Blood and Liberty

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The Return

The crew’s morale was at an all-time low. Most of them were nervous about their return even though Aren assured that he would take the blame. He would also surrender himself only if all his crew could be let go safely. But still, everyone knew that without any plunder to soften the blow with the Jarl, there is no chance that they will see the next sunrise.

“I see land, and I think we are straight in front of the village somehow.” Calum told his captain with hesitation.

“We still can change course and go elsewhere you know?” Astrid added as she knew it may be her final day.

“Trust me, it’ll work” the man replied while staring down into the water.

Aren was pondering what could happen at his return. He had made countless scenarios in his head but none of them would end as he would like them to. Even he knew that there was little to no chances of success but still he would try.

“Why do I have the feeling he’s got a really bad plan in store for us” Astrid whispered to Calum while Aren was looking away.

“Well he tends to have those a lot, so it wouldn’t be surprising” Calum answered to her as he too knew full well what Aren was thinking.

“Yeah look at that smirk, he’s definitely thinking of something dumb right now” Astrid responded

Astrid got up and went to sit next to Aren. She waited a bit, she didn’t know how to tell him.

“I know” Aren told her coldly.

“Know what? And how” Astrid asked intrigued

“We have been a trio with Calum for years, I know you more than you know yourself, and yes I have a plan in mind, though this time it probably won’t end well for me. But still, it’s the only way forward.” Aren announced. He said it loud enough for everyone to hear. His men reacted as he thought they would. They all looked at one another and a feeling of confidence grew. Astrid and Aren continued their discussion.

The land grew closer, just before their arrival, Aren stood up and spoke to his crew.

“I know you are all worried about what will happen next, and I understand. But I will do everything I can to take the blame. It was a foolish idea, and it was mine. If you want you can just leave with the boat and drop me off. But for those who want to follow me there will be riches and power waiting on the other side, but most importantly, reputation. ” Aren almost yelled with emotions

A silence then followed, Aren knew he was going in alone with his two blood brothers Astrid and Calum. But then

“I’m with you!” Bjorn said with confidence

This statement was promptly followed by every single young warrior agreeing with him.

The village guards were waiting by the dock. As soon as they landed the men were asked to drop their weapons and to proceed to the hall to be judged

“Who is the leader behind this insurrection.” The middle-aged man asked with fury in his eyes.

“It was I, and only I, I am the only one responsible for this” Aren told with confidence while taking a step forward.

“Kill them.” proclaimed Jarl Baldurson

“So you really don’t care about our rules. The gods won’t be ok with you killing them, they didn’t kill anyone, only insulted you.” Erik, one of Aren’s friends that stayed behind during the failed expedition.

The whole crowd went silent waiting for Baldurson’s order, even the guard stopped and didn’t know what to do. The wait seemed endless.

“If I can’t kill you myself, I’ll make sure you die on your own. You will, with all your followers, including you Erik, be dropped on the same Island you are coming from, you shall not say another word before I change my mind and kill you all.”

Nobody expected this. It wasn’t against any of the rules. For some, it was even harsher than killing them all, they were going to suffer from hunger for weeks and perhaps will have to eat their dead comrades. But for now, they will have their last night in the village. All locked up in a cell.

“Well we aren’t dead after all” Callum said trying to release the tension

“Worse than that, our only hope is the natives we literally slaughtered” Aren said while thinking to himself.

“Then we are screwed...” answered Bjorn.

“No, we cannot die, not now” Erik stated, believing that Aren’s discovery of the island was destiny. “If the gods wanted us dead, they would have never let you have so much luck.”

“Perhaps the gods only needed us to discover this island” Bjorn replied cynically.

“Then why are we returning there? There must be a reason! ” Erik expressed with vigor.

“Of that, we can’t be sure...” Bjorn retorted.

While the crew spent their time incarcerated, Jarl Baldurson was worried about the future. He left the conference room and asked his advisor to meet him in his quarters. He sat down as his advisor entered the room.

“What do you want me to do? ” asked the advisor, looking as if he just ran a marathon.

“I should have killed them all, this Aren, he has the gods on his side, he will return. I know it, he will be my downfall.” Baldurson.

“Killing them all would have led to a coup, he’s popular with the people, most of them have known him for a long time. The best way out of this tricky situation is if he gets himself killed.” the advisor suggested.

“What are you thinking of?” Baldurson asked with interest.

“Trust me, I have everything planned out, Aren will never bother you again.” the advisor claimed.

“Just in case, send a message to my cousin, if Aren happens to come back and take my place I want him to kill the man.” the jarl requested as he asked his assistant to leave him be.

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