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.

 

League of Nil-ith Horn Chronicles #4 – Ottarson’s Ambush

Eskander Toshe secured another victory for the League of Nil-ith Horn and reclaimed control over the Mines of Rostok. His urog ally Vaak Akarya insisted she and her orcs accompany them back to Rostok Hold to protect against the humans from the Upplands who frequently attacked the caravans and troops on the Silver Road.

The Upplanders spoke many boasts to ready themselves before the League of Nil-ith Horn army marched through their ambush.

Valgar Ottarson made brave boasts to his warriors they would crush the League of Nil-ith Horn forces in their ambush on the Silver Road.

Eskander agreed and they marched together for Rostok Hold. Very shortly, the scouts brought Eskander word of  significant enemies ahead. The Upplanders awaited their army.

The urog Vaak Akarya led 2 units of orcs to bolster the League infantry under Ekander Toshe.

The League of Nil-ith Horn forces deployed ready for a fierce fight through the pass.

Lookouts spotted the League army arrayed for battle on the road.

Valgar Ottarson gave orders for the Upplanders to take position.

The bonders shook their swords and shields.

Valgar’s bonders positioned themselves up the cliffside above the route of march the heavily armored Nil-ith Horn infantry would have to take.

The swift-moving ulfhednar bore down the road towards the pass.

The ulfhednar ran straight towards the pass at the League army, and instead climbed the short cliff by the bonders.

Valgar Ottarson called his elite berserk warriors to his side.

The utvalt men hurled insults at the orcs while Valgar Ottarson summoned a unit of elite berserk warriors from out of hiding.

"Let no orcs through this day!"

Valgar rallied his warriors as the League of Nil-ith Horn troops approached.

Gazzi brought his elite valdgrafs along the ridge while the League of Nil-ith Horn infantry marched into the pass.

Vaak Akarya brought her units up the left flank. The smerdi led the way for the League forces, followed by the League’s Gautrain Guardsmen.

Gazzi and his elite valdgrafs climbed along the ridge while the League of Nil-ith Horn infantry marched into the pass. Eskander and his officer Selibek held their horses to the rear.

Vaak's orcs challenged the berserks.

The League shields proved strong against the javelin fire as the infantry entered the pass.

Shielded bonders rained javelins down on the League of Nil-ith Horn infantry.

Though the bonders had the advantage of height, their javelins failed to drop any League orcs.

The ulfhednar ran through the woods and wrappped behind the slower League infantry.

The ulfhednar passed through the wooded terrain and attacked the rear of the League infantry.

The berserks jumped down to slay the smerdi.

The berserks jumped down to slay the smerdi.

The smerdi fell in numbers to Valgar Ottarson and the berserks.

The smerdi stood strong against Valgar and the berserks.

One resilent smerdi stood against the mighty Valgar and his elite berserks.

While the stoic League smerdi pinned the berserks, the Gautrian Guardsmen fought the ulfhedanr, and the valdgrafs destroyed the utvalt men.

While the stoic League smerdi pinned the berserks, the Gautrian Guardsmen fought the ulfhedanr, and the valdgrafs destroyed the utvalt men.

The last smerdi was slain, and Vaak's orcs crashed into the melee against Valgar.

The last smerdi was slain, and Vaak’s orcs crashed into the melee against Valgar.

Vaak and Eskander joined their strength to bring down the ulfhednar priest.

Vaak and Eskander joined their strength to bring down the ulfhednar priest.

As all seemed lost for the Upplanders, the bonders leapt into the fray.

As all seemed lost for the Upplanders, the bonders leapt into the fray.

The orc reavers overpowered the lightly armored bonders, while the Gautrian Guardsmen stepped over the fallen orcs and hewed at Valgar and the berserks.

The orc reavers overpowered the lightly armored bonders, while the Gautrian Guardsmen stepped over the fallen orcs and hewed at Valgar and the berserks.

Finally, Eskander and Vaak closed with Valgar Ottarson, and the heroes slew the mighty Upplander.

Finally, Eskander and Vaak closed with Valgar Ottarson, and the heroes slew the mighty Upplander.

League of Nil-ith Horn Chronicles #3- Mines of Rostok

Eskander Toshe was sent on his first command by the League of Nil-ith Horn to re-establish control of their road to Rostok Hold. His caravan of troops and supplies was harried relentlessly by savage humans as they traveled north from the fortress of Kisevald to the wooden outpost of Rostok.

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His elite orc captain, Gazzi-Ura, fended off the attacks with proficiency and the party at last reached Rostok Hold.

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They were rudely greeted by Snog, the orc second-in-command.

“Boyar Thonkrik’s up above.” he said. Gazzi-Ura tried to follow Eskander into the tower. Snog shoved him. “The Boyar doesn’t need to see you, orc.”

“I go where Eskander goes,” responded Gazzi, and placed his hand on his sword.

Snog eyed the newcomer coldly. “Fine,” he said. “Thonkirk’ll set you straight. Then I’ll be here when you come down.”

Eskander and Gazzi entered the tower and climbed to the upper floor.

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Boyar Thonkrik looked Eskander over disapprovingly. “You need to keep your orcs in line.” Thonkrik turned to Gazzi. “Get out.”

Eskander nodded to Gazzi, and the orc left.

“You’re another of Theovald’s bastards, aren’t you? Well, at least you got my troops here. Haven’t seen any relief in a long time now.”

Thonkrik went to a hutch in the corner of the room. There he opened a small chest and drew out an envelope. He tossed it on the table by Eskander.

“Your new orders, placing you here under my command. We need more men here of good calibre, Eskander. Show me yours and deal with these Drimgaard orcs. I had one of their local urog leaders in charge of working the mine.

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“Now he’s stopped bringing the silver here. Fix this.”

Eskander nodded and left the tower. He paused outside the palisade and surveyed the compound.

The barracks for the humans were easy to pick out.

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A group of Drimgaard orcs appeared from the forest.

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They were led by a huge female urog wearing a huge iron sword.

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She demanded audience with the man in charge and instead was met by Eskander. Gazzi-Ura spoke the urog woman’s tongue.

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Vaak Akarya was here at Rostok on behalf of her urog king, Hertog Torkag. She pledged to lead the attack on the traitorous urog holding the mines.

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In return, she asked for lands and a two-handed steel sword made for her. Eskander agreed, and they made plans to raid Rostok mines

Later that night, once the human soldiers had turned in to their barracks, Snog found excuse to challenge Gazzi.

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The orcs gathered round, ready for the fight, but the human guards put a quick stop to the affair.

“Another time, orc,” threatened Snog.

The next day Eskander marched his units on the road for a frontal assault on the mines. But he, Gazzi, Vaak and a handful of picked orcs entered the mines from an entrance in the nearby woods.

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They crept quietly through the mine tunnels, coming at last to a hall right below the hertog.

Vaak led the way, leaping with no difficulty to the floor above. By the time all the others had followed her up, the enemy orcs had responded to the noise.

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Vaak hacked through the orc guard and engaged the hertog.

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Vaak was the more determined of the urogs and with a mighty blow removed the traitor hertog’s head.

She held it aloft for all the orcs to see and commanded them to join her. Cowed by the defeat of their leader, and the presence of the League of Nil-ith Horn forces, the renegade orcs surrendered.

Vaak Akarya had fulfilled her oath and opened Rostok Mines. Would the Eskander honor his and deliver lands to the urog?

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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The battle for the ford swung back and forth.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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?

Modelers in the Making

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legend of the Volsung #1- Once Upon a Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Orcs! Orcs!”

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

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Thorgils ordered his infantry to surround the wagon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More servants offered to escort Aedelfrid to the great hall.

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

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Gudmar wanted to start the feast right away.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Father!” he cried.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The crowded hall was silent as the door slammed shut.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #50- Sword and Sorcery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wynston was unconvinced.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then from the gatehouse, Bjorn the Mighty bellowed:

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

The Kildarian cavalry thundered through the tunnel.

A stunned Kvig was mounted there to meet them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Being Thankful- A Fantasy Warriors Battle

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

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

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

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

The cavalry held.

The orc commander charged across the field.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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