I thought I’d posted this back when I wrote it, but apparently I didn’t! This is a sequel to my story contained in Paragenesis, “The Rune-Throwing.”
Title: Death Gifts the Unimaginable
Word count: 6,044
Death Gifts the Unimaginable
Ottar cursed his friend under his breath. Hroth had gone off on another vision quest, deep in the woods near a fjord a couple of leagues away from Freygard. It wasn’t that Ottar was worried per se, but usually Hroth sent at least a whisper-light thought his way, a picture or glimpse of the places he was travelling in the far reaches of harish dreams and mysteries. He kicked against the sides of his horse as he called out repeatedly to Hroth via mindtouch. His cries went out into a vacuum, and that worried him more than anything else. He guided his horse, anxiety creeping insidiously in his blood as he began calling Hroth’s name aloud. After cantering through a particularly dense copse of trees, Ottar saw the edge of the water. He let out a sigh of relief. Hroth was there.
As he drew closer, Ottar’s dis-ease returned. Something was wrong. He hurried his horse along and then hastily dismounted. Hroth sat in his usual crossed leg position, but he was far from still.
“Hroth? What’s wrong?” he asked with rising panic.
Hroth’s fingers dug into the cold earth around him, muttering all the while. Ottar listened intently, but whatever Hroth articulated, it wasn’t a language that Ottar recognized. It was guttural and seemed ancient. But for all Ottar knew, it was total gibberish.
He gently ran his fingers through Hroth’s hair. His thick braids were dishevelled, and sacramental ink was smeared across his strong features. He’d drawn symbols on the back of his left arm, and his one hand was in a state of constant motion, scrabbling at his stump, then the pebbles on the ground, then in his hair. It was Hroth’s eyes that made Ottar gasp aloud and his hands tremble like aspens. Hroth’s warm, ageless eyes were glassy, though he seemed to be focusing on someone or something not far in front of him. There was nothing to be seen save the dark water of the fjord, ambitious fingers of ice stretching greedily from the shore.
“What do you see? Where in Thor’s skies are you? Talk to me!” he begged.
Hroth’s muttering went on. He turned to look at Ottar, whose smile approached his lips and then slunk away. Hroth did not appear to recognise him, instead he continued to speak in some language that seemed to Ottar like some ancestral human tongue.
“I’m getting you out of here,” Ottar murmured fervently.