3.20 – Sword Dance

Allene R. Lowrey

Einarr made his opening moves especially eye-catching this round. From his hop-skip out he did a handspring and landed on his toes in a crouch. Rather than rising from his crouch, he bounced around the ring like that, kicking a foot with each bounce, his arms folded. Once he’d completed his circuit he moved to the center of the circle, still kicking with every move. Once he was sure he had their attention, waiting for the inevitable surprise, he leapt straight up into the air and kicked both legs out in front of him. At the apex of his jump he swung them behind and up into the air to land on his hands.

Now he aped some of Jorir’s fancy handwork, partially because it made for a good show but also to give the dwarf an excuse to “challenge” him. When he decided the fancy kicks had had their…

View original post 1,025 more words

3.19 – Dance with the Devil

Allene R. Lowrey

The tune the musicians played was an unfamiliar one to Einarr, but that hardly mattered. The rhythm was heavy enough no-one could mistake it, and the fundamentals of the hall dance were in the central competition. Everything else was just warm-up.

What quickly became clear was that Einarr had his work cut out for him if he wanted to have a chance against this crew. Even in the early rounds of the dance, the wraiths’ contortions in the center of the circle were almost inhuman. Don’t get swept away… like I could forget who I was competing against.

As if to underscore his thought, the contestant in the center took hold of his ankle with one hand and then jumped through the gap. This would have been ordinary enough if he hadn’t then taken that same foot in an arc over his head and back down to the floor in…

View original post 862 more words

3.18 – Allthane’s Feast

Allene R. Lowrey

Author’s note: due to the holiday, the internal navigation will not be updated until 11/24.

“You’re about to go engage a dead man in a battle of wits. I’m coming.” Tyr dusted off his palms as he stepped over toward the other two.

“We’ll be relying on you, then.” Einarr clapped the old sailor on the shoulder.

“Y’got that right.”

“Let’s get to it, then.” Einarr turned from the gathering of his men to face the spectral display and swaggered forward into the light.

He raised a hand and called out to announce their approach. “Hail, my lord!”

“Hail, travelers.” The king’s voice was weary, but he stood to greet them anyway. “We have been waiting for you.”

“My apologies for the delay.”

“I do hope my men were not overly forceful with my invitation.”

“Merely a miscommunication, I’m afraid. To what do I owe the honor?”

“Well you are…

View original post 868 more words

3.17 – Underground

Allene R. Lowrey

The maw of the cave seemed to yawn behind them as they were pressed ever back. It offered an opportunity, though: he could see no ghost light from within its dubious shelter. They could make a stand there…

…Although it seemed they would quickly do so with steel rather than flame. His flaming brand was nearly reduced to a glowing stick, as were many others from the cluster of Vidofnings. Jorir must have lost his secondary flame some time ago, and now the fire of the “fresh” one burned near his fingers.

Some of the others had already switched to steel, and bore the marks of it in sunken faces and wide eyes. Einarr was both amazed and grateful that they still had everyone… but the vengeful spirits who had them nearly surrounded would not be satisfied so easily.

Worse, they had all been fighting for hours. Even Erik and…

View original post 932 more words

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…

View original post 998 more words

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…

View original post 867 more words

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…

View original post 828 more words

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…

View original post 915 more words

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…

View original post 927 more words