Hoelbrak had become a flurry of activity. The joyous celebration of the lunar new year had been overtaken by a sombre anticipation, as Hoelbrak prepared to play host to the jotun. The House of Ymir, Ulfridda had explained, was an ancient bloodline of jotun seers, sages, stargazers and mountain-kings. King Ymir had survived the mythical rise of the ‘Swallowers’, ancient beings which rose to swallow the world every age. In jotun mythology, the Swallowers wiped the world of life, poisoning the very fabric of magic and when satiated gave way for the new dawn of Tyria. They believed that their bloodlines, being a remnant from the previous rise, allowed them access to greater magics than the lesser races. Ulfridda elaborated that their blood was their obsession, and inevitably their downfall. Centuries of inbreeding had caused the brutality of the species, wars ravaged between brothers, sisters, parents and children that threatened to split the mountains themselves.
A letter had arrived to demand the terms of the parley: a tent was to be erected, seats for five of the jotun party, and a drawing of the crest of House Ymir which was promptly replicated into a grand tapestry. Although Knut requested she attend, Ulfridda had verbosely and rudely refused and determinedly held a blank face whenever the subject was raised in polite conversation. Koda’s Breath had not left her side since his release and their thwarted attempt to leave Hoelbrak and had caught her swearing profusely under her breath on more than one occasion.