The young elf finally arrived to the hut. It stood against the feet of the hugest tree she had ever saw. Some of the tree's roots crawled to the edge of a low well and had eroded and went through the unequal granite blocks used to mark its limits. When she walked to the ramshackle hut she saw dozens of marks in the tree's bark, clear at the bottom and blurry as they went up, like old scars from old wounds. She huddle in the furry bear cloak the King had presented her and remembered the deal she had made with the Queen, a deal she was just going to start paying now.
She entered the hovel and greet the two women and the girl. - I have came looking for your advice -
- I know - said the older woman, - I already told them. -
- Please, be seated - invited the younger - Skuld, give something to drink to our guest -
The girl, twelve years old or less, thought the elf, took a little wooden jar and filled it with hot, watered-down wine from a little cauldron over the fire roaring in the floor. The elf looked around and, finding a stool, put it near the fire and sat down. She took the jar the girl offered and smile her. She shyly smiled back and walked to the other side of the fire. It roared furious despite its little size and heated the hovel to the point that the pervasive combined smell of the four bodies and the heat made the elf want to pinch her nose, but she fought the impulse while waiting the women to say what they would.
- There's no stopping what has already happened - said the old woman.
- It still hasn't happened, and people is scared - said the young woman.
- It can end the same way - said the girl called Skuld
- Will do? - asked the elf
- Maybe - answered the girl with a shrug
- Then the chain has to be protected -
- I've consulted with the girl. - said the older woman - That chain is not the only thing to protect. The traitor can't be broken free yet, his army shouldn't been gathering yet -
- And Vidar's still is not ready - said Skuld
- That too - confirmed the old one
- What then? How can we know we'll survive? -
The women looked one another
- I'm not sure she really understood -
- We need a hero, or several of them. The prisoner has to remain prisoner, the wolf has to remain chained, the serpent has to remain dormant... - said the elf
- No one from Innangard can help you - said the younger one
- But they're the first who should! - the woman denied with her head - From Utangard then? There are any rebels there? - asked the elf
- Utangard is out of the question - said the younger one
Only in the middle you can find the help you need,
only there you'll find what you need.
- said the girl, with glazy eyes -
you'll need two sisters,
equal and different in every trait,
like the full and the dark moons,
and they'll sleep the sleep of the sword
if they success.
You'll need a feeder of ravens
no rings on his hands,
no battle metal to call its own,
and he'll need to find the shame of swords
and the icicle of blood
if he's to success,
and he'll be flame farewelled before it all ends.
And you'll need a storyteller's seed
to see what they all do
and remember what they do,
and tell the tale so it's not forgotten. -
Then the girl fainted and the younger woman took her in her arms before she fell against the earthen floor. Silence filled the space, even the fire seemed to have forgotten its previous fury, and its flames weakened and its light faded.
- How...? how can I do...? - started the elf
- You have your advice - said the old woman - If you don't know what to do with it, then it's too late. -
- But... -
- But you want your deal - said the younger one - we understand. You'll have to do, then. -
The elf stood up, trembling, and went out of the shack. She quickly huddled in her cloak against the winter's cold and it broke the charm, and she started repeating the girl's words to herself, trying to remember all of them.