4.20 – Respite

Allene Lowrey wrote:

Einarr clashed and clashed again with the Grendeling blocking his path – a creature no bigger than he himself was. He should not have been having so much trouble with this one, but with each bind he found himself another half-step closer to the treacherous drop between their two ships, the water choppy and frothed from the storm the Grendel carried on its back. He ground his teeth together, knowing he should be better than this.

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4.18 – Grendel

Allene R. Lowrey

The Vidofnir and the Grendel slipped past one another in the half-light of the underground river, the passengers of each staring at the other in shock. For the moment, the Grendelings did not appear monstrous, although Einarr was certain that would change the moment battle was joined.

Stigander reacted first. “Onward, men! Put your backs into it!”

The order broke the stillness, but Einarr was not the only one who continued to stare across the inlet at the hated foe. He would be very surprised indeed if his father was not among them. Had it not been for the nearing sounds of their pursuers’ ships they might have stopped to fight, then and there. Thankfully, Stigander had too cool a head on him to succumb to that temptation.

The creatures manning the Grendel were coming back to life as well, although it was difficult to tell what they did in…

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4.17 – Pursuit

Allene R. Lowrey

For a moment Einarr stared dumbly after her. It had only been a few months since he’d seen her, and yet he could not tear his eyes away. His reverie was finally broken when Barri, his winter rival, elbowed him in the ribs. Einarr turned to look and the man wagged his eyebrows before gesturing for Einarr to go on ahead.

He rolled his eyes, but took the invitation. Neither Jorir nor Sivid would board before him, under the circumstances. If he’d been the one member of the crew who could not die before they visited the Oracle…

The others followed right on his heels, the treacherous rocking of the plank under their feet largely ignored as they rushed for the deck of the Vidofnir. Sooner or later the cult would turn up a foe that was not repulsed by the sun, and they needed to be well clear…

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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…

“Runa?”

“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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