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.

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #46- Dark Days in Helvik

Kvig Melgarson, his champion Bleddyn Yorath, and his master spy Wynston Black marched with Kvig’s few infantry units to his ancestral home of Helvik. When Kvig arrived at that wooden keep, he found his brother Olaf, the jarl of Helvik, had the gates open in welcome. Kvig brought his troops inside the wooden palisade walls.

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Kvig could see the fortification was woefully undermanned. The fighting men from Helvik looked hopefully to Kvig. They had marshalled in the fort against the League of Nil-ith Horn orc invasion, but Jarl Olaf was too ill to ride out and fight. Kvig promised them he would drive the hated orcs from the shores of North Gautria, just as he had done in the lands to the south. Many men of Helvik cheered and Kvig’s retinue began to chant “King Kvig! King Kvig! King Kvig!”

“Where is my brother, your Jarl? I should pay my regards to him and his wife,” Kvig asked. He was directed to the great hall on the hill, where the men told him Olaf sat and drank each day as his wife Ragna ran the holdings. There were dark looks exchanged when Ragna’s name was spoken.

Kvig strode through the warriors to the hill. Wynston and Bleddyn followed behind Kvig as he entered his brother’s hall. Olaf Melgarson sat slumped in a large wooden chair, drink in hand. His beautiful wife Ragna sat in a matched chair by his side. Casks and barrels lined the side of the hall between Kvig and Olaf.

“So, brother,” said Kvig, “This is how you keep our father’s lands safe? Our people are slaughtered by orcs while you drink in the mead hall? Take your sword and ride out with me!”

“You would like that, Kvig Melgarson, I am sure,” said Ragna. “To see your brother slain on the battlefield so you can lay claim to Helvik.”

“Enough!” roared Olaf as he rose unsteadily from his chair. “I’m not dead yet, woman! I rule Helvik, and I fear neither this bandit-king brother of mine, nor the orcs from the League of Nil-ith Horn.” Olaf drained his cup.

“Then lend your sword arm and your men to our cause and together we will defeat the orcs!” replied Kvig.

“Bah! Do all your men even own shields?” asked Olaf. “You ran from our brother Hegg in Timlin and his liege King Magnus, and come here to Helvik with thirty men boasting to slay the orcs? I will wait for Magnus, I think.”

Kvig turned a hard stare on his brother. “Is that you speaking, Olaf? Or is it the words of your witch-wife speaking to you through your drink?”

Olaf threw his empty cup at Kvig and drew his sword. Ragna jumped to her feet between the brothers.

“Bleddyn,” Kvig said behind him. “The casks.”

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With just a slight hesitation, Bleddyn hacked into a barrel. The floor grew dark as Bleddyn slashed cask after cask.

Olaf only shuddered and let his sword drop. Ragna shrieked and ran from the hall.

“Now you can be free, brother, as we will make the North free!” proclaimed Kvig.

“You will see what you have done, brother,” said Olaf hopelessly.

Kvig, Bleddyn and Wynston returned to their men in the yard. Once it was dark, Wynston convinced the two to sneak to the sacred grove where Ragna was surely calling on the old powers. Kvig and Bleddyn hid farther off, but Wynston was able to get close enough to prove her hunch. Ragna was communing with her sister Svala, the Queen of North Gautria since her husband Gorm was killed at the Battle of Turlin.

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Svala promised men to aid Ragna in holding Helvik. Hidden among them would be professional assassins to target Kvig. Wynston moved closer to hear the details and was spotted by Ragna’s fanatic followers. Wynston slew one, and led the other to her hidden comrades. By the time she, Kvig and Bleddyn had dealt with the fanatics, Ragna had disappeared.

The trio ran back to the tower of Helvik, where they were stopped by more of Ragna’s men.

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Kvig demanded they step aside. Kvig’s forces were rousing in answer to the combat outside, and the sudden commotion in the gates. Ragna’s three thanes in red threw down their swords and declared for Kvig.

Wynston was about to enter the tower when most of the few remaining women in Helvik appeared in the yard. They begged for Kvig to hurry to his brother. Kvig ran to the great hall.

Olaf lay at the foot of his chair. His skin was grey, and his breath shaky.

“See, little brother? See what you have brought on me?” asked Olaf. “You may know war, but you do not know women.” Olaf lifted his shirt. A black stain marred his chest. “This should have killed me long ago. It was Ragna kept me alive. You bring death with you, Kvig.”

Kvig grasped his brother to him as Olaf breathed his last.

Wynston turned from the Melgarsons and sprinted back to the tower. It was empty, and no one had seen Ragna.

Kvig Melgarson burned Olaf’s body with honors. Kvig stood tall in the light of the funeral pyre and declared himself Jarl of Helvik. The inhabitants of Helvik cheered their approval. Kvig’s men from the south began a different chant:

“King Kvig! King Kvig! King Kvig!”

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #45- The Outlaws

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Spring arrived early, and brought with it hope for Kvig Melgarson to continue his quest to unite Gautria. Two ships were secretly constructed over the winter for him. They were outfitted with a unit of loyal bonders each and waited at the village of Alnar to cross the lake and repel the League of Nil-ith Horn forces from North Gautria.
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Wynston, Bleddyn and Kvig were en route to that village when one of the ulfhednar intercepted them with a warning. Two units of heavy cavalry under Sir Reinhard had taken over Alnar. They terrorized the population and brought hostages with them from the nearby village of Strek: Kvig’s village-wife and her father. It was the perfect trap for Jarl Kvig and his companions.
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When the trio got to Alnar, master spy Wynston climbed onto the house where Reinhard and his hostages were. As she waited for Kvig and Bleddyn to get positioned, she peered inside. There were a few other women-folk about, as well as a second armored knight. Once Kvig was on the roof, Wynston dropped through the smoke hole and sprang behind Reinhard. She had her mithril long knife to his throat before anyone realized she was in the room.
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Wynston was hesitant to slay Reinhard out-of-hand. He was the second of Kvig’s brother Jarl Hegg, and commanded the Gautrian cavalry in the lands of Timlin. However, Reinhard had challenged Kvig on several occasions, arrested him, kidnapped his village-wife, and was currently in possession of Bleddyn’s sword, the third-best warsword Wynston had ever laid her blacksmith’s hands on. While Wynston wavered, Kvig was spotted on the roof and left the smoke hole.
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Reinhard sensed the delay and tried to elude Wynston’s grasp. Both the armored knight and the well-dressed woman in the corner drew swords. Wynston and Reinhard struggled. Bleddyn stormed through the front door and joined the melee. The combat turned deadly and Bleddyn and Wynston slew Reinhard.

Kvig was faced with one of Reinhard’s knights, and Kvig’s own man Arnsten. Arnsten was true to Kvig and threatened the knight. Others were drawn to the commotion in the house. When a bloodied Wynston came out with the keen Thuringian warsword, the men quieted. She delivered the sword to Kvig. Kvig raised it aloft and offered terms to the leaderless knights. Any who wished could swear oaths to him, the rest could ride back to Hegg and Timlin Town. A handful of men swore oaths and joined the bonder units re-forming in the center of the village. The other knights took the riderless horses with them and rode away. Kvig gifted the sword back to Bleddyn. The ulfhednar arrived and added their numbers to Kvig’s retinue.
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Kvig and his followers set sail over Lake Sund, and landed near ruins that had been the village of Turlin. Their scouts were reading the signs of battle when they were met by Herigar Kolson and the cavalry from Helvik. Herigar was the Huscarl of Helvik, respected by Kvig and Kvig’s father before him. Herigar gave Kvig foul news that his other brother Olaf, the jarl of Helvik, had sent no troops to fight the League of Nil-ith Horn forces at the Battle of Turlin. King Gorm himself had been slain defending the lands here, while Olaf was too weak to fight. Instead, Olaf took much drink in his hall, and only the council of his woman Ragna.

Kvig vowed to be the one who would push the League of Nil-ith Horn from the lands of Gautria. Herigar told him of an orc camp nearby, and they marched together on it. The orcs stood little chance against the enraged Kvig Melgarson and his fighters.

The orcs were slaughtered and Kvig made ready to return to his ancestral home of Helvik. What kind of welcome could the warlord Kvig expect from his brother, rightful jarl of Helvik?

League of Nil-ith Horn Chronicles #2- Bothvar’s Wolves

After the League of Nil-ith Horn troops drove off the ambushing humans, Gazzi-Ura treated Eskander with a hemus healing potion and the soldiers removed the road obstructions. They continued north, Gazzi-Ura and his orcs scouting.

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Gazzi-Ura picked up tracks of a group of wild men following them. Eskander and his officers gave chase and engaged a few of them. These humans were clad in wolf skins and moved like panthers through the trees. The League soldiers killed one, but the rest vanished into the woods.

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Near dark Eskander had his men and orcs set up camp with heavy guard. There passed a tense few hours until wolf howls were heard and the wild men burst from the darkness. Several ulfhednar went for the command tent. Eskander quickly responded and slew his attackers.

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Gazzi-Ura charged at the shaman on the hill, but was kept from his target by 2 axe-wielding savages. Eskander ordered his officers on horseback and rode to aid Gazzi-Ura.

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By the time Eskander reached the hill, Gazzi-Ura was lying wounded and the shaman had fled.

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The League of Nil-ith Horn soldiers slew several of the wild men while the rest howled and escaped into the forest.

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It was Eskander’s turn to give Gazzi-Ura the healing hemus. They secured their camp and prepared to continue their trek to the wooden outpost of Rostok hold.

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Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #37- Kednvald Bridge

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The urog king, Valden the Ruthless, marched his massive army north on Kednvald Road, intent on destroying the human outpost at Skara and claiming the northern peninsula for the Vangen Orc Kingdom. Kvig Melgarson and his retinue harried the western flank of the orc army to keep the orcs from the Gautrian lands west of Skarken River, but had too few forces to inflict serious damage. Kvig, Wynston and Bleddyn decided they had to cut the flow of relief forces and supplies from Kednvald to effectively stop Valden. The surest way to accomplish that was to destroy Kednvald Bridge.

Kvig took his companions, and a small group of Ulfhednar who were fleet of foot, and raced south. They traveled with little rest and no extra gear, save for one barrel of cinder sand. Their journey was briefly slowed in the swamp of Ondskap Mere (which the Great Northern Orcs called Sharog Mokal) where Wynston succumbed to the putrid air. There were several volunteers to carry her, and she was mobile by the time they reached Kednvald Bridge.

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The weather was foul and damp, and they encountered no orc patrols until the scouts at the bridge. Wynston and Bleddyn silently eliminated them, and spied through the gloom across the river. On the other side of the ravine was a column of League of Nil-ith Horn orcs. They were held from crossing by the Vangen urog in command of the bridge.

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Kvig took advantage of the disorder to strike the orc camp on his side. Wynston climbed along the cliff face and under the bridge, a cask of cinder sand tied to her back.

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The men fought fiercely against the better armored orcs, desperate to buy Wynston time to set the bridge alight. The weather kept the fire down, and Kvig’s forces took casualties.

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The wooden planks caught at last, but the flames did not keep back the more psychotic warriors.

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The cinder sand was burning steadily now. Unfortunately, the fire gave off good light for the orc captain to spot Wynston. Unable to avoid his reach and escape the burning bridge underneath, Wynston vaulted to meet him.

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A misstep by the orc captain and a timely lunge by Wynston sent the orc plunging into the waters.  The bridge was in full flame as Wynston sprinted across to rejoin Kvig, Bleddyn and the Ulfhednar.  As the bridge fell into the chasm, the humans broke combat with the orcs and ran for the swamp road. The embattled orcs let the humans retreat into the night.

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #44- Winter Wolves

Wynston freed Jarl Kvig and Bleddyn from the dungeons of the keep at Timlin Town. Kvig’s brother Hegg ordered his troops into the night after them. Wynston had fast horses tethered in the village behind the keep. When the trio approached, riders came near.

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Bleddyn readied the horses while Kvig stepped out of hiding and confronted the cavalry. Honor-bound to capture Kvig, the riders asked Kvig to yield.  Kvig was unwilling to attack the men, but refused to return. The riders were equally unwilling to join Kvig’s cause and one charged him. Kvig dashed into cover of the trees. Wynston was willing, and waiting, and grappled the rider from his saddle.

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At that, the cavalry blew their horn and Wynston, Bleddyn and Kvig mounted up. They spurred their horses through the huts and past the cavalry but couldn’t outdistance them. More Kildarian cavalry joined the chase. Capture seemed imminent when a wolf’s howl was heard. Bleddyn’s ulfhednar screamed over a hill and engaged the cavalry.

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They knocked a few riders from their horses, while the other riders broke and raced for reinforcments. Kvig ordered the injured cavalry tended to and left tied up.

The ulfhednar escorted Kvig, Bleddyn and Wynston to a place of relative safety in the hills. There Halvdan, their leader, told Kvig of a haunted ruins where the trio could winter. They had less fear of ghosts than of Hegg, so decided to wait there for the spring season.

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They made a habitable dwelling in a vacant foundation near the stones. Boredom eventually drove them to explore the ruins one clear morning. They picked their way through the dank interior. Kvig stopped short in terror as a troll sprung from the darkness.

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Then Kvig screamed in terror and ran away.

A second troll attacked and ran, Bleddyn right behind it. Wynston dashed across the room, uncertain at first whether to flee or follow Bleddyn. The first troll slithered through the ruins and Wynston went after it.

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It dropped into a deeper chamber in the floor. Wynston followed. She looked briefly around the shadows of the chamber which could hide any number of trolls, and had Bleddyn throw her a rope and lift her out. They went to find Kvig and return to their warm home hurt and empty-handed.

League of Nil-ith Horn Chronicles #1- Road to Rostok

The League of Nil-ith Horn outpost of Rostok Hold has produced much wealth for a few powerful families in the Grunevaldian third. Boyar Thonkrik and his devoted League soldiers had provided a steady stream of slaves and silver. Recently, the Targ leader Bothvar Helgesson has orchestrated many attacks on League of Nil-ith Horn caravans on the road between Rostok and the fortress of Kisevald and made the route impassable. Rather than support Boyar Thonkrik to the north at Rostok, the League of Nil-ith Horn orcs stationed in Kisevald went raiding the tumultuous North Gautrian kingdom west across the lake.

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Boyar Gert Theovald had been conquering the lands on the southeast side of the lake and needed the silver and slaves from his ally Boyar Thonkrik at Rostok Hold. Theovald arranged a commission in the League of Nil-ith Horn army for his bastard son, Eskander Toshe, and ordered him to open the road from Kisevald and deliver men and supplies to Rostok.

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Eskander arrived at Kisevald with a unit of Gautrian Guardsmen, a unit of orc smerdi, and four laden wagons.

The orc commander Graf Gorik was meting out punishment to a unit of orcs who had been routed from their camp at the mouth of Kisilev Lake three nights past. Graf Gorik himself whipped and beheaded the unit’s leader, then took one out of every ten soldiers and executed them in the same manner. Once the grisly affair was over, Graf Gorik promoted the elite infantry soldier Gazzi-Ura to head the decimated unit.

Graf Gorik was irate when Eskander delivered orders instructing the Graf to assign a unit of orcs to escort Eskander to Rostok Hold. Grudgingly, Graf Gorik gave him Gazzi-Ura’s reduced unit, and the next morning Eskander and Gazzi-Ura led their troops and goods up the road to Rostok Hold.

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The road was filled with certain danger from humans and savage orcs, and potential danger from any orc tribe that might not honor their alliance with the League of Nil-ith Horn. The first attack came soon after Eskander and Gazzi-Ura left the protective reach of Kisevald. Their caravan was stopped by large boulders in the road.

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As they moved the rocks, a band of Upplanders burst from the trees with volleys of arrows and javelins. Men set upon the caravan from both sides. The Upplanders inflicted what damage they could against the heavy League armor.

An enormous man sprang out of the woods to chop at Eskander.

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They fought bitterly, until Eskander fell from his horse. Gazzi-Ura charged at the huge man, wounding him severely. The wild men broke away and faded into the forest.