10.49 – Epilogue: Feast Days

Tangled Threads Publishing

Hi, everyone. Allene here. This marks the last chapter of Book 10: Einarr and the Ice Wolf – a book that is nearly half again as long as any other book! This wraps up the first half of the story fairly neatly, and so as opposed to my normal one-month hiatus, I am going to take TWO months in order to plan out the second half of Einarr’s story. I hope, since you’ve stuck with me thus far, that you will return on November 10, 2020, to see Einarr get married and find out what happens with the cult and with Jorir – not necessarily in that order. Thanks for reading!

The second day of the Thing began with the recitation of the law by one of the town elders – a far more festive event than Einarr had expected it could ever be, but more than a decade…

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10.48 – The Thing

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Over the course of the next three weeks, something more than half of all the jarls who once swore allegiance to Raen arrived in port at Breidelstein or sent pigeons explaining why they couldn’t. Stigander made a point of greeting each and every Jarl personally, after which they would spend some time in hushed conversation while their crews unloaded barrels of ale and mead and other contributions to the coming festival.

Tyr, Kaldr, and Jorir had disagreed with Einarr’s thoughts on taking oaths, and in the end their thinking won. The renewal of vows would take place after the trial of Urdr.

Thus, at the end of three weeks, when careful note had been made of those Jarls who had not arrived for the Thing – excuse or no – a true Thing was held in Breidelstein for the first time in more than a decade. When the Jarls assembled…

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10.47 – Unbinding

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The golden light of dawn shone from the grass behind Einarr, illuminating the faces before him. Those who were bound most loosely by the curse – Stigander, Kormund, most of their crews, Kaldr – watched in respectful silence, as they would a grave ship. Among the townsfolk, some looked pained. Others, nauseous. That was a result of the dissonance, and would pass in time.

Those who had fought under Ulfr had, in general, stronger reactions. Some vomited. Others dropped to their knees, clutching their heads. A bare handful had been bound so tightly their minds could not accept the dissonance and they fled into the forest. Einarr watched calmly, hiding his surprise that there were any of those here to witness the ritual.

Urdr had aged a century in a little over ten minutes. Einarr had called her a crone before, but the destruction of her work sapped her of…

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10.46 – Unweaving

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Einarr set about drawing the rune circle he and Hrug had devised while the Usurper’s former thralls made trip after trip from Urdr’s workroom, each time returning loaded down with tapestries which were then piled haphazardly in the center of the circle. “Draw” was perhaps a misnomer, though: the area he chose for this was in the center of a small grassy field. No chalk or charcoal would do: he cut the lines into the soft soil with the end of the Örlögnir. The distaff felt warm to Einarr’s touch as he worked: he hoped that meant that the Lady Frigg understood.

At some point during all this, Arring arrived with some proper iron shackles for the old woman, and even distracted Einarr did not miss that he brought both arm and leg irons. Well. Based on his answer from the Oracle, perhaps Arring had more reason than some to…

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10.45 – Return

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Einarr, Troa, and Jorir traded off at the oars for the rest of that afternoon. The sun was setting as they reached the lake Troa had spoken of.

“If we’re going to be out overnight, we should fish.” Urdr mentioned. “You’ll need your strength in the morning, after all.”

“I don’t think you have any room to be making suggestions, witch,” Runa spat.

Troa shook his head. “It’s not a bad idea. There’s good fish in this lake, and with the assault I don’t think any of us have eaten since yesterday.”

“You intend to eat raw lake fish?” Jorir asked, querelous.

“I suppose we would have to land to cook it properly.” Troa mused.

“Is that a problem? There’s no honor in starving an old woman.” Einarr peered at the lake shore. It looked like the forest came right up to the water’s edge most of the way around…

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10.44 – Capture

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Einarr burst out of the passageway and into the bright afternoon light on a portion of the island he did not recognize. He blinked, his eyes adjusting to the light, and saw that they were in a forest. Just ahead, he saw a small river not unlike the one he had rescued Runa from before. A fishing boat bobbed in the river. He did not immediately see the old woman.

“There!” Runa pointed urgently. Light caught on a long, silver braid as the woman it belonged to hobbled through the underbrush. She had nearly reached the water.

His quarry spotted, Einarr hurtled off through the brush, leaping bushes, ducking branches, and praying she hadn’t left any pits or loosed any caged wolves.

Gratifyingly, Troa was right there with him. Jorir and Runa were obliged to take things more slowly, but if the two of them couldn’t capture one old woman…

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10.43 – Flood

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Jorir led the way into the underwater passage, wary as though he were expecting an attack from any side. The Weavess wouldn’t have sent them underwater if she didn’t have something terrible planned. In spite of himself he jumped when the shutter sprang closed behind Runa. She squeaked. Shaking their heads, they continued forward. Her lamp was flickering badly now: he hoped it lasted long enough for them to get out of this nonsense.

The hallway appeared to come to a dead end perhaps sixty feet further on. The passage had not split, however, so hopefully there was some way through he just couldn’t see. A lever up near the ceiling looked promising. “Ye see that?”

“I do. Can it really be that easy?”

Metal clanged, the sound of more shutters opening overhead, and water began to gush into the hallway.

“That answer your question?” His boots would very shortly…

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