Gautrians

The Gautrians are a fierce race of Northmen who have inhabited the Gautrian Lakes for generations. They are said to have wrested the fertile plains and bountiful lakes from hordes of savage Great Northern Orcs.

The Lands of Gautria, split into two Kingdoms by the waterway connecting Lake Tagova and Lake Sund.

The Gautrian peoples are made up of several clans, the Volsung, the Sverkers, the Vastars and the Skanes. All four clans are represented throughout the kingdoms. The Vastar and Skane clans are by far the largest and most predominant; the Volsung are the most wealthy, and the Sverkers are rising quickly to new power.

The Volsungs King Magnus the Defender and his wife Queen Inga the Warlord rule over South Gautria from their fortress of Loland Keep, built of stone by Magnus’ father King Ulfrik Volsung. South Gautria is a land rich in valuable swamp lotus (hemus flowers or grey lotus)- the key ingredient for the making of healing potions. Orcs and men have fought over access to these lotus swamps since days unrecorded.

King Magnus and Queen Inga array for battle

North Gautria is ruled by King Kvig Melgarson The Usurper, a Sverker warlord, and his Queen, the bewitching Svala. King Kvig occupies the capital city of Mosveld, while he gifted his cousins valuable holdings such as  key North Gautrian coastal towns, and Kvig’s ancestral home fort of Helvik. King Kvig’s lands are not so rich as his southern allies, but Kildarian deep mining at Hellgate has recently brought a wealth of silver and other valuable minerals. North Gautria also has its own small swamps where the hemus lotus grows, ensuring competition in the hemus markets of Gautria.

Mosveld, with the Queen’s Tower at the Harbor Wall and the King’s Gatehouse at the main city Gate

The Gautrian Clans

The Volsung Clan: “The Royal Clan, Horse Clan, Clan of Kings”. The Royal Clan were the first of the clans to establish a Gautrian Kingdom between the lakes. Ruled by King Magnus the Defender and his wife Queen Inga the Warlord, the Volsung consider themselves the champions of Gautria as they are always at the fore in bloody battle against the orcs. In all of Gautria their heavy cavalry is second only to the vaunted Kildarian knights. Known as elitists and considered a disconnected ruling clan by many of their subjects in the south, the Volsung account for the majority of South Gautria’s jarls.

The heavy infantry of King Magnus rushes the gate of the LNH Orc occupied North Gautrian town of Larbro.

The Sverker Clan: “The Iron Clan, The Bandit Clan”. The Sverker King Kvig Melgarson rules North Gautria, but many say Kvig’s uncle Skala Grimson, the Jarl of Jarlin has more sway among the clans. The Sverkers are fierce warriors whose jarls are known for their effective diplomacy and ability to hold together feudal coalitions against Gautria’s many enemies. They are considered the “Iron of the North”. Clan Sverker’s smiths are renowned for their iron smelting and weapon making abilities.

Helvik, ancestral home of King Kvig Melgarson

The Vastar Clan: “The Boat Clan, The Pirate Clan, The Slave Clan”. This once powerful clan has seen many of its jarls slain in recent battles against the Orcs of the League of Nil-ith Horn and their Great Northern mercenaries. In the north, Kvig the Bandit king has conspired to dispossess their valuable holdings. Kvig granted the Vastar’s birthright, the rich mines of Hellgate, to Kildarians of House Voclain. Once known as the hardest working clan, the Vastar are now openly mocked and called the “Slave Clan” for losing so many holdings to orcs and men alike. Still, Clan Vastar are the most skillful shipbuilders and sailors in all the Gautrian Lakes, qualities which allow them to dominate the Hedemark, a Gautrian peninsula between Lake Sund and Lake Kisilev not ruled by either of the two kingdoms. The Vastar of the Hedemark are considered pirates and untrustworthy because of their frequent dealings with the League of Nil-ith Horn.

An angry Vastar mob confront Kildarian guards in the North Gaurian capital city of Mosveld

The Skane Clan: “The Stone Clan, The Bonder Clan”. They are by far the largest and poorest of all four Gautrian clans. No jarls and only a few warlords hail from Clan Skane; instead they are renowned as quarry workers, stone cutters and for their skill in agriculture. Clan Skane is often called the “foundation of Gautria” and their farmers joke that it is the many stones in their fields which earned them their nickname “the Stone Clan”. Some of Clan Skane claim no land or lord, roving the lands of Gautria seeking trade and other opportunities. A few of these traveling merchants or “Rovers” have become quite wealthy plying the dangerous roads of the two kingdoms and beyond.

Rovers stop to give service to a South Gautrian warcamp

League of Nil-ith Horn

The Men and Orcs of the League of Nil-ith Horn

The League of Nil-ith Horn is a merchant association formed by an alliance between the cities of Grunevald, Korvald and Kirkisvald, the major cities surrounding the Bay of Nil-ith Horn. Trade in these lands is a dangerous and risky business and the only way for merchants to protect themselves is by traveling together. The impetus for the formation of the League of Nil-ith Horn (LNH) was to protect its merchants involved in trading highly profitable Gautrian hemus potions (made from the healing swamp lotus only found in Gautia), and in the vast slave markets of the Vangen Orcs. While each city has its own merchant association (merchants’ guild) the alliance forms a loose Diet, or parliament, to govern inter-city trade and common policies. The trade between Grunevald, the only human city in the League, and the Valensian Empire (the dominant human empire) provide sea routes to all Imperial cities and the only legitimate port for the orcs of the League to ship any goods through. In most respects the policy of the merchants is protectionist and aimed at producing a Grunevaldian monopoly in the slave markets they supply.

The League of Nil-ith Horn and surrounding lands

The League of Nil-ith Horn Diet meets only infrequently and is filled with divisive politics based on differences in regional priorities. It is more frequent that the regional assemblies, known as ‘Thirds’, meet. There is a Grunevald ‘Third’ based on the internal and sea trades, a Korvald ‘Third’ based on slaves bought out of Kednvald, and a Kirkisvald ‘Third’ based on the hemus trade from Gautria and minerals from the Great Northern mountains. The predominant city in all dealings is Grunevald, which holds a central position as the only human port on the Nil-ith-Horn. The orc cities often complain that the merchants from Grunevald are given advantages over their own merchants.

The Grunevaldians, a race of seafaring men now under the rule of the Valesian Empire, claim the title of Masters of the League of Nil-ith Horn. From their capital city of Grunevald they dominate the other towns and cities of the League. Recently these men have raided and taken Gautrian lands on Lake Kisilev. Led by their famous conquering hero Boyar Gert Theovald the Grunevaldians have established a small kingdom of their own from the keep town of Berwik.

Boyar Gert Theovald and his Grunevaldian heavy infantry

LNH Orc Valdgrafs in the Grunevaldian market at Theovald Hall.

Kirkisvald is the more powerful of the two orc city states within the League of Nil-ith Horn. Its position on the northern most point of Nil-ith Horn bay makes it a wealthy and important trading port in the region. The political and financial interests of this LNH city-state are closely tied to that of their human “masters”, the men of Grunevald. As such many of their orc soldiers (called smerdi or “stinking ones” by the men of LNH) serve in the armies of Grunevald under human commanders. Some of Kirkisvald’s more wealthy and prominent clans have become belligerent recently, often acting autonomously in the LNH frontier regions.  

Graf Gozek and his LHN smerdi

Korvald is an orc city-state situated on the southwestern coast of Nil-ith Horn Bay. Not as important or wealthy as its sister city Kirkisvald, the orc sailors of Korvald are known to plunder the sea ways of Valensia’s great empire, and its greedy merchants are said to smuggle slaves through their own illegal routes. Korvald has suffered damaging reprisals and repudiation as a result. Recently some ambitious orcs of Korvald have devoted their energies to bring the LNH “Temple of The One God” to the neighboring Vangen orcs who have long harried their western borders.

Competing guilds, companies, and families belonging to every city of the League of Nil-ith Horn look for economic advantage and opportunity in neighboring Gautria.  From the lands rich in minerals and peoples, to the hemus lotus native only to its “troll swamps”, the kingdoms of Gautria posses vast and varied wealth to be exploited by the LNH. The League now is focused on control of Ondskap Mere, the great hemus swamp in the contested borderlands of the Vangen and Gautrian Kingdoms.

Vangen Orcs

The Vangen Kingdom

Valden the Ruthless and his personal retinue

The Vangens are a tribe of Great Northern orcs; their recent rise has been due to the great military successes of Valden The Ruthless. The Vangen Kingdom was established by Valden, a brutal and oppressive urog Hertog. Since his conversion to the “Temple of The One God” by the influential High Priest of Korvald, Ursio Erembald, Valden’s armies have unified many of the Vangen tribes into one strong kingdom.

Valden’s horde, well-armed through trade with the LNH.

Under the direction of High Priest Ursio Erembald, orc priests of the League of Nil-ith Horn provide Valden and his urog lords with a literate body of administrators and tax collectors. With their services Valden is able to run an efficient central government from his stronghold of Kednvald.

The Vangen Kingom and surrounding lands

All of the priests are protected by Valden’s laws and his vassal urog Hertogs, and all are held in high regard. The warriors answer to Valden as does the head of the League of Nil-ith Horn “Temple of The One God”, Ursio Erembald, the Habrok of Kednvald. At his capital of Kednvald Valden has seen the many wonders of the League of Nil-ith Horn civilization and the great benefits their new religion has brought to his orc subjects.

Vangen and LNH commerce over the Kednvald Bridge.

Great Northern orcs are free-spirited and fiercely independent however, and countless rebellions have broken out in Valden’s kingdom over its 22 year history. Many Vangens and Kromgaards refuse to accept the “God of Man” and persist in worshipping their own Ancient gods. Their complete conversion is an important matter to Valden, for he has renounced goblins and shaman. Valden believes the only true god to be “The One God, Lord of Light”.

Vangen orcs gather at “The Temple of the One God” in Kednvald

 

The Vangen orcs were part of the Great Northern orc migration and carried with them the gods and majiks of ancient orc lore. Their religion is polytheistic and majik oriented, goblins and shaman spread their cults through great displays of power. These orcs have many different beliefs and oft times magic cults will collide and bloody strife will result. Such is the way of the Great Northern orcs.

A Vangen margrave crosses Kednvald Bridge

Valden “The Ruthless” seeks now to change their ways. Adopting the more civilized religion of the League of Nil-ith Horn orcs, he has welcomed the priests of “The One God” and forcibly converted his own subjects. The “God of Man” has been well received in Kednvald, and other urban centers, but the borderlands of Valden’s kingdom have resisted. Led by powerful goblins, shaman and urog warlords the rebels have fought for over two decades with Valden’s mighty armies.

 

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #53 – Battle of Hellgate Pass

King Kvig led his army to victory over the Varak orcs who had appropriated the mines of Hellgate from Kvig’s vassal Vestar Vastar. (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #52- The Battle for Hellgate Mines). Kvig now had to decide who to install as jarl over the newly-recovered mines.

sgk52map

The Kildarian knight Baron Vulmar was outspoken, “We Kildarians have won many battles for you, King Kvig. Vestar has wasted the lives of many warriors and many more miners. Give me the mines and let Kildarian expertise get you rich! I will have these mines spilling forth silver the Vastars’ couldn’t even imagine.”

Vestar Vastar was enraged. “Generations of Vastar blood have paid for Hellgate silver! My clan has fought the Varak orcs time and again. These are my lands by right!”

Kvig surveyed Vestar and his many injured and poorly-armored bonders. Then King Kvig looked to Baron Vulmar and the Kilarians. The elite knights stood tall in their bloodied chainmail. It seemed an easy decision.

“Baron Vulmar shall have Hellgate mines and the keep at Sigivald Hold,” announced Kvig. “Any of Clan Vastar who wish to stay will be given positions defending the lands, or working the mines.”

“Odin curse you, Kvig Melgarson!” exclaimed Vestar. “You and your witch-queen have brought my son to death’s door and cheated my clan. I will have repayment for all your wrongs.” Vestar Vastar gathered a few loyal men and left Sigivald Hold.

Sigivald Hold, ruled by Vestar Vastar.

As the rest of the warriors of Clan Vastar prepared for battle, Bleddyn’s ulfhednar scouts brought a respected adversary to him. Bjorn the Mighty (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #50- Sword and Sorcery) had come to fight against the orcs. Bjorn looked to show his gratitude for the mercy Kvig and Bleddyn showed him (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #51- The Warbringer).

“The orcs gather at Hellgate Pass. I have brought my men and those of my kin who would join you and push the orcs back into the mountains,” said Bjorn. “Bleddyn, take my brothers among your ulfhednar.”

Bjorn introduced his cousin Karlsefni. Karlsefni had been a slave to the Varak orcs in the west.

“The Varak orcs look to reclaim these lands on the lake,” said Karlsefni. “We have tracked a new group through Hellgate Pass. They scream for blood, King Kvig, and they are coming with a War-God.”

“War-God?” asked Kvig.

“You will see on the battlefield,” answered Karlsefni.

King Kvig, Bleddyn and Wynston marched their troops to Hellgate Pass, and saw the orcs there ready for battle.

Several wild orcs with javelins populated the jagged cliffsides.

Scores more orcs assembled in tight formations, blocking the road through the pass.

King Kvig’s men responded in kind, spreading their forces in a long line across the pass.

sgk_53_018.jpg

The War-God stood before the orcs and bellowed to his troops.

The heavy infantry of the Gautrian army trudged into the pass.

The speedy ulfhednar and mounted knights sprinted across the gap.

The War-God held his ranks in check.

King Kvig, Wynston, and Bleddyn charged the two-headed War-God with uncanny speed.

Wynston’s picked men ran up the hill in pursuit of the wild orcs and shaman.

The shielded orcs lined up against the human cavalry on one flank, and the heavy infantry on the other.

The War-God held fast in the center against King Kvig, Wynston, and Bleddyn.

The Gautrians’ left flank was pushed hard by the armored orcs.

But it was not enough to threaten the integrity of Kvig’s line.

The unarmored orcs fell to the ulfhednar on the human’s right flank.

The wild orcs all routed, or were slain. The last kill was up to Wynston, Kvig and Bleddyn.

Soon, all that remained of the War-God were two severed heads waiting to be tied to Kvig’s saddle.

“They will return from their side of the mountains, King Kvig,” said Karlsefni. “You cut through their War-God in this battle, but the Varaks will send more fighters. On the other side of Hellgate pass lies their fortress of Langar. They have many of my people enslaved in that compound. Lead us there King Kvig, Orc-Slayer, and we will destroy their stronghold and keep the Varak orcs from returning to Gautria!”

Kvig thought for the briefest of moments before turning to his champion Bleddyn and minister Wynston. “There is only one way to push the orcs out of our lands. We must take the fight to them! To Langar!”

What will King Kvig find through Hellgate Pass? Will the Varak orcs fall before the advancing North Gautrian army? The adventures continue…

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #52- The Battle for Hellgate Mines

The orc fortress of Dakagog was hard-fought for, and King Kvig the Orc-Slayer was the victor (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #51- The Warbringer). The orc shaman Tiazig retreated into the stone walls of Dakagog with a handful of fervent followers. King Kvig had his men break down the door but once inside they could find no sign of the shaman.

Sagas of The Gautrian Kings #51

The King was furious at the strapping young hero Thrand Vestarson that his father Vestar Vastar had let the orcs establish such a firm base this close to Kvig’s silver mines at Hellgate. Kvig refused to leave needed troops to secure Dakagog until the mines were reclaimed from the orcs. Instead, Kvig demanded they take to the boats and sail to Vestar’s wooden keep at Sigivald Hold before night fall.

Sigivald Hold, ruled by Vester Vastar.

Sigivald Hold, ruled by Vestar Vastar.

Kvig, Wynston and Bleddyn each led a fast ship away from the orc fortress of Dakakog. Dark strings of clouds spun unnaturally over the waters. A mist covered the 3 boats.

“This is evil sorcery I’ve not seen before,” spoke Thrand to Wynston.

“Storms from the Shaman Tiazig?” asked Wynston.

“It could be him,” replied Thrand, “or it could be Queen Svala instead.”

The tall hero straightened over the steerboard. “Since crossing Lake Tagova, I’ve felt a mist lifting from my mind. I no longer have such…devotion for the Queen and I fear she knows it. She has sent this fog to keep me from aiding my father.”

“Kvig is come now to Sigivald to kill the orcs,” Wynston assured Thrand. “He will see your father’s keep defended.”

“The Queen dominates Kvig’s mind, as she once ruled mine.” Thrand was resolute. “Through him, she will claim all our family lands.” Thrand scanned what little he could of the lake’s surface through the fog. “She will swallow our boat with this mist and my father will never know of my end.”

The warriors grew more uneasy as they heard Thrand and the mist turned their fellow ships to shadows.

SGK52_Picks_106.jpgFrom the dank fog, several canoes full of orcs appeared and rammed Wynston’s longboat. Another larger boat of shielded orcs drew alongside Bleddyn’s boat and engaged his ulfhednar.

SGK52_Picks_109.jpg

Several javelins arced from the canoes into Wynston’s boat, all aimed at the helmsman, Thrand. He fell to the deck, skewered by orc spears. Wynston’s picked men were able to quickly bring the unarmored orcs to heel, but the mood was somber.

Bleddyn’s men fought the attackers on board their ship. The shielded orcs fell to the savage wolf-skinned warriors.

SGK52_Picks_110.jpg

Bleddyn ordered the attack onto the orcs’ boat. His ulfhednar slew the orcs, threw their bodies in the lake and took their ship.

As the orcs were defeated, the fog dissipated and Kvig’s boat was seen untouched nearby. Poor Thrand was unconscious, bloody and pale in Wynston’s boat. King Kvig ordered all 4 boats to make haste to land near Sigivald.

sgk52map

The troops arrived without further incident and disembarked. When they came through the forest, the ulfhednar reported orcs ahead in the hills.

SGK52_Picks_114.jpgShaman Tiazag was surrounded by his orc followers on the cliffside.

SGK52_Picks_113.jpg

From the heights, he hurled magic fires at the wooden fort.

SGK52_Picks_115.jpg

Kvig’s forces broke through the treeline and marched for the hills. The orcs rained javelins down on the fighters. Sigivald’s gate burned brightly, but Kvig was firmly in control of the field.

SGK52-42.jpg

The slow-moving fighters closed the distance to the hills and scattered the orcs into the forest.

Vestar Vastar commanded the people of Sigivald to escort King Kvig and his close advisors inside. When Vestar saw his gravely injured son, his thanks to Kvig died on his lips.

“Kvig Melgarson Orc-Slayer! This is how you return my son to me?” Vestar cried. “I send him to your Queen seeking aid seasons ago, and you finally answer with his soon-to-be-corpse?”

“If you held the mines, your son would have been by your side ruling over Sigivald,” said Kvig. “Thrand was wounded fighting honorably and valiantly for his king. Send him back over the water and my Queen’s personal physicians in Mosveld will see him standing again.

“But you, Vestar, have not so nobly acquitted yourself,” continued Kvig. “Have my men fed and sheltered inside your gates. Assemble what warriors clan Vastar has remaining. We take back Hellgate Mines in two days.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

While King Kvig received scouting reports from the ulfhednar, Wynston listened to the rumblings of the clansmen unhappy with Vestar and the state of the orcs around Sigivald. The loyal Vastars left in Sigivald bid a tearful farewell to an unconscious Thrand.

The next day when Kvig called for the troops to assemble, a unit of Vastar bonders pledged their service to the King.

Vestar himself showed ready for battle. “Clan Vastar honors its Land and King! I will defeat the orcs in your name!” Vestar shouted at Kvig.

Kvig took the hero Vestar into his retinue, and marched to Hellgate mines with a unit of heavy Kildarian infantry, a unit of ulfhednar, Wynston’s picked men, and the bonders from Sigivald. They found the orcs encamped outside the mines, but the orcs saw them and had time to form up in response.

SGK52_Picks_116-2.jpg

The ulfhednar and picked men sprinted to occupy the right flank.

SGK52_Picks_120.jpg

But how long could the lightly-armored right flank hold against the heavier orcs?

SGK52_Picks_117.jpg

The Kildarians assessed the orc units.

SGK52_Picks_119.jpg

The disgraced Vestar fought heartily in an attempt to win King Kvig’s favor back.

SGK52_Picks_122.jpg

The Kildarians led by Vulmar slew many orcs and held firm the left flank. Our heroes fought in the center, challenging the urogs.

 

Humans and orcs fell to swords and axes until only Kvig, Wynston and Bleddyn remained.

SGK52_Picks_124.jpg

Hellgate Mines once again belonged to the kingdom of Gautria. Would King Kvig show his magnanimity and allow Vestar Vastar to work the mines? Or would Kvig give the holdings to a more reliable vassal? Will the orcs let this defeat go unanswered? Find out in Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #53.

Legend of the Volsung #3- Wolves and Warriors

The reunited people of Rathus thanked Aedelfrid and Melkor for defeating the bandits who were plaguing their village. There were a few healers among the villagers and they found woundwort and hemus in the bandits’ loot. Aedelfrid helped them treat the wounded warriors and prisoners. Her betrothed, Ottar, son of Jarl Gudmar, was most grievously injured. They bound his wounds, but wanted to get him to a bed in Rathus quickly.

When the bedraggled company arrived in Rathus, they were unexpectedly confronted by Jarl Hegg Melgarson of Timlin Town. He had an impressive contingent under his command.

Jarl Hegg rode at the front of his mounted elite Gautrian thanes, and was followed by his brother Kvig's former legendary thanes and a unit of bondi from Timlin.

Jarl Hegg rode at the front of his mounted elite Gautrian thanes, and was followed by his brother Kvig’s former legendary thanes and a unit of bondi from Timlin.

Hegg was angered that Ottar was fighting in these lands at all, so far south of Gudmar’s holdings.

“These people came to us for aid, Jarl Hegg,” spoke Melkor Voclain. “We meant no disrespect to you, or to my father, lord of this village.”

“You do not need to remind me who should be protecting this hamlet,” said Hegg. “Vulmar Voclain has thrown in with my traitorous brother Kvig and absconded north. That doesn’t give your Jarl the right to be here. And,” Hegg sneered, “Vulmar has no legitimate son I’ve heard him speak of.”

“Men,” said Sverting, the bondi leader of Rathus. “Let us share the joy of the return of our kinsfolk, and feast together on the recovered bounty.”

Sverting sought to sooth Jarl Hegg.

Sverting sought to sooth Jarl Hegg.

“Take care of our horses, bonder, and bring me my portion inside,” Hegg demanded. “We march in a few days to join King Magnus. Have food ready for my troops to travel with.”

Hegg snapped at one of the foot soldiers, “Arnsten! Secure the prisoners.”

The captured bandits were taken behind the stable to be interrogated.

The captured bandits were taken behind the stable to be interrogated.

Hegg swung down from his horse and strode into the wooden hall.

Hegg and his thanes claimed the longhouse, while the infantry were encamped by the animal pens.

Hegg and his thanes claimed the longhouse, while the infantry were encamped by the animal pens.

As Hegg climbed the hill to the house, Aedelfrid got a long look at the hilt of his sword. It was just as her brother Thorgils had described their father’s heirloom sword, when Thorgils saw it on the belt of Hegg’s brother Kvig Melgarson a few years ago.

The exquisite sword was stolen from her father Ardgar, shortly before his death. Thorgils had told her Father’s replacement sword broke in battle with the orcs, then the orcs struck him down. Thorgils had blamed the Melgarsons for Father’s death ever since he saw the sword on Kvig’s hip. He would be intrigued to hear it was Jarl Hegg, and not King Kvig who wore Father’s warsword now (SGK #42).

Aedelfrid was nearly overcome with the desire to steal back her family's heirloom sword from Jarl Hegg.

Aedelfrid was nearly overcome with the desire to steal back her family’s heirloom sword from Jarl Hegg.

After she saw Ottar Gudmarson and the other wounded to beds, Aedelfrid sent her followers to enjoy the celebrations.

Aedelfrid decided to join the warriors from Timlin feasting around their bonfire.

Aedelfrid decided to join the warriors from Timlin feasting around their bonfire.

A strapping man from the group welcomed her to their circle. He introduced himself as Henrik Modrak, longtime fighter for the Melgarsons.

The Melgarsons' legendary infantry boasted of their many victories.

The Melgarsons’ legendary infantry boasted of their many victories.

The storytelling was interrupted by a drunken, shouting Hegg. The Jarl wanted all present to hear what the prisoners had revealed. A beaten captive was dragged up the longhouse hill. There he told of an agreement between Jarl Gudmar and their leader, the robber Baron Harolf of Aigist Hold. Hegg was furious Gudmar would encourage the bandits in Hegg’s lands, and called for Ottar to come forth and fight for his father’s honor.

Melkor stepped before the powerful figure of Jarl Hegg. “Jarl Hegg, we came in good faith, and had no knowledge of this secret pact. This is no matter for single combat to decide. Take these prisoners before the king, and let King Magnus listen to their words.”

Hegg swayed on his feet and tried to look Melkor in the eye. “Bah! There wouldn’t be any honor in smashing your upstart Gudmarson, hurt as he is. Magnus will hear of this deception by his father. The prisoners will march with me tomorrow.”

“But Jarl Hegg,” pleaded Sverting, “the bandits’ brothers are sure to retaliate! We need your protection!”

“You have the mighty Ottar Gudmarson to fight for you!” replied Hegg. “I leave tomorrow.” Hegg stormed back into the longhouse.

True to his word, the next morning Jarl Hegg took the prisoners and his troops and went on his way to join King Magnus.

And as predicted by Sverting, the next night, wolf-skin clad warriors attacked the village of Rathus with a vengeance.

Aedelfrid, Melkor and the cavalry were prepared.

Aedelfrid stood guard over Ottar while his shield-brothers fought the bandits.

Aedelfrid stood guard over Ottar while his shield-brothers fought the bandits.

It was a vicious battle in the near-dark.

Aedelfrid found her shortsword perfect for fighting in the cramped cabin.

Aedelfrid found her shortsword perfect for fighting in the cramped cabin.

However, she couldn’t flank these wild men.

LotV_03_022.jpg

Melkor and his shield-brothers had more success and were able to slay the ulfhednar inside and win through the door into the night.

The fight raged outside the door, leaving Aedelfrid stuck in the cabin.

The fight raged outside the door, leaving Aedelfrid stuck in the cabin.

A horn blast sounded from the village.

The men of Var began to charge out of their quarters.

The men of Var began to charge out of their quarters.

With her men of Var on the way, and Melkor in control of the door, Aedelfrid felt Ottar would be secure in their cabin. Her sneaky impulses served her well as she spied a cracked bar in the back window.

Aedelfrid slipped out the window and crept behind the engaged ulfhednar.

Aedelfrid slipped out the window and crept behind the ulfhednar.

Melkor downed another wolf bandit, leaving only one in front of him. The men of Var were engaged with the other ulfhednar.

A fierce backstab from Aedelfrid helped to slay the ulfhednar fighting Melkor.

A fierce backstab from Aedelfrid helped to slay the ulfhednar fighting Melkor.

When Melkor and Aedelfrid brought down that bandit, the rest of the ulfhednar howled and retreated.

Melkor and Aedelfrid charged the other warriors to check the village, while they remained on guard over Ottar for the night.

LotV_03_024.jpg

Would the bandits return for more mayhem? Would Jarl Hegg’s petition to the King bring trouble for Melkor and Aedelfrid? Time will tell…

Legend of the Volsung #2- Wolves in the Hills

The days before the Allthing were a blur for Aedelfrid Volsung in her betrothed’s home of South Hold. Her husband-to-be Ottar and the other cavalry were busy on patrol. The servants and bonders in the village gathered provisions for the imminent campaign against the Varak orcs. Aedelfrid’s brother Jarl Thorgils kept a close eye on her and on the young rider Melkor who had shown such interest in Aedelfrid.

Aedelfrid was relieved when at last they left South Hold and traveled to the Allthing.

The Gautrians made their camps by the ancient temple.

The Gautrians made their camps by the ancient temple.

As soon as Jarl Gudmar’s people set up his tent, an angry Jarl Gunnkel demanded audience with Gudmar. Jarl Gunnkel was furious, and ranted that his daughter had long ago been pledged to Gudmar’s son Ottar.

Aedelfrid and Melkor listen to the slighted Jarl Gunnkel protest Ottar's engagement.

Aedelfrid and Melkor listen to the slighted Jarl Gunnkel protest Ottar’s engagement.

“There is a forest full of orcs ready to descend on our homes and holdings,” answered Jarl Gudmar. “That concerns me much more than your daughter’s wounded pride.”

“My men are here to fight the orcs,” said Jarl Gunnkel. “But I will not forget this slight against my family.” Gunnkel stormed out of the tent.

Later that night the Gautrian priests summoned the people to the foot of the ancient stone temple. The jarls who called the Allthing, Gudmar and Thorgils, climbed the hill and presented Ottar and Aedelfrid to the holy ones.

Ottar and Aedelfrid are brought before the priests to seek blessings for their marriage.

Ottar and Aedelfrid are brought before the priests to seek blessings for their marriage.

The old man gave consent and there were muted cheers in the crowd.

Later that night during the drinking, Melkor was approached by Frodi and Gudlaug, two bondi from the village of Rathus.

South Gautria and Lands of Timlin

South Gautria and Lands of Timlin

Rathus was the holding of Melkor’s father, Baron Vulmar Voclain, but Baron Vulmar had sent no men to the village for a year.

“There are bandits in the mountain stronghold of Aigist that raid us. Our women are being taken, our livestock and crops stolen! Help us deal with these men, young Voclain.”

Melkor pondered the troubles of the bonders from his father's village of Rathus.

Melkor pondered the troubles of the bonders from his father’s village of Rathus.

“I ride together with my shield-brothers from South Hold, but I will see that you have aid,” Melkor quickly decided.

Melkor found Ottar drinking by a huge fire, and told him of the bandits plaguing Rathus.

“Father has ordered our cavalry to return home,” said Ottar sourly. “We are to guard South Hold. Father and the other Jarls are headed to battle with the orcs in Sudskog Forest and he expects me to cower in the palisade!”

“Rathus is almost in your father’s lands,” said Melkor. “A threat to that village could be a threat to us…”

“It’s our duty!” shouted Ottar.

When Aedelfrid heard the plight of the people of Rathus, she was in full support of the plan. “My fighters from Var will join your cavalry to aid these villagers.”

Aedelfrid and Melkor followed the bondi from Rathus to the foothills of Aigist Mountain.

Aedelfrid and Melkor followed the bondi from Rathus to the foothills of Aigist Mountain.

Frodi and Gudlaug led them to a cave the bandits were occupying.

The cavalry from South Hold, bonders from Var, and militia from Rathus surrounded the entrance to the bandit's lair.

The cavalry from South Hold, bonders from Var, and militia from Rathus surrounded the entrance to the bandit’s lair.

Aedelfrid, Melkor, Ottar and their shield-brother Skefil dismounted. They lit torches and boldly walked into the dark cave. A howl cut through the darkness and a shaggy shape crashed through the circle of torchlight and struck Ottar a heavy blow. Melkor swung back, and felt his sword sink into a man. Aedelfrid heard more howls from outside the cave.

Several ulfhednar appeared on the cliffside and rained spears on the surprised militia men.

Several ulfhednar appeared on the cliffside and rained spears on the surprised militia men.

Aedelfrid and Melkor watched as the half-naked militia from Rathus took heavy losses from the ulfhednars' missiles.

Aedelfrid and Melkor watched as the half-naked militia from Rathus took heavy losses from the ulfhednars’ missiles.

More howls echoed from the hills and a unit of berserks showed themselves in the rocks. They jumped down and ran at the cavalry. The cavalry charged to meet them with disastrous results.

The berserk unit destroyed the cavalry while the men of Var stood strong against the ulfhednar.

The berserk unit destroyed the cavalry while the men of Var stood strong against the ulfhednar.

Inside the cave, another fur-cloaked figure rushed at Ottar. Ottar fell to the bandits’ wild axe-blows.

Melkor and Aedlefrid fought the bandits over the wounded Ottar.

Melkor and Aedlefrid fought the bandits over the wounded Ottar.

One bandit was slain, but the other wounded Skefil.

Melkor warded off the axe-blows and Aedelfrid stabbed the last bandit.

Melkor warded off the axe-blows and Aedelfrid stabbed the last bandit.

Melkor and Aedelfrid helped their injured companions to the mouth of the cave. They were able to get Skefil battle-ready, but Ottar was badly hurt.

Melkor and Skefil slipped out of the cave and mounted their horses.

Melkor and Skefil slipped out of the cave and mounted their horses.

The riders charged at the berserks.

Melkor rode straight for the biggest man.

Melkor rode straight for the biggest man.

Aedelfrid crept behind the line of ulfhednar and swiftly eliminated two of the shaggy men.

Melkor thundered past the large bandit and cleaved through his head. As the big man fell, Melkor swung at the next man.

Melkor and Skefil slice through the remaining berserks.

Melkor and Skefil slice through the remaining berserks.

Skefil slew the man with the warhorn, but fell to his injuries.

Melkor turned and looked to fight the last of the ulfhednar.

Melkor turned and looked to fight the last of the ulfhednar.

The ulfhednar chopped Melkor’s horse from under him.

One ulfhednar remained.

One ulfhednar remained.

Aedelfrid stabbed at the ulfhednar from the flank. Melkor chopped at him from the front. The ulfhednar had no chance against Melkor’s swings and Aedelfrid’s precise strikes. He fell to the muddy ground.

The battlefield was bloody. Ottar was barely alive. Several of the bandits were dead, the rest were bound and taken prisoner.

The men of Rathus quickly searched the bandit lair and brought out their missing kin. The bandits had a huge cache of supplies, and livestock as well. It was decided to take the loot back to Rathus, there to heal and feast.

League of Nil-ith Horn Chronicles #5- Road to Dalthu

Eskander Toshe returned to Rostok Hold with victories from his first mission under Boyar Thonkrik’s command. He and his urog ally Vaak Akarya opened the Mines of Rostok (LNHC #3). Eskander then slew the Upplander hero Valgar Ottarson during Valgar’s failed ambush upon Eskander’s troops on the Silver Road (LNHC #4).

Boyar Thonkrik was pleased, and a bit surprised, at Eskander’s successes.

“Well done!” Thonkrik congratulated Eskander. “You’re the one I need to take our considerations to Hertog Torkag at his fortress of Dalthu.  We’ve got two towers on the road to Kisevald that need to be rebuilt and manned against Bothvar Helgeson and his miserable Upplanders. I need you to convince Torkag to send three units for our final push to rid our side of the river of these savages.

“I’ll have a wagon loaded with gifts of great expense: silver, weapons, wine! Let him know his urog Vaak can run the silver mines for us. Just bring back fighting bodies.

I can only trust a man of your background with this, Eskander. So, no other officers can go, instead take that orc Gazzi you like so much. His valgrafs and Vaak’s orcs will see you through to Dalthu.

And Eskander- leave your horse here.”

The next morning, crates, casks and goods were piled on the wagon for the northern journey to Dalthu. Eskander saw jugs of Grunevaldian wine among the offerings. Boyar Thonkrik was lavishing gifts on this Hertog Torkag.

As promised for Vaak Akarya’s service in slaying the renegade urog at Rostok Mines, a two-handed steel sword was waiting in the armory for her. Eskander gave her the sword, and the news that she would be the urog to hold the silver mines.

Gazzi and his valdgrafs took postition about the yak-drawn cart and the party left. The weather was bad and the roads were worse. The scouts could find no easy way through the swampy trail.

The supply-laden wagon made slow progress on the swampy road.

The supply-laden wagon made slow progress on the swampy road.

 

The wagon frequently bogged down in the mud and needed to be worked free.

The wagon frequently bogged down in the mud and needed to be worked free.

Shapes moved in the trees.

Vaak Akarya's orc captain spotted something amiss off the road.

Vaak Akarya’s orc captain spotted something amiss off the road.

Savage orc screeches were heard from the high rocks.

 

Several wild orcs appeared in the ruins on the cliffs above and hurled javelins at the stopped groups of orcs.

Several wild orcs appeared in the ruins on the cliffs above and hurled javelins at the stopped groups of orcs.

Vaak ordered her orcs to be ready for the ground attack while she went to the wagon.

Vaak ordered her orcs to be ready for the ground attack while she went to the wagon.

A giant urog dropped from the cliffs into the road in front of them.

Vaak closed with the savage urog.

Vaak closed with the savage urog.

 

Vaak's orcs intercepted the wild orcs on the ground.

Vaak’s orcs intercepted the wild orcs on the ground.

 

The steel weapons of the League forces were too mighty for the unarmored wild orcs.

The steel weapons of the League forces were too mighty for the unarmored wild orcs.

The wild urog smashed Vaak to the ground with his massive hammer. As she fell, Gazzi’s valdgrafs stepped into the battle and surrounded the urog. After trading many blows with him, the valdgrafs at last overcame the giant.

With the death of their leader, the remaining savage orcs scattered into the woods. The caravan regrouped and continued the march to Dalthu.

 

Birthday Battle

What a Saturday Night Wargame! Ten of us gathered around the gaming tables to celebrate my birthday with a 5 on 4 battle. All our players from 3 storylines, plus Bleddyn’s wife, came for the fun.

Birthday Battle

This battle was for control of the Hedemark, the penninsula to the east of Gautria. The Free Jarls, who swear to no king, call these lands theirs but the League of Nil-ith Horn orcs looked to firmly entrench themselves on this side of Lake Kisilev. King Magnus of South Gautria had camped the previous winter here with intent to crush the orcs early in the campaign season.

BirthdayBash.jpg

My husband set up the troops ahead of time. He assigned units and/or heroes, and primary and secondary objectives to each player. There were 3 points of intrinsic value: the circle of stones (nearest to the camera), the ford, (which is behind the ridge where the flags are) and the slave wagons (on the hill furthest away from the camera).

BirthdayBattle_002.jpg

None of our player characters were actually present, but we played pieces with similar interests to our own.  Bleddyn’s wife debuted in her first wargame with several urog heroes on the hill guarding the slave wagons. The League of Nil-ith Horn Chronicles fellows played the orcs. Two players held the ford, one with units of Great Northern Orc mercenaries, and the other with League troops. Eskander had a mage with 2 units of valdgrafs, and a large unit of smerdi to hold the stone circle.

BirthdayBattle_004.jpg

The humans had Bleddyn playing as ulfhednar who were tasked with freeing the slaves from the urogs. Aedelfrid played as Queen Inga and her cavalry unit, and 2 units of footmen. Melkor represented the Kildarians. Their cavalry and sargents had pledged to support the Queen as she took the ford. Kvig played his brother Hegg, commanding Hegg’s cavalry, a unit of bonders, and Kvig’s own heroic unit of thanes (left behind in SGK #43). And I played as Jevenkah, who is currently lording over the northern-most village on the Hedemark and brought with her a unit of berserks and a handful of heroes. Her primary objective was to gain the stone circle.

BirthdayBattle_007.jpg

The units quickly moved to contact. The ulfhednar raced up the hill to engage the urogs.

The ulfhednar raced up the hill to engage the urogs.

The ulfhednar raced up the hill to engage the urogs.

Inga’s troops plus one unit of Kildarian knights crashed into the shield wall of the spear-wielding smerdi holding the ford.

BirthdayBattle_015.jpg

But the other Kildarians were swayed by Hegg to lend their troops to the fight for the stone circle. The Kildarian knights galloped to get behind the enemy line.

BirthdayBattle_020.jpg

Hegg lined his forces up against the orcs and attacked while Jevenkah sprinted up the left flank for the stone circle.

BirthdayBattle_014.jpg

There was heard then a great clash of hard plastic in polished wood boxes as battle was joined.

BirthdayBattle_030.jpgThere were fights up and down the table, and figures came off the board rapidly.

BirthdayBattle_033.jpg

The League of Nil-ith Horn at the stone circle were whittled down first by Hegg’s infantry, then by Jevenkah’s acid arrows.

BirthdayBattle_027.jpg

Finally her berserk warriors came upon the rear of the smerdi and eliminated them.

Birthday Battle
The League mage with his valdgraf guards lasted a little longer, before being stamped out in the same manner by Hegg’s men and the Kildarian knights.

BirthdayBattle_034.jpg

The urogs on the hill took few losses and dealt out major damage, but were overcome by the numbers of attacking ulfhednar.

BirthdayBattle_035.jpg

The battle for the ford swung back and forth.

BirthdayBattle_032.jpg

Once the left flank was won, Jevenkah, Hegg and the Kildarian Baron brought their units to the ford. They joined Inga and sent the remaining orc forces sprinting for the trees.

BirthdayBattle_038.jpg

It was a great game and super birthday party!

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.

Kingdom_web

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.

Sagas of The Gautrian Kings #51

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.

Sagas of The Gautrian Kings #51

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.

Sagas of The Gautrian Kings #51

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.

SGK52__012.jpg

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.

Sagas of The Gautrian Kings #51

Bleddyn and the ulfhednar engaged the remaining orcs.

Sagas of The Gautrian Kings #51

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?