After speaking with Engar Ice-Mane, I decided that a chat with his wife, Risi, was in order. It disturbed me that while he protested his innocence, he was resigned to accept his fate as a guilty person should. Still, something didn't seem right about this case.

It was starting to get dark, and people would be home making dinner and preparing for the night.


Risi greeted me at the door and asked me to enter. The her two children stood by, wondering what I was to do with their father.

"You are the one who is to investigate a crime that has been blamed on my husband." she started. "How may I help you."

"I'm interesting in finding out what has happened." I said. "Engar doesn't seem the thieving type, yet the evidence seems to support his guilt. What can you tell me about this?"

She turned away for a moment, as if to compose herself. "Engar would never do such a thing as this." she replied. "He is a man of honor, and we want for nothing. I cannot imagine what would drive Rigmor to make such an accusation." She stopped, fighting back a tear in her eye, not wanting the children to see.

"Just the facts, ma'am." I replied. "Do you have any idea why Rigmor would make such an accusation?"


"Perhaps he is jealous of my husband," she replied, "and these charges are meant to disgrace him."

"Excuse me, ma'am. Jealous, you say?"

"Um, yes, well, he had been a good friend to me until this accusation." She bent closer so the children wouldn't hear. "We had spent...some time together." she continued. I nodded my understanding. "But now, he has decided to ruin my family."

I was beginning to understand the motives behind the accusations now. Jealousy is often a motive for some of the most underhanded of acts.

I asked her if I might look the place over, and she agreed.


Engar's daughter tugged at my shirt.

"Are you going to hurt my daddy?" she asked.

"Not if I can help it." I replied. "I'm just here to find out what happened."


I checked the room out. Nothing here indicated anyone was into theft of any kind. In fact, it was a typical Skaal home, fish frying over the fire, a few things laid out of the table ready for dinner, baby on the second bed, piece of paper under the pillow of the first bed....

Hmmmm, a clue. I picked up the paper that had been placed almost completely under the pillow. It was a letter - from Rigmor.

"Dearest Risi,
Why will you not see me? You know how I feel, and I know you feel the same about me. Please, simply consent to speak to me. Just a word, a moment with you, would ease my soul. If I cannot be with you, I will have to resort to something drastic. Please, consider your feelings. Your husband is a lout, away for weeks at a time, with no consideration for your needs. I have always been there for you, and I always will be. We should be together, dear Risi.


I showed the note to Risi.

"Yes, you have found the letter, have you not?" she asked. "It is true that Rigmor and I had a brief affair, but that has ended. He refuses to let me go, though. I fear that he has caused this trouble just to get rid of Engar. You must put a stop to this. My husband is a good man, and does not deserve this fate."


I agreed to confront Rigmor Halfhand. The note alone seemed to crack this case wide open. With any luck, I'd be home in time for dinner.

As luck would have it, his home was right nearby.


"Yes, I understand you're investigating Ice-Main's theft." he started, sounding very innocent. "A terrible thing. What can I do for you, outlander?"


"What can you tell me about Engar Ice-Main?" I asked, keeping the note securely in my pocket.

"He had always been a valuable member of the Skaal." he said. "But, he is not a caring man. He leaves his lovely wife for weeks at a time while on the hunt. He probably stole my furs because he wasn't able to provide enough for his family. Such a sad story."

His face changed as soon as I produced the note found under Risi's pillow.

"You...found that letter!" he stuttered. "But why would...? This is an outrage! I never... I only wanted the woman? Why did that fool have to choose the wolves? He could have simply left, and she and I could have been together forever!"

"I think you'd better come with me, sir." I said, calmly, knowing I had him nailed to the wall with the evidence. "I think we'd better inform Heart-Fang of this new evidence."

"Yes." he sighed, knowing there was no way out for him now. "I know you must tell Heart-Fang. Let's go to him, and I will accept my fate."


Letter firmly in my pocket for evidence, I lead Rigmor Halfhand over to the Greathall, were we'd finish this nasty business once and for all.


Tharsten Heart-Fang was almost settled down for dinner when he saw us walk in.

"Mr. Heart-Fang, sorry to disturb your meal, but this is something you'll want to hear." I told him.

I gave him the note sent to Risi, and Halfhand confirmed he had framed Engar Ice-Mane. As a great chief, naturally, he took it all in stride.

"So, Halfhand has invented this tale of theft?" he shouted, glaring at Halfhand the way you glare at a disobedient dog. "Over a woman?" By the All-Maker, this will not go unpunished!" By Skaal tradition, making a false accusation carries the same penalty as the crime that is claimed. In this case, either exile or death by sacrifice to the wolves." Heart-Fang turned directly to me. "The verdict is yours to decide."


I didn't like the sound of the wolves part. "What are the two choices I have. Can you describe them for me?"

"Certainly." came the reply. "Under exile, Halfhand would be forced to leave the Skaal Village, never to return. None of the Skaal will hunt him, but neither will they offer him aid, even in his most dire need. He will be dead to this tribe until the end time."

"And the wolves?" I asked.

"The more honorable death, perhaps." he replied. "The Caenlord, the ceremonial wolves of the tribe, would be summoned by the shamen, and Halfhand would be fed to them. In that way, his spirit will be purified and reborn, perhaps to a better life than this one that he has chosen to throw away. It is up to you. What do you decide, Eldorf the Wise?"

Wow - no pressure.


"I believe he should be exiled, and not sacrificed to the wolves." I replied. "Dead, his situation would be ended right there. But what will he learn? Nothing. This way, he will be able to study the folly of his ways."

"Then he shall be exiled." replied Heart-Fang. Turning to Halfhand, he continued, "Halfhand, you may never again return to the Skaal village, and you are dead to the Skaal forever."

Turning back to me, Heart-Fang continued, "It is a cruel choice you have made, Eldorf Dragonmeal, but perhaps it is wise."

Reaching into a chest, he brought out a helmet for me. "Here, accept this token, The Helm of the Wolf's Heart." he said. "It is unlikely, but perhaps you, too, can be more like the wolves we revere."

"Come back to me tomorrow morning." he said. "I'll have something else for you then."


I met Engar Ice-Mane outside, and told him the results of my investigation.

He was most relieved to hear that he would not be wolf-food anytime soon.


Laurenna was waiting for me by our tent.

"Have you finished playing detective?" she asked.

"Yes." I replied. "And fortunately, no one will be fed to the wolves today."

"Well, then you'd better come inside." she said. "I've got dinner waiting."







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