Chapter Two:

Long Shadows

"Sina, tighten up on the shield."


The older girl turned on her heel to stare down the small girl seated on one of the plank seats of the longboat. Her hands gripped her book tightly, making her white knuckles practically shine against the dark night. The faint shimmer of light caught the silver of her shroud clasps, shaped like the ravens belonging to Odin, and indicating the flickering strength of their cover.

"Quit sniveling like a little baby." The older girl remained calm, gripping the axe in her hand a little tighter to restrain herself. She was just a little girl, after all.

"I hate the boat," Sina whined, loosening her grip on the book only slightly. "I want to go back home and play with Audunn, and then Bror can help me make food for Dad." At the sound of his name, the black dog called Bror sat up slightly, finally coming out of his dark camouflage. More streams of light flickered through the shield, and the older girl was now getting very antsy about the whole ordeal.

"We can go home later, Sina. Just fix the stupid shield." Sina looked up at her sister, noting her white grip on the axe and how she seemed to be fumbling for the shield underneath one of the rows of seats, and sighed, turning the book of the page and mumbling another incantation. Immediately, the ship was enveloped in darkness once again, the only light held by the older girl's torch.

Where were they going with their father's boat? Desperately trying to make their way to the southern regions. A crude map was stuck into the folds of the seat planks, and from there Sina and her sister attempted to paddle in that direction.

"Annika, what do you think we'll find when we reach that place?" Sina asked quietly from the back, interrupting the incantation briefly before continuing her spell.

"If we're lucky?" Annika grunted, turning the paddle and checking the map simultaneously.

"A war. A big one."

Deaths of Many

Vienna just wanted to clean the plates. Was that so difficult? The water bent with her hands, the simple touch on the surface would guide an entire wave from the source to wash over the item to be cleaned - plates, clothes, even people. Perhaps she just had a knack with water, it liked her.

Maybe it had to do with her family.

As she rose another wave over one of her mistress' fine painted plates, a wave of nausea streamlined through her whole body, shooting a streak of lightning into her brain and causing her whole body to break out in shakes. The plate fell from her hand and into the small pond she usually worked in.

Somebody else died. Somebody from her home. She looked into the distance and swore she saw a bright flash of lightning. Her new parents would like to know if a storm was coming, she assured herself, and sighed, dipping her hands into the water to retrieve the peices of plate.

That one had been particularly painful - a murder. So many headaches came because of murder, and why she wasn't sure, but the times of each life infraction was becoming too close to fast. It was as though something quietly told her during each episode, "Another has died, Nanu."

But that wasn't her voice. Someone strong, reminding her vaguely of her new father's, but a much more demanding tone. Nobody called her Nanu anymore - not even she. It was Vienna, as her new parent's claimed, Vienna Ciero.

She gathered the plates in her hands and turned to the door, again looking in the distance where the lightning had struck.

As if on cue, the voice quietly reached out to her, and as she turned away from the site of the intense shock, it spoke.

"Three more, Nanu."