Lies of Wolves by Rachael Ashdown

wolves75x99Vote at the end of this episode!

In the previous episode, Loki released the monster Hallvardr the Ravager from his prison in exchange for the destruction of Birkholm. As suggested by the readers, Hallvardr will be a fire drake, bent on destroying Birkholm with fire.

Episode 17

The rain had not let up during the night, and still it poured down up on the village of Birkholm. Karyna glanced out of the window into the gray, misty morning, the cold haze doing little to improve her mood. She was barely conscious of the women attending her, stripping her of her heavy leather and wool garments and replacing them with a thin dress of dark red trimmed in rabbit fur and gold buttons. The collar was high, and hid the purplish-green bruises that stood out angrily against Karyna’s pale skin.

“There, you look beautiful,” said one elderly woman with a smile. Karyna knew she was lying. The woman’s face faltered ever so slightly as her eyes fixated on the milky white of Karyna’s own dead eye, the angry scar still prominent across her face. No amount of fine fabrics or intricate braids in her hair could make her beautiful anymore.

“Come, it is time to get you to the Hall,” another of her attendants said, wrapping a cloak around her shoulders as two men entered the room, grim looks on their faces as they waited for the Wolf Slayer’s bride. Obediently, Karyna strode towards them, throwing her hood up before stepping out into the bleak weather. But before passing her guards, she glanced at their waists, where each wore a long sword. This was her chance. Though she still did not know why, she needed a weapon.

“I am glad to see you are behaving yourself.” Karyna paused as Freydis appeared directly in her path, her own dark cloak billowing out behind her menacingly. “Do you see how much simpler this is when you cooperate?”

“Would it not be even simpler for you to just use your magic on me?” Karyna said flatly, aware that her guards were behind her, listening to every word. Freydis narrowed her eyes and sneered.

“You think yourself clever, Bloody Rose. Yet for all your meddling, you still do not know the truth.”

“You want a child for your heir. So after I bear your brother a son, you will kill Garik and me so you can rule yourself.”

“Is that what you think?” Freydis replied with a laugh, closing the gap between them, leaning towards Karyna so only she could hear. “Yes, I need your child. But why would I need an heir when I could rule instead? Your child, the strength of my own blood and yours, is the key to my immortality. I will kill you and your child, the blood of a killer and that of an innocent. Your deaths will give me the power to rule all the islands. Forever.”

The threat was real, confirmed by Freydis herself. Instinct overtook Karyna at that moment, her rationality gone in favor of self-preservation. Her fist connected with her tormentor’s jaw, knocking the stunned woman backwards. The two guards were too slow to react, and Karyna quickly disarmed them both, wielding both their blades as she backed herself against the wall of the nearest building to protect herself from attacks from behind.

“You will have to use magic now, Freydis,” Karyna hissed, her blood boiling with rage as she growled at the other woman, whose hand still clutched her throbbing jaw. “No other power will get me to wed your lying, abusive brother.” Though few villagers were willing to stand in the drizzling cold and rain, she could see curious faces in the doors and windows around her. This was her last chance.

“You have been lied to,” she called out loudly, still fending off any men that dared to get too close. “It was the Valkyrie Hildr that killed Eyulf. It was all because of Freydis. She is a witch and intends to subjugate you and every island in the north. She will-“

Karyna’s speech was cut short by a thunder-clap that echoed through the village and shook the earth beneath them. All looked on in horror as a fireball rose through the mists, igniting the buildings closest to the shore. Hallvardr had come. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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