4.16 – Hammer & Anvil

Allene R. Lowrey

Trapped. Five of them to fight of dozens of the local guards and protect Runa, when the wall of men ahead of them appeared nearly as solid as stone. If they could just reach the Vidofnir they could escape, but it would take a miracle for them to get that far. A miracle, or…


“I Sing, and before you know it we’re buried. They will fixate on my voice.”

Einarr growled and drew Sinmora. “Fine. Wait till we’re already bogged down, then, but we’re going to need you.”

Then he lowered his shoulder behind his shield and raised Sinmora overhead. His feet dug in to the stone pier, and then he was off, the others forming a kite behind him with Runa in the middle. Einarr’s shield struck the waiting shield wall of the defenders with a tremendous crash.

His aim was true: he drove into the space between…

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4.15 – Breaking Out

Allene R. Lowrey

To their credit, Einarr’s companions did not caution him about noise. Likely they knew it would be fruitless. Still, his improved vantage did little to aid his search. Reckless abandon seized him, though, and rather than climb back down Einarr hurried from cage-top to cage-top, searching for any sign of flaxen hair while the others searched on the ground. The frantic energy of his search found release through his feet as he ran softly across the bars of the cages – although perhaps not as softly as he might have.

“Is someone there?” A sweetly feminine voice called, a few rows down from where Einarr searched. His heart jumped into his throat at the sound.

“Runa?” He almost didn’t dare ask it, although there was no mistaking the voice. Einarr dropped down from the top of the cage to the floor with a soft thud. “Runa, we’re coming.”

A long…

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4.14 – Temple Guards

Allene R. Lowrey

The hallway that Einarr crept down, following the sound of the voices, was not long. What struck him as strange, though, was how empty it was. The guards who had passed earlier never returned – assuming they were, in fact, guards and not priests or thralls on some errand. They knew they were under assault, though – and could guess at what the attackers were after. So then, why?

A large double door stood closed ahead of them, and the light from around its edges was bright like an aurora. The chanting came from inside.

The five stole up to the door and listened, but could hear nothing save the same chanting that had drawn them here in the first place. If the layout inside were typical of surface temples, the odds were good they could slip in unnoticed… but based on what Jorir had said of this cult, Einarr…

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4.13 – Secret Passage

Allene R. Lowrey

For a long moment, all five men stared in shock at the figure on the floor. Finally, though, Einarr was able to focus on her face.

“That’s not Runa.”

Barri and Bollinn blinked, looking harder. Sivid shrugged, as though trying to rid himself of a weight.

“…Are ye sure?” Jorir ventured to ask, even his voice hesitant.

Einarr didn’t answer, merely stepped forward to take the poor woman by her shoulders and roll her over on her back. With the hem of one of her sleeves he wiped the blood from her face. The unfortunate woman would have been thirty if she were a day, and her face would have been long even if her ordeal had not rendered it haggard.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

Moisture glistened on Barri’s cheeks. “Thank the gods.”

Einarr started to nod, then noticed the pendant that showed through a rent in her bodice. Carefully, trying…

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4.12 – Dungeon’s Depths

Allene R. Lowrey

Their vigil over Sivid’s work seemed to last for ages, even though the fact that no other guards arrived suggested he made fast work of the lock. A grinding of stone on stone signalled the opening of the door.

“We’re in,” Sivid confirmed.

All five men vanished through the doorway, with Einarr in the lead and Sivid bringing up the rear. The door closed behind them with the sound of stone on stone and a muffled click.

The narrow stair was ablaze with the blue-burning lanterns that illuminated the streets, but no guards waited inside to greet them. Einarr frowned, but did not hesitate: haste was their ally right now, and he was most of the way to the first corner when Sivid closed the door behind them.

Down they went, blades still drawn as they rushed for the bottom and the cell where Runa was held. Barri raced at…

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4.11 – Blitz

Allene R. Lowrey

The area of the yard in front of the dungeon entrance was, if anything, more heavily guarded than the front had been. As Einarr had feared, their hasty disposal of the torch before had given them away and made getting back in much harder. He glared at Sivid, despite knowing why: should Runa be lost, Jarl Hroaldr would need to name a new heir and Einarr would need to find a new bride. Should Einarr fall, the Cursebreaker fell, and with him all hope of reclaiming their home. It was not a fact he liked to dwell on. Thankfully, the situation ahead of them demanded too much attention to allow room for such things.

Ahead of the dungeon door stood twenty warriors, who for all their helms revealed could as easily have been monsters as men. Einarr was abruptly reminded of the Grendelings appearance under the effect of Astrid’s battle-chant…

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