"It's all right, Karl. I've been busy, too". We can postpone our training until tomorrow morning, do you agree?" interrupted Dag, smiling at his friend.
"Of course! See you tomorrow morning, I'm coming here just after I wake up. Good night!" said Karl, waving to Dag and heading back to his house.
Dag closed the door and turned back to his mother.
"So… how many days on horseback to reach the Khvete region?" he asked.
"I believe your stallion horse can reach its destination in just over 5 days, if well fed and rested. Wait, I just remembered one thing" Asa said.
She went into the bedroom.
Dag sat down at the table, looking at Eirik and thinking how much easier his life was than a warrior's. He thought of when he arrived on Skjold, at Hallr, the Vortex guardian.
He could have decided to become anything, to do any profession. He could help his half-brother Eirik with wood after Stein's death.
But it wouldn't have changed his disposition. He knew he had a warrior spirit, his life would be wasted without a fight.
After a few minutes, Asa entered the dining-room again.
"It won't be a real map, but Stein was a geography enthusiast. He used this book to pinpoint where to collect the various types of wood. You could take a look at it, maybe it can help" she said, handing Dag a large book with a suede cover and a drawing of a kind of planet engraved on it.
Underneath the drawing, a large runic inscription read: "Skjold – continents and regions".
It was an ancient atlas.
Dag began to browse it, stopping already on the first page.
"From KING EINARR
given to the people
official Journal of
"It's really interesting, Mom. I'm going to read it. Go to sleep now, it's late" he said, getting up from his chair and kissing Asa on her forehead, trying to calm her down.
As she made her way to the bedroom, Dag patted Eirik's shoulder, who awoke startled, his eyes lost in the void.
"Brother, how about going to bed? It's late at night, you'll be tired" Dag continued, smiling at Eirik and helping him get up to get to the bed.
When his mother and brother were in the same room, Dag closed the door to isolate himself in the dining room.
He needed concentration: he had to plan an expedition.
He sat back at the table, while the chimney fire in front of him burned wood and illuminated the pages of Skjold's atlas.
After a few pages of presentation, in which the authors of the book were quoted and the sources from which they had taken inspiration were shown, maps finally appeared.
The atlas first illustrated the regions of the North and then the regions of the South.
Dag turned the pages quickly looking for what he was interested in.
On Earth, as a child, he had already studied the geography of Skjold, but his knowledge was not in-depth.
When he read the name "Jernhest" on one of the maps he stopped and began to study every detail of that portion of the land.
Everything was written in elder futhark, the official language of Skjold.
Jernhest, the capital of the Nation of Okstorm, was located in a region called "Jordstäl, the land of steel", colored in orange.
To the northeast of Jordstäl, a smaller region with a long coast was called "Sjornir, the land of lakes" and was colored in light blue. To the north of this region there was Hevnen, the city of the Sons Of Freya.
Instead, north of Jordstäl, there was a region colored in purple, looking gloomy and uninhabited. It was entirely covered by a forest, the largest in the Okstorm nation.
This region was the "FossilWood Forest", a huge expanse of ancient fossil trees, whose wood had turned into mineral.
There weren't many other indications, it seemed a partially unexplored place.
Continuing north, it was possible to arrive to the region of "Kvete, the land of wheat", in which the village of Tyven was located, next to many other villages along the east coast.
Between the Kvete and Sjonir regions, there was a huge expanse of salt water, called "Lukket Sea, the closed sea".
Dag began to study the best way to get to his destination.
The quickest way was the one Asa told him, through the FossilWood forest, otherwise he would have to travel to Hevnen, and then cross the Lukket sea by boat, taking several days just for that stretch.
The Kvete region was colored yellow and looked like a very quiet and lonely place. Perhaps Vegard the blacksmith, was there, precisely because of the lack of accessibility of that region.
Dag was determined. He would travel from Jerhest to Tyven through all Jordstäl and the FossilWood forest. He just had to find a good travel companion.
He closed the book and extinguished the fire in the fireplace, walking to the bedroom.
When he entered, he looked toward the window.
He was reminded of memories of a few moments spent with Freydis. He had managed to remain faithful to her despite the temptations. Every time he thought of her, his heart beat hard and the chills came to his skin.
He wanted to let it all go and run to Skjegg, but the Crows Of Odin town was south of Jernhest, exactly in the opposite direction to its main destination.
The question of Vegard was too urgent to give up. If the blacksmith had been able to tell him more about his powers, the process of joining the Clans would have been much faster, because Dag would have become stronger in a short time.
Dag went to bed, immersed in his thoughts.
He hoped with all his heart that Karl would prove to be a worthy adversary the next day. If he had agreed to accompany him on his adventure, they would have strengthened their relationship even more.
Late at night, he fell asleep.
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