I've got the story idea set and I'm working on characters--here are two of them, below. I'm still undecided on some of the names, but I'm immersing myself in Old Norse history and nomenclature so I can be as accurate as possible. Even though my story dwells in the realms of the supernatural, I feel that keeping as close to historical reality for the background will help me make the story gritty and real.
Have a hand in shaping this story -- check back often and email me your comments. I'll alert you here to polls that will let you help direct the story and I'll post new snippets like the one below every now and then to give you a taste of what's to come!
The door crashed open, wood splintering against wood as it hit the frame on the opposite wall. Snow rushed into the room, not flakes, but a cascade of sparkling dust propelled by the icy breath of the wind. For a moment, the rough cadence of music and laughter in Egill’s longhouse stuttered as heads turned toward the newcomer, a tall figure draped in a woolen cape.
The man stamped his feet at the entrance, clots of snow and ice falling away from his leathern boots. His face, hooded, turned to the crowd and after a pause, nodded, as if to an old friend. That small action marked him as someone known and the tension in the room eased. Revelers returned to their mead cups and dicing and the sounds of celebration steadied again. Except for Egill, everyone ignored the man as he moved to the hearth, his long cloak swirling around his ankles.
Egill Skallamgrimsson, chieftain of Osternord, shifted in his carved chair, his eyes narrowed to wary slits as the newcomer suspended his hands over the flames to relieve the chill of the winter night. Something about the man worried at Egill’s mind with dogged persistence, like hungry ravens feasting on a hreinndyr carcass. His movements, while not furtive, conjured an air of commonness that was out of step with his regal bearing. Watching him, Egill got the same feeling as when he fished in the shallows: The fish lurked beneath the dark surface of the water, not quite hidden, yet loathing the touch of sunlight.
He sipped his mead and waited for the man to approach, as any newcomer to his hearth was bound to do. As if aware of Egill’s scrutiny, the man paused with his fingers spread wide over the fire and turned his head to the low dais where Egill and his spearwife, Gudrun, sat. The woolen hood of his cape was pulled far over his head, but in the darkness there, a spark burned. One flame, high and left, flickered brightly, then extinguished.