Searching for Treasure — or Something Sinister

An excerpt from A BLAZE OF VALKYRIES!!

Guys, this book is going to be out on 30 May, and I’m getting all the final fixes fixed on this puppy. I haven’t been advertising it much because I was worried that it wasn’t going to be good enough lol. Well now I feel better about it, and am all excited about getting it out into the world … so I can start book 3: A GLORY OF SPARKS.

So the sword-friends and Dyrfinna’s crew are all trapped on an island, surrounded by the enemy. But even though they’re at war, there’s also a super-old abandoned mead hall at the top of the small mountain. Nobody’s fighting at night … so that’s when they get to explore.

Yeah that’s my book!!

They brought the clean dishes into the great hall. where they found Arne cooking several puffins in the great hearth in the middle of the floor, and several large loafs of bread that Gefjun had started had just started cooking. “See?” he said. “I told you I had it all under control.” Then Arne went back to talking with one of his wounded friends about the ship he wanted to build for his sons.

The sun had mostly set, though the sky in the west would stay bright for a while. By this light the sword-friends walked into the rest of the hall.

Here were the living quarters, with a hallway in the middle and rooms on each side. The hallway had a ceiling, probably for a second story. Dyrfinna went to the end of the hallway and opened the door to the outside. Here was the old barn, now roofless, where Gefjun had originally brought the wounded.

“I found some oil lanterns,” Skeggi said, reaching up to where small sconces were set in the wall, each with a small lamp. He brought one down and lifted off its lid, peeked inside of it, then stuck it in his pocket. “Maybe I can render some oil from a puffin for the lamp … though, come to think of it, I guess there are several puffins on the hearth right now, dripping fat into the fire,” he added, an immediately headed back to the great hall for a moment.

“He doesn’t waste a thing,” Ostryg said from inside one of the chambers, where he was looking over a small living space.

“A very useful attribute right now.” Dyrfinna peered inside another room. There had been a bed here, once, but all the skins and the bed coverings had nearly rotted away into dust, and the feather mattress had been pillaged by rodents, and the ropes that had supported the mattress were fraying in dusty threads. She sneezed vigorously.

“Here’s a ladder to the second story,” Gefjun said from an alcove next to the open door, placing her hands on the rungs to see if they would hold. “I think.” The ladder led up into a smaller alcove.

“Go up! I want to see,” Dyrfinna said.

A light gleamed from the entrance of the hallway. Skeggi wandered back in, illuminating the hall with a small oil lamp.

“Oh, that’s much better,” Dyrfinna said. “Juni, do you need this light?” as she climbed up.

“Wait a moment,” she called down. “I want to make sure the thatching isn’t that close. Don’t want to set the whole place ablaze.” She climbed up and vanished through the hole.

“I’ll bet it’s storage,” Ostryg said.

“Or hidden treasure,” Skeggi replied, rubbing his hands together as Dyrfinna scampered up the ladder after her friend.

“Or snakes!” Ostryg shouted after Dyrfinna.

Some moonlight gleamed in through a hole in the thatching. Dyrfinna sneezed five times in a row as soon as she climbed into the room and accidently banged her head on the sloping roof. She swore.

“Watch out for the roof,” Ostryg called up.

“Thanks,” Dyrfinna said sarcastically. Her eyes were watering, whether from the blow or from her allergies, she wasn’t sure. “Juni?” she asked, trying to rub her eyes clear, grimacing at her aching head as she stepped off the ladder into the room.

Gefjun wasn’t speaking. She was standing there, silent, staring at something in the darkness on the floor.

The loft was larger than Dyrfinna had expected, but the walls were blackened from years of smoke from the fire in the great hall, which had drifted through the cracks of the wall and thatching, so even with the light coming in, it was hard for Dyrfinna to make out anything through her watering eyes. It smelled strange up here. Old rooms had a smell like mice and paper wasps, which this one had, but there was another smell underlying it that she couldn’t identify through her snot-filled nose. There were several old trunks up here, all of which had been thrown open with the contents flung around the floor. In the far corner lay what looked like an old pallet with a large heap of rags thrown upon it. A cross hung on the wall, as if a monk had lived here at one time.

She took a few steps forward toward Gefjun to see what she was looking at – and was immediately arrested by her friend’s bony, cold hand locking on her arm with a grip of iron.

“Not. Another. Step,” she hissed. “Are you insane?”

Dyrfinna froze. With her free hand she rubbed her eyes clear – and now she saw what Gefjun was seeing.

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