Who are you Lord?

Life beyond the walls

20140826_154226A couple of years ago, I remember having this question without an answer; “Is this the same Jesus?”. You see, I had just fallen out of favor with a group of believers I had been a part of for a good number of years because I had insisted on following what I was persuaded was the will of God for me. The persecution that I experienced in terms of rejection, threats, and badmouthing was so painful especially coming from those that I had trusted to help me know my Lord better, I could not help but ask myself the many questions.

On one hand, there was the Jesus who was represented by what the group stood for, that appeared to have an iron hand to rule over the flock, and on the other hand, there was a Jesus who I had began to know who was telling me, “8…

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6.23 – Secret Passage

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Einarr turned on his heel and headed back to the main hall, trying not to smile at Runa’s obvious confusion.

“Einarr, what are you — ?”

“It may be nothing. If my hunch is right, though, our two mysteries may have solved each other.”

She asked no more questions as they walked briskly back to rejoin the others.

The door opened to the warm glow of firelight and the sight of Erik stirring a large iron pot over the fire while Jorir roughly chopped cabbages and turnips. Jorir glanced up from his chopping. “Anything interesting?”

“Maybe.” Einarr answered half-consciously as he continued on toward the blank spot on the wall where the burned portrait had hung.

Erik raised an eyebrow and watched from the corner of his eye, still stirring what would evidently be the evening’s dinner. Einarr paid it no mind, turning his full attention to the bare boards…

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6.22 – The Salty Maid

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The outside of the Salty Maid was unremarkable aside from the signboard hanging above the door, if perhaps a little large to be anything other than what it was. Inside, Einarr fancied he could hear the music that would have played before the place was abandoned. Despite the twilight he could see that furs and other hunting trophies hung from the walls, and the smell of wood smoke lingered in the air, although it had gone stale already. Were it not for the dirty plates and tankards that littered the table, and the bench someone had overturned in their haste to leave, he might have been able to believe it was merely closed.

Such fanciful delusion, however, would get them no closer to their goals. Unfortunately, he was no longer so sure staying here would, either. Still, though, they needed a place to sleep for the night. Einarr sighed: it…

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6.21 – Ghost Town

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The trail through the hills, now that there was no longer a troll haunting it, would have been a pleasant hike on any other island. The midday sun was bright, and a crisp breeze played with the grass. It was almost, Einarr thought, like the island was conspiring to keep people from even trying to leave. He shook his head: far better to concern himself with the task at hand. Things were looking up: all they needed was to resupply their ship, and then they could set sail. By the time the town Auna had mentioned came into view, his step felt positively light.

Jorir cleared his throat. “Not to be a worrywart, milord, but have you given any thought as to how we’re going to pay for our supplies?”

“With only the four of us, we’re not exactly equipped to raid the town, are we.” Einarr had the beginnings…

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6.20 – Lair

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For a second, the troll’s face hung slack and stupid. Einarr could see the moment when it realized she meant it: rage began to build like a squall on the ocean, until finally the storm broke. The creature roared: “What?”

Einarr and his companions flinched away from the thunderous noise. Not that he could blame the troll entirely. “Um, Runa, isn’t that why we came all this way?”

“I’m not going in there, Einarr. Not with it smelling like a half-rotted carcass someone tossed in an outhouse. Whatever this ‘bad-head’ is, the first step to curing it is cleaning their lair.”

“Poison light comes. Lair clean enough. Music lady fix bad-head.”

“I cannot treat anyone in a place that smells like that. I will not be able to breathe, let alone sing, and I may well vomit. I cannot ‘fix bad-head’ or anything else under those circumstances.”

She had…

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6.19 – Forest Chase

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Einarr could not get past the idea that this was somehow still a trap. The troll, apparently guileless, led them up to the ridge, to the place where he was apparently accustomed to climbing back up. There was one immediate problem.

“I can’t climb that,” Runa stated. Even had she dressed like a man, in trousers, Einarr expected that would have been the case. She simply hadn’t had the opportunity for much rock climbing in her life.

“Erik? Are you up to carrying a passenger?” Einarr was already thinking of alternate solutions: it was not a tall ridge, but the hand holds looked tricky. Einarr was quite certain he would not have the strength to take a second person.

The big man stared dubiously at the rock wall before them. As he opened his mouth to answer, however, Runa screamed.

The troll, without so much as a by-your-leave, scooped Runa…

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6.18 – Troll

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With a thud as hard as one of the boulders he had been tossing, the troll whose presence Einarr had suspected showed himself. A hideous specimen even for the breed, he glared at them with red eyes from beneath a heavy brow. The stench of unwashed flesh assaulted Einarr’s nose.

In that same moment, the great stupid man-beast threw back its head and roared. It swung its club overhead so fast it whistled. Einarr drew Sinmora and hefted his shield: he had hoped to avoid this, but not really expected to. Erik and Jorir, too, had set themselves for battle, even as Runa hopped backward a few paces.

The troll charged straight down the middle and brought its thigh-size club down. Jorir flung himself to the side. The impact of the club against the ground sent gravel flying. Jorir rolled to his feet, though, apparently unharmed, shook his head, and…

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6.17 -Heavy Fire

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For the first time since they’d landed here in the middle of that terrible storm, Einarr could see the night sky. He had thought, of course, that by seeing the stars they would be able to guess where in the sea they had been taken. It was not to be.

In other circumstances, he would have loved being able to show this sky to Runa. The moon was a brilliant silver orb, and all around it shone more stars than any man could hope to count, so brightly that the sky itself seemed a shimmery blue rather than black. But the sight that was so beautifully vibrant above also proved that they were in no place Einarr could even guess at. He could not see a single constellation that might help point their way home.

He shared his watch with Jorir, but while the dwarf knew herb-craft better than Einarr…

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6.16 – Through the Hills

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One of the younger huldra showed them to a trail that, she said, would lead eventually to the human village on the north shore of the island. Then, without another word, she vanished as though she had never existed. Einarr stood blinking, surprised that the person he had been about to thank could be there when he opened his mouth and gone before any sound left it.

“The hulder are hidden ones,” Runa said softly by way of explanation.

Einarr shook his head, disbelieving, and started down the trail. It bothered him, a little, how baldly ignorant he was about these matters. Would any of them have made it this far if he hadn’t given in to Runa? If she were not his intended bride, this would be utterly intolerable.

The trail the huldra set them on meandered like a deer track, although it was too wide and well-established to…

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6.15 – The Test

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The five spent a second night in the windowless meeting hall, although while the door was still guarded this time they were not alone. The hulder had moved their wounded to biers lain about the hall. Some of the huldrakall were up and about, looking as restless as Einarr felt. Wanting, he expected, to be out defending their village again that night, but not healthy enough to be of use.

Irding sat against the wooden wall, one of a handful with broken bones who could do little other than laugh ruefully and accept their position. Jorir had been conscripted to help tend to the wounded. Runa, sitting on a large rock in the center of the hall, sang a peaceful melody. Einarr didn’t think there was any magic in it, but it served its purpose of soothing nerves. Mostly.

Einarr and Erik tried not to join the most restless of…

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