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In the time since the completion of Torhvild Hall, the fame of the Companions of Vitharr had spread to many villages that dotted the Raven’s Teeth island of Stal Vindur. The grand Torhvild Hall was host to not only the original ten Companions, but now to many folk that had traveled from their villages to join in the drinking and feasting. Most notably, young folk that left behind what would have been lives of farming, fishing, and hard labour had seen the Companions as their chance to become true warriors. Many young Vinmen came not only to experience the revelry within Torhvild Hall, but also to offer their allegiance. They came donning the old armor and weapons of their parents or grandparents, some had not even grown enough to properly wear their ancestral armaments. Despite this, they came flocking from all around, in hopes of meeting and joining with the Lord of Torhvild Hall, Vitharr Halldorsson. Some had to be tested, to see if they truly had the heart of a warrior, through strength of arms. Runa alone gained her own reputation as she mercilessly dealt with judging these would-be Companions. While not all succeeded and were sent back to their villages, many were welcomed into the hall as brothers and sisters in arms. The number of Companions swelled from the original eleven to nearly one hundred warriors, a testament to the warrior spirit of the Vinmen not yet having waned since the passing of the Odeking Fafnir. While the Companions filled the hall each night with drinking, boasting, and fighting, they all awaited the word of their leader. Each of them eagerly anticipating the moment when Vitharr would embark on another venture, for their appetite for raiding and riches had not yet been satisfied.

For now, Vitharr Halldorsson’s thoughts remained focused on home, on Stal Vindur. It was here and now that he wished to solidify the roots of the Companions, to let their reputation be spread while he and his friends consolidate their riches and their places with their newly experienced fame.

Inside the hall was busy like any other night. The long tables and shorter round tables of the spacious hall were filled with men and women, and plates of bread and meat, and flagons of ale and mead, kept their stomachs filled. At the far end of the hall sat Vitharr Halldorsson at a horizontal long table, overseeing the entire hall, alongside his close friends Sveinn and Runa. The other first Companions were scattered about the hall, and one could always see the emergent Skald, Dag, boasting and retelling the story of the Storm Isles to any that would hear. At the foot of the high chair which Vitharr sat upon was the unopenable runic chest first found by the Companions, wrested from the grip of a Valikorlian Lord. The Vinmen who had heard the tales enjoyed observing the chest and setting their hands on the runic carvings in the gold, while Vitharr watched on with apathy.

As Vitharr drank and shared laughs with his friends, a group of Vinmen had newly arrived at the doors of his hall. Through the crowd of young men and women they navigated, not quite knowing the face of who they searched for, but knew he was to be found at the end of this large hall. Heavy were their wolf fur cloaks, and even heavier was the armor they wore beneath. They had the look of experienced veterans, those who had gone through years of battle and tribulations that themselves have had Skalds tell tales of. These men were far older than any of the Companions present, and upon spotting these newcomers, Vitharr knew they were not simple visitors, nor must they have been wishing to join him. The man that led these grizzled Vinmen was tall, nearly as tall as Sveinn though not quite. Both the blonde hair of his head and mighty beard were fitted into thick braids, and at his side he carried with him a heavy handaxe that appeared worn with age.

He and the Vinmen that accompanied him approached the end of the hall now, meeting eyes with the one they were seeking. There was a brief silence, one that brought with it heightening tension as the armed visitors stared down at the seated Vitharr, tension that was felt by the Companions that were close. Sveinn’s hand slowly extended for his greataxe which rested nearby, while Runa’s dark painted eyes shot daggers at the old men. It was the old newcomer that broke the silence as he turned away from Vitharr. “You.” He spoke to Runa, his voice rather deep. “You must be Runa Stormlashed. They say you sailed through the heart of a living storm and lost not a single man to the waves!” The tenseness of the encounter lightened as Runa responded with a smile.

“It was then that all saw that when it comes to sailing, there is no one that could equal me. Nor equal my skill with an axe!” She boldly boasted and was met with the supportive cries and toasts from nearby Companions, all of whom had to endure Runa’s skill with the axe firsthand.

The old Vinman turned now to regard Sveinn who sat nearby. “And you must be the one with giant’s blood, Sveinn the Pup. I should like to challenge that strength of yours, my arm against your own.”

Sveinn was delighted he was at all recognized by a stranger. “No blood of giants inside me, I think. A contest would be fun, but I only ever lose to Vitharr.”

As the old man laughed, he now turned to Vitharr who had been watching and listening. “A dragon headed serpent painted on your face, there cannot be any doubt, you must be Vitharr Halldorsson. The Skalds call you kingslayer and trollslayer!”

“It is good to hear that the Skalds did not spread lies.” Promptly answered Vitharr before drinking from his cup of ale. The response brought a hearty chuckle out of the old man.

“I am Jarl Erlend, my lands are west of here, just through the mountains. The tale of the Storm Isles made me curious, and hearing of this hall, I had to see it for myself.”

Vitharr lowered his cup of ale, the surprise worn plain on his face and the faces of his nearby friends. A visit from a Jarl had been unexpected to say the least; they did not imagine their new warband would have caught the attention of one so prestigious. Vitharr set his cup down on the floor then rose from his seat, standing before Jarl Erlend as a gesture of respect. “Lord, welcome to my hall! All of you sit, and share in my food and ale, you must be tired from travel.” Vitharr called for ale, food, and chairs to be brought, a request given to the newer members of the Companions. Treating his guests with haste, Vitharr and the Jarl both sat down across from each other. While the Jarl’s men graciously began to eat the offered food, Erlend spoke between his gulps of ale.

“I did not see any man here as described of Young Halldor in the Companions’ tale.” Commented the Jarl.

“He is nearby, but elsewhere in the shadow of the trees. My brother prefers his solitude. His connection to the Grey Ones unsettled some of the newer men and women.” Clarified Vitharr as he took a swig of ale.

“The Companions of Vitharr, a warband begun by children of farmers and fishermen from the little known village of Nothorwic. Your deeds have made you rise quickly.” Said the Jarl before coming to his point. “I will speak plainly, I have need of you and your men, and I wish to have you join me.”

“Join you for what, Lord?” Asked Vitharr, eyebrow raised as he went on filling his stomach with bread. Runa and Sveinn listened in, though were quiet as to let Vitharr handle things for now.

“There is land on my borders that is rightfully mine.” Began Erlend. “But there is another that stands in my way. A man called Jarl Skur. The land that should belong to me is between his borders and my own, and the fool seeks to stop me from taking it, thinking he has a better claim. Hah!” Erlend slammed his flagon of ale against the table, sloshing some of its contents onto the wood.

While Vitharr considered the Jarl’s request, Runa leaned in against the table as she spoke, “Jarl Skur himself? Living so near to his land, we have heard his name before! It is to be a feud, then?”

Erlend nodded his blonde haired head. “It is a feud, but not a new one. Our fathers fought, and so must we. Were it not for the Odeking, Jarl Skur and I would have settled this with swords years ago. Now that the Odeking Fafnir is with the Grey, we both look to our blood feud once again.”

“It would bring the Companions great honor to fight alongside a Jarl. It is something many of the young warriors here would wish for.” Vitharr thought aloud.

“Not only fame, they wish for riches and even land, Lord.” Added Sveinn the Pup.

The Jarl nodded his head knowingly; it was the way with young people, they always sought more. “Once I defeat Jarl Skur, all his lands will become mine, and so will his treasure. His defeat will be assured if you add your men to my own, and every man here could expect good silver as payment!” Jarl Erlend extended the conversation to all who were nearby and listening, the promise of riches resulting in unanimous cheers and the drumming of fists against tables, something both Runa and Sveinn joined in with, though Vitharr had remained quiet.

“A welcome promise, Lord. But first I would know, what is the cause of this blood feud? Why is it Jarl Skur claims the land should be his?” Asked Vitharr, curious as was his way.

Erlend seemed guarded about this topic, though in truth he was trying to stifle the anger which he felt just by thinking about it. “It is a tale of betrayal and jealousy!” The Jarl said angrily. “I reveal that yes, Jarl Skur and I are distant kin. His ancestor and my own are one and the same. Our greatfather, Jarl Throrr, claimed both the lands I and Skur now hold as his own, many years ago, as well as the land between.” Began Erlend. “When Old Throrr was weakening, he meant to give the land to his first son, my ancestor, but the younger son was a jealous thing and killed his own brother! The loss of his son and the knowledge of his other having become a kinslayer, Old Throrr died frail and weak in a bed.” Though it was not they that had been wronged, those that listened voiced their disgust with jeers and curses.

To be a kinslayer is to be devoid of honor, and should this story be true then Jarl Erlend does hold a better and rightful claim, thought Vitharr. Having heard the Jarl’s tale, Vitharr appeared to be convinced and nodded his head. The Jarl was without a doubt justified by what he recounted. “I must have time to think on this offer, Lord.”

“Take what time you need, but do not take long. I will expect you at my hall in Lunland soon.” Erlend rose from his chair, followed by his men. Vitharr stood now as well, as it seemed they sought to leave.

“You and your men are welcome to stay the night in my hall, should you wish to.” Offered Vitharr, though the Jarl waved his hand and declined.

“I must return hastily to see to my lands, should Skur attempt something. Leaving briefly to meet Vitharr Halldorsson was a worthy enough risk.” There were no prolonged pleasantries as the Vinmen departed Torhvild Hall and rode into the night, making their way through the mountain pass to return to the land on the western shore.

Vitharr had returned to his seat, breathing a heavy sigh as he considered the weight of the meeting that had just occurred. “I thought you would be happy about this.” Said Runa as she watched Vitharr slump back in his chair.

“I am happy.” Vitharr said lazily while rubbing at one of his eyes. “Though now I must meet with Jarl Skur, and hear what he has to say. I must know both sides of this feud. It is my fate.”

“Is it fate, or a curse that has bewitched you with your curiousity, it is hard to tell at times.” Teased Runa. Though she, and no doubt many other Companions, thought only of the glory of battle and the reward of riches, Vitharr’s thoughts had him question where their honor should lie in the middle of this blood feud.

“Where is Guthred? Guthred of the Havardr!” Shouted Vitharr from his seat out into his crowded hall. Those that heard him turned to seek out the hunter, eventually finding the young man and directing him to Vitharr’s table.

“Lord?” Said the young hunter nervously, wondering what Vitharr needed him for.

“Prepare five horses. I want them fed and watered, and get the newbloods to see it done. In the morning, you will join myself, Runa, Sveinn, and Young Halldor as we ride west.”

“Yes, Lord.” Guthred said quickly.

“Go. I must find Halldor.” When Vitharr rose from his seat, the young hunter hurried off to see to the task, picking out a few of the lingering men and women to help. Vitharr moved through the hall, exchanging greetings with some of those that he passed on his way out into the darkness of the night. He followed the path into the surrounding wood and detoured part of the way through. Eventually he came to a shack in the middle of the forest, candlelight illuminating its interior. Before the young Lord had reached the wooden door, it creaked open.

“Come in.” Came a voice from within. Vitharr pushed the door open to see Young Halldor kneeling on the floor, before him bits of small bleached bone. “Your path leads west, it seems.” Said Young Halldor as he collected the bones and set them aside.

“What have you seen?” Asked Vitharr who found a seat on the floor, sitting opposite of his frail and pious brother.

“Jarls and black feathers. Darkness and… the dirt.” Young Halldor struggled to get to his feet, causing Vitharr to lend him a hand then walk him over to a fur bed. “You may need me, little brother, for what I cannot say yet.” Said Halldor as he sat down. “Perhaps for nothing, but still I must go. That is my fate.”

***************************

Night had passed into morning and morning into afternoon by the time Vitharr and his four other Companions made it through the mountain pass. Sat upon their horses, they looked out into the countryside, spotting in the distance toward the north the town of Fjall, the home of Jarl Skur. Vitharr turned his attention to Guthred, clasping the young hunter’s shoulder. “This is where we part. You must go south of here and seek out Lunland. There, you will see how many men Jarl Erlend has, then return to me at Fjall.”

“Yes, Lord. Ah-” Began Guthred before stammering. “What if I am asked my business there, Lord? What if the Jarl believes me to be a spy? A spy of Jarl Skur?” Wondered Guthred, imagining what end could be awaiting him.

“You will speak the truth.” Said Vitharr simply. “You will say you are one of my Companions. You will tell the Jarl I am yet to make my decision, but one will be made soon.”

The young Guthred nodded his head, answering quickly with a ‘Yes, Lord’, before starting on his way south. The others, Vitharr, Runa, Sveinn, and Young Halldor, all made their way north toward the town of Lunland.

The journey across the countryside did not take them very long, and they arrived just as evening came. The town was of proper Vinnish make, of relatively moderate and humble size compared to the greater cities of Elkorwic and Tulinen. There were more than just warriors moving through the place, many simple folk like farmers and traders called the town their home. As the Companions rode into town, they were directed toward the stables where they could rest, cool, and water their horses. Finding the Jarl’s hall was a simple matter, as it was the largest building, by far, in the entire town, as expected. The great wooden doors were unguarded, allowing Vitharr and his friends to open them and enter unhindered.

Men and women were inside, some seated at the central longtable while others moved about the building. Servants and slaves carried with them food and drink, while others saw to the cleaning of the large building. At the far end of the longtable was seated Jarl Skur, a rather muscular man, unarmored but cloaked in what appeared to be a bear fur mantle. What was most striking was the Jarl’s lack of hair; bald headed was he, not unlike Sveinn, though the man did not even have facial hair to describe. As the four made their entrance, the warriors within the hall kept a keen eye on them, but it was Jarl Skur that addressed them first. “Who enters my hall so late? Your faces are unfamiliar.” Demanded Skur, his face beset by weariness and fatigue. It was Vitharr that led the way, so it was he that came forward to answer. “Lord. I am Vitharr, these are my friends, Runa, Sveinn, and Halldor. I have--”

Jarl Skur shot up from his seat, his posture hostile as a hand hovered near the sheathed sword at his side. “Vitharr Halldorsson. You are with Erlend!” As the Jarl’s warriors in the hall followed Skur’s lead and made for their weapons,

Vitharr raised a hand cautiously, gesturing for them to wait, while his other rested on the hilt of his sword. “No, Lord, I am not.” Vitharr said insistently, he and the other Companions remaining cautious.

“Why are you here then, boy!? To spy!? My own spies tell me Erlend met with the Companions, and now you are here!”

“We are here only to hear the truth of this feud, Lord! No oath has been made, I swear it.” Jarl Skur’s chest heaved with angry breaths as he considered Vitharr’s words. The Jarl would have heard word of an approaching force that was sizeable enough to threaten his land, so he knew the five before him were alone. Should he come to dislike them or find them to be liars, he would kill them, and give their bodies to the crows, the Jarl thought.

This was his hall, their lives belonged to him, and in knowing that Skur relaxed his posture and breathed deeply. “Come and sit at my table, Vitharr Halldorsson. If it is truth you want, then hear it plainly.” As Jarl Skur returned to his seat, the warriors in the hall moved their hands away from their weapons though remained cautious. The same could be said for the Companions, as they knew they had entered a den of wolves.

Vitharr and his friends approached Jarl Skur’s table, all the while weathering the suspicious stares of Skur and the others. Once they sat, the Jarl leaned back in his chair. “What did that toad Erlend tell you?”

“He said your ancestor stole what should be his, Lord.” Started Vitharr as his eyes wandered to the Jarl’s idle warriors. “A kinslayer that usurped his ancestor’s rightful lands.” Skur slumped back in his chair, his hairless face scrunching into an ugly mess as his anger simmered.

“He spreads these lies to take what isn’t his. I tell you now, boy, he has made you a fool!” Responded Skur loudly. “Drink! Bring me ale!” His demand came out furious as he beckoned a nearby slave. Once he had a flagon in his hands and ale in his belly, the Jarl loosed an annoyed sigh. “Hear the truth then, boy.” Said Skur as he set his ale down on the table. “It is true Erlend and I share blood. Our ancestor, Old Throrr, had claim to all our lands, but he became cursed. Throrr the Omen Caller was driven to murderous madness, and tried poisoning the minds of his sons!” The entire hall had been listening now; hearing the story of Old Throrr from Skur himself was a rare occurrence within his own walls, as the story carried with it shame. “The eldest was taken by Old Throrr’s sick mind, and both would have seen the death of every man and woman in the land were it not for the youngest brother. He took up Old Throrr’s spear and slew the curse!” The Jarl made a mock spear thrust motion with his hands. “He saved this land and became its ruler. That is the truth, boy.”

“What happened to Old Throrr and the brother?” Asked Sveinn the Pup, leaning in against the table as he asked, rather absorbed in the Jarl’s telling of the story.

“I do not know. I only know what was passed to me from my father. My ancestor has the true claim to this land and the lands south of here, and I will not allow Erlend to take any more of it!” Declared Skur, his tale coming to an end. It had left Vitharr to ponder a moment.

“You do not wish to take it for yourself?” Questioned Vitharr now. Skur loosed another heavy sigh and cradled his head against his palm.

“It was the Odeking’s wish we end our feud. Though he is dead, I will stay true to my word and not send men to die. But know this, Vitharr Halldorsson, should Erlend come for blood then I will meet him with sword, axe, and nail.” Swiftly, the Jarl unlatched a handaxe that hung at his side and slammed it against the table. “And should the Companions of the Storm Isles story join him, then they can expect the same response!” The Jarl stared at each Companion present, his eyes, the seriousness in them seen plainly, drifted slowly to each of the five as he meant for his message to sink in and be clear. Vitharr exchanged a confident look; he never shied away from a challenge, nor would he even now while a Jarl barked threats, nor yet still while surrounded by that Jarl’s men. Though it was not a challenge that needed to come to pass, in his mind.

Vitharr gave Jarl Skur a nod. “As I told you, Lord, we are not sworn to Jarl Erlend, but he expects me to make my decision. And I will, but I will not risk our honor by choosing wrong. I do not come with lies; I will not have it be said that the Companions are tricksters and untrustworthy, that I swear.”

Jarl Skur listened carefully to the young Vinman’s words; he had been awaiting the moment where the boy would slip and reveal himself to be an enemy, for he was young and no doubt had his ego swelling from his newfound fame. Yet it did not come to pass. The boy’s talk of openness and honor were worthy enough of some amount of respect, thought Jarl Skur. Digging the axehead out of the table, Skur returned it to his side and gave a nod of his bald head. “We will see if fate makes that true, in the end. Very well, Vitharr. You have what you came for. I will allow you and your Companions to remain in my hall for now, but do not overstay your welcome.” It was as much as Vitharr could have hoped for; he had gotten what he had come for it is true, but it did not make a decision any easier to come to. For now, he needed time to think. As the Jarl had opened his doors for them to spend the night in warmth, they would do so. When night had fallen on Fjall, and Skur and the warriors in the hall went to rest, so would the Companions. Finding a place to sleep within, the Companions all drifted to sleep, while Vitharr stayed up a while yet absorbed in his own thoughts.

“Vitharr.” Whispered Young Halldor who sat just nearby. Vitharr was laying on his back, staring up at the hall’s ceiling in the darkness, next to a soundly resting Runa and a snoring Sveinn.

“You should be sleeping, brother.” Answered Vitharr in a near whisper.

“I do not need your coddling.” Halldor snapped back as they exchanged whispers. “Your mind troubles you.”

“One man makes a claim, a true sounding story, one that he himself believes. Another man also makes a claim, again with a true sounding story. Who am I to believe?” Confided Vitharr, voicing the thoughts that kept his mind awake.

“If it were any other man, the choice would be simple. The choice that promises riches.” Said Halldor, and with the help of his walking stick, the frail Vinman rose from the floor and stood before his brother. “But because you are not any other man, I will help you find your answer.” In the darkness of the hall, Young Halldor extended his hand toward Vitharr. The Vinman gazed up at his older brother a moment before taking hold and rising.

Young Halldor led Vitharr out into the cold of the night, outside the hall. “Where is it you are leading me to?” Questioned Vitharr as he followed his brother.

“There is only one that can give you answers now.” As they came to the stables, Halldor turned now to Vitharr. “To the north there is a place, a forest. Within, you will find a man of secrets.” Vitharr’s brow raised as they shared a brief silence.

“... You speak of a seer. The wyrdfolk.” Halldor responded to the statement with a nod. “Did father not say they were to be avoided? The Grey itself has stolen their minds.” Recalled Vitharr, the words of his father leaping from his lips, to his own surprise.

“And when did anything father say ever fill you with fear?” Young Halldor prodded Vitharr’s stomach with his walking stick as he spoke, enticing a defiant scowl out of his little brother. “If it is an answer you wish for, then the elder will know.”

Despite the preconceptions of the elders stamped into his mind, it was Vitharr’s unending curiousity that won against any reservations he may have had. On horseback, the two sons of Halldor the Furious rode out into the night and headed north. Led by Young Halldor, they came to a sparsely wooded area that grew thicker with trees further in. It was at the edge of this small forest that Halldor came to a stop. “I must go no further.” Said Young Halldor, his eyes shifting from side to side as he watched the treeline. “The path ahead is yours and yours alone.”

Vitharr steadied his horse, giving only a nod as he stifled the fear of uncertainty he felt as they lingered beyond the night-shrouded forest. Descending from his horse, he left it in the care of Young Halldor before entering the wooded area. It was dark, though not so dark as to leave him blind. The brightness of the moon was enough to keep him going. As he headed deeper and lost sight of Young Halldor, he came to focus on the sounds of the forest. The sounds of creaking branches, he thought, but they suddenly turned into the cawing of birds, then the crinkling of leaves, and then the rushing of wind. His footfalls came as a disturbance, he felt, and the deeper he went, the feeling of eyes upon him became more apparent.

Eventually, he would come to what appeared to be a dense collection of trees. Their trunks pushed together in a single spot and weaved around each other like a twisted knotted rope. This weave of several trees had boughs of many differing leaves dangling from high above. At the base, the trunk widened, wide enough for it to have been a small enough hut for a man to live within. In the middle of this wide wooden base was an open gap in the wood, and within he could see the movement of light, but it was dim. To Vitharr it felt inviting, instilling him with a feeling that whatever was inside was bidding him to enter. There was no doubt in the young Vinman’s mind that this must be where the elder dwelled, for who else could twist the land in such a way. One who consorted with the Grey, perhaps, Vitharr thought. Coming to the tree’s entrance, Vitharr knew now what the shifting of light was that he had seen. Fireflies danced through the spacious interior of the tree, illuminating what appeared to be an actual home. There was but a stool, a small table, and a roll of fur for sleeping upon. He could barely see a thing. However, in a corner of the tree home, there was a shadowed figure whose form the light of the fireflies had yet to illuminate. The figure sat upon a stool, and had yet to say a word, even as Vitharr’s presence was made obvious.

“You are the elder of this forest?” Said Vitharr, both as a question and as a statement of surprise. Though he could not see him clearly, Vitharr saw that this man’s dark beard and hair stretched down nearly to his feet. His frame was shriveled like a prune, a far more frail sight than Young Halldor. Still, the elder said nothing and simply sat. Finding the initiative, Vitharr now drew closer, entering the tree and steeling himself despite the fear that had risen up his spine. “I wish for answers. I must know, who has the true claim to the lands of Fjall, Lunland, and between?” His breathing quickened as fear tried to overcome him, but he fought it off, for there was nothing he wished for more, in that moment, than to find his answer. “Answer me!”

“Vitharr, son of Halldor.” The elder’s words came out a raspy whisper. As his body moved and his muscles twitched, it sounded as if his old bones had not been stirred for years, crackling as they did. “Who is the son of Yngvarr, son of Tolf, son of Rolf. Ah. Rolf, he bit his wife, and she was unhappy. Rolf the ugly, I do not like Rolf.” Vitharr stood uncertain of what he was hearing, and uncertain of what to say. The elder was mumbling to himself now, and what Vitharr could make out was simply nonsense. “Would you like to hear how Rolf made Tolf eat a wolf. It is not a good story, I simply like the words. Rolf, Tolf, wolf. Twrolf.”

As the withered old man began to laugh, Vitharr spoke up, trying to keep the crazed man focused. “I wish only to know the truth of the feud between Erlend and Skur.”

“Have you heard the story of Father Crow-Curse?” Whispered the elder as he stroked his long beard with both his bony hands. “Father Crow-Curse was an unhappy man. Three sons, three daughters, and no wife. His sons were ungrateful, his daughters were ungraceful, and all the time the young village boys and girls would shout and dance and yell ‘Father Crow-Curse! Father Crow-Curse! Where has your wife gone?’ Father Crow-Curse would tell them ‘Do not torment me so’, but the boys and girls would not listen. One day, Father Crow-Curse could not bear it any longer. He waited and waited, and turned to his sons and daughters. To them he brought a curse, and turned them into beautiful black birds, and made them both grateful and graceful. Each night, he would send one to snatch away the little village boys that tormented him, then the little village girls. The beautiful black birds would come up from the ground with their beaks and pull the bad children into the earth, never to be seen again, and never to ask of his wife again, and Father Crow-Curse was happy again.”

The elder continued on, though the story devolved into the mumbling and stammering of the name ‘Father Crow-Curse’ over and over, until finally Vitharr could not stomach another word.

The young Vinman came forward now, clasping his hands on the elder’s bony shoulders as he tried to force his attention. “Tell me what I wish to know! Enough of your madness!”

The elder voiced shocked grunts as he was grabbed, and stammered out, “Haaah! He almost knew, almost, but not there. He could not see what I can see. But he will be me one day, it is fate. Black feathers and dirt, hah!” The elder suddenly clasped his bony hands on either side of Vitharr’s face. “Your answer awaits behind the black feathered door of Scarfrost Cave, Vitharr Halldorsson. It waits with death, but not death at all.” Before Vitharr could question, the elder repeated. “Scarfrost Cave. Scarfrost Cave, Scarfrost Cave!” As he continued to say the name, his voice grew louder and more desperate. Outside in the forest there came a cacophony of bird cries. Cawing filled the forest, the voices of a murder of crows filling the night as they grew louder in tandem with the shouting elder. Vitharr forced the elder’s hands from his face and stumbled back, but the cawing did not halt nor did it stop rising in volume. Still, the elder repeated the name of the cave, his face now enraged as he yelled it at the top of his lungs.

Now that he had an answer, the fear that he held back came rushing into his heart. He stumbled out of the tree home of the elder to the sight of cawing crows all around and above him in the tree branches. He wished only to leave this place as fast as his legs could carry him, and even as the sound of cawing and the old man’s shouting faded into the distance behind him, he continued to run in order to escape the forest entirely.

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justashadowwriter

Bio: I'm not the greatest at writing, I wouldn't say I'm good either, but I've always enjoyed creating a narrative and creating characters of my own.

It's always been a source of fun for me and nothing more. I don't have any aspirations for it to be more than an outlet and a source of entertainment for myself, but I wanted to host the stories somewhere safe and easily accessible.

If you, or anyone, happen to read what I write, it's frankly an honor, and thank you for sparing some time reading. Whether it's a chapter, page, or paragraph, I'm delightfully surprised and thankful.

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