Harald's Story

A Book for Berit

Berit was still fuming as she left the ship with the others. The sound of Father Delling's voice surprised her from her angry thoughts. "Harald, you and Jens should head back to the monastery now. You will need to make sure everything is packed and ready to go. I would like a few moments to speak with the young lady alone."

Brother Jens fidgeted slightly before nodding, "As you wish, Father. Please be careful, however. You know that I worry about you when you're in town alone."

"Yes, my son, I know. However, I assure you that I will be fine." The two men nodded at the old monk before heading down the road. Berit stood by sullenly, waiting for the abbot to speak his mind. Finally, he broke the silence. "Try not to be too hard on Captain Soren, my dear. His duties as captain tend to make him prone to such arrogance."

"His arrogance is likely to get him into trouble if he doesn't learn to curb it in front of others!" she hissed.

She blinked as she saw the abbot's face break into a wide grin. "I'd say that this has already happened, wouldn't you?"

Comprehension dawned in the young witch's mind. "You were intentionally vague about how I'd pay for my passage. You set him up, didn't you?"

Father Delling's smile faded a bit, but never completely left. "My dear, you are quite young. I knew that the good captain was bound to underestimate you at some point. I felt it wise if he were to make sure it happened when all that was at stake was a bruised cheek and a crushed ego."

Berit snickered. "I suppose you have a point there. Though I get the impression that you enjoyed setting him up."

Father Delling nodded at that. "Quite true. I suppose I shall have to find someone who can take my confession in the near future." Berit couldn't hold back the bark of laughter the old monk's impish manner forced out of her. The abbot's face grew more serious after a moment. "While I'm glad to help ease your tension, I have a more serious matter I wish to discuss with you. In fact, I have a gift for you."

"A gift?"

"Yes, a gift. I spent several hours the other night searching through my library for this. It's been years since I last perused it." The old man handed the girl a package that could only be a small leather-bound book wrapped in a white cloth.

"Abbot, while I appreciate your generosity, I'm not really interested in studying your faith."

"That doesn't surprise me. Fortunately for you, this particular volume isn't about my faith. In many ways, it's about yours."


"Yes, it would seem that the man who served as abbot a few generations before my time was fascinated by the local witches in this area. He spent a great deal of time speaking with members of your order and pouring over any records he could find. One thing you might find particularly interest is the listing of the names of witches over several decades. It's organized according to who trained who. I believe that even your old mistress is listed there."

Berit clutched the package a little more tightly, excited by the thought of what she might find within the pages of this book. "Thank you, Abbot. But why are you doing this?"

"My dear, I suspect that despite being made a witch by your mistress, two years was not long enough for you to learn everything you would have." He smiled at the look of surprise on her face. "Yes, I know how long you've been with the old woman. I also know your parents, who declared you lost to them. There's little that goes on in this region that escapes my notice.

"At any rate, I felt that this volume might be my own way to help you to keep some sense of connection to your roots. And maybe you'll find the information helpful in your own travels. I can't make any promises, but it's worth a try."

"Thank you, Father Delling. I am indebted to you."

"Nonsense, my girl. However, you are welcome. Now if I might broach one further topic with you?"

"Very well, father."

"Please try to show some patience with my student, Brother Jens. I realize that like Soren, he can be arrogant at times, too. And it is my hope that you will help dull that arrogance during this journey. However, if you could manage to do so without causing him irreparable harm, I would consider it a great personal favor."

Berit laughed again. "Very well, good Father. I think I can grant your request. As long as you don't ask me to completely leave him alone."

"I wouldn't dream of such a thing!"

"Very well, I cannot promise that he will return in one piece. Though I do promise that if he does come back in separate pieces, it will not be due to my actions!"

"I thank you, lady. And now, if you will excuse me, I should get back to the monastery as well. I shall see you in two days. Take care of yourself until then."

"I shall, Father. And may your god bless you."