Page 31

In Förening, Finn had gotten me a motorcycle, a few troll maps, and given me what money he could. I’d tried to decline the offer of money, but the truth was that I was running low on the cash Ridley had gotten me, and I needed the funds.

As a condition of my amnesty, Finn was supposed to keep an eye on me as long as I was in Förening. Once I went through the gate, I was on my own again.

Finn warned me that there was a chance Wendy wouldn’t let me back in again. Since I’d already cast her pardon aside once, she might not grant it again.

But it was a risk I had to take. Stopping Mina trumped everything else, even my freedom.

After thanking Finn and Mia repeatedly for everything they’d done for me, I hopped on the motorcycle and spent the rest of the day riding up to Winnipeg. It was scary being back in Canada, closer to the Kanin and Viktor Dålig, but I hid in a motel for the night, with the curtains drawn.

It reminded me of the time I’d spent with Konstantin, and I wondered what he was doing and if he was okay. He’d left me without any means to contact him, saying only that he’d find me if I needed him. But I had no way of even knowing if he needed me.

Seeing him on the WANTED poster had been strangely jarring. I had seen his face on dozens of them before, but this one was different. Not only because Konstantin and I had become friends, but because this was a clear message from Mina—his behavior would not be tolerated.

But Konstantin had been on the run for a long time, and he was capable and smart. He could handle himself. I had to believe that, because if I didn’t, I would have to face the harsh truth that he was a dead man walking, and there wasn’t a thing I could do to help him.

That night, I slept fitfully—with my usual dreams of Kasper and Ridley mixed in with new ones of Viktor Dålig torturing Konstantin while Mina watched and laughed.

In the morning, I chartered the cheapest plane I could find, which I was now beginning to realize may have been a bad idea. When we landed safely, I was just as surprised as I was relieved.

In Nunavut, there were no roads connecting any of the towns. The Arctic weather made maintaining and traversing roads an impossibility. Planes were the best way to get from one place to another, but Iskyla was so isolated that it didn’t even have a landing strip, and I’d flown to the nearest human settlement.

When I got off the plane, it was blustery and snowy, which reminded me of home, the way the cold always did. Spring was descending on the north, so it wasn’t as bad as it could be. After the warmth I’d felt these past few weeks, I pulled my hat down more securely on my head to keep out the cold.

Fortunately, not too far from the airstrip, I found a place where I could rent a snowmobile. In my pocket I had a map to Iskyla, and I checked it three times before I headed out onto the icy tundra. The last thing I wanted to do was get lost up here in the middle of nowhere.

From what I could tell from my map, Iskyla was supposed to be roughly a hundred miles away from the town. I figured I’d be able to make it there in less than two hours. So when I still hadn’t found the town, and I was rapidly approaching the two-and-a-half-hour mark, I started to get nervous.

I circled back around, trying to recalibrate. There were no major rivers or mountains nearby—nothing in the landscape to give any indication that I was close or way off. It was just a platitude of white.

Just when I was about to give up and go back, I caught sight of something in the distance. I pushed the snowmobile to full speed and raced toward it. Icy wind stung my face and threatened to blow back the fur hood that was keeping the snow at bay.

I was getting closer, and the town was starting to take shape. A few gray houses clustered together, and a couple more buildings. Beside one of the houses, a few huskies barked at me as I approached.

In towns of Nunavut, there were a few roads connecting houses to each other or to the local market and shops. This was no different, with the road coming to a dead end just at the edge of the town. A large, faded sign sat at the end of it, and I pulled my snowmobile up to it.

In big white letters it said: WELCOME TO ISKYLA. Below it: . Living in northern Canada, I’d had to learn some Inuktitut—the language of the native Canadian Inuit people. These symbols roughly meant, “Welcome to Ice,” since Iskyla loosely translated to “iciness” from Swedish.

I looked at the small barren collection of houses before me, and I let out a resigned breath. I had made it to Iskyla. Now I just had to find somebody who would talk to me about Mina.



I needed a place to warm up and a way to start asking around, so my best option appeared to be an inn just off the main stretch of road, aptly named the Frozen Inn, according to the warped sign that hung above the door.

Icicles hung precariously from the roof of the large square building, and the white paint chipped off the sides to reveal the gray wood beneath. The door creaked painfully loud as I opened it, and a gust of cold wind came up behind me and helped push me in.

Inside was a rather small waiting room, with worn mismatched furniture poised toward an old fireplace that was barely going. The carpet was a faded red, and the wallpaper looked like it hadn’t been changed in a century.

A staircase with a dilapidated railing ran along the far wall, looking more like it belonged in an old farmhouse than a place of business. In fact, if it wasn’t for the bar that wrapped along the east wall with a bell on it and a bulletin board behind it, I would’ve worried I’d walked into someone’s home.

The door behind the bar swung open, and a girl of about fifteen came out. Her full lips and amber eyes were set in a surly scowl.