Bright Nights

Espen

Sven, Kit, and Isak meet to share information. Sven and Kit each relate their take on the encounter with the man in the woods: Sven insists he was a nokken, which Kit as yet can't really believe. Isak seems to side with his sister, but clearly wants to keep Sven on the investigation. He informs Sven that the four teenagers were known to spend time at one of the forester's huts on the Hagge family land and asks if Sven could go with him to have a look around.

The three of them set out, hopeful of gathering information about the symbol found with the teenagers and what they might have been doing at the Sikkeland stone. The forest tracks are littered with downed branches after a recent storm. Sven is prepared, of course: he has a chainsaw in the back of his vehicle that makes short work of the larger tree-limbs. But when they arrive at the hut the group's hopes are dashed – the hut has been severely damaged by the storm.

They try to salvage their investigation and begin clearing out the cabin. As they work, Kit suddenly hears a familiar sound: fiddle music fills the air around the hut, and it's growing louder. Isak hears it as well, and then Kit spots Espen. He hasn't seemed to notice them, so Kit heads for a position that would keep him from disappearing into the woods. She draws her weapon. Sven is seized by a fit of musicality, and answers Espen's music with some of his own on Fela, the heirloom family fiddle. Kit catches her foot on a branch, giving herself away, and Espen realizes he isn't alone. He isn't too happy about having competition from another fiddler, and  when Kit tries to talk to him he gives only vague answers. He denies witnessing the deaths of the four teenagers, but claims to know how they died. They were performing a ritual, he says, and obviously their deaths were the only way to bring about whatever it was that they wanted.

Sven notices that Espen is wearing the same symbol that the teenagers had in their possession, and when Espen sees where Sven's eyes have settled he flies – literally – into a rage. Once more, he transforms into a raven. This time he flies at Sven. Kit fires off a shot at the bird, just grazing it before it soars up into the canopy and out of sight.

Sven is livid. He berates Kit for attacking Espen. She argues back; clearly Espen is dangerous, whatever sort of thing he is. Isak calms them both, and calls off the investigation for the rest of the day. Sven brings Isak and Kit back to town. He goes in search of supplies to repair the damaged hut. Isak sits Kit down and reprimands her for her behavior. He reminds her that he is in charge, that she is on a forced vacation from work; and while he appreciates her help with the case, he will have to drop her from the investigation if she pulls a stunt like that again.

Kit is (more or less) repentant. She agrees to follow Isak's lead more strictly, and to put the case on hold until the next day. She runs into Sven at a local bar, and the two of them patch things up. Ingrid arrives with a small group of friends, and through Sven's machinations, she and Kit have their first proper conversation in years. 

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The Fiddler in the Forest

During the family dinner Kit was promised upon her return to town, Isak finally gives in to his sister's pleas to be included in his investigation into the deaths at the stone. Kit's persistence earns her information: all the teenagers had a strange mark on their hands, and one of them was holding a strange object in that same hand. Neither Kit nor Isak can make much of the symbol or the object – bits of wood lashed together into a complex, twisting shape – but Kit has a hunch she knows who can help them: Sven Hagge. As she suggests they visit him, Kit shows Isak the bloodstained gauze that Sven asked her to send to a lab in Oslo. Isak is livid with Sven and Kit for keeping their information from him; Kit just manages to jump into his car as he storms off toward Sven's cabin.

Kit talks Isak into a calmer state, and the eventual confrontation with Sven isn't as bad as she first feared it would be. Sven agrees to make a new – complete – statement about what he found at the stone, and agrees to do a little research about symbols and objects associated with it. 

The three of them meet the next morning at the Havsvale Coffee house. Between her discomfort in being at Ingrid's shop and the fact that, once again, she couldn't sleep at all the night before, Kit proves to be of little help in the discussion. Sven and Isak cobble together enough information about the situation at the stone to know that the teenagers were attempting a healing rite of some kind. Isak decides to speak to the family of the boy who was holding the wooden totem; Sven takes Kit to see the investigation site for the first time.

At once, Sven recognizes that the stone is different. Somehow, the old inscriptions are entirely gone; they've been replaced with a vague and foreboding message about the arrival of old creatures in the area. Not long after they make this discovery, Sven and Kit hear music coming from deeper in the woods. They follow, Kit worried that someone might have tampered with the scene, Sven almost ecstatic at the prospect of an encounter with vaettir. What they see is a man sitting alongside a pool, playing a fiddle. 

At first the fiddler is angry at being taken by surprise. He seems potentially dangerous, and Kit retreats to the car to call her brother. Sven speaks to the man, asking who he is and what he knows about the recent deaths at the stone. The man says his name is Espen, and that he knows that the runes on the stone have changed. When pressed, however, Espen grows angry – he suddenly transforms into a raven and flies away.

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The Sikkeland Stone

On a routine walk through the countryside around Orkanger, Sven Hagge discovers the bodies of four teenagers at the foot of an ancient rune stone. The bodies show no signs of injury or struggle – what catches Sven's eye is the stone itself.

Blood is seeping from the runes.

After assuring himself that the stone is otherwise unharmed, Sven reports the deaths to Isak Larson, the head of the local police. Isak sets his team to work; they haven't handled anything like this before, but Isak has to set any doubts about their (or his) abilities aside. 

While the Orkanger team opens their investigation, Isak's sister arrives in town. Kit Larson has spent the last six years in Oslo, training as a police officer herself. She made detective and was assigned to homicide. Kit has more than pulled her weight in the big city, but the last case she worked was disturbing and exhausting enough that Kit's captain sent her on a forced vacation after it finally closed.

Kit infers from her mother's conversation with Isak that something has happened in Orkanger, but between her mother's concern for her mental well-being and Isak's stubborn pride, she can't learn much more. But then she meets Sven Hagge.

Kit and Sven both find themselves at the run-down police office the morning after the teenagers were found, Kit just hoping to distract herself with a small-town case and Sven appearing to make a formal statement about what he saw at the Sikkeland stone. Kit strikes up a conversation Sven, who she recognizes as the only son of the most prominent family in Orkanger. Sven's repuation proceeds him, but the rumors turn out to be closer to the truth than Kit would have guessed: Sven describes the dead teenagers with hardly any emotion and then suggests that nattmara or huldra might be the culprits.

Isak tries to shoo his meddling sister away from his witness, but Kit follows Sven to the Havsvale Coffee House to find out what else he knows. The Havsvale has only been open for a few months, and isn't entirely welcome among the older locals. To Kit's dismay, the Havsvale is run by Ingrid Koss, the girl who broke Kit's heart when she was nineteen. Despite her best efforts – and a curious conversation with Sven about bleeding stones and forest spirits – Kit finds herself all but alone with Ingrid in the quiet cafe. They talk briefly; Kit manages to draw Ingrid out of her initial coolness and they part as something near to friends.

More importantly, Kit now has a trump card to play in order to convince Isak to let her consult on the case: Sven has given her a scrap of the medical gauze he used to wipe the runestone. As soon as she can, she'll send it back to Oslo for analysis. Even her grumbling, bull-headed brother couldn't refuse to let Kit in on the investigation in exchange for that kind of information.

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