In the previous episode, Karyna was approached in a dream by the powerful wizard Odin who explained he would help her escape, but only if she retrieved the teeth of Eyulf and took them to where the truth resided as repayment. Readers voted she go about doing so by attempting to sneak through the Hall but she wakes some of the sleeping men and has to fight her way out.
Imrich’s hall was quiet and dark, the men either having passed out drunk or having retired long ago. Karyna moved quickly through the dimly lit room, careful not to tread on the sleeping Vikings. She had a vague idea of where Garik slept, but if luck and Odin continued to be on her side, she would be able to get in and steal the teeth without incident.
Pausing beside the wolf skull at the end of the hall, Karyna knew she had to get those teeth as well. She had promised Odin Eyulf’s teeth, and she would get them all, if she could figure out how to remove them. She began looking around desperately for something with which she could pry them loose.
The dying embers of a torch illuminated a man not far away, propped up against a pillar to sleep away the alcohol. Karyna’s breath caught in her throat as she noticed a small knife peaking up from the edge of his belt, half hidden by his bulky arms. With a deep breath, she crept forward, her hand slowly extending toward her target. Thin fingers within an inch of the blade, Karyna glanced up to make sure once more that the man was deep in his dreams before closing her fingers around the hilt of the blade. She slowly slid the knife free, sighing in relief as she returned to the skull.
Standing beside the skull, several problems became clear. First, this skull was not a broken, weather-worn object like she had assumed. Freeing the teeth would require far more work than simply pulling them out with a little force. Second, if she was going to pry these teeth loose, it was not going to be a quiet affair. She could already hear the scrapping of the knife on bone in her head, and she dreaded how it would echo through the hall. No amount of snoring would help that.
But she had no choice. Giving up worrying, she aggressively thrust the knife into the gap between the first tooth and the jaw. With a twist of her wrist, she heard a sharp crack from inside the skull, and the tooth shifted in the socket. As predicted, the sound echoed loudly, but thankfully, no one stirred. Karyna began wiggling the tooth back and forth, trying to loosen it further. After several long moments of prayer and a wildly beating heart, Karyna managed to pull the tooth free, but there were still about two dozen left.
Miraculously, Karyna managed to pull free all of the teeth, wrapping them in a leather bag she stole off one of the sleeping men. She was unsure if she should credit Odin or the alcohol for her success so far, but she was grateful either way. She had about half of Eyulf’s teeth already in her possession, and now she just had to find the other half, probably still strung around the neck of her betrothed.
Stepping carefully over a man slumped on the floor in the doorway, she made for the private rooms of Imrich and his kin. She stood in the hallway for some time, chewing on her lip as she tried to decide where to start. She was afraid to open the wrong door and alert someone of her intrusion. She was particularly worried about Freydis and Imrich. If Freydis found her, she would probably be put under a spell and returned to her prison immediately. If Imrich found her, she might not make it out of the hall alive.
Eventually she settled on opening the doors systematically, starting at the far end of the hall. Logically, she thought the most decorative door at the end of the hall would belong to the chief. She left that one shut and tried the one to the right of it, pulling the door open slowly, wincing as the hinges creaked loudly. But there was no movement inside, so Karyna kept forward, knife in front of her as she walked towards the bed, letting her eyes adjust to the light.
Her eyes fell on a sleeping figure, a head of blonde hair sticking out from under the thick blanket. Heart pounding, she moved closer, her hand surprisingly steady as she reached out to pull the blanket down, hoping that Garik was still asleep.
“What are you doing?” Karyna’s heart stopped as the small voice filled the quiet room, blue eyes looking up at her curiously. This was not Garik’s room. It was the room of Imrich’s youngest son, Sveinn.
“I am sorry, I did not mean to wake you,” Karyna replied softly, quickly hiding her knife and putting on a smile. The boy was no more than twelve, and she did not want to harm him if she could help it. “I was looking for Garik. I wished to speak with him.”
“If my father finds you he will be angry,” Sveinn said, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. “He will not like you being alone in my brother’s room.”
“I know, but I will not be long. Could you tell me which room is his?”
“It is across the hall.”
“Thank you, Sveinn. Go back to sleep.”
Giving the boy one last smile, she slipped back out the door, quickly entering Garik’s room. She did not bother with being quiet this time. She had to hurry before Sveinn decide to tell Imrich. Luckily, Garik was sleeping off the mead still, and it took only seconds to cross the room and cut the string of teeth from his neck, hiding them in the pouch with the rest.
As Karina shut the door behind her, she glanced up to see blue eyes watching her through the crack in the door across the hall.
“I told you I would be quick,” Karyna said with a smile. “Thank you, Sveinn. Goodnight.”
She started back down the hall quickly, hoping the boy would wait long enough before telling his father for her to get a head start. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.