Skode refused to allow her child to be brought into the city, and after much intense negotiation had allowed Ulfridda to travel with Koda’s Breath into her encampment. Ulfridda had been requested to be on her best behaviour, but this did not prevent her from arriving at the rendezvous in her battle armour. It was her favourite set, commissioned by her late husband prior to her second tour of the mists. It was supple red cloth, accented with gold and white fur. Around her belt, five heavy chains hung past her knees, the ends of which were accented with glowing turquoise crystals.
Koda’s Breath wore his robes, but had his armour ready to go in a pack with him. Ulfridda and he had planned to leave after being presented with the child, and leave him in the care of the Durmand Priory. Neither had any wish to provide care to a jotun child, especially on a journey through the wilderness. Nevertheless, they had agreed to at least placate Skode and take the child as far as that.
The jotun camp was makeshift at best. Piles of thrown together sticks with leaves heaped above them provided shelter from the elements, if only barely. The jotun group had taken up residence within Wolfs Lair Shrine. They had not defaced any of the statues or totems, instead opting to cover them in leaves and branches. Skode stood, completely covered from head to toe, only the sharpness of her eyes visible beneath her cowl and barked orders at the jotun around her. They scurried about like ants, and referred to her as ‘mother’. In the centre of the mess of huts was Skode’s residence and as they approached, she waved them inside.
The building was made from bits of material all sewn together. It was held aloft by what seemed to be an uprooted and very dead tree, its branches broken or sawn off. It was broken into sections, with material hanging down from the canopy segregating rooms off. They sat at a table near the base of the tree, and Skode ordered tea be brought to them.
“This is an interesting place you have.” Ulfridda broke the ice first, although her tone was sour.
“I do the best with that I can. I do not pretend this a palace, Jotnarbane.” Skode had referred to her thus since they had met.
Koda’s Breath was eager to hasten this meeting. The sooner they were headed towards the Durmand Priory, the sooner he and Serene Wrath were safe.
“Regent Skode, we would like as much to have this over with as you. If we could meet—”
“—meet my child and be gone, yes.” Skode stood and tapped on a set of wind chimes hanging from the tree. “You shall meet my child and then I shall explain my prophecy to you.”
Large footsteps thudded on the ground around them. A flap near the edge of the tent was lifted, and the size of Skode’s residence was suddenly justified. Before them stood a Giant.
“This is the Dark Star, Korr. My son.”
The room felt small with the giant in it. His eye glowed black as he watched Ulfridda and Koda’s Breath. His skin was covered in constellations and shone ebony in the lamplight. His hair was braided and oiled, and he wore a large, simple shift, pinned at one shoulder. He sat down with a a thud, and looked at his mother.
“Mother, this is he?”
“I like him. She scares me.” The giant stretched out his hand and pointed at Ulfirdda who had stood up in shock. She looked at Skode.
“I don’t care what you say jotnar, that thing is not your son. You cannot have borne him. He is a true giant, and you are not.”
“He is my son. I was walking near my home one evening and came upon his dead father. He was hiding beneath his arm, would you believe. An owlgriffin had attacked him and he had lost most of his blood. I gave him mine, and since then my blood has flowed through his veins. He is as much my child as any of my jotnar.” As she spoke, she smiled at Korr lovingly, and he smiled back and clasped her hand.
“You said he was the gift of darkness?” Kodas Breath asked. Korr looked at him intently, and nodded.
“I am. The mists reject me. Sunlight rejects me. Moonlight rejects me. The stars reject me.”
Skode cut across him. “When I gazed upon the stars there was a dark star. An area around where all the planets circled, but not light to be seen. Had I not noticed it, the whole prophecy would have been changed. He has inherited my magics, but his blood is ancient and pure.”
Ulfridda looked at Koda’s Breath. She shook her head slightly, and then turned to Skode.
“We will not be bringing your child with us. I don’t care what your prophecy or nonsense says. You have used dark and dangerous magic to create this abomination.”
Skode stood, and snarled “You dare call my child abomination, murderess! You, who slew kings and murdered children. Your path is bathed in the blood of innocents!”
In a lightning-flash movement Ulfridda had her sceptre in her hands, and flicked her wrist towards Skode. A phoenix of flame erupted from her hand and sailed towards Skode. Korr stood and clapped his hands together, and the phoenix turned and hit him square in the chest. He seemed not to notice.
Koda’s Breath was on his feet, his hammer in his hands. “Ulfridda!” he exclaimed, and grasped her arm, preventing her from releasing another attack.
“Just as I thought.” Ulfridda put her sceptre away, and Skode smiled.
“One of our ancient magics. Take him with you, even only to carry your bags. The stars demand it.” Skode turned, and left the three alone in the tent.
Korr looked at Ulfridda and Koda’s Breath.
“That was mean, nornwoman. You should be more nice.”