In this final section, which is titled "Midwinterblood," we travel so far back in time that there is no date. This story is taking place under the blood moon, and it starts with the beat of drums and the call of horns. It's time.
Time for what, you ask? The big moment that all of these stories have been leading up to.
The blood moon is a sign. It's a full moon, it's the winter solstice (so sometime in December), and it's a lunar eclipse, too, so the moon is red, like blood.
Beneath the crimson moon, a scene is unfolding.
Two men are playing curled horns—the sound is supposed to wake the ancestors—and three men in long white robes are playing huge straight horns.
The five horns together are making a pretty big racket, but the sound is sort of hypnotizing everyone. This is good. People are going to want to be out of it because of what's going to happen next.
Behind the horn players are seven women and two men dancing wildly.
And there's gold everywhere. The warriors' shields have golden animals on them; the walls of the temple are covered in golden designs; even the three skulls hanging from the sides of the temple are covered in gold. One of them is from a young horse, but the other two are from men.
The sled that is pulling King Eirikr toward the stone table is golden, too.
Next to the stone table, two figures are waiting there for him.
There's Thorolf—a sage dressed in white with white hair and one bad eye. He's holding a golden hammer above his head and he wears a three-pointed charm around his neck because he, like Eirikr, loves him some dragon orchid.
Then there's the last guy—the executioner. He was selected at random from a group of warriors and he stands now draped in a red robe with a red hood. He's also holding a thin, sharp, curving knife. Oh, man.
When King Eirikr arrives at the stone table he stands up and takes off his gigantic fox fur coat. Underneath he's completely naked. It's December, so you best bet it's chilly.
But, the king isn't worried about a little frost. He's ready.
On his head, he's wearing a crown with the same symbol for the dragon orchid, and as he stands there, all the magic from that weird little flower is flowing through his veins. He really digs it.
Everyone and everything falls silent as the king steps into place.
Except the queen. She rushes toward her husband, but falls in the snow and starts to scream.