Kjeld took his leave of his brother and walked back to his house only to find Bregðask gone. The dishes had been washed and neatly placed on the counter to dry. Bregðask’s clothes were gone from the wash as well so he headed to the Great Hall where the workers of the harbor were gathering.
The men who worked the harbor saw him and rushed him, eager for answers, but Kjeld only smiled at them.
“Rest,” he said, “You’ve had a busy morning.”
“Is it true there’s a mage living in Bjørn now?”
“Is he here to help with the island’s infrastructure?”
Kjeld held up his hands, “The young man is living on Bjørn for the time being, I would only ask, on his behalf, that you not overwhelm the poor lad. His abilities aren’t well known.”
“We could really use a mage on the harbor defense.”
A woman scoffed, “We could use a mage on the Mjöllnir boundary. They might not believe in magic, but we all know this isn’t the first time they’ve employed it to achieve their goals.”
Kjeld groaned, he’d known this would happen eventually, he just hadn’t expected the son of Svein of Calder to be the catalyst.
“I will take all of your concerns into consideration when I speak with the young man as well as in our next talks with Freyr. For now, just focus on assessing the harbor and getting some lunch. Expect a full meeting this evening before the dinner hour.”
They dismissed, and Kjeld left the great hall with a bit of a headache. Despite that, he walked to Bregðask’s little hut at the edge of town. He knocked and the door fell in, but the young man didn’t seem bothered by it or his presence. Instead, he seemed focused on whatever he was scribbling in a notebook and leaning over a set of crystals.
“So, your door…”
Bregðask looked up and shrugged, “Well, you broke it so…”
Kjeld laughed and walked in. He lifted the door to lean it back against the frame before turning to the young man.
His clothes were dry, his hair tied up loosely, but there was still a tension in his shoulders that told Kjeld that he was just trying to get his mind off the events of the morning. He wasn’t sure where to start but decided that steering clear of the battle on the docks was the safest thing to do.
“What are you up to?”
“Analyzing Bjørn’s magical composition,” Bregðask adjusted the crystal on top of the apparatus he leaned over, “I was curious as to why you have a magical college next door, but nothing magical on the island itself.”
“Oh? And what have you found out?”
“They ocean currents around the archipelago are divided by different concentrations of magic,” he scribbled another note, “On Calder, the north side is where all the eels congregate and the south is practically devoid of magic, and Bjørn is in the middle of currents that carry little to no magic.”
Kjeld took a seat on a trunk beside him, “How do you explain Freyr then?”
“It’s a theory, but I think the currents come from the northeast. All the islands of the archipelago have crystal centers that absorb magic for one reason or another, some are just filled to capacity, and some are empty. It might be why you don’t get many ocean-dwelling dragons this far south. I think once upon a time the currents were different and the entire island has just been drained during the shift.”
Kjeld sighed, “That doesn’t sound hopeful.”
“Not necessarily. It means that Bjørn isn’t cursed to never have magic. It’s nestled between Mjöllnir and Freyr, so there’s a way to get magic to work on the island. In the meantime, I think I have an idea that I want to test out.”
Kjeld chuckled, “Well, I’ll be interested to see that, but for now, young man, you have treasure to claim and we have a meeting to attend.”
Bregðask froze and looked up, “What?”
“The hilmir has said that our unnamed mage be given the pirates’ treasure and whatever else he wants.”
Bregðask flushed, “I’m not sure what that means.”
“Well, there’s money, free range in and out of Bjørn to Freyr perhaps? A boat?”
He frowned thoughtfully, “Actually, that might be a good idea. Am I allowed a raincheck on that?”
Kjeld grinned, “Good you think so, and I’m sure you are. Let’s get going.”
“The meeting starts soon, the treasure is likely still in the Great Hall, so yes probably now. Besides, you need to eat too, don’t you? We tend to eat in the Great Hall for dinner this time of year, and while it’s not yet dinner time, it’s always better to be early rather than late especially with the meeting happening just before the dinner hour,” Bregðask nodded and followed him out.
After walking a while, Kjeld hummed, “A suggestion, if I may?”
“You should find another name to go by here on the island.”
Bregðask frowned, “You think so?”
“Viggo knows your name now, but he likely won’t share it without your permission once he knows you don’t wish to be known, but you’ll likely be getting into more magical skirmishes here on Bjørn. In case word gets back to your father, you should have a name to go by.”
“I’ll think about it.”
Kjeld chuckled, “I’d also suggest covering your face if you plan on being a hero more often than not.”
“That… would actually be a good idea,” Bregðask said nervously. “Where are we going exactly?”
“To the Great Hall, of course. Treasure awaits, and we’re preparing for an island meeting. You should come if you’ll really be here for four years. It may be useful.”
Bregðask hummed, “Why hasn’t a mage from Freyr analyzed the island?”
“Oh, they did. The problem is that they can’t figure it out either. It’s an ongoing project at the magical college. There are a few theories about why Nordic magic doesn’t seem to be helping, but you’ll have to talk with my brother and Hilmir Asgaut for details.”
“They never contacted Asketill?”
Kjeld chuckled, “There are only a few islands ho have a direct line of communication with the Ketill tribe, and that’s because they have dragons. I believe they talk about it at the Orlog Raun and the summits, but it is a work in progress… It isn’t as though the treaty with the Ketill tribe is much older than you are.”
For a moment, he wondered if that was part of the reason that Svein married his mother. Maybe it had only ever been a political move for him, but maybe not. Given his mother’s tone, he doubted she would ever tell him one way or the other. She seemed to be the type to remain neutral when it came to the way he felt about his father as if she was more interested in hearing how he felt about him than trying to sway him one way or another.
It was frustrating as he knew that she had issues with Svein, but it was understandable and almost welcome. They didn’t need to conflate their issues with Svein. No matter what he’d done, the man didn’t deserve that, and Bregðask would never willingly be so unfair.
“How new is the alliance with Freyr?”
“About… ten years now. It was the first thing my brother did when the old man died.”
“And you’ve kept it under wraps for this long?”
“We’ve been busy,” Kjeld said, “Hardly had time to breathe with Mjöllnir on our asses and making sure we survived winters let alone go talking about how we’re friends now.”
Bregðask laughed as they reached the great hall that was already rather loud with conversation.
“Oh boy,” Kjeld groaned, “It’s going to be one of those days.”