8.18 – Jailbreak

Allene R. Lowrey

The jailer stood in the center of the guard room like a bulldog, as though at any minute he expected intruders to burst in. He also looked significantly healthier than the flesh-puppets they had seen elsewhere in the citadel. He was still alive, plainly, although probably not, Einarr thought, the first to succumb.

Not that he could still be mistaken for human anymore, either, though. His eyes were pupil-less red orbs, and his skin was darker than a human’s should be. He had hands, still, and stood with his thumbs tucked into the belt of his trousers… but where one expects to see fingers, there were octopus-like tentacles.

The Kraken evidently doesn’t do subtle. “I think we’ve been noticed,” Einarr whispered. “Eydri, if we stop our ears, do you think a lullaby would work on him?”

Her face was pale as she stared at the abomination. “How should I know?”…

View original post 888 more words

Advertisements

8.17 – Southwaite

Allene R. Lowrey

As was probably to be expected of an island of this size with the number of people it must have had, most of the interior was taken up by farmland – although Einarr would have hesitated to tend any crops there now. It was bad enough hurrying across the abandoned fields, eyes open for anything – man or beast – that might be hostile.

There were, however, significant benefits to traipsing over farmland, namely in open and easy terrain. Even skulking, trying to avoid combat with anything still alive here, it only took them a few hours to cross the handful of miles between Kettleness and Southwaite. Thankfully, they encountered no more of the strangely shimmering curtains. Forced to the choice, he would risk Sinmora against one again rather than sending any of their number through… but the idea of Sinmora becoming tainted disturbed him nearly as much.

Their first…

View original post 866 more words

8.16 – Rescue Party

Allene R. Lowrey

An entire afternoon and evening, and more than one cask of beer (although only one of eisbock: it was rather heady) went into planning their expedition, but in the end the map was the only reliable information they had. For where the corrupted men might be, to where they might be keeping their captives, they had only extrapolations based on Einarr’s experience at the much more thoroughly developed fortress.

The next morning, after they had downed some water and some weak ale to banish their hangovers, they set back off in the expedition craft. Burkhart and Rambert actually volunteered to row for them. Einarr shook his head, understanding tinged with melancholy, as Liupold granted them the chance they sought.

No one spoke as they rowed away from the Arkona. What was there to say? Einarr stared forward, studying the island, trying to divine why here from currents of wind…

View original post 848 more words

8.15 – A Slight Wrinkle

Allene R. Lowrey

The landing party returned to the ship after setting Kettleness ablaze. Even had they not worried about attracting the attention of the heart of the cult, and they did, not one of them had the sort of attachment to place or resident that would have permitted them to stand vigil over the entire thing.

No sooner had Liupold climbed back aboard the Arkona than his Mate accosted him. He asked through gritted teeth, “Already you let them set fire to the island? Are you half savage yourself?”

“Calm yourself, Walter. Yes, we did burn the remains in the village when it became clear that the priests had failed in their task. The funeral rites of the Clans are different from ours, but they still bring peace to the dead. Or would you prefer for this to become a cursed isle of the dead?”

“What do you mean, the priests failed?…

View original post 846 more words

8.14 – Kettleness

Allene R. Lowrey

Hohenwerth island looked like the island of the cult in miniature in many ways, although for the moment it lacked the blackness of that bigger, more northerly island. Steep shale slopes rose from the surface of the water, topped by the green of good farmland and orchards. A sinister silence hung over the area, though, and it didn’t take Einarr long to realize why. There were no fishing boats out on the water, despite the time and the weather.

All eyes on deck were glued to the shore as an inlet came into view and, behind it, a village.

Even from here it was plain the village was a husk. Deserted, Einarr would have said, if not for Liupold’s story. Dead.

“That,” Captain Liupold confirmed, “is all that remains of Kettleness.”

Einarr hated to have to ask it, but: “Have the dead been properly buried?”

“The priests were arriving to…

View original post 822 more words

8.13 – Agreement

Allene R. Lowrey

The Arkona moved more swiftly than it had any right to. In fact, once the Eikthyrnir split off to head for Breidhaugr, it swiftly became evident that the ship had been holding itself back as it trailed Kormund’s longship across the sea. This, in spite of its deeper draft, its extra deck and increased storage space, its sea fire, and the mud wall in its kitchen.

There was no other answer, at this point. At least some of the ships of the Order were magically enhanced. Not that there should have been any way for a Singer or a Painter to do that. Perhaps they embraced curse weaving? Or perhaps their shipwrights were superlative Runemasters? Neither of those quite made sense to him, but if Hrug had any better ideas he didn’t bother to share them. And, somehow, asking one of the crew seemed like a poor decision.

Whatever the…

View original post 843 more words

8.12 – A New Quest

Allene R. Lowrey

“Of course not.” Einarr paused. “Father. I’m glad that you recognize I’ve met your requirements, and look forward to formalizing the terms of our engagement upon my return.”

Jarl Hroaldr fell silent for a long moment, studying Einarr. It had been a gamble, but the way Einarr saw it he won either way. Either the Jarl corrected him, in which case he didn’t have to go fight the kraken. Or he didn’t, in which case all he had to do was make it back and their engagement could proceed.

The Jarl opened his mouth to speak, but the man from the Order cut him off.

“Excellent! I am glad to hear you have such faith in your future son-in-law, and look forward to working with him to eradicate this menace.”

Well, that was that. Einarr watched as the tendons in the Jarl’s neck shifted as he swallowed whatever…

View original post 872 more words