Monday, 10 June 2019

Scene Thirteen - Reflections on the Skildir

Free the Lands of the Skildir

The rain dripped from the branches, splattering on weathered pelts but failing to penetrate to the skin. Joints ached from remaining still too long, but it was only an hour since the last hunting party had moved through the valley below him. Patience is learned. That moment when you think you are safe is the time that you get careless. Best to wait until you are sure. Many have failed to reach mature age, let alone into their late sixties through premature action. Bundled by his side, carefully wrapped in waterproof skins, the battered lute rested against his right knee. The knap-sack with precious papers was also well hidden under his cloak. It was too wet for adding to the intricate map that he had been working on, but this part of the hills was well studied. It was time to move down into the wide and open lands in the valleys below him. The Bread Basket of Norsca it was once called - now named Karelia, even the settlement of Archangel carried that name, and after years of occupation, the land was beginning to return to its green and fertile nature..

Ceded to Heyami at the Treaty of Thrones in the year 1103, 16 years ago. There were youths in these lands who had never known their Norscan heritage. Who only knew their imperial masters, the Mempo. There were others as well. People who walked quietly and kept themselves to themselves.

Some would welcome a travelling Bard, occasionally food and a warm bed for the night. But many still had fear and worried about repercussions and reprisals. And so he crouched in the shrubs and trees on the hills overlooking Archangel - (Karelia he reminded himself) and watched from a distance. His stomach was full. He had eaten well from rabbit caught the day before. There was still mead in his flask so other than the rain all was well.

As he waited, his thoughts passed to the War Host. He wondered if they had better weather in Albion. It seemed strange not to be with the War Host - For many years his life had revolved around the factions, and the people who lived and fought so bravely to make the world a better place. He had watched their heroics, seen some die, had sung in praise of the former and had done his best to provide a fitting memorial for the latter....

His mind went to the song that he was penning at the moment. Yes, it was at times like this as he sat, silent and hidden in the undergrowth, that songs would spring to his mind....
The Lost Hero Song. He liked the chorus that was developing..

"I can't find a rhyme to your name...
 You're a a hero I know ! It's a shame!
 It's all the same to me 
 But the annals of History 
 are written by the Bards and Skalds you see
 So your wondrous daring do and mighty deeds
 Are fine - but there is one thing that they need
 A name with easy Rhyme 
 Is essential every time
 So tough my friend, there's no mighty song for thee... "

He would enjoy singing that to some of the "so-called" heroes when he found his way back to civilisation.

No, he would let the War Host go their own way while he scouted out the lands in front of him. A visit here. A song there. A bit of news to one group. A message passed to another.
The war host would not miss him. They may be having sun and fun at their gathering. He had heard that Merlin would be entertaining with Dragon Fire in the sky... that would have been worth looking at...

His mind drifted back to the Tavern. He had parted sadly from Moxi, Minibar and the Boss Lady. He had delivered the pensions sent by the "Widow" and given them the options on returning to the Hearth of Norsca, or being free to stay on and support the War Host. They had decided on the latter, but he felt satisfied that they were no longer tied to the post due to poverty. It was not a fortune, but Agnes had sent more than enough to keep them comfortably for a few years should they so wish.

The Mercenary had also had his share. He was also still with the Tavern when the Bard had left  Ravensberg but with cash in his pocket it was anyone's guess how long he would stay or how much the prospect of a greater return through combat would be the appeal. Either way - he wished him well.

The rain began to lessen. A chill was still in the air, but there had been no sign of the enemy for over an hour. Vollsanger felt safe enough to stretch his legs quietly... You could feel that the sun was setting somewhere behind the wall of clouds and storm clouds. It would be getting dark early tonight. Indeed it seemed like dusk already.

Almost time to make the journey into the back streets of the town. Find a place for the evening. An opportunity to talk with locals and tell a story or two. Time to remind another group of an old protest song and a call to arms - not here and now - but in time...  Time to sing of the Skildir. Time to sing
"Free the Lands of the Skildir"

and mead ...   mead would be good...

Free the Land of the Skildir

"Where gentle rains once fed the crops now blood stains all of my kin
 Farmers and their families all butchered by the greenskin

 We'll Fight to free the lands of the Skildir
 Fight to free the lands of the Skildir
 Fenris Teeth to Archangel
 Through Mountain field and range, we'll
 Fight to free the lands of the Skildir

 It almost breaks my heart when I think of devastation
 I swear I'll stand and pledge my arms to destroy the whole green nation

 I sometimes hear the vicotry horns, the Drachenguard in Battle
 I dream I see the lands all free growing green with sheep and cattle

 And the only time I feel alright is when I'm into drinking
 It sort of eases the pain of it and levels out my thinking

 The weight of Torsten's sacrifice, pain of following his orders
 But now the Daygahz brands my skin, "No Mempo in our Borders"

 As each day comes around and we're only into fighting
 My ma would like a letter home but I'm too tired for writing

 With yellow fire of passion, Black cross of secrecy,
 The Sons of Torsten wield a flag to keep us Green-skin Free

 And now I hear the victory horns, the Drachenguard in Battle
 and now I see the lands all free, growing green with sheep and cattle

 We'll Fight to free the lands of the Skildir
 Fight to free the lands of the Skildir
 Fenris Teeth to Archangel
 Through Mountain field and range, we'll
 Fight to free the lands of the Skildir"

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Scene Twelve - Decisions - The Hearth of Norsca

The Hearth of Norsca

"Tell me again how it happened"

The "Widow" cupped her mulled wine between her hands as she looked into the flames of the hearth.
The cottage was old and had seen years of renovations, but was the place that she had been raised, and was still more home than the Tavern had been, though she remembered the days of travelling with the War Host with quiet nostalgia. But those days had passed, she had made her decisions and the quiet life seemed comfortable. Chickens and Ducks in the keep, her garden to provide vegetable and fruit, and passing traders for her other needs.

"Bothvar was good to us, and after Agna died I pledged that I would support the War Host, even in the bad days when I was declared "Non-Wolf" for poisoning Thorgrimm - Bothvar never declared me renegade, and always had a kind word. Tell me again how he left us.."

In the shadows Vollsanger gazed into the fire, happy to be sitting with the Widow at the fire. He remembered fondly the "year and a day" of marriage with Agnes following the night that the Beltane fires were brought to the Crimson Moon and he found himself wed to his companion. A year and a day - but their paths then parted - he back to the War Host and she to her retirement in the depths of Norsca.

"I did not see it all - but this is the tale as it will be told in the Mead Halls, a tale of deception, bravery, self-sacrifice, honour, the Gods and bravery of the peoples of Norsca....

It was after the time of trials of the Court of Crimson and Gold....

Sable who had been released from the mists surrounding Elvesham.

During his time in which he was pacted with Wade of the Unduku he hunted down and ate Hod the blind god of winter. This unleashed a chain of events that was almost cataclismic for the Wolves, in particular but also the rest of the Peoples as it affected the End of the World.

Because Hod was not there to throw the mistletoe dart guided by Loki, Baldur did not die!  Baldur must die if we are to have Ragnarok. If he does not die then Baldur would be the last living soul standing among a pile of burning waste as the world tree and Midgard fall into the Gannungagap (the yawning void that separates Mussplehiem from Nifflehiem) 

In the confusion Wade seeing his chance stole Skuld the Norn who represents the future Skeins of life, so that he could write his future and secure his destiny. 

As seems so often the case when dealing with the Gods, it seems that only the Trickster could help.  Loki was approached by a the luna wolves who attempted to make a deal with him. He agreed that he could fix the problem. After all he’s done it countless times before when Thor got himself into trouble. Hadn’t he borrowed Freya's cloak of golden feathers and fooled Thrym the giant. Or turned himself into a mare to distract the stallion that was building the wall around Asgard… well, we’ll not talk about that, other than to say Odin's Horse Slipnir arrived 9 months later, but that was another story" 

Loki agreed to help saying he could fix the problem but he needed the essence of Hod, a vessel capable of holding the essence of a god and a mistletoe dart, which the wolves agreed they could get. Loki agreed to meet them at the midnight Thyng two nights hence and in front of Odin fix their little problem and return his step brother to the Vanir. 

On that fateful night Loki arrived and asked them to produce the items, reminding them of their agreement that it was all of their doing. They had struck this bargain, it was all on them what ever happened next it was all on their heads. To which they all agreed. 

The essence of Hod was brought forward and then the Dart of Mistletoe, however he refused one after another the vessels offered stating they were not capable. 

“Ah, but no problem I know of such a vessel” he declared and conjured Bothvar to stand in front of him. Then with his dagger cut out his eyes. The Thyng was in uproar, but Loki admonished them spitting vehemence and bile back at them telling them that they had agreed to this. 

They had agreed that it was on their heads. They had said so before the Gods.  Now Loki bid welcome to Baldur the beautiful who played his favourite game of getting people to hurl things at him knowing nothing could hurt him. 

Then leaning low to Bothvar he guided his hand and threw the mistletoe dart sending Baldur to Nifflehiem. Cementing Bothvar as the Hod incarnate. 

Hod reminded the wolves that Bothvar would have them cry not one tear and he will gladly pay this price to save one Norscan from having to. And that is the tale of how Bothvar became Hod."  

The silence deepened. the old bard poked the fire and the embers sparked.

The widow reached into her apron and took out a piece of parchment, rolled and seemingly well read ...  She handed it to the Bard, who accepted it gingerly... He recognised the broken seal of the Jarl of the Hearth, Odinspear.

Unrolling the paper, he scanned the contents. A call to all Tradesmen and Tavern Keepers. Norsca was in dire need of good Tavern keepers and loyal Norscans to come to the aid of the nation. Since the Treaty following the Battles with the Greenskin Empire, the Breadbasket of Norsca had been ceded to the Mempo, and as a result much of the produce needed to keep Norsca thriving was no longer there. Norsca needed to be smarter and more efficient. The best of all traders and keepers were required to make sure that the land could thrive.

"I kept my promises to Bothvar.. The Crimson Moon has followed the war Host for 15 years. I think the time has come for The Moon to stop travelling, and to take up a permanent position to support the people's of Norsca. I am going to call it back and we will look after the peoples of Norsca itself. Build it into Stone and Mortar. A permanent memory of all that we have achieved"

"What of your people?" The Bard asked, "you have many loyal supporters who have traveled with the Crimson Moon through many lands and many dangers?"

"They will be free to return with the Tavern, or stay with the War Host should they so desire. I shall send you with moneys to ensure that those who wish to return can do so with enough gold in their pockets that they can choose their new life. I think the Mercenary will probably stay with the war Host - you shall make sure that he is rewarded for his loyalty. As to all my friends, go to them, explain why I make this decision, and tell them that the Widow will always welcome them back and that the Crimson Moon will always be their home should they wish it..."

The fire burned low and Vollsanger stretched his legs out - thinking of the journey that he would have to take.. once more to the War host... maybe his last...