill me.”

“…Ah.” He didn’t seem convinced, but did not force the issue. At least, not yet.

With a nod from his companion, the two set to searching. Naudrek was very shortly thereafter interrupted by a man Einarr assumed was either the Captain or the Mate who came out from under the awning to investigate why, exactly, the ship was glowing. If anything, the explanation made the man less happy about it, but Einarr’s hunt was not interrupted.

It was nowhere above deck – not even, thank goodness, under the Captain’s awning. Einarr worried that it would be under the deck boards: he doubted he would be able to get the Captain to agree to let him search there. Then the lapping of water against the klinks caught his attention. It sounded… different than he was used to. Softer.

Einarr dashed to the seaward side of the ship and looked down towards the water. A grin spread slowly across his face. There, reflected in the surface of the water, he could see a long patch of red against the hull.

“There you are,” he muttered, and Sinmora rasped from her sheath. He focused his will and his determination: almost immediately, he felt the sword begin to vibrate. It had devoured the magic of the wards, before, in spite of hundreds of years of reinforcement. It should at least be able to knock out the artifact.

As the sword’s vibrations grew stronger in Einarr’s hands, the Shroud peeled itself from the side of the ship in what looked an awful lot like alarm to Einarr. His grin turned predatory.

“I’ve found it,” he called across the deck to his new ally. Naudrek’s answering smile was cold as he, too, drew his sword and came to stand by Einarr’s side. Slowly, as though acknowledging that it had been found out, the Shroud floated up to hover in front of the two warriors over the water.


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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

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

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

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

7.29 – The Pewter Pot

Einarr stood before what was unmistakeably the public hall from the vision, glad to have found it but wishing he had found it some other way. He shuddered: the man may as well have been a snake on two legs, the way menace and charm both seemed to hang about his head like a miasma. But, he wanted the Shroud dealt with as much as the next person – perhaps more, as he actually had people under his care – and his information was sound.

The sign of the Pewter Pot swung from its post where it hung outside the place itself. Einarr stared at it a good long minute after his guide excused himself, suddenly reluctant to enter. The building still stood, but that didn’t really mean much. There was nothing for it, though, so Einarr stepped inside.

The Hall was considerably cleaner than Einarr had expected based on the vision, although his informant had hinted as much. Now he just needed to convince the owner to let him work – well, that was all he had to do here, for now.

The woman who ran the Pewter Pot wore the sallow skin and lank hair of a hard life like one who doesn’t much care anymore. Still, after a (mercifully brief) conversation, the words “Muspel Shroud” and “hunting” convinced her to cooperate. By the time he returned to the Bronze Archer that evening, he had the first layer of wards laid.

Three more nights he spent at the Bronze Archer, working with Eydri the Singer to discover Sinmora’s secret. At the end of the third day they thought they were on the right track.

That third day, however, was also the day rumors began to swirl about mysterious disappearances in the city. That night, he gave up his bunk at the Bronze Archer for one at the Pewter Pot.


Whatever else Einarr wanted to say about the place, The Pewter Pot was lively after dark. He sat on the corner of the table nearest the door and watched the room, the patrons doing their best to forget the cares of the day with poor drink and their pick of company. The musicians were not on Reki’s level, or even Eydri’s, for that matter, but they kept a good pace for the players of the hallingdanse and did not make Einarr want to cover his ears.

It was not here yet. In the three days since he had drawn the ward, nothing had tripped it, and there was not a scrap of red cloth gone to keeping down mud on the floor. The vision suggested that the Shroud would hide itself in among the rugs, although after the debacle at Armad’s Hall he was not sure how much he wanted to count on that.

Towards the end of what would have been first watch on the Vidofnir the crowd began to thin, and soon it was only Einarr and a few hard-luck sailors left who had taken bunks here. Einarr had just kicked off his second boot when he felt the tingling sensation that meant the ward had been breached.

He didn’t bother with his boots: he took Sinmora in hand and stepped out toward the center of the floor.

Two of the sailors raised an eyebrow and rolled over, putting their backs to the room. None of their never-mind, the postures said clear as day. The other two, though, stopped what they were doing.

“Something the matter?” One of them asked, his thick accent screaming Empire even though he looked Clan bred and born.

Einarr only hesitated a moment over how much to tell them. “I’m on an alfr-quest, hunting an evil artifact. It’s coming.”

Neither the borderlander nor his companion hesitated a moment. Both men rose and took up their own weapons to join Einarr, ready to fight in nothing but their trousers.

“You don’t have to do this.”

“Who said anything about have to?” The borderlander grinned. “I’ll join you same reason I joined my Captain: it sounds like fun. Ain’t that right, Hrug?”

The other man grinned broadly. Einarr was appalled to see that he was missing not only half his teeth but also his tongue.

“Welcome aboard then, I guess. Name’s Einarr. You?”

“Naudrek. So what are we fighting?”

“You been on-island long enough to hear about the Muspel Shroud?”

Naudrek shook his head. “Something to do with fire, I presume.”

“It touches you, you’re ash. If I don’t destroy it here, I only get one more chance, and I’ve yet to spot a ship in port with a bear’s head.”

“It’s headed for the Bjorn? Aw, Hel, now I really have to help you.”

“That your ship?”

Naudrek nodded.

“Well then, let’s hope we get it here before we have to try to get it out of there.”

The three men put their backs together, their swords drawn and ready. Einarr watched the front door, Naudrek the kitchen, Hrug the fireplace. Minutes passed: nothing happened.

“You’re sure it’s coming?”

“It breached the alfs’ ward.” Something equally powerful had, anyway, and he had no reason to believe this island harbored two such artifacts. Hrug grunted. Einarr risked a glance over his shoulder, but the man merely acknowledged his answer. “Don’t underestimate the Shroud. It played me for a fool once before. It may simply be waiting for us to drop our guard.”

“If that’s the case, what’s to prevent it just moving on to the ship?”

“I believe there’s something it wants to accomplish here… although I couldn’t tell you what. Any of the rest of these fellows on your crew?”

“Afraid not.”

“Then either it’s looking to hitch a ride with one of you, or it’s looking to kill again before it leaves. You seen anyone obviously slumming it here the last few nights?”

“Just you, but that don’t mean much.”

Einarr grunted. “This could be a long night, then.”

“All the more reason to lend a hand, don’t you think?” Naudrek grinned at Einarr over his shoulder. Einarr grinned back.

“Couldn’t have said it better.”


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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

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

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

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

7.28 – Bells

Bowl of porridge in hand, the Singer came and sat across from Einarr at breakfast the next morning. “I’m told,” she said, lifting a spoonful. “That you wanted to talk to me. You looking for a battle chanter?”

Einarr smiled and shook his head, giving himself a chance to swallow. “Not exactly – although I will be in the spring, I expect.”

“Need rites performed? That’s not really…”

“Actually, I was hoping you could interpret something for me.”

She blinked. “Are you sure you need a Singer?”

“It’s a bit of a musical puzzle, you see.”

Now she looked intrigued, so Einarr described the vision his runestone had given him. When he finished, a distinctly amused smile appeared on her face.

“A puzzle for a warrior, perhaps, but plain as day to a Singer. The answer you’re looking for is ‘resonance,’ and it’s the principle that all Song Magic is based on.”

Einarr furrowed his brow, still not sure what she meant.

“A Singer creates an emotional effect with her choice of Song, and then the Song resonates with her listeners and the effect is amplified. The better we are, the more control we have over this resonance. In the same way, this Shroud you seek appears to resonate with fire. It grows stronger when exposed to fire, or when a rune is used to produce it.”

“So if I want to ‘wake up’ Sinmora, intentionally…”

“You need to figure out what she was resonating with. I suspect the answer is actually not ice, or the ice ward would not have been consumed.”

Now Einarr nodded, his face brightening. “Thank you. I think I at least know where to start, now.”

She smiled again – prettily, he thought, but no match for Runa’s. “My pleasure. Let me know if you want help figuring out what: you’ve got me curious now.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. But first I have a dive to locate. Heh – come to think of it, there was a bell associated with that, too.”

Now she laughed. “Afraid I can’t help you there. I’m Singing here precisely to avoid that sort of place – at least until I find a ship.”

“I’ll keep you in mind once my Hrútur is ready.” And he would: even if, by some miracle, Harl Hroaldr permitted his marriage in the spring, Runa was unlikely to be interested in the life of a battle-chanter.


After breakfast, his porridge unexpectedly supplemented with fresh sausages, Einarr reserved a bed for the coming night and tromped back out into the streets. As he walked, he turned over in his mind everything he could remember about that fight and that vault.

The most obvious thing to test would be parts of the wards laid over that vault, but Einarr was not too proud to admit they were far beyond his skill. While he could – and probably would – test individual runes, Einarr thought the key probably lay elsewhere. Or, at least he hoped it did. He was approaching the harbor, though, and so now was not the time to be distracted, no matter how important the problem he gnawed on was.

Yesterday, he had searched north of the main road. Today, he would try south.

The south side of the docks district appeared to cater to wealthier clientele, Einarr soon learned. This suited Einarr well enough, so long as they still had some cheap ale halls of the sort that would put rugs down even on the dance floor. And given that he was looking for a place related to a golden bell, and didn’t want to be stabbed in the back in the process, it might even be better.

Once again he spent his morning traipsing up and down the side streets of the docks, and once again asked for directions at a food stall – this one selling fried fish balls. “Hallo,” he said, eyeing the food. “Packet of five, if you please.”

The merchant snorted. “That all? You’re not working hard enough.”

Einarr just shrugged: searching the city was hungrier work than studying the runes, to be sure, but not so hungry as rowing a longship, and certainly not so hungry as unloading the deep-bellied knarr. “There a public hall around here named for a fancy bell?”

The dumpling vendor from the day before had looked at Einarr as though he were daft: this man acted as though Einarr were utterly cracked. “Not in this part of town, son. Maybe back west in the merchant district.”

Einarr shook his head. “Well, maybe it’s not the name, then. The alfs gave me a quest, and I need to find a place where men dance on rugs in order to catch up with it. Maybe it was that you could hear a golden bell from the place?”

Now the man frowned. “If the alfs sent you for it, the place must exist. …You didn’t do anything to make them mad, did you?”

Now Einarr shook his head. “I mean, this quest could be called penance, but they definitely want it done right.”

The man hummed, thinking, as he made a show of selecting five of the largest of the fish balls, as though he thought Einarr were too thin. “I still don’t have any idea what place you’re looking for, but I might know of someone who does. Only trouble is…”

“Yes?” Einarr had an inkling where the man was going with this, but he would hear him out.

“He’s not exactly the sort an honorable man wants to have dealings with, if you get my drift.”

Einarr sighed. He’d have been fine with being wrong about that. “I do, but unless we want the Muspel Shroud getting off the island, I think I’d better meet with him.”

The merchant blinked. “What’s the Muspel Shroud?”

“The artifact the alfs had imprisoned. Some idiot thief tried to steal it and it got loose. Now it’s my job to stop it.”

Now the man went pale as the pieces clicked into place. “Oh. You’d best come with me, then. Fjotli! Watch the counter! I’ve got to step off for a bit.”


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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.

7.27 – Eskiborg

All around Einarr people walked through the motions of daily life, utterly unknowing (or unconcerned by) the fiery doom flying about the island.

Einarr walked up and down the city streets getting the lay of the place, his eyes open for public halls or an obvious path to the docks. The sheer numbers of people pressed in on him, so many more endangered now – because of him.

Unconsciously, he drew his shoulders in until he walked half-hunched like a thief. What was he supposed to do, here in the city? He was one man, and there were hundreds of places the Shroud could hide here. For all he knew, the Shroud had already finished with the Hall and was ensconced below the deck of its ship.

Einarr shook his head. No sense thinking like that. The divination had said he would get three chances: that had to mean he would find the thing if he just kept looking. With a grimace he straightened his shoulders and picked up his pace.

He passed a handful of public halls as he roamed the upper city, but none with the air of dilapidation he had seen in Melja’s divination. Most likely, then, that meant it was a Hall for dockworkers and sailors – the sort of place Erik would go for a brawl, or Sivid for a contest. That was fine by him: if the Shroud was confined to the harbor area, that was less ground Einarr had to keep an eye on.

The harbor road and the main road were, Einarr soon discovered, one and the same, the broad street sloping gently downward past homes and merchant’s shops and into the heart of a shipyard.

Einarr had never seen so many half-built ships in one place in his life, and the vast majority were longships or their less-agile cousins, the merchant-favored knarr. Nothing up on blocks, though, bore a bear’s head that he could see. That meant it was most likely a ship in service – which only made sense, if the Shroud intended to escape on it.

The main road of the harbor district seemed as clean and lively as the street had farther inland: Einarr began to repeat his pattern from above. The sun was already high in the sky, but he found nothing smelled appetizing. He should eat… If you buy a couple of those dumplings, maybe the cook will know something about the place you’re looking for.

It was a long shot, but the hope of information gave him the impetus he needed to put food in his belly, and he knew he would think more clearly once he had eaten. “Two, please.”

The man on the other side of the counter of the wooden shanty grunted and took his coins and pulled a cabbage leaf from the head he had handy.

“There a Hall around these parts that likes putting down rugs?”

The man raised an eyebrow. “That’s an awfully funny question to be askin’. You got some to sell or somethin’?”

Einarr opened his mouth to object, but thought better of it. It would be easier than explaining. He shrugged. “Something like that.”

The man rolled his eyes so hard they took his head with them. “’Ere’s a couple I know. Not sure they’ll have much coin for buying new, now, mind: mostly use ‘em to keep mud down.”

That sounded like exactly the sort of place Einarr was looking for, and he said so.

Lookin’ for? Are ye daft? …Y’know what, never mind. Go straight down that-a-way and hang a right at the sign of the Ferret. There’s four or five dives between there and the waterfront. Just don’t come whinin’ to me with your guts hangin’ out, understood?”

“You have my word.” Einarr chuckled to himself as he walked away with a pair of dumplings wrapped in cabbage and, more precious than food, a place to start hunting in earnest.


Einarr trudged out of what was quite thoroughly the rough part of Eskiborg as the sun began to set, he was no closer to knowing what Hall the Shroud would hide in than before he spoke with the dumpling man. As urgent as his quest was, though, he needed a place to stay the night where he would not find a knife in his ribs come morning, and he needed a Singer to consult with. Thankfully, he had an idea where to find both of these at once.

Einarr trudged the last few hundred steps up the main thoroughfare in the dim of twilight to the hall he had thought looked promising when he spotted it: The Bronze Archer.

Warm light spilled out from the still-open door, and lively music with it. As he thought he’d seen earlier, a comely young woman sang with the rest of the musicians, and unless he missed his guess she was keeping everyone’s energy high. With a smile and a spring in his step that hadn’t been there earlier, Einarr stepped into the Bronze Archer and let the warmth of the room envelop him.

The singer was definitely working her magic on the crowd – not that anyone in that crowd was going to mind. A hallingdanse was already in full swing, and those not participating still made merry, talking and laughing over ale and stew and bread alike. With a smile, Einarr took a seat on the end of a bench and waved for the serving maid.

“What’ll it be?”

“A bowl of whatever supper is, a tankard, and a place to sleep if you’ve got one.”

She gave him a smile and a wink. “Traveler’s special, comin’ right up! I’ll let the mistress know you’re lookin’ for a bed.”

There was nothing more he could do tonight, except try to talk to that Singer once the dance was done, and he couldn’t arrange for that until the mistress of the house came by. In the meantime, he intended to enjoy his meal.


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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

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

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

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

7.26 – Wisdom of Runes

Einarr rode out from the young new Jarl’s Hall as light was just beginning to touch the sky. He’d have left immediately, but riding in the middle of the night, unrested, with a likely still-frightened horse seemed an excellent way to break his neck. So, he waited.

Shame burned in his mind, as hot as the Shroud. If he hadn’t let himself be distracted by the stable fire, would Hridi still be alive?

Maybe not. His failure that night was twofold, after all. First, he had let himself be distracted by the stable fire, and while horseflesh was worth saving it was not his duty. Obviously that was the Shroud’s intention, though – asuming it was as free-willed as Melja seemed to think.

Second, though, and more critically, he had failed to awaken Sinmoira’s power when he needed it most. That was the one that rankled. He had, after all, arrived in time to save the woman. He had simply failed to do it.

He rode away from the Hall, his mouth set in a grim line.

The problem, he thought, is that I don’t actually know how I woke her up in the first place.

Einarr reined in and looked about. The Hall was long since out of sight, and he saw no sign that anyone was likely to travel this way today. It looked to be a long, lonely rode through the forest. He would simply have to work it out as he traveled.

A hard edge jabbed at his thigh from inside his money pouch. The Runestone? Einarr shook his head. He at least wanted to try working it out on his own first.


The sun was high in the sky when Einarr finally stopped for lunch, no closer to working out the mystery of Sinmora’s new power than he had been when he started.

The trouble was, at least in part, that he first had to create a magical effect for Sinmora to ‘eat,’ and he was still very much a novice at the runic arts. If the old grandmother Geiti were here, perhaps he could convince her to Sing something it would be obvious if Sinmora disrupted, but she was not.

As he chewed a piece of jerky, he thought again of the Runestone he had carved back before he returned to the Shrouded Village. A Wisdom Rune, so that he could find his way through whatever quandaries his Calling threw his way. Carved with his own life force. A half-smile cracked his face. Stop being so stubborn. Do you want to keep stopping every five minutes to draw a new ward?

Einarr pulled the carved piece of wood from the money pouch on his belt. It was simple, without any of the ostentation he had seen on Wotan’s key broaches from the Tower of the Ravens. Just a smooth, square-ish bead of wood, carved with the ᚩ.

How did this even work? If he divined the answer like this, where would it come from? His own mind? Wotan?

Now he knew why he was so reluctant to use the stone. If he didn’t know the source of the answer, how could he trust it? But Runic divinations, the real ones, were among the best, even if the answers did tend toward the cryptic. He pursed his lips and pressed the bead against his forehead, between his eyebrows and focused.

He saw himself down in the temple vault once more, fighting the thief. The wards still existed.

The thief bellowed in rage and charged at Einarr’s past self, the screams oddly muted. Past-Einarr brought Sinmora up to guard, and as the blade gave its remembered pulse, the clear tone of a tower bell sounded in Einarr’s ears.

The fight continued as before. The eldritch runes began to glow in the vault, and Sinmora pulsed a second time. A second time, the bell sounded in Einarr’s ears. The walls of the vault seemed to vibrate with the sound of it.

The vision ended. Einarr drew his brows down in consternation and tore off another bite of jerky. What… did that even mean?

He turned the question over in his mind the rest of the afternoon as he continued his ride toward the port city of Eskiborg. As night fell, with family farms scattered to either side of the road, he was no closer to an answer.

Eskiborg, he estimated, would be another few hours’ ride yet. The roads here were passable enough that the dray was unlikely to trip and kill them both, but still he thought it best to rest for the evening. Better chances of finding a place to sleep in the city if he did not arrive in the wee hours of the morning.

As he stretched out by the side of the road, his cloak flung over his shoulders for a blanket, he sighed. I’m not getting anywhere with the question this way. There’s sure to be a Singer in town. Someone who knows music should understand.


A low haze hung in the sky when Einarr arose the next morning. To his mind there was something ominous about it, but none of the farmers he passed seemed troubled. His dray, too, plodded along as though nothing were out of the ordinary. Must just be nerves, since I know what I’m facing.

Eskiborg may have been as large a city as Kem, and as he approached its outskirts he learned that the haze that had troubled him all morning was in fact wood smoke. Armad’s Clan could be, if they chose, fabulously wealthy: the hardwood forests here produced superb timber for building ships and halls alike, and while that morning he saw no evidence that they built dromon for the Empire itself, but merchant ships were not outside the realm of possibility.

Dread settled in the pit of Einarr’s stomach. One ship, out of what looked to be a massive shipyard, and all he had to go on was a bear’s head. He needed to stop the Shroud before that.


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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

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

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

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

7.25 – Inferno

Einarr knew which way was out only because he could still feel cooler air on his back. Ahead of him, fire spouted from every surface and smoke filled the air. The only thing louder than the crackle of flames was the occasional scream of a horse.

He kept his arm up as a mostly futile shield against the worst of the heat, trying to remember if the stableboy kept his tools on the right or the left. Taking a gamble, he checked left.

A puff of flame shot up from the floor when he stepped on straw flooring, the dust igniting immediately. He drew back long enough for the tiny fireball to go out. This was the right way, then, and if the picket rope wasn’t already burning he should be able to cut it and free the horses soon.

A black mass rose up before him: the wall of the first stall, he thought. He lowered his arm and still couldn’t see the rope in the confusion of flames before him. He couldn’t waste time searching, though, not half-blind as he was. He moved around to face what he thought was a stall, raised Sinmora overhead in both hands, and cut down with enough force to split a log.

A momentary tug of resistance told him he’d done it. That should at least give the horses on this side a fighting chance. Einarr pivoted on his feet and pressed toward the other side. He coughed and half-stumbled, suddenly light headed. Come on. Just one more, and then you can get out.

He almost stumbled again as he brought his sword overhead, but here, too, he felt the rope give way under the blade. Good. Now I just need to…

Einarr swayed on his feet. The smoke was getting to be too much. Where was the exit? He had gone along the left side, and when he cut that one the door should have been on his left. He was facing the opposite way now, so…

The furry bulk of a horse bumped up against his side and stopped. He didn’t question how or why, just wrapped his fingers into its mane and let the brave creature half-drag him out into the fresh air.

Outside, still clinging to the mane of the dray he’d borrowed from the alfen village, he saw the fire brigade moving buckets of water. None of them paid him any attention.

Armad, Eifidi, and Hridi were nowhere to be seen. Not that he was sure he’d be able to tell the two women apart at this point.

He coughed and blinked to clear his vision. The horse was not who he’d come here to save. He patted the dray on the neck and headed back toward the hall, only stumbling a little.

For the second time that night, a scream cut the air. This time, a woman’s. Einarr ran, mentally cursing himself for a fool.


In the short time since he had left to free the horses, the scene in the hall had become chaos. Armad stood on the table, waving a hunting spear around like a flag. The woman dressed as a Lady was the one who had screamed: Eifidi, if he still had their game straight in his smoke-addled head. That meant Hridi, dressed as the nursemaid, was the one holding at bay the Muspel Shroud with a tall candelabrum.

The diaphanous crimson cloth writhed and stretched like a jellyfish in the water. Candlelight reflected off its folds in a way that might, under other circumstances, have been beautiful. But the candelabrum was beginning to give, and Hridi’s face was nothing less than desperate.

For the second time that night, Einarr drew Sinmora. You eat magic these days, right? Only one way to find out if it would work against the Shroud: he rushed to Hridi’s side.

She glanced over at him, the look on her face chiding him without words for taking so long to get here. He rolled his shoulder in a half shrug: he had no excuse, and so he hoped she would not demand an answer.

The Shroud was currently tangled in the arms of the candelabrum. Einarr lunged forward and cut at it once, twice, three times – but Sinmora’s blade did not even manage to do as much as the late Jarl’s hunting knife.

Einarr frowned as the candelabrum jerked in Hridi’s grasp. The Jarl had managed to damage it, at least. He changed his grip on the sword, holding it in both hands with the point down. Please work.

The Shroud untangled itself and began to slip through the arms of the candelabrum as Sinmora descended.

Sinmora pinned the cloth against the flagstone floor, her tip wedged neatly in a join. A smile began to steal onto Einarr’s face as the cloth continued to struggle.

The sound of tearing fabric wiped any hint of relief from Einarr’s face. Still Sinmora did nothing more than any other blade might.

With a sound like rotted cloth, the Shroud tore free of where Einarr and Sinmora had it pinned.

Hridi didn’t even have time to scream. The cloth wound itself about her body and plastered itself against her face. In the next moment, the true Lady Regent was gone, leaving Armad and his nursemaid, the body double, standing in the hallway, stunned.

The Shroud, moving faster than even a diving hawk or a hunting trout, shot across the room to the hearth and up the chimney.

Sinmora dropped to the ground with a clatter of steel on stone. Einarr’s jaw hung open. He had failed: how could he have failed?

The pleading eyes of the boy turned to him now. Einarr worked his jaw, trying to find his voice. There were no words of comfort he could offer the boy, not truly. Slowly, he bent to pick up Sinmora. As the blade slid home in its sheath, he turned to Armad.

“I have failed you here, young Lord. I will not do so again. I will stop the Shroud, and your family will be avenged.”


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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

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

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

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

7.24 – Wards

It took some hours before Einarr was able to stop raging at the sheer, petty irresponsibility of the Lady’s missive, but eventually he was able to sleep that night.

In the quiet hour before dawn, Einarr was awakened by a small, insistent nagging feeling. He lay still, staring through the darkness at the ceiling, trying to figure out what it was he had missed. Then it came again, louder this time. The wards!

Einarr was up, buckling on Sinmora, within the span of two heartbeats. His eyes were already adjusted to the darkness of the hall, and he slipped quietly between sleeping forms toward the High Seat, where he had seen the Shroud draped in Melja’s divination.

The sound of lowered voices caught his attention from the small servant’s closet behind the Seat. It was far earlier than he expected even kitchen thralls to be up and about, so who… or perhaps a better question would be why? Einarr continued past the chair, where he had intended to stand to face the Shroud, to see a light on in the closet.

As he approached, the voices became distinctly feminine, and then distinctly familiar. Einarr knit his brows and continued to move silently towards the closet: why would Lady Hridi and Eifidi be conversing in there, at this hour, of all things?

“I recognize that he’s unhappy about it, but will he do it?” Eifidi asked, her voice both low and sharp.

“Hard to say.” Hridi’s answer sounded almost deferential: Einarr could not quite credit that it was the same person he had spoken with earlier in the day. He paused outside the door, listening. “He seems quite caught up his ‘responsibility’ for dealing with the thing.”

Eifidi made an exasperated noise. “Men can be so stubborn sometimes.”

“Now be fair, my lady. He has gone out of his way not to interfere with us, and does not know your brother’s court.”

Wait, what? Einarr stepped forward, pushing the door open so that he could look at the conspiring women. He stared at them, and as he spoke his voice was cool. “My ladies, a magical artifact has just tripped the wards and is headed towards the hall.”

“Thank you, sir. I trust you will deal with it.” The dismissal, from the woman dressed as Lady Hridi, was plain.

“What is going on here?”

“I thought you said you had no interest in meddling in Clan affairs.”

“So I did. But I feel as though I am being made a dupe, and I do not appreciate it.”

“It truly has nothing to do with you. Follow the letter of my missive, and you shall fulfill your duty admirably.”

Looking at them together, conspiring like this, suddenly it dawned on him what he had missed. “I understand. Lady Hridi, Eifidi. Stick together for the moment, if you would. Maybe pay a visit to the boy. I have an artifact to find.”

Two more wards had gone off as he spoke with the Lady Regent and her body-double. They were right: this was some sort of elaborate game they played, and it was not him they intended to dupe but some or all of those who played at politics in the late Jarl’s court. He wanted to spit: when he finally became Thane (and may he be old when that day finally came), he would forbid such underhanded dealing. Those who could not be discouraged would be disgraced – somehow.

As they left the room past him, he was struck by a troubling thought. “Is there another lamp at hand? I shall want some light to ensure I don’t miss the Shroud.”

“In the back of the closet,” Eifidi answered, her voice as sweet as he was accustomed to hearing it. “I would thank you to behave around us exactly as you have been the past several days.”

“Of course.” That shouldn’t be difficult: he hadn’t interacted much at all with ‘Eifidi,’ and he still disliked ‘Hridi,’ although for very different reasons now.

“You have our thanks.”

Einarr hummed, and the women slipped off into the night and their own sleeping area.

Candle lamp in hand, Einarr returned to the main room. The artifact had not yet breached the Hall, he was sure: he had finished that ward well before dinner, and it had not triggered. Even so, he very carefully patrolled the Hall. There had been no mistaking its location in the vision, after all. As expected, the Shroud was not yet inside.

That was when a horse’s scream shattered the night.

Einarr, still clutching the lamp, raced for the door, droplets of oil flinging about him as he moved. Something had attacked the stables, and Einarr had one guess as to what it was.

A blazing inferno lit up the night: the last time Einarr had seen a blaze even half so hot, it was the one he lit for the Althane’s burial rites. Swearing, he dropped the lamp now and poured on more speed. The alfs’ dray was in there. She wasn’t much of a horse, but he intended to return her – alive – if at all possible.

Some small part of him had expected charging into a burning building to be, yes, dangerously hot, but brightly lit. If it was, he could not tell. As soon as he crossed the threshold, one arm held up to shield his face, the smoke stung his eyes so that he felt half-blind and choked his lungs. The heat bore down on him like nothing he’d ever felt before – this was a physical suppression, but even more it was a spiritual one.

Come on, Einarr. All you have to do is make sure the horses can get out. He drew Sinmora: this was a simple stable on a half-rural island. If he could find the ropes, he could free all the horses with two quick cuts and be out of there.

Now all he had to do was find the ropes through the smoke and the heat.


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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

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

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

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

7.21 – Divination

The divination ritual was to be held in the selfsame temple that had housed the Shroud for so long, down in the very vault that had imprisoned it until Sinmora had eaten the magic out of nowhere. I wonder what Vali would have to say about that?

Einarr shook his head, casting off the idle thought. Something about returning to the vault had his stomach doing somersaults, and his mind was just as unsettled. Vali, of course, was half a world away (so far as Einarr knew), on a ship whose adventures should be far tamer and more profitable for Einarr’s absence.

Meanwhile, he had an all-consuming burial cloth floating about the island, seemingly at random – provided it hadn’t yet found a way off the island. That it would was taken as a given by the alfs, although with its tattered end Einarr hoped that would be more difficult than otherwise.

He blinked, refocusing on the trail ahead of him. Melja and Mira led Einarr and a handful of villagers to the temple. The weather, as it always seemed to be, was fair. Are we in Imperial waters, or just near them? Another idle thought flitted up, trying to distract him from the task at hand. Knowing he was nervous didn’t help, though, nor did the knowledge that there was nothing to be nervous about at this stage. All that would happen here is a runic divination to locate the Shroud. After that, it was up to him. Melja had made that perfectly clear.

Finally, the air ahead lightened and he saw the broad clearing and the high wooden walls of the temple. His stomach flopped once more, and then Einarr felt his composure returning. This would be no harder than any other challenge he had faced this summer, and possibly easier than some. He wasn’t going up against creatures with corrupted blood this time, after all. Just a piece of cloth animated by some strange, malignant will.

The vault appeared exactly as it had the last time Einarr had descended those steps, save only that the icy blue glow of the ward runes had been replaced by a new rune matrix. This one was not yet active, his eyes told him even if his rudimentary training had not. They all entered the vault and spread out to stand where Melja and his wife directed.

Once they were all spread about the room, Melja stepped carefully into the center of the matrix and placed the scrap of cloth at his feet. He then moved to take his place between Mira and Einarr in their seven fixed points on the outer circle.

Einarr had seen, once or twice when he was new to the Vidofnir, the casting of the runes by street corner fortune-tellers. The patron (or mark, as Father always called them) asked his question, and the fortune teller (charlatan) would cast sticks or dice down before him and read the answer from those.

What Melja performed in that vault was similar only in that both involved the use of runes. He spoke a word in what Einarr thought was the high elven tongue, and as one the runes began to glow with a pale golden light.

Everyone grew still, although he would not have said they moved before. Melja continued to speak in the strange incomprehensible tongue of the ljosalfs, and while Einarr could not understand the words he felt he did not need to. Indeed, he felt rather curiously detached, as though he were watching the ritual as an outside observer.

A mist seemed to rise up in the center of the room, in a column about the scrap of cloth, and in that mist an image appeared.

A chieftan’s seat in his hall appeared, empty. A thick bearskin rug was spread across the floor, and the cloth spread over the chair was crimson. Einarr’s throat clenched: it had already gotten the chieftan: was it going for the boy, now, too?

No. Skirts drifted into view, and the smiling face of a middle-aged woman and Einarr’s throat cleared. But I thought the boy’s mother was on the hunting trip with them?

The image faded, only to be replaced. No lord’s hall here: instead, it was a public hall like those Sivid favored. Einarr could almost smell the salt in the air, and feel the pounding of feet in the hallingdanse, though once again he saw no-one in the image itself. One of the rugs on the ground, though soiled, was the diaphanous crimson of the Shroud. The sound of a golden bell rang out, and then that image too faded from view.

The mist grew darker and blue, and in that blueness appeared the black of a boat at night. Despite the lighting, though, Einarr could see two things about the boat: its crimson sail, and the bear’s head carved on its prow. The image faded, and the mist dispersed.

Einarr and the elves in the circle looked about at each other, blinking in the sudden return to the present. Melja looked up and met Einarr’s eyes.

“Three chances you will have. The Shroud’s next target is the young Armad’s aunt, the regent Hridi in their Hall outside Eskiborg. She is power-hungry and often vicious, but the boy will likely take her death hard at this time. Especially if she, too, falls to the Shroud.”

Einarr nodded slowly. He, too, would much rather not let it take anyone else. Still, though, the port was a not insignificant distance. How long did he have?

“If you fail there,” Melja continued. “It will then make its way into Eskiborg. I’m afraid I’m not familiar enough with the city to know which public hall that was, but I suspect the golden bell we heard to be a clue… If it makes it to the city…”

That was Einarr’s concern, as well. “You all assume it is looking for a way off the island. But if it’s in the city, will it still kill until it takes a boat?”

“Likely yes. I could not tell you if its target at the hall will be for death or for passage, but your final chance will be on that boat.”

“The one with the bear’s head. I wish I could have seen it in better light, but I know what to look for.”

“Good. Then go. And gods be with you.”


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Hi everyone. Thanks for reading! 

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

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

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