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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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

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

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The Kildarians assessed the orc units.

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

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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.

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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 #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.

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.

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.

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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.

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?