Lies of Wolves

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In the previous episode, Karyna successfully reached the peak upon which she was told she’d find the truth. There, she encountered a Valkyrie named Hildr who offered to tell her the tale of deception and readers voted that Hildr tell Karyna how one hundred years ago, a witch cast a spell on one of Imrich’s ancestors and took control. Freydis is one in a long line of witches manipulating the leaders of Birkholm.

Episode 13

“You already know more than you think, Bloody Rose,” Hildr said abruptly, eyes closed as she stood still, only her chest moving as she breathed. “You know that the true villain in this story is Imrich’s daughter, Freydis.”

“I know she is a witch, but how is she the villain? I thought she was serving her father and brother.”

“Neither Imrich nor Garik are intelligent enough to have created the scheme at the heart of your dilemma. They are clever and violent, yes, but their arrogance blinds them to the truth. Every action made by either is part of the larger goal Freydis is after. Her manipulations have been carefully planned since before you set foot on this island, even before Eyulf ever threatened the village. Freydis is one of many, a long line of witches that have controlled this island in secret for nearly one hundred years. Her mother was one, and now she has followed that path. I was sent here many years ago to watch over this island, to ensure it did not gain too much power in the world, for the magic here is powerful and evil.

“But somehow Freydis learned of my existence here, and it was she that decided to use me to rid the village of the great wolf. For Eyulf was the servant of Loki, and even with her magic, Freydis could not kill the beast. Why Loki sent him, I do not know. Perhaps he was slighted by the people in some way, or the trickster may just have been bored. All I know is that I was tricked, charmed by an ancient magic that is even more powerful than the witch. That magic is what drove me to kill Loki’s pet. On an island to the north, there is a waterfall where an ancient power lives. Do you know of the Fossegrimen?”

“I have heard the legend,” Karyna said softly. “They are the spirits that play music to make the trees and waterfalls dance.”

“Garik was sent by Freydis to learn the songs of the Fossegrimen. There is magic in those songs, and Freydis knew that with the knowledge of the Fossegrimen, she could gain control of me when her own magic failed. When Garik returned, he came to me and played a fiddle with such beauty and skill I could deny him nothing he asked. With the music of the Fossegrimen is powerful enough to charm the trees, I could not stand against its power. But entwined in the music was also the magic of Freydis.   After I slew the wolf at the foot of this mountain, a ring of fire sprung from the earth, trapping me here on this peak. She could not risk the truth being discovered once Garik returned to the village with his ill-gotten gains. That is why she went through such trouble to keep you away from here. That is why none of the villagers are allowed near this mountain.”

“But what does Freydis gain from all this? Would not the death of the beast be enough?”

“You do not understand the world, do you, Bloody Rose?” Hildr asked with an ironic smile, dark eyes boring into Karyna’s. “The thirst for power can never be quenched. Freydis has control over her father and brother, but it is not enough. I cannot say what her ultimate goal is, but I suspect she seeks to rule herself. For too long the witches have ruled through manipulation and deception. Now she wants ultimate control. Whatever she intends to do, you are the heart of her plan. She needed you, and therefore she needed her brother to gain renown, to bring you here as his bride. If I could, I would stop her myself. But alas, I am confined to this mountain now, and cannot help you fight against this evil. I only know what news has been brought to me by Odin’s ravens. Though they are wise and see much, the witch’s plans are her own. I doubt anyone but she knows the extent of her ambitions and the costs they will incur.”

“Can I do nothing to help you? Is there anything else I can do?” Karyna asked desperately. She needed more. She needed to know why she was so important. Perhaps if she knew what Freydis intended, she could stop the witch’s ascent to power. For all she knew, she was playing into her plans already.

“I shall only be free once Freydis releases me, or if she dies. But I caution you against facing her directly. You stand no chance against her magic. But you must discover her plan before it is too late. Garik is the least of your worries if Freydis gets what she wants. You know the truth about Eyulf. Create dissent in the village, make the people themselves question their leaders. If Freydis is threatened, perhaps her plan will be revealed. Do whatever you can to disrupt the order so carefully cultivated by years of work by witchcraft.”

“I will do what I can. I am sorry I cannot do more for you.”

“Do not worry for me. What is important is that Freydis does not get what she seeks. Do not let her gain the power she is after. Your people will suffer, as will countless others, if she gets control beyond this island. But you must go now. Your pursuers are near.”

“Thank you for your wisdom and guidance, Lady Hildr.” Karyna stood to depart, but a raised hand from the Valkyrie stopped her.

“One more thing; tomorrow is your wedding day. Be sure to have a sword with you. It is vital that you be armed for the ceremony. Steal one, hide one under your dress, do whatever you must.”

Before Karyna could ask why, the mists surrounded Hildr, engulfing her in the thick fog. When the clouds shifted again, the Valkyrie was gone. Feeling more than a little overwhelmed, Karyna began her decent down the mountain. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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