Egill gently opened the chest, trying to ruin as little as possible the old leather belts that kept it closed.
He drew from the inside a small golden sphere, about 2 centimeters in diameter.
The sphere was connected to a steel chain: it also looked like the pendant of a necklace.
Egill rose the object, observing it better and trying to remember something.
"This is the latest creation of Master Olav: the 'Bjelke Sphere'" he said.
"Bjelke Sphere? And what's the use?"
"If I'm not mistaken, he created it just to find ancient valuable artifacts. Yes, in addition to being a great chemist, he was also a great stingy. He loved money" Egill chuckled, recalling his Master.
"But... how can this 'sphere' help me tracking down the other emblems? How does it work?" asked Dag, anxious to know the answer.
"In my opinion, even though it was created for another purpose, the Bjelke Sphere also works with emblems. First, clutching your necklace in my hands, I tried to feel its magical power, but it was absent. We'll see what vibrations it emits" Egill said, intrigued.
He approached the small sphere to the pendant in the shape of a horseshoe.
The sphere began to vibrate, emitting a hiss.
"It works!" said Dag, enthusiastically.
Egill did not answer. He slowly removed the Bjelke Sphere from the emblem and it gradually stopped vibrating.
"Mmh... I understand" Egill thought aloud.
"Does the effect shrink with distance?" asked Dag to his Master, believing that he had sensed the functioning of the golden sphere.
"That's right, Dag. And not only this: I believe that the vibration that this artifact causes in the sphere is so low because it is the last emblem. His power is weaker than the others, so the sphere needs to be very close to recognize it" continued Egill, who watched the Bjelke Sphere with admiration.
"I didn't think it might come in handy in some way. Thank you, Master Olav" he replied, approaching Dag.
Before he could speak, Egill tied the necklace with the golden sphere around his neck.
"If you always keep the sphere on your chest and your emblem in your pocket, they shouldn't interfere".
Dag stood still, waiting for Egill to finish hooking his new necklace.
"But... Master... this is an object of extreme value, belonged to your Master, I do not think I am worthy of..."
"Aaah! Silence, kid! Don't you dare contradict your Master!" said Egill aloud, his face angry, which after a few seconds turned into a smile.
Dag smiled back.
"I'm sure Master Olav would be happy to make himself useful to the future Warchief of the Hammers Of Thor" continued Egill, who turned back to the table to observe the Red Executioner.
"About my travel companion... I wish I could bring in another person besides Karl, who is a trusted friend of mine and a good healer" Dag said, as he tucked the Bjalke Sphere under his leather jacket.
"Healer, did you say? What are you waiting for, then? Let him in here, let me know the guy. Then I'll show you the candidates I personally chose for you" Egill replied, sitting down.
Dag nodded and ran out of the library.
Karl was sitting outside, on a bench, eating an apple, watching two Shieldmaidens chatting.
"Nah, they're way out of your league, brother. Hahaha!" chuckled Dag, patting him on the back.
"You will soon change your mind, Dag. I will become a valiant warrior, like you… and women will fall at my feet" Karl said with an air of superiority.
"Master Egill wants to meet you. Follow me to the library".
"What? That guy with the chilling look and the long white beard? Brrr! It makes me shiver!" replied Karl.
"Hahaha! You're such an idiot! He's so much better than he looks. Come on, come with me" Dag continued, as he walked back to the library.
Karl followed him, tucking the half-eaten apple into his pocket, so as not to look bad in Egill's eyes.
The two entered the library: Egill was still sitting there, behind the table in front of the door, with the Red Executioner before him.
Karl opened his eyes wide when he saw the weapon on the table. Before approaching Egill further, he knelt and said: "Dag told me you wanted to talk to me, Master Egill".
While Karl was still with his head down, Egill looked at Dag, giggling softly.
"Then... in Dag's opinion, you're a young healer. Is that correct?" asked Egill, in a mock stern voice.
Karl clenched his fists and closed his eyes even more: "well... my friend Dag is too kind. I'm not a healer, I'm just learning how to make little healing potions with wild herbs from the Gronn Forest. My father got sick in the last period and I was forced to get in!"
Egill stopped before him, who was still kneeling: "since antiquity, herbalism is one of the fundamental arts that a healer must possess. I started my way to become a healer like you, with the good fortune of having a Master who knew about herbs and chemistry".
Karl looked up, realizing that Egill was not the bad man he looked like, he could tell by the tone of his voice.
He stood up.
"How old are you, boy?" asked Egill.
"Sixteen" Karl said in a flickering voice.
"Before you leave with Dag, I want to give you something that I think will be useful to you" he continued, approaching a bookshelf and pulling out a small book, which he then delivered into Karl's hands.
"This was the first text on which I studied the alchemy of plants growing in our lands".
Karl looked in amazement at the gift he had just received: the title of the book was "The Almanac of the Medical Herbs and Edible Berries of Jordstäl".
"Thank you, Master!" he exclaimed emphatically, kneeling back to Egill.
"Despite your young age, it seems that Dag really wants you to follow him on his first expedition. If he trusts you, then I want to trust you too. In moments of pause, read the almanac, study every page of it. When we'll meet again, you will show me your progress" Egill continued, grabbing Karl by the arm and inviting him to stand up.
"But... but... I'm not a member of this Clan, I'm not even 18!" said Karl, worried.
Egill put a hand on his shoulder: "the task you are about to accomplish goes far beyond all these nonsense formalities. You will choose your Clan at the age of 18, like everyone else. Become a good healer, do it for your friend".
Egill pointed to Dag, who looked Karl in the eye.
He reciprocated his gaze, clasped the almanac in his hands and smiled at Egill, his new Master.
Chapter 102 "The Bjelke Sphere" concludes the first volume of the novel: "The Birth of the Viking Warrior".
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