Lies of Wolves

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In the previous episode, Karyna is trying to steal the wolf’s teeth worn around Garik’s neck. She enters the room of Garik’s son by mistake and is seen by Sveinn, Garik’s younger son. Readers voted that Sveinn tells no one. He goes to check on Garik and sees he is unharmed so he goes back to sleep. 

Episode 12

Karyna shielded her eyes as she looked out over the island towards the village. The sun was rising to her right, and she half expected to see a wave of men cresting one of the hills in the distance. Sveinn had apparently remained silent throughout the night, much to her relief. But her absence would have been noted by now, and soon she would have Imrich, Garik, and Freydis on her tail. Frankly, she was surprised Freydis had not already used her magic to appear beside her. But her pursuers would be too late. Turning back towards the mountainside, Karyna continued her ascent, quickly disappearing amongst the thick clouds hiding the peak from view.

It took much longer than she expected to reach the summit. With limited visibility, she frequently had to backtrack to find a more accessible route up the mountainside when she ran into sheer cliffs or wide impassable rock formations. More than once she lost her footing on the uneven surface, her hands getting cut up as she instinctively reached out to steady herself on the sharp rocks below her. But she had come too far and risked too much to give up before finding her answers. The wolf teeth rattled in the bag at her hip as she moved, encouraging her on every time she faltered.

Breathing heavily, Karyna stood triumphantly at the summit, squinting into the fog for something—anything—to make her journey worthwhile. However, as she looked around, circling the peak slowly, she found nothing but bare rock covered in hearty shrubs and moss. She examined every inch multiple times, but still no answers revealed themselves. Frustrated, Karyna kicked a large rock, managing to move it several inches forward but also gaining a sore toe in the process. Cursing angrily, she sat on a flat boulder, massaging her injured toe and glaring up into the eerie mists.

“What now, Odin? I am here, where Einar told me to be, with Eyulf’s teeth. Look,” she said, opening the bag and pulling out a handful of teeth, holding them to the sky. “I have them all. Please, tell me why I am here! Tell me the truth about Garik the Wolf Slayer!”

But there was no response. Only silence answered her demands. She stared at the teeth for a long while, trying to think of other ways to get Odin, or even Einar, to respond. But no ritual or sacrifice seemed appropriate. Knowing her time was running short before she was found, she felt a burning rage build in her chest. It had all been a lie. Odin was just playing with her, amusing himself by taunting her and giving her false hope, all while watching her life unravel with no real hope of escaping her marriage to Garik. With a scream of fury, she stood and threw the teeth in her hand as far as she could, watching them disappear into the clouds with stubborn satisfaction. If Odin wanted the teeth, he would have to go find them himself.

She was about to reach into her bag and pull out another handful of teeth when a shiver ran up her spine unexpectedly. Pausing, Karyna looked around quickly, muscles tensed in anticipation. Something was out there, triggering her defensive instincts. She still only had the small knife she had stolen from the unconscious drunkard, but she pulled it out anyway, glaring into the fog.

“I know you are there,” she called, her voice getting lost in the thick clouds. “I am not afraid of you. Show yourself, coward!”

“You dare to call me a coward?”

Karyna was shocked to hear a feminine voice reply through the fog. She waited for almost a minute, only her eyes moving as they continued scanning the clouds in front of her. There was no further sound from the mists, no movement from the gray haze.

“Only a coward hides in the shadows instead of facing the enemy with honor!” Karyna said finally, annoyed. “Face me!”

“You are brave, Karyna Blood Rose, but foolish.” A shadow appeared to her left, a beautiful blonde woman appearing suddenly through the fog. “You think you are a strong warrior, but you are still young and inexperienced. You could not defeat me.”

“Did Odin send you?” Karyna asked, ignoring the attack on her skills. Seeing this woman made it very clear that she did not have a chance if it came to blows. For only the strongest of female warriors were made Valkyries.

“Odin told me you would be coming, but I have been here since long before Odin set his sights on you, Blood Rose. But that is another tale for another time. I do believe you have brought me a gift.” The Valkyrie held out her hand, the teeth Karyna had just thrown down the mountain resting in her palm. Karyna untied the pouch at her waist and handed the teeth over to her companion without complaint.

“So you are the true slayer of Eyulf? It was your sword that severed the great beast’s head from his shoulders.”

“Yes, I did slay the creature. I am Hildr, daughter of Högni. And you are here for proof, for the truth behind the Wolf Slayer’s tales. Do you wish to hear my story, to learn of the treachery of this island and its inhabitants? The lies of Imrich’s people are not just those of Garik, but of a far deeper deception that goes back many generations. I am here, trapped on this mountain, because of the manipulations of Imrich’s ancestors. Garik is but one in a line of treacherous men that have plagued this part of the world. I know but a small part of their history. But I will tell it to you, if you so wish.”

“Yes,” Karyna said breathlessly. “Please, tell me everything you know. If I am to marry the Wolf Slayer tomorrow, I must know the depths of the evil that I am up against.”

“Very well,” Hildr replied softly. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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