The Shadow Wolf Sagas is my current serial, updated every Thursday.
Obligatory link to the first post.
Need to catch up? check last week’s post.
And, of course, who can forget the guide.
Madame Glorianna’s letter implicated Sildus in the death of Sapphire and Bjorn. This was dangerous knowledge. I was confident that I could take him in a fair fight. For all his skill, he was only mortal, while I was Twiceborn. But Assassins are not known for fighting fair, and I had no way of finding him to strike first. I feared, too, that he might attack my friends; he killed his own lovers, after all. I needed to find a way to avoid that.
In the end, I ran. I fled Myrrhn quickly, leaving word for anyone who asked that I was headed out of the city for business in the South. It was a lie, a poor excuse that fooled no one. It was also a ruse: I wanted Sildus to chase me. I made it look like I was really heading North, to tell Harald’s sons of Sildus’s treachery and gain support.
I made my way on routes less traveled, rugged places far from civilization. I skirted Nordan lands, but sought out the deep northern forests. So far from the city my senses sharpened, becoming accustomed to the woods once more. I no longer needed to block out the noise and smell of the crowds. It was a shame that I was being chased. The night sky full of stars and the smell of fresh meat roasting over a fire brought back memories of happier times. I could not allow myself to be lulled, however, for my adversary had already fooled me once, tricking me into thinking he was innocent in my own den.
When I was certain he was near, I gradually picked up the pace, heading for a trading camp used by the Sea Wolf clan. I camped half a day from the port, on a rocky hill, surrounded by tall pines, waiting until it was dark to pitch my tent and begin to gather wood for a fire. I did so casually, as If I did not sense anyone nearby, but I was never far from a weapon and I wore as much armour as I could get away with.
I must have done a good job because Sildus elected to let me see him instead of striking from hiding. Despite the fact that he had a half-dozen men with him, taking position all around my camp, it struck me as an act of supreme arrogance. No doubt he thought me weak, having gained my confidence and watched me run from him. Maybe he just wanted to gloat.
I smelled him coming. It was tense, waiting for him to attack. I dropped the wood I was gathering as he stepped out of the shadows, trying to act surprised.
“Hello Ragnar,” said Sildus. grinning broadly. “You left Myrrhn in a hurry.”
I shrugged. I could hear the sounds of movement in the woods, within bow-shot. A wolf howled nearby, its call taken up by a pack not far off. Sildus frowned at the interruption.
“You left the letter behind, Nordan,” said Sildus. “You were right to run, but stupid to think that you could fool me with a false trail.”
“Why are we even having this conversation, Sildus?” I asked. “Why not just kill me?”
“I wanted you to know just how badly I have beaten you,” said Sildus. “And I wanted to see the look in your eyes when I told you that I am going to do to your friends what I did to Sapphire and Bjorn.”
“Your cruelty is your undoing, Sildus,” I said. “Had you just killed them, I doubt Madame Glorianna would have told me about your involvement.”
“I fail to see how that is to my detriment,” said Sildus. “After all, I now get the joy of killing you. A Twiceborn should give me some real sport before he dies.”
“I grow tired of your words, coward,” I said, looking him in the eye. “Let us see if you can make them into deeds.”
Sildus smiled and signaled his men.