3.16 – Ghostly Assault

Allene R. Lowrey

“Make ready for company, men!” Einarr rose, burning brand in hand, and turned his back to the blaze. Nothing seemed to have materialized from the ghost light yet, but he would not be caught unawares when and if it did.

The others in his team were looking about, trying to spot whatever it was that had set Einarr off. Slowly – more slowly than he would have liked, some of them seemed to see it and reached towards the edge of the fire in search of brands they, too, could wield against the insubstantial.

Erik, burning wood in hand, circled the bonfire to flank his son, his eyes fixed on the glowing green fog. “What’s going on here?”

“Not sure. But I saw that same light when we went to investigate the freeboaters’ ship. From the bodies on deck.”

Tyr growled as he took up a position near Jorir. “Shoulda…

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3.15 – Lost in the Mist

Allene R. Lowrey

Once again they stood before the hasty flag Jorir had constructed to mark their find. Even in the fog, Einarr could see the frosty puffs of his breath.

“This may have been a terrible idea.” They were the words on everyone’s mind, he was sure.

“So, what next?” Jorir asked the practical question. “I don’t intend to just stand around here and freeze.”

“No. No, you’re right. We can’t just stand around doing nothing. Do we try going the opposite direction, or do we try cutting across the bog? Men?”

“Awfully cheap enchantment if we can get out of it just by turning around,” grumbled Irding.”

“Agreed, although sometimes the simplest tricks are the most effective.”

“I don’t think it will be that simple, either.” Tyr shook his head. “On the other hand, this is a lot to portage through that swamp. It might be worth trying. And if night…

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3.14 – Unnatural Chill

Allene R. Lowrey

The crack of falling stone echoed through the cave and Einarr flinched from the noise, reflexively covering his ears. His men did, as well.

As the sound died down and the ringing in their ears subsided, it became plain that their ears were not the only thing wounded in the onslaught. The slab they had just fought their way past was now cracked, and perhaps nearly broken. Einarr’s mouth curled into a frown: on the one hand, it would be simple to find again, and possibly worthwhile breaking the slab altogether. On the other hand, he still wasn’t certain what all they were dealing with on this island, or what might set them off.

He shook his head to clear it and strode towards the mouth of the cave. “We’ve a boat to finish scavenging, assuming no-one else found it before we got back.”

***

Mist had settled down on…

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3.13 – Darkness

Allene R. Lowrey

For a long moment, darkness and silence held sway. Einarr strained his eyes and his ears, but no light seeped into this cavern from above, and the only sound that reached his ears was the occasional plink of a drop of water falling into a pool below. Finally he heard the distinctive scrape of a fire striker. In the moment before the first spark died without catching, he thought he saw a skeletal figure poised to strike.

Sinmora rasped from her scabbard. He held his blade outstretched, on guard.

The striker sounded again. Again, the torch did not catch. Again, he saw his enemy. Caught, this time, a hint of cloth that suggested it might be the captain he had nearly tripped over earlier.

Now two strikers sounded. He hoped he wasn’t the only one to have seen the apparition… hoped this was not the thing that had killed the…

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3.12 – Vanishing

Allene R. Lowrey

The first thing that caught Einarr’s attention about the cave was the scattering of skulls not five paces in. Someone had thought to take shelter here, long ago, and been eaten by kalalintu. At least, he assumed as much: it was possible they had died of starvation before the kalalintu nested above, but the other possibility seemed the more likely.

The walls were solid stone as far as he could see, although the torchlight fell short of the back. His light held aloft like a brand, his other hand rested on Sinmora’s hilt for reassurance.

Slowly he walked deeper into the cave. Nothing. No cracks in the walls where they might have pressed forward, no gaping pits in the floor they might have fallen through, no tracks, no new blazes. Einarr spun on his heel as his mind raced, searching for anything he might have missed.

He glanced down at…

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3.11 – Threatening Storm

Allene R. Lowrey

The repair crew headed out while the others divided themselves as they saw fit. Einarr went with Jorir – no surprise – but also Erik and Irding, Tyr, Troa, Fjorkar, Geiti, Odvir, and Boti. All good, reliable men who had been on the Vidofnir at least as long as Einarr had – well, with two exceptions – and yet he felt uneasy.

His lips pressed into a thin line, he looked over the faces of his team and nodded. “Let’s cut overland to the other shore. It should be faster than following the coast, which will leave more time for the actual hunt.”

They were hardly past the line where hardy scrub concealed the ground beyond the coast when Einarr regretted this decision. Rather than calling the beach where they’d landed a shore, it would be more apt to say it was just another massive sand bar. Beyond was brackish…

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