His head ached. His senses were strangely dulled; a peculiar lethargy assailed every bone and muscle in his body. 

Mathios rolled onto his back and sought to recall where he was. Eventually he was forced to resort to prising his eyelids apart in order to survey his surroundings and settle that pressing question. He managed to focus on the rough beams that supported the roof of the shelter, but this was not his longhouse. There were none of the familiar scents that pervaded his home—the aroma of baking bread or the smell of madder boiling over the fire to make dye. His stepmother’s cheerful chatter was absent also. Instead he was surrounded by silence, broken only by the occasional snuffle or snore. He turned his head to the right. Vikarr lay sound asleep not a foot from him. To his left he spied Ivar, just starting to stir.


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