Book 9 - The Mist in the Darkness - Chapter 22: A Present from the Past

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httyyd
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Joined: 10/12/2013

Hope you all are doing well in these crazy times.  To distract from them, here is the next chapter in my book.  For one character in particular, I have hinted at their pasts and links to their past for a book an a half since introducing them.  But finally, we get to know what truly happened.

 

Hope you all enjoy the chapter!

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Book 8 - Conquest for the Truth is finished!!

 

Book 9 - The Mist in the Darkness

Coming Soon!

 

Destiny in the Dark

Chapter 3 - Friends and Enemies

 

Proud Leader and fellow member of:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are links to the chapters of my fan-fic series.  The books go in chronological order.

 

The Clue of the Missing Socks.

Chapters 1 and 2                         Chapter 3                                       Chapter 4

Chapter 5                                      Chapter 6                                        Chapter 7

Chapters 8 and 9                        Chapter 10                                     Chapter 11

Chapters 12 and 13                     Chapters 14, 15, and 16             Chapter 17

Chapter 18                                    Chapter 19                                      Chapter 20

Chapter 21 and 22                      Chapter 23                                     Chapter 24 and 25

Chapter 26 - There is a hidden surprise.  Can you find it?

Chapter 27                                   Chapter 28, Part 1                         Chapter 28, Part 2

Chapter 29                                   Chapter 30                                       Chapter 31

Chapter 32                                   Chapter 33                                       Chapter 34

Chapter 35                                   Chapter 36                                       Chapter 37

Chapter 38                                   Chapter 39                                       Chapter 40

Chapter 41                                   Chapter 42                                       Chapter 43

Chapter 44                                   Chapter 45, Parts 1 and 2

 

The Mysterious Frozen Fire

Chapter 1         Chapter 2         Chapter 3         Chapter 4         Chapter 5         Chapter 6

Chapter 7         Chapter 8         Chapter 9         Chapter 10       Chapter 11       Chapter 12

Chapter 13       Chapter 14       Chapter 15        Chapter 16       Chapter 17       Chapter 18  

Chapter 19       Chapter 20      Chapter 21        Chapter 22, Part 1       Chapter 22, Part 2 

Chapter 22, Part 3

Epilogue/Preview for my Third Story!

 

Thoughts of Guilt

Chapters 1 and 2          Chapters 3 and 4          Chapter 5          Chapter 6          Chapter 7

Chapter 8          Chapter 9          Chapter 10          Chapter 11          Chapter 12, Part 1

Chapter 12, Part 2          Chapter 13         Chapter 14         Chapter 15         Chapter 16

Chapter 17 and 18         Chapter 19         Chapter 20         Chapter 21         Chapter 22

Chapter 23         Chapter 24         Chapter 25         Chapter 26         Chapter 27

Chapter 28         Chapter 29         Chapter 30         Chapter 31         Chapter 32

Chapter 33         Chapter 34         Chapter 35         Chapter 36 and 37

Chapter 38, Part 1         Chapter 39, Part 2         Chapter 40, Part 3         Chapter 41

Chapter 42, Parts 1 and 2         Chapter 43         Chapter 44

Chapter 45, Part 1         Chapter 45, Part 2

 

On the Edge of Mystery

Chapter 1          Chapter 2         Chapter 3        Chapters 4 & 5    Chapter 6, Parts 1 and 2   

Chapter 7          Chapter 8         Chapter 9            Chapter 10       Chapter 11        Chapter 12

Chapter 13        Chapter 14       Chapter 15          Chapter 16        Chapter 17       Chapter 18

Chapter 19        Chapter 20       Chapter 21          Chapter 22       Chapter 23      Chapter 24

Chapter 25        Chapter 26       Chapter 27         Chapter 28        Chapter 29 Parts 1 and 2 

Chapter 30       Chapter 31       Chapter 32 and 33                         Chapter 34 Parts 1 and 2 

Chapter 35 Part 1         Chapter 35 Part 2        Chapter 35 Part 3        Chapter 36

 

The Secret Symbol

Chapter 1    Chapter 2    Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5

Chapter 6    Chapter 7     Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapter 10

Chapter 11    Chapter 12    Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15

Chapter 16    Chapter 17    Chapter 18    Chapter 19    Chapter 20

Chapter 21   Chapter 22   Chapter 23   Chapter 24 and 25

Chapter 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29 and 30

Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34    Chapter 35

Chapter 36    Chapter 37    Chapter 38    Chapter 39

Chapter 40 and 41    Chapter 42    Chapter 43, 44, 45, and 46

 

The Legend of Shadow Mountain

Chapter 1    Chapter 2    Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5

Chapter 6    Chapter 7    Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapter 10

Chapter 11    Chapter 12    Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15

Chapter 16   Chapter 17    Chapter 18    Chapter 19    Chapter 20

Chapter 21    Chapter 22    Chapter 23    Chapter 24    Chapter 25

Chapter 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29    Chapter 30

Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34    Chapter 35

Chapter 36    Chapter 37    Chapter 38    Chapter 39    Chapter 40

Chapter 41    Chapter 42    Chapter 43    Chapter 44    Chapter 45 & 46

Chapter 47    Chapter 48    Chapter 49    Chapter 50    Chapter 51

 

Teaser "Trailer" for Book 8 - Conquest of the Truth

 

The Crimson Storm

Chapters 1 and 2     Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5    Chapter 6

Chapter 7    Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapters 10 and 11    Chapter 12

Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15    Chapter 16    Chapter 17    Chapter 18

Chapter 19    Chapter 20    Chapter 21    Chapter 22    Chapter 23

Chapter 24    Chapter 25 and 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29

Chapter 30    Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34

Chapter 35 and Epilogue

 

The Wedding

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3 

httyyd's picture
httyyd
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Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 10/12/2013
Drums R Round. Pi R Squared.

Here is the music mix for this chapter:

SPIRIT - Best Of Epic Music Mix | Emotional Battle Orchestral Music - Atom Music Audio

The style of music is a bit different than the norm I have been posting, but the mood and theme of this chapter is different than the norm I have been posting.  You will soon find out why.

 

Forewarning, please note that there are two Points of View's in this chapter.

 

The Mist in the Darkness

Chapter 22

 

A Present from the Past

 

Jarl's Point of View

 

          Hiccup was surprised as we were that Harald had the gall to walk up and tell us about Stormheart.  He too thought whatever they have planned will not be good.  None of us want war, so if we were to go now and stop Stormheart, it could be seen as an act of war.  She would attack us straight away.  But even Hiccup can see an attack is inevitable.  So, in the meantime, we can prepare our defenses.

         Our friend wished us a safe trip back to Berserker Island.  We all said hi to the family before taking flight.  And the trip back is more of the same.

         Quiet.

         If it was not for the fact that I was tired and our dragons were too, the trip may have taken longer.  Guess focusing on something else can help things go faster with it being so still and quiet.  Annabeth not saying a word is speaking louder to me than if she was talking.

         Once the couple hour trip was done and everything was bedded down for the night, I found myself in the living room at the foot of the stairs.

         Annabeth was tidying the place up a bit before I grabbed her arm.  She froze, not looking at me until I turned her around to hold her shoulders.

         “I want you to know Annabeth that I love you, no matter what.  There’s a lot we each have to work out, but I wanted to remind you of this.  I will always have your back…  And everything else it is attached to.”

         I whistled at her and finally managed to make her smile followed by a jab in my side.  When we looked into the other’s eyes, we melted in each other’s arms for a hug.  Not a tight squeeze, but a much-needed hold, for both of us.

         Starting to walk away, this time Annabeth grabs my arm, “Come on,” she nods her head to the stairway.

         The next several minutes felt like the most normal I have had in all that has happened recently.  However, there is still something nagging which makes everything anything but normal.

         We hold each other in bed as we normally do, Annabeth in front of me with my arm around her.  For as tired as I am, I am not sleepy.

         While no words are spoken, I believe we both know what the other is thinking:  For as much as nothing has changed, everything has.  There is something still between us and it is not the other’s fault.  It is our own.  Our enemies only made it apparent to us, something we did not know that was there before.  Soon after, I fall asleep.

 

         The next morning, I wake up and find Annabeth not in bed.  However, on the nightstand next to me, I find a plate of hot food, the same as the other day…  And a note.

         “Please don’t be mad at me, but I felt you were thinking the same thing last night.  We both have some things to figure out and I need to see about something.  I’ll be alright and won’t be gone for more than two days…  After that, then you can come and find me.  We both know where I will be.”

         I want to be mad but know I would have done the same in her shoes.  Though she went by herself, I know at the same time she is a very capable woman who can take care of herself.  Based on where I know she is going; she should be in good hands.

         What I had planned for the day was to go check in on Aiyana and how she is doing.  Sitting down to the plate of food, I almost did not want to eat it.  Though, I want to be nice and not let good food go to waste; I mean, it has boar bacon on it so…

         Once I took care of the dragons outside, Titan Annabeth’s cat, my cat Jewels, and Annabeth’s wolf Rogue.  Oh, and Smoky who tends to go back and forth between here and my parents’ house.

         Most of my crew now lives on Berserker Island, some on the plains while others in the village.  Aiyana lives in the village near the shoreline of the port.  I walk instead of flying.  The time alone is good for some reflection.  Knocking on the door, Fira answers.

         She replies, “Oh, Jarl.  We’ve kind of been expecting you.”

         Walking in, I see that Vixxen, Klarp, Ohmarr, and Samantha are there in addition to Fira and Aiyana.

         “She’s in her room,” Fira answers my question before I asked it.

         Going through the doorway, I inquire, “How are you doing?”

         “Besides seeing one of the worst parts of my past alive in front of me, I’m alright,” Aiyana gives a dry laugh.  “I have a headache.  That gas does a number on you.”

         Aiyana lies in her bed and looks very different without her jewelry in her hair.  Now she looks like a normal viking, another reminder that she is from a land much further south.

         Aiyana sighs a bit and anticipates, “You want to know how I know that guy?”

         “It would be appreciated,” I answer.  “His connection to Skygge could prove useful to find out what Skygge is planning.”

         “Might as well sit down…  Because this will take a while because I’ll need to start at the beginning if this is to make any sense.”

         Letting Aiyana take over felt like the best idea.  She has never talked much about her past, so this is a huge step for her.

 

 

Aiyana’s Point of View

 

         As you all know, I am not from Berk and not even from the Barbaric Archipelago.  I am from a city called Korinth, from a very different society than the viking realm.  Well, I’m not specifically from Korinth, but that is where it all started.

         Throughout the map of commerce, there are many rich merchants.  Some of them started out rich, and others became rich through discoveries and clever tricks.  The Thorgards were no exception.  The Thorgards have a long and complicated merchant history, full of deceiving, lies, and enemies competing to get the riches.  The beginning of the Thorgard success can be traced back to Deondre, my Great-Grandfather.

         Long before Berk made peace with the dragons, in this city of Korinth in the land of Greece, a boy named Deondre was born.  Deondre was a son of the ruling king of Korinth.  He was said to be descended from the Greek gods themselves.

         Deondre had two older brothers, so he was not really an heir to the throne.  Deondre dedicated his time to research about flora and fauna.

         The royal library was transformed into an office for him.  Deondre spent hours reading books and sketching certain flowers or birds.  Some days he would bring books with him and spend hours in the forest, tracing the paths of different wild animals or testing the properties of some herbs.  All of this carefully plotted research he recorded into a notebook of his own.

         So.  What exactly was the big secret that started the Thorgard family line?

         It was a normal day of studies in the royal library for Deondre.  He was sketching flowers out from a book and copying their properties beside them.  When he was finished with that book, he went to take another from the shelf.  He noticed something strange.  The bookshelf he had come to was one of three, meaning the type of wood they were made out of.  The first and second were made of Fir, but the third one looked much older and was made of Birch.  Birch was not the most common wood to find in Korinth.  The entire shelf was filled with Old Norse books.  Most of them looked normal, like the Greek books he was accustomed to, with leather covers and richly embroidered titles.

         Then he noticed some books on the bottom shelf.  They did not look like the other books on the shelves.  These books looked plain, old, and a little random.  Deondre didn’t speak Old Norse, so he found a dictionary to translate the book titles into Greek.  The Greeks are extremely adept at the science and language arts.  So, having books of other faraway lands and their languages were not uncommon.  The Barbaric Archipelago is not the only viking archipelago out there either.

         Anyway, there were eight books, and each one had a symbol on it.  The symbols were not familiar to them, but to the rest of you, they are - Fear Class, Tidal Class, Stoker Class, Sharp Class, Boulder Class, Mystery Class, and Strike Class.  Deondre translated the book titles to then connect them to the symbols.  The last book had no title.  Even compared to the other books, it was the most raggedy and old, with random papers sticking out of the pages.

         With his interest peaked, Deondre started reading and reading.  He had nearly forgotten about the translating part before too long.

Throughout the entire process of Old Norse to Greek, he learned about dragons in the northern world.  He also learned about the man who had written the books, Audun the Adventurer.

         The last book, he guessed, was Audun’s personal journal where he recorded his adventures.  In the journal, besides paragraphs explaining what happened and how there were also several drawings and maps of dragons and islands.  Deondre started learning Norse to better understand the books he had found.

         After a few months of hard work, he understood pretty much everything that was in the books.  A lot of this knowledge he recorded into his own journal which quickly took the same shape of Audun’s.

         From Audun’s journal, Deondre also learned about a special family of herbs.  These herbs, according to Audun, had “magical” properties.  Of course, Deondre did not believe that herbs could be magical as the Greeks as I mentioned before relied more on reason and logic.  Yet, he wanted to confirm if these herbs would have strange properties.

         Apparently they could knock out animals and humans within seconds, cause dizziness, cause memory loss, make people blind or deaf…  The list goes on and on.  Deondre got sketches of these herbs in his own journal, with a list of their supposed “magical” properties beside them.

         Deondre wanted to find these herbs for himself.  He started planning a trip to this archipelago, hopefully, to find these herbs.

         Making this large of a trip at the spur of the moment was not uncommon.  The Greeks did not really care about the distance, but more of what they could learn as well as others, what could they get out of the trip for gold or silver.

         The first trip to the Barbaric Archipelago did not go as planned.  Deondre and his crew were caught in a storm which had blown them severely off course.  When they finally managed to correct their heading and arrive at their destination -several weeks later than planned- they could not find the strange herbs described in Audun’s journal.  But the trip did not go entirely to waste.

         Deondre discovered new herbs, plants, and animals while experiencing dragons first hand.  I am not mincing words when I say “first hand,” for his encounters were not the most pleasant of experiences.  But now he knew what dragons were like.

         Upon his return to Korinth, his father found him a wife.  What a welcome home.  His father’s intent was to have Deondre settle down and stop the crazy expensive spending for knowledge.  Though Greeks were smart, there were still some who only wanted to keep their power and expected their heirs to do the same.  However, this did not stop Deondre.  He wanted to continue while also remaining faithful to his father.

After Deondre’s first son was born, Deondre was back at it, traveling to the archipelago and back, looking for these herbs.  It would be sad, after all those years of looking not to find anything.

         Time, work, gold, and effort paid off eventually, at least in his eyes it did.  Although, what he found was not where he expected.  He found the herbs growing on an island, but it was an island filled with dead dragons.  He was very blessed to get in and out of there alive with herb samples to boot.

         His theory was that the herbs had such strong chemical properties because of the dead dragons’ bones.  When they decomposed into the earth, they left special traces in the dirt that these herbs picked up as their seeds were spread by the wind and other means.

         The few herb samples he had, Deondre planted some once he returned home, hoping to regrow them with their special properties, and put the others away for usage.  Using his knowledge of herbs, Deondre started creating a formula.  It was a strong formula that could bring any dragon to its knees and surrender, or so he hypothesized.  Later, when he was able to test this, he found he was correct.  The formula could seep into the bloodstream and quench the heart of its victim.  It was a formula that…  Well, that list started to get longer as time progressed.

         Deondre started experimenting with dragon breeds, their powers -fire types and abilities- and how they related to herbs.  He created effective poisons and tranquilizers.  He found some antidotes to the more severe ones.  All of his findings he recorded on some pieces of parchment.  One thing to note in all of his experiments, he saw the power and might of the dragons and never went so far as to endanger them.  For one thing, he does not want to deal with an angry dragon, like he had to on his first trip.  Over time, some of the dragons he continually worked with grew accustomed to him and even did not find him as a threat.  Little did Deondre know he could have trained those dragons

         He shared his knowledge he had accumulated with his son, who by now was a grown man.

         After Deondre passed away, his son became greedy with this knowledge.  Orien, was not like his father.  He did not care about science or animals, he was just greedy and cruel.  Through trickery and threats, he used these herbs to become a wealthy businessman…  With three wives.  But Orien wanted more than just a reputation and standing in society, he wanted to become the King of Korinth.

         His cousin was currently ruling the city-state.  A city-state would be what you would consider islands.  Ruling tribes of their own in a land of allies, just these city-states were mostly landlocked.  Orien was going to put an end to his cousin’s rein.

Nobody knew how, but somehow his cousin found out about this plot.  He banished Orien to the Barbaric Archipelago.  Though most of the family’s wealth was attributed to Deondre’s travels, everyone looked down upon going to such a place, seeing it as punishment more than an opportunity for knowledge.  Orien, his three wives, and his business was all he had.

         At this point in Orien’s life, here was the state of his family.  Of the three wives, the first was the most important.  Her name was Thalia.  She had three children.  A ten-year-old named Calliope, an eight-year-old named Aymer, and a five-year-old son named Stephen.  His second wife, named Ariana, had an eight-year-old daughter named Eileen and a three-year-old daughter named Lesya.  And his third wife, Helena, had five-year-old twins:  A son named Pheonix and a daughter named Sophie.

         When Orien moved to another port on the fringes of the Barbaric Archipelago, he settled in and used his knowledge to become the wealthiest and most powerful merchant on the port.  He made many fair traders go out of business and enslaved poor girls and boys on the streets to work for him.  He became full of himself and started to take advantage of those around him.

         All of this was because of some herbs his father happened to find.

After a few more years, his wives and children knew they would have to do something to Orien’s reign of terror on them and the rest of the port.  They met together and decided that this had to stop.

         All of these herb secrets were written in a few notebooks and on a few pieces of parchment by Deondre.  Orien kept them locked up in a closet that was in his room, to which only he had the key.  His wives came up with a plan to trap him using his own medicine.

         Calliope was his oldest and favorite child.  He had already married the twenty-one-year-old off to a wealthy family, the Varangrs and already had a three-month-old daughter named Sierra.

         The plan was for Calliope to use her father’s favor to sneak into his room and into his closet with the special herbs and formulas.  She would then take what she needed and would make a dish for her father with some of the herbs in it, meant to put him to sleep forever.

         What she did not know was how sharp and unusual the herbs would taste.  All went according to plan until her father tasted the dish.  He stated the herbs and immediately knew.  From hours of studying the herbs, he knew what specific herb was used and what it could do to him.  The effects of the poison would kick in only a few hours.  That moment when you created your own death warrant and the damage was done for only a taste is needed.

         Even with all of this, he still wanted more.  He vowed to avenge his death in front of Calliope.  For all the good that the wives wanted to do in ridding this menace, the result was worse than original.  Orien killed Calliope and declared the Varangrs his sworn enemies.

         After Orien’s death, all of the formulas and notebooks were spread out amongst the children.  Several pieces of parchment were ripped apart and each child got a piece.  The parchments were too powerful, but no one could think of how to dispose of them without someone else learning about these all over again.  For as evil as Orien was, he had many allies who knew of his power, though they were more scared of him than really wanting to help him.  With him out of the way, they would then try to take advantage of the knowledge he had.

         Aymer and Stephen got a notebook with a few papers with random formulas, Eileen and Lesya got pieces of paper with different formulas on them, Pheonix and Sophie got two notebooks, and even little Sierra Varangr was given a notebook with some formulas.

Calliope’s husband was extremely angered at the Thorgards about the fact his wife was murdered, though the wives never wanted this to happen.  Calliope’s husband decided to get his revenge by stealing away the wealth of Calliope’s family.  He resented all that they stood for because he blamed all of them for what happened to his wife.

         The process of taking their fortune started small, like maybe some trickery or stealing goods or holding back more than what was traded.  But soon these two rival family powers started stealing each other’s most prized possessions.  It got to the point that even killing each other was not out of the question.  Thus the feud between the Thorgards and the Varangrs started.

         Though the Varangrs had taken a substantial amount of the Thorgards’ fortune, the Thorgards’ allies came to the families’ rescue.  But really, they wanted the fortune for themselves.  The Varangrs left the port before enemies could close in on them.  They wanted to look for riches somewhere else.  That turned out to be a mistake.  As soon as they left, they lost their investments and power.  Their enemies intentionally did not close in on them because they were stealing the Varangrs’ fortune out from under them.  They ended up settling in a small village where Sierra was raised.

         At this point, the Thorgard family line broke apart in a similar fashion once the Varangrs left.  For as much as they were rivals even when things were normal, they needed each other to keep their power and influence intact.  Most of the family then left the Thorgard port, only Stephen and Aymer remained in the port with their families.  Before they all left, they did all agree to wipe away all traces of Orien and his cruelty.

         Aymer had been recently married to a girl named Karina.  Both young and reckless, she thought she fell in love with the merchant.  But when her parents found it to be Aymer Thorgard, her parents refused to let them marry.  Karina rebelled.  Aymer was set to leave the port when even he was not welcomed any more by the people.  Karina snuck away from her family and stowed herself away on Aymer’s she.  Soon she had a daughter, but in her recklessness, could handle the pressure Aymer was putting on her let alone handle a newborn daughter.  Karina fled for she wanted to see her family again.

         When I paused at the memories of my father coming back to me, Jarl fit all the pieces together, “You were that daughter.”

I could only nod.

 

         Growing up on the seas was no place to raise a daughter.  Aymer did not really care, but still wanted to train me because I was the only thing he left of his former life to the Thorgards.  My whole family history was often told to me by Aymer, reason why I can remember so much of it.  Aymer would not let me forget it.  Deondre told all of his adventures to Orien and Orient told all his to Aymer.  Finally, Aymer told them over and over again to me.  Some of the finer details I found out on my own.

         Who I became probably makes more sense now because of my willingness to turn on you guys so quickly even if it was for my dragon.

Aymer taught me at an earlier age all he learned from Orien.  Looking back at it now, it was not the greatest role model to look up to, but Aymer spun the tail as Orien had done nothing wrong and it was the rest of the Thorgards fault.  It was up to me and him to restore what was lost.  Filled my head with ideas of adventure, power, gold, and riches beyond my wildest dreams.

         By the time I had run into you guys, I had run away from Aymer.  The life he wanted to lead was a far cry to what he was leading.  When I finally learned how far he had fallen, we quickly grew apart.  When I realized he no longer cared for me and wanted to use me, I hightailed it out of there.

         Knowing there was an enemy of Aymer’s that had been in the area, I did not have anywhere else to go.  With no better course of action to think of, I wanted to get my own revenge.  Yes, I know, very original considering my family’s history.

 

         I stopped again and looked at Jarl, he replied, “This enemy of Aymer’s was one Einar Verodfellar.”

         I wanted to say something, but Jarl makes mysteries look so easy.  I have given up on trying to understand how he can make the connections just based on tiny details even I do not pick up on.

 

         Einar took me under his wing, but I soon realized, I have a poor choice of father figures.  Even though I gave him information in how to take out Aymer, it was like Einar considered him a small fish in a much larger pond.

         Einar was the one who taught me how to train dragons.  Thinking he could use it for his own gain, that was the very thing which started to change my thinking.  Seeing this trend ahead of time, as if he expected it, he basically baited me into training multiple dragons so that when I grew attached to a few, he could use them as leverage against me.

         A couple of years with Einar and then I officially ran into you guys.  The rest is history.

 

         “But, may I say,” I make it known to everyone around me.  “While you all nearly turned out to be my enemies too, from the time I figured out my family’s history, I knew I wanted nothing to be like Aymer or Orien, but try to be like Deondre.  But I didn’t know how.”  I then look at Jarl.  “You showed me how, even when I didn’t deserve any of it. Your stubborness for the truth and finding the good in others, I was able to change my ways and stand up for what was truly right.  For that, I am forever in your debt.”

         Jarl smiles and nods, but adds, “You’re welcome.  I think.”

         Samantha quips, “We’ll make a viking out of you yet.  You already have the honey ‘en hatchet routine down.”

         Seeing friends around me, my eyes start to tear up, yet I hold them back, “It’s a start.”

 

         After a few minutes, Vixxen could be seen wiping her own tears away, “I just want to come over and give you a hug and tell you, ‘It’s alright.’”

         One might ask why Vixxen is crying, but we all know why.  Vixxen was in the exact same position I was in.  For this very reason, I think I have finally found the role model I had been searching for my entire life for.

 

         “Now you know why I was shocked to see Pheonix the other day,” I explain.  “For he is my half uncle and if he is working with Skygge, there is a very good chance that he is no better than how most of my family turned out.”

For as much as Jarl’s gears were turning in his brain, someone else was thinking.  It is Fira.

         Asking her what’s going on, Fira responds, “I don’t know what the connection is, but symptoms of the herbs that Deondre created from the formula I have seen once before.”

Everyone now intrigued by her answer, Fira looked at Jarl, “The only time I have seen anything similar effects it had on your crew when you came to Shadow Mountain.”

         As if the gears started spinning faster, a look of realization washed over Jarl’s face, “If that is true, just what does Skygge have planned that involves this much complexity?  I thought this was just a mere revenge story for the attack on his island.  But now…  Now…  This has gotten so much bigger.  Yet, I feel we are back to square one.  How far do we have to go into the darkness before we see the light on the other side?”

         I have never seen Jarl like this.  And from what others are saying for observing even him, Jarl is dealing with something.  Maybe it is our turn to return the favor to him that he has done for us without asking for anything in return.

 

Author's note:  One thing I would like to point out is that the bulk of Aiyana's backstory can be attributed to Sunrose, the reader who submitted Aiyana Thorgald.  The parts that I connected to my mystery series were my own, but I wanted to give credit where credit is due.  So when you read this, Sunrose, thanks for the impressive backstory!