Heroes of the Valley
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Halli Sveinsson is stumpy and swarthy, with a quick mind and an aptitude for getting in trouble. Bored with everyday chores and shepherding, he enjoys playing practical jokes. When he plays a trick on Ragnar of the House of Hakonsson, he sets in motion a chain of events that will forever alter his destiny. He is forced to leave home and go on a hero's quest complete with highway robbers, terrifying monsters, and a girl who may be as fearless as he is. Along the way he will discover the truth about the legends, his family, and himself.
the glittering, shining shape was upon him. Moonlight gleamed on the serpent in the metal; the sword swung down. Halli lifted his in desperate defence. The falling sword sliced clean through Halli’s blade, was deflected slightly and struck deep into the surface of the rock beside his feet. The strength of the blow forced Halli to his knees; he struggled to rise, but with vicious speed the hero’s sword was raised again, drawn back and driven forward, point first, into Halli’s chest. His mouth
no blood, no wound. Only – glinting merrily, unbroken despite the sword-blow’s force – the silver belt. ‘Still lucky, you see?’ Halli gasped. ‘Don’t you wish you had one of these?’ Still winded, breathing fitfully, he patted at his waist for weapons. No sword; no knife. Nothing. Except— Bjorn the trader’s Trow claw, tucked forgotten in his belt. With fumbling fingers, he pulled it clear: a little sickle-shaped curl of blackness. ‘Come on then,’ he said. Black sockets stared beneath the
explained. When you met him, you wore servant’s clothes. He would have looked straight through you, if at all. Now that you’re in a Founder’s colours and so an approximate equal, he deigns to look at you. Simple. For him it is as if it is the first time.’ Halli shook his head. ‘I am glad I am not so blind.’ The meal progressed. Halli’s suspicions about Hord Hakonsson were immediately confirmed: he had a prodigious capacity for the joys of table. He talked and ate and drank unceasingly, tossing
for the best. Brodir encouraged your recklessness, I believe.’ ‘So my parents often assured me. Where is my fleece, Katla? The thickest one?’ ‘On the peg by the door. Halli, don’t forget that your parents love you! They care about your fate! The last thing they want is to see you swinging from the gallows.’ Halli paused. ‘What? How likely is that?’ ‘Your recklessness so far has resulted in minor crimes, I grant you, but larger ones will follow if you are not corrected.’ Katla sighed, her eyes
their outrage. ‘You went to explore the valley?’ Arnkel roared. ‘Just that? Without my leave?’ ‘You begged at the porches of the down-valley Houses?’ Astrid cried, tearing at her hair. ‘Do you understand the shame you have brought upon your family?’ ‘You, a son of Svein, went about the land in a servant’s tunic?’ Leif shouted. ‘Then, when that was rags, took that of a servant of another House? Where is your pride?’ ‘You left us weeping,’ Gudny said simply. ‘Your mother has not smiled from