The conference between the three captains and Elder Vilding stretched long into the evening. Well before the end of it, Einarr was very conscious of a pair of eyes trying to bore holes in his back. Every time he glanced over his shoulder, Runa was very pointedly looking elsewhere. She was very plainly expecting something from him, and he hadn’t the faintest idea what. No matter. I’ll be sure to take her walking after supper. Whatever was the matter, even if that didn’t help it should at least point him in the right direction.
The conference did not break for dinner, however, and by the time they did stop for the night nearly everyone else had retired to the ships. When the Elder invited the three of them to sleep on his floor for the night, and both Stigander and Kormund agreed immediately, it was with a sense of impending doom that he joined them.
He rose with the dawn the next morning in hopes of slipping down to the ships to speak with her. He was not, however, in luck: all three Mates were already up and about, and were eager to hear the results of their long conference of the night before. With a sigh, Einarr put aside his intention. She had been in perfect health when they were rescued, and both she and the Jarl had been under Father’s sail. It would keep, whatever it was.
He was less than halfway through his explanation when Jarl Hroaldr himself joined them. He looked like half the man he’d been when Einarr had last seen him: pale and haggard, and bony in a way that suggested he’d been starved down there. Still, he was less pale than he had been when Einarr found them on the beach, so that was something.
After his conversation with the Mates, the day was in full swing. When midday came around and he found himself able to breathe again, the sensation of being watched returned. This time, when he turned around, Runa did not bother to look away.
“It was one thing, Einarr, to ignore me when we were busy running for our lives.”
“I… what?” Had he been? He hadn’t intended to.
She snorted. “Don’t play dumb. You haven’t said a word to me since we landed, nor two since we got to the ships in the harbor. I’ll have you know, I’ll not tolerate a husband married to his ship!”
Oh. Einarr lowered his face to hide the self-mocking smile even as he shook his head. “I’m sorry. I actually tried to come see you this morning, only I wasn’t fast enough.”
She crossed her arms, not looking mollified.
“I don’t think we’ve had a moment to ourselves since the Forgotten Island, have we.” He was sure of it: most of that time, he’d spent away from everyone. He offered his arm. “Walk with me?”
“Very well, Einarr son of Stigander. But don’t think this lets you off the hook.” She was pretending to pout: now it was safe to smile. “Really, though. We’ve been on shore less than a full day. You’d think we’d be allowed a little time to breathe.”
“Runa, we don’t know when Kaldr is going to show up, or with how many ships. We’re not really resting here, so much as catching our breath and stocking up.”
“Kaldr.” She practically spat the name. “Just when you start to think the man might be reasonable, he comes around and starts chasing you like a dog with a rabbit.”
Einarr blinked. That didn’t quite match up with what the other Singers had said. “How do you mean.”
“When he caught us, he was all high and mighty about the ‘perils of magic,’ or what have you. But then, after we’d been there a few days, he caught us snooping around and didn’t do anything about it.”
Einarr hummed. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of that.
“Then, later, when we were making our escape, he actually warned us what to look out for. Accurately, even. And now, this.”
“Wait, he helped you escape? Why?”
Runa shrugged. “I have no idea, but he seems to hate the Weavess as much as you do. More, maybe.”
Runa nodded. “She is a vile woman, Einarr. Her Weaving is blacker than you know.”
Einarr nodded, not because he knew but because he was not surprised. Eydri had said, after all, that she was the one who had been in charge of Jarl Hroaldr’s care. “Don’t worry. She will be brought to justice.”
“I’m not worried – about that, at any rate.”
“I’m sensing a ‘but.’”
“But I am worried that this assault is going to consume you.”
He smirked. “Runa, I’ve not been on the main island since I was six, or any of the freeholds since I was ten. If there’s someone I’m worried about being consumed here, it’s Father.”
“That would also be bad, don’t you think?”
Einarr was nodding his agreement when a hunting horn sounded in the distance, from the direction of the spit. “They’ve spotted something? Already?”
No further word was spoken. The two raced back the way they had come, headed for the village green.
Four wolf-headed ships slipped over the ocean waves, headed straight for the Lundholm fjord. The three Captains, along with three of their best scouts, stood at the end of the spit, peering out over the water at the wolflings who must have guessed where they were going. Guessed, because after the encirclement was broken they had not followed – at least, not where any of their watchmen could see.
Stigander’s voice was grim. “That’s them alright. And that fjord’s narrow enough, it won’t matter if they’re not all working together.”
“Will they try to raze the town?” Einarr knew he sounded worried, but did not care.
“I don’t know. Probably not right away, at least. We should have some time to prepare.”
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