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Ouroboros - A Dragon Eating it's Tail


BRAM

A sword.
Bram saw it was coming, and so he took a step away and raised his shield to turn the blow away. It would have hit him on the shoulder, but now Bram had a chance of taking the initiative from Ragnar the Red. Ragnar had been his opponent for most of the morning. The young warrior was eager and fast, but he wasn’t that fast. Ragnar was two or three years younger than Bram, but he was also bigger and a bit taller than Bram. He could put some weight behind the blade and hit you good into your head, but then again, he was too eager at times. He wasn’t patient enough to watch for the small things.
They were in Serpentstone, the very centre of Harkland. Trade and money of the region flowed through the city, and only Beornhall, the kingdom’s capital was richer or bigger of size. Inside the city, a might castle called the Jormundgard was located. Bram and Ragnar, along with many other warriors, both old and new, recruit and veteran, were changing blows and training on the courtyard. There were half a dozens practice circles erected on the courtyard, and those who weren’t fighting in the circles, were watching with keen eyes.
Bram had deflected the blow and now was at an arm’s length from Ragnar, and without much hesitation, Bram gave him a good smack with a longsword. The redheaded warrior gave out a grunt of pain, but continued with more wariness. He had been reminded of keeping a distance and watching for his opponent.
”Come on, you milk-drinker”, Bram taunted Ragnar. ”Such a big man, and cannot take a small hit.” Bram had been a thane for Earl Hjalmar for three years now, and he had the responsibility of training new recruits of his household. They would become thanes for the Earl of Harkland, if they had enough skills and potential, but the training weeded most of the bad or the ill-prepared. They were commonfolk; sons and daughters of carpenters, farmers, blacksmiths, tanners, weavers and other such folk, who hoped a taste of another life. Thanes would live, drink and fight together.
It was rumoured that Earl Hjalmar was preparing for a war with Earl Alarik, and thus needed as many capable warriors as he could. The King of Borrland was old and out of his mind, and would sooner depart this world than later. Alarik, the king’s grandson and Earl Hjalmar weren’t at the best of terms, Bram had heard in the many taverns of Serpentstone. When the king would die, a war for the crown would erupt with the two men, and Bram Halvorson, the firstborn son of a blacksmith didn’t know much more about it. He knew the way of the sword and spear, of bow and shield, and he liked the way it was.
The fight went on for a while. Ragnar had grown more cautious and wary of Bram… for a few moments. He took into himself again to attack more recklessly and with more frustration, as Bram blocked, parried and evaded his blows. After few minutes, both of them were breathing deeply and getting more and more tired. Time to end this play, thought Bram, and started his attack. He closed on Ragnar, exchanging a few fast blows and then grappled him. It was like a bear hug, but Bram had acquired momentum and speed, putting his weight on Ragnar, toppling him and forcing him to the ground. It wasn’t over, as an wrestling match started, and at that, speed and agility played a crucial role, or so Bram had been taught in the streets of Serpentstone. He took the initiative from the tired Ragnar, who had been surprised by the grapple by a couple seconds.
He resisted bravely a moment or two, but Bram countered his moves and flailing arms with quick movements. ”I yield”, the big man said to Bram. ”I yield”, he repeated, whimpering.
Good, Bram thought. He rose to stand, and said to the small crowd of few recruits watching their fight. ”Never overlook an opponent. He might be smaller or slower than you, so surprise your opponents and enemies. Be realistic, and keep your wits with you and eyes open, and you all might become thanes sooner or later for Earl Hjalmar.”
Bram took a look at them. All of them were younger than him, looked a bit malnourished or as green as grass. He had eight recruits under him, and Ragnar the Red had the most potential of them. A son of a tanner, he wanted to become a thane so he could bring honour and fame to his parents. Like all of them want to do, Bram thought.
”Next pair. Riordan and Halvdar, you’re next. Ragnar, take a small break and then go to practice javelin throwing. I need to take a piss.”

---

Later that day, Bram found him himself in the tavern of the Howling Wolf near the Weavers’ Gate. It was a nice little tavern for fifty or so people. There was a smell of fire and smoke in the air, and the tavernkeep was cooking a meaty soup on the fire of the common hall. Bram was sitting the evening with Aubry the Hammer, Gorlund the Unicorn and Harlan the Younger, some other thanes of Earl Hjalmar. The tavern was their other home besides Jormundgard, and they had spent many an evening there playing cards, dice and board games. Today’s business, however, was politics.
”The whole thing stinks, boys”, Harlan the Younger talked. He was called the Younger, but was clearly the eldest of the four. He was pushing forty, but was still board shouldered and thick haired and bearded. He took a sip of his beer and continued. ”We have rarely taken in so many recruits and green boys to be trained as thanes, and now we’ve gotten nearly fifty people in the past two months. Something is up, let it be known.”
”Well, reports have said that goblin raids have increased in the fringe villages. Some villages have been burned, and some other have been ravaged by pissed-off giants. You shouldn’t interrupt them for their mammoths, I’ve heard” Gorlund answered. He was often the realist of the group, often saying what he thought in his mind.
”Goblins have never been hard to kill, and some villages have become quite proficient on that regard. Even our dear Bram has killed a few”, Aubry pointed out.
“I don’t know about that”, Bram said. The other thanes were older than him, and he wasn’t as keen on politics as them. “Perhaps a civil war is coming, but we’ll see it when it happens. Until then, we’ll train the recruits and prepare them the best we can. But now, let’s order more beer and enjoy the peace we have.”
“I’ll drink to that, Bram. Toast today, and suffer tomorrow”, Harlan said. “Enjoy the moment, as we don’t know we will see the end of the week.”
Drinking continued, until the late of night. They laughed and played dice and cards and joked. As the night went, only Odin knew what would come of tomorrow. It was late summer season, and the nights grew darker and longer. Day by day, the winter was approaching.
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Bóthilda

Dawn was breaking over the camp. Bóthilda turned in her sleeping skin as the first light of dawn broke through the trees only to get a sharp kick in the side from her uncle Tørmun.

"Time to get up niece. We have a long days travel if we are to reach Serpentstone before night fall." He walks over to the remains of the fire to warm his hands real quick before grabbing some hard sausage for them to eat for breakfast.

Bóthilda grumbles and climbs out of her sleeping skin and rolls it up before securing it to her pack.

"You know uncle you didn't have to kick me." She says as she joins him beside the nearly burned out fire

"Aye, though if you are to be trained as a thane you will be kicked awake almost every day and much harder than what I did." He hands her a sausage and takes a bite from his own. "Come now the others will be moving out soon." He grabs his pack and goes to the ox drawn cart full of goods her father, his brother, had sent to have sold at the markets of Serpentstone.

Bóthilda grabs her pack and slings her shield over her right arm and slides her axe into it's place on her left hip. She climbs onto the cart sitting next to her uncle taking a bite of the hard sausage.

"So uncle you say we will be there by dark?" He nods. "Good I've been ready toy see Serpentstone since we left near a fortnite ago."

Tørmun laughs shaking his head. "You will see it soon enough. You are as restless as your grandfather was before you father and I were born. Some say it came from his grandfather's grandfather's grandfather's father, whom I am named after, Tørmun Trolls bane."

Bóthilda laughs. "Trolls bane was a myth. A hero's legend of our village."

Tørmun shakes his head. "He is not that axe you have was his once. He gave it to his oldest son than he to his and so on till it ended with your father. Now you carry it as you are his only child. By the gods why do you think we are even related to the Earl of our village?"

Bóthilda laughs again. "Right uncle, it is because of Trolls bane not because our family is wealthy from trade. Wealthy for our village anyway."

"It isn't proper to mock your elders." He states sharply knocking her in the back of the head. "Doubt if you will but it is true."

Bóthilda rubs the back of her head for a second before staring off into the woods dreaming of the glory she might win for her family and herself. Not to mention the wealth.

As the hours pass she takes to sharpening her axe to a fine edge and oiling it to keep it from rusting. When the caravan stops for midday meal she practices with a few of the guards with blunted axes and old shields. She practices till her whole body it sore and aches from the exertion. She also earned new bruises from a reckless charges. If they had been real axes she would be missing a leg, and her shield arm as well. However four of the six guards would have been wounded or dead as well. When the caraven set off again she lays in the back of the cart on her sleeping skin resting till they arrive in Serpentstone.

The sun was starting to wane as the caravan reached the Weavers' Gate and Tørmun speaks with the gate guards explaining that he had wares to sell. Once they pass he takes the cart to the market place and ties the ox to a post.

"Come niece, there is a tavern near by with good food for a fair price. The Howling Wolf is it's name." He waves for his niece to follow him and head to the tavern. It was getting crowded but the managed to get two seats at one of the benches, though they were closer to the door rather than the hearth. Tørmun grabs a passing serving boy by the arm and orders a cup of beer for himself, a cup of mead for his niece, and two bowels of the stew that was sitting over the fire. Bóthilda quietly sips at her mead listen to the conversations around her while Tørmun talks with others exchanging news from their village for local news as well.
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Hrolfr Bergfalk



The rattle of leaves filled the huntsman's ears as he gritted his teeth to prepare for the gust of wind to come. The fox fur cloak his sister had made for him years ago helped, but not by much, as he held his bow drawn to his cheek. Eying his prey, the hunter held his breath as he waited for his moment.

The light from the rising sun just now began to wash over the horizon, forcing the stars to flee from their heavenly beds as Odin's gift to man took hold above. Time was running out, for Ull - the god of the hunt, gave his favor in the moonlight. Just as he was about to mouth a prayer, his moment came. The winds stopped, and instinctively the hunter loosed his arrow. Hrolfr heard a soft thud as the arrow hit meat. Unstringing his bow, he placed the bow in a soft leather case which he kept strapped to his back, and coiled the string in a case filled with beeswax before placing that too in the same case. Picking up the cloth sack that lay at his feet, he walked over to the fresh kill, removing and cleaning the arrow and placing the hare in the sack.

I bet she let the fire go out, he thought to himself as he made his way back to the camp his sister and he had made the previous night. He couldn't be mad at her; she was never the outdoor type. Father kept her home to do the woman's work, since mother had died years ago.

"Well, the gods take me." The fire was still going strong, whilst his sister Kelda lay close to the warmth wrapped in her bedroll. Hrolfr stepped closer to the fire to warm his hands and rid himself of the morning chill. It would be winter soon, which meant for harder hunting and colder nights to come.

After a few moments the feeling started to come back in his fingers, and he took the sack with him to the edge of the camp. Digging in the ground, he had made a shallow hole, as he proceeded to skin and clean his bounty. Three hares, and plump ones too. Hrolfr took this as a sign that he was on the right path. Which was a comforting thought considering what Kelda and he had decided to do.

They had been on the road for a few nights now, traveling to Sparrowton. It was a small settlement where a man could live in peace. Unlike Beornhall, where there were ten other people in your trade making it hard to earn a living. But that wasn't why they had decided to leave. They had enough with their father, who had become the city drunkard some years ago. He and his sister could never make a life for themselves with having to look after a father like that, and it was all they could take to walk in the streets seeing how folks looked at them with pity. It was time to start over.

Keeping the meat of the hares, he placed all the trimmings and innards in the hole, covering it with the loose dirt to prevent the wolves from coming in until well after they leave, he stood and made his way back to the camp. He had a few hours to start on the stew before they had to pack up and start traveling again, which was plenty of time to have a nice thick rabbit-stew ready.

His mouth started to water at the thought.
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It was well past midnight, when the four thanes left the Howling Wolf. Bram, Gorlund, Harlan and Aubry had played a dozen or so round of cards, and emptied more than just a couple pints of beer. The sky was well lit with stars, and the moon was full, so it wasn't a trick to see in the streets.
Most buildings in Serpentstone were built of wood. They were low and small, built to conserve warmth during the cold wintewr months. The street starting from the Weavers' Gate housed many weavers and other artisans, as one might guess, and it ran quite straight to the castle in the centre of the town. But the four thanes walked in no straight line, to be honest. Gorlund and Harlan had to lean each other to stay upright, while Bram had borrowed a walking stick from the tavern. Only Aubry tried to walk without a support, and it didn't go as well as he thought.
This would be easier if the street kept still, Bram thought in his mind. Thank the gods the earl isn't here to see me.
They passed many alleys. Most of them were dark, and that made them good places for cutthroats to ambush them. Never Bram had been robbed or attacked by a thief or a rogue in the dead of night, and he prayed that their streak of good luck would continue.
But the gods must have slept at the moment. Three figures erupted from an alley, moving lightly and hitting fast with sticks and wooden maces. Bram couldn't react to the attack, as one figure hit him hard to his stomach with a mailed fist. Bram, and his comrades, had been ambushed and struck like green recruits. Bram fell down to the ground, and he could see that Gorlund was been held by one of the attackers. Aubry and Harlan were both on the ground.
Damn it, ran in Bram's head, as he comtemplated on the situation, feeling the pain and trying to get up. Three had attacked them, but a fourth figure emerged from the alley.
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Bóthilda had fallen asleep at the table while he uncle talked and drank. He shook her roughly to wake her up.

"Time for us to go niece. A bed would serve better than a table to sleep at." He says with a laugh. She looked around quickly and saw many of the patrons had left including the Thanes she was watching earlier. Wearily she nodded and got up to walk out with her uncle to return to the carts. When the stepped out side she heard the four men stumbling up the street to the castle and looked up their way before turning to follow her uncle the other way to where they had left the cart.

They had only walked a few pages before hearing the sounds of fighting coming from up the street. Bóthilda half turned and looked back up the street to see the figures standing over the four thanes. She turned the rest of the way and started back up the street only to be stopped by a hand on her shoulder. Her uncle had grabbed her and pulled her back a bit.

"I'll get help, don't do anything foolish or get yourself killed. Your young and a good fighter but you are not invincible." With that he hurried towards the gates where the city guard were.

Bóthilda pulled her axe from the loop it was kept in and started back up the street in a light jog. When she got only ten feet away she broke into a full run ramming her left shoulder into the nearest figure, who was holding a man (Gorlund) down knocking the attacker down. That drew the attention of the other two and they move to strike at her with their sticks and wooden maces. Instinctively she raised her right arm, which would have normally had a shield, to block the blow from the man in front of her as she shifted out from the other man's attack. Her shield however was still at the cart so the stick hit hard causing her to pull her arm back quickly in pain grunting some as well. She lashed out with her axe in return splitting the stick and drove the axe head into the person's chest when they tried to block. The person dropped bodily to the ground not moving and Bóthilda readied herself as the person she had knocked over got up and the other was moving farther to her left to flank her. On top of that Bóthilda hadn't noticed the fourth figure detaching itself from the shadows of the ally.
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Hrolfr Bergfalk




"Wake up!" Hrolfr barely had time to react, as he felt small hands on his back pushing him forward. Stumbling, he had to put his hand out to catch himself from falling flat on his face, almost losing the pack of supplies on his back and watching as all twenty arrows fell out of his quiver and onto the ground in front of him. Playful laughter echoed behind him as he rose, turning to the culprit. Smiling, his sister kept walking on the road, going around and ahead of him. "Best hurry up, I don't want to leave ye behind." Sighing, he hurriedly picked up his arrows.

"Ye know. . ." He started, as he had just caught up with Kelda. He heard a horse up ahead, and by the sound it was in a dead-run. The rider came barreling around the curve, the trees hiding how close he was, and just like that he was almost on top of them. He grabbed his sister's forearm and pulled her to the side of the road just in time to save them both from being trampled. Hrolfr turned, watching as the rider bolted down the trail at full speed, not even glancing over to acknowledge them. "To the ravens with that son of a whore," Hrolfr spat.

"He was a courier," Kelda chimed in, brushing the dirt off of her fur skirts. "Did ye see the case on his side?" He didn't, but he did see the mans cloak. It bore the sigil of Sparrowton.

"Aye well, whatever he was the next time I see him I'll knock him off that horse of his." They continued walking. "Right on his arse!" Fucker almost killed us, he brooded to himself.

As they rounded the curve, he could see the small village in the distance. It was down in the valley, so he could see it in it's entirety. The road sloped down in almost a straight path to the front entrance. It was too small a town to have a proper stone wall, but it did have a wall made of thick wooden poles that were sharpened into points at the top, all aligned parallel side-by-side. There was a small narrow walkway along the top of the barrier where he could see about three men looking out. And then he noticed the smoke.

Thick black smoke was rolling out from about six different buildings, all connecting into one pillar above the town. It reached up into the sky high before leaning to the south. He could also see men dragging the dead into a pile into the center of town. Hrolfr glanced over to his sister, partly to see if she was seeing the same thing he was. His fear was confirmed when he was looking at the worried faced staring back at him. After a moment of pause to take in what they saw, they continued on to the main "gate", which wasn't a gate at all but an opening where the barrier stopped. Seeing the ground he could tell that this is where the main battle happened, before whoever broke through to set fire to the village. Who was stupid enough to attack head-on like this? Last he heard everyone was allies, but he was never much on the happenings of the realm.

Just as they had stepped through the opening passed the wall, they heard a man to the left yell "Halt!", as three other guards walked up to them with hands on weapons. "Who are ye and what the fuck ye want here?" Hrolfr could tell by their expressions they weren't about to take any more chances with strangers. Don't blame 'em, he thought.

"I'm Hrolfr, and this is my sister Kelda. We come from Beornhall, planin' to stay here a few nights before passin' through." He decided that he wouldn't tell them that they had planned to move here. Whatever this place was, it was clear a man would not find a peaceful life here. "What in Thor's name happened here?" he asked.

"What's it look like? We were raided." No kidding, he thought instantly after the guard's reply.

"Aye, I can see that. But by who?" The guards exchanged glances, as if they didn't know whether they should tell them what happened or not. It was very strange, as if they were protecting their enemies. Maybe they were threatened to not warn others? He didn't know. "Well?" Hrolfr pressed.

"Come with me." The first guard looked at him, before turning and walking through the center of town, waving away the other three guards at the same time. They had released their weapons and went back to helping the villagers to rebuild and clear away the damage. They were being lead to the main hall, where the main authority of a town would live. The guard lead them through the thick oak doors into the warmth. The torches were lit, and the big fire was burning in the center of the circular room, but the hall wasn't lit by fire. There was a large circular opening straight above the fire pit, which let the light of the day in and the smoke from the fire out. The hall was completely empty.

The guard lead them passed the empty chair that was on a raised platform in the back of the hall, into a side room behind the wall, where there were three men around a table. Two middle aged and one older man with long white hair and beard. The older man was staring at the table listening to the other two argue, when he looked up at the three of them enter the room. The talking stopped as all eyes were on him and his sister. The guard moved over to the side

"This is Hrolfr and Kelda, travelers from Beornhall. They want to know who attacked us, my Thane." The room was as silent as the grave.
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Thanks for the late miracle, Bram composed in his head. He felt pain in many parts of his body, but it wasn't anything new. He forced himself up, as the thugs were occupied with the young woman. She had approached them quite handily with the axe, but it was time to even the odds. Bram still had the walking stick with him. It was made of thick pine, and while it wouldn't crack any skulls, goblin or human, it would make nice bruises.
Bram was standing, and took a swing with the stick at the fourth man, who had emerged from the alley. He had a woolen tunic, though it was hard to see his face in the darkness. Bram aimed at his head, and the stick struck true to the side of the head. The man fell, not knowing what had hit him. "Bastard!", the man grunted grunted, spitting.
Bram struck him again to his head, this time knocking the man out of the fight. The last attackers, though still in the fight and circling the young woman, they seemed to be getting nervous and insecure. They were holding their distance from the woman, weighing their options. To fight or to fight, that was the question.
And the answer came quickly. After a couple tense seconds, a shout came down the street. Bram didn't turn at the shouter. "Halt, in the name of the Earl. You're under arrest." Bram recognized the voice, and it belonged to one of the guardsmen of the town. He had fought with him on couple occasions, although Bram didn't remember his name at the moment.
The attackers didn't halt, but turned their tails and ran away, both sprinting into different alleys. Bram didn't want to go and chase them, as his head was still ringing. It would turn into a headache by the morning, but he'd survive.
"Nicely struck", Bram said to the woman He checked on his friends, although they were bruised, they'd be all right in the end. "I didn't catch your name, by any chance. Mine's Bram."
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"Thank you. My name is Bóthilda Sørensdotter. How are your friends?" She asks a she walks over to the man she struck with the axe. A small pool of blood was forming under him and was shining darkly in the moon light. She uses part of his tunic to wipe the blood off her axe and returned it to it's place on her left hip. With the guardsmen came her uncle with an axe in one hand and a dagger in the other.

"Are you hurt Bóthilda?." He ask after he gets up to her.

"No uncle. Just got hit with a stick a few times."

Tørmun shakes his head and puts his weapons away. "Well we probably best get back to the others." He turns to Bram. "Ah Thane Bram, I am glad to see you and your friends mostly unharmed. If you need anything I will be glad to provide any assistance I can." Tørmun adds a half bow with his right fist over his chest.
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"They're a bit bruised and battered, but they'll walk it off, I believe", Bram said to Bóthilda. "And Tørmun, wasn't it? It's been a while since you've visited Serpentstone."

Bram helped his friends get up. Gorlund groaned as he rose up. but stayed otherwise silent. "I am too old for this shit", complained Harlan the Younger. Aubry rose up and facing Bóthilda, said to her "Thank you again, young lady, for your assistance. Your axe strikes true."

"She can handle an axe, it seems. How about giving a chance at Jormundgard?", Gorlund asked. "The Earl still needs a few recruits, and she's good as any."

"Works for me", Harlan said. "After all, she wouldn't be the first."

Bram thought about, and found himself agreeing with his friends. "It seems you're a wanted woman, Bóthilda. Would you like to come to the castle in the morrow, to serve in the earl's guard?"
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"Aye, it's been nearly two year's since I have passed through. Now that my youngest son is now strong enough, I have returned to leading our village's trade caravan. He was born nearly a moon's turn early and seemed that he may have perished shortly after but the gods are good and he grew stronger every day." Tørmun replied. He half turned to his niece, while he listened to the comments said about her. He gave her a half nod to let her know she had done well.

"I had planned to go to the castle in the morning to offer my services to the Earl to begin with. I thank you all for your praise and will be at the castle on the morrow to pledge my axe to the Earl should he want it." She looked to her uncle when he clasped her shoulder. He gestured that it was time to head back to get what sleep they may. "I bid you farewell thanes, may you find your way home unmolested any more this evening." She said to the thanes before she turned to follow her uncle back to their lodgings. The trip was made in silence as both persons were tired. When they arrived she removed her brigandine, her boots, and gloves before she collapsed into her bed and going strait to sleep.
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"Should we have told her that the Earl isn't home?", Aubry pointed out as the four thanes neared the castle. The young woman and her uncle were out of earshot. "She's capable, I'll give her that."

"Well, there's still a few beds in the barracks to fill, so fitting her in shouldn't be a problem", Bram said. The four thanes walked to the barracks, and Bram, for one, collapsed to his bed.

-----

Earl Hjalmar was standing on the wall of Beornhall. He had arrived to the capital a few days ago, as his brother, King Jorvi of house Weyland, wanted to have a family feast and meet his quarreling relatives. Like I would let Alarik inherit the throne, Hjalmar thought. Only over my dead bones I would let him be king.

It was late night, and a chilly breeze blew. Hjalmar liked the feel of the wind on his face. It had a salty and fresh quality. The wind is coming from the sea.

Hjalmar walked back to his quarters, and started to sleep. It was going to be a busy and long day tomorrow.
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Bóthilda woke in the morning feeling a little sore from the night before. As she dressed she noticed a large bruise formed on her shield arm where she had been struck by one of the sticks. She muttered to herself to remember her shield next time as she finished getting her brigandine on. With her axe in it's place on her left hip and her shield on her back, she left her room to go to the common hall to meet with her uncle and other companions.

"Good morrow niece." He gestured to an open seat across from him for her to sit at. "I pray you rested well."

Bóthilda sat down and quickly started to eat the food that was set on the table. "Just a bit sore from last night's ordeal." She said in between bites.

"Slow down or you will choke." Tørmun chided. "The court won't open for at least another hour." He tore a chuck of bread off and used it to soak up the fat from the sausage.

"Yes uncle. When do you plan to leave?"

"In a few more days. There are several places still to stop on our route. Mostly small villages though there are some larger ones to stop through."

There was a silence following for a few minutes before Bóthilda spoke up. "Could you let father and mother know I will come home again? I know father won't worry as much but you know how my mother is. She doesn't think women should fight and that I am more likely to come to harm."

"She is not fully wrong Bóthilda. Though in your case you will probably leave them regretting underestimating you. Here take this." He reaches down to his boot to retrieve a dagger with a slightly longer blade and a wickedly sharp edge. He offers it to her hilt first. "Consider it a parting gift from me. And be carful it is as sharp as it looks. You aunt gave me that just before you youngest cousin was born. Anyway I'm sure she wouldn't mind you having it and don't go losing it either. I expect to see it next season when I come back through here."

Bóthilda nodded. "I'll keep it on my person at all times and sharp as well."

"Good. Now let's finish eating so I can get to work sell these goods, maybe buy some, and you get to the castle. I will try to be up there at noon to see you and pay my respects to the Earl or his steward."

The pair ate in silence for the remainder of the meal and went their separate ways afterwards. Tørmun watched his niece go up the street through the crowd to the castle for a few moments before turning to sell his wares. Bóthilda went up the streets to the castle taking her time and arrived just as people were being admitted to the hall. She stood third in line behind a two merchants who had complaints about some of the caravan merchants under selling goods similar to theirs. She listened to them as they complained to each other and to anyone who would listen.

"Can you believe the nerve of these peasants! They are under selling our goods. I've seen their wares and there is no way they acquired any of that for so little a price." The first man said.

"I know. Those Wood Hollow traders can be the worst. They sit right on the border so whose to say they haven't been trading outside the kingdom. I've heard the Earl of the village made a pact with the trickster God with the lead trader, the Smith, and the captain of their milita." The second man said without trying to be discreet.

Bóthilda tried to keep calm as they spoke. Fortunately for her the steward began listening to and giving solutions to the merchants. Neither were fully satisfied but still a bit more content than before.

Bóthilda stepped forward and spoke. "Thank you for your time. I came here today to enter the service of the Earl in the Jormundgard if he would have me."
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Oak7ree
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Oak7ree Not the Tenth Divine.

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Eirik the steward looked down at Bóthilda. He had admitted many men and women to the castle, and at least half of them had left before the end of the day. He didn't like it, and the newcomers put a strain on the castle's own folk. In the end, though, it was his job. "Like everyone else these days, young lady. But as per the Earl's orders, I am to direct you to the castle yard. The thanes and the newcomers are already there. Find the thane named Hadvar Arnsgeirsson and introduce yourself, he welcomes the newcomers to the retinue and will show you around. He has one good eye and at least six feet five tall, you'll probably won't miss him. But I bet you won't make it past noon." Eirik shifted his attention to the next waiters. "Now, what do we have here?"
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Bóthilda frowned at the steward's comment about her not making it past noon. It reminded her of when she first told her mother she was going to be a warrior and the scoff her mother made.

"You are a girl Bóthilda, girls and women don't fight the battles men do." Her mother had told her with scorn. When she had started to argue against her mother's statement she got a smack with the spoon and told not to argue.

Bóthilda had fled from her mother in tears and defiant fury. She had started to gather her things in her attempt to run away and prove her mother wrong. She left shortly after determined to prove her mother wrong. Not long after she left her father walked up beside her. "So you are leaving us now? Where are you planning on going hmm?"

"Yes. I am going to Serpentstone to learn to be a warrior. Mother won't let me do it here so I will go else where."

Søren nodded. "Aye cause the Earl will take a young girl who has run away from home into his garrison to train." He placed a gentle hand on his only child's shoulder. "You know he will send you back right?"

"Then I will go somewhere else." Bóthilda replied stubbornly.

Søren sighed heavily. "Well you seem to have it all planned out." He stopped and watched her slowly come to a stop on her own. "You know your mother only worries for your safety yes? Where she grew up women were not warriors. They kept the home and raised the children. I know you habe a warrior's spirit as it runs in our family. If you come home with me now I will speak with your mother about you beginning training."

The memory ended with her waking the next morning and being ushered off to the small training ground in the village by her father. Her mother watched on with saying a word.

Bóthilda left the hall now set to prove the steward wrong. Once in the yard she went strait to the one eyed thane Hadvar Arnsgeirsson. "I was told to come to you about joining the Jormundgard. My name is Bóthilda Sørensdotter."
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