Be A Good Machine

“Are you Bregðask Harvard?”

He turned to look at the older man and smiled. He bore the crest of Bjørn and a messenger’s satchel.

“I am.”

The man pulled out a stack of letters and handed them to him, “Letters for you.”

He nodded, “Thank you.”

Taking a bit of bread and dried meat, he sat on his makeshift bed to read them. he’d been on Bjørn a little over a month now, and while he would dare say he was comfortable, there was something warming about having these letters to read from the people on Calder who seemed to give a damn about him.

There was one from Kata, another from Dagur, Dvalarr, Hilda, Svala, Eira, Aslog, the unmarked letter was definitely from his mother and Hilmir Eldinghögg of Asketill. Aside from those, there were several other letters bearing the crests of other islands of the archipelago.

Kata had more questions about her ax, but even more questions about how Bregðask was fairing in Bjørn between the weather and his living arrangements. Dagur promised to visit soon as he would be traveling to Freyr to speak with the Hilmir Asgaut about sending aspiring mages to Freyr for training. Dvalarr told him that he’d gone to see Aslog recently and was shocked to see her and her mother doing so much better. Apparently, the kista was working even better than he hoped it would.

Svala demanded to know what he’d done to get Aslog back on her feet and to send her one for her aching bones. With her letter came a book on Norse healing rune spells.

I still expect you to take over when I die.

He chuckled and folded her letter back up before opening the next. Hilda wished him well and told him that she’d already informed his mother and the chief of Asketill that he was in Bjørn so he could expect direct letters from then on.

If he wanted to reply directly, he would have to address them to Jormungandr Port, Svalbard and add the runes to the letter she specified. Near breathless, he drew his hand over the two symbols, one for his mother and the other for the hilmir. Hilmir Eldinghögg’s crest was the image of an island receded into the mist. His mother’s seal was a black dragon in flight like something out of myth. He wondered if it was her family’s crest.

Black dragons, he thought. He didn’t know of many black dragons, but he knew there were a few, most of them were smaller than horses and adept at nighttime hunting. There was one other than he couldn’t quite name, but he didn’t worry about it as he was sure that there were plenty more that he’d never heard of and may only see if he ever got to visit Asketill.

Worrying his lip, he tucked the note away and moved on to the next letter. Most of the chiefs sent him parcels, and while their letters carried an amused tone, they seemed to be trying to make him feel better about his apparent exile to Bjørn. They, at least, seemed to know something more about the reason he was in Bjørn than he did.

Your father is a Viking man and that comes with stubbornness far stronger than you would think even regarding matters of family. Don’t be too angry with him. One day, you’ll be able to sit at a table together and try to understand one another.

It was an odd sentiment, but as the hilmir of Frigard wasn’t the only hilmir to say something about his exile with the same tone, it seemed that they all understood something fundamental about his relationship with Svein that the man himself didn’t seem to and Bregðask didn’t want to have to understand.

For now, take the years on Bjørn to find what kind of hilmir you want to be. I’m not sure what your father believes Bjørn will do for you, but at the very least, planning the future meant for you and your people will make the time pass. Ivan and his brother are good men. With their vini of all stations, they’ve built quite a legacy on Bjørn. Learn from them and use that knowledge to be a hilmir more than worthy of the Harvard legacy.

Hilmir Anquetil of Asgeir had always struck him as a kind and wise man. Obviously, the man knew something about the notion of kindness and forethought. He was the eldest hilmir of the archipelago and had already announced that he would be stepping down after the next Ørlǫg Raun. His son had inherited his sensible disposition. He wondered if they were that way, primarily, because they hadn’t let the goðar gain that strong of a footing on their island.

Along with Hilmir Anquetil’s letter came books about the world beyond the archipelago. He put them in his trunk with his other books and supplies. He saved the letter from his mother for last and read the letter from Hilmir Eldinghögg of Asketill.

It sounds like you’re becoming a rather accomplished mage. Don’t worry about the goðar. They’re bitter old men with their own agendas. As they say, wicked hearts cannot undo divine will, and you were meant for great things.

It’s a shame you weren’t at the past summits, your replacement, Arfi Renouf, was an interesting character, but hardly a worthy replacement. I’m not sure what issues Calder is facing that he was the best option in your absence, but I hope it resolves itself quickly or the entire Rekkr Vinfengi might have more trouble on their hands than they know how to resolve.

With this letter, I’ve included a few books that may be of interest to you. As usual, they are yours to keep.

Until we speak again.

Bregðask was pretty sure most would say that a few books was an understatement of how impressive the book collection was, after all, the Ketill tribe were the chief experts in seiðr. He grinned and set the crate of books aside. He’d put them with his other magical tomes

He worried his lip and set the letter aside before opening the letter from his mother. The letter came with a chest of jars of pudding, spices, and a few other things that were each marked as well as a crystal that glowed with a myriad of colors. He held it up and peered through it, curiously, and he was sure that he had never seen anything so beautiful.

Had I known that you were suffering so, I would have explained quite a few things sooner and raized Calder to the ground. As you are no longer on Calder, things will get better.

It is the nature of mages like us to need companionship and connection. Without it, we are driven to sadness, despair, and desperate measures. I am only thankful that Calder is a place where no physically lasting harm could come to you. I will never forgive myself for leaving you on Calder to go through these changes alone, but that guilt would only worsen if I were to lose you.

I am shocked to hear that your father has allowed it to get this bad. I told him the effects of isolation on people like us. I hope that from now on, now that our communication can be more open, that you will find it in your heart to speak about your experiences, and if not with me, then someone you trust.

Do not let loneliness fester, my son, it has destroyed men and women, dragons and toppled whole civilizations. It is only a momentary sorrow.

In the parcel are a few things that should make the time ahead easier. Pudding, of course, as I am well aware of how fond you are of it as well as spices, teas, and a valdkar. Valdkar project a protective shield over your magic and keep islands like Bjørn from drawing it out of you. If you keep it with you, it should ease the feeling of exhaustion that being on Bjørn might bring and allow you to use your magic anywhere on the island if you need. It may also help you get some rest. It needs to be recharged when it begins to dim, fresh rainwater and sunlight are the best options, but ocean water from far enough away from the island will work too. If you are able to journey to Freyr, you can charge it simply by wearing it on the island.

Holding it in his hand made his shoulders relax and something in him sigh in relief. He threaded a leather cord through the wire wrapped around the crystal and tied it so he could wear it around his neck.

No sooner had it settled against his chest did he yawn. He felt dizzy like he was on the edge of falling asleep. Setting his letters inside his stationary trunk, he undressed and crawled onto his pelt, before he’d realized it, he was asleep.

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