Stigander went so far as to provide the karve for their search – one of the benefits, he said, of being back where they belonged – while Einarr and Kaldr assembled their team. Thjofgrir’s presence was as critical for Kaldr as Naudrek’s was for Einarr. After much deliberation, they agreed that Vali was their best choice for a scout, especially in the sorts of places they expected their search to take them.
The trouble came when Runa overheard Einarr speaking to Eydri about going.
“You’re not seriously thinking of leaving me behind?”
Uh-oh. Einarr steeled himself and turned to face his new wife. “I was, actually. We can’t know what sort of circumstances we’ll find ourselves in. It’s sure to be dangerous, and –”
“No ‘ands,’ Einarr. I don’t mind if you also bring along Eydri, but I’m not going to let you leave me behind.”
“No buts. Jorir’s gotten me out of a tough scrape or two already: I intend to return the favor.”
Somehow, Einarr wasn’t certain that would be a good thing for Jorir, but he knew very well when Runa wasn’t going to budge on an issue. With a sigh, he turned to Eydri.
“It’s fine,” she said, but she wouldn’t look him in the eye.
“Are you sure? If you still want to go, I can check supplies with Kaldr. Vali doesn’t exactly eat much.”
“No, it’s fine. I haven’t sailed with Jorir all that much, and Kaldr is… Kaldr. Lady Runa has the right of it …If you’ll excuse me.”
Eydri left the room with some haste. Einarr looked after her as she entered the hall, puzzled. “Whatever can have gotten into her?”
Runa smiled, looking for all the world like a cat with cream. “Nothing you need concern yourself over. Just give her a little time and all will be well again.”
“…If you say so. Well, you’ve made it plain I can’t stop you, so you’d best make sure you’re packed.”
“Our things have already been seen to.”
“…I see.” Gods preserve me from willful women… The thought was as fond as his smile, though, as he wrapped an arm around his wife. “In that case, we should check in with Kaldr and Thjofgrir down at the pier.”
Kaldr, as expected, had complained – perhaps more loudly than he would have for Eydri, but his complaints were expected. Even he, however, could not deny the usefulness of someone well-versed in lore for their journey.
That it was Runa, however. That was a bone of contention. He argued long and strongly against her inclusion, and each and every argument against was one which Einarr had expected. Even agreed with, on some level. Finally, however, when Runa’s voice grew haughty and every fiber of her being began to quiver with anger, Einarr stepped in. There was simply nothing to be done, after all – she had as much right to search for Jorir as the two of them, and politics be damned.
Kaldr let loose a heavy sigh. “As my lord wills it, then,” he said with a bow, and left to see to some other matter aboard their karve.
They sailed the next day aboard the boat they had dubbed the Villgås, and after two and a half uneventful weeks on the open water they saw the shores of Mýrarhöfn rise over the horizon. Save for being the only land they’d seen in more than a week, there was not much remarkable about the terrain. The largest portion of what they could see was taken up by the port.
Even from the water Einarr could see that the port city looked run-down. With its reputation for attracting freeboaters of the roughest sort, it was unfortunately what he’d expected. He frowned: here was where he wished Eydri hadn’t bowed out so quickly. He could have used her on the ground in a place like this. Runa, though… well, she was tougher than one would expect, but he still couldn’t bring her ashore, not without a very good reason. She would be eaten alive in a place like this. He turned his gaze away from the approaching harbor and back over the deck to survey his crew and snorted, his decision made.
“All right, everyone. Once we make land, here’s how this will work. Thjofgrir, Naudrek, and Runa will stay aboard to guard the ship. No, Runa, that’s not optional. There’s very few Singers I’ve met I wouldn’t order to stay aboard in a place like this.” Runa huffed. Einarr found, for once, he didn’t care. “Vali, you can get into places the rest of us simply can’t. I expect you to be doing the heavy lifting on this search. Trust your instincts… and try not to scare anyone to death.”
As expected, Runa glared daggers at Einarr, but kept her mouth shut. At least for now. Vali smirked. “Aye, sir,” was all he said.
“Kaldr, you and I are going to go asking questions in all the wrong sorts of places.”
“Of course, my lord.”
He paused. He had half-expected Kaldr to suggest Thjofgrir or Naudrek in his place: truth be told, he wasn’t certain one or both of them might be better for the job. Well, whatever the reason, Einarr wanted a cool head at his back if he got into trouble. “Good. We’re going armed. If you’ve got a sturdy leather coat it’s probably better than maille here.”
Kaldr nodded, evidently in agreement. “The less attention we draw to ourselves, the better. Keep in mind, everyone, that Finn hit a stone wall every time it came out he was searching for a svartdvergr.”
“Hm. That could make things more interesting.” Einarr shrugged. “Not like there’s much we can do about it until we’re out there. Is everyone ready?”
Runa still looked cross, but her two bodyguards nodded easily.
“As ready as we can be, then,” Kaldr answered. It looked like Vali was already gone.
“Then I’ll see you all tonight.”
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