Taking Stock

A short time later Balar gathered the party in the warmth of the forge building. Erik was the only one who struggled to fit and now sat in the open doorway, hunched and peering inside.

Balar paced back and forth before the forge flames his arms behind his back and Tiella sat off to the side a far off look on her face. At last the man spoke and his voice was raw with emotion,

"I want to thank you all for coming this far, for supporting this task that has been laid out before us. I know we all have out own reasons for being here, but still we have chosen to take this journey together and so far that has kept us all alive." He walked over to stand besides his wife and she placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

"It is no secret that Tiella and I are here on the orders of the dark power we know as Harlequin, the bastard son of Loki. We owe him a debt, plain and simple and the task he has given us is clear, slay his sister the queen of death known as Hela. We are bound to this task and two others yet to be named. Among you only Majvoc here is joined with us in our deal with the devil and..."

"I can speak for myself." interrupted the thief, "I make no pretense at loyalty or love for any here, I have struck my own bargain and will pay my own debt, but I am no fool. I stand the best chance here with you all and hold no ill will towards you. Some of you do not like my manner and truth be told I can little for yours.. plain and simple this is business."

Tiella rolled her eyes and rose to speak, "I think what the boys are trying to say is that we are bound to continue whereas you are not. We will hold no ill will should you choose not to join us from here."

"Just so..." Balar agreed and then he addressed each of the group in turn starting with Jorrik who was stood leaning against the nearby wall. "Friend, given the display we have just now seen I suspect you are bound with us for a time at least. Is that so?"

Jorrik met his eyes, warrior to warrior and for a moment Balar stepped back, daunted by what he saw there. "My doom is upon me," he breathed, "I follow."

Balar turned then to Luna and smiled warmly, "Luna your bonds are those of loyalty and love my daughter. You have been with us from the beginning and I would have you with us until the end but the choice us yours. You owe nothing."

He then addressed Dyvia, Erik and Kespin in turn. "Sister Dwarf the blade is now forged would you join us to see its purpose revealed? Bother Jotun, I see you have agreed to carry the blade for Jorrik, does this mean you are with us until the end of this task? and grandfather, there is purpose behind your being here and wisdom beneath your madness... what say you?"

"Miles," he turned to face the masked warrior, "Our brother. A mans soul is not a gift to be given, even by one as mighty as the world serpent. Do you join us freely?"

Before Balar could go on or any other could give answer Garand stood to face him, "I... I will remain here. I have lost my love for adventure and the longer we travel the more I realise that this task is not my own. I crave a simpler life, smaller adventures and... a distant death."

"Coward." muttered Majvoc and in an instant Garan had drawn his baldes and was upon the thief.

"No." roared Balar as he leapt between the two men. "No.... to turn from death is not cowardice, in fact mist would consider it wisdom." He placed a calming hand on Garand should and met his eyes,

"Stay here in peace and with our blessing." he said. Garand gave a firm nod and sheathed his weapons.

"Caligari, witch of the north, that leaves you. It would seem that you have been drawn to this gathering and some of your purpose here has been revealed. Tell me now sister would you remain with this cursed family until the end? Each of us must choose, each in turn and none will gainsay your choice, but choose now for in the morning this family will venture north and by days end there will be no turning back."

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