From the shore of Blood Lake, we looked out across the water to the nearest island, a large, rolling expanse of grass kept neat and trimmed by the sheep I grazed there. The one-eyed raven took flight and left me to clean my Colts on the shore, waiting for him to return, which he did so a short time later.
“Are they there?” I asked him as he settled onto my shoulder.
“And my sheep?”
“They are not.”
I nodded, stood up, and considered how best to cross the water. There were no boats nearby, and depending on their mood, the merfolk in Blood Lake could be obstinate as hell. I had one fight on my hands already, and I didn’t need a second just to try and finish the first.
The one-eyed raven settled the issue.
As I watched, a thick fog rose up from the water, coiling and twisting until it formed a shape that I had seen drawings. It was a Viking longship, and at its oars were the dead.
They were bedraggled men, long beards wet and eyes sunken deep into their sockets. The smell of sea rolled off them as they rowed in close to shore. They called out in a tongue with which I was not familiar, but in which the raven answered.
Their laughter was loud and shook the air as they shipped oars and motioned for me to climb aboard. I did so, receiving their greetings and broken-toothed smiles with the spirit it was given in.
They sang out to one another as the oars dipped into the waters of Blood Lake, and I could see the merfolk scatter in our wake. The ship fairly flew to the island, and when we reached it, the dead men and the raven exchanged a few more words.
I waded through the last few feet of water and climbed onto the shore, the men vanishing into fog.
“They wish you luck,” the one-eyed raven told me.
“Those were a lot of words for luck,” I replied.
“And death in battle, should it be your fate.”
“Is it?” I asked.
The one-eyed raven laughed as we went in search of our prey.
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