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April 271 – Village of Brattsholt

EVENT BRIEF:
Despite the lingering clutch of winter early on in the month, spring finally arrives across the continent. Small settlements and villages start making preparations and early plantings for some crops are right around the corner. Merchants move across the land delivering goods and people tend to their daily lives.
The village of Brattsholt, originally a Clan Nightriver village, rests just on the edge of the City-State of Newhope border. Over the years the village has grown as colonists have moved into the area, leading to a multi-cultural populace. While it is technically still on Nightriver lands, the locals joke about how it’s equally shared among the territories.Word has spread that even the areas of Clan Goldenfield have not been safe from banditry on the roads, leading many to wonder about the security of the area even though there has been no real cause for concern. Shady individuals seem to congregate near the borders of territories, able to conveniently disappear from one territory to another in order to avoid getting caught. Some have expressed worry that the amount of attention this small village and the surrounding farmlands is receiving may not always be beneficial. Brattsholt finds itself in an entirely different position as it is naturally defended from bandits traveling from nearby lands, and its position between Newhope and Clan Nightriver allows it to receive a moderately paced response for any pre-spotted danger.One of the local community leaders has been spreading the word that the village is welcoming travelers to come and visit, to buy and sell their goods, and to participate in a small celebration to welcome the coming of spring. Brattsholt isn’t wealthy by any means, but has a fair amount of nearby farms and newly improved merchant roads that connect to it. There is also payable work to be done for tilling fields and preparing new land for the locals; it may not be exciting but it’s honest work, and who knows what kind of juicy gossip one might learn from visiting the locals? One rumor spreading is that the leader has obtained a special payment for whoever prepares the most land for the upcoming seed planting.UPDATE:
A simple day-in-the-life in the Village of Brattsholt territory took a sudden turn when a group of armored raiders showed up in the territory. Mistaken for bandits at first, the reality soon became clear as the group was better equipped and driven to fight, bearing no heraldry or Ulven Clan markings or any sort. Presumably landing by longship on the coast nearby, they first struck the outlying farms and killied the farmers. They then moved towards high-traffic roads and outlying village areas, burning things down and sacking it of loot as they went. Left unopposed, their impact on the countryside was considerable.

Trying to barter for their safety but being presented with an incredibly steep cost of silver to have the raiders turn back, the visitors to Brattsholt devised a plan to put up a defense of the village, weathering a savage push from the raiders. Arrows, spells, and steel was exchanged with neither side able to drive the other back. As mana ran low, wounds piled up, and armor was damaged, the raiders finally retreated but with promises to return.
The defenders devised a plan to get the villagers out; what the raiders didn’t know is that during the attack, a group was being escorted to safety during the chaos. When the raiders returned, the defenders yielded the village and escaped to join the villagers, staying together for an extended fighting retreat lest the handful of raiders looking for blood cut them down during their retreat.
Although the entire countryside was sacked and farms burned and the village of Brattsholt overrun and looted, the defenders that came to the aid of the villagers were able to save almost every villager and escort them to safety. The terrible cost of life the Raiders could have extracted was stopped by the efforts of multiple groups and adventurers in the village. The Raiders left as fast as they arrived, leaving the ruins of their efforts for the survivors of Brattsholt to tend to, escaping back along the coast to wherever they came from.

Lilith Nightriver, local job and task coordinator of the village, wrote a letter to share with those that would listen based on the events than unfolded.

“I wept as I returned to the village of my birth. Like so many here my life was spent playing in the fields and forests, running around the market stalls and weaving in and out of the many crowds of people gathering at the town center. I remember those warm days as a child fondly and have worked my years since to keep this village for the generations that follow.

The now burnt and crumbled remnants that surround me make my heart ache. What was to have been a joyous celebration of new life and beginnings turned to destruction. Had it not been for the many hands that helped defend the village and those that lead our townsfolk to safety I fear that the outcome would have been far worse.

The days ahead will be long and sorrowful as we piece our town back together but we will rebuild! Brattsholt will once again be a village the children can feel safe to explore and play, where the townsfolk will feel at home in the tavern playing a rousing game of dice with their friends, both new and old.

My heartfelt thanks are with everyone that stood by us through this and with those that will stand by us in the future to come!

Lilith Nightriver”

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A Declaration From The Ulven Leadership on Arragones’ Lies

In the month of April 271 a declaration from Branthur Nightriver, Clanleader of Clan Nightriver; cosigned by Clans Stormjarl, Spiritclaw, Shattered Spear, Goldenfield, Whiteoak, Axhound, Watchwolf, and Steinjottun; was disseminated across the Lands of Mardrun.

People of Mardrun,

There is no doubt many of you have heard rumors spreading of the information uncovered by a Colonist expedition into the heart of The Dirge Swamp. Many of these rumors were incredibly unsettling and thus the Ulven people came together to send an expedition of our own to verify or condemn these rumors. Two months ago that expedition returned and gave us much to consider.

To be brief, the allegations spread in the newsletter titled “Arragones Lies” have been found to be truthful. Steinjottun Scouts alongside Spiritclaw Truthseekers were able to slip into the heart of The Dirge and verify the claims in the letter and report them to Ulven leadership. This information is shocking to say the least. We now know that The Ancient Syndar on Mardrun caused the creation of The Dirge Swamp and The Mordok. We know that they also had imprisoned a being that is now known at The Mother, deity of the Mordok, to use as a power source to fuel their bizarre experiments. We also know that Arragones was privy to all of this information and instead chose to lie to all of the people of Mardrun. This gave us much to discuss.

We the Ulven Leadership, less Clans Grimward and Ironmound, put forth the following condemnation and law.

The Celestial Arragones has shown herself to be incapable of acting as an arbiter of truth and information. She has shown herself incapable of just leadership. The Ulven People condemn Arragones and no longer hold her title of Duchess to have merit or weight. We stand that no expeditions, research or otherwise, under the leadership of Arragones will be permitted in any of the corners of Mardrun beyond the City-State borders, including those in The Dirge Swamp. Many of our clans have long been friends of the City-State, but it should not be forgotten that Mardrun is Ulven lands and the Ulven hold Sovereignty over them.

Furthermore, all colonial research expeditions and all colonial magical research that takes place outside of the borders of their lands are to be immediately halted. These projects and any future projects will only be permitted if they are agreed upon by the Leadership of greater than one half of the Clans signed onto this proclamation. All expeditions and magical research will also require the oversight of appointed Ulven Truthseekers who will be given complete copies of all information gleaned and carry the authority to terminate said projects should the need arise.

The signatories of this proclamation have all agreed to uphold these laws across the continent of Mardun and there will be no negotiations. It is our sincere desire that these laws do not require enforcement and that no more ill will come between our people, but the Colonists must not forget that they are on Ulven lands.

– Branthur Nightriver – Nightriver

– Laifnar Icefury – Shattered Spear

– Hoskuld Goldenfield – Goldenfield

– Trygve Axhound – Axhound

– Halvar Steinjottun – Steinjottun

– Sigurd Watchwolf – Watchwolves of Sol
– Lamont Whiteoak – Whiteoak

– Cahal Spiritclaw – Spiritclaw

– Graytir Stormjarl – Stormjarl

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Leif Fenrawr Whitestag

PLAYED BY: Sam Hennessee

CHARACTER NAME: Leif Fenrawr White Stag

GENDER: Male

PREFFERED PRONOUN(S): He/Him

CLASS: Rogue

AGE: 48 / DoB Oct 222

RACE: Ulven

HAIR: Brown/grey

EYES: Green

OCCUPATION: Hunter

KNOWN SKILLS: wilderness survival, track animals and humanoids, using light/leather armors, shield, axes and daggers, knife, rock and javelin, archery, working with hides and exotic animals, military tactics, cooking and foraging.

BIRTHPLACE: In the wild North

APPEARANCE: He has bright green eyes and sharp fangs. His long light brown hair and wiry beard are now starting to fade to grey with age and he keeps them in braids most of the time. Often seen wearing hunting gear that appears to be rags to an untrained eye but it is a means to sneak and remain unseen in the wilds to him. He will however dress appropriately for the weather and/or occasion.

NOTABLE TRAITS: Bright green eyes

RELATIONSHIPS: None.

RUMORS: “He was the hunter that took 3rd in the Hunt.” And/or “He is a retired warrior on the path of a Hunter.”

BIO / BACKGROUND HISTORY:
Leif Fenrawr White Stag

Leif Fenrawr, was born nearly 50 years ago, in the year 222. He grew up in the clanless wilds of the North. He did not reach this age by hiding from the fight, but by fortune and skill enough to not be bested in battle. He has his mother Lana’s emerald eyes and pointed fangs like his father, Sven. His long, brown tendrils and wiry beard fade to silver with age and is rarely unbraided. Most often, he appears to be dressed in rags; however, his linens are intentional and allow him to remain unseen and unheard in the wilds. He does have a few other outfits hidden in stash away spots for special occasions, should they arise.

As children, Leif and his younger brother Ivorn, would accompany their parents deep into the woods to gather and hunt food. Sven was an expert hunter and taught the boys everything he knew about animals; how to hunt and track them, and how to set traps for food or for regents. Lana taught them about foraging bait for traps, food and regents and how to prepare them with the animals they hunted.

On an early fall hunting trip in 245, Ivorn was slain during a Mordoc ambush. Leif and Ivorn were fetching water not far from camp, when the Mordoc attacked. Ivorn, terrified, became confused, ran away from Leif and was quickly swallowed into the writhing mass of blackness that was the Mordoc horde. Sven and Lana, hearing Leif’s cries for help, unleashed a flurry of arrows piercing every Mordoc in sight. Selflessly, Leif darted after Ivorn. Leif saw Ivorn, as his small frame passed a massive oak tree, a Mordoc appeared from the other side and drove its spear clear through his young body, killing Ivorn instantly. Before Ivorn’s lifeless body even hit the ground, Leif had lunged at the Mordoc and urged his hunting dagger into the Mordoc, piercing its heart, killing it swiftly and quickly. Even though, Leif killed the Mordoc responsible for Ivorn’s death, it wasn’t enough to ease his hatred or quench his thirst for revenge. He rarely backs down from a fight, and never gives up the opportunity to rid the world of another Mordoc. His loathing for Mordoc and the primal desire to spill their blood consumed him.

After hearing of Leif’s bravery against the Mordoc, Runeseer Solvig was inspired and offered Leif the path of the Warrior; to which he gladly accepted. He trained hard and fought harder, not only showing great skill in archery like his parents, but an uncanny amount of skill with all thrown weapons. For melee and as part of the pack warriors, he fought in leather armor with shield and battle axe. During this time in his youth, he served and has fought viciously in many battles for the White Stag pack.

During the Battle of the Bloodmoon, Lana and Sven helped hold off the attack before being overrun by unknown enemies. Runeseer Solvig ordered the remaining pack warriors to attack, it was only a too little too late. While the pack saw the dawn, and were victorious in battle, Sven and Lana did not survive. When the sun came up all that was left was burnt Mordoc bodies and the few fallen of the pack that included his mother and father.

In late 250 Leif was sent to fight in the Colonist Wars. While he saw many battles, the wars did not last long, only a few months. Leif was happy to return home to the north as he had little desire for slaying humans. He will gladly talk and trade with them today but would have no issues with killing one if the need should ever arise.

In 262 Leif provided security for the forward scouts of the Dirge Swamp Expeditions. The expeditions were very successful. They learned about the Syndar with the Mordoc and found mysterious texts. Leif was mostly interested in the protection of the expedition’s forward scout teams and as always, the slaying of Mordoc.

The next year when the Longfang warriors were called to defend Stormjarl lands, Leif volunteered as part of the White Stag war pack to show support for our neighbors and allies in the north. The battle near Black Wolf Creek was bloody. Leif saw the last shield wall of the Ulfednar, the Longfang elite warriors. They held off overwhelming numbers, as his war pack rained down volleys of arrows into the advancing foes. The battle was won but at a great cost. Leif saw many of his friends and northern neighbors slain that day.

After returning home to the north he volunteered as part of another Dirge Swamp Expedition providing security again to the forward scout team. They welcomed him as he had been into the Dirge Swamp on previous expeditions. His expertise and axe were both needed again. The expeditions were of great success and Leif returns home, unscathed.

Leif hears whispers of plans to make a northern protective buffer called the Shield of Mardrun. They were calling for aid to defeat Mordoc, and Leif was more than happy to answer. He slew Mordoc without mercy until he was numb on the inside. He was not invited to be a part of the Great Wolf’s Hunt in the Great Forest earlier that year, and this fueled his anger as he chopped his way through Mordoc after Mordoc.

This time, when Leif returns home, things are different. His wounds seem to take longer to heal and the scars seem to have a constant ache. He understands that his days of heavy fighting, are coming to an end, like the failing light at dusk. Time, healed wounds and old injuries of a warrior’s lifestyle have taken a toll on his body and he is completely aware of it.

With a used and aging body, he can no longer run or sprint and is slow to stand or sit. He can no longer keep pace with the younger warriors during a charge or the like. This restriction and clearing Mordoc seems to have quenched his bloodlust and deep seeded rage. He now finds himself reminiscing about his youth, family and the joys of being on a hunt. He talks with the Runeseer and is released from the path of a Warrior and thanked for his service to the pack and all of Mardrun. He is offered a position as a Pack Hunter, which once again, fills him with purpose and joy.

Leif has laid down his shield and has hung his battle axe above the mantle. Now he carries his father’s woodsman axe and his hunting dagger. He has new found purpose and his skills as an archer or with a thrown weapon have not faded. As Leif showed great adaptation to the new role as a pack Hunter. In January of 270 Leif receives an invitation from Jarl Gertrud Speartusk to compete in a hunting competition. He was able to find an elk herd in a small glen at failing light. Leif made his way to the edge of the glen after they bed down and waited. Just as the stars started to dim, the morning dew coated everything and created a light fog low to the ground, in the fading light of the full moon, the elk herd rose from the fog one by one like a great old ghosts of the glen. With the perfect form and stealth of a hunter Leif took his shot and hit the largest bull flawlessly. It took one step and crashed to the ground. Leif returned with his kill and was proud to take 3rd place in the competition with his slightly above average bull elk.

His time was not wasted as a warrior as he is now on the path of the Hunter, a tracker and scout, as a Rogue using the skills his parents taught him all those years ago with the ones he has learned along the way. He loves being from the clanless north and savors his freedom. To him, being on a hunt is the ultimate freedom. He can live for weeks or months at a time on his own or can spend time with the pack or trading in an outpost or city. Leif has no known living family or progeny. He is always willing to help out the pack but has no interest in leading it. He believes he will settle down and farm when he is old and he doesn’t feel that old yet. He can feel the presence of the Great Wolf Father when he is hunting game and is closer to Mother Gaia when she reveals to him the past in the form of what was left behind or the beauty in the songs of the wilds. He also enjoys listening and telling stories over a horn of ale.

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News and Rumors – April 271

The snow thaws as spring begins to wrap Mardrun in its warm embrace. As people begin to mill about and trade routes begin again the well of news and rumors bursts free and spreads gossip over the continent.

Rumors swirl of another brutal raid on a small colonist farmstead, this time along the Yurnai River south of Daven’s Hold. Again there was no trace left by the raiders that could give any idea of their identity, but their violence was extreme. No one escaped the slaughter and much like the last raid, several people were left with their heads on pikes. Some people question the legitimacy of these claims and instead tell stories of people trying to whip up some sort of panic to take eyes off the alleged lies of Celestial Arragones. 

 

A rumor has been making the rounds through the tavern circuit that seems far too fantastical to be true. Someone claims to have been privy to a secret research group that found a way to construct new, powerful magic items for the first time since the skill was lost during the fall of the Syndar Kingdoms of Faedrun. Before long drunken lips are spilling this ‘secret’ all over Mardrun. The majority of people toss aside the notion as nothing more than alcohol-fueled delirium, but enough people believe it to carry the rumor on to their next watering hole and soon the buzz has swept over Mardrun.

 

Tales sweep in from the taverns and ale houses of the City State of Newhope of another couple murders. This murder seems to have happened in the deep of winter, however the bodies are being found now due to the thaw allowing travel between settlements and the smell eminating from the households. The first house belonged to a small family of five that were found arranged in odd grotesque positions. The second was similar to the first, but instead there was a message left in the flesh of the family of three, “Blood flows faster, yet none answer. Will you listen?” 

 

With trails opening up many stories swap with the previously snow locked northern territories. One such tale is that of an animal of abnormal size. A merchant caravan from Ironmound speaks of seeing a bear that came out of hibernation that was the size of a fully loaded wagon and probably could have swatted them like flies. They knew that the creature was watching them for some time before they saw it, due to that feeling a person gets on the back of their neck as if something is just behind them. They only saw the beast by sheer luck as they rushed through the pass to a break in the tree line. According to one of the caravan guards the creature was running full tilt towards the caravan, and they were only able to avoid being eaten alive due thanks to the oxen pulling their cart tearing down the trail as though The Great Wolf himself were nipping at their heals. So if you travel through the Pass of the Great Wolf Hackles, beware of a massive bear that could do more than just make off with your food stores.

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March 2022 – Rumors of Raiders

= EVENT STORY =

Rumors have spread like wildfire across the continent as reports have claimed that heavily armed and armored raiders have struck border settlements. One happened to be in City-State of Newhope territory and the other in Clan Shattered Spear territory. Some are saying it’s an organized bandit group, others are saying it’s an escalation of Ulven tensions boiling over, still others say its colonists raiding to stir up trouble for Ulven groups. Facts are slower than rumors and it may take some time for the different territories to find out what is going on.

However, several wealthy merchants who secured some lucrative deals are concerned that their caravans of goods moving in and out of Clan Goldenfield are ripe for the picking. A call has been made for mercenary security to provide a solid presence in the area to deter bandits, raiders, or anyone looking to stir up trouble. It doesn’t pay much, but the volume of guards that will soon be patrolling the area means that it should be a strong deterrence and relatively easy work. A trader has mentioned in the pub that hunters have been seen in the woods looking for rare plants. A farmer has loose lips about his worries over a supposed territory dispute between some Ulven in the area. Others whisper rumors of “hungry ghosts” seen in the dense fog of the unusually warm end of the winter season.

As the groups come and go and check in with the local communities in the area to secure proof that they are doing the patrols and keeping the area safe, it is up to them to get involved with the local communities and see what is happening or to stick to the task at hand while on the road.

 

= EVENT SUMMARY =

An outpouring of support found its way to the merchant caravans moving through eastern Mardrun, eventually culminating in a small Goldenfield farming community. Upon arrival in the area the volunteers and travelers found themselves standing between two opposing sides of a land dispute. A prominent farmer had passed away with no set heir, leaving a large tract of farmland up for grabs and two half-sibling children who felt they had equal rights to the lands.

Some of the travelers spoke with these claimants, but by and large no one seemed to feel that they had any rights to speak on the Ulven land claim issue, choosing instead to focus on the patrols and contract work available in the area. Eventually the two sides agreed to hold an honor duel between themselves and their supporters. The son, Vigmar, sustained moderate wounds in the duel and yielded his claim to his half-sister, Hilde and things seemed as though they would quiet down for the rest of the day.

Soon after a pair of scouts from a military unit in the area burst into the outpost and alerted everyone that a small group of bandits had bypassed their unit and made their way to the nearby farmlands. The bandits quickly set to work harassing the local people and a traveling tavern in the area, eventually leading to a fist fight that broke out into a full, weapons drawn conflict. Eventually a group of locals and volunteers made their way out to the farms and dealt with the small band of bandits, bringing a peaceful air back to the village and farms.

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Ká:nen

Played By: Cody Jackson 

Character Name: Ká:nen

Gender: Male

Preferred Pronouns: They/Them – Masculine

Race: Iolarian Syndar

Class: Cleric

Age: 40

Occupation: Member of the Community

Birth Place: Oskenon:ton Village

 

Backstory:


Tsitsho – tSEET-s-hoh – Fox

Oskenon:ton – Oh-skay-NOOON-toon – Deer

Ká:nen – gKAAH~non – Seed 

Where I come from we are given names that describe us and our role in life. Before we are born our mothers sit on the hilltop surrounded by the Clan Mothers who listen to the words of the hills and the forests and translate what they hear. Through them we are given our names. I was born among my people and given the name Tsitsho, but that name has since left me, slinking off into the woods like the wily fox it is.

I lived a happy life among my people, Oskenon:ton, the Deer Clan. I was taught to hunt, to fish, to fight; and while I loved these things, nothing held a place in my heart like the nightly stories. Every night the elders and the clan mothers would pound drums to gather the clan around a roaring fire where they would play a phrase on their flutes and tell the stories of our people. I was always the first to arrive, ready and waiting for the words of my beloved elders to spill forth and weave tales. When I was still young they started to bring me forward to recite the stories alongside them. People started to call me Kahiatónhsera; Book. “There goes Fox, the little story book,” the adults would call as I ran by.

I was a young man when the news of the undead plagues became too common to ignore. It seemed that everyday reports of their activity moved closer to our home. We’d always believed that our remote village would keep us safe, but when your enemies don’t need to eat or sleep then they can march any distance and soon nowhere is safe.

Eventually we realized that we would need to move our people. Our hunters and tradespeople set about gathering as many supplies as they could and we packed up our village and began the journey toward the port cities. One night as we camped under the stars my grandmother, one of our clan mothers, woke me. “Wake yourself, Ká:nen,” they told me.

“I am not, Ká:nen, grandmother. I’ve not heard that name before. Are you okay? It’s me, Tsitsho.” They smiled at me, but their eyes were sad.

“No, Ká:nen. You are no longer Tsitsho. That name will stay with our people.”

“What do you mean?”

“The hills and forests have spoken to the Clan Mothers. There will come a time where we will reach the end of the trail and all that is left to us is the ocean. At that time our people will need to take to the seas to the new continent that we have heard about in rumors.”

“What does this have to do with me, grandmother?”

They let out a slow breath and let their eyes fall for a brief moment before locking onto mine. “We do not have the goods nor the money to secure passage for us all. The city-dwellers will not take us free of charge. We can afford to send only one and we must send someone who can carry our stories.

My jaw dropped, “Not me! Why me? You are a clan mother! You know all of our stories and more. It should be you that goes!”

They held their hand up and I stopped speaking, “No, I am old. The clan mothers are old. We need someone young who can plant the roots of our culture on this new land. This is why your name is now Ká:nen, Seed.”

“I – I can’t do it. I can’t go alone.” My words choked in my throat.

“Etene, Ká:nen.” (I will go with you) they told me as they reached out and touched my chest over my heart and spoke again slowly, “ken:thon,” (here) they gestured to the sleeping crowd around me and touched my heart again, “Kon:ne’s” (They are all here). They took a small pouch from around their neck and pressed it into my hands. “This is the money you will need for the ship. Go now, in the night. Your story will be told to the other’s in time so that they will greet you as a friend should blessings cause your paths to cross again, but for now you must vanish.”

“But – “ Their hand shot up again before I could speak.

“No, there will be no arguments. No discussions. You will go as Ká:nen and leave.”

I did as I was told, packed my things in silence, and slipped away from the camp with not much more than field rations, my warclubs, and a small medicine bag filled with coins. I traveled alone for many days, my heart heavy with grief and loss, until I finally came to the walled city upon the sea.

I drew attention as I walked the streets. The middle siblings looked at me in my clothes and horns with derision; couples that passed would cling to each other when they caught sight of my warclubs. The few city-dwelling elder Syndar that I saw did their best to look away when they saw me. I’m not sure if they felt shame for themselves, or for me. The youngest siblings made a great show of pretending I did not exist. There were not many of them out and among the pedestrians of the city, but their aura of superiority spread far and wide.

Eventually I came to the port and found a ship that would be sailing to the new continent, Mardrun. I found the man booking passage and approached them with my coins in hand. They were a human with salt blasted skin, an unkempt beard, wild eyes, but most refreshingly, absolutely no pretension.

They greeted me with the first warm smile that I’d seen in days and took the coins from my medicine bag to count. When they were done they looked up at me and told me that it was enough to book a small space in the depths of their ship. Before I could answer, a middle sibling behind them chimed in to say, “Ah good down where this one won’t have to look at it. This one was getting worried when it managed to actually pull out some money.” My hand moved toward my club, but the human put their hand out and stopped me, spun on a heel and cuffed the middle sibling across the face. I stood in shock, but not nearly the level of shock the middle sibling clearly felt. The captain no longer sported their warm smile as they screamed at what I quickly realized was a member of their crew, or at least had been. By the time they were done screaming it was clear the syndar had lost their employment.

The captain turned back to me, their smile back on their face, though clearly plastered over other feelings. “Well I have a deal for you instead. Can you work a rigging?”

“Uhh…”

“Can you tie a knot?”

“Y-Yes.”

“Well then we can teach you the rest. You join the crew for the journey and I’ll give you back half this coin when we get there and you can have a newly vacated bunk in the crew quarters. It’s much nicer than the deep deck, and don’t worry it’s mostly humans in there.”

I nodded politely, “This is a deal.”

I was led onto the ship and shown my bunk. I set my bag down and, for the first time since leaving, really took the time to look through it. Far to the bottom there was a narrow satchel. I opened it and found my grandmother’s flute with a note attached to it that simply read, “Etene ken:thon.” I cried for a while, but then I played. 

***

The journey was not easy, but eventually we landed on the shores of Mardrun. When I stepped off the gangplank onto the docks I was immediately overwhelmed by the city laid out before me. The colonists had not been here long and yet they had already managed to establish a vast network of stone and wood buildings. It was a lot to acclimate to.

I spent my first days in the city with not much coin to my name trying to find a way to scrape by. I’d told the captain to hold onto the coins that they’d tried to return to me so long as they promised to offer a working transit such as mine to another of my kind. It was a gesture that felt noble at the time, but as hunger began to slip into my being it felt more foolish than anything.

Luckily for me Grandmother Sialag does not forget to smile upon their first-born grandchildren. It was not long before I met other First Born Syndar. They saw me out of place in the city and extended a lifeline. They told me that many that had lost their homes and tribes on Faedrun had come together to make a home on Mardrun in the woods and plains to the north. They called themselves The Shattered tribes, though to me the name seemed disingenuous for though they were from disparate homes they had not shattered, but instead came together.

I traveled north with these new friends until we came to their village that would become my home. There were so many people there and it warmed my heart to see them living in a way that looked familiar to me. As night fell the people gathered around the fire and bid welcome to the new members of their home and as people settled in I spoke, “I am Ká:nen, the seed of the Oskenon:ton culture. I have been called Kahiatónhsera, the book of stories. I am a storyteller and I would be happy to tell you all a story now.” I pulled my grandmother’s flute from a small satchel, played a phrase, and began to tell them all the story of How the Horse Got Its Mane. My heart swelled as they watched and listened. This was not home, but it was starting to feel like it.

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Niedre

PLAYED BY: Josephine Magee
CHARACTER NAME: Niedre
GENDER: Female
PREFFERED PRONOUN(S): She/Her
CLASS: Cleric
AGE: 30’s
RACE: Celestine Syndar
HAIR: Silver/White
EYES: Bright blue
OCCUPATION: Has survived with hunting and trade, otherwise none yet
KNOWN SKILLS: Archery, divine magic, research (rarely), foraging
BIRTHPLACE: Tribe of the Lost
APPEARANCE: Silver skinned, lithe, bright eyed, typically adorned in a strange melding of noble yet rustic attire
NOTABLE TRAITS: Hair usually put up, quiet personality until agitated, typically wearing Reclamant heraldry
RELATIONSHIPS: Mentor: Aeronwen, Mother: Isolde, Father: Uaine
RUMORS: Some may have heard of a silver Syndar hiding in the Great Forest. None within Steinjotunn have bothered to confirm or deny.
BIO / BACKGROUND HISTORY: Born in Tribe of The Lost, Niedre was hidden amongst her tribe for years. Her parents held great affection for their child and didn’t want to see her become part of a system that sees Celestine as inherently better than any other Syndar. The Lost’s relationship with the Celestine was poor at best. If the Tribe could have any part in breaking this cycle, they would. So the entire tribe aided her parents in concealing her existance. However, discovery was inevitable and Niedre was taken from her tribe at an incredibly young and sensitive age. Where most Celestine spend their entire youth under the influence of the Enlightened’s teachings, Niedre’s was instead instilled with a deeply defiant streak learned from her upbringing . She spent the next several years under the Enlightened’s custody, attempting to defy them at every turn. As a countermeasure, her education was assigned to the Reclamant. With her proclivity for divine magic developing as planned and the child’s need for rebellion satiated, the Enlightened were satisfied with her placement. The Reclamant recognized Niedre’s talent for the bow and sent her Rui-Calithil, where she refined her skills as a hunter and socialized with other Serous syndar. Over the years, she formed strong bonds with her peers, although she grew distant from the Enlightened’s classically trained students.
Niedre naturally excelled at clerical magic, and was soon ready for more than novice tutoring. However, as the undead scourge became an ever growing inevitability rather than a distant threat, the master clerics of the Reclamant had little time to focus on Niedre’s training and were more often on the field than in their temples. Little by little, fewer and fewer of the Reclamant returned, until one day the temples were overrun, and the surviving civilians were evacuated onto the final ships to Mardrun. While the rest of the Reclamant stayed behind to save as many souls as possible, Niedre’s master Aeronwen forced her to board the last boats. Niedre arrived on the shores of Mardrun surrounded by hundreds yet alone.
As Niedre wandered Mardrun looking for remnants of the Reclamant or her Lost tribe, she came to settle at the edge of the Great Forest within the territory of Clan Steinjotunn. Although she did her best to avoid Ulven politics at every opportunity, she came to appreciate their apathy to her presence and even began to think of them as allies. To survive in her isolation she would hunt the wild and trade with the nearby Ulven settlements for supplies. On occasion, she would sit quietly amongst their spiritual leaders or join in on a friendly competitive test of accuracy with a bow. She never stayed present long enough to make close friends though, and hastily retreated back into the forest at any signs of The Order or New Hope approaching.
Despite her attempts to remain a hermit, what remained of the Enlightened did eventually locate her, and she was required to report to Celestial Arragones intermittently. Through these exchanges, she began to hear of the colonist’s efforts to push back against the Mordok, and their persistence to research ways of defeating the undead. After news of the retrieval of the Helenstone reached her, Niedre finally began to accept that perhaps her own goals were not achievable without support. Slowly she made her way north to The Shield of Mardrun, uncertain of what to expect…

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Lia Al Mo’alej Brana Nulpun Khara Weithe Sé Dom Sirina

Player Name: Laura Hagen

Character Name: Lia Al Mo’alej Brana Nulpun Khara Weithe Sé Dom Sirina

Character Name Meaning: Lia (given, casual name), Mo’alej (healer), Brana Nulpun Khara Weithe (God/Goddess of Fire, Air, Earth, and Water in that order), Sé Dom (tribe name), Sirina (mother’s name), [lack of name here means unmarried]

Character Full Name (only given to members of Kae’Rim): Lia Al Mo’alej Brana Nulpun Khara Weithe Sé Dom Sirina Al-Kali Raqi-Nulpun Lo-Kadaran Kali-Das Fali Wei-La Brana-Lo

Full Name Meaning: Al-Kali (born under the kali constellation), Raqi-Nulpun (dance of air), Lo-Kadaran (despair of death), Kali-Das (lonesome wonder of the unknown), Fali (new life), Wei-La (healer of life), Brana-Lo (flames of vengeance)

Gender: Female

Class: Cleric

Age: 31

Race: Human

Hair: Brown

Eyes: Blue

Occupation: Healer, Weaver

Known Skills: Weaver, Transcendent Meditation, Meditation, Divine Magic, Improved Divine Magic

Birthplace: Open desert near the Ul-Weithe flower formation in the north of the May’Kar Dominion under the kali constellation (meaning lonesome wanderer)

Appearance: Standing 5’8, dressed in well worn robes

Notable Traits:
Typically carries a dagger or small sword (to kill undead only)
Believes all life is sacred
Will not carry any leather/tanned skin nor eat meat (unless it is offensive to refuse)
Will try to heal/protect all life, no matter race or alliance
Fierce determination to kill undead

Backstory: I was but a child when my peaceful world came to an end and the unmistakable vengeance grew within me. I remember clearly as our dwindling tribe fought so many undead, not knowing that there was no end in sight. Many of our warriors fought and died, forcing us to move west towards the coast, away from the hordes of undead. We had settled down for the night at a cliffside overlooking the ocean when the undead caught up to us. My parents fought desperately to save me, but were ultimately bitten and torn open in front of my eyes. Screaming in pain and sorrow, a friend (Jakiel) grabbed me and jumped off of the cliff with me in his arms.
I don’t remember anything of what happened after that. I had woken much later in a boat, surrounded by strangers from May’Kar who were fleeing the continent. They had found me drifting in the ocean on a large piece of driftwood and that I was very lucky to have survived. Now the only remaining survivor of Sé Dom (my tribe), I became determined to carry on our traditions and serve Ul-Brana in killing the abominations of undead that plague our world.
However, the new world did not suffer from the undead like the old world did. The numbers of undead were few and far in-between. After roaming the new wilds for a few months, nearing starvation and death from sickness, I was taken in by a farmer (John) and his wife (Nira) who was a healer. They took care of me and taught me about this new world I lived in. I learned many skills from John and Nira, but I still followed the traditions of my people, worshiping the Four Gods and holding their teachings in my heart .
After I turned 15 (5 years after I was taken in by John and Nira), I ventured into the wilds once more with the survival knowledge to live on the road. While I never will forget the kindness that was shown to me, I want to wonder as my people had before, living as one with nature, protecting living creatures, and destroying any plagues of undead. For 16 years I traveled, sometimes alone, sometimes alongside caravans or travelers. From my prayers and learnings, I have been granted healing magics from Al-Khara, protection magics from Ul-Weithe, aura magics from Al-Nulpun, and offensive magics from Ul-Brana. It surprised me to be able to use such a diverse array of magics when I had not yet formed a priest pair, but I surmised this was because I worshiped not two but all four gods (as part of a priest pair each person only worships two gods). While I find it fulfilling to protect life on my travels and destroy the few groups of undead that are sometimes found, I will always remember the old world and greatly wish to go back and reclaim our lands from the corruption that has spread on it.

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Itandehui

Played by: Leticia Gonzalez
Character Name: Itandehui
Gender: Female

Pronouns: She/her

Class: Rogue

Age: 23

Race: Human

Hair: Brown Curly

Eyes: Brown

Occupation: Merchant. Crown and Dagger

Known Skills: Makes chocolate

Birthplace: Faedrun, her mother and father came over and brought her father’s mother and sister and her two boys with them.

Appearance: Short, curly brown hair. Fluffy skirts and embroidery wherever she can get it.

Relationships: Nadja. Soon after leaving her family to go be a traveling merchant, Nadja and her crossed paths and became very good friends.

Rumors: Maybe everything in her store is stolen? She won’t tell anyone where she gets things and she definitely isn’t making any of it.

Secret Info: She’s not actually stealing things, she just doesn’t want anyone to know where she’s getting her stuff from and how much she’s really paying for it.

Bio:

Itandehui came to Mardrun as a baby. Without any memory of the boat, her grandmother made sure to remind her how difficult it was on their family to bring a baby across.

“We had to keep all you kids happy and fed on a ship that didn’t want us aboard to begin with! Now it’s your turn to take care of me.” She would say. “You would not stop crying for one second on that boat. I thought they were going to throw us overboard. It’s lucky we made it here with you.”

She was a little nicer to the boys. They were her daughters’ kids and she called them the future of our family. “You two are going to grow big and strong and we’ll never have to worry about anything thanks to you.” She told them. “Without the two of you, this might be the end of us.”

Itandehui’s parents and aunt would be gone all day, trying to work enough to feed themselves and grandma and the three kids.

“Mama, grandma says I almost killed us on the boat,” Itandehui told her mom one day. “She says I was too loud and they wanted to toss us!”

Her mother picked her up and told her, “It’s funny she would say that. Grandma spent the whole boat ride puking over the side so I didn’t think she noticed all your crying.” Itandehui laughed and said goodnight.

She didn’t know that later that night after the kids had gone to sleep, her mother and grandmother had a talk.

“You can’t keep talking to her like this. Me and Josepho will take her and we will not come back.” She told her.

“What will I do then? Rosita can’t take care of the boys and me and I can’t move on on my own!” Her grandma yelled back.

“I don’t care. Itandehui is my priority.”

Her grandmother became much nicer after that. The family eventually worked hard enough to begin traveling the new continent and grandma had come across the right ingredients to make chocolate the way she did back on Faedrun. She told Itandehui that it’ll never taste the same as it did there because everything is different here, but she’d teach her how to do it anyways. They made chocolate together every few weeks and the boys would tear through it every time. Itandehui always hid some away for her mother. It would melt in her pocket but her mother appreciated it all the same.

Grandma also taught her how to get a good deal.

“These people want you to spend all your coin so they can have it for themselves,” she told Itandehui. “They don’t actually need all that from you, they just want it.”

They would visit markets together and bargain with the sellers there, then go to the next town and sell what they got for a little more than they paid. They’d use the coin to get good food for everyone and have family dinners.

As the years went by, it got harder for grandma to keep traveling. She decided to settle on a warm coast and told everyone to visit every chance they got. Itandehui goes back every spring before the real summer heat pops up to celebrate the season with her.

The rest of the family kept moving together. Itandehui decided to use what her grandma taught her and started buying things to resell in other towns. She used the coin to buy more and more each time and eventually split off from the family to travel on her own and go to new towns she’d never visited before.

Now she sets up her merchant stall wherever she goes and takes it with her when she leaves. She makes enough to buy her way onto a wagon for her goods and goes wherever she feels like. Every few months she’ll meet back up with her family and have a nice family dinner with them.

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Yrsa

Played By: CJ McNeal

Character Name: Yrsa

Gender: Female

Class: Rogue

Race: Ulven

Hair: Blonde/Brown

Eyes: Blue

Occupation: Hunter/Herbalist

Known Skills: Archery, Divine, Herbalist, Hunting, Sarcasm Dealer

Birthplace: Stormjarl

Notable Traits: Mostly quiet, sarcastic, and a bit flighty.

Relationships: Currently travelling with Stormjarl Einherjar

 

Quick Background:

  • Family
  • Mother: Deceased (Unknown family)
  • Father: Great archer and hunter, I look up to and admire him (Am I good with a bow and trapping? Not great, but I won’t starve)
  • Brother: Set sail on a boat a few years ago, haven’t seen him in a while
  • Grandmother: Herbalist and Sarcasm dealer (She was teaching me herbalism, first aid, and magic, but I still have a great deal to learn)
  • My village was raided and burned by Grimward. I was was separated from my family and became a thrall in a Grimward village.
  • Kind hearted, I help my people and the other thralls but become a bit of a handful when someone mistreats my people. My nemesis is a Grimward guard that skirts the line of abusing his power.
  • Made friends with a bonded pair of Grimward, who taught me to work with chain metal.
  • Rescued from my thrall life by a Stormjarl raiding party.

The youngest years

I was born into a small family one crisp winter morning. My father had thought that he would get another boy, but my mother and grandmother were ecstatic that I was a girl. I had one older brother who was 10 by the time I came around. He will tell you that he hated my existence but he always seemed to be around to help when I was on the verge of troubles.

Unfortunately, my mother passed on shortly after I was born so I only know her in the stories told by my family and some from around the village. I have heard that she has family a few days journey from here, but neither my brother nor I have ever crossed paths with them that we know of. We often heard that mother was beautiful and kind, but there is much mystery to her family as everyone seems to change the subject when we ask.

Father, how I longed to be just like him. To many he seemed cold and silent but those closest to him knew of his true depth. The way his eyes would soften and the corners of his mouth would turn up ever so slightly when something amused him. I got this look often as a pup, when I would pretend to be big, strong, and stoic like him. My grandmother would laugh so hard, and tell me that I inherited too much sass from her to be just like my father.

I remember sitting in hunting blinds with my father, he was so still for so long…it looked as if he had stopped breathing all together and turned to stone. After almost passing out a few times I learned that this was a skill I did not inherit from him. He did teach me everything I know about hunting, but said I was better suited for shorter trips.

They say my brother is similar to my mother. He longs to be near the water and tells father that he wants to be a great sailor someday. Apparently, mother had a fondness for water as well but, when she fell in love with Father, she settled for a pond in the forest. Father tried to teach brother the ways of hunting and trapping, but my brother’s heart is always on the water. In brothers 17th year, father finally allowed him to set sail on his first long journey. Brother’s eyes sparkled with joy as he left for the ship; I had never seen him happier.

Grandmother seems to radiate a warm peacefulness, and she is the binding that holds our family together. She has and endless knowledge of plant life; I am amazed at the way she talks about some plants as if they were her old friends. With my mother gone, she had been my teacher of all things plant and magic. Her quick wit and no nonsense attitude   I love and admire her greatly.

 

Now

The setting sun warmed my skin and the tall grass tickled my arms as I danced through the open field. A joyous evening of chasing fireflies had begun. Picking flowers to make a crown and singing softly to myself, I am truly at peace and happy. I hear my grandmothers’ voice whisper as I gaze across the fields’ variety of plant life trying to decide what to add.

“Remember pup, sometimes beautiful is dangerous; you wouldn’t want to get the oils from that one on your hands”.

I feel her spirit with me, guiding as I create the most beautiful and full flower crown I have ever seen. By now, the world is growing darker and the fireflies have begun their magical ball. The soft breeze blowing through the trees plays the melody as I float weightlessly through the carefully choreographed dance only the fireflies and I know.

The wind begins to blow harder and sounds like…
like…chickens…?

Suddenly, its morning and reality sinks back in for another day. I am in my glorious thrall housing (livestock adjacent even!) provided by [insert sarcasm here] “The Mighty Grimward”. I had already been here long enough to stop counting the days. One of the chickens has found her way in through a gap in the wall branches and decided to try to find a snack on the bookshelf.

“Nice Try girl, I think the rat got the last of the crumbs yesterday,” I tease.

I ready myself for the day and find myself getting lost in memories of home. There is a strong love hate relationship with home dreams. I love feeling as if I am home with my loved ones…It feels like a flaming blade through my heart because it was all stolen from me and I’m haunted by it every day.

I can still feel the heat from the fires they used to burn my village and I see the flames when I close my eyes. The smell of campfires take me back to the night I was dragged away from my everything, watching my family become silhouettes against the flames behind them. I do not know if it was easier being among the first taken from the village, at least I was able to see my family together one last time. I’m sure it would have been much harder to see how separated we actually were.

Grandmother was frail, and unable to make long journeys…I just hope whoever she went with cared for her…Gaia keep her safe.

And my father…

My father’s last words to me still echo in my mind. A great hunter with little emotion, it haunts me most that his voice cracked that night.

“Be strong, my child. The road might be long. The journey might be challenging and full of dangers. Take a rest, if you must, but never turn back. Your very next step could be your moment of triumph. Your very next battle could be your greatest victory. Keep walking my warrior.”

I could feel the tears start to well up in my eyes, the way they did that night I last saw him. I held them back that night for him and the family, the way I hold them back now for my people.

There is a nice breeze flowing through the window, but as life is now…it was a short-lived enjoyment. A familiar stench of body odor and stale ale rode in on the breeze. My eyes widened.

“Smell that, Girl!?” I say to my chicken friend. “Tubby is on guard duty this morning. Save yourself!”

I pick up the chicken and gently send her back through the hole in the wall. For a half second, I consider how much effort it would take to squeeze out of the tiny gap myself…but if I get caught that’s a headache I don’t want today. So I tie back my hair, straighten my dress, and ready myself for another Grimward day of cooking and cleaning.

I open the door slowly because I know my nemesis, Tubby, too well at this point. Maybe if he were friendlier I would learn his actual name, but he looks down on my people and I’m sure if he were allowed he would have fun torturing us. He does keep himself just on the line to where he doesn’t get in trouble, but sometimes he steps over when he knows no one is watching. Makes me want to knock his fangs out, but until I get that chance I just like messing with him.

*Clank*

The flat edge of Tubby’s sword slapped across the doorway just in front of my face. I raised an eyebrow and turned my head to meet his gaze. He looked annoyed, as was usual when he had thrall duties. He lowered his sword and leaned his face close to mine. He must have had a long night because the smell of ale was so strong; I think I ended up a little buzzed from the vapors. I held back the urge to vomit.

“You are always a thorn in my side. I’m in no mood for your trickery today, got it!?” He sneered.

I flashed a little smirk, “Why, I have no idea what you mean.” I poked the sword enough to move past it and walked towards the meeting area laughing to myself along the way. They had us meet in one spot and then escorted us to our stations as a group, they claim it is for our safety but I believe they are trying to make sure we don’t escape or cause an uprising.

I spotted a group of older Ulven women on their way to the meet up point; I recognized two who sometimes work cooking duties with me. Hilde reminds me of Grandmother and doesn’t get around too well either. The other women always try to help walk her, but they are all getting on in years and have some difficulties themselves. Most of them don’t have to work, but they ask any one of them and they will tell you they would rather keep busy than sit around and rot. I smile at the one who is currently helping Hilde, and she looks relieved to have someone younger take over. I wrap my arm through Hildes and pat her hand.

“Did you get a good meal this morning?” I ask her “It’s a beautiful day and you look ready for adventure.”

“Oh, you know I only pretend to be frail so they leave me alone” She laughs.

We make it to the meet up location and Tubby is shaking his head.

“Can you move any slower? By the time you get here, your shifts will already be over.” He barked snidely.

Hilde’s arm gripped me tighter in obvious frustration; she was definitely on the list of us who would gladly help make him disappear. I patted her hand again and winked when she looked in my direction.

“That’s enough! Get moving!” Tubby yelled so loud I bet the chickens all dropped their eggs for the day.

The other guard there just rolled his eyes; he was much younger and looked new. He took the lead and Tubby caught the rear, my guess is so he could keep me in his sight. Every time I looked over my shoulder, there Tubby was, glaring at me. I couldn’t help but laugh. He must still be angry over the fun I had last week.

We were in the work march and Tubby wasn’t paying attention. I broke off from the group as we passed vendor stalls in the market. I knew I had some time before they reached the main hall, so I walked around the market. My metalsmith friend, Ivar, and his wife, Hel, were out setting up their stall for the day. They were so friendly, I had a hard time believing they were Grimward. I grabbed the cloth from the top of their cart and draped it over the front of their stall like they did daily. Hel smiled from the front of the cart. I heard a whistle from behind me and turned just in time to see Ivar toss an apple my way.

“I see you got away from the fat smelly bastard again” He chuckled.

Ivar was the one who helped me break away from the group the first time. Tubby was in a particularly foul mood one day and he laughed as one thrall worker fell in the mud. I am still sure he tripped the poor guy. I was about to take down Tubby, when I felt a firm hand on my shoulder and suddenly found myself in the drapes of a market stall. I was confused and still ready to fight when a warm loaf of bread was shoved in my face. I am sure I had drool dripping down my chin. When I looked up, Hel’s kind smile was an instant calming force.

“You don’t want to do that, it won’t be long and your people will be free again” she said sweetly.

After that, they became good friends. They would always have some spare food for me, and sometimes more to sneak back for other thrall. Not that we didn’t get fed in the thrall unit, it just was never the freshest form of foods. In whatever time I could find myself, Ivar would teach me some crafty things to do with metal. I appreciated having something fun to learn, seeing as I had never been one for traditional Ulven woman skills and I was growing bored with Grimward working me on cooking duties. I was actually getting quite good with metal, even though I was not allowed those types of things in thrall housing.

Ivar taught me the way through the back alleys so I could make it back to the group before I would be called out for abandonment. Last week, for the first time ever, Tubby noticed I was missing and was livid when he got to the main hall. The Hersir happened to be in the area and laid into him for losing a thrall on a walk. I was getting a little nervous thinking of how I would sneak past this time, when a nearby window swung open. I took a quick glance in and saw Hilde, who winked at me. I happily took the opportunity to jump into the longhouse without passing by the perturbed guards. I swiftly blended into work sorting goods brought in from the fields and we could hear the Hersir yelling at Tubby telling him to go and find the missing thrall. The Hersir came barging into the room, demanding a head count. When the numbers came out correct he was a little confused, he mumbled something about an idiot and told the other warrior with him to “let him figure it out on his own”

 

Tubby was not letting me out of his sights today, so I happily continued to walk with Hilde to the main hall. I gave a slight nod to Ivar and Hel as we passed by and both of them chuckled a bit when they saw Tubby’s intense gaze on the back of my head.

The only part of the cooking duties I enjoyed were gabbing with the older women. They would tell stories of their villages and younger years. I would get lost in my head, picturing the stories as they were told. I would sometimes imagine I was snuggled by the fire with Grandmother again, listening to her weave stories as I drifted off to sleep. We were all homesick, but none of us spoke about it. Instead, we would try to lift spirits with jokes and stories of happier times.

Tubby and the newer guard were on watch. Tubby was spewing his tall tales, trying to impress the new guy. From the looks of it, the new guy knew better and ended up just nodding a lot. Guards typically did a few rounds to make sure we weren’t getting into trouble, but Tubby always took it one step further and would lean uncomfortably close over shoulders or would take his Seax out to stab a snack off the tables.

*Thunk*

The blade of his seax pierced through the potato and into the wood table.

“This piece isn’t cut proper, maybe you should take more care prepping my food” Tubby taunted a woman maybe a little older than me. He then shoved the potato into his mouth.

She just nodded and went back to work as he chuckled to himself and strutted away.

Just as I was daydreaming about knocking his fangs out of his face, I noticed that he didn’t have his seax sheathed properly. A wicked smile must have appeared on my face because I heard Hilde in almost a songlike voice say:

“Someone has mischief in mind”

I smiled at her and as Tubby walked past me with a scoff, I used two fingers and his momentum to lift the seax from his belt without him noticing. I started using the seax to chop stew meat, I know the blade deserved better but this was a lesson. I looked at the other women, most were chuckling silently to themselves.

Just then, there was a commotion outside the door. Things are fairly predictable in this village and this sound was so new that we all froze and looked at each other. The door flew open and there stood the Hersir and two more guards. For a moment I thought I was in serious trouble, but the Hersir called over Tubby and the new guy. They spoke in hushed voices while we all quietly went back to our duties, trying to catch any part of the conversation.

Breaking the quiet, the Hersir yelled “By the Great Wolf! Who gave the thrall a seax!?”

I smiled as sweetly as I could muster and held back a laugh as Tubby got slapped in the back of the head.

“Oh! Is that what this is!?” I gasped.

I wiped the blade on my skirt and held the hilt up as the new guy smirked and took it from me. He might be cute if he wasn’t of Grimward.

Tubby was fuming, but the hersir told him to take a walk and sent him out. The two new guards stayed with the new guy and continued their hushed conversations.

“Something has them worked up” Heilde whispered. “Where wolf’s ears are, wolf’s teeth are near.”

We worked the rest of the shift in mostly silence, and were escorted back to our housing by five guards where there were typically only two. When we arrived, the guards barked at us that no one was to leave their housing units until we were told to tomorrow morning. There was anger on their faces, but their eyes showed a tint of fear. What could have them so worried?

I sat by my door, and listened to movement outside. It was eerily quiet, and occasionally I could hear whispers as guards briefly passed each other. There were so many out, I didn’t even realize there were that many in this village.

*tap*tap*tap*

A light noise broke my concentration. It was coming from the hole in the wall. I cautiously approached.

“Oh Pup! I am so glad you are here!” Hels voice was so sweet but a little panicked.

“Kinda have no choice” I joked. Humor always helped me through tense situations, even if it wasn’t appropriate.

“Pup! Listen to me! Do not sleep tonight!…” She started

“What is going on!?” I interrupted.

“No time, you will find out soon enough. Just don’t sleep, stay alert, and take this.” She said as she slipped a long canvas wrapped pack through the hole.

“Hel, what if Im caught with this…you know what they will do to me.” I protested.

She reached through the hole and touched my cheek. “They wont” she smiled.

I held her hand as she gently pulled away. We both heard the guards coming. She quickly got up, pulled her dark cloak back over her head, and disappeared into the night. Why did it feel like this would be the last time I would see her?

I sat next to my bed so if someone entered I might have a chance to conceal the package that was given to me. I carefully unrolled the canvas. Inside was a beautiful bow, arrows in a quiver, a leather belt, leather pouch, some chain metals, chain tools, bread, smoked meat, and a note.

“Often times it is not numbers that wins the victory, but those who fare forward with the most vigor.”

I wrapped everything back up except some meat, bread, and the note.

Sitting by the door, I was determined to stay awake like I was told. The food helped, and I found a small stone that I repeatedly bounced off a wall and caught. Just when I thought I was going to lose the fight and fall asleep (Again, never been good at sitting in blinds and waiting) I heard a distant shouting. Was it my imagination or did I hear the sounds of fighting too.

Was it Mordok!? Did Hel give me a tools to fight then leave me!?

The screaming and fighting became louder and closer. I opened my door a crack to see what was going on, and sighed when I realized it wasn’t mordok. Opening the door further I got a better look…

Did I fall asleep?

Is this a dream?

Could it be…?

Then I heard it…”Stormjarl”

My eyes burned as I fought back tears…I was almost free…Ivar and Hel knew the raiding party was on its way, and they brought me a parting gift. I would never forget them, but I had to fight for my people. I equipped the bow and opened that door for the last time.

As I ran to the other huts to help gather the older Ulven, I couldn’t help but hope that Tubby would cross my path.

“Nice bow” Hilde’s voice called from behind me.

I looked at her in awe. With a sword in her hand she looked 20 years younger.

“Close your mouth, pup! I told you I only pretend to be frail so they leave me alone” She laughed. “Now let’s get out of here”

I laughed and shook my head.

We headed down the trail towards the battle when a movement beside one of the huts stopped us in our tracks.

“Where did you get weapons!?” a familiar rough voice spit out. I could feel the grin forming on my face, I guess wishes do come true.

Tubby and the new guy from earlier emerged from the shadows. Cracking his knuckles as he blocked our path, he hissed “Oh, you don’t know how much I am going to enjoy teaching you a lesson”

“They trying to keep us in, or are they what Grimward considers the best defence for the thralls” Hlide joked. “What are you thinking, pup?”

“My honor, and the honor of our people tormented here need to be avenged.” the words just flowed out of my mouth.

Hilde nodded at me, then looked up at the new guy. She pointed her sword towards him and gave him an unspoken ‘Are you going to be a problem?’ look. He seemed to know exactly what was going on, and he raised his hands and took a step back. Tubby scoffed and called him a coward, but the new guy just smirked, shrugged, and took a comfortable lean against a fence post.

“This is going to be quick and easy,” Tubby snarled. “Then I’m going to deal with you!” he barked towards the new guy. He inhaled deeply, snorting everything in his nose into the back of his throat then released a disgusting spit wad to the ground. I thought I was going to throw up, but I held it back and used it to fuel me in this fight instead.

Tubby started running towards me and I took a light jog towards him. I had a feeling he would come at me fast and hot at first, and he did not disappoint. As soon as we made it into striking distance, Tubby pulled back his arm and readied a punch. His fist came hurling towards my face, but I ducked towards the side and pushed his elbow so his punch follow through spun him a bit more than he anticipated. It gave me the perfect opportunity to use his spinning momentum to throw my knee into his fat gut.

Doubled over and coughing, he turned his face at me and I could see the fire in his eyes. He exploded towards me in a full screaming ball of fury. It seemed to happen in slow motion, before I realized what happened…my fist was colliding with the side of his face. He fell over backwards and was rolling on the ground screaming profanities and groaning.

“Hope you enjoyed teaching me that lesson” I stated flatly.

I felt Hildes hand on my shoulder “let’s keep moving” she chimed.

We looked at the new guy who hadn’t moved from his spot on the fence. He crossed his arms and chuckled “I was told my duty was to stand guard here, and thats exactly what I’m doing…standing…guard”. He just stood there, smiled, and gestured for us to pass. Damn cute Grimward.

Hilde and I started to jog down the trail when she held out her hand.

“This is for you, pup!” Hilde laughed as she placed a tooth in my hand. “Knocked it clean out of his head!”

Even if it was disgusting, I almost tripped from laughing.

We came upon the fighting and gave each other a nod that, even without words, screamed freedom!