Guest Post: Lena North author of Runes of Fate

Guest Post: Lena North

Two Italian cab drivers
I'm spending time in northern Italy every now and then, and it's a beautiful area. The food is amazing, the people friendly, and it seems like there are pieces of history and culture around every corner. Then a while back, I got the idea to learn how to speak Italian. I speak some French and a few words of Spanish, so it should not be too difficult, right?
It turns out I was wrong. I studied diligently, with the help of a language course, complete with textbook and audio. I repeated phrases over and over as I drove my kids around, and did all the exercises in the book. When it felt like I had learned quite a bit, I optimistically decided that it was time to try out my newly developed skills. And what could be better than practicing on the cab driver picking me up at the airport in Bologna?
Not wasting any time, I started talking immediately and chatted away as we moved along the highway. I asked the man about our surroundings, commented on the weather and talked happily about the things I was about to do on my visit. It seemed like our speed was increasing even beyond the neck breaking speed that is mandatory to any taxi in Italy, but I just buckled up and continued talking. The driver wasn't very talkative. His responses were mostly inarticulate grunts or shrugs, and eventually, I ran out of topics that I felt confident to talk about in Italian. When I made a small pause, the driver cleared his throat and said, almost apologetically, in English and with a thick accent, "I'm sorry... I don't speak Spanish."
We were mostly silent for the rest of that trip.
A few days later, I got into another taxi, and this time, the driver was a young man. He was quite chatty and spoke excellent English. Since this is not always the case, I naturally complimented him on his language skills. I could see that this pleased him, and he thanked me profusely as he expertly weaved his car through the traffic. Then he added, almost as an afterthought, that things were changing in Italy, and concluded, "...but it's difficult for the older people. If you meet someone who's 40-45, they will not be able to speak English..."
Let's just say that the lady who quickly realized that she was, in fact, a year older than "the older people" didn't give the younger people huge tips that day.

Runes of Fate by Lena North

Date of Publication: June 24, 2016


It's the annual midwinter gathering, and Sissa Raudulfsdatter is locked into a shed – bound, gagged and waiting to be led out to the altar where she will be sacrificed.
There has never been any human sacrifice in the village before, but this year Jarl Ingolf decided that the gods require one to give their good graces back.
Sissa is determined to face her fate with dignity and courage but as she waits for them to bring her out to the altar, the herbs her mother has put in her final meal makes her dizzy and finally, she faints.
The morning after the sacrifice she wakes up, still alive and still in the shed. After shouting for help, Sissa's brother opens the door, but he's shocked to see her because they all thought Sissa was killed the evening before. It's soon discovered that another girl was sacrificed instead. The village is in uproar and Jarl Ingolf, who performed the sacrifice himself, is devastated.
The Jarl's brother, Einarr, is given the task to find out what has happened and because of her ability to figure things out, and since she's the only one clearly innocent, he asks Sissa to help him. One of the suspects is Einarr's only son Josteinn, the boy Sissa has had her eyes on her whole life, but there are others who could be guilty, and as Sissa and Einarr learn more, things start to become dangerous.
When Josteinn starts to pay her attention, Sissa has to decide how she wants to live her life. Can she be content living her life in the village as Josteinn's thrall, his property? Or have the gods carved different runes of fate into the roots of Yggdrasil for her?

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About Lena North

The proper way to put it here would probably be to describe how I love to play with our two big dogs, adore my fantastic daughters and how much I love to read.
Another way would be to use my imagination and then I would be a super powerful warrior woman, think Xena the warrior princess (though with less tacky clothes). Or when I think of it, maybe I'm actually more of a Hercule Poirot (sans the suit and moustache). Or maybe I'm like Aragorn, strong and cool and then I might get to meet Gandalf! Or I could be Bella's pretty cousin and snap Jacob up in a second (yeah, I'm so not team Edward), or wait, maybe I could be like one of them heroines in historical novels who swoon all the time. I've always wanted to swoon…
Well, I guess you get how my mind is working (or not working, some say). Anyways, I like to write. Stories, adventures, romantic and happy stuff mixed up with sorrow and hardship, and bit of laughter here and there because the way I see it – life is way too short to go around feeling grumpy.

Find Lena North Online


My mind had become a bit fuzzy, and it felt like my head was spinning slowly. I wondered if my mother had put something in my last meal to make this easier for me. It wasn't allowed, and it was a risk I hadn't expected her to take, but I was grateful. The chanting from the area around the hastily erected altar was increasing in strength, and I'd promised myself that I would be strong. I would hold my head up, and since I had no choice, I might as well finish my life with dignity. That had been my plan.
As it turned out, this was easy to plan, but when it actually happened, I was scared out of my mind. I sat with my back pressed against the wall and my knees bent so I could lean my forehead on them. I had pulled my arms up so that they covered my ears. I whimpered softly and I refused to look at the hood they would put over my head before bringing me out to the altar.
"Things have changed, in a way I never expected, but now I have to plan for what to do. It can not come as a surprise to you that I want my son to be the next Jarl under the current circumstances. I never wished for Heidrun's death, and Steinar is a good man, but Josteinn is too."
Einarr stopped talking and I looked down at the snow on the ground. I didn't know what to say, and I didn't want to hear about his plans and ambitions. He was a hard man, and I knew that he could be as ruthless as Jarl Ingolf but in a different way. When he spoke next, he surprised me.
"I am not without honor, Sissa. I want my son to be Jarl but he needs to become Jarl the right way. It should be because he's strong and clever, not because he arranged to have his cousin killed. If you find that Joss was involved, then all I ask is that you tell me first. Let me deal with my son myself."
I turned toward him, too astonished to even speak, and I felt my eyes widen slowly as we looked at one another. He had a soft look on his face that I wondered if he ever showed anyone.
"Mother..." I started and trailed off until she looked at me. "I worry about how Disa died."
I had decided to not even try to hide what I suspected from her because I knew that it would anyway not have worked. Mother had always been able to see right through me.
"Sissa," she sighed but I interrupted her.
"The marks on her cheek and neck, Mother. I looked at them when I had washed her, brought light over to see better. Three marks," I whispered.
I put my thumb and little finger together and raised my hand with my palm facing her. She stared at me as I slowly turned the hand and moved it so that my three fingers were in the same spots as Disa's bruises. Then I unfolded my thumb, twisted it slowly around my chin and pushed my mouth open, pretending to use force to do it. I watched as she understood and her mouth fell open.
"What herbs could have been used?" I whispered, and I had leaned forward so that I spoke directly into her ear. Our walls were thin and I didn't want anyone to overhear, not even my father or brothers.
"Sissa," she said again and then she clenched her jaws together, but I could see that she was thinking it through. We sat in silence for a while and then she raised her eyes to me. There were tears in them, and she looked utterly and completely undone.
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