The Chief's private hall was filled, hill giants for the most part, but a trio of grey-skinned stone giants stood against the outer wall, silent and still as their name implied. Most noticeable, though, was a round-headed, bull-necked ogre. He stood only shoulder high to his giant masters but no one would mistake the scarred and heavily muscled figure as a youth or question his right to stand among them.
"All the elders of the kindred are present, my Thegn!" Thiodolf declared.
"Where is Engenulf?" Nosnra demanded.
"He is here!" A powerful voice replied.
A cold wind swirled around him and a pair of monstrous dire wolves cavorted at his feet, puppy-like.
"Well close the cursed door!" Nosnra shouted back.
Thiodolf gestured and the youngest warrior among the gathering jumped from his seat and ran to shut the outside door.
"What is this?" Engenulf questioned. "Holding a witenagemot without the witan!"
"You're late is all," Nosnra yelled back. "We have serious business. Have you heard?"
"I've heard some, and I sense some, but you tell me," Engenulf replied.
"Huon's dead," Nosnra said abruptly as he had said it before in the watchtower,"and Eadnoth, but he is bespelled as well. His body is there but none can see it."
"Ahh..." Engenulf intoned. "Yes, I know that spell; Easy enough to break."
Nosnra felt a wave of relief. How could Eadnoth's spirit join with the kindred when it could not be seen by them.
"Is there more?" Engenulf asked.
"Isn't that enough... but yes, there is more," Nosnra replied. "Come," he stood and walked over to the witan. They were of an age, though Engulfen had been much older than Tofig, he had sired a son that was born within days of Nosnra. The two had been fast friends and boon companions, one destined to rule and the other to counsel. Now they buffeted each other verbally as they had pummeled each other physically in their youth. "Eadnoth needs to be cleansed of this vile enchantment and honored by the feast."
He led Engenulf by the arm toward the long passage and the Great Hall. "Thiodolf," he called back, "Bring everyone but the outer guards to the Great Hall."
"Yes, Thegn!" Thiodolf nodded respectfully and sent an unhappy young warrior on another errand.
"What else has happened?" Engenulf asked quietly as they walked down the passage. The witan looked concerned. Something had greatly disturbed his friend, much more than the death of two warriors. Always unpleasant, but death and life intermixed. Giants did not often die old, especially the warriors of the kindred. He reached out and gripped the chief by his shoulder lending his own strength.
"I felt this," Nosnra said, "as I lay asleep. I felt the wrongness come to the steading. I did not know then, but now... I felt the death of Huon and of Eadnoth. Why? Many of the clan have died, some by my own hand, most obeying my commands. I felt nothing like this before."
"How many have died inside these walls, or even upon this hill?" Engenulf gestured, sweeping his arm out from under a long fur cloak. "Your father held this hall against the last of those who would challenge our clan. None have come against us since." He stopped Nosnra before the wide double doors that opened upon the northern edge of the Great Hall. "This steading, this hill, it is part of you, as you are a part of the kindred. But what else is there? I sense something more?"
Nosnra paused then looked into his advisor's face. "I saw a phantom..." he began, "It appeared as a giant, one of our own kind, but insubstantial. It did not heed me when I called to it."
"There are magics involved," Engenulf closed his eyes to see beyond the mortal veil. "I can feel them. If there is something more, some touch of the spirits upon our world, I do not feel such, but I will cast the bones and we shall see."