Ragnar Ironhorn massaged his temples and grimaced as he reviewed the scrolls set out in front of him. When his son Lief had brought him word that Ragnar’s younger brother Valmeer had been seen in the vicinity he’d known that trouble couldn’t be far behind. Still, what he had expected was a simple fight to the death, not this snarled mess that had fallen in his lap. The envoy from the Stormhide Clan had departed just this morning, finally yet begrudgingly convinced that the Ironhorn Clan had not sanctioned nor known of Valmeer’s intentions. They would still swear their bloodoath, but it would be against Valmeer alone, and not aginst the whole Ironhorn Clan.
Jotun Stormhide was still shrilly demanding reparations for the loss of his prized enslaved elf, but Ragnar would be damned if he’d pay the price that was being quoted. Refusing to pay meant that Jotun would most certainly enact an embargo against Ironhorn steel for this season, not just for Ragnar’s village but for the whole Clan. Hence the collection of messages before him, from his fellow Village Chieftains, and both his liege Sept and Clan Chieftain angrily implying that Ragnar get his house in order lest they take it upon themselves to enact order.
Mother dead less than a week, and to top it off he’d just received word that the Temple of Visry in Krava was sending a senior priest to investigate “suspicions of heresy”. What in the eight hells had Valmeer been doing? Trying to kill Ragnar with an ulcer? Not the traditional weapon a Minotaur chose for the Holmgang, but it seemed as if Valmeer had forgotten much of the old ways in his travels.
Still, Ragnar mused, as his gaze slid to his trident mounted upon the wall, Valmeer made it quite clear when he was speaking to my son that he intended to return to challenge me one day. Ragnar nodded grimly, sitting alone by the flickering fire in his longhouse. Let him come.