9.31 – Reunion

Tangled Threads Publishing

Reki swallowed hard as Beatrix helped the battered Jarl to sit on a nearby rock before limbering her sword. The others fanned out behind Reki, ready to follow her lead. Soon she could hear the gentle swish of the oars through the water.

Soon after, hushed voices carried to her ear. Familiar ones. She blinked.

“Is that… Jorir?”

“Jorir is the dwarf, right?” Bea asked, not taking her eyes from the approaching boat. “It may well be. I’m certain the other is -”

“Einarr!” Runa started forward, half running to the bank and peering ahead. Reki could hardly blame her, under the circumstances.

Before long, they could all see the occupants of the boat. Einarr and Jorir looked just as tense as the women all felt, even as they went over their own plans between themselves. Perhaps, Reki corrected, because of what those plans were.

Einarr gave a visible start…

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9.30 – Search

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Author’s Note: My apologies for the long delay. I got about 3 hours sleep on our redeye flight from Pago Pago, and then couldn’t stay awake well enough to finish while we were in Honolulu. We’re safely ensconced in Portland now, so Thursday’s chapter should be more or less on time. My hope is to have book 9 finished before we fly to Saipan in the middle of February.

Reki threw open the door to Urdr’s workroom with a bang, just in time to see the old woman disappearing through the door they had seen earlier. She raced across the floor, the others hard on her heels, but even if the room had not been littered with baskets of thread they would not have made it in time. Halfway there, she heard the sound of a key turning in a lock.

Reki stopped and swore. Bea continued on, heedless, and…

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9.29 – Regrouping

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Author Note: On Monday night, we will be flying out of Pago Pago headed for Portland and, ultimately, Saipan. Due to the vagaries of moving and airport/hotel internet, Tuesday’s post may be somewhat delayed. My apologies, and thank you for understanding

Bea stood on guard, two steps up from the last of Urdr’s guards. Her opponent watched her, cautious. Like his fellows, he’d seen her struggle before. Unlike his fellows, he’d just watched her break a man’s nose before taking his head. And… there was something else.

“You’re not bad,” he muttered. “But why are you here? You’re not from the North.”

“Thanks,” she answered, just as quietly. “I’ve decided the climate does wonders for my complexion, though.”

The man snorted, still studying her. She was not as good with a sword as with a spear, not by a long shot, but with the high ground and a narrow space…

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9.28 – A Single Blade

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My apologies for the delay. Evidently when I was scheduling this post, I made an off-by-one error on the calendar.

Beatrix lunged, taking a mighty swipe with her sword around the curve of the stair at the guards who pursued them up it. The dull thud of a blade striking home was followed by the clattering of maille dropping to the floor as the man wearing it fell. She turned her head just enough to glance over her shoulder. “Keep going! I can hold the stair.”

The Singers all exchanged worried glances. Eydri opened her mouth to protest, but Runa cut her off.

“No. She’s right. She can hold this stair by herself, probably for a good long time… although I’d be happier if we could lend support.”

“What, with that barbaric battle chant? No, thanks. Clear us a path.”

The second of the guards had made his way up…

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9.27 – Harbor Assault

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The decks of the Vidofnir and her allies had finally been sluiced clean of the blood of their countrymen. The inscribed runes on the yardarms had evidently had some effect, as they were no longer stymied at every turn. But breaking through always came at a cost, and Einarr mourned those that fell every time. If Einarr’s mood was grim as they neared Breidelsteinn harbor and Raenshold, his father’s was moreso. Some of these had likely been men he’d known, after all, and they had not chosen their bewitchment.

That ensorcellment would end soon, one way or another. Ahead, he could see now the graceful inward sweep of the harbor’s arms around a city huddled at the water’s edge. Looming above stood his grandfather’s Hold. From the water he could see nothing, of course, save the tower at the front gate and the stone walls curving back from it.


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9.26 – Flight

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Bea hopped backward two paces, placing herself near her companions as her eyes cast desperately about the room. Reki knew what she must be thinking: why, oh why, was she the only warrior of the bunch? Einarr seemed to think highly of the woman’s fighting skills, however, so when Bea pivoted and shouldered her way through the group Reki kept her face towards the other pair of guards. She pursed her lips, though, and motioned behind her for the other Singers to stay close to the Princess. Carefully, she, too, backed that direction.

The sound of steel clashing on steel rang through the room as Beatrix clashed against the men standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the doorway. Glancing over her shoulder, Reki winced. Bea was holding steady, so far, but these were full-grown men she fought, and the Princess could not be much older than Runa.

Bea seemed to know this, too…

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9.25 – Bloody Threads

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For a moment, the six women stood stunned. Of all the things that had gone mysteriously well, this was the strangest. Reki’s neck prickled in alarm: glancing to right and left, Aema and Eydri looked no easier than she felt.

All around stood spools of thread of all colors, vats of dye, and half-finished tapestries. What truly arrested the attention, though, was the room’s centerpiece.

Urdr’s loom was tall and visibly heavy, the wood so heavily carved and gilt that it was difficult to see how age-darkened the timbers were. On it hung one of those half-finished tapestries: Reki could see the masts of three indistinct ships off to the left, while on the right there was a circle of women – although she could not tell what they were doing. She rather thought she knew anyway.

In front of the loom, though, sat the Weavess herself. Her leathery skin…

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9.24 – Into the Tower

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Reki sat up in alarm. “They’re here?”

“So it sounds.”

“All right, ladies. Everybody up! We have a job to do.”

Eydri sat up and dusted off her skirts as though she hadn’t actually been asleep. For how long, Reki couldn’t begin to guess. Runa and Svana both stirred with a groan, as though they were feeling the lack of sleep from the last two nights. They would need a few minutes, she thought, but that was fine. So did the rest of them.

“Chances are good this caught them by surprise, too,” she said. “If we hurry, and we’re lucky, we might be able to beat them to the weaving room, but we’re out of time for skulking. Gather your things, those of you who have them: I very much doubt we’ll be coming back here.”

“At least not before Lord Stigander has reclaimed Breidelstein,” Runa agreed. “And who…

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9.23 – Eavesdropping

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They walked – stalked, rather – in silence through the narrow alleyways within the walls of the hold toward the old longhouse that was ostensibly not a prison, but chambers for their stay at Raenshold. The tower, it seemed, was the only part of the hold which came to life so early in the day, as the streets were nearly as deserted as when they had begun. It was not until they reached their base and slipped inside, past the still-sleeping guard, that any of them dared to speak.

“What did we just see?” Svana blurted, rather loudly for the hour, as she pressed her back against the door.

The guard outside stopped snoring, momentarily. Reki began to wonder if they shouldn’t wake him up: it would be a shame if a lighter sleeper were to take his place, after all, and she hesitated to think what the consequences of…

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9.22 – Kaldr

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Reki did not look away from Runa’s face. The spoiled young apprentice almost looked like she was about to cry.

“Whether she’d done what to Einarr?” Bea asked again. “Does it have anything to do with what happened to the pair who arrived on the boat with her?”

Reki raised an eyebrow – the one furthest from her Imperial Highness. If Bea was sharp enough to pick up on that, with no training in Song at all, then either Runa’s desperate move was clumsier than Reki thought or there was more to Beatrix than she let on. “It’s nothing you need to concern yourself with,” was Reki’s answer.

Bea pressed her lips together into a line. “I think it might be, actually. But now is not the time. I would speak of this later.”

Reki snorted. Beatrix might try. “Did you find a way through?”

“This way. You’re not…

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