It has been an eventful week here. A windstorm blew shingles off my house yesterday, which is not common in this part of the world. I am dead tired, but here nonetheless. This is my weekly serial, written raw as a writing exercise.
You can find the first post in the series here.
Last week’s post is here.
The fortress of Cassander’s Shield brooded, outlined in red and gold as the sun set behind it. The docks were thick with longships showing the shields of every clan, with the heraldry of many prominent Nordan among them.
They did not challenge me at the gates of the bridge to the Nordan quarter this time. Instead, the guards, four grey-bearded veterans clasped hands with me as I passed.
“Gods be with ye, Grimfang,” said the eldest.
It appeared that Ulfgorr was even less popular than an exile.
“My thanks, warrior. It is unfortunate that you are stuck out here on guard duty.”
“Mayhap he has no stomach for slaughter, old wolf,” said another of the veterans. They all laughed at this, and I did as well; Nordan have a peculiar sense of humour. Behind us the Twins exchanged glances with Murith,
“If I die, at least I will die with honour.”
“That is true,” said the first.
“Let us hope that the gods smile upon ye, Shadow Wolf,” said the second.
“And that your sword strikes true,” said the third.
“And that your shield is as strong as your will,” said the last.
I nodded and led my procession through the gates. The Twins were with me, of course, as was Murith, Git, and Renoit. There were a great many more besides; friends from The Doxies’s Union and people that I had helped or adventured with over my decades in Myrrhn. Whores and mercenaries bumped elbows with scholars and merchants. It was quite touching.
As we approached the steps leading to the great metal doors of the fortress, I caught a familiar scent. I looked up to see her standing before me, clad in bright armour and bearing her fell spear.
“Thyra! I did not expect to see you here.”
“Old fool. I crossed half an ocean riding Hurn’s own storm to get here. I would not fail to bear witness when my sword-brother faces the demon wolf himself.”
“Ah, you do me too much honour Thyra. You are a hero of the North, the last of Siggurd’s Kingsquard. I am but an exile, shamed for falling before my king.”
“Put away the long face brother. You are not so shamed that this cannot lift your heart.”
And she held up a suit of armour identical to the one that I last wore on the day of my exile from Nordan lands. It was finely made kingsmail with black plate pauldrons, gorget, and vambraces. On it was the insignia of Siggurd ‘Stormbreaker’, once the high king of the North and with that of his successor.
“No, the boy. He is old enough to lead now. When I asked, he gave his blessing. Perhaps this will give Wolki pause.”
My mind had trouble keeping pace. The young High King had given me permission to wear this sacred armour; it was a great and unexpected honour. I could not understand why it was being bestowed upon me, save as a courtesy to Thyra, who was a real hero.
“Thank you, old friend.”
“May it bring you victory this time, Ragnar.”
Of course, one might look upon the armour as a last comfort from a merciful king to a fallen exile meeting an honourable death…