Dag went out into the yard and approached the horse stable, which was near the main entrance.
Even the horses were still sleeping. All but one. He was a spotted, brown and white young stallion.
"And you? Were you waiting for me?" said Dag in a low voice, talking to the horse and stroking his snout with his hand.
He took the reins and with him walked out of the temple, coming out of the front door, which had just been fully repaired.
He looked at Thor's statue, the God Of Thunder. The Sun was slowly beginning to rise and the Temple Of Orn behind him was illuminated by a beautiful yellow light.
He felt a strong connection with that place, with that statue.
He turned to the path and began to walk, descending from Mount Torden.
He went down the same path that enemy warrior troops walked on when he intercepted them.
He passed in front of the bear lair in which he hid from them.
After a little more than an hour, he finally got off the mountain and continued to ride, skirting the river.
That valley was full of memories.
"Who knows how many times Master Magni has walked this way to reach Jernhest and recruit new warriors" he thought, recalling his first moments with him.
Dag continued his smooth journey to the capital.
The valley seemed peaceful and quiet.
Great falcons supervised it from above, watching over its inhabitants.
Just before entering the Gronn Forest, which surrounded almost completely Jernhest, he stopped and got off his horse to rest.
He opened the bag with food and began to eat bread and dried meat, also feeding the horse with grass detached from a bank of the stream.
Soon after, he resumed the journey, which continued uninterrupted to the city.
Dag looked around: blacksmiths, craftsmen, and shepherds populated Jernhest, which exuded joy and vitality. He had been just over a month away from home, but in his head, they had seemed years.
He couldn't wait to meet Asa and without hesitation, he headed to the hill of his farm.
As he rode through the streets of the city, many began to look at him. Despite his short time away from home, Dag looked completely different, like a true warrior.
The long blond hair, tied behind with a tail, the dark brown leather armor, with two symbols carved on the chest: next to that of the hammer symbolizing his Clan of belonging, was the swallow of Asa, which Dag had detached from clothes he wore previously, to never lose his true identity.
From his belt, Magni's hammer hung. It was a visibly different weapon from a common one, the handle wrapped in an inlaid leather lining and the head made of black stone: it changed its color since Dag unlocked its true potential, fighting against the Fangs Of Jormungandr.
"Dag? Is that you?"
Someone called him from behind, in the confusion of the crowd.
Dag turned that way.
"Karl! My friend!" he exclaimed, getting down of his horse to greet him.
The two hugged each other in a fraternal hug.
"You're back! It feels like an eternity since you left!" said Karl.
"It's true! Coming back in Jernhest warms my heart. What about you? Are you still training to join a Clan?" asked Dag.
"Of course I am. I'm going to join the Crows Of Odin. I will follow in the footsteps of my father and sister."
Hearing those words, Dag's heart raised in his throat.
"Freydis... Is she here in Jernhest?" he asked, hoping for a positive response.
"No, I'm sorry. She left for Skjegg a few days after you. All she did was talk to me about how fond she was of you. She seemed hurt by your choice, but at the same time, her eyes were shiny. What did you do, did you cast a love spell on her, pervert?" replied Karl, mocking Dag.
"Hahahaha! Of course not! You're an asshole, as usual!" said Dag, embarrassed.
"Do you want to come with me home? I was going to see my mother" he continued.
"Of course! Let's go!" replied Karl, who carried a bag containing something behind him.
"What do you have in there?" asked Dag again.
"I came to town to buy food. My father hasn't been feeling very well recently and my mother always stays home to look after him".
"Paul? I'm so sorry. If there's anything I can do for you, don't hesitate to ask".
"It would be nice, Dag... but there's nothing you can do. My father was a skilled warrior, you know his story too. But not fighting for years, his physique has weakened. Old age is the worst of diseases, and it's incurable" Karl continued.
"Rather... I often see your brother Eirik in town. He sells timber in the store at the market. But I haven't seen your mother in a while".
"What?" said Dag, worried by that statement.
"I don't want to make you worry, my friend. It was a simple observation" Karl replied.
Dag did not speak, merely hoping that nothing bad had happened to Asa.
After about half an hour, the two began to climb the hill leading to Dag's house.
Once in front of Karl's house, they stopped.
"Will you stay here in Jernhest for some time?" he asked.
"No, I don't think so. I just came here to say hello. And to get something back" Dag replied.
Then, looking at his friend, he came up with an idea.
"How about training with me later?" he continued.
"Fight against each another you say? Hahahah! You were beating me with your eyes closed even before you were part of a Clan. I guess you've become a lot stronger now! Look at this armor..." Karl said, looking better at Dag's equipment.
"We will train as in the old days! Let me see what you've learned in these weeks! C'mon!"
"Okay, fine. See you in a few hours. I'll come to your house and we'll train behind the farm" Karl continued.
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