Word had spread quickly throughout Hoelbrak of the murderous kodan. By the time it reached Ulfridda’s ears, naturally it had warped into a tale of heroic feats and evil intentions. Ulfridda was old enough to know not to trust rumour. However, the details shocked and frightened her.
She had made her way swiftly across the Might and Main to Knut’s loft, and demanded an audience. There, he had told her the truth as he saw it. Unlike the rumours, blood ceremonies and ritualistic sacrifices over a helpless woman had not occurred, and all they had found was Mara, Meeki and the corrupted wolf dead next to the slumbering kodan. She did not waver upon hearing of Mara’s death. Her anger had not let her be overcome with grief. She consulted with Knut for over an hour before she felt ready to question Koda’s Breath herself.
Not having a jail available for use in Hoelbrak, Knut had ordered Koda’s Breath be kept in the animal cages used for moots just outside the Eastern Watchpost. Ulfridda and Knut arrived quietly, having avoided the main roads and requested the guards step back so they could see the prisoner.
Koda’s Breath looked awful. His fur was matted, blood soaked and dirty. He was sitting with his back turned to the bars, his head between his hands. Rotting vegetables lay around him as proof of the local norn’s disapproval, many of them clearly having been thrown.
“Koda’s Breath” Ulfridda bent down, and placed a plate of hot bread and a mug of warm tea next to the bars. She straightened, and turned to Knut.
“I wish to speak with my employee alone”
Knut nodded, and turned to walk away. Ulfridda caught his arm. The wolfborn nearby let out a gasp, shocked she had touched their leader so.
“Take the guards with you. “She spoke quietly, but firmly “I can defend myself if needs be”.
Knut motioned, and the guards left with him. Ulfridda sat down with her back to the bars.
“I heard what happened”.
Koda’s Breath snorted, and wiped away his tears.
“Did you kill Mara? And those children?”.
“I don’t know”. He spoke in barely a whisper.
“Tell me what happened, and I can explain to Knut.”
“I don’t know. I don’t know. They’re all dead. Everyone…” He raised his head to the sunlight and let out a weeping howl. Ulfridda spun around in her sitting position and faced him.
“Who is dead?” She asked. Koda’s Breath turned his head, and looked over his shoulder at her. His eyes were red from crying.
“What happened Koda’s Breath?” Her voice had changed, from harsh steel to a softer tone.
“I saw them. I saw our last day. My people, my Sanctuary, all destroyed. We sought to defeat Drakkar. We developed a method but it proved ineffective against his corruption. We survived for a while but what the dragon wants, he eventually takes. He tempts your very mind from you. Power, safety…he promises it all. I am the last survivor of the Spear Of The Sea. We made these—” He motioned to the shard of ice hanging around his neck “—and went to war against him. I left my Claw to the corruption when he was taken by it. This Memory Shard is his. Perhaps, if it was returned to his body, we could reverse the corruption. It was as if I was there. So much pain and death”
Ulfridda reached through the bars and stroked his shoulder. “This was all in a vision? Of the past?”
Koda’s Breath nodded. “Much of who I am was revealed to me. I had a city of people under my care. I had hope. I had love.” He broke down crying, the memory of losing Serene Wrath too much.
“And this method, it worked for a while?”
“Yes” He spluttered.
“Perhaps, as reprehension for your crimes, you can divulge this secret to us. I will speak to Knut, and sort this mess out. Your past beside, you will likely be banished for this, or worse.” Ulfridda rose, and turned away. As she walked to the edge of the arena, Koda’s Breath called to her.
“I was never able to implement the method, Ulfridda! My claw, Serene Wrath, he did all the work to make the Memory Shards!”
Ulfridda faced Koda’s Breath.
“Then we shall have to find him, shan’t we?”
“You would do that? I promise if we find him, we will share the secret to combating Jormag’s corruption”.
“I shall do my best, but Knut isn’t easily swayed. But even the greatest mountain can be carved by the river.” An intense, pensive look in her eye, she left him.
The day inside the cage passed slowly. Koda’s Breath, now with the hope Ulfridda would assist him to find Serene. He felt calm for the first time since waking to the horror of Mara’s dead body, and meditated on Stillness.
Far across the Wayfarer foothills, a young girl ventured out of her home in Taigan groves to use the latrine. In the white of the snow, she saw a large form walking towards their small steading. As he drew closer, she saw his form fully. A large kodan, taller than most norn, with a face full of rage. He wore long red robes, tattered and flying in the wind. He carried a sword and scepter at his hips, and was walking directly towards her.
“Who are you?” She asked, standing her ground and reaching for the shovel that her family kept next to the door.
“You are not kodan. Are you His?”
“Am I whose?” The girl didn’t know how to answer such a strange question.
“Do you belong to Him?”
“I don’t belong to anyone mister. You’re weird. You better get out of here before I get my dad.”
“I require food, water, and a place to sleep”
“No way! DA—!” The young girl called into the steading, but her call was cut short. The kodan lifted her into the air, snapping her neck and ending her life instantly. The kodan made his way inside and being met with aggression from the girls mother, father and older brother, massacred them all. The youngest sister survived by hiding under bear pelts masking her scent, and through shielded eyes saw they were attacked by a group of identical kodan, all dressed in red, tattered robes.