Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #51- The Warbringer

King Kvig won a sound victory over King Magnus as Kvig defended Mosveld against Magnus’ treacherous attacks. Two of Magnus’ units abandoned him during the battle and declared loyalty to King Kvig. Kvig demanded oaths from the men and their leaders: Kvig’s cousin the mighty soldier Bolverk Skallason, and Baron Vulmar Voclain, the Kildarian knight, pledged themselves and their elite units to King Kvig. King Kvig also showed mercy to Bjorn and his berserk warriors when he allowed Bleddyn to heal and release Bjorn from the city.

Kvig gathered his forces the next day and set on a march to chase Magnus from North Gautria. King Kvig pursued Magnus to the river dividing North from South.

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There the two kings were met by the third most powerful man in Gautria, Kvig’s uncle Skalla Grimson. Jarl Grimson had crossed the river from his home of Jarlin with troops to rival either of the kings’ forces.

Tense negotiations ensued.

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Skalla wanted the warring kings to understand their fight would cripple Gautria and leave her open to orc invasion. At last, Kvig and Magnus made peace and agreed to each keep to his own side of the river. Kvig went North, while Skalla Grimson escorted Magnus south.

Kvig and his army returned to his capital city of Mosveld. The tall, handsome Thrand Vesterson was waiting for Kvig in the Queen’s keep there.

“My father is in desperate need against the orcs,” Thrand said to Kvig. “The foul creatures have inhabited the old stone fortress of Dakagog and from that place of strength they threaten Sigivald and all your lands west over Lake Tagova. Sail with me, King Kvig, Orc-Slayer, and I will land your boats at Dakagog and join your men in the slaughter of those wretched orcs!”

“Agreed, young Thrand,” replied Kvig heartily. “We will take you from here and do what your father can not!”

King Kvig assembled a small force made up of his own veteran shield bearers, a unit of unarmored but highly mobile picked men commanded by Wynston, and a unit of ulfhednar loyal to Bleddyn. Kvig also chose the newly-sworn unit of elite Kildarian knights to accompany them.

Thrand Vesterson confidently steered the boats across Lake Tagova, and brought them without event to the shores of the orc fortress of Dakagog.

Thrand put in at the landing. Kvig led the charge up the hill, with Thrand and Baron Vulmar at his side.

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Bleddyn and Wynston brought their men scrambling up the rocks on the flank.

The wild orcs put up a vicious defense. Wynston’s picked men were whittled down as they tried to climb the hill. Bleddyn and his ulfhednar slowly pushed the orcs back.

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The orcs held strong at the top of the stone staircase against Kvig’s well-armored forces. The narrow steps left no room for Kvig to bring his numbers to bear.

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Kvig and his heroes hewed down orc after orc, slowly opening the space to gain a foothold on the crest of the hill.

Bleddyn’s unit broke the orcs on the flank and manuevered behind the orcs pinning Kvig and the heavy infantry on the hillltop.

Halvdan the hero smashed throught the line to attack one of the two urogs threatening Kvig. Wynston left her dwindling unit and ran across the cliffs to join the melee. She picked out the other urog attacking Kvig and hacked into its back. The three heroes quickly finished the two urogs.

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Bleddyn and the ulfhednar engaged the remaining orcs.

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Outnumbered, the orcs were soon slaughtered by the human invaders.

King Kvig called to the orcs that had barricaded themselves in the fortress to offer terms, but there was only silence from the stones. The humans set to opening the gates with force. Even unopposed, it was several hours before the humans cracked the fortress and Kvig stood inside the empty hall of Dakagog.

King Kvig had removed a good-size orc force from his western lands, but Thrand Vesterson said many large groups of wild orcs still populated these hills. Can Kvig and his forces reclaim the lands from the orcs? And how would Kvig deal with his vassal, Vester Vaster, and his inability to defend the King’s holdings?

Modelers in the Making

Our children have always been interested and inspired by the games and models they have grown up in the midst of so when Daddy started the next foam construction, our youngest wanted to make pieces for the set of structures.

First he had a little free building fun with some leftover bits.

He soon asked for marker, ruler, and material to build his own walls. He also wanted to know if we thought he could learn how to carve so he could make the entire pieces himself. Daddy explained the basics, and the little guy was off.

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Big Brother saw how much fun Little Brother was having, and started on his own creation.

While Daddy put together a new set of walls, the boys meticulously lined and carved their walls.

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They were both so proud of their work, and thought Mommy should put up a new section on the website, titled by them. Next step for them: painting!

Legend of the Volsung #1- Once Upon a Time

The boy stood before the throne, overshadowed by the great folk that argued around him. His father was there- the dashing Kildarian knight Vulmar Voclain, and his mother. The king was there, of course, and an angry man in rich dress the king called “Brother”.

The man shouted, “He took my daughter from my hold, without blessing or leave, and set up house with her in Timlin Town. They defied my rule!”

“I was of age! I had every right to pick my own man!” the boy’s mother said directly to the king.

“Your man didn’t offer me a bride-price for you,” the angry man said to her. “He didn’t swear any oaths to me in my hall. He didn’t marry you proper. That’s theft, by the old customs.”

“Your Highness, please,” said his mother. “We swore to each other in Timlin. We had a feast. We had a son.” She put her hands on the boy. “We’re not living in secret.”

“Our son is seven years old. Why does Jarl Gudmar bring this suit now, Your Highness?” questioned the boy’s father. “Why does he still seek retribution for his daughter choosing me all those years ago?”

“Not retribution, Vulmar,” the man said menacingly. “Restitution.”

“Ahh, it’s silver you’re looking for,” exclaimed Vulmar.

“No more,” said the king, “I’ve heard the arguments.” The king then addressed the boy’s mother. “Is it true there was no gift for your father, and there were no oaths spoken in his own square?”

She hesitated, then nodded, “Yes, Your Highness.”

The king scoffed. “You bring to mind the rich girls that flock in my court around my son. The world is not poetry and love songs. A warrior lives and dies by his word, and by the oaths of those to either side of him!

“It’s very simple, girl. Gudmar is not only your father, but your Jarl. If you don’t have your father’s permission, and this man didn’t marry you in your Jarl’s square, your Jarl has a claim on you. Go back with your father to South Hold.”

“I don’t want her,” said Gudmar, “and I don’t want any of this Kildarian’s silver.” Gudmar paused and stared at the boy. “I want my blood. I’ll foster the bastard.”

His parents both began to shout now, and two guards from the shadows took up position in front of the king.

“Enough!” bellowed the king. “Come forward boy!” His parents fell silent and his mother’s hands tightened on his shoulders. She squeezed one last time and gently pushed him on.

“I’ve already given my judgement, so no arguing,” said the king, “and no crying either. This is your grandfather. He holds many lands in South Gautria. Under his watch, you will learn how to be a Gautrian. He’ll teach you the meaning of honor, and sacrifice for your shield-brothers. Jarl Gudmar will bring you up to be a fine warrior.

“But all men should know their lineage, and remember their parents’ names. I put it to you, boy, how will you be known? Take the Kildarian’s name, or embrace your Volsung blood?”

The boy looked to his father, then to the king. He spoke surely in the great hall with a voice larger than his seven years, so all present could hear him.

“I am Melkor Voclain, Your Highness. And I will keep my father’s name.”

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Aedelfrid Volsung traveled in the wagon with the other women as her brother Thorgils had insisted. Thorgils had surprised her by allowing her to go to the spring Thing this year. He then resumed his commanding ways and refused to let her ride her horse.

Father would have let her ride, she thought. Father also would have brought her to the Thing long before she was almost twenty! But Father had been slain by the orcs ten years ago, and her brother Thorgils made Jarl of Affek, and much of her life changed. Thorgils expected her to act like a proper lady. Father had encouraged her mischievous nature, taught her swordplay,  and turned her reckless sneaky attacks at the boys into finely honed strikes that once sent even Thorgils to the ground.

Aedelfrid was still smiling at the memory when their wagon rolled to a stop. She stood up and saw a group of riders in red livery approach.

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“Hail, Ottar Gudmarson!” shouted Thorgils to the lead rider.

“Thorgils, good to see you at last!” said Ottar as the cavalry surrounded the wagon.

“May I present my sister, Aedelfrid Volsung? Aedelfrid, this is Ottar, son of Gudmar Volsung.”

“We thank you for your escort,” said Aedelfrid.

Ottar flashed a bright smile. “You are most welcome, fine lady.” Aedelfrid smiled politely in return, and turned her attention to Ottar’s retinue. There her gaze was held by a handsome young warrior riding behind Ottar. He sat tall and proud in his saddle, and his eyes shone over his blonde beard. Aedelfrid was so lost staring at his visage that she barely heard the shouts of alarm.

“Orcs! Orcs!”

Ottar spun his horse away and led his cavalry for a group of orcs emerging from the trees.

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Thorgils ordered his infantry to surround the wagon.

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As her infantry started to take losses, Aedelfrid decided she and her ladies would be safer in the hills, so she led them from the wagon.

A huge urog burst from the woods behind them and was stopped by Thorgils’ brave men.

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Aedelfrid and the women had almost reached the cover of the treeline when an orc shaman appeared in front of them.

The orc chanted in a savage language, and two of Aedelfrid’s ladies wailed and dropped to the ground. Aedelfrid grinned and drew the short sword she’d been hiding in the wagon since they left their home. She ran straight at the orc shaman.

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As Aedelfrid defended her ladies against the orc shaman, the cavalry under Ottar’s command engaged a cluster of nearly naked orcs.

There was one rider amongst Ottar’s thanes who distinguished himself in the melee. The blonde rider who had stared so at Aedelfrid fought valiantly. He hewed down the biggest orc, and protected his wounded comrades as the fight grew bloody.

The cavalry at last overcame the orcs and rode to the women in time to witness Aedelfrid slay the shaman. The handsome young rider was most impressed with Aedelfrid’s mettle.

Adelefrid’s brother Thorgils was less complimentary, and ordered her back in the wagon until they reached the safety of South Hold.

The group took to the road and traveled only a few hours more before they arrived at South Hold.Sigivald_LotV_01_006

South Hold was held by Ottar’s father, Jarl Gudmar Volsung. The wooden fortification stood guard over the crossing of the Lugnan River on the road to Timlin Town. Jarl Gudmar kept safe the south-western corner of South Gautria, defending the lands from the marauding wild orcs.

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Many folk were gathered inside the palisade to meet Aedelfrid’s entourage. The handsome young warrior dismounted and quickly extended his hand to help Aedelfrid from the wagon. As their fingers met, a long glance passed between them.

“At your service, My Lady,” the young man said. “I am Melkor Voclain.”

Aedelfrid was about to reply when Melkor’s thane brothers crowded around him.

“Help the horses instead, bastard,” one chided Melkor. “This lady is your better!”

A line of servants drew up to care for Aedelfrid’s belongings.

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More servants offered to escort Aedelfrid to the great hall.

Jarl Gudmar was prepared for their arrival. Tables were laden with food, and many well-dressed folks filled the hall.

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Gudmar wanted to start the feast right away.

“But where is my son Ottar?” Gudmar demanded. “He should be here attending!”

Melkor slipped out of the hall and ran down the stone steps to a small cottage. His fellow rider Skefil was sitting against the shuttered house.

“The Jarl wants Ottar now,” Melkor told Skefil.

“I don’t think Ottar is ready to see his father yet,” said Skefil, looking over his shoulder.

Melkor knocked on the door anyway. “Ottar! Your father is waiting!”

A moment later Ottar opened the cottage door. Behind him, a beautiful young woman sat on a bed. Ottar kissed the top of her head and left.

“Come,” Ottar grunted to his thane-brothers. “Let’s go appease my father.”

The young warriors strode up to the hall. Ottar threw open the wooden doors.

“Father!” he cried.

“Ah, here at last is my son…returned from another of his many battles with the orcs,” said Gudmar.

“Indeed…” said Ottar. “You summoned me, Father?”

Gudmar stared hard at his son. “Yes, Ottar. Jarl Thorgils will be traveling with us to the Thing. There at the stones, he and I will seek the blessings of the priests. But first, Jarl Thorgils has come here to our hall to formally accept our proposal.”

“‘Our’ proposal, Father?” asked Ottar suspiciously.

“Jarl Thorgils has agreed to let you marry his sister, the Lady Aedelfrid.”

“What?” stammered Ottar. “You…he…but…I don’t want a wife!”

“Ottar,” said Gudmar. “She is beautiful, and of the Volsung blood. Your children will be born to rule!”

“But Father!” Ottar gave up. His father Gudmar was one of the most powerful men in South Gautria. There was no compromise with him. Ottar grabbed a bottle from a near-by table and stormed out of the hall.

The crowded hall was silent as the door slammed shut.

“Grandfather!” Melkor spoke out. “I would be honored to marry Aedlefrid. If you need someone in the family-”

“You Kildarian bastard,” said Gudmar, “you are not made of the stuff to have a true Volsung lady. You’re only half Gautrian, let no-one here forget that!”

Gudmar turned to Thorgils and Aedelfrid. “Ottar is still hot from battle. He will treat you better in the morning. For tonight, feast!”

The servants filled cups and plates, and the guests enjoyed the engagement celebration.

 

Ottar went through the dark back to the little cottage, there to console himself and his lover.

“I was to be your wife, Ottar,” Asrid moaned. “You promised me your father would warm up to me!”

“I’m sorry, Asrid,” said Ottar. “It’s good politics for my father to have me marry Aedelfrid. They are a noble family-”

“Oh ‘noble’ Aedelfrid?” said Asrid. “It would have been better if you had let the orcs kill her on the road today!”

“Shhh, don’t speak so,” said Ottar. “You’ll always have me, even if I have to marry another first.”

“If you think I’ll be happy as your second wife…” started Asrid.

“You’ll be happy with me, I know.” Ottar silenced Asrid’s protests with another kiss.

 

Aedelfrid was not much happier with her brother after the feast.

“You could have asked me!” she said to Thorgils. “I’m a grown woman, even though you don’t treat me like one. You shouldn’t have surprised me like that in front of my father-to-be.”

“Does that mean you’ll marry Ottar?” asked Thorgils.

“Of course! I know what duty is. Ottar’s got a good name, and he fights well too. I’ll make my promise at the Thing to marry him,” said Aedelfrid.

“Fine. Then speak your words right, and by the gods, stay clear of that horse-boy with eyes for you!” said Thorgils.

“Melkor?” Aedelfrid asked. “I can’t help what he does. I thought it was very noble.”

Thorgils scoffed. “Impetuous and brash is what I’d call it. Stay away from him.”

Aedelfrid sighed and snuffed her light in answer to her brother.

“Tomorrow should prove an interesting day in South Hold,” Aedelfrid thought.

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #50- Sword and Sorcery

After the united human army destroyed the League of Nil-ith Horn orc force at Larbro, King Magnus took possession of that lakeside fortification.

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Jarl Kvig Melgarson marched his own troops west, headed for Queen Svala’s capital city of Mosveld.

On the way there, Kvig stopped at his ancestral home of Helvik.

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He gathered all the troops loyal to himself into his retinue, left a skeleton crew in control of the wooden fort, and announced they were going to a wedding.

Three days later, Kvig Melgarson and his army arrived at Mosveld to the sight of sparsely manned walls and wary citizens.

Kvig and his companions Bleddyn and Wynston were immediately ushered into the Queen’s keep by the lawgiver, Rig Steinarson. They were met by two huge scowling men, one a beardless young warrior in fine clothes and the other a bearskin clad berserker who towered over Kvig and Bleddyn.

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“This is to be our King?” spoke the barbarian angrily. “He is not half the man I am!”

“If our Queen wills it, we will abide her choice, Bjorn,” said the young man. He met Kvig’s gaze. “I am Thrand, son of Vester Vastarson who now holds Sigivald for Queen Svala. I have long heard the tales of your victories over the orcs, Kvig.”

With a dismissive grunt, the giant Bjorn shoved through Kvig and Thrand and left the castle.

“I hope you will bring your fight against the orcs to our holding,” Thrand pressed Kvig. “My father has been harassed by wild orcs from the western mountains. These orcs have taken up residence in the ancient stone fortress of Dakagog, and he has been unable to drive them out.”

“Plenty of time to discuss that at my wedding feast!” said Kvig. “Take us to the Queen!”

“The Queen waits within,” Steinarson the lawgiver said to Kvig. “She will have audience with you only.”

Wynston was nervous to leave Kvig alone with a woman of such power, and Queen Svala had a reputation for witchcraft. But it would be Kvig who took the wedding oaths with her, so into her chambers he went.

Bleddyn shrugged. “No point in staying here. We should see the troops.”

Wynston followed Bleddyn to the gate tower. From there she could make out less than a dozen of Queen Svala’s red-clad guards strung along the stone walls.

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Wynston saw Mosveld’s heavy cavalry in the stables, and Bjorn the Mighty with his unit of warrior berserkers.

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Kvig’s army would more than double the forces garrisoned now in Mosveld.

“They better have this wedding soon. We need to get our guards up here,” said Bleddyn.

Wynston nodded. “The lakeside gate is undermanned, too.” She looked to the castle. “King Magnus will know what we’re doing soon enough.”

“Let him come!” scoffed Bleddyn. “We’ll have the walls, and the numbers. He won’t be able to challenge us.”

Wynston was unconvinced.

When Wynston and Bleddyn returned to the castle, Steinarson informed them the wedding would be five nights hence. A bleary-eyed Kvig came out from the audience chamber and gave his approval. “Start the feasting tonight!”

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Rig Steinarson put the chamberlain in motion and had the tower set for a feast. The castle staff hurried to make the keep seem festive. More food and drink were brought in. Even Bjorn returned and joined glumly in the nightly meals Queen Svala hosted.

By the time the ceremonies were to begin on the fifth night, Kvig had eyes only for his Queen. In fact, Wynston and Bleddyn were concerned at the doting stares Kvig fixed on his wife-to-be. He seemed a bit smitten for a warlord whose eastern borders were occupied by a rival king.

However distracted, Kvig spoke his oaths true, and Queen Svala said the same, and the Lawgiver announced them man and wife. Wynston and Bleddyn were overjoyed.

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They feasted long into the night. Impatiently, Wynston and Bleddyn got the couple off to the marriage bed, and began to bring Kvig’s men into the city in support of the Mosveld troops.

Their timing was fortuitous, as the next day before King Kvig was out of the marriage bed, riders brought news that King Magnus had taken control of Helvik, and would be at Mosveld within three days.

Kvig ordered his entire camp, followers and all, into the city. King Kvig Melgarson’s loyal soldiers took to the walls and streets.

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The city gates were closed. Two tense days passed. Then Magnus’ force was spotted.

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King Magnus had an impressive army, but surely not grand enough to siege Mosveld? Bleddyn was highly suspicious.

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King Magnus arrayed his professional army for battle. Units of blue-and-yellow Kildarian elite heavy cavalry, including those led by Kvig’s ally Baron Vulmar, bolstered the Gautrian heavy fighting forces. Also under Magnus’ banner was Kvig’s cousin Bolverk Skalason, and the elite warriors which had earned him much fame at the Battle of Skarken River.

King Magnus called for Kvig to come out and surrender Mosveld. Kvig laughed. Magnus ordered his troops forward.

Kvig and Bleddyn responded. Bleddyn deployed his ulfhednar in the courtyard. Kvig readied the heavy cavalry.

Then from the gatehouse, Bjorn the Mighty bellowed:

“Now men! Death to the witch-queen of Mosveld!” And the bear-skin warriors threw open the gate.

The Kildarian cavalry thundered through the tunnel.

A stunned Kvig was mounted there to meet them.

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Bleddyn dropped inside and challenged Bjorn. Wynston ran for the winch but was attacked by two of Bjorn’s men guarding the lever. Thrand Vesterson jumped from the battlement and engaged the traitorous berserkers to get Wynston clear. There was mayhem within the walls.

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A huge explosion rocked the walls of Mosveld. The lakeside gate was breached! Bolverk Skalason led his crushing infantry through the hole.

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Mosveld’s cavalry broke off to meet the axe-wielding warriors.

Bleddyn and Bjorn battled fiercely in the gatehouse. They exchanged several blows until the mighty Bjorn lay mortally wounded on the wooden floor.

Wynston secured the winch and slammed close the gate, trapping the dwindling numbers of Kildarian horseman inside the walls. Bolverk’s heavy infantry unit was in the courtyard confronted with Mosveld’s cavalry in front, and javelins from men on the ramparts above.

The cavalry of King Magnus, led by his warrior wife Inga Storolfdottir, reigned in and wheeled back to the King’s lines.

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The Kildarian foot soldiers fell in behind the cavalry and left the gates unchallenged.

King Kvig stood tall in his saddle and called to the commanders Vulmar and Bolverk.

“Your King Magnus has abandoned you! Vulmar, you pledged to be my vassal when I held sway in the south. And cousin, you have never done wrong by me. Both of you, take oaths to me, be my steadfast swordarms, and you will be well rewarded.”

Vulmar quickly brought his knights to a halt. “King Kvig!” Vulmar shouted.

The Mosveld cavalry fell back and allowed Bolverk’s unit to approach Kvig.

“I am with you, cousin!” shouted Bolverk. “King Kvig!”

The warriors surrounding Kvig picked up the chant. “King Kvig!” was shouted from rampart and horseback.

It was a might victory roar that poured from the city and echoed in King Magnus’ helm as he retreated from the field of battle.

 

King Kvig had won and defended his stone city. How would King Magnus react to his defeat at Mosveld? And what of the new orc threat to Gautria’s western borders? Can King Kvig build his forces and kingdom to stand the tests of time?

 

 

Being Thankful- A Fantasy Warriors Battle

Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend we had the opportunity to introduce another player to “Fantasy Warriors.”

Our experienced League of Nil-ith Horn Commander took her smerdi and valdgrafs against our daughter’s Kildarian cavalry units plus unit of picked men, while the new fellow was granted 2 units of ulfhednar and a unit of berserks.

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The smerdi commander stacked her units, pikes at the ready to fight from two ranks. The vicious and ambitious utvalt men sprinted out to challenge them.

Thankful_004 The ulfhednar raced forward to support the flank. The berserk unit gained the advantage of the hill.

The cavalry held.

The orc commander charged across the field.

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The onrushing wolf-skin-clad humans threw a storm of javelins and unexpectedly took down a few shielded orcs, then clashed in hand-to-hand combat. The berserks and cavalry watched from their hills.

Our youngest helped me to document the swift destruction of the unshielded utvalt unit.

Then he joined in the dice-rolling fun on the side of the orcs.

The orcs destroyed the ulfhednar, chewing through the unarmored units. The bearskin-clad humans rushed from the hilltop into the rear of the orc formation and briefly bolstered the flank.

All looked lost for the humans when finally the cavalry spurred into motion. The knights charged into the ranks of orcs.

The League Orcs fought bravely, but they could not survive the onslaught from two units of heavy cavalry.

The knights and remaining infantry surrounded the League of Nil-ith Horn orcs and awarded our new-comer his first victory.

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Clan Modrak #4- Maidens of Modrak in the Tomb of Freya

After much anticipation, our daughter and a group of her friends started a story set in the Upplands of North Gautria. The League of Nil-ith Horn raiding parties had destroyed their village and forced some of the women and children to seek refuge at Helvik. But not all of them ran to hide. Some of them ran to fight.

The three girls recently showed their mettle in adventure #4, “Maidens of Modrak in the Tomb of Freya”.

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They began during the spring thaw with in-game sisters Maria and Alanna Modrak practicing their swordplay. After a few days of smacking one another about with wooden swords, the sisters set off with their friend Meav and the sword sister Rannveig for the Uppland Althing.

All of the clans were present, and though the Upplanders were arranged in family groups there was an air of fellowship throughout the camp.

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Many slights against each other could be forgiven, or at least temporarily forgotten, when there was a greater enemy threat.

There were still, however, the traditional games to pit clans against each other.

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Alanna and Maria took part in blunt-weapon battles with young folk from other clans.

The sisters from Clan Modrak defeated all comers. Meav cheered her friends’ success while waiting for her chance to prove herself.

Later that evening at the Sacred Grove, three priests gathered the youths touched by the gods. Meav hoped to learn from them about her own strange dreams and powers.

The snake-priest Uttar spoke at last to Meav. “What issss ssssso sssssspecial about you?” he hissed. “Sssssshow me.”

Meav looked around the stone circle. “I know animals, I know plants. This,” she pulled out a flowering vine from the ground next to her. “This opens only at the full moon, and must be steeped in milk from a white goat to be most effective.”

“Yes, this one, this child must be sent!” said the old bone woman.

“We must commune in private!” exclaimed the third priest. “Leave us, child. We will speak to you in time.”

Disappointed, Meav left the standing stones and returned to her friends in their tent. Despite the busy day, the girls were awake. Meav’s wolf growled and the tent flap rustled as Uttar stood before them.

“You have much potential, young one,” he said to Meav. ” For your magickssss to blosssssssssssom you need your own Mana Sssssssstone. You musssssssst travel to the Tomb of Freya to find it. Take only thossssssssssse you trussssssssssssssssst.”

Uttar held a bag towards Meav. A small snake uncurled itself from Uttar’s wrist, slithered along the bag and up Meav’s outstretched arm. “Follow thisssssssssss inssssssside.”

“A warning for you before you go: the old Bone Woman fearsssssss you, and what you could become. Beware her and her followerssssssssss; they are dangerousssssssssssssssss folk.” Then Uttar slipped out into the night.

“When are we leaving, Meav?” asked Alanna.

“Now,” replied Meav. “Wake up Rannveig and let’s go.”

Alana and Maria gathered their weapons and woke the sword sister. Meav peeked into the bag to see 3 small phials wrapped in rags. She sniffed one. “Hemus!” The healing potions would serve the girls well in the unknowns of the Tomb.

They sneaked past the sentries at the edge of the camp and set off west into the hills. The full moon made it easy to find their way to the Tomb of Freya.

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Uttar’s snake darted inside the Tomb. Maev cautiously follwed. Once inside, the girls could sense some hidden presence in the dark. The snake lead them past grim statues and dank walls.

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“Something’s following us,” whispered Meav.

“I know,” replied Alanna. “Keep moving, I’ll hide and surprise it.”

Meav went around the corner and down the stairs. Alanna saw a shape follow in Meav’s shadow and lunged at it.

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With a mighty swing, she cleaved right through a troll!

The three girls and Rannveig continued confidently through the tight corridors.

The snake slithered on, right past a second troll! Alanna dealt severely with that troll too.

The snake then led them to a large open room. It crawled across a small ledge that traversed a dark pool with yet another troll!

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The ledge was too narrow for Meav’s wolf to cross. She sent it outside but soon it yipped and ran back to her. The girls heard human voices echoing along the corridors behind the wolf. It was the Bone Woman! Meav listened intently and made out a few male voices with the Bone Woman. Alanna, Rannveig and Maria hurried over the water and past the troll. Meav hid her wolf then followed. As she ducked through the exit, Meav could see the torchlight of their pursuers.

The last hallway emptied into a giant cavern. As the girls held their torches high, glinting, colored reflections from what could only be Mana Stones shined at them from across the cavern. Meav quickly led the girls over the river and to a natural dais. Rannveig hid behind the entry to the cavern and waited for the Bone Woman and her followers.

Meav found the perfect stone, and started to dig it out. The men came into the cavern, spied the girls and crossed the river. Alanna and Maria challenged them as the Bone Woman stepped out of the hallway. Rannveig took her attention while the girls fought the Woman’s fanatical followers.

Meav freed her stone from the ground and felt strange powers pulsing within it. She held it aloft and a lightning bolt shot out into the melee. The Bone Woman saw the lightning and paused, which gave Rannveig the opening to slay her. The men fought on til the end, however, as Alanna and Maria bravely clashed with them.

At the last, the men fell to the maidens of Clan Modrak. Meav carefully concealed her Mana Stone, and the girls congratulated each other on a mission well accomplished.

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #49- Siege on Larbro

With the threat of a large force of League of Nil-ith Horn orcs looming from their fort at Larbro, Jarl Kvig Melgarson reluctantly accepted the presence of King Magnus and his South Gautrian army. King Magnus however called a Thing to have the people of Gautria agree for his army to lead the attack on Larbro, vanquish the orcs, and declare him King of all Gautria. Kvig hoped enough of the bonders who had named him King Kvig last year remained to gather at the Thing in his support.

Jarl Kvig sent word to his ally, King Ragnar Redblade of the Vell, the foster father of Bleddyn, champion of Kvig, asking him to come add his voice to the Thing.

Gautrian bonders began to arrive the next day. On the eve of the second night, King Ragnar showed with three units of his savage Vell warriors.

“I will be honored to battle by your side against the orcs, Kvig,” Ragnar spoke. “But I will not aid you in your conflict with Magnus.”

“Of course,” said Kvig. “Just lend your men to my spy Wynston for this. She’s our expert.”

“Oh yes?” asked Ragnar. “I’ve heard the tales of your taking of the fort at Sigivald! My folk would gladly fight for her.”

Ragnar withdrew and left Kvig, Bleddyn and Wynston alone. “You have a good plan, right?” Kvig asked.

“Have faith, Kvig,” said Wynston.

“Gods help us,” muttered Kvig.

The sacred fires were lit at dusk by three priests: the Bone Woman Helga from Ragnar’s people in the Vell Mountains, Gunvor Rolfson the leader of Bleddyn’s ulfhednar, and a young beautiful seer named Kaisa who traveled with Magnus. The three watched silently as Magnus addressed the assembled men and women.

“People of Gautria! The orcs are on your shore and have slain your kin. I come North to rid Gautria of these monsters. I, and the brave warriors who march with me, will protect you from this threat!

“This bandit king Kvig Melgarson has no claim to a throne! Melgarson is nothing but lies! He calls himself Valden Slayer but the true heroes of Skarken River fight for me. The man who struck down Valden the Ruthless himself, Bolverk Skallason, commands his elite sword thanes under my banner, and his men have been richly rewarded! So too does Baron Vulmar ride for me. His elite knights hewed through the orc ranks at the Battle of Skarken River! It was they who won the field there, not Melgarson and his meager units.

“Kvig is a liar and oath-breaker! He takes glory on his name from those who earned it! Gautrians, do not trust this man! He will lead you to doom!”

There were scattered mutterings and nods when King Magnus was finished. When Kvig strode in front of the crowd, he heard a few cheers.

“Brothers, I have fought with many of you. We raised arms against the orcs when the boy-King would lead from the rear. We took action while he planned and gathered men at his keep. Together we fought Valden the Ruthless while Magnus would have left the lands of Timlin to be overrun by Vangen orcs.

“Now Magnus marches his well-paid soldiers into our homeland and professes to be our only hope. Yes, he has great men fighting with him, and they performed great deeds at Skarken River. As did you all!”

Several voices roared approval at that.

“We routed the orcs while Magnus wanted our troops to withdraw! He doesn’t know how strong you Gautrians are!”

Boos and hisses joined the commotion.

“Magnus doesn’t understand what it takes to rule Gautria. You people do! You, who named me your king of one Gautria!”

Cries of “King Kvig! King Kvig! King Kvig!” burst from the gathering.

Kvig stood tall on the hillside. Magnus fumed next to Kvig. The priest Gunvor Rolfson raised his arms over the crowd. “Enough!” he shouted. “We will speak to the leaders.”

Kvig, Magnus, and Ragnar followed the priest out of sight of the bonders and to the fire where the two priestesses waited. The old bone woman spoke, “The orcs will slay our warriors and make slaves of the rest if man cannot help man! Magnus, Kvig, put your feud aside.”

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Before Kvig or Magnus could respond, Gunvor spoke again, “You three will take a sacred oath. There shall be no quarrel between you until all the greenskins are gone! Let the gods decide each man’s fate but if any of you breaks this oath he shall be called blasphemer and cast out from this country.”

Ragnar stepped forward and drew his blade across his palm, “Agreed!”

Kvig and Magnus stared coldly at each other. “Agreed,” said Kvig at last.

“Yes,” nodded Magnus. “I will aid you. We will take Larbro from the orcs, Melgarson. And after that, the gods will shine their favor on the one true King of Gautria.”

Kvig and the two kings left the sacred circle and joined their commanders in the war tent.

Wynston had been with the scouts gathering information on Larbro. The village of Larbro was located on the shore of Lake Kisilev. The League of Nil-ith Horn landed their first forces there in the spring, then slaved the inhabitants and razed the village.

On the ruins the soldiers constructed a fortified camp and docks surrounded by 15-feet-high palisade fence. It was well-built, manned by disciplined troops. Guarding the gate was a wooden tower, undoubtedly where the orc priest Graf Shalmenasar and his acolyte would be.

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Wynston knew the only way to take Larbro was by getting the Gautrian heavy infantry inside the palisade to battle the well-armored League forces. Someone would have to open the gate.

King Magnus turned to Kvig. “How are you and your army of bonders intending to drive out these orcs? Are your people ready for a siege?”

“We shall put our fate in the hands of my master infiltrator,” Kvig said fixedly. “Wynston can get us the fort in one night. You want your troops in that gate? Let her lead the raid.”

“Ever the shifty one, Melgarson. You preach to the bonders how you lead from the front, yet it’s your spy who’ll do the hard work for you,” scoffed Magnus. “Fine, woman, what’s your plan?”

“We will use cunning and surprise to take the tower quickly,” stated Wynston, “then throw open the gates for our army.

“I will slip inside Larbro and gain entrance to the tower. Once there, I’ll slay the priests.”

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“While the tower is in confusion, Magnus will have the heavy infantry rush the gate.”

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“Bleddyn, you and your ulfhednar will swim through the lake and take the docks. Burn the boats if you have to, and let none escape.”

“Ragnar and his followers will climb the fence at the tower base and engage the priest’s elite guard there.”

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“And Kvig himself will lead the picked men over the wall on the left and open the gate.”

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“We will show them how true Gautrians fight. The League of Nil-ith Horn will face warriors now at Larbro instead of women and children!”

A mighty roar engulfed the tent. All were ready to march on Larbro.

The Gautrian army arrived outside the village shortly before dark a few days later. Wynston entered Larbro unseen and made her way to the tower. Disguised as a kitchen girl, she was permitted up into the chamber of Graf Shalmenasar just as she planned. A Gautrian warhorn blast startled the priest and he turned his back to Wynston. She sprang behind him, threw her arms about his throat and snapped his neck. Before the dead priest’s acolyte could respond, Wynston grappled him and broke his neck as well. A guard in the room tried to cry for help, but the soldiers were scrambling to secure the gate against Magnus’s infantry.

Kvig and his picked men moved up the ladders and over the palisade. The orc troops held strong though and kept Kvig’s group from reaching the gate.

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Ragnar Redblade and his Vell warriors swarmed the tower walls and fought off the priest’s guard.

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But at the docks, the League of Nil-ith Horn unit kept Bleddyn and the ulfhednar pinned in place.

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From her vantage in the tower Wynston could see the closed gate and no other option. She hooked a grapple around a plank, shimmied through the window and slid down the rope to land behind a large banner at the foot of the tower. The guards on the wall never saw her as she struck them down from behind. Wynston worked the winch for the gate and Kvig’s cousin Bolverk Skalason led the Gautrian infantry into the courtyard.

The final battle was quick and bloody. Kvig and the picked men slew all the gate guards. Bleddyn and the ulfhednar kept control of the docks and the boats. Wynston kept the gate clear. The heavy infantry surged through the village and killed every orc they found.

When Magnus finally rode into the village, he kept to his saddle while the foot soldiers around him put the orcs to the sword. Kvig, Wynston, Bleddyn and Ragnar celebrated the retaking of Larbro by participating in the carnage.

The League of Nil-ith Horn had lost their foothold in North Gautria and a large expeditionary force in a single stroke. The Gautrians were free of the dark cloud of the raiding orcs. Would the cloud of human conflict disperse so neatly for Kvig and Magnus now that the orc enemy was gone? Could one of these men rule all of Gautria?

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #48- Right to Rule

Kvig Melgarson campaigned against orcs for many years (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #37-48) to protect the humans of Gautria. Nominally under the banner of King Magnus in South Gautria, he vanquished the mighty urog King Valden the Ruthless at the Battle of Skarken River (sgk 40). Kvig was held in high esteem for his willingness to take the field against that massive orc army when King Magnus had argued they had little chance of victory (sgk 39). After that decisive battle, the bonders held a Thing (sgk 41) and declared Jarl Kvig should be their king. King Magnus heard about the Thing and declared Kvig an outlaw (sgk 42).

Kvig eventually fled South Gautria (sgk 45) with some loyal men, and brought his orc-slaying followers north. The League of Nil-ith Horn had sent invading forces of orcs and men (day-long wargaming event, “Kingdom Under Siege”) across Kisilev Lake to ravage Kvig’s homeland. Kvig returned to his ancestral home fort of Helvik (sgk 46) to find his brother Olaf unwilling to commit any of his troops to an offensive maneuver without the support of King Magnus and his armies. When the ill (and rumored to be bewitched) Olaf died in Kvig’s arms, Kvig pronounced himself Jarl of Helvik.

Once news of Kvig’s action reached the recently widowed (“Battle of Turlin”) Queen Svala of North Gautria, she sent a token unit of men to Kvig, in the hopes of an alliance. With the League of Nil-ith Horn troops to his east, King Magnus to his south, and Queen Svala on his west, Kvig’s chance to unite Gautria under one ruler was upon him.

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When scouts returned to Helvik with reports of several units of League of Nil-ith Horn infantry coming from Larbro, Kvig and his champion Bleddyn readied their men for a siege.

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The inhabitants of Helvik were inspired by their new Jarl’s confidence. The soldiers and bonders steeled themselves at their posts when the League of Nil-ith Horn army arrived. Unit after unit lined up for battle.

The League forces were led by Graf Shalmenasar, a black-robed priest. He dispatched a messenger to the Gautrians. Instead of listening to his terms, Kvig challenged their 3 largest urogs to fight Bleddyn, Wynston and himself.

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Graf Shalmanesar agreed at first, but as the trio fought, he decried Wynston’s slippery tactics as trickery. He responded in kind with a blast from his mage’s staff. The humans retreated inside the pallisade, flames and lightning bolts slamming into the wooden gate behind them.

Kvig’s people were prepared and quick to react to the flaming front gate. Graf Shalmanesar then flung his fire magicks at the bridge leading to the great hall where the women and children were sheltered. Wynston jumped across the gap to defend the hall side while men worked to put out the fire.

The League of Nil-ith Horn forces waited patiently, satisfied to let their priest and leader burn a way into the fort. The men inside the wooden palisade felt their situation grow more desperate. It seemed a matter of time until the orcs destroyed the front gate.

Just then, a horn sounded in the distance. It was a Gautrian horn! King Magnus had arrived from South Gautria with his professional army. The hearts of Helvik were buoyed as Graf Shalmanesar ordered his forces to retreat.

The League of Nil-ith Horn army withdrew east, and King Magnus arrayed his troops outside Helvik. Kvig rode out to parlay with Bleddyn by his side, and his heavy cavalry and the ulfhednar behind him.

King Magnus had his new bride Inga Storolfdottir with him. Inga’s father Storolf was one of Kvig’s most powerful allies. Inga herself had taken a liking to the handsome champion Bleddyn when she first saw him in her father’s village, and heard the tales of his prowess in battle. Now a married sword sister, she still gave Bleddyn a lingering look as the pairs came together.

Magnus addressed Bleddyn, “I demand the surrender of this bandit Kvig Melgarson who calls himself lies like king and Valden-slayer! I bring the men for a united Gautria. I bring the true heroes of Skarken River, Bolverk Skalason, who struck down Valden, and Baron Vulmar, whose cavalry carried that day. With men like these fighting under me, I will go to Larbro, destroy the orc threat to the people of one Gautria!”

Kvig answered forcefully, “I have led our men into battle with the orcs while you sought to stay safe and protected. The people of Gautria need a king of action and strength. Go back to your stone keep and hide boy, I will take these warriors to Larbro and crush the orcs on our shore!”

“It will take both our forces,” spoke Inga. “We must unite in this, or the whole of Gautria will fall! Save your anger towards each other for when the orcs are gone.”

King Magnus looked shrewdly at his wife, then at his units of men behind her. “I will call a Thing, two nights hence. We will hear what these people of Gautria think. They will proclaim me rightful King, then I will lead the attack on Larbro. You and I will settle after, Melgarson.”

Magnus wheeled his horse away and returned to his forces. Inga sent a last smoldering glance to Bleddyn and followed her husband.

The South Gautrian army set up camp just within sight of the palisade of Helvik. Kvig took counsel with Bleddyn and Wynston. “Send some of your men to your father, Ragnar Red-Blade. Ask for his aid against these orcs,” Kvig said to Bleddyn. “And stay out of Inga’s tent.”

Kvig hoped his ally the King of the Vell savages to their north would come swiftly. Ragnar’s presence would give Kvig’s claim to kingship more weight. Any additional fighters would be welcomed against the well-armored and highly disciplined League of Nil-ith Horn troops. But it was the common bonders who had first declared Kvig as their King. Would they come to this Thing, with King Magnus and his professional army poised to tip the balance of power? Would the bonders make their voices heard again for the man who kept the lands free from the orc terror?

Two days time would tell.

Kilasaar and the Tomb of Freya

Our eldest son asked Teshub to run a game for him. The previous day our son had set up a Gautrian encampment

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and put the decor in the tomb for his sister’s adventure. It seemed only right that he and his friend should get to explore the depths of Freya’s Tomb.

They were given character sheets, and a tablefull of minis to choose from. Our son played Kilasaar, a heavy infantry soldier with sword, shield, armor, and helm. His friend played Wulv, a bearskin-clad barbarian wielding a two-handed axe.

The clans were troubled by a band of orcs who had taken up residence in the sacred tomb of Freya. They decided to pick two of the bravest, strongest warriors to slay the orcs. Kilasaar and Wulv had to prove themselves in combat against each other before they could receive the priest’s blessing for their journey.

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The young men faced each other with wooden weapons and no armor. The combat went back and forth.The first round was won by Wulv and his mighty strikes. The second was won by Kilasaar, as he fought off Wulv’s blows with his shield. However, Wulv’s two-handed swings were too much for Kilasaar to withstand for long. Wulv knocked out Kilassar and won the third round. The priest declared them both worthy to act for the clan and rid Freya’s Tomb of the orcs, and rewarded them with several potions.

There was much excitement from the warriors when they arrived at Freya’s Tomb.

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While they were making their plan, Kilasaar and Wulv were joined by the priest from their clan. The priest sent the warriors ahead to sneak up the stairs cut into the smooth rock. A huge snake lay in wait for them on the top ledge. Kilasaar quietly sliced the snake in half. The young warriors climbed up the last few feet and tried to surprise the orcs there. They weren’t quiet enough, and the orcs both came to investigate the noise.

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Kilasaar and Wulv slew the orcs, then the priest healed the warriors, and sent them into the tomb.

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The warriors entered the tomb. Barrels and bags were stacked about the room. Wulv and Kilasaar began to loot the supplies. While their attention was diverted, a troll attacked Wulv. He and Kilasaar bravely slew the troll. The priest returned. He was very excited to see they had defeated such a monster. After the priest tended their wounds, Wulv pried the gemstones from the eyes of the orc statue.

 

Wulv led the way down the stairs. Kilasaar followed close behind. Once they reached the bottom, they heard something slither in the corridor around the corner.

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Wulv and Kilasaar stepped into the corridor and stared into the many eyes of a five-headed hydra!

Kilasaar_0087webLuckily, it was a rather clumsy hydra and none of its five heads could hit the warriors. Kilasaar and Wulv brought the creature down.

They moved quietly around the corners and into an open room. With their keen eyes, Kilasaar and Wulv spotted something swimming in the waters below. They also spotted a narrow ledge they could carefully walk along.

trollwebSlowly but surely, the warriors crossed over the menacing monster. The priest joined them on the other side. The three humans peered through the tunnel into a large cavern.

There was a hideous fire-idol on a dais to the right. An orc-mage stood in front of the idol, surrounded by an acolyte, an apprentice and several guards.

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The human priest promised to occupy the orc-mage with his magics while Kilasaar and Wulv attacked him. The human warriors crept near the dais, while the human priest slipped off to the left.

Kilasaar and Wulv heard the orc-mage scream, and saw a giant red snake spitting at the orc-mage. They jumped to the platform and grappled the closest orc. Kilasaar and Wulv together overpowered the orc and threw him into the waters.

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The warriors grabbed a second orc, and tossed him to the monster as well. Wulv then took the orc-mage down. Kilasaar dealt with the acolyte, and the apprentice cast a spell and flew away.

The remaining orcs fell to the mighty warriors Kilasaar and Wulv as they bravely removed the orcs from the depths of Freya’s Tomb.

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #47- Orc Slayers

Following the death of his brother Olaf, Kvig Melgarson took possession of his ancestral home of Helvik. Olaf’s widow Ragna fled with a few women, leaving the fighting men to grumble their suspicions of witchcraft. Jarl Kvig had ordered all the casks smashed, which added further to the grumbling.

However, spirits were lightened when Herigar Kolson, the huscarl of Helvik, and his cavalry patrol arrived at the fort. They led a column of men and supplies from Queen Svala at Mosveld, the recently widowed ruler of North Gautria. Also escorting the men from Mosveld was Baron Valliard and his elite cavalry unit.

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Baron Valliard offered the veteran bonder unit as a gift of goodwill from Queen Svala to Kvig Melgarson, rightful Jarl of Helvik. The Queen was anxious to provide Kvig with more supplies and reinforcements, in return she asked only for an oath of cooperation, and potential alliance. Kvig accepted, and demanded the bonders swear their oaths to him. Herigar Kolson and all the thanes of Helvik swore to serve Jarl Kvig as well. Baron Valliard took his leave, with promise to return shortly.

The goods from Mosveld fortunately included mead, and Kvig was generous with these casks. The warriors celebrated into the night. Kvig, Bleddyn and Wynston left the mead hall and gathered to discuss Queen Svala’s terms.

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“There’s only one thing for you to do Kvig,” said Wynston.

“I know. I have to marry her,” said Kvig.

The stunned silence surrounding the group made it easy for Wynston to hear something out of place. She looked towards the sound and saw orc valgrafs from the League of Nil-ith Horn scaling the palisade fence.

Wynston pointed the orcs out to Kvig and Bleddyn, then ran across the bridge, climbed the fence and a roof and gained the high ground on an unsuspecting orc.

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Kvig used the ladder and challenged an orc at the gate.

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Bleddyn spotted an orc with a large phial at the base of the wooden tower and charged him.

Wynston disposed of her orc, then moved to protect Kvig’s flank.

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Kvig, Bleddyn and Wynston slew the orcs inside the palisade. Down below in the village, two urogs sliced through bonders.

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Kvig’s mounted thanes responded to the urogs and defeated them easily from horseback.

The wounded were tended to and had barely healed up when Baron Valliard returned a few days later. His elite cavalry unit had tracked an unnaturally swift group of urogs.

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The frenzied urogs were near by, within striking distance of the cavalry. Kvig had Herigar Kolson and the Helvik cavalry ready, and Bleddyn took command of the highly mobile ulfhednar. Wynston rode along with the Helvik men, and Baron Valliard’s knights led the way.

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Bleddyn and the ulfhednar easily scouted the fast-moving urogs and deployed on their flank. Kvig drove the two cavalry units straight at the horde of urogs. A few urogs spotted the ulfhednar and broke off to meet them. Bleddyn and the priest Gunvor Rolfson fought well, but wolfpelt-clad warriors fell to the huge urogs.

Wynston rode at them and dismounted at Bleddyn’s side. The ulfhendar took heavy losses.

The cavalry slowly whittled the rest of the urogs down, and took many casualties themselves.

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Fighting on horseback proved the advantage for the humans, as Kvig Melgarson and his company slaughtered the crazed group of urogs.