Book 9 - The Mist in the Darkness - Chapter 8: Illusions of Opportunity

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httyyd
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Joined: 10/12/2013

The whole make up of this book is going back to basics, yet is altogether new for me.  New tone, new feel, new opportunities for character growth, and I hope brings something fresh to the series.

 

Hope you all enjoy the chapter!

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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

 

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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

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httyyd
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Drums R Round. Pi R Squared.

Here is the mix for this chapter:

Dark Orchestral Violin Soundtrack Music 2017 - The Untold Full Album Compilation

 

The Mist in the Darkness

Chapter 8

 

Illusions of Opportunity

 

Jarl's Point of View

 

         Out of simple reaction I let Annabeth go who takes a step towards Throst before I grab one of her arms.

         I question Throst, “What does he want?”

         “He wouldn’t even tell me,” Throst replies.  “Says that if I knew you’d make me tell you and you’d never agree to it.”

         Annabeth points at him, “Why would we ever believe anything you’d say anyway?!”

         At this point, there has been a few vikings slowly walk by and look at us before moving on.

         To answer Annabeth, I ask Throst, “Where is he?”

         “Hobblegrunt Island,” Throst responds.

         Annabeth then turns to me, “You’re not going to go see him.”

         Annabeth did not wait for me to say anything.  My expression was all she needed before walking away.

         “So,” Throst says.  “I guess there will only be one then.”

         “Don’t push it, Throst,” I make it clear.

         Throst mounts his Changewing and starts flying away.  I hesitate after mounting Fredrick.  Seeing Annabeth walk away gives me a sick feeling.  Fredrick lets out a soft purr.

         “I know, big guy,” I admit.  “Having to trust Throst and think Harald is good after all the things they have done to us might be bad enough, I am going to have to smooth things over with Annabeth when I get back.”

         But the feeling of being alone on this is something I have not felt in a very long time, and that scares me.  For as much as what I might be flying into, this feeling scares me more.

         Fredrick and I catch up to Throst.  We are quiet for the majority of the trip, which took the better part of the afternoon.  The only thing I ask him is the name for the Changewing.  Glint is what Throst responded.  Says he did not know what Koll had named him before.  But from what I observe from what Throst thought of Koll, did not have any remorse or second thought to how Koll died.  Throst moved on just about as fast as Koll’s own dragon did.

         Once we got to Hobblegrunt Island, he led me straight to a small ship in one of the harbors of the island.  After landing, Harald Forkbeard came out to greet us.  Before he could even say one syllable, I gave him a right cross he will not forget.  I have not hit someone that hard in while, enough so I had to shake out my hand because of the impact.

         “Guess I had that one coming to me for quite some time,” he admitted.  Harald checks his lip, but he is fine.  “I know, I know – Why am I here after I last fled with my tail tucked between my legs, not to mention the time when I fled that one island the size of a dragon.  Besides, I helped out the Berkians then and I’m here to do some favors.  Berk will gain a very powerful ally, if you have the courage to listen.”

         “I came, here didn’t I?” I say, folding my arms.

         Harald gives a sarcastic chuckle, “I’ll take that as a yes.  My new boss has asked me to extend an invitation to you to her battleship.  I told her that you are a moral viking with Hiccup’s ear.  He’s stubborn and headstrong; I don’t know if he could put his misplaced hatred of me aside to have a peaceful talk.”

         Throst rubs his throat again, “Unlike some vikings.”  Throst informs Harald of what happened today.

         “And you, the both of you, stay away from Annabeth,” I add.

         “I can see why she might be apprehensive about seeing me.  We didn’t exactly part on good terms the last time we met,” Harald added.  “But I believe that we have a duty to take advantage of this opportunity.  My new employer will introduce a large shift in power in the archipelago.  It is best to meet them and be prepared for what comes next.”

         Harald said for us to take his ship, but I insisted we stick to our dragons.  He disagreed yet I countered, “If you want me to come, we’re taking our dragons.  I want to be around you two as least as possible.”

         Also, because I want to get back to Berk before supper.

         From Hobblegrunt Island, Harald went with Throst while I followed.  We flew southwest for about an hour before we came across a large array of sea stacks jutting up from the ocean.  I think this could have been a volcano at some point with the rock deposits seen in the stacks, not to mention their arrangement and placement.  Throst points down to show where there is a small place to land just above the level of the sea.

         Staying on Fredrick, I wonder, “Why are we stopping here?”

         Harald replies, “We want you see for yourself who we are talking about.”

         “So, I could then walk into a trap?”

         “Again, I don’t blame you for thinking the way that you do,” Harald downplays.  “But if we wanted to capture you, we could have done that multiple times already.  However, you are here of your own choosing.”  He pauses, “Just over the crest of this small island, you will see the Tempest.  The captain standing on the bridge of the ship is no less impressive.”

         Throst chuckles as if to indicate what Harold said is an understatement, “You’ll find out for yourself soon enough.”

         Harald also informs, “Don’t mind the bristling weapons or the sense of foreboding dread around the ship.  I vouch for your safety, and my word is as good as gold.”

         “Fool’s gold maybe,” I interject.  “Don’t blame this one on me too that I don’t have the upmost respect and value for your avouchment and your word.”  Throst looked at me as if he did not know what that meant, “Avouchment:  A solemn and sometimes public declaration of the truth or existence of something.”

         Throst still does not understand.

         Harold, in reply to my statement, shakes his head, “None taken.  Throst and I will wait for you here, mate.  Go on, then- Stormheart is waiting for you.”

         As Fredrick and I lifted up into the air, the first thing I thought of, “Seems like everything these last few years have been dealing with storms or hearts.”

         “Speaking of which,” I think to myself as I observe Stormheart’s ship.  “My Heart is not doing well and I hope I can smooth things over.  Between what I witnessed on the island where we found Ondott and what Vixxen and the girls saw, there is a serious threat to this archipelago unlike anything it has seen in a very long time.  As Annabeth said, ‘I smell a villain in the area.’  It is too much of a coincidence that the attack on the Dragon Hunter base, the attack on Annabeth and me, Throst and Harald showing up out of nowhere, and this Stormheart suddenly arriving on the scene to not all be connected somehow.  There is a mystery alright, but I have a very bad feeling about this whole thing.”

         The Tempest is one massive ship in the general shape of a square, almost like a battle barge of some kind.  First impression: The captain likes spikes.  By the way, Harald mentioned the viking is a “her.”  Wonder how much she is or was like Vixxen?

         The ship is of no conventional or typical design for a ship and none that I have ever seen, and I have been to Izar of all places.  Best guess to its size would be at least a hundred yards square if not more.  I would love to look at what is exactly powering this ship, but if the giant paddle wheels are any indication of the speed this ship can produce, I have a hunch just like my little sister.

         Flying overhead, there is a gap in the middle where a smaller ship can sail into.  The gap could fit a fully loaded battleship and still have enough space for another ship.  On the front of the ship, I see the parts can open to let a ship in; or in another case, I bet, to trap or crush a ship.  If anyone saw this out on the ocean or coming to their island, they would know who was coming their way:  Trouble with a capital T.

         The weapons on this ship could take the ships of Izar a run for its value.  While Stormheart’s ship is considerably smaller than the Pride of Iyer and the Retribution, and has fewer weapons, the sheer size and power of how the ballistas, catapults, and plenty of space for rows and rows of archers, Stormheart is quite definitely a foe to be reckoned with and feared.

         Once my flyover was done, I found the viking who looks the part of a captain and a young woman to be talking to two of her men on the portside of the ship.  Circling down to the altitude, I now land and slowly walk up to the captain.

         The woman who stands before me is a viking who portrays herself to be a fighter who would not let anyone stand in her way; if her ship did not already say that.  She is middle aged yet slightly younger than Vixxen when my crew and I first met Thorgunna.  On first glance, I would have said she would barely be older than me.  For any woman, I think that is the point:  To look younger than you actually are.  This type of conversation is best done when no woman is around, especially with a Berserker in the house.  A Berkian may get a shot in the arm as in a fist.  With a Berserker, you may get a shot in the arm…  With an arrow.  Depending on who it is, it could be the sibling with his crossbow defending his sister on the comment about her age.  Thankfully, I do not speak from past experience.  However, Dagur has told me many times what he would do to me if I did anything to Annabeth; in his happy sort of tone, which makes it even worse.

         Stormheart’s height is less than an inch taller than me.  She has small brown, braided hair strands draped halfway down her back.  There are some beads in her hair, which vaguely remind me of the ones in Vixxen’s hair, even the hair style.  Vixxen’s is more random where as Stormheart’s has an order and a pattern to it.

         Apparel is a sleeveless dark seaweed blue dress cut off at the typical length of any battle skirt.  She also wears a long sleeve shirt of the same color underneath.  Knee high leather pants.  Her belt has a very unique symbol on the buckle.  It is the general shape of a triangle and the symbol itself reminds me of the waves of the ocean.  The symbol also appears on the side of her elbows on her sleeves as well as a light blue apron like cloth coming from her belt.

         Layered metal shoulder pads as well as pale yellow bracers with light green cloth wrapped to secure it on her arms rounds out her armor.  There looks to be an added metal blade across the top of each pad for further protection, each having three small spikes.  Similar blades line the outside of her shin guards.  Her weapon is the length of a staff but the use of an incurve spear.  The whole staff looks like it was carved from of a dragon’s bone.  In the main head of the spear, there is a jewel lodged into it probably to signify leadership or rank.

         Further indications of her high position amongst her crew is no doubt the facial war paint:  A thin white line from the top of one cheek bone, with a slight bend as it goes across the nose, and to the other top of cheek bone.  There are two small dashes underneath each end.  In addition, there is a thicker but shorter light blue block of war paint on her chin.  Also, she is wearing a thin head band which has a small blue stone at the center of her forehead.  The color blue must be of some significance.

         One curious attribute of Stormheart is her choice of footwear:  Sandals.  While it is starting the warmer season, a peculiar choice of footwear.  Of further note, there is an identical stone on the strap of her sandals just like the one in her headband.  Combine the sandals with her darker complexion, my guess is she is not only from outside our archipelago but further south in the warmer climates where lighter clothing and darker complexion is wider spread.

         People often ask me why I got into solving mysteries.  My mother was always amazed at the details I can pick up on, deciphering many a time the gifts or where someone had been.  The sheer number of things I can see, I am starting to wonder if it is clouding my judgement.  Being able to observe things and find their connections has always been a strong ability of mine, but it may also be a detriment.  Then again, am I reading to much into the details of this?

         “Well, if it isn’t Jarl Mollerson the Mystery Conqueror,” Stormheart greets.

         “I see my reputation proceeds me,” I stand with my hands behind my back.

         “Indeed, it does,” Stormheart confirms.  “Your exploits all across this archipelago and even to the far reaches of the Isles of Izar, your reputation as a warrior and sleuth has traveled further than you have probably ever gone in your life.  Some may discount you, ignore you, or even try to come after you, but I am one to know an ally when I see one.”

         I add, “That remains to be seen.”

         “So, it does,” she agrees.  “I am Nikora Stormheart, captain of this vessel.   Harald has told me all about you.  Your rise to power has been quite interesting, especially since you have Hiccup’s ear.  That will make this conversation efficient:  My favorite word.”

         “He already has a missing foot,” I jump in.  “I thought it best if he kept his ear.”

         She does not get it.  I clear my throat to add sound from her non-reaction.

         Stormheart goes on, “Hiccup is a fascinating man.  With you coming here, I hope that he is as willing to hear and heed my sound advice.  Follow me.  I will show you a few things.”

         I was about to show my hand out in front of her to be gracious, she instead just walked right past me.  Her two viking like bodyguards were waved off to stay behind by Stormheart.  They both glare and eye me the whole way.  Stormheart is a more refined viking whereas her men just straight up look like goons or pirates.     

         “I saw that you scouted my ship as well as my defenses,” Stormheart observed as I caught up to her to walk on her left side.  “While I like all to come see me first, I am impressed someone even thought to have done it.”

         “In our line of work,” I pander to her position.  “One can never be too careful.  I’m sure Harald also told you how I don’t trust him or Throst.”

         “And you thought this was a trap?” Stormheart questioned.

         “Correct,” I confirm.  “But if Harald is right, then maybe this is an opportunity to gain a new ally.”

         “Couldn’t have said it better myself,” Stormheart is pleased.

         “And how would it look, if I brought a sword to a meeting to gain a new friend?”

         Stormheart laughs, “This is true, but we are never truly without a weapon.  We always have something up our sleeves.”

         Did not know if she was referring to my hidden blade or not, but we continued going on.

         While we go, she pauses between a few statements as she overlooks and orders different things to different goons to be done about the ship.  “I have come to the archipelago for new business opportunities.  I hold no ill will towards Berk, Hiccup, or even you and your crew.  In fact, I admire your strength and ingenuity.  The tools which you have invented -your grappling hook, bow-sword, underwater saddle, phantom bowcaster, and your various special bombs and arrows,” I try not to show any reaction to her knowledge of what my crew and I have made.  “We do not need to be enemies.  In fact, as you have mentioned, we could become allies.  Strong allies.  But warn Hiccup, Berk, and your crew to stay out of my way.”

         At this point we move up a half level towards the back of the ship and enter a secondary lookout or command level of the portside of the ship.

         “If you cross me…,” She stops and steps in front of me, looking me dead in the eyes, saying in a whisper, “I will not hesitate to crush you.”

         We both stare at each other for a few moments, wondering if the other will show any signs of flinching.  Neither of us do.

         The one thought, I so wanted to say but knew I should not, is, “I’ve heard that before.  Other’s have said the same, but look where I am.”  Not because this is not true, but because it is a reference to someone who does not even deserve to be mentioned.

         Changing the subject, she walks over to an object that looks like a trophy, “This crate, a small gift for Hiccup and his friends; you can consider it a payment for the chaos the Triple Stryke caused within your home.  The damage was…  Unintentional.  You may take it now.”

         The “crate” she is referring to looks more like a small statue with a wooden base.  It might just be me and dealing with characters such as Nikora Stormheart these last few years, but my gut is telling me this thing looks like a trap of some kind.  I mean, who would say something was a crate when it looked like you could cut yourself just from looking at it?  Then again, it has spikes on it and those really seemed to be her thing.

         Beyond this, did she just admit to being behind the attack on the school earlier today?  Either she is dumb or smarter than she looks, because if she knows and I know she was responsible then it goes back to something she says:  This saves us all time.  And crossing her now would not be the best idea for the position I am in.  Meaning, I am the one against a few hundred.  Now, if it were three against a thousand, different story.

         “I hope you find it charming.  Harald has told me Hiccup appreciates fine engineering and design.  I thought I could share my personal style with this statue…  A gift to remind him of his new neighbor.”

         After hearing this, I am thinking to myself, “So, it’s a statue now?  Yeah, a neighbor that starts threatening everyone even before they settle into the area.”

         “Thank you for your time,” she concludes.  “I have no doubt that you will get my message to Hiccup faithfully.  Remember:  Our paths need not cross, for we look towards different goals on the horizon.  Do not cross me and I will not consider you an enemy.”

         Before I leave, I quip, “What if someone walks behind on the path you were just on?  That would mean that someone did cross your path.  Would you then call them an enemy?”

         She looks at me puzzled, “I don’t understand the style in what you are trying to do.”

         What she said did not make much sense, but I do not bother with it, “Don’t worry about it.  Somewhere the pun was lost in translation.  Of the many tools I use, humor is one I use most often.  But I guess, there can be a tough crowd every once in a while.”

         I secure the crate statue thing to the back of Fredrick’s saddle.  Mounting him, I nod to Stormheart as a goodbye.  She returns the favor by nodding with a slight turn to the side, even smiling; but the smile was very short lived.

         As Fredrick and I fly out, I hear some dragon rumblings.  Looking below me, I see a few Moldruffles, on a lower level open deck, being led to the center back of the ship’s stern.  Fredrick wants to fly back, though I urge him forward.

         “If they are using dragon power,” I lean down for him to be able to hear me.  “We can’t do much for them now.  It did not sound like a distress call either.  From what we have seen, sometimes dragons can be trained the wrong way to actually stay with evil people.  If trained as we do it but for nefarious purposes, they’ll be just as loyal to them as you are to me.”

         Returning to Harald and Throst, they try to greet me as I dismount.  I instead throw a left punch towards Throst.  He ducks, yet I expected him to.  He ducked right into a sucker punch to the gut before I took his arm and flipped him on his back.

         “You knew about this all along.  I should have seen the so-called innocent act from the beginning,” I emphatically state.  “Don’t try to jump me ever again.”

         Harald then tries to ask as I return to Fredrick, “What was that for and are you going to tell-?”

         I cut him short, “I am going to stop you right there.  I wanted to spend the least amount of time with you two as possible.  I have heard all I needed to hear.  So…  Goodbye.”

         The main reason for my quick departure is I want to make it back to Berk before supper.  The sooner I can talk to Annabeth the better.