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.
Eiskra was the first to greet me as I climbed out of the pit, throwing her arms around me, heedless of the blood. I breathed in her scent and let her take some of my weight. As a fellow Twiceborn, Eiskra was much stronger than a normal woman of her size.
Thyra slapped me on the pauldron and smiled. “That was one for the Sagas, Ragnar.”
“I am just happy to have survived.”
“Don’t be coy, my friend,” said Thyra, “Word of this battle is going to spread among our kin. Am I right Nordan?”
The room around the fighting pit thundered with cheers. Eiskra and Carmen seemed to yell loudest, adding their voices to the din. Vethri and Murith just looked relieved, while Git was unreadable and Renoit’s eyes seemed to roam the room like a watchful wolf-hound’s.
In fact, the only ones not celebrating or relieved were my own clan. Wolki was staring at me with an unreadable expression while most of the others looked like they might be willing to challenge me right then and there.
“This, along with the fact that the exemplar of Furis has called for your return, will surely grant you an audience with King Valdur,” said Thyra.
An audience with King Valdur was at the forefront of my thoughts, considering the vision that I had when I held his father’s sword.
“The exemplar of Furis? what’s that?” asked Carmen.
“The exemplars are the living embodiment of their deity,” said Vethri. “They are not priests, exactly, but they are agents of their God and are considered above mortal politics.”
“It is said the your friend Berkhilde made quite an impression on Clan Furis,” said Thyra.
I smiled at the thought. It had been months since Berhilda, a half-Nordan vampire, had sailed into the North. I was certain that the tales of her deeds had grown by now, but pleased to hear that her mother’s clan had accepted her without reservation. The North is not always as accepting as Myrrhn.
Everyone wanted to congratulate me, and the rest of the night was lost in drinking and the telling of tales. In the morning I left with The Twins and Carmen. Thyra escorted us from the old fortress.
“I want you to come with me into the North, old friend,” said Thyra. “I know you have much to keep you here, but the king’s sword fell into your hands. It should be you who returns it.”
I nodded. Thyra did not know that I knew the identity of the man who killed our King. I wonder what she would do with the knowledge. Thyra was always one to confront her problems directly, no matter the cost. I was not certain that this was the best course of action.
“Are you certain that King Valdur and his sister will welcome an exile, even if he bears their father’s sword?”
“It was they who bid me to return your old armour, Ragnar,” said Thyra. “Come with me to the North. Meet Siggurd’s children and reclaim your name.”
“I will,” I said. “But it will have to wait until spring. I have business here, my own and Siggurd’s. I would not want to meet with King Valdur without full knowledge of the mysteries surrounding this sword.”
Thyra opened her mouth to speak, but pause. “What do you know Old Wolf? have your memories returned at last?”
“Yes,” I said. “Skygge has blessed me with a grand secret; one that demands the King’s ear. But I do not have the whole of it, and I do not want to spoil the telling.”
Thyra stepped close. “Ragnar, if you think you can leave me out of the revenge taking for my king…”
I laughed. “No Thyra, this will be decided in The Hall of the High King; I just need to fill in all of the gaps before I make my accusations.”
“Was it Wolki? I will gut him like a fish.”
“No. Your part in this is clear, Thyra Hurnsdottir, you are the bright sword who cleaves a path. Let them know that I am coming, and that I bear news. Bring them the Sword and recommend me to them. Until then, I am a wolf and I will do what a wolf must do.”