To Ask

When he woke up, the soldier was at the door ready to escort him to training.

He sat up with a groan, “Door’s open.”

He opened it and he smirked, “So you’re sleeping now.”

Bregðask nodded with a smile and fiddled with the crystal around his neck, “Yeah… I am. Hold on.”

He stood up and stretched before getting dressed and trying to shake off the hold of sleep.

“Can’t say how long it’s been since I’ve slept so long.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re getting some sleep. It’s going to be a long training day. They’re enlisting the young men in martial training to help set up the temporary docks on the beach.”

“Manual labor, got it.”

“I’m also on orders to take you back to the blacksmith to help…. it seems that Becca could use the help and isn’t going to be so picky about where he gets it.”

Bregðask snorted and shook his head. He shoveled food into his mouth quickly and carried what he could out the door with him. Rather than the training pitch, they were meeting on the beach. Magni, Rangvald, and Ivar waved him over.

“Good morning, you look,” Ivar hummed, “Rested.”

“I actually slept from last afternoon to this morning,” Bregðask said, “I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve slept that long.”

“Well, I’m sure you’ll get another long night of sleep tonight,” Magni chuckled, “Us too. Dock building is not a low energy task. Care to team up with us? We need four people.”

Bregðask nodded, pleasantly surprised that no one thought he couldn’t handle it based on his appearance. On Calder, he would have been simply assigned something easy to do, “Sounds good.”

Torvald called their attention as gruffly as ever, “Today, the ströndforingi will be taking over your training. I have things to attend to. Work them to the bone, especially mine.”

Magni laughed as did Viggo, “I don’t think that there’s anything I could have them doing that will be worse than you.”

Torvald laughed and left with a ruffle of Magni’s hair, “See you at home, kid.”

“Good luck with Calia!”

The man glowered at him but walked away as Magni cackled.

“Hello everyone,” Viggo said and looked across the group. His eyes paused on Bregðask for a moment, “We have a full week ahead of us. First, we dismantle the damaged parts of the dock and see what can and can’t be reused. The architects haven’t finished drafting the plans for the new docks yet as they’re hoping for some help from Freyr. We’ll need a team of four in the water to lift and a team a four above to pull. Everyone else, you’ll get to stay dry and will be hauling wood from the docks.”

“Are you a good swimmer?” Magni asked Bregðask.

“I am,” he said, “I’ve got decent lung capacity.”

Magni nodded, “We volunteer for the water.”

Viggo nodded, “Good.”

Another team volunteered to be up top. Viggo directed the hauling teams before addressing the two water teams.

“It’s going to be a long day boys. We need those pillars up. We’re hoping to reuse them.”

Ivar winced, “That sounds like diving.”

“It is,” Viggo said, “To the bottom to dig them out.”

The other team seemed nervous and Bregðask had a feeling he knew why. swimming even on the warmest days was a test of endurance and skill. The water was frigid and could freeze a grown man with ease in under five minutes. They would have to work quickly and in short bursts to keep them from being sick. Magni pulled off his shirt, boots, and socks and the others followed suit before wading into the water.

As the water washed around Bregðask’s ankles, he felt an odd sense of calm and coolness. It was different than the waters around Calder, but a welcome difference. The waters were cooler despite it being farther south and devoid of ambient magic it was strange.

Ivar shivered, “So cold. I am not looking forward to this.”

“You need to eat more,” Magni said eyeing Bregðask, “Did they starve you on Calder?”

He laughed, “Hardly. I eat plenty…. At least now I do.”

“You’re not cold?” Ivar asked.

Bregðask shook his head, “I… usually run pretty warm.”

Rangvald pointed at Bregðask’s chest, “What is that?”

“A valdkar,” he said, “It’s a type of crystal, I think. My mother gave it to me.”

“Shiny,” Rangvald said and shuddered. Viggo tossed them each a shovel and a rope to tie around their waists.

“Don’t drown.”

Rangvald snorted as he tied a boat knot in the rope around his waist, “How could I with you as a father?”

Viggo smiled proudly and left them alone to oversee the work being done on the beach. Once each of them had the rope tied and the four that were meant to spot them were ready, they walked toward the first post.

“The posts for the docks are wedged into the bedrock of the island, so let’s get as far down as we can.”

Ivar all but shrieked as the water washed over his shoulders and they waded into water too deep to stand in.

“Everyone okay?” Rangvald asked.

Ivar’s teeth clattered, “Let’s just get this over with!”

Magni chuckled, “Well, it won’t be that easy.”

They swam to the first post and grabbed hold of it. Rangvald led the dive down and each young man followed soon after. Once submerged, Bregðask was stunned for a moment. He could hear something in the water, but he wasn’t sure what it was, like a soft whisper or something. The valdkar cast a bright light through the darkness as he swam further down following the pole down. Ivar was the first to stroke back to the surface. He, Magni, and Rangvald made it to the bedrock before Magni had to turn back to the surface for air. He and Rangvald began to dig, but the sand was too dense to do much more than chip away at it. If he had to guess, the sand had crystalized for some reason near the bedrock. Rangvald tapped his arm and gestured towards the surface, and Bregðask followed him to the surface.

“It’s deeper than we thought,” Magni said, as Ivar’s teeth chatterer, “A lot deeper than it should be.”

“The specs are wrong,” Rangvald said, “They probably didn’t update it from the last time the docks were rebuilt. Can you make it to the bottom?”

Magni nodded, “Barely, but if it’s that deep it’ll be harder to dig out.”

“There’s also the matter of the sand down there no longer being sand,” Rangvald said, “It’s like solid rock.”

“Crystal,” Bregðask said, “It’s more like crystal.”

“That’s even worse,” Ivar laughed, “How are we supposed to dig that out?”

Ströndforingi!” Rangvald called. Viggo came over to the still standing part of the dock.

“A problem, I take it.”

“It’s deeper than the specs say,” Rangvald said, “And the sand has turned into crystal. I don’t think that these shovels are going to help any.”

Viggo ran a hand through his hair, “I suppose not… And what the hell do you mean by crystal?”

“Like the crystal base of the island,” Bregðask said, “If I had to guess, something is pulling the sand against the bedrock with enough force and pressure to solidify it.

It wasn’t so deep that water could have caused it so something was drawing magic away from the surface. There was a magic deficit somewhere that the crystallization of the sand and salt water was making up for.

“That sounds like magic,” Viggo said, “Any ideas?”

Bregðask worried his lip, “Maybe…”

“I don’t like the way you said maybe,” Magni said eyeing him.

“Well, if it’s the same kind of crystal there should be a way to break it apart, or at least fracture it. I’d have to see for sure, but maybe we could use the water to drill holes into it?”

Magni narrowed his eyes, “But if whatever is pulling that sand has enough force to crystallize it, then what will that do to you?”

“How long has it been since the pier was rebuilt?” Bregðask asked.

“About… twenty years or so.”

Bregðask shook his head, “If the draw is that slow, then it should be fine, but don’t let me drown trying, yeah?”

“Of course not,” Magni said, “I haven’t asked you on a proper date yet.”

Rangvald laughed as Bregðask felt his face heat up, “Lay off, Mag’. Look at his face.”

He shrugged, “He can speak for himself if I’m bothering him.”

Bregðask decided it would be best to exit the conversation before he heard anything more so he dove and followed the pillar down to the bedrock. Under the light of his valdkar, he could make out the crystal formation around the pile. It was solid save the bit of sand collecting above the surface.

The Lady Ran and her husband Ægir, allow me council with your daughter, Hefring

Find favor with this son of Jörmungandr to lift from the world-floor these pillars.

The water swirled viciously upward until the crystal cracked around the pillar and broke. The force sent the pillar and Bregðask up to the surface and screaming as he flew through the air and on to the beach alongside the pillar.

“Are you okay?” Rangvald asked as the young men rushed through the water towards him, “What the hell did you do?”

Bregðask laughed, “I just asked for a bit of help…”

“From who?”

“The lady Hefring and her parents…” He said and his eye widened as the waves continued to swirl and the other poles were cast out of the water as well.

Viggo looked at the four of them as the water eased.

“Well, hell,” Rangvald said, “That… certainly frees up our day.”

Bregðask walked to one of the ends of the poles and drew hands across the crystal’s surface. There was something in its depths that he couldn’t quite place. He chipped a piece off to study later and went on to dry off with the rest of the group.

He was in the middle of drying off, mid reply to Viggo asking what just happened when everything went black.

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