Blood Forged ( adventure in Norsca )

This is a dark age, a bloody age, an age of daemons and of sorcery.

Blood Forged ( adventure in Norsca )

Postby LIRR » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:31 am

It was early morning, sunlight only a thing on the eastern horizon, in the west stars could still be seen on the deep blue sky. The wind was freezing, the splash of the ocean cold. Wolfgang Horatio stood at the prow of the tradesman, the ship gently rocking as it cut through the waves of the Sea of Claws. Landfall was up ahead, less than half a mile away, the black peaks of the great mountainranges spreading out to the west and east, obscuring the northern horizon. The sky was hidden behind a thick cover of grey clouds.

Winter had come to the lands of the north.

The crew of the ship lowered the single massive sail and instead put oars into the ocean, moving the last few hundred yards towards land using their own strength, not trusting wind and current. A large settlement was waiting for them, the docks alive with trade and shipping, hundreds of gentle pillars of smoke escaping the warm interior of as many households.

The view was depressing, shifting only in the colors of white, shades of brown or grey, rooftops and ground covered in two feet of snow, the people of the land dressed in furs and hides to combat the cold that winter brought. Wolfang pulled his own Imperial wintercloak tighter around him, dipping his face down behind a wollen scarf that he wore around his neck. Why men had ever settled these forsaken lands he never knew, old tales spoke of Sigmar having forced them from the lands now known as Norland and Ostland, the barbarian tribes having fled across the sea to these mountainous regions.

It was not far now to the docks, less than a hundred yards, the oars splashed each time they hit the surface, swooshing as they pulled the ship forward, swishing as they left the icy cold water.
Wolfang shuddered, the cold having managed to make its way through to touch his skin, he pulled snot up his nose and then glanced over beyond the town.

A large wall he could see rising out of the snowcovered land, smoke rising from within, the wall seemingly a manmade ridge. Wolfang knew better, he knew it was the errected wall of a fortress, circular in shape, protecting the ruler of an entire people, the lord of a kingdom. The King of the race of folk known as the Bjornlings.

Wolfgang shuddered once more as chills rushed through him, this time he did not shiver because of the cold, this time it was because reality struck him. He was a far way from home, far away from the comforts of Salzenburg back in Norland. Here he had to be careful. Here, in the land of the Norse... Chaos ruled.

++++++++++

Wolfgangs' boots hit the wood of the dock after he had made the jump from the ship, hand still on its railing. The Imperial stepped away from the edge and adjusted his clothing, as he did, the warm air trapped inside his clothes escaped for a brief moment and he made a mumbled curse. Allready packages of goods wrapped in furs and tough cloth was being unloaded from the tradesman, the norse of the town aiding the crew with the work. Wolfgang knew that the merchant had brought home goods from as far away as Araby, silk, pearls and glas beads, comodoties of a king in the civilized world, here, the prized ornation of pagan women.

Wolfgang made a nod at the captain of the ship he had arrived with, the merchant returned it with a smile. 'Merchant', Wolfgang thought, 'By Sigmar, he could easily overpower any knight back home'. The way of the Norscans, at morning a merchant, at evening a marauder, it was the best way to survive in the harsh lands of the north, and had its uses down south aswell.

Wolfgang headed for shore, passing the dockworkers clad in their thick furs and carrying or fetching bundles of various goods. It was good to place both feet back on solid ground and Wolfgang sighed with relief, the feel of the uneven ocean finally washed away as stable land held firm under his weight, no need to shift balance, no need to fear loosing lunch before dinner. Taking a quick look around he noticed the curious and suspicous faces of the townsfolk, as he did, Wolfgang knew it was due time to move on without any further stops.

As he made his way through the snow covered town, he reflected on norse way of life, the town itself was not built after some great scheme, houses had been built where the owners had seemed it fit, or rather, the present owners great grandfathers had done so. Between each household broad roads and open spaces allowed for easy access, also making the town look alot larger than it in reality was. Had this been back home in Norland, the town would have been a third of its size, all buildings jammed together inside a protective wall, streets and alleys so narrow that two horsemen could barely fit shoulder to shoulder.

'Atleast they have comon sense to clear the snow away', Horatio thought as he headed down one of the wide roads, the snow only reaching as far as his ankles, here and there massive mounds of snow had been piled to allow passage through the town. Everywhere children and dogs ran around, playing all kinds of games, teenagers either helped their parents or flirted with the boy or girl they fancied. 'Strange', Wolfgang shook his head at the thought, 'So human, but known as demons back home'. Indeed, how many times had he not heard the tales of how the Norscans bring down all kinds of plagues and other ill luck on the shores they raid.

++++++++++

The town was behind Wolfgang now, he was walking along the road that brought him closer to the large fortification outside of town. He held his wintercloak tight around him, his chin pressed against his chest and his mouth and nose hidden behind a scarf, the chill bit into his cheaks. His toes and fingers almost gave in to cramp in the cold, Wolfgang tucked his hands into his armpits and simply kept on walking. Any fool knew that the only way to keep warm was to keep moving, aslong as he kept on walking, his feet and toes would be allright.

Looking over to his right as he walked on, he saw the great mountains obscuring the horizon both east and north, great clouds slowly moving between the peaks like veils of mist stroking the hard rock. There was also a huge oak defying the winter, reaching high above ground and refusing being drowned in the five feet of snow that covered the land. Speaking of snow, it began to fall, large flakes spread far and wide, falling slowly like feathers in a slight breeze. The oak was black, barren, from its thickest branches sturdy lengths of rope kept the carcasses of men, women, children, oxen and horses hanging well above the top layers of snow. Crows and ravens lining every branch, hunched on every dead shoulder, picking now and again at the cold flesh, their bellies fat and round from feeding on the sacrifices to the hellish gods of the north.

He had seen it before, Wolfgang was not a stranger to the ways of these barbarians, still it discomforted him greatly knowing that these people openly prayed to gods who were the sworn enemies of Sigmar Geldenhammer. Not far from the massive oak a mound had been raised, Wolfgang had no recolection of it from his last visit some six years before, 'Six years to soon', he thought. The mound was like everything else covered in snow, the manmade hill crowned by large blocks of stones, obelisks cut from a single piece of rock, covered in intricate runes of heathen design and unholy purpose. The obelisks arranged in a circle around a great bonfire that was still alive with the fury of a dragons breath. A burial, a tomb only befit a king of these cold and dangerous lands. The very purpose of his visit to these remote domains once more.

A dead king of a barbarian race.

And an old friend in mourning.

++++++++++

The wall was well over twenty feet in height, slightly angled as the stone was protected behind a thick layer of dirt, the now snowcovered dirt coming from the deep ditch infront of the wall itself. Torches set on large poles stood on either side of the road as it came up to the waterless moot, right infront of one of the fortress four gatehouses, each gatehouse facing north, east, south and west, each gatehouse honoring one of the foul gods of the Norscans. Wolfgang shuddered at the sight of a large wooden totem, twice the size of a man, standing erected ontop of the gatehouse, covered in fresh blood it was, depicting a menacing and mythological vulture. What little Wolfgang knew about the northern gods, the vulture was believed to be the lord of change, of time, of past, present and future.

"Hello!" he shouted in the language of the Bjornlings, his voice thick with the Reikspiel of Norland.

A light was seen moving on the rampart and soon a torch came into view, aswell as the man holding it, furclad, bearded, helmed, spear in the hand not holding the torch. "Who might you be?!" the guard shouted back in the guttural tongue of the norscans.

"Horatio of Slazenburg, old friend of Angur Amledson, here to join him in mourning!"

The guard went out of view for a short time, Wolfgan began to stomp his feet to keep them warm in the cold, snow up to his ankles, flakes of white falling slowly around him, a faint breeze stroking his frozen features, cheaks and nose now allready rouge. Slowly, his teeth began to hack at each other. The guard came back into view, pointing down at the Imperial, the second after another guard apeared, no torch, no weapon in hand, a cowl of wolfpelt over his head, a thick beard extending down over his chest.

"Björn!" Wolfgang said aloud with a smile, "Good to see you again!" he had fond memories of the mans drinking abilities.

The man by the name of Björn tossed a suspicious eye down on the man by the gate, "If you are Wolfgang Horatio of the Sigmarlings, when were you here on your last visit?!"

"Six winters and one fall ago!"

Björn hesitated for a moment, then made a nod at the guard next to him, the man with the torch disapeared out of sight, Björn then turned to shout over his shoulder, "Open The Gate!!"

Wolfgang sighed with relief, soon he would be allowed a hot meal and a warming fireplace, he held his hands up to his mouth and blew his warm exhale into them in a vain effort to chase away the cold.

A drawbridge made a slow descent to link the fortress and the road over the gap that was the moot, behind the drawbridge a heavy gate parted in two, each door pulled inward by two strong horses. As soon as the drawbridge touched ground, Wolfgang and Björn stepped onto it and placed themselves face to face. Björn carried a simple, yet effective axe in his hand low by his thigh, his eyes inspecting the frozen foreigner.

"I thank you for accepting me at this early hour" Wolfgang said, his face and arms hidden as best as possible within his clothing.

In comparison, the furclad man before him seemed not to be bothered by the chill at all, he simply eyed the newcomer cautiously.

Wolfgang took a look beyond Björn at the houses within the walls, "I would very much like a hot meal, and a warm bed, the rough seas have kept me awake all night" he allowed a smile to make himself more pleasant in apearance.

"You are Angur Amledsons' friend are you not?" Björn asked, his tone of voice demanding an answer.

Wolfgang nodded, "True, of many a year" he was stomping his feet even harder now, the cold biting through his boots.

Björn stood as if pondering over his options, then finally nodded himself, "Fine... Then come with me."

He turned and headed for the open gateway, eagerly followed by Wolfgang Horatio, the frozen Norlander desperetly craving hot food, a roaring fireplace and a warm bed. The drawbridge was slowly once more raised to deny crossing of the moot.

++++++++++

A single guard stood leaning against his spear up on the eastern curve of the fortification, studying the slow rise of the distant sun, the land spreaing out before him like a carpet of white, over by the sea lay the town of Bjorvik, further east by some miles he could see the lights from the small village of Bjorby, it too found down by the water. To the northeast he could see the black and barrens trees of a forrest standing errect in the snow as a challenge to Farther Winter, the forrest crawling its way up the lower slopes of the great mountains, he shuddered as he thouhgt of the beasts that lingered in those dark woodlands, wolves, trolls, weres and even worse creatures still.

"Thorulf!"

The guard was pulled from his thoughts as his name was called, he turned in full to face the man who had shouted his name, it was Ragnulf, come to take over this spot of the watch.

"Ragnulf" Thorulf said, "You scared me."

"Morning brews in the hour" Ragnulf said as he walked up to his comrade in arms, "Your watch is over.
"
"Atlast" Thorulf admitted with a smile, "These times are too cold to be standing watch at night, may spring haste to these lands anew."

"Anything of interest happen?" Ragnulf asked and took a bite of a piece of cheese he had brought, but Thorulf simply shook his head.

"No, only a stranger that entered the southern gate just now I hear. Besides this, nothing."

Ragnulf nodded, "Good. Now get some sleep old friend, seek your bed, you're in need of it. I'll take up watch here."

"Good night" Thorulf said as he headed for the ladder leading down from the battlements, "The Power of the Four knows I need to sleep."

They both smiled and Ragnulf urged his friend on, "Now get out of here."

As soon as Thorulf began to make his way down the ladder located some yards away from his nightly post, Ragnulf turned to behold the mound and tomb of their former king, a king now dead, his bonfire still alive with the spirit of a furious dragon within the circle of obelisks raised in the kings glory to honor his life. A worried expression slowly grew upon Ragnulfs' features, a fear slowly taking root in his eyes. Veils of mist was gathering on the mound, unnatural, not of this world. Once more it would happen. He knew it... And it brought him fear.

++++++++++

Thorulf stepped away from the ladder leading from the high rising wall, as he turned he was startled by a shadow in the dusk.

"Halt, who goes?!" he held his spear ready.

"Björn the Red" the captain of the guard came into view, his brizzling beard covered with frost.

Thorulf nodded and then leaned against the shaft of his weapon, "Who came to the gates in this early hour?"

"An old friend of young Angur" Björn said, "Tell me, who stands watch this morning on the rampart here?"

Thorulf glanced back up the ladder for a short second, "Ragnulf Skepparsun."

"Good. Go to bed Thorulf. Do not worry any futher of this mornings dealings."

Björn laid his hand in the guards shoulder and got a smile in return, the tired and weery man walked off to the simple building that housed the bastions men-at-arms. Björn kept his eyes on the man for some time, his face a grim mirror of dire knowledge.

When the guard was but a grey figure in the morning dusk, Björn spoke anew with a single word, "Come."

Wolfgang stepped out from behind the small shack he had been hiding behind and the two started to climb the simple ladder that would take them to the top of the battlements.

Ragnulf reacted to the sound of steps in the snow and turned to watch who was aproaching.

"Good morning Ragnulf" Björn said with a nod.

"As good as it can get" the guard frowned.

"True" Björn the Red stepped up next to the man and leaned with an elbow against the wall, "Has it been seen again?"

Ragnulf slowly shook his head as he watched the burial mound, "No. Not yet."

Wolfgang was not pleased to be standing so many feet above ground, it was enough to reach stronger winds and it was cold enough allready, "What are you waiting for?" he said impatiently, the man of Salzenburg had been eager for hot food and a warm bed. Instead, he now stood on a battlement with two norscans in the middle of winter.

Ragnulf eyed the obvious foreigner with suspicion, but his eyes could not hide the angst that had taken root in him. As the guard gave his answer, he invoulentarily gripped the shaft of his spear tighter, "A wraith."

Wolfgangs jaw dropped, "A wraith?" he could hardly believe it.

"Not so loud" Björn was quick to demand, "Aye, a wraith" he then said, his eyes assuring of how serious he was, "Twice have we seen it. Two mornings in a row in the same hour, just as Dag rides his chariot across Midgård and brings the morning sun."

Wolfgang could not help but smile at the two men, "A wraith?" surely these two men had to be joking.

Ghosts and ghouls? There were many beasts in the world for sure, but still, only a fool would believe in tales of the undead.

"He does not believe us" Ragnulf said annoid and looked at his captain, "Why have you brought this Sigmarling to my watch in this dark hour?"

"He is young Angurs friend and we need his council."

"Tell me" Wolfgang said ever smiling, "Are you sure this is a wraith you have witnessed and not just a jest made by local boys?"

Ragnulf leaned heavily against his spear and locked his cold eyes on the outlander, "This is no jest, Sigmarling. For two mornings during my watch have I seen it. On the first morning I kept it to myself, but on the second I entrusted Björn the Red and even he saw the being I had witnessed on the previous morrow... A wraith not of this world."

Wolfgang shook his head and rolled his eyes, "This can not be. Wraiths are merely the imagination of..."

"Wait!" Björn held his arm straight and pointed, "There it is!"

They all followed the length of the arm and their faces grew pale and their eyes grew wide. Wolfgang could not believe what he was seeing, he wanted to give a prayer to Sigmar but his mouth was too dry to even allow a whisper. The mist covering the mound of the dead king was slowly rising and forming into a pillar, a pillar that soon began to move like a serpent through the air, slowly snakeing its way towards the fortress. More so towards the three men joined on the eastern curve of the fortification.

Björn studdered as he managed to find words, "King Amled... Walks again."

Wolfgang finally managed to utter a single word, "Unmöglich" taking a step back as he spoke.

The three men slowly backed away until they stood on the very edge of the battlement, close to falling down onto the inner yard of the fortification. Some twenty yards from the wall itself the mist allowed a figure to emerge from within, a massive shape stepped forth out into the free air, a man clad in great black armor, covered in the runes of the Great Gods of the North, spikes shooting out from the shoulderplates, grinning beasts making up elbows and knees. The helm fitted with a pair of massive horns. And from within the slit of the helmet, a pair of glowing red eyes burned like hot embers.

"What shall we do?" Ragnulf was almost prepared to take the leap from the rampart to avoid the terrifying appirition.

"What are you?" Wolfgang murmured, then took heart, even though his bravery was about to fail him.

Wolfgang took a step forth and steeled himself, "What are you who walk in the light of dawn, clad in the armor of late King Amled of the Bjornlings?!"
The wraith stopped, standing with a broad stance, hovering well above the snowcovered ground, veils of smoke slowly rising from its armored form. Painstakeingly slowly did it turn to look at the man with thick accent of Reikspiel. As Wolfgang met those glowing eyes, his bones froze and his hairs stood on end.

He could not explain it, but for some reason his fears turned into rage, he would not let this damned creature intimidate him no longer, "SPEAK!"

The wraith exploded into mist that slowly was torn into thin air by the wind.

Wolfgangs knees gave in and he managed to catch his own fall by leaning against the wall, he slumped into the snow, face pale. He desperately dug forth the pendant around his neck, gripping the iron medallion depicting the forktailed falling star of Sigmar Geldenhammer.

"Well Sigmarling?" Ragnulf knelt by the man and grabbed him by the collar, "You tremble like a cowering dog. Was it not a wraith or do you still think it a mere boyish jest?"

"By Sigmar" Wolfgang kissed his pendant, "I can not believe it."

Björn knelt aswell and grabbed the man by the cloth of his arm, "Was it not the king burried?"

Wolfgang couldnt answer, as all he could do was to press his pendant against his lips and keep his eyes shut as hard as he could.

"Twice has he shown himself in this very hour of the morrow" Ragnulf said, now leaning against the wall rather than gripping Wolfgangs shirt, "This morning will be the third. What does it all mean?"

"I dont..." Wolfgang shook his head, "... I dont know what to believe."

"Its an omen" Björn spoke, "Evil times await beyond the horizon."

"True" Ragnulf nodded and the two norscans exchanged grim looks, "Theres word in the taverns these days. Word that Ingvold of the Graelings has returned to Varheim."
Björn knew of the man, "Ingvold the Impaler. Son of Ingvar, king of Graelmark. Old feuds never die, feeding on the blood of the men who keep them alive."

"It must be so" Ragnulf said, "Why else would this wraith appear in full armor, ready for war? As we thought, it warns us of dire times to come."

Wolfgang began to push himself from the snow and was aided on his feet by Björn the Red. Wolfgang leaned against the battlement, trying to cope with the horrid experience of looking into the viscious eyes of a wraith. Ragnulf could not let his eyes wander off from the burial mound, knowing what slept beneath it.

"So Wolgang Sigmarling, friend of Angur Amledson. What say you?" Björn said.

Wolfgang merely shook his head in disbelief. Then he rested his eyes on the burial fire, terrified of what fueled its raging flames, "True" he said, "It was the king burried. The very armor granted him by your cursed gods, this wraith did ware. The armor he wore as he returned from raid and pillage in Kislev. I remember it well."

"But what does it all mean?" Ragnulf looked at the captain of the guard with frightened eyes.

Björn looked upon the snowcovered burial mound and the fire roaring within the circle of obelisks, "A dead king walks again, and then a Sigmarling sets foot on our land" the old warrior turned to look at Wolfgang, "I judge that as omen."

"Me? I did not summon this abomination" Wolfgang took a step back as he heard the acusation.

"Wait! Look!", Ragnulf pointed out into the air and got the attention of the other two.

Mist was gathering once more in the air, concentrating into a small cloud of vapour where the ghost once had vanished. The three men looked on in fear, Wolfgang holding onto his religious pendant, Ragnulf gripping hard on his spear, Björn seeking safety behind the fire of his torch held out. From the mist stepped a figure, a man clad in demonic armor, a king of the Norse undead.

"It comes again" Björn trembled, "We must flee!"

They ran for the ladder, Wolfgang slipping and falling face first into the snow. He pushed himself up and was about to run after the others, but as he glanced at the terrifying spirit he halted and instead met its gaze once more, the Norlander wasstruck by a fear that froze him to the spot where he stood, breathing heavily through grinding teeth.

"Come On!" Ragnulf shouted from the ladded, waving his hand.

Björn was allready on his way down as he stopped to look at the frozen stiff foreigner, "Sigmarling!" he cried, "Hurry!"

The wraith clad in full suit of armor did not move, hovering in silence and surrounded by veils of mist. Wolfgang reacted to the raised voices, but still he could not move, something compelled him to remain.

"No", he whispered, looking into the glowing and dreadful eyes of the ethereal being haunting this morning, "It wants something" Wolfgang took a few careful steps along the rampart towards the wraith in armor.

"No, come back!" Ragnulf shouted.

Wolfgang did not heed the plea, slowly moving until he stood straight infront of the ghost as it hovered in the air some twenty feet from the fortified wall, their eyes ever locked. Björn and Ragnulf just watched, waiting with dread to see what would become of this. Wolfgang swallowed and gathered strength, he could taste the fear at the back of his mouth, he could feel its chill embrace his stomach as he finally found the courage.

"If you have the gift of speech, then please, use it." The wind, crows in the distance, the noise of the village coming alive as the morning sun grew on the horizon. But the wraith made no sound at all. "If your slumber has been disturbed, then tell me what must be done to give you rest once more and allow you to return to the halls of your fathers." The wraith was ever silent, eyes locked on the mortal defying its aura of fear, eyes glowing like hot embers from the dark confines of the horned helm. "Why do you, king of the Bjornlings, walk again? Why do you not sit in the drinkinghalls of your dark gods?"

The wraith slowly turned its head to the east, Wolfgang followed its gaze and found the light of the sun crawling over the distant horizon. Their eyes met once more. Wolfgang made a quick glance at the sunrise and then faced the ghostly being.

"What? What do you want?"

The wraith stirred, slowly turning away from the mortal on the battlement and started to walk back into the gathered cloud of mist.

Ragnulf gripped his spear ever tighter, "Now's our chance!"

The spear cut through the air with the full force of Ragnulfs arm.

Wolgang reached out as if he tried to catch the spear in its flight, "No!"

As the spear struck the back of the wraiths broad and armorclad torso, the creature came apart and exploded into mist, the spear never touching solid form until it stuck to the frozen ground beneath the thick layer of snow that covered the land. Björn walked up behind Ragnulf, the guard leaning heavily against the wall, staring at the veils of mist slowly dispersing into nothing but thin air. Björn the Red looked over at Wolfgang who met his eyes, both of them unable to explain what they just had witnessed.

"Morning" Wolfgang said with an exhale.

"What?" Björn walked over to the Sigmarling.

Wolfgang faced the old warrior, "The morning sun. The morning sun hinders it from reaching what it seeks. As the light of the morning sun hit the burialmound, it turned to head back. Its anathema for the creature. The question is, what does it seek?"

Looking over at the now tranquil burial site, Björn finally spoke, "I think I know."

++++++++++

Morning had grown into early day, wagons moved on the frozen road between the town and the smaller farmsteads spread out on the countryside, the sun warmed in the cold air. The town of Bjorby was now truly alive as its craftsmen were hard at work, children ran around and played and women cleared snow from their households yardsö
Crows and ravens covered the dark branches of the massive oaktree used to sacrifice beasts and men to the drak gods of the north, picking at the cold flesh, filling their bellies with the meat surrendered in unholy prayers.

A large fireplace was alive and well as flames rose from freshly stacked firewood, a set of tables arranged in a rough U with the warming fire in its center. The hall was large and its pillars that supported the weged ceiling covered with weapons and shields along with trophies from successful hunts aswell as murderous raids abroad.
Maidens placed juggs of mead on the table and serfs offered roasted boar. The men sitting by the table where all clad in thick furs of bear, wolf, wolverine and lynx, reinforced with studded leather and chainmail. From their thick belts around their waists they carried heavy swords, large daggers, axes and iron headed maces.

They all had frowns on their faces, beards and hair reaching far down their torsos, their eyes stern after years of hardship at home facing the elements and abroad facing the enemies they constantly raided. They where the warlords of the Norscans, rulers of the Bjornlings, each man a landowner or ruler of a town or village. They all had gathered to celebrate and honor the death of their late king, each lord offering up a cup of blood that had been poured onto the bonfire of the burialmound. An act that bonded them all, in life they had shed blood with the king, so they did in his death.

By the head of the table sat an old man, close to reaching his sixties, his hair grey and his beard braided, his shoulders covered by a massive bearhide, his forearms weighed down by gauntlests displaying the grimaces of horrid creatures, around his neck he carried a heavy necklace inscripted with ancient and mysterious runes.
The necklace the sign of his position; King of the Bjornlings.

"My brother, King Amled of the Bjornlings, is mourned by us all" he said and all eyes were on the next ruler of their folk, "But he lives on our memory as the man he was, a warrior of Arkhar."

The grizzled men gathered all raised their jugs of mead, "Blood For The Blood God!!!"

The king nodded in aproval, "But as his death strikes us with grief, we will not despair. For let it be known from this day forth that I, Harborg, aim to wed my brothers Kone, and heal the wounds of this land."

There was silence, the old warriors all exchanging glances, unprepared for the news given.

"Well?" the king said, "What say you? Am I king by marriage or does one of my cousins challange me for the throne?"

At first, no-one said anything. Then a thudd as a clenched fist hit the table, and another, and another, until all the men present beat their fists againt the table with such force so the foaming mead splashed onto the wood of the table. They all aproved, no-one had a desire to challenge the new kings position. The king nodded and grinned, leaning back into his chair, pleased to be accepted by his kinsmen and the other lords of the men called Bjornlings.

"Some days back I recieved word from the Graelings" Harborg continued, "Word from Ingvold the Impaler."

With this, all gathered lords frowned, some spat at the floor in contempt of the name. The elderly king presented a bundle made from goatskin that contained four foot long staves of beech and held them up, the staves covered in the runes of the norse.

"On these Bokstavs, the whelp informs that the King of the Bjornlings would do best to return lands stolen twelve summers ago, or suffer the consequences. He says, that where his father was the weaker, he is a champion of Arkhar and blessed in battle. Were the King of the Bjornlings not to heed this warning and not return lands stolen, all sons of the Bjornlings will die." Harborg leaned against the table and pushed himself up on his feet, then held the delivered message in full view of all. "Here is my reply... Let them come" and with that the staves of runes where all tossed into the roaring fireplace to the cheers of the warlords gathered.

Jugs where raised and curses shouted at the folk known as the Graelings, their warriors blood warming their chests.

Harborg beat his own chest with a audible thump, "Gather the men! Gather the warriors! Give offerings to the Gods! We Go To War!"

All the warlords shouted in triumph and raised their jugs of mead in a toast, banging fists at the table, laughing at the upstart Graeling prince who had returned from raid and pillage in the Southlands.

King Harborg of the Bjornlings grinned with malice as he raised his goblet made of a bulls horn, "So let the blood of the dead flow like a river and let the dead feed the wolf and the troll and the raven. And let the cries of war, death and victory be a prayer to the Gods!"

The lords all answered as one entity as they met the toast of their king, "Blood For The Blood God! Skulls For The Skull Throne!"

++++++++++

From the balcony the young man looked down on a group of warriors sitting around a fire on the courtyard, eating bread and drinking mead. Life for them was simple it seemed as he studied them. Further away some serfs carried supplies from a storage, heading for the royal kitchen that had to see to the needs of the lords visiting the fortress. Hardship they endured for sure, the servants and slaves, but still, a simple enough life. He sighed and lowered his head, the sturdy oak of the balcony easily carrying the weight placed on it by the young man.

"Why veiled in dark clouds on a fine morning such as this?"

The young man turned, finding his mother standing in the doorway, he managed a brief smile that split his wellkept beard, "How could that be? The sun always shines where I go."

But it did not fool his mother, as she stepped out into the snow that covered the balcony she pulled her Brettonian cloak tighter around her and raised the hood over her head. She stopped next to her son and saw the grief in his eyes, "Angur, it is time to put this behind you" she stroked his shoulder, "Your father will not come back. Beasts die, kinsmen die. You yourself will one day give in and leave Midgård for ever."

"I know mother" he sighed heavily, eyes aimed at his feet as they moved snow around.

"So why does it seem so strange, that all life ends?"

He shook his head, "There is something, clawing at the back of my mind. I still dream of him."

"Surely your father had no wish for his son to griev his death like some common woman?"

Both Angur and his mother reacted as the powerfully built Harborg, king and uncle of Angur, stepped out onto the balcony. Even though he was old, the man was still an intimidating sight, broadshouldered and with a brizzling beard and strength to wrestle a bear.

"Show that you are a man, a man of the Norscan kin" the king continued and walked up to his nephew, "Abandon this unworthy mourning of your father, my brother, and earn the respect of the landlords. Look upon me and know that I view you as my son, for are we not blood."

Angur nodded and managed a smile, "I look upon you... King."

"Ha!" Harborg grabbed Angur by the shoulder, smiled broadly and shook it gently.

The wife of the king touched her husbands arm and gave him a pleading look and the old warrior nodded.

"Angur" the king said, "We hear you intend on going off on a tradesman once more to barter with the Sigmarlings."

The young man did not deny this, "I miss the sea. And the southern cities and what they offer."

"Then know it is against our wishes" the king said, "This life you lead with the Sigmarlings is not healthy and will earn you enemies amongst Bjornlings aswell as Graelings and even Skaelings."

Angurs mother placed a soft hand on her sons shoulder, "Please Angur. Stay, do not sail for Salzenburg and ease a mothers heart."

Angur sighed, "I shall do my best to please your wishes."

Harborg nodded at the reply from his nephew, "A most welcome answer, boy. Stay in the halls of your fathers, and honor them by one day taking my place as king of your kinsmen."

++++++++++

The door to Angurs personal chambers was thrown open and the young man, no older than twentyfive, stormed in with rage alight in his eyes, a snarl attached to his face.

"Get Out!" he yelled at the few servantgirls present and they hurried like frightened mice to exit the large room, closing the door behind them.

Angur paced back and forth, frustrated and enraged, frowning and snarling like a dog.

"What world do we live in?!" he threw his arm in the air, ever walking back and forth in his room, walking between the large bed and the impressive fireplace and the benches arranged around it. "What curse has the Gods placed on me?! Why do they force me to breathe the air of cowards?!" He kicked a stool with full force, sending it flying across the room, "A Mere Month!" Grabbing a table, he flipped it over with all his strength, sending plates, bowls of food and jugs of ale to the floor, spilling the meal over the rugs of animal furs. "A beast of the woods would have mourned longer!"

He hit a wall, leaning his forehead against it, breathing heavily, trying to regain his senses, eyes closed, teeth grinding. A month had passed from the day his father had been found dead. And now, now his own mother had accepted his uncles hand in marriage to once more sit at the side of a king.

"How easily tears of sorrow can be turned to tears of joy."

He sighed, leaning with both hands against the wall, head slumped with the chin against his heaving chest. The boy was crushed, betrayed and devastated. Emotions he had no grasp of how to handle on the magnitude they presented themselves.

"But who am I" he whispered to himself, "To defy a king."

"Greeting mylord."

"Greetings" Angur answered without looking, but as he realized he recongised the voice he turned and to his astonishment found himself looking at an old friend who was standing in the doorway, "Wolfgang?"

"The same, old friend" the Sigmarling said in his own tongue with a broad smile and the two young men walked up to each other grabbed eachothers wrist.

Behind Wolfgang, Björn and Ragnulf stepped into the room and closed the door behind them.

Angur could hardly believe his eyes, "Wolfgang old friend, and Björn, most trusted warrior. But tell me, what brings you from Salzenburg?"

"I came to atend your fathers funeral" Wolfgang said.

"Sooner my mothers wedding" Angur said in Reikspiel with a frown and shook his head.

Wolfgang nodded, "I must admit it followed closely" the conversation continued in the language of the southern empire.

Angur started to pace while his eyes glowed with anger, "The offerings of the burial where used as offerings to bless the wedding. Nor man nor beast had time to rot."

He sighed and lowered his head, speaking with but a whisper, "My father... It seems I see him where ever I look."

Wolfgang took a cautious step forward, "Where?"

Angur raised his mourning eyes at the ceiling, "In everything that reminds me of him."

"I remember him also" Wolfgang said and placed his hand on his friends shoulder, "He was a good king and a strong man."

"He was an honest man" Angur added, or corrected, Wolfgang couldnt be sure.

Wolfgang hesitated at first, Angur was still fighting his demons over his fathers passing, but Wolfgang took heart and adressed the young prince, "I think... I think I saw him... This morning."

Angur looked at Wolfgang with a face of utter confusion, "Saw who?" he understood the phrase but could not grasp its meaning, after all, they where talking of a dead man.

Wolfgang swallowed hard, "The king... Your father."

His face was a mirror of his battling emotions as Angur slowly stepped away from his friend, his eyes windows open to his struggling feelings. "My father?" he finally said in his own rough tongue with a whisper, his confused eyes locked with Wolfgangs.

"If you so wish, I and these men can tell you of what we've seen" the Sigmarling continued in his own language.

It seemed like foreever before the troubled Angur showed any sign of response, and when it came it was but a slight nod as he looked upon these men he knew so well with both distrust and hope, struggling to remain his sanity.

Wolfgang, ever speaking in Reikspiel, told what he knew of the matter, "Two morrows straight have your guards, Björn and Ragnulf, seen a ghost the hour before sunrise. A ghost in the shape of your father, clad in his suit of armor bestowed upon him by the dark gods of these lands. When I arrived this morning, they so told me of this and took me to the rampart and I kept watch with them. At first I could not believe it, grown men telling ghoststories as if they where as true as any tale of trolls or beastmen. But as they had said, word for word", Angur began to step away and Wolfgang followed, "On the very hour, in the same appearance, every word told the thruth, the wraith so did appear."

Angur backed up against the wall, filled with rage, fear and grief as he listened to his friends tale. But he could not deny the honesty in Wolfgangs words.

Angur shook his head, "Impossible."

"I knew your father" Wolfgang Horatio said, "And I saw him this morning, the third day of his resurection."

Slowly did Angur come to terms with the situation, awkward and odd as it was, but somehow his storming emotions calmed and settled, leaving but a wondering face in its wake. Angur and Wolfgang had their eyes locked, and the norscan could see that the sigmarling spoke no untrue word. Angur moved his head to face the two guards, but kept his eyes on Wolfgang for as long as possible before finally adressing his two warriors in their own tongue.

"Where did you see this wraith?"

"On the east wall" Björn said as he lowered his head slightly.

"Did you speak to it?"

"I did" Wolfgang said in the norscan tongue, "But it did not reply. Instead it fled as the morning sun struck the burial mound with the first light of dawn."

"Amazing" Angur moved over to a bench and sat down on the fur that covered it, slowly a headache was settling and he was feeling ill.

Wolfgang knelt next to the norscan prince, "I swear to you Angur" he said in Reikspiel, "As certain as I am alive here and now, I speak the truth."

"I dont know what to believe" Angur said in the language of Wolfgangs ancestors, "Could it be?"

Wolfgang allowed a faint smile, "Yes."

Angur turned to the two guards, "Do you have the watch tomorrow?" it was as if all doubts had been swept away and now Angur was a determined man with a mission.

"Every morning, mylord" Ragnulf said.

"And it was clad in armor?" Angur asked for anyone to answer.

"Your fathers armor" Wolfgang said and nodded.

"Then you did not see his face?"

"No" Wolfgang admited, "But only your father wore such an armor with such pride and posture."

Slowly, the reality of the situation was starting to sink in and settle in Angurs mind, he leaned with his elbows against his knees where he sat, "If only I had been there."

"You would have been struck with fear" Wolfgang said.

"For certain" Angur nodded, "Did you see him long?"

"You could have easily counted to a hundred" Wolfgang assured.

"Longer still" Ragnulf promted.

"And his beard?" Angur asked, "Was it grey?"

"As in life" Wolfgang said with a smile.

Angur got up on his feet and paced back and forth, trying to get to grips with the whole situation. The others simply waited for his response. Angur stopped and looked at the three men, "I shall join your watch tomorrow. Perhaps this wraith will walk again."

"Most likely, mylord" Björn said.

Angur nodded, "Good. And if it takes my fathers shape I shall speak to it, even if the gods themselves tries to keep my tongue at bay. Have you spoken to anyone else of this? Of what you've seen?"

"No" Björn shook his head, "No one knows."

Angur walked up to the three men and gathered them close around him, "Good, then let it remain so and your friendship shall be rewarded. On the morrow, up on the east wall, the hour before Dag appears with his chariot on the horizon, I shall join your watch. Until then, farewell."

The three men bowed and left the room.

As Angur closed the door behind them, he turned with his back to it and slumped onto the floor, allowing his feelings and empotions to flow unhindered. Tears of joy, fear, confusion and relief fogged his eyes, his breaths turning into heavy sighs and his heart pumped harder than when he had first laid eyes on his one great love so many years before. He wiped his cheeks of tears and pulled snot up his nose and stroked his beard clean with a hand.

He leaned his head against the oak of the door, "My fathers ghost" the whisper was barely audible, "Clad in armor... All is not well." Hiding his face in his hands, Angur slowly was regaining control of his senses, "If only it was morrow anew."

++++++++++

Down by the docks, three dragonships were being prepared for departure, loaded with supplies of food, water and steel forged into weaponry. Each ship crewed by some forty men clad in furs, chainmail and studded leather, their helms horned, spiked and in the shape of the grinning monsters that roam the woods and their bare skulls. Several villagers aided in loading the ships of the raidingparty, they would not be seen for many years on these shores again, living the life of the marauder in the southlands.

Harald Trollslayer was an imposing man, broadshouldered, muscular and athletic, dressed like his men in fur and chainmail, great plates of armor covered with iron thorns protecting his shoulders. He was drinking mead from a horn as he watched his men and the villagers ready his small fleet for the journey south.

"Going allready?" a female voice asked.

Harald turned and smile warmly as his sister walked up to him, wrapped in a robe and hood made from two layers of the pelt from lynx. He held out a greeting hand, "Aye, going allready" he said with a smile.

As she stepped up to him he put his arm around her and held her tight to keep her warm. Together, the two siblings watched the men and women down by the docks as they toiled to ready the ships.

"Promise me sister, to send Bokstavs when ever a tradesman sets sail from these shores."

"Do you doubt it?" she said with a smile as she looked up at her brothers bearded face, framed by a great mane of hair.

Harald took a last swipe of his mead and returned the horn to the ring by his belt, "Eirika" he said, "About young Angur and his feelings for you" they parted and Harald held his sister infront of him. She in turn sighed, she knew what was coming. "Look upon it as a game" her older brother said, "As lingering as a heartbeat."

She sighed anew and smiled at her brothers atempt of giving advice, "Nothing more, dear brother?"

"He may love you now" Harald said as he moved a lock of hair from his sisters cheek, "But there will come a time when he will be king, and as such, be a subject of his own bloodline. There will come a time when he must marry the daughter of a rival king or rebellious landlord in order to keep the peace. He must make choices for the greater good of the kingdom and can not indulge himself with the love so wellknown by ordinary folk. Think of yourself the day he will reject you for the good of Bjornmark. Fear it, sister, fear it."

Eirika was a constant warm smile that the cold of winter could not erase, "I shall keep your words of advice in mind with every step I take hence forth." They both chuckled, "But dear brother. Do not do as the priests of the Sigmarlings and give good advice to the vulgar crowd only to ignore it at the first chance you get."

Harald laughed wholeheartedly, "Fear not."

Looking past his sister over towards the town itself, Harald shook his head, "I've lingered for too long it seems."

Eirika turned to look over her shoulder, seeing their father on the approach, she smiled at her brothers comment.

"You still here Harald?!" the old hunched man shouted as he advanced leaning against his gnarled oak cane the length of a man.

"I do believe I hear our father calling" Harald said and it caused Eirika to giggle.

"What are you two snickering about?" their father snapped as he walked up to them, "Aboard my son, the oars are in the water and the sails soon filled with gathering winds rather than casual breeze. They are about to leave you behind."

They all headed for the docks, the siblings walking on either side of their father, walking slowly to allow the old man a calm strole through the inches of snow that covered the road.

"My son, never forget my advice" the old man said, "Never sail through fog unless it can not be avoided. Never sail close to shore in a storm unless you wish to get grounded on sholes and reefs. Always steel the wind from your quarry and approach it from the aft, let your sails swallow the wind your prey would need to escape. Always remain friendly with ports where you get good deals and always raid shores far from them, the need for a friendly port should never be underestimated. If questioned about your gods in the lands of the south, trust them to aid you in any quarrel over faith. But, should it be more advantagous to embrace Sigmar to secure good trade, then by all means, embrace and secure. But most of all..."

"Be true to yourself" Harald cut in as they halted next to the ramp leading from the dock onto the railing of the longship, "Then all things follows as surely as night on day, that no man in the halls of our father can question your right to sit by their side and raise horns with them" Harald chuckled and Eirika smiled, "I know father, we've heard your advice throughout our lives."

"I see" Hrothgarth, their father, was a bit miffed at his sons comment, "Well, its good advice in any case. Advice my father passed onto to me and his father in turn to him as he was young and able."

Harald shook his head and then leaned over to his sister, "Farewell Eirika" he gave her a kiss on the forehead, "And remember my words."

"You need not to worry" she said as Harald climbed aboard his longship.

Allready the men where taking up their seats by the oars. As the ships set course for the southern horizon in the hour before noon, Harald stood at the aft of his ship, waving at his father and sister. He would not be back for many years, if he came back at all.

"Remember my advice!" Hrothgarth shouted after his son, holding his hand by his mouth to direct his words.

Harald merely shook his head as the ships headed for the open seas. As Eirika and her father headed back to land, Hrothgarth pondered the words of his son.

"What words was it that Harald wanted you to remember, child?"

Eirika hooked her fathers arm and snuggled up close to him as they moved on, "He gave me advice concerning young Angur Amledson."

"I've heard he often finds time to talk to you" Hrothgarth said, limping along, hunched against his cane with daughter in arm, "And that you have found much spare time to talk to him in turn. If this is true child, then Im affraid it threatens the honor of us both."

"But father..."

"What are you up to?" he stopped as they set foot on land, "Speak up and out with it."

"He... He has for a brief time given proof of his love."

Hrothgarth sighed and slumped his head, leaning heavily against his staff of gnarled oak, "Young fool" he shook his head, "And you believe in this proof you speak of ofcourse?"

"I... I do not know, father. Im not sure."

"I can tell you this" he leaned forward with his stern eyes and sought to lock them with his daughter, but she avoided them by looking down into the snow. "If you take this proof for truth, then you are a fool. Put greater price on yourself, child, or I shall be the father of a whore!"

"But father!" Eirika looked up atlast, "He has declared his love to me and given me his honor that his love is true."

Hrothgarth sighed and rolled his eyes as he continued up the slope leading from the frozen shore. "You know not men as I do, I should now, I am one myself" Eirika followed close behind, "Men will promise anything between sky and soil to get what they want, and what they want isnt always what they say." Eirika aided her father the last couple of tricky steps through the snow to reach reasonably level ground. "You must not mistake a bright star for the sun, child" he continued as they walked on, "Make a sun out of a star and you will never see the light of day. You must take care of youself, Eirika, you cant just allow anyone who knocks on your door to come in like some slavegirl spreading wide and open." Eirika was feeling more than a little ashamed of herself upon learning and hearing her fathers upset mind. "Remember child, that young Angur is indeed young, younger than yourself by several winters. You must stop so readily allow him your time, for like all young men he seeks but one thing when it comes to women."

"I shall... I shall obey, father" she eventually said.

"Good."

And with that, Hrothgarth headed through the town by himself, limping along with his staff, leaving his daughter behind. She slumped down upon a pile of gathered firewood, crying, even if her mind had accepted her fathers wishes, her heart was still far away from doing so any time soon.

And it tore her apart.
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Re: Blood Forged ( adventure in Norsca )

Postby Athelassan » Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:54 pm

Well, I think I can see what's going on here.

Just one small note: Sigmar is conventionally known as Heldenhammer. Geldenhammer would suggest something unfortunate, I suspect.

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Re: Blood Forged ( adventure in Norsca )

Postby exitus_10 » Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:40 pm

Athelassan wrote: Geldenhammer would suggest something unfortunate, I suspect.

Ath


Can you imagine that? Gelding with a hammer? That would be one of most painful things ever.
I have not returned! Be afraid or something.
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Re: Blood Forged ( adventure in Norsca )

Postby Athelassan » Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:49 pm

Also, unless you have any objections or there's a subtle difference I haven't noticed, I'll remove the duplicate thread.

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Re: Blood Forged ( adventure in Norsca )

Postby LIRR » Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:48 pm

Ah... Yes, that other thread was due to the internet acting up on me :roll:
As for the question in that thread, brizzling is a typo :oops: Bristling should be the term :D

As for gelding.... Yeah, my bad :mrgreen:
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