led to his lair. He sighed and jumped into the abyss, flying casually the 450 meters down to his chamber.
The room was huge, with three fireplaces evenly spaced around the circular walls and a massive nest of soft pillows and fabrics in the center for his bed. (Some thought that since he seemed to have fire burning from within his throat
that he did not require heat; but in fact this magical illusion was merely a distraction from when he blew his real dragon fire.) The fires came from the being built at the back of the huge coal ovens that the humans used to make their
weapons and armor. Some of that armor hung on the walls; the weapons and shields of his former riders who had either perished or retired. The humans that surrounded him were the Red Raider tribe, and the tribe had served him for
generations. They saw him as a god, mostly because he was one of the few dragons ever born with the ability to speak their language. Jarl knew he was no god, but in addition to being able to understand what humans were thinking before
they said or did anything, he also knew he was smarter in the conventional sense than most dragons in the Narrows. He looked after them too and made a mental note to seek out Jormungandr to find out what happened to Gunnar. He knew the
bisected human corpse in front of Gunnar's cave was left by Jorm for the Blackbloods to see. Jarl chuckled to himself as he settled down into his bed for a nap.
When he woke, he flew up to the main room of castle to find his guards rushing semi-frantically around. He turned to see his head of security, Havardr, striding towards him. The burly man stopped, dropped to one knee for an instant, then
stood before Jarl.
"My Lord," he said, "we have seen Muspell scouts on the outer edges of the Narrows."
Jarl snarled. "Why would they dare to come here? The agreement was that we would let them live if they stayed to their islands."
Havardr shrugged. "I am not at all sure, but Blackbloods were seen in their company." He winced slightly at the roar let out by his master, then continued. "They seem to be the same ones that were seen in the Narrows hunting for Gunnar."
Jarl began to walk toward his massive war room, and Havardr followed. "Hard to believe Nurlan would be so nieve to believe anything the Blackbloods would say," Havardr said. He did not want this war. He was a warrior - a war hero, as a
matter of fact - but to war the Muspell now, especially at the behest of the remenants of Gustav's minions...it left a bad taste in his mouth. The Red Raiders reputation was fierce but fair, and this did not strike him as fair. He hoped
his Lord felt the same way.
"Gustav was an idiot," Jarl said angrily, "as was Kharnyx. The sibling was the smart one. As are the daughters, from what I hear."
Harvardr nodded. "They do not have the power their father had, however. Which leaves the realm much in doubt..."
Jarl snorted. "Do not doubt the humans. You should know, you are one."
"Hrmpf," the man replied.
They entered the war room, where Harvardr's top generals were gathered. They stood, then took a knee, waiting for Jarl to tell them to rise. Before he did, Jarl gazed out the high windows at the reddening sky outside.
"Looks as though the Atlas is on fire," he said to himself. He shook his massive head and said, "Rise. Now tell me about the Muspell sightings..."