Brann stood there, standing still and watching the scene.
After a few seconds, his younger brother Eirik's hand sank into the glowing red liquid.
Brann looked to the floor. A tear fell from his eyes, evaporating immediately as soon as it touched the boiling ground.
He turned to Vegard.
"Now, old man, do what you have to do" he said, with an evil expression.
Vegard, without answering, approached the magma.
He bent down towards it and plunged his hand into it.
Brann looked at him in amazement as he pulled his arm unharmed from the lava pool.
In Vegard's hand, there was a ruby-like red crystal.
He gently placed it over the axe, precisely above the metal deer head between the two blades.
The ruby remained in balance.
Vegard seized a large iron hammer, leaning beside the anvil.
Strongly, he began to repeatedly hit the ruby, which at each stroke emitted red sparks. The sound of the hammer banging on the crystal was loud and rumbled all over the room.
On the fourth shot, the red crystal shattered and as if by magic it embedded perfectly in the eyes of the metal deer head.
Vegard wiped the sweat from his forehead and put the hammer on the ground in his position.
Brann approached the anvil, pushing the old man to the side.
He seized the weapon and raised it high, admiring the work.
"The Red Executioner. That's going to be your name. Together, we will conquer this planet".
"What?! His brother Eirik's soul was embedded in his weapon, unlocking its hidden potential?!" asked Dag to Asa, with a terrified gaze.
"Yes. You wanted to know Brann's real story. Here you go" Asa said.
"I'm shocked. Why did you know all these things and you never said anything?" continued Dag, looking at Asa with disappointment.
"What would have changed? I named my son Eirik in honor of Brann's brother. Stein liked this name, but he never knew the real reason for my choice. Every time I call him by his name, I remember that story" Asa said.
"The axe. Is it still here?"
"Yes. Unconsciously, after the battle, I took it away with me to preserve the spirit of that boy, who died for a greater cause".
"A greater cause?! Brann killed his brother for a weapon! This is unforgivable! It's a very cruel act! Does Gridd know this story?" replied Dag.
"No. Besides me, only you know it. I never told anyone the truth. I didn't want to ruin the fame Brann had earned during his years in charge of his Clan. He was not evil: I had managed to bring out his kind and caring side, with me he behaved differently. He was a strong man, but at the same time, fragile" Asa said.
"Mother, you know that's not the case. You speak for love, the actions he has done matter more than his words. During that battle... he made the same mistake. He believed that by sacrificing innocent lives, he could increase his power and popularity. But he was wrong. Now I know what I have to do" Dag said, turning his back on his mother.
"Tell me what you have in mind".
Dag looked at Eirik, who was still sleeping in his chair and had not heard a word from Asa's story.
"Give me the Red Executioner. I will go to the village of Tyven to meet Vegard".
"What? You've said so far that Brann was wrong to do what he did... and now you want to do the same?!" asked Asa.
"No, I don't need a new weapon. If he really has divine powers... maybe he knows something about my powers. Brann's axe will be my pass. The door will open by recognizing the artifact, I'm sure of it" Dag said.
Asa looked down, sad.
Dag approached her again and placed his hand under her chin, looking up at her: "It's not your fault. It hasn't changed what I think of you. You were a great warrior and a great leader. I'm sure your warriors, your Shieldmaidens thought the same way".
"After that battle, I withdrew from my Clan forever. I was trying to forget what happened, I just wanted to start over. Meet Stein and live a quiet life on this farm... It is only because of this that I continued to live without pain".
"I will unite the Clans again. But not as he did. No, I'm going to try to be a wise leader. I will listen to the advice of who knows better than me how the world works. Master Egill is the only one I can trust right now. I'm going to consult with him. Now, show me the weapon, mother" Dag said, comforting Asa.
She walked away from him, heading to the door of the room always closed.
She opened it, pulling out a key hidden under her dress. She entered the room and went out after a few seconds with the axe in her hand.
"Here it is. Even if you hate Brann, you must protect this weapon at the cost of your life, as I did during all these years. Do it in memory of his brother Eirik" she said.
Dag grabbed the Red Executioner and closed his eyes, trying to sense its power.
It was a very heavy weapon, decidedly unsuitable for his fighting style, based mainly on dodges and counterattacks, as Magni and Gridd had taught him.
"The village of Tyven is a long way from here. It is a small village on the east coast of the Khvete region. To get there, you'll necessarily have to cross the huge FossilWood Forest" Asa continued.
"I've never faced such a long journey. I'm going to need a map and a good assortment of supplies" Dag said.
At that moment, someone knocked on the door.
Dag went to open. It was Karl, despite the lateness of the hour.
"Hey, Dag. I wanted to apologize if I made you wait in vain. My father needed help and I didn't have time to..."