Book 10 - The Shattered Axe - Chapter 14: Reality of Life

1 reply [Last post]
httyyd's picture
httyyd
Offline
Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 10/12/2013

It has been too long since I have posted a chapter, but in the mean time since I have posted last, I nearly wrote down this entire chapter in my notebook.  About 7,200 words of this chapter that is.  This is probably the most I have ever written down in my notebook before typing what I wote in my Word Document.

 

But, here is finally the time to read the next chapter!

 

If you follow me on my twitch channel, you will my writing process as I streamed myself typing up the chapter: https://www.twitch.tv/drumsofberk14

 

Hope you guys enjoy the chapter!

__________________

Rest in Peace NarixuZen.  2004-2017

Member/Group Leader of S.O.D.A.H.T

 

Click SoD Hack Watch or SoDAHT to report a hacking:

Also use this form to help better keep track of the hackers:  (click here for form)

 

Book 10 - The Shattered Axe

Chapter 17 - Back on Track

 

The Jarl Mollerson Mystery Series

All Chapter Links
 

 

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

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

Here is the music mix for the chapter:

Epic Orchestral Music for Powerful Motivation - Legendary (Full Album)

 

The Shattered Axe

 

Chapter 14

Reality of Life

 

Vixxen's Point of View

 

         The crew now has two places where we are going to chase after some clues.  Dagmar, Klarp, Adam, Vemund, Annett, and I are going to Wengo Island in hopes of finding Samantha.  At the very least, we can back trace what Gladstone was connected to with this Sigrunn character.  I am also intrigued by these “Defenders of Khaos” vikings.  If they truly have taken control of Wengo Island, none of it can be good.  For that island to be taken over as Jarl and some of the other crew experienced, Wengo would not have gone down without a fight; unless, they had a take in whatever these Khaos vikings are planning.

         When Jarl was picking who would go on what trip, eh forgot to mention Klarp, but maybe Jarl included Klarp with me.  Because Klarp will not let me go anywhere remotely dangerous without him.  Before Draython Cove, I would have protested.  But I no longer do after coming so close to death.  I can no longer live life on the edge without leaving myself a way to get back.  I finally have someone to fight for…  To live for.  After so many years, I finally have a family I can count on and love, I do not want anything to happen for them.  I may sound like a yak continually blaring out the same thing, but I am so thankful for the opportunity Jarl gave me on the Isle of Izar.  He had every right not to give it to me, but he did.

         This crew means everything to me.

         And this is why I hate to see Samantha trying to do this on her own.  I tried that way.  I had fully committed to it and whole heartily believed in it.  It nearly brought about the obliteration of my home, the eradication of my people, and my near untimely death for what I had dedicated my life to.  When I saw everything falling down around me, I wished I could take everything back.  If I can stop someone else form making the mistake I did, then it will make the unexpected gesture from a certain stubborn, humorous viking all worthwhile.

         The next morning, we rise early to prepare our dragons and gear before we leave.  Adam has a male Sword Stealer, Mystery Class dragon, various shades of rust like colors.  Annett trained a female Shockjaw, Tidal Class, main color of purple and yellow highlights.  Vemund has a Moldruffle, Stoker and Tracker Class; various shades of orange.  Klarp trained a black Monstrous Nightmare with dark grey highlights.  I think he did that on purpose to be in contrast to Ragnorak’s white.  And of course, Dagmar has Snowballs, her Snoggletog Wraith.  Yes, the coloring and markings of the Snoggletog Wraith are actual scales and even some fur on them.  They are a rare dragon, but Dagmar seems to know where they travel.

         Our early start from Berk allowed us to arrive on Wengo Island in the late afternoon.  We had conferred and decided to split up.  Adam, Vemund, and Annett would go on ahead and merely mingle, whereas Dagmar and I would go to my contacts on the island and see what they might know.  Klarp volunteered to stay with the dragons.  We approached the island from the west, splitting up while Wengo Island was still on the horizon.

         Seeing no one is using the fort on this side, we would store our dragons there.  Those from Berk and Berserker Islands often store their dragons here for safe keeping while they navigate the island for their trip’s purpose.

         The main village has become overly volatile, so if a dragon is seen, it gets everyone’s attention.  We are less known so therefore we are more overlooked than the kids.  Some see the kids as an opportunity to take advantage of them.  They see us strolling into town, they either ignore us as if we are just one of the crowd or they know we will hurt them if they try the same plan against the kids.  This is the biggest difference between e and Jarl.  While I have larned a better way from Jarl, I can go further and get more results than he can.  And with these Realm of Khaos Vikings, I know the type.  They simply do not care.

         The contact I have on Wengo Island was a friend I had back in the days when I was part of Ondott Wengo’s crew.  Little did I know then Ondott is Pheonix, but that is besides the point.  I was a different viking then.  My contact’s name is Javan.  He was always one I could count on for information.  In fact, he helped me keep track of jarl and his crew after I first ran into Jarl.  I wonder if Javan will help me now considering I now work with Jarl.  Then again, times change and so do vikings.

         Going through the village there are not a whole lot of vikings out.  Sure, it is still daytime, but there is a subtle tension in the air, like a long sword waiting to slice anyone who goes out of line.  This feeling heightens every time a Khaos patrol passes by.  They are ignoring Dagmar and I, for now, so we can continue.

         Javan has a place on the southern outskirts of the village, away from things but in the heart of where one can learn a lot from vikings who think they are alone – The housing district.

         Right before Dagmar and I enter, I put a hand on my sword.  Long time habit of mine to do that before entering a building.  One could check between the crack of the door and frame, but I want to keep the element of surprise for as long as possible.

         After looking in and not seeing him, I call out, “Javan?”  He is usually at his desk going through papers.  “Javan, you here?”

         Just then we hear a snore.

         Dagmar quips, “Quite an alert fellow.  I see why he is your contact.”

         Sighing at the remark, I follow the sound of the snores into the back room.  The sight we are welcomed by is a viking passed out on his couch, one leg hanging off, his clothes a mess as he must have slept in them.  Although, the clothes are dirty and his hair is a mess, Javan is already the kind of character that does not care much for his looks – says it adds to his ability to find out information by being overlooked – but this is taking it to a whole new level for him.

         Dagmar reaches for her nose, “What is that smell?”

         “Pickled cabbage juice,” I answer.  Dagmar looks horrified.  “Don’t ask me why, but he likes the stuff.”

         Though the smell reeks of an unholy combination, I know it and am used to it for it reminds me of my former days.  There was a time before Jarl and even Einar and Ondott that I look on with appreciation.  Good reminder for me that there was good in me before, I was just too blind to admit it.

         Waking Javan up from his slumber seems to have stirred up the smell so much Dagmar leaves the room to go investigate the rest of the house.

         Javan runs his hands through his hair and large beard, then stops and stares at me, his gravelly, mid-toned voice greets, “Thorgunna Vixxen…  been a few years.”

         “Yes, it has.”

         “Thought maybe you would have left me behind too.”

         “Well, to go from being a rival and an enemy of Jarl to now joining his crew and helping him, I didn’t think you would want to change too.  You were a big component of me being a step ahead of Jarl.”

         “A modest Vixxen.  Never thought I’d see this day,” Javan chuckles.  “So, what brings Thorgunna Vixxen the Audacious to my my humble abode?”

         “I was wondering if you had any information on a viking girl of the name ‘Samantha Sigrunn’?  Also, if you knew of anyone else that came to this island saying their name is ‘Sigrunn’?”

         Upon my request, his demeanor turns serious and even nervous.  Without saying a word, he gets up and checks his windows, goes into the other room doing the same out there; also, he goes outside.

         Meeting up with Dagmar, she questions, “What’s with him?”

         I shrug my shoulders.

         A few seconds later he returns to answer in a very hused tone, “I know where she might be.”

         Dagmar and I perk up, Dagmar exclaims, “That’s great!”

         “Be quiet!” Javan whispers coarsely.  “They might hear us.”

         Now worried, I ask, “Who might hear us?”

         “You’ll know them when you see them, but they call themselves the Vikings of Khaos.  This viking girl you seek, she came through the other day, caused a lot of trouble and they didn’t like it.  They marked her as a fugitive and ordered anyone associating with her would be considered aiding them regardless of the situation.  Mentioning their name even counts.  I’d watch it if I were you if you go asking around the island about the name.  Information can be deadly with these Khaos people.  However, I might know where she is.”

         He pauses for a moment.  When I shift my weight to the right merely to cross my arms, something small hits the back of my shoulder…

         A small dart!

         “Get down!” I grab Javan, pulling him down.  “Lie down as if you were struck.  Hold the dart in your hand.”

         “What are you talk-.”

         “No time.  Just do it.”

         Javan does what I tell him and then Dagmar and I hide in his back room, in the nick of time too because the front door flies open, being kicked in.  While we wait by the door, Dagmar has to hold her nose for she still cannot stand Javan’s stench from his cabbage juice.

         We hear two women voicing their conformation of the body they targeted.  They begin to search the house, but when they come to the door to the back room, they stop short.  Why?  Because of the same reason Dagmar has her hand over her nose.  Hearing them move away from the door, I signal Dagmar to ready her mini bowcaster.  I crack the door open to spot the two women.  The have their backs turned, so I open the door to fire at their necks.  I quickly shut the door then wait for their bodies to hit the floor.

         Emerging from our hiding place, Dagmar checks on Javan while I retrieve Jarl’s darts.  I have gotten into the habit, very early on when I was against Jarl, of picking up evidence and only leaving clues I want people to find.  Add that to the list of ways I stayed a couple steps ahead of Jarl.

         “Whose toes did you step on?” I question.

         “Like I said,” Javan dusts himself off.  “Even if you just mention that girl’s name, they are on to you like a dragon finding Dragon Nip.”

         Dagmar reminds, “Speaking of which, you will have to make yourself scarce.  These two will wake up soon.”

         Javan agrees and adds, “So should you.”

         I shake my head, “We still have a job here.  But we’ll get you off the island.  Go to the far end of the island,” I pause, smiling.  “I think you know the rest.  Just like old times?”

         Javan chuckles again, “I find the trouble and you rush headlong into it.  Be careful, these people are unlike anything I have ever seen.”

         We escort Javan out the back way and to the tree line.

         When we turn to go back into the village, Dagmar asks, “How much do you trust this guy?”

         A bit surprised at the question, I think on it before replying, “Do you think there is a set-up brewing?  The Khaos Vikings just tried to knock him off, but…”

         “But they could have been aiming for you all along,” Dagmar finishes.

         The more I think the more an idea comes to mind.

         Dagmar notices my expression, “You figure something out or think of something because you have the same look Jarl gets.”

         “Maybe.”

         “Then it is true.”

         “What is?”

         “You really did catch something from Jarl,” Dagmar makes a crack.

         Rolling my eyes to glare at her, I tell her, “Come on.”

         “Isn’t Klarp the opposite way?” she points back west when I start off for the south.

         “Yeah,” I respond.

         “Don’t you want to be sure he is alright.  They could be capturing him right now.”

         “Truth be told, I’m banking on just that.  So, let’s get out of the open before we are next.”

         I lead Dagmar to the southern part of the island, looking for a shack on a hill next to a cliff where I frequented when I had some down time on the island.  I never would stay long because I would be needed either in the village, the compound to the west, or be setting sail.  Same goes for anyone else on Wengo Island.  No one is ever interested in any other part of the island, so these areas would be a perfect place to stash your cut of the various “business” transactions.  What better place to hide a treasure than under someone’s nose?  Especially, when their nose is stuck up so high, thinking they are too important with their own riches and glory sitting in the harbor begging someone to swipe it in the daylight and stash it in an offsite place?

         I speak from experience – on both sides of the coin – hence why I crated my own spot.  Putting it that way, this shack was the first thing I could call home when I first started.  I knew it was mine and it was my responsibility.  Having a home is something I had worked for my entire childhood an early adult life.  A home is a very important thing for any young viking searching for their spot in the world.

         While we walked until we got out of clear sight of any would be scouts or potential patrols, we ran the rest of the way.

         During this time, Dagmar explained why she is so quick to accuses Javan, “In my investigation, I found something on his desk.  I knew it would be something when I saw what his desk looked like.  Many papers and a couple maps, he was working on something very important.  On one of the papers, I saw he jotted down some notes.  I read enough of it to know he has seen a viking of these Khaos people meet with an unknown viking several times.  He hypothesized it could be the ‘Sigrunn’ guy a girl was asking him about.  So, while Javan I don’t think is smart enough to be leading Khaos on the island, I think it is apparent he is at least involved somehow maybe to the point of working for them for Javan had clearly talked to a few others about a Sigrunn.  Since the author of the letter Jarl found had a contact on Wengo Island who seems to know how to find vikings, Javan would be the best candidate for the author’s contact.”

         “But the author is a Sigrunn.”

         “We only have the word of the author, and he sounds like he is up to no good and cannot be trusted.  From what I read, Javan doesn’t know who this guy is that Khaos met with, nor the others who asked about a Sigrunn.  Whoever the author is could also be trying to find another Sigrunn but signed the letter the name of the very thing he seeks to get at potential information Gladstone has… Or had.  There were several more notes about the name Sigrunn with one connecting it to Samantha.  He, Javan, wanted to take advantage of Samantha and then sell the information to whoever would pay the most.  I wanted to see what Javan would say before I told you, but then never got a chance.  Ha di Known you would have decided to do this, I would have stopped Javan myself.”

         “I believe you are right about Javan.  I guess deep down I wanted him to have changed like I did…  Another trait of Jarl I picked up.  But about your concern for my decision,” I conclude as we arrive at the shack.  “Studying your opponents by asking, ‘What would I do in their position?’ and then planning and executing accordingly is the best course of action.  I have known for a long time Jarl will not act until he has the majority of the clues or finds The Truth before making a big decision.  So, I would bank on that and act quicker to keep a step ahead.  Using my instinct and the help around me to do this, I could then be several steps ahead to the point I was waiting for Jarl to fall into my trap, not his.”

         Dagmar comments as we enter the shack, “You were a hard one to keep up with, that’s for sure.  From a certain point of view, you still are.  Jarl even had me stand in for you so that they had someone of a different fighting style, on the ground and on a dragon, to go against.  At one point, I did take the flattering compliment as an insult.”

         Once I find a specific chest, I pull out a familiar black armor and ask Dagmar, “How would you like to reprise your role as the real thing this time?”

         Once Dagmar and I had switched gear so that I would be wearing the old and worn outfit while she wore my new gear – adding to the fact the Khaos vikings may assume Dagmar and I were in a fight or struggle without either of us saying so – I went to work doing her hair like mine with all the braids.  Dagmar usually has her hair down, sometimes pulled back with a band or helmet.

         “These braids are a different feeling,” Dagmar gently whips her hair back and forth.  “Cool look though.”

         I think of something, but I am not going to say it, “Insert Jarl quip.”

         Dagmar looks at me for a moment and then realizes, “Oh, yeah.  He probably would say that.  He’s cool like that.”

         I glare at her, “This may not work.  I would never get caught saying a quip like that…  I’m much too cold and set in my ways.”

         “Changing the subject, what is the plan?”

         “The plan is for you to go around the village, asking if they have seen a Sigrunn or talked to one.  If you do find out anything, that is a plus.  But in doing so, you should draw out the Khaos vikings.  Once they do, name drop Wengo and how Vixxen – you – worked with him.  And say that Pheonix requests an audience with the leader of this Vikings of Khaos group.  If they have done their homework on the islands they take over, as Mala says, then they will know who Pheonix is.”

         Dagmar nods, “What will you be doing?”

         “Tracking you in a way but going to the exact same vikings you do.  This will create a stir in them that the patrols will have to take notice.  Once a patrol comes my way to talk to me, I will tell them that those in Khaos could be welcoming an ambush at the seat of their headquarters by escorting an imposter right to their very heart.  Our main goal is to rescue Klarp and the others.  Secondary goal is to find out who the author of the letter is and what are Khaos’ plans to track the Sigrunns.  For Samantha is getting deeper and deeper into something she may not be able to get out of.”

         Dagmar comments, “But I guess the silver lining is that she is uncovering a major underground organization that could have been in the archipelago for years and none of us knew it.  Mala thought they would either stay out or not have any business here, but I guess they found something.  And whatever it might be does not bode well for the Barbaric Archipelago, both Dragon Rider and Dragon Hunter alike.”

         I finish relaying the plan, “When you and I meet, follow my lead, no matter how crazy it might get.”

         Dagmar nods.  Before she leaves, I hold out my sword to her, saying, “That if they ask, you took it from me.  Now ‘take’ it.”

         Dagmar does but I resist her pull before letting her have it.

         She smiles and compliments, “I see what you did there.”

         “So, you can say you and I struggled, and you took my sword to unarm me before leaving me in this shack.  You and I know what really happened, but can we help if they take the truth a different way?”

         “We tell them what they want to hear while being completely honest in what happened.  That will add to our ruse.”

         With that, Dagmar heads off.

         I give her quite a head start, so in the meantime, I wait in the shack.  Looking around, I try to find a weapon I could use.  Remembering where I stashed some, I find an older, worn bow and quiver.  Besides the weapon clashing with my gear, being able to say that I had to find another weapon will add to the visual I had to take what I could get to arm myself.  Also, I have with me some gadgets and gear of Jarl.  I have other shacks and places like this across the archipelago, but I have yet to stash some supplies here.  These places are to help me equip myself or times exactly like this when I find myself unarmed.  The basic key to staying a couple of steps ahead is always be prepared and have sites like this so you can stay on schedule.

         The thought does occur to me that someone may have seen Dagmar and I together, but I instantly have a solution if that comes up.  Dagmar and I came the island on a mission, but Dagmar wanted to go her own way, which she actually did to rescue Klarp.  But again, saying the truth yet only saying what the enemy wants to hear.

         Tracking Dagmar, I see her path which takes me into the marketplace.  Once I am there, it gets a little muddled, but I am able to pick the merchant out which she went to.  If what Javan said was true when someone only mentions the name “Sigrunn” that anyone associated with the name even if asked a question would be taken in, the merchant Dagmar talked to would be the only one nervous in the marketplace, scared out of their wits, and constantly looking over their shoulder if the Khaos vikings saw it.

         Sure, Dagmar could have told me where she decided to go first, but this adds to the realism that I too am looking for someone, no just tracking Dagmar.  We want to put on a good show for everyone.

         Going over to the merchant, I ask, “It looks like you just saw your mother-in-law.”

         “I wish I would have seen her ins-,” he finally looked at me and his demeanor drastically changed.  “I don’t want to help you.  I…  I don’t-.”

         Interrupting, I plead, “Calm down.  What are you talking about?  I’ve never met you before in my life.  Who was the person just here wanting to know about?”

         He starts to realize I am not the same viking he saw, “Wait, someone was just here who looked just like you.”

         “That is who I am tracking, I came here for information on her.  I want to know why she is after this Sigrunn.  I heard a Sigrunn caused quite a bit a of trouble and the authorities are after them because of this.  You should report them and their interest in this Sigrunn.  Besides trying to impersonate me, this viking is no doubt trouble too.”

         With a sense of duty, the merchant runs off to go report the sighting of me tracking Dag…  The impostor.  Dagmar’s tracks go by the docks.  Though it does not look like Dagmr went down the docks, it gave me an idea when I spotted someone looking like a sailor, standing on the pier with his back leaning on the side of a ship.  As I approach, I know he sees me, but he is acting like he does not.

         I first address him, “What are you transporting?”

         Not looking at me, he continues to whittle on a stick, “What’s it to you?”

         “That I could really care less about Wengo Island,” I say pulling out a pouch of gold coins.  “What about a fair trade for information?”

         Still not looking at me, he however responds, “I’m listening.”

         First, I describe Samantha to him without using her name, then ask him if he has seen her.  Furthermore, I ask if he has heard where the Realm of Khaos came from, because he acts and looks like he is not from Wengo Island and wants nothing to do with them.

         “The girl you speak of is not here.  Saw her fly off on her Deadly Nadder.  Either she found what she was looking for or whoever is after her was closing in.  She flew overhead back to the north.  As for these Khaos vikings on this island, there is something else they are after, like something personal to them.  This is the second time I have seen them, but these Khaos vikings are different.  Almost like they are another tribe of the same clan.  The ones I have seen only want to control, the Realm of Khaos as they are called.  The vikings here call themselves the Vikings of Khaos.  These vikings seem like they are on some type of vendetta.”

         “Thank you for the information,” I had him the pouch of twenty gold coins.  “But if you are going to pass yourself off as a sailor, your hands are too smooth, especially if you are whittling wood.  You looked skilled with a knife to have such a concealed sheath for it just inside your tunic.  No ‘average’ sailor I have known ever hides a weapon unless they are hiding something themselves.  Your garb may be good for blending in as a trader of all things metal…  On land…  But not fit for sea travel on a merchant vessel.  Lugging around black armor when you need to be able to get from any area of the ship to the next quickly is not what a sailor would wear.”

         He reacts by snapping at me, saying, “How did you-?”

         Talking over him, I laugh, “I do now.  Word of advice.  When you talked about how these Khaos vikings on Wengo are doing this on some personal vendetta…  Don’t in turn speak in a way that comes from personal experience with these vikings.  Your tribe’s leader no doubt knew you would be caught by an outsider knowing these other Khaos vikings would make enemies and so you would want to team up with them.  So, to complete your mission, what message did you want to send to this outsider?”

         Perturbed he was found out, he reluctantly puts his knife away and steps forward to whisper to me as I fold my arms, “Khaos is coming.  Don’t stand in our way.  We will irradiate anyone who does.”

         I out of the blue reply, “Like Gladstone got in your way?”

         “Who?” he genuinely questions.

         “Nothing,” I downplay, but then point out.  “If you are going to make a thread, don’t in turn leave yourself open for a retaliation,” I motion my eyes down.

         Though I have my arms folded, I took out his own knife he just put away and have it pointed at his heart!

         I unfold my arms, “Be careful who you threaten.  You may not meet someone who is gracious to someone on their first solo mission.  Tell your teacher who is watching us right now…,” I lean in, giving a threat of my own.  “I know who taught her.”

         His reaction is of fear but determination, I continue, “If Khaos gets in our way, you may have to contend with the most powerful Armada in the Barbaric Archipelago.  Our vendetta for The Truth will stop you and anyone else.”

         While I thought this viking would know something about what happened to Samantha because of how he stood out from other sailors, I found a clue I was not expecting:  Even Khaos is splintered on how they reach their goal of order.  Maybe so much to the point Gladstone was playing both sides, someone found out, called him out, and then took him out…  And not for lunch.

         As much as I hate to admit it, I love Jarl’s humor.  That was one thing I did not open myself up to when I was so focused on trying to work with Einar and then try to use him.  The ability to stay positive and optimistic was something sorely missing from my life.  So, when time and time again I would beat Jarl down, he still came back at me with even more vigor and positive for himself and his crew.  I mean, I had him fight Annabeth, yet he did not let that stop him.  He figured out the escape.  He always does.

         Back to theories, I also wonder if Gladstone stumbled in on someone playing both sides of Khaos, then blackmailed whoever it was to be cut in or he would let the other side know.  Then, Gladstone was killed because he knew too much.

         Returning to my task, I see Dagmar’s tracks went towards the tavern but after that they became muddled with other tracks.  So, I then waited by the entrance figuring they have already escorted Dagmar off and will soon me.

         Sure enough, another patrol of two men and a woman – each around their mid-thirties – approach me, announcing they will take me to their headquarters.  Their captain is currently speaking with the “other woman” about what she wants.  I relay to the patrol that we should catch this impostor in what she will do.  I could wait in the wings and then catch them off guard.  While I impress upon them the impostor’s plans I have found out, I am always amazed at how when you tell someone, who wants to do evil, the truth they believe it.  No need to lie.  Dagmar does want to overthrow the Khaos vikings.  It is just I want that too, but they do not need to know that, because the safety of my entire party is swinging in the balance.  But another thing I learned from Jarl is to be as shrewd as the enemy yet telling the truth you can make every choice and word said sound real because it is.  I can be confident in what I do.  I always wondered how Jarl could keep up with me no matter how hard I tried to stay ahead of him.

         As I walk with the patrol, I have the distinct feeling we are being watched.  No doubt from the one viking I just met and his mentor.  We may get some unexpected help from them.  Only hoping they will not interfere with getting the Steinsons and Klarp out of harm’s way.

         Their “headquarters” is not in the heart of the village.  It is next to the armory, though entering the building I see they commandeered it as previous tenant is not here.  Also, they took over the cave system that has an entrance from another room in here.  The system is in the side of the mountain and has several tunnels and larger, open areas to have offices, meetings, or storage places.  So, they do have quite a bit of room to work with.  However, I find it interesting these Khaos vikings were not able to use the main entrance of these caves at the village hall.  For as much as these vikings want to take over and scare people into submission, they did not want to replace the seat of power on Wengo Island.  They want to work in the background while using the current leader as a figurehead.  Smart if you want to subdue a people.  Dump if you think no oversight is needed over leaders, especially with the vikings on Wengo Island.  They will only work with you if they can get something out of the deal.  These Khaos vikings forget about the morality and what is right and wrong.  Even those after their own gain will start to question evil when it cuts into their bottom line.

         The first question here is:  How will I make the most gold?  Second:  If someone cuts into my profit, how can I get rid of them?

         And those here is the world I am trying to teach Jarl that actually exists.

         They do not cave about you and will go to any length to protect their own interests.  For Jarl, it started with Truvor then Viggo and Johann, and along came Einar and Pheonix, not to mention Hiccup dealing with Drago Bludvist.  Also, those who have personal goals and will leave you alone if you stay out of their way: Skygge and Stormheart.  There are Dragon Trappers, Warlords and now the Realm of Khaos and the Vikings of Khaos.  Yet there are still more groups and individuals that will rise to power when others fall.

         In the same world of family, dragons, and enjoyment, there are those who will do everything in their power to take it all away.  What will you do when one of those are threatened to be taken away?  If you let one go, will you give up the next when that is threatened too?  When will you make a stand and draw a line?  These are questions that Jarl will not give me a straight answer on.  Partly because he knows I am right, but mainly because he is trying to figure out if there is another way, saying, “I always have a choice.”

         I begin to hear voices echo through the tunnel.  Entering into an area I know there to be a tunnel surrounding a small arena or court, I hear Dagmar before the Khaos leaders.  She is revealing her quest to find someone named Sigrunn.  She is getting slightly emotional when sharing how she let this “target” slip through her hands.  As much as our crew keeps telling her it was not her fault, it is a nice touch to come across as personal.  This is how you do it without letting the other one know more than they should.  It comes across so convincing and that is the beauty of it.  It is true.  She is upset about it.  Evil expects a lie, hardly ever the truth, therefore by saying the truth, they trick themselves.

         Before the patrol could take me in to confront the impostor, other Khaos vikings came over, whispering, “One of our patrols were tacked when apprehending three individuals of interest.  The two assailants were defeated from their objectives of rescuing their comrades.  But we should alert the rest of the base.”

         “Excuse me for jumping in,” I cut in.  “But this only strengthens my position when I saw this impostor has plans against you and your leaders.  Go and secure the perimeter and I will confront this impostor.”

         If there was any doubt before my claim, it is gone now.  What takes doubt’s place is a level of trust.  For them to now leave me by myself tells me their number they have on this island is smaller than I thought.  I would not have left myself alone without a guard, no matter my numbers because now I am free to move about as I please.  We just met but then again, I did gain some trust.  On the other hand, maybe they want me to be by myself and see what I do.

         Regardless, I look around to see if there is anything I can find out about these vikings.

         Swiftly going off to the right, I begin to look around.  The cave system on Wengo Island has been worked on by vikings over the years to smuggle and hide cargo when someone else is using the island or if they are raided.  But, also, if one just wants to not draw attention.  There are small rooms in this outer tunnel, so I inspect them.  For the most part just typical supplies are found, yet I did not initially notice the emblem on the crates.

         “Stormheart!” I almost exclaimed out loud.

         Upon further searching of the rooms, I find crates of a very particular liquid in vials.  Many crates are full of these vials the more I look.  Seeing the sheer amount of the crates they have, this cannot be stolen crates.  Stormheart has to be supplying them.  First, I had seen crates of food, clothing material, and tools.  Double checking the emblem on these crates, they indeed belonged to Stormheart.  Each crate had her signature three-pointed emblem.  Beyond just supplying vikings like this, the liquid in these vials is Siltherwing Venom.

         “Hey, you there?” A man’s voice declares, startling me.  “What are you doing?”

         I turn around, trying to think of something to say.

         Out comes sarcasm, something Jarl would say, “I am sneaking about trying to gain intel for my own gain after going to so much work to prove I am the real Thorgunna Vixxen.  What do you think I am doing, did you not hear the assailants who attacked a patrol are now baring down on us?  I cam here to check you supplies and make sure they were secured,” I put the crate lid back on to secure it.  “Something your superior might like to know you had not done yet.  Do you think they would like to know the slow manner you have taken to just now get around to checking the supplies?  So, you going to report me?”  I see the fear in his eyes.  “Didn’t think so.  Just be glad I’m trying to gain Khaos’ trust.”

         I walk past as if I am his superior and he is none the wiser.  However, he could still easily report it, so now I need to make my presence known.  Returning to the front entrance to the court, it is a small manmade hallway wide enough for two vikings, I slowly walk up behind Dagmar and wait for a good moment.

         The court arena is about twenty yards in diameter with a larger doorway opposite the entrance I used.  On the opposite side there are three individuals sitting on chairs decorated as if they are for a leading council.  There are two men and a woman in their mid-thirties with one of the men sitting in the middle, that I assume is the leader.  This council must be how they make decisions.  With three there would never be a tie unless each is for or against the decision before them.

         Dagmar is mid-sentence, “…and so I tracked this girl to this island.  I came here seeking information about her whereabouts.”

         The woman on the council asks, “Did you come here alone?”

         “I came to the village alone, I was found alone, and I alone stand before you,” Dagmar answered, sounding irritated.

         The man states, “It doesn’t matter, we have captured your compatriots.”

         Dagmar acts like she does not know what they are talking about, she deflects, “You are avoiding my questions.”

         I make myself known, “How about answering mine?”

         I think I actually startled Dagmar for she jumped in place before immediately calling for the Khaos vikings to not believe a word I say.  Dagmar is doing excellent in playing the part of someone who is caught with their hand in the cookie jar and desperately trying to blame anyone else for their own choice.

         I ignore Dagmar and formally address Khaos’ council, “I have reason to believe that this impostor may have been contacted by someone who is named Gladstone.”

         Dagmar pleads, “Don’t listen to this woman.  No doubt she is the impostor.  Can’t you see-?”

         She is interrupted by the man on the council, “We will hear what this newcomer has to say, then decide.”

         One of the women questions, “How does Gladstone figure into this?”

         When she words it that way, now I am almost certain that they know who Gladstone is, “I have a letter that was found in Gladstone’s possession and a Sigurnn was addressing Gladstone in this letter.  I at one point had this letter, but it was taken from me.”

         Dagmar folds her arms, “Convenient.  Are you going to say I took it?”  She goes through her pockets showing she has nothing hiding.  “Hmm, I don’t seem to have it one me.  Are you going to say that those three vikings they captured know me?  Why don’t you tell these vikings here about your partner down at the fort watching your dragons?”  Dagmar turns and steps toward the council.  “Go down and search the fort, you’ll find them.  Then we will see who’s friends of whom.”

         “We don’t know about this other viking, but we have seen those vikings you speak of…  One for each of you,” the man spoke.  “But I have one question.  We have reason to believe this girl is part of Jarl Mollerson’s crew, who led similar actions contrary to our protection of this island, who is also we believe connected to this Gladstone.  Are either of you connected to or in Jarl’s crew?”

         The one thing I am worried about is when you tell the truth but only part of it to hide your intentions, there might be a time when you will have to make a choice between lying or continually being truthful.  One can paint themselves into a corner.

         So, I answer, “At this point, you should not trust anything the impostor says.  Furthermore, you should not trust either of us, because the real Thorgunna Vixxen the Audacious would have her own angle to play and is only here for her own gain.”

         Like I said, there is always a choice between lying and telling the truth.

         “So glad you said that,” the man stood up.  “Send them in.”

         Being led in by the Khaos vikings are Adam, Vemund, and Annett…  Chained, bloodied, and bruised!

         They lead our friends to be in front of the council facing us, forcing them to their knees.  I did not react, but Dagmar ever so slightly flinched when she saw Adam grimace when going to his knees.  I see Adam has a wound in his right shoulder, blood staining his gear.  Though the vikings were not directly looking at Dagmar, this is a test.  So, I am sure they have confirmed Dagmar is the impostor.  Now they will test me, watch it.  If I do not pass it, they will know Dagmar and I are working together.  If I pass it, then Dagmar and I are one step closer to freeing out friends.

         The Khaos viking man on the council of three stands up and declares, “Both of you have put forth compelling cases, but there is one thing that can convince us.  The one who is the true Thorgunna Vixxen the Audacious would-.”

         I talk over and finish the sentence, “-have no sentiment towards those who are her enemies.”

         He is stunned yet delighted to hear that by his expression, so then he turns and walks to Dagmar giving her the ultimatum I anticipated, “If you are the real Thorgunna Vixxen, then you will have no problem doing what must be done.”

         Though Dagmar understands what this means as she draws her – my – sword, she hesitates for a single moment.  This is all the guy needed.

         “I guess we know who the real Thorgunna Vix-.”

         I interrupt by drawing my bow and firing three arrows into Adam!  One in his shoulder, and two in the gut.  Dagmar screams, rushing to this side, catching him as he falls backwards.  Obviously, my actions launch Annett and Vemund into a flurry of near incoherent protests where they are then restrained and silenced by the Khaos vikings.

         I sigh, “Are you convinced now?  I have a target to track down and I have already been delayed enough as it is.  Could we speed this up?”

         Dagmar with tears in her eyes, springs up in one last ditch effort to save herself…  By taking me down with her, “Vixxen…  After all we have done for you.  You help us for many things all to give it up in a moment?  How could you?  What did you find that was better?”

         “As you can see, she is clearly trying every little thing she can to save herself,” I tell the man.  “May I please collect my information and move on?”

         Before the man could answer, a woman’s voice from behind me strikes the moment, “You could ask them all the questions you want.  They know just about as much as you do.”

         I turn around to see a woman holding Klarp with a knife to his throat!

         This woman is completely dressed in black with a helmet fully covering her face with a fake ponytail coming out of the helmet.  There are no distinguishing or recognizable features that anyone else could identify her…  But I know exactly who it is.

         “Been a long time, Jez,” I speak to the woman.

         “I really didn’t think to find you here, not stuck in this situation trying to get your friends out of harms way,” Jez answers.  The other Khaos vikings are shocked at this development, but Jez calls them out, “Oh, please, you didn’t see this coming?  Vixxen told you not to trust what she or her so-called twin says.  Though, to shoot your own friend, that really did take me by surprise.  What are you planning?”

         I counter with my own question, drawing my bow with an arrow, “What are you trying to find out?”

         “You’ll probably figure this out sooner or later, but one of our operatives was killed recently and we take that extremely personal…  You might say we are on a vendetta.”

         From the council’s space, I hear a scuffle, only to glance and see the viking I saw on the docks and a few other vikings fully dressed in black and completely covering their face too take out or hold at spear or arrow point to yield.

         I stall for time as I look back to Jez, “I am sorry to hear you recently lost someone, but I have no feud with you or with these other Khaos vikings.  Let me and my friends go, and we will leave you to it.”

         “Man, you have changed, Vix,” Jez shakes her head.  “Didn’t know you got all soft, but I guess that is what happens when you finally married this bloke.”

         Klarp blurts out, “I’m sorry Vixxen.  While I was trying to sneak up and see about saving the other three, I saw this woman and another swoop in out of nowhere and then leave just as quick as they came.  But then one of the other masked vikings came up behind me.  We fought but he and a few others overpowered me.”

         “It’s fine Klarp,” I tell him.  “You know what I need to do.”

         “I do,” Klarp says.  “I love you.”

         “I love you too,” I reply before I launch an arrow into his shoulder and then another into his gut.

         The masked woman lets Klarp’s body slump to the floor, “Wow.  Maybe you haven’t changed.  To win over Jarl and his crew only to turn on them at this very instance, whatever you find, maybe I need to ask you some questions so I can be in on it too.”

         I chuckle before saying to her, “Maybe you need to watch your surroundings.”

         From the ground, Klarp swipes his legs and knocks Jez off her feet!

         At the exact same moment, Adam rushes a masked viking while Dagmar runs over to Annett and Vemund to unlock their chains.

         During that moment, I shoot arrows to the other masked vikings and at the Khaos vikings too.  I strike their shoulders to no injure them severely, for if Jez is here, this was a hit on these Khaos vikings.  By interrupting them and forcing them to retreat, I might stop it.  I throw a couple of smoke bombs, which the Steinsons do as well.

         I sprint to Klarp who is laying on his side, “Are you okay?”

         “I’m fine,” Klarp assures as he takes the arrow out of his shoulder.  “I guess this is why one should always wear their full gear and armor around you.”

         “Did it cut badly?”

         “I sure felt it,” Klarp stands up.  “But my shoulder pauldron took most of the arrow.  What I don’t get, is this.”

         He points to the arrow sticking out of his stomach, “Why didn’t this one hurt?”

         I take that arrow out of him, showing the arrowhead.

         “Huh,” Klarp takes it and looks closer at it.  “An arrow that has three small piecing blades but with a wide backstop to it so when the arrow hits a thick piece of gear, it merely sticks in the gear giving the illusion you shot someone with an arrow.”

         I put the arrows back in my quiver, “Thank Jarl when we get back home.  After having to shoot Dawn, he knew he needed to come up with a better idea.  We won’t always have our Dragon Flight suits on to withstand a normal arrow.  So, he gave me this.”

         Just then the Steinsons ran over to us, Adam reminding, “We are still in the belly of the beast.”

         Dagmar questions, “Why didn’t any of the other vikings rush us?”

         “Because when Jez showed up, the masked vikings knew they had to get out of here because Jez is part of the Realm of Khaos and they are not,” I reply, though they all look at me like I’m the one with arrows sticking out of me. “I’ll explain later, come on.  Where are the dragons?”

         Klarp answers, “Back where they have been the whole time, in the fort.”

         “Wait,” Adam calls out before we could run off.  “Let’s go the back way.  It is quicker.”

         Before Adam could lead us out, I grab the three arrows still sticking out of him and put them back in my quiver.

         In a matter of minutes, we find ourselves back at the fort and mounting our dragons.  We saw no one else when we left because they are no doubt going after the fully masked vikings.

         Dagmar questions as we fly up into the air, “But why did they all of a sudden just leave?  Why didn’t Jez finish the fight with you?”

         “When she lost her leverage and knew her mission was against the Vikings of Khaos, for she only used Klarp to get in close to them creating a distraction for her small band to jump the others, she continued on with her mission.  My statement saying her fight is not with us six is true.  Jez is the kind of viking to stick to the letter of a mission and not veer off.  She will use any trick in the book to complete her mission.”

         Annett asks, “But why do you know so much about this Jez?”

         “Because I was once a masked viking training along side her mentor.”  When I saw their looks, I knew I still did not make sense to them.  “I’ll explain later.”

         “You’d better,” Dagmar fervently declares.

         I led the party over to the docks, Dagmar questioning again, “What are we doing here?  Why don’t we just escape?”

         “Because I’m not letting Jez get what she came here for.”  I then tell everyone, “Now fire at that ship.”

         I point to the one I had met the young viking earlier.

         After only a few passes with our combined dragon strength, the ship explodes in a purple and blue fiery ball of flame.

         Dagmar asks, “What was on that ship?”

         Klarp this time answers, “Materials to blow up Wengo Island.  As much as any of us wouldn’t mind seeing that, there are still innocent civilians here.  Jez does have a personal vendetta on the Vikings of Khaos because they think they know what true order is but all they want to do is have power.  Jez and the Realm of Khaos wants order in the world through any means necessary.  You think you have seen some bold adversaries, just wait until you see Jez retaliate for this act against her mission.”

         “We need to get out of here while she is still occupied with the Vikings of Khaos,” I state, sighing.  “As much as I heard Hiccup telling Jarl not to start anything with other tribes, I think I may have just started a war.”