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Flateyri & Fish (Iceland)
A dull rain pattered the ground soggy when Tristan pulled into the village. The temperature hovered above the freezing point during the day, sloshing rift-marks into mud-veins that crossed the village center. The only road that was paved in and out was the sole highway that stretched around the Westfjords like a noose. A few hours’ drive along it would take him to Ísafjörður, the de facto capital of the western peninsulas. A couple thousand people called it home, but there was also a hospital, library, even an airport. Ísafjörður was a city compared to the village in which Tristan found himself. Half a day’s walk from his house (a quarter day’s walk by horse & cart assuming all went well), placed him square into the arms of Flateyri.

Flateyri was a fishing village hundreds of years old. More trade filtered in and out by sea than by land, yet the population never swelled beyond a few hundred people. Tourists came through once in a while on their way to the cliffs to watch the puffins play at sunset. Otherwise, Tristan knew everyone. He waved at Svant, an older man that first taught him how to tie a fishing line, when he reined the horse in.
“Good to see you, Tristan,” Svant approached. He was solid and healthy looking as ever. He wasn’t a tree of a hulking man like Tristan’s uncle was, but he was strong as the rocks underfoot.
“You too, Svant.” He replied and let his horse loose into the fence. A little bag was slung over one shoulder, but his smile was warmer than the rest of him.
They clasped hands, but Svant was looking closely in the younger man’s eyes. “Look like you could use a hot drink. Come over?”
Tristan would never turn down drinks. They caught up on the walk to the fisherman’s house.
"Don’t waste your time looking back, you’re not going that way."
Rognar Lothbrok
Svant's house was in the middle of the village, though that wasn't saying much. A sweep left and right and Tristan's sharp eyes could make out one end of Flateyri to the other. The threshold to Svant's home was low, Tristan had to duck to get inside. Warmth blossomed like fresh blankets. Margret, Svant's wife, erupted into a roaring welcome. Her hug was infectious; Tristan couldn't stop grinning. Soon enough, a warm drink was thrust in his hands.

Margret and Svant nestled together, hands laid atop one another like they were still inclined to the intimate touch after decades of bondship. Isolated in his own chair, Tristan was never so uncomfortable with the epiphany as he was now. Thorn Paw's question stirred up in his mind: Where is your mate?

They chatted about the fishing industry and weather (the two were intimately entwined), but Tristan was growing restless by the time his drink was gone. Svant and Margret exchanged worried looks before inquiring.
"What brings you down here today, Tristan?"

He glanced out the window, "Supplies are low."

Svant stared patiently. The old bird didn't buy the lame excuse.
"Alright I guess I need to think some things through. Talk it out with someone."  The answer seemed to satiate him, but Margret was now studying him intently.
"What happened to your eyes, Tristan?"

Tristan was taken aback. "What do you mean?" A gentle touch at his temples found nothing out of the ordinary.

"They're all yellow. Maybe you should see a doctor. Yellow'd eyes can be a liver sickness or poisoning."

Tristan blinked, utterly confused. Only when Margret gestured to a bathroom did he find his way to a mirror for a look. His own face stared back at him, long and heavily bearded. His hair braided back from his forehead, scalp clean shaven above the ears. The back of his neck wore a tattoo of circular, a ring of gaping jaws devouring one another; all normal. Except his eyes glowing golden discs. He leaned closer, speechless.

When he returned, they were wide with wonder. "I don't know."
"Don’t waste your time looking back, you’re not going that way."
Rognar Lothbrok
Tristan and Svant strolled the path along the water. In the distance, Tristan could make out a gang of puffins darting toward the surface. It was too far to hear, but imagining the little plops of their splashing beneath the surface was an easy memory to conjure, but for all the nostalgia the imagery conjured, the chill of loneliness crept closer.
“What are you looking at?” Svant put a hand to his eyes.
“The puffins.” Tristan nodded in the direction, but Svant only shook his head.
“You could see polar bear in a snowstorm, boy.” A fond clap on the shoulder made Tristan smile. Even as a lad his eyesight was keener than most.

“Why not move to Ísafjörður? Or Reykjavik itself?”

The idea had merit, and Tristan wasn’t quick to smother it but his mind was already decided.
“I boarded at Reykjavik for school my whole boyhood. It was fine enough, but I think I need something else?”
“Like what?” Svant added.

“Something new.” Svant growled a fake understanding. The old bear lived his whole life in the area. A journey from village to village was an enormous migration.
“What will you do?” That was a harder question to answer. Jobs were plentiful in the CCD, of which his destination was included. Whether he was qualified for any of them was another guess. At the very minimum he could work on docks cutting his teeth by the very practices Svant taught him. An idea sparked a tender of a grin to his lips, “Now that you bring it up, I was hoping you could recommend me.”

Svant sniffed, but that twist to his lips was telling. Whatever he ended up doing, things would be okay. This time, when he peered across the waters, it was to wonder if the Hidden One would follow him east, or if Others awaited his arrival.
"Don’t waste your time looking back, you’re not going that way."
Rognar Lothbrok

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