It was no secret, of course, that Skjaldwulf had created a song that had summoned wolfjarls and wolfless men alike to a Thing, so that they might choose a konungur.
Skjaldwulf had a skald's training, a skald's talents. Would have had a skald's life, if not for Mar.
Before the Thing, Isolfr had heard him speak and speak well. No one in Franangford possessed quite as great a store of stories to tell on nights that were growing longer with each passing day.
There was nothing unexpected about Skjaldwulf taking to creating more songs - a teaching song, for Alfgyfa; a simple drinking song that met with great success at solstice.
Another, perhaps not so simple drinking song, about men whose tempers were as fiery as the color of their hair, and whose tongues were as sharp as a wolf's teeth.
Skjaldwulf had not sung that one for solstice, or ever, yet as the weeks passed, it seemed that everyone in the heall was familiar with at least a few lines, a snatch of the melody. The song wandered the heall like a ghost, as impossible to see fully yet equally impossible to remain unaware of.
Isolfr had not thought it possible that Vethulf's temper might grow quicker. The packsense was bright with what was mainly amusement, as well as a certain tension. At some point, unless Vethulf found the means to prevent him, Skjaldwulf would sing his song, gifting it to the heall.
"It is a grave thing, to make a man the subject of song," Skjaldwulf told him, expression too serious to be taken thus.
Isolfr knew that there were healls where men told the story of how he, Isolfr Ice-Mad had gone and sought the alfar, finding them and bringing them back to fight the trolls.
Men did not tell such stories in Franangford.
"And so?" Isolfr asked. He was not unaware that the relationship between his two wolfjarls had shifted, their earlier adversity slowly being reforged into something stronger, if not softer.
"And so nothing." Skjaldwulf shrugged. "If a man chooses to recognize himself in a general description, to take a warning to all as a warning to himself personally, that is not a skald's responsibility."
Isolfr thought that even so, it might well be a skald's doing. "You're playing with fire."
Skjaldwulf grinned. Fire-Tongue, men had called Vethulf, not without reason.
Two days later, the tension broke. Isolfr was glad the packsense had warned him what to expect and, perhaps more importantly, what not to. He went outside, Viradechtis leading.
Skjaldwulf and Vethulf both looked snow-crusted, pups was the image Viradechtis sent to Isolfr, and he made no effort to hide his smile.
Kjaran and Mar's furs were clean, their expressions smug as they sauntered over to Viradechtis. The tension that had been building in the packsense had dissolved.
For a few moments, nobody spoke. Then Viradechtis huffed, and Skjaldwulf chuckled, even as Vethulf looked aggrieved. Had there been a clear victor, had Isolfr come to find one of them on his back, held down by the other, things might have been different, but it was not so.
Pups. Viradechtis had been right in her assessment, as always.
"You should probably put on some dry clothes," Isolfr said. It was practical advise, carefully stripped from any opinion on what had just occurred.
Vethulf looked as if he might protest, but all three wolves herded him, not just Kjaran, and so he and Skjaldwulf came back inside, to warm themselves by the fire.
Later that week, when nobody was expecting it, Skjaldwulf shared a new song he had created, quick and easy on the ears, about two lovers who'd had a falling out over what proved to be nothing more than a rumor. It was a lively, comic song.
If anyone felt disappointed that the song mentioned nothing about the color of hair of its subjects, they wisely kept it to themselves.