On the trail back to Utroor.
“Jaernleik Tygeson from Hver Landnam?” The courier quizzed as he walked up to where Jae and Catherine were sitting. Jae’s ears reddened as he stood and acknowledged that he was indeed Jaernleik Tygeson. The packet had to be from his mother. She was the only one who insisted on calling him by his formal name. The one his grandpa Ingle had insisted he bear. “I have a packet for you. I thought you were in Boar Akarn. I probably passed you on the road on the way there. When I got there, they told me that you were escorting with the king’s party on the way to Goa Vollar.” He handed a small packet to Jae and began to turn.
“Can you take one I’m sending home?” Jae asked. The man was a military courier and might have orders preventing him from carrying it to the next station on the way back through the web of couriers that made Alfheim’s military’s communication network. In peacetime, they also took private letters between the various towns and villages. The small fees charged helped defray the king’s expense.
The man nodded his head that he could, so Jae reached into his shirt and pulled out the letter he had written to his family. He passed the courier a halfpenny as he entrusted the letter to him. With any luck, it would relieve his mother’s distress from the tales of the yetann raid that would have reached their village. She would recognize that he was in the area of the attack and be worried.
“So, your real name is Jaernleik?” Asked Catherine.
For once, Drew did not attempt to redden Jae’s ears more. Jae knew his given name as well. He considered Dureast. How his mother derived that from dugr and oestr was beyond his keen. Naming a child “courageous noble” was by far worse than play of iron any day.