I Speak Of Exile

Kjeld found him staring up into the bright sky through the hole in his roof later that night. The door fell in at his gentle knock, and Bregðask didn’t bother to look at him. The wind smelled like it would rain soon. Maybe tomorrow or later that evening. He needed to figure out what he was going to do about this hole sooner rather than later.

With a sigh, Kjeld came to sit beside him on the ground, “That looked tense.”

“It served its purpose.”

Kjeld hummed and looked around, “I suppose… Didn’t realize this place was such a dump. It hasn’t been that long since the last son of a hilmir stayed here.”

Bregðask snorted, “Maybe he was just a party animal.”

“He’d have to have the energy to party. I remember him, son of  Hilmir Osmond. He was an asshole and suffered quite a lot for it,” Kjeld chuckled, “Feel free to make any repairs that you’d like.”

“I will. Thank you.”

“A soldier will be here early to escort you to physical training and then on to school, so try and get some rest, hm?”

“I’ll see what I can do about that.”

Kjeld pat him on the shoulder, “You know, it won’t be as bad as he thinks it will.”

He grinned, “I had a feeling about that given the bridge.”

Kjeld grinned, “Have a good evening, Bregðask.”

Kjeld left through the open doorframe, and Bregðask shook his head at the broken door. Aside from that and the hole in the roof, there was a person-sized hole in the left wall over the other puddle of water near the wall.

This could be worse, Bregðask looked up through the large hole and then to the puddle on the ground. The men of Calder had placed all of these things along the north wall so that nothing had been ruined by whatever rain had come through the hole over the last two days. The floor was more mud than dirt in places, but that was just fine.

I don’t have much time before winter, do I?

Bregðask sighed and turned to a trunk to grab his new sketchbook. He’d need a floor and to redo the roof and the walls. He needed insulation above all things. As he dug for his sketching quill, he hummed. They’d apparently brought his tinkering trunk which had a few pieces of metal that he’d planned on fashioning into a shield, but more importantly had all of his tools in it.

However, before he considered repairing the roof, or anything else, he needed to know the state of the hut. He attempted to cast a modeling spell on the house but found that the light simply flickered over his hand.

He frowned at that and looked around the building. He walked through the hole in the wall and kept looking, but he couldn’t feel anything. Curious, he walked away from the house and down the path towards the beach to place his hand in the water.

It felt very different from the water on Calder, more like the water on the South side of the island. He jogged back to his hut to find a few vials in one of his trunks to collect some water from the shore, sand from the beach, and earth from the forest before returning to his hut. Sitting on one of his trunks, he set up the lab set that he was beginning to suspect had been a joint gift between him and his mother from his tenth birthday.

Ignoring the constant drip of water from the roof, he set the revealing crystal beneath the vial of water and looked into the corresponding view crystal.

It was as he thought, the ambient magic in the water was significantly less than the water on the south side of Calder. The sand seemed to be completely devoid of any magic as was the earth.

He sat back. An island completely devoid of magic wasn’t what he really expected from Bjørn considering that Freyr was home to a magical college, and they were so near. He wondered if maybe Mjöllnir was without magic as well since they were connected by a more substantial land tie than sparse sea stacks. If beneath Bjørn were the same crystal caves as Calder, then there simply wasn’t enough magic to fill the crystal thus the earth above it and the people couldn’t develop magic.

Well, that would explain why Svein thought this would be the best place for me…

He snorted, “Too bad he knows nothing about magic.”

While the land was the easiest source of magic, there was the rain, the wind, the sun and a whole host of other sources he could access with a little ingenuity.

He shook his head. It would be a trial for another day to start thinking about the best way to proceed, for now, he went looking for his tools and left out again into the forest to collect supplies to fashion another bow as his other bow was still at Gardar’s shop along with his entire workshop.

Sighing, he wasn’t entirely sure what he was missing, but he knew that his personal tools had everything he’d need to build a bow and a set of arrows.

He started by searching for wood and carried it all down to the beach. The sound of the waves washed over him, soothing him. Soon enough, the sun was retreating from the horizon which meant morning was coming.

Though he hadn’t finished his new bow, he walked back to his hut to eat breakfast before the soldiers came to get him for training. He ate some of the rations that Hilda packed for him while scribbling ideas for how to make some sort of buffer so that he could use magic, and maybe a way to make magical devices work on Bjørn.

A knock sounded on the door, and it fell in again. Bregðask looked at it and then to the soldier’s awkward expression.

“Sorry,” he said, “It’s time.”

“No worries.”

Bregðask stood up and walked over the door. He pulled it up and leaned it into the doorway before securing it with a leather cord.

“Should hold for a while, let’s go.”

The soldier frowned, “You are quite different than the usual sons of hilmir who are sent to Bjørn. Most at least argue… even more of them tend not to be awake.”

He shrugged, “I’ll only be here for four years. There’s no sense in making it a difficult four years.”

“That is quite a long time. What exactly did you do?”

“Be born,” he said easily, “Apparently, that’s worthy of exile.”

If that shocked the man, Bregðask couldn’t blame him. They walked quietly to the training grounds where he was left in the hands of a gruff looking man who didn’t bother to introduce himself before telling the group of young men, including Bregðask, to start running until he said otherwise.

Bregðask fell in with the group and ran. As the others began to tire, the coolness of sweat down his back made it a little easier. The time passing made it easier to just think.

Four years was a long time if he let himself dwell on his anger and sorrow. That had been what drove him to listen to that death instinct and actually jump off Viking’s Cliff.

His mother may have saved him, or maybe it was the gods, but something told him that wasn’t the answer when it seemed that would be the only answer. It seemed as though the real answer was to find his mother and read the books she’d sent him in the mean time. It had been a moment of hopelessness that he’d promised never to repeat to Gardar, Hilda, and himself.

“Hold!” Bregðask stopped and looked back at the others who practically collapsed to the ground, “Get to class and if you’re late you’ll be running laps all night!”

Bregðask found the soldier who was supposed to be showing him around and followed him at his pace downhill to where the schooling compound of the island was. In Bjørn, school ended at seventeen because they didn’t have the extra dragon and magic introductory courses. Once graduated, young men were eligible to work and required to attend martial training in preparation for joining the fighting force of the island in case of a draft.

Gardar told him to go see the town blacksmith and continue his training with him when he wasn’t being put through his paces. Bregðask had a feeling that he’d be helping the forge work smoothly a lot more than he would be learning anything new, but that was okay.

Maybe there was a magical blacksmith on Asketill he could learn from or in Freyr. There was no telling, but as he contemplated the possibilities, the anger about his exile grew lighter. Svein wanted to isolate him from magic, but somehow, he’d put him so close to formal magical training that Bregðask could just walk to it.

They said that the gods never allowed the mean-hearted to prosper.

Perhaps they were right.

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