Wolves at the Door (part 65)

When the surprise witness had divested himself of his weapons and entered the fridgard, Gil recognised him. But then, the village was small enough to know everyone by name. Gil didn’t know much about Fargrim beyond his name though; he had never paid him much mind. Apparently the feeling was not mutual, but Gil had no idea what the man was going to say. Judging by the murmuring of the crowd, everyone else was wondering the same thing.

“We’ve heard a lot about who this boy is, and what he’s done. But maybe we need to hear a little more about what he is. I suppose I know as much about his kind as any man in town. My shipmates and I sailed with one for years, until the accident.”

The audience had gone silent as soon as Fargrim had started talking, but a hiss of whispers exploded at this point. Apparently Gil had not been the only one to suspect foul play.

“Now, I’m the first to give Arnulf his due. He was a good fighter. But the same can be said for every man on that ship. But he was trouble, and that’s not something we all had in common.

“This kid? He’s trouble all right. We wouldn’t be gathered here if he wasn’t. I’m not saying it’s his fault. It’s just the way it is. The difference is, he’s not a good fighter. Barely knows one end of a sword from the other.”

That was an exaggeration. Though, Gil would have to admit, not by much. There was a reason the guards had not feared to let him walk around unfettered all morning.

“Again: not necessarily his fault. Maybe there’s something else he’s good at. But there’s been a lot of silly talk this morning, about the return of the ulfhednar. Some people are convincing themselves that he’s the harbinger of a new golden age. That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard. He’s only one wolf, and a lousy one at that. This isn’t the good old days. He’s not any kind of hero. He’s a chicken thief. The glory days of the ulfhednar are gone. We don’t need them, and we don’t need him.”

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