Private Tales Endirinn

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer
Brenna blinked.

Did... did the tree translate what Skad said? She could see her lips moving in unfamiliar patterns but the words that reached her ears were in her own tongue. Bre stared at the Nordenwiir as though she had grown a second head. Perhaps she shouldn't have been surprised that the magic that allowed her to hear also allowed her to understand but it was still disconcerting. Almost as disconcerting as the answer.

Brenna spun about in a circle then spat in the ground - the Nordenfiir's way of warding off witchcraft and evil.
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Skad blinked, or in her case, winked as the last possible answer came from the being. The concept of unity was a difficult one in the Nordwiir realm. As a people, they were naturally treacherous. Paranoia and mistrust ran rampant amongst scattered settlements across Eyjarnar, often resulting in a feast for scavengers of death. It had resulted in their stagnation, lagging behind the Nordenfiir as they were too preoccupied with slaughtering one another to establish any foothold into a future.

A small step into the future had come by the hand of Kol, who had aimed for that precious commodity of Nordwiir unity, seeking to band together tribes of different Gods into something more. In a way, he had succeeded, but that path had been carved in death and blood.

"I have seen you in my dreams, Brenna Ardullsson, and I have been dreaming for so long."

Turning back to her companion, Skad stared, almost accusingly, as if her friend was responsible for the existence of such a creature. She caught herself, her expression and softened it with conscious effort.

"What did you do, Brenna?"

"Please, come closer. I swear you will come to no harm here."
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How does she know my name--

Brenna flinched as Skad whirled back towards her, fully expecting the Nordenwiir to pommel her into the ground, but was pleasantly surprised and proud even when Skad managed to control her temper. She had forgotten how much a persons tone changed the meaning of their words! Skads, for instance, were said too politely. Her instincts were being kept on a short leash and it would not take much for them to explode. Brenna swallowed nervously.

"I-I don't know," Brenna glanced between Skad and the tree where the eerie voice was coming from. "The Nordenfiir lands are united, but that wasn't my doing - the Queen..." the ashen haired woman trailed off as she thought back to her travels south. In a way she had brought their little group together but that tiny expedition wouldn't have caught the eyes of a God would it? She held her hands up. "I swear, I haven't done anything."
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"It is knowing your name," Skad replied accusingly, finding the phrase I haven't done anything to be more than suspicious in their current circumstances. Was she more than just a kindly Nordenfiir? It did seem like a strange misfortunate followed the woman like an ancient curse.

I have dreamt of you too, Skad, Kin-Slayer. I have seen you willing to die for the enemy of your people.

She froze. The allegation that she had levelled at Brenna falling flat as they were both implicated in the dreaming of unknown celestial beings. Her brow furrowed, the range of emotions too wide to be splayed across her usual stoic face.

But you were not always foes, no. In your infancy, there was harmony, and you were siblings of a shared soul and land.

"This is madness!" Skad exclaimed with a step forward, refusing to believe any notion that her people shared anything other than blood and hatred with the Nordenfiir, <"There are no such efras!">
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Brenna resisted the childish urge to stick her tongue out at her friend when the voice named her too. It was comforting to know that it wasn't entirely her fault they had ended up here in the domain of... Gods? Monsters? Both? She eyed the tree warily and the red liquid it wept. The figure still stayed prone before it; was that where the voice was coming from? Or was the hooded figure stuck in endless worship? She listened carefully to the words spoken by that detached voice for any clues it might give as to why they were here. Her frown deepened as she spoke of their ancestors back before the split. Before the Nordenwiir had forsaken their Svalen and chosen Gods Dark and Terrible.

"No... it... the voice speaks true. Kol mentioned it to me once, that our people had once been the same. Then you gave up the Svalen."
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"Yes, Kol, Twice-Bloodied. My dreaming came to be when you broke bread."

"No, it is..."

It seemed preposterous, made worse still as Brenna corroborated such wild fantasy. Why would they have given to so much to gain so little? Fertile lands for a frozen abyss, civilisation for savagery, their Svalen, their souls for dark gifts intertwined with cruelty? Skad grit her teeth, feeling a prickle of heat crawl up the back of her neck as she sputtered in impotent rage.

"But I did not...

There was a time, not so long ago, when Kin-Slayer would have baulked at the notion of the Nordenfiir having a better life. However, conversations on cake and teeth and how Brenna spoke of her village as one big family changed her mind. In comparison, the Nordwiir existence was so callous, almost pointlessly so.

"It is not fair!" Skad cried out to both the voice and her companion, petulance marred by hurt as she looked to Brenna, "You are having everything!"

She forgot herself in the moment, fear unravelled by revelation as she stormed towards the tree and the figure encased in crimson ice beneath it.

<"All we have is death and blood! I did not choose this!">
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Brenna stared at Skad stunned. Her friend had taken nothing but pride in being a Nordenwiir since the moment they had met. She had laughed at death, laughed at Brenna for her abysmal powers in comparison to her Gods Blessing to heal. The insults had lessened the longer they had spent together, yes, but Brenna had not thought that her faith had been so shaken these past few days that she would go so far as to seem envious of the Nordenfiir.

"We're not perfect either," Bre said softly, touching her friends arm and giving it a gentle squeeze. "We still kill each other for territory, we still treat humans and others not of our kind like vermin," she winced as she said it. It was not a part of her brethren that she liked to focus on but not only was it true, but her own town was perhaps the worst for it. When her brother had brought home an elven maiden it had been a miracle he had not been thrown from the village.

"Why did our people spilt apart?" she asked of the voice now.
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"But you can change it."

The voice stopped Skad in her tracks; the idea that a single person could change the course of their entire kin was outlandish. Brenna soon followed, attempting to offer some comfort in the Nordenfiir's imperfections, but the woman's set jaw still spoke of her envy. She attempted a tight-lipped smile at her friend, but it came out as a pained grimace.

"The Wiir were led astray," the voice answered, the feminine tone never once wavering from its soft caress, "with promises of power beyond compare in exchange for their Svalen and devotion."

<"...our blessings,">
Skad muttered to herself, taking a few more steps forward as her mind tried to wrap around the apparent conception of her people. <"But who led us astray?!">

"You call them Hinir Myrku."

The Dark Gods.

<"So then, who are you?">

As she re-approached the tree, its bark constantly weeping blood that pooled at the roots before being reabsorbed in an endless cycle, she caught a better look at the figure within the ice. It appeared feminine in its shape, clad in pristine white like fresh snowfall upon the tundra, a hood obscuring all but dazzling horns that emerged from shimmering fabric. Skad could see that the being was prostrate, reaching out towards the desecrated bark yet held in place by the dark ice that made their observation almost painful and foreboding.

"I am Saman, the God of Kinship."
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Brenna still struggled with reading Skad's lips, knowing what she said was in another tongue entirely, and yet the words rung in her ears in her native language. Let alone trying to make sense of what this woman - this Goddess - was telling them. The Hunter had always been devout in the way most of her people were devout; it was better to hedge your bets and pray to a God who might guide your arrow and kill a good deer than it was to not and come home hungry. She had never questioned it. Had never scoffed at the stories the Queen had told of meeting the Pale King herself, or how her father claimed it was the Goddess of War herself who had turned away an axe that otherwise would have cleaved him in two. She hadn't wanted to. Religion brought an odd sense of comfort, of knowing that there were forces out there in the world who could press upon her life for good and for bad. It gave her someone she could hold accountable.

She certainly did not want to believe what Saman represented; that they had forgotten one of those beings.

Bre suppressed a shudder and then dropped to her knees.

"Please, forgive us. We did not know.."
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A God before them?

Skad felt the world around her warp and shift as if the grove was devouring her from beneath. She had approached a fucking God with a raised voice and impudent questions. Once more, she had assumed the form of the writhing maggot, although she remained on her feet, too stunned even to dare to move.

"There is no need to grovel."

Her body may have been arrested by dread, but Kin-Slayer's mind did not stop, a volley of questions stampeding throughout her head, unable to reach her mouth.

"Not when it is I begging you for aid."

Was it really a God? Skad had never heard of Saman nor a deity in the Nordwiir pantheon that held domain over a positive realm. There was blood, depravity, mockery, flesh, and rage, but concepts like kinship? It was unheard of. And if she was a God, why would she need the help of mere mortals?

"I have been asleep for aeons longer than you can even comprehend. Betrayed, entombed, forgotten. I had been condemned to the eternal abyss until you, Brenna, gifted me my dreams again, borne by your compassion and mercy."

Brenna's kindness had awoken a God!? Were Skad not paralysed by her own mortal insignificance, then she might have stared at her friend as if she had just shat out a talking green kaltku.

"I saw you and Kol, Fiir and Wiir, sharing food and language. In my dreams, I saw you hear again by his hand. Unity had not perished. There was still hope."
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Brenna didn't dare rise even with the God telling her not to grovel. She stared at the ground beneath her foot instead and focused on breathing. If she didn't she worried she might very well throw up. For if it was a shock to Skad to hear it was a simple act of kindness that had woken a God, then Brenna who had unknowingly committed such an act was... Well. Shocked, surprised, stunned - none of those words seemed strong enough to describe how she felt.

"I-it was just a coincidence..."
it shouldn't have woken a God! All the stories she had heard of Gods who were bound and trapped were evil entities. Why, then, had a God of unity - something good and pure - been bound so? Which of the pantheons had wanted her out of the way? Fiirs or Wiirs? Both? Would the Gods be that jealous that they would turn on one of their own to keep their followers to themselves?
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"No," Saman's gentle answer came with an edge of finality, smothering the embers of denial that seemed to spit forth from Brenna's mouth.

Meanwhile, Skad's eye stared in reverence at the strange ice that encased the God of Kinship's form, the ominous refraction causing a painful pressure build-up within her skull. The sensation was oddly familiar, dark and primal, like the reverence held in spilt blood upon the earth. Eventually, she had to tear her gaze away lest her head explode.

<" did did you get trapped...?"> The Nordwiir mumbled, only now finding it possible to speak again by not looking.

"Our own kin betrayed us."

Were there others forgotten by time and treachery? With each revelation that passed, Skad felt more and more like a clueless child in a world of adults.

"There was a great cataclysm fuelled by a desire for dominion. Veran seduced so many of our brothers and sisters with voracious whispers. Many were slain for their objection. Others were trapped, as I have been. With no opposition, Veran and their ilk came to the Wiir with a proposal. An exchange. Their Svalen and the promise of unfaltering worship for power incomparable; an individual blessing for every true soul."

It wasn't any easier to hear how they had tainted their own spirits a second time, and the Nordwiir's face twisted, pained.

"The Wiir, having forsaken their souls, abandoned their home, setting out on a pilgrimage to find a new dominion. They settled in Eyjarnar and, in it, found a land of savagery and scarcity. It changed them, shaped them into the Nordwiir of today, drifting ever further from their Nordenfiir kin."

<"How can this be true? I do not know of any Veran.">

"But you do, Skad, Kin-Slayer, for it was not only your people that changed but the very Gods themselves. The act of treacherous deicide perverted their souls, too. Veran, once the God of Shape, was torn into fragments. You know them as the Gods of Flesh and Blood, Likami and Haraudur."

The revelation was too much and as Skad found out that it was her own chosen God who had doomed their entire people she doubled over and expelled the remnants of their fellow gladiators onto the sacred ground.
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Knelt as she was on the ground, Brenna was glad that the sudden returning of her hearing had not dimmed her instincts to carefully watch a persons mouth. Otherwise she may have found herself still kneeling when Skad bent at the waist and vomited into the odd red soil. The Nordenfiir lunged to the left, rolling onto her shoulder then up onto her feet in one pained movement. She stared at Skad wondering briefly if the poison had returned and she was once again sick, but as the Gods words replayed in her mind she realised her Northern cousin really was more similar to her than they had realised.

Stepping carefully around the pool of vomited flesh, she put a hand of comfort on the small of Skad's back and gently rubbed in small, soothing circles. Her own mind was reeling with trying to make sense of the new pantheon but for Skad, whose Gods touched this world far more than her own, she could only guess at what these revelations were doing to her mind. So she held her tongue and did not offer empty words of comfort. Instead she looked to the ice encrusted God before them.

"What... What do we do now, Goddess?"
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A mass of slit throats.

An ocean of blood.

Birthed from her hand in fervent reverence and in her wake the grief and pain of death. Such tributes had been fated; she had been chosen by the rite of Frábærveiði to be His blade and to fill his endless chalice.


The longer she had spent in these southern lands of misfortune, the more she had questioned such purpose. The seeds of doubt had been cast, and their roots dug in deep. What if there had been no purpose? What if such oblivion had been meaningless? Doubt and guilt had bloomed, and she worried her deeds were empty devotion to a God that didn't care.

But it was worse than that.

Skad Kin-Slayer, Haraudur's Blade, had furthered the rot and damnation of her people. Her crimson hand had done nothing more but stir reverence for their own stagnation, breeding discord that devastated their own kind, keeping them blind and primitive on those barren islands poisoned by ruin. Her ears rang, devastated by revelation and the woman lurched as another wave of guilt-laden nausea struck her.

If there was such a thing as justice, she should have choked to death on her own bile.

"Become my chosen."

She could barely register the comforting touch of Brenna, never mind the concept of championing kinship. A pitiful whimper left her lips akin to that of a terrified cur.

"Spread my word amongst your peoples, let them know the hope of unity. It will be not a painless journey, and at times, you will know nothing but strife, but your faith is our strength, and with it, I will be free of this prison."

Still doubled over, Skad's arms moved to cover her face, hands clasped upon the back of her head as if she could hide from the very Gods themselves.

<"....can't, I can't,">
she snivelled into her elbows with sickened breath, <"...not worthy...I have...done so much wrong!">

"There is no greater hope than hope borne of forgiveness, my child. Seek absolution in the salvation of your kin."
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Brenna cast worried glances towards her friend as the Goddess spoke their mission.

Once, the young Nordenfiir had dreamed of a task such as this. A task that one day would become a song sung around campfires, a tale told to children as they drifted off to sleep, and a goal for young warriors like she herself was. Never had she intended for this journey to become that dream. She had simply aided a woman who was dying, but then, weren't all great stories born from such humble and small intentions? The task itself sounded simple but she found it weighed heavy on her shoulders already. The road she could see in her minds eye was long and arduous. Two people so different could never become one again. Could they?

"Now is a chance for you to do right, Skad," Brenna said softly, crouching before her friend and gently cupping her chin, attempting to somehow pull her out of her downward spiral. "Together."
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On Eyjarnar, redemption was a myth.

The need to atone required transgression, and in transgression, the only answer was death. They could not see beyond the hand of vengeance; such was in their blood, and it was only now that Skad even knew why. If the Nordwiir had relinquished their souls, could they even forgive?

Were they capable of change?

It wasn't the voice of a forgotten God that stirred her but that of Brenna's, her friend's touch offering a gentle warmth that felt so foreign. Those hands, within them fearsome claws that could fell entire villages, yet found themselves so often stayed in hope of a peaceful solution. Was such temperance in her nature? Was it in her Svalen?

Doubt and guilt did not allow Skad to look into her companion's eyes, solitary green avoiding Brenna like moss hiding from the sun.

<"...what if I cannot do right?"> She implored, her voice splintering with the strife of a woman lost instead of the stoic hand of death, "<...what if...what if I cannot change...what I am?">
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Brenna glanced to the Goddess hoping that she might have more wisdom than her. The ethereal being merely stood there though, watching with a sympathetic gaze but watching all the same. As though now she had given them their task she could do no more to help. Looking back to her friend she took a deep breath then gently turned Skad's face back towards her so that she could see in her eyes the truth and belief Brenna herself held in her words.

"Skad, you have changed. You do not instantly kill something anymore, you've had conversations with me beyond idle threats for not helping you. They're small changes but... I don't think unifying our people means changing completely. We just need to find a middle road, one where we can start our people on. That would be enough, I think."

Enough, she said, as though that middle path were not a mountain road itself.
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A cloud of doubt, holding the billowing blackness of guilty grief, sought to obscure any sense and belief that Skad could change. Like runes carved upon flesh, it felt like destiny beyond her grasp that she was this way, doomed to savagery, destined to deal death, a Nordwiir.

But again, Brenna was there. Her light filtered through those clouds, promising a better day. That change was in mortal hands, no that it had already taken place.

She looked into the eyes of the Nordenfiir, her own stare that of the regretful curr, and Kin-Slayer saw belief. The truth of the Gods may have been another matter, but this was Brenna's truth, and its weight was mighty.

Yet guilt was a formidable foe.

<"...but it was selfish, Brenna. It was only to..."> Skad's words faltered, guttural tongue pausing as that cloud descended again, demanding that her eye remain downcast, only resisted by respect for the woman, <" was only to save my sight.">

"Did you not intend to die in the tournament so that Brenna may live?"

Saman's question caught her guilt off-guard, receding as the God of Unity revealed truths of the heart. Skad's brow furrowed, the notion of her selfless act causing conflict with so-called destined evil.

"Just as she would give up her own flesh and blood for you. Those are selfless acts of kin, capable of thawing this cursed prison. This is why I have chosen you both."
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Brenna found herself nodding to the Goddesses words though she did not once break Skad's gaze; she could sense her friend needed reassurance from someone mortal.

It was hard to voice disagreements against a God. Far easier instead to quietly whisper to ones self that they had it wrong, that you were unworthy of their belief, or to see the task as a punishment instead of the honour it was. She had seen the Nordenwiirs devotion to her Gods first hand in slaughter and oaths to know she would take on this task merely because a God had given it whichever way she decided to see it. So Bre hoped that it was from the simmering conviction in her own eyes that she would find the strength she needed to believe in herself. To believe that this task was one she could do not because she had to to save her soul, but because she wanted to save the other souls of the Nordenwiir too.

"Becoming my friend was not necessary to get your sight back, either. Yet here we are," her lips lifted into a hesitant half smile. "We can do this Skad, I know we can."
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The foundation of her existence had crumbled, great fissures of the truth loosening the long-buried spectres of guilt and consequence. Such things that were never meant to be unearthed. Only at Endirinn's call was she meant to join them as a crimson efra; the cycle of death would continue.

Yet now, amongst the rubble of it all, there was comfort to be found in the strangest of places. In the words of an ancient God and a Nordenfiir.

No, not a Nordenfiir. A friend.

<"You are mad,"> Skad muttered, offering a smile that seemed more like a grimace upon her face. Such belief that they could change the will and fortune of all Nordwiir was beyond lunacy, a monumental task that could only end in failure and death. She leaned forward to touch her forehead against Brenna's gently and offered a whisper, <"Brenna, Mad-Bear.">

It was her heiti, a moniker gifted to Nordwiir, who returned from The Great Hunt, earned by strife and deeds. After all, only madness could be within a soul that stood fast against the odds, who held courage, determination and compassion in a world that sought to devour her. Brenna had more than earned it.

<"We will be your chosen,"> Skad spoke softly, closing her eye for but a moment to acknowledge the choice that had been made before standing once more.

"You are both worthier than you know. Come, touch upon my hand so I may impart a gift to aid you on this journey."
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Brenna gave a startled, delighted laugh as Skad bestowed upon her her own Nordenwiir nickname. In time she would learn the deeper meanings of what a heiti was and the name would mean something different to her, but in that moment it was a gift from a friend. A cherished gift. She felt an odd sense of disappointment that there was nothing that she could give from her own culture in return.

Your chosen.

There was something about those words that send shivers down her spine. Like some pact had officially been sealed. The Goddesses words only strengthened that feeling. Bre took a moment to take a breath, give her friends hands one more squeeze, before she stood and turned towards the aethereal beauty. Not allowing herself to have any reservations she reached out and touched the Beings hand.
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The thawed fingers of the celestial hand offered warmth in defiance of Saman's frozen tomb, like a filtering ray of light birthed from an errant crack in a tomb.

"Brenna Ardullsson, this journey will be fraught with peril; with it, you will need your senses."

Through touch, the voice spoke directly into the Nordenfiir's soul, intangible and sublime, like a thousand voices in unison. It was a touch blessed by hope and, for Brenna, a familiar touch. It was reminiscent of a small alcove under the light of a setting sun and a meal shared with a stranger.

Had Saman been present even then?

"All of them."

The gift was her hearing, returned in full.

Skad stood, marvelling at her friend's fearlessness. What strength of will did it take to approach a God? The very sight emboldened the Nordwiir, whose lingering guilt and hereditary paranoia tried to keep her rooted to the spot. Without Brenna, she would have never touched upon a God. With trepidation in her step, Kin-Slayer stepped forth and gingerly reached out towards Saman's exposed flesh.

"Skad, your enemies will be tenfold; even Haraudur himself will try to stop you, so keep your friend close, and Endirinn will evade you yet."

The divine grace that bathed her was unlike the reverence of the Crimson Father. Haraudur had never once spoken to her or given a sign beyond her boon. Her faith had been unquestioning in Him, bound in blood and death. Primeval. Malevolent. This sensation was that of light, of a God's faith being put into her. It was incomprehensible in its magnitude.

"It is time, my champions. Never forget the strength in your harmony."

The world shifted beneath their feet, and the sky above them rolled away the strange constellations until the stars of their realm were once more above their head. It was a crisp, frost-bitten evening, and the two women now stood before a long-dead fire that held a pot whose contents had boiled over. A satchel lay on the ground, its contents clearly rummaged through by curious hands.

They were back where they were before the Fae had taken them, not that Skad was aware, having been absent of her sight.

<"So it is done,">
Skad muttered in Wiir, more to herself than to Brenna as she stared at her own mangled hand, the one that had touched Saman. She looked up at the other woman, expression still trying to fathom everything that had happened, tongue trying to find the right thing to say and in the common tongue once again.

"You are okay?"
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The true weight of what the Goddess had given her did not sink in until they were back in the mortal realm and she could hear what for years she had only been able to scent. Birds. All around them in the thicket of the forest birds called to one another. There was the Morning Caller and the Greenjay, the Mocking dove and the Snowdrift. They sang a song Brenna had forgotten about entirely. She could only stand staring upwards at the marvel hoping to catch sight of the little animals she had dismissed entirely for the last 15 years.

Then Skad spoke. Skad spoke without her having to look in her direction.

Slowly, Brenna turned and as she did her friend would see the tears rolling down her cheeks even though a smile lit her from within.

"Birds, Skad. I can hear the birds singing," her last word broke into a sob and she found suddenly the enormity of all that had happened, what was ahead of them, crash down upon her shoulders. Brenna sunk to her knees in the snow and wept, but not for that weight. It was because she could hear singing once again.
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Skad had only been without sight for a short time, but existing without one of her senses had made her feel incomplete, like a core part of her had been stolen. She could not even imagine how Brenna felt, who had been without hearing since she was a child. It had been so long that she had adapted, likely having since accepted that void in her senses.

Standing over her friend, Skad placed a two-fingered hand on the woman's shoulder and let her sob, allowing the birdsong to speak for itself for a few moments longer.

If one thing was sure, the return of Brenna's hearing meant that their encounter with the Goddess of Kinship was no illusion. It was real, and before them now stood a mountain of death and pain. She had opened her mouth to comment on their grim task, but looking down at her companion's crumpled form gave her pause.

"And there is much more to be hearing,"
Skad said in her awkward trade tongue with a squeeze of Brenna's shoulder. She tried to think of great sounds to be heard upon The Lost Isles to give an example of what wonders awaited but found the noises of home to be rather hostile.

"We can staying longer here and just hear, for short time."
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The crunch of snow. The rustle of the leaves. The whistle of the wind. How had she forgotten all of this? The overwhelming emotions that had spurred her flood of tears slowly subsided and left her feeling... light. When she had first lost her hearing, Brenna had not raged against the world and the injustice of it. Her mother had wept, her father had been angry, her brother worried, but Brenna had simply... accepted it. She had even forgiven the boy who had caused her the life altering injury after some time. The village elders had thought that she was suppressing the trauma and her emotions but truthfully Brenna had not wanted to wallow. She had not wanted pity or wanted to see it as a thing that should make her less and whilst her journey had been hard and frustrating at times, Brenna had carved her place out in this world and had been happy with it.

But oh, wasn't bird song beautiful?

She sat there until the cold seeped in through her thick furs and forced her to her feet lest she freeze.

"Your voice is not how I imagined," the Nordenfiir suddenly wrinkled her nose and dropped her hands as she realised she had been signing instinctively too. "Is that how I sound?"
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