In a dream, she sees the coast of Stormjarl, the surf rolling onto the beach. The day is sunny, the sky is almost as blue as the water. In the far distance you can’t tell where the sky and water meet. Fritha and Elise are playing in the sand, as close cousins are wont to do. Their mothers are sisters, Elise two full seasons older than Fritha. Neither of the young girls had another to call sister – they fulfilled that role for each other. Fritha’s brothers were being a bother to her and Elise. Teasing them with limp, slimy seaweed, threatening to put it in their hair or to throw sand at them. So the girls found a way to slip away from them unnoticed.
They found a small cave along the cliffs; more of a shelf a few feet off the ground. In the back of the cave, Elise found some pretty shells – they were smooth and speckled. The girls played there for hours, wishing that it would never end.
“Come home with me and be my sister forever.”
“I don’t think my mother would let me. But wouldn’t it be fun!?”
“I’ve always wanted a sister, why can’t you be my sister?”
“Then let’s swear to it, be my sister. We can swear on these shells.”
They placed the shells on the sand, drew a heart in the sand around them, clasped hands and swore to be sisters to each other. Even though they weren’t sisters in blood, they were sisters in heart.
Fritha awakens from her dream and thinks of the time after that: the blood, the fighting, the fire, and how Grimward attacked her home town. Fritha’s breathing quickens, her skin breaks out in a sweat. She thinks of the Longfangs giving their lives to protect Elise, Elsah, and all of the other members of her Stormjarl family. Running away, trying to get everyone out alive. Now Elise and Elsah are safe with her in the Longfangs outpost. But is the rest of her family safe? Where are the rest of her Stormjarl brethren? She doesn’t know . . . but someday, she intends to find out.