10.20 – Berserker

Allene R. Lowrey

Einarr heard the warriors aboard the trapped wolfling ship give a battle roar only moments before they swarmed over the boarding lines. The ship swayed under the weight of reinforcements even as the fire spread from the arrows along the deck boards.

Einarr set his mouth in a grim line. They needed to take out the wolflings quickly, before this became an inferno. And if they escape, Lundholm is done for.

Their line was solid: he stood shoulder to shoulder with his own men and the men of his father’s ship – it was still odd that those were two different things now. The first boots were pounding across the blackening deck boards. “Brace yourselves!”

Einarr lowered his shoulder. A heartbeat later, the wolflings collided with their shield wall. Einarr stabbed through the gap between his shield and Jorir’s and Sinmora’s tip came away wet with fresh blood.

The wolfling…

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10.19 – Ebb and Flow

Allene R. Lowrey

Two more of the pocket of wolflings fell before Sinmora’s blade. The others looked shaken: perhaps, then, he could get through to them. “Surrender and quarter will be given.”

The man in front of the others hardened his jaw, although his eyes were still wide with fear.

“Are we not countrymen?”

The man in front found enough of his spine to spit on the deck and answer. “You rebel scum are no countrymen of mine.”

So that’s how it was going to be, was it? Einarr’s jaw hardened in turn. He had tried: there were witnesses to show he had tried to save these mens’ lives. “Then fight like men!”

Einarr did not give in to the battle fury, although the wolflings could be forgiven for thinking he had. With a roar he brought his blade up again overhead.

The men broke and ran. Einarr shook his head: these were…

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10.18 – Three Captains

Allene R. Lowrey

Kaldr spent a long, weary night locked in combat in his own mind. For Lord Ulfr to call him back like this could only mean one thing. And yet, the more he thought it through, the more he was convinced that he had done nothing to regret. Certainly nothing that should have gotten him recalled in disgrace – or even castigated on his return, provided he was successful. The rebels were undermanned and poorly equipped, but not so undermanned that they could be caught without significant losses. And for trying to save the strength of Breidelstein, I am humiliated? He rolled over under his blanket, but still sleep eluded him.

The atmosphere on deck was tense, as well. From oarsmen to lookout, he could hear dissatisfied mutterings from his men. That, too, was troublesome, and the corner of his mind that did not gnaw on his abrupt summons like a…

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10.17 – Summons

Allene R. Lowrey

Without needing to be told, the men on Kaldr’s ship formed ranks behind their Captain. The messenger would see, at least, that he kept proper discipline aboard his own ship. Not that it necessarily mattered what the messenger saw.

The man who appeared over the bulwark was long and lean and more than mean enough to ply the waves alone, even if his lumpy nose and thick brow did suggest he’d lost more than a few brawls. As he bowed and introduced himself, he could not help but notice that they had already attracted an audience. Urek leaned over the rail of his own ship, a smug grin plastered over his face, while on the other side Vittir and Broki watched with interest. At least they haven’t tried to invade my deck again. Yet.

“Welcome aboard. I’m afraid you’ve arrived during the boring part of the hunt, though,” Kaldr answered…

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10.16 – Command Decision

Allene R. Lowrey

When the final boat sat with the waves lapping her hull and their crews sat resting their shoulders and their thighs on the shore, a figure appeared in the door of the hermitage. He wore the skin of a bear as a cloak, the creature’s snout extending past the old man’s head.

Einarr was the first to notice him. He raised an arm in greeting. For a long while Gotlief, the hermit, did nothing more than stare at them. One by one, though, the rest of the fleet greeted him in silence – all except Bea, who watched with one eyebrow raised. Do the Imperials not have holy monks?

Finally, when the old monk was satisfied, he raised both arms into the air, the bear’s paws moving with his own clenched fists. Then a war cry broke the stillness, and even Einarr jumped at the ferocity of the man’s voice…

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10.15 – Forest Road

Allene R. Lowrey

When the sun set that evening, Einarr was as glad for the end of the day’s labors as he was for the return of their scouts. Lundholm would recover: probably without too much trouble, even, for while Urek had instructed his raiders to do as much damage as possible, they had avoided doing much to the villagers themselves.

Still, the cleanup had been back-breaking and tedious. Erik, rising from his work at the boathouse, inspecting their ships, was the first to spot them. He lifted a big hand high in the air and waved. “What ho! Welcome back!”

That signalled the end of work as surely as the setting sun and everyone made their way to the green to hear from the scouts.

“It’s not an easy road,” Troa warned. “Even without the ships, the way is steep, and the forest presses in on either side.”

“In two separate places…

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10.14 – Reconnaissance

Allene R. Lowrey

Kaldr awoke to the smell of smoke with the rising of the dawn. A low growl rumbled in his throat as he sat up. Those idiots.

That they would conduct a raid was expected. He had given leave, after all – as much because he was certain Urek would have sent one anyway as because it was good to make sure the rebels remembered they were there. But this was not the smell of wood smoke. He smelled meat.

He looked around the deck of his ship: most of them seemed unaware anything was amiss, and that was as it should be. Some, though, wore scowls as dark as Kaldr’s thoughts.

“Thjofgrir?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Find Skon. Send him up the fjord. Reconnaissance only. I want to know what was destroyed and how many died. Tell him to be quick, but not to let himself be seen.”

“Yes, sir.” No sooner…

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