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Posted: May 29 2012, 09:58 AM
In FBTB Realm
Group: Balladeer on Quest
Member No.: 8
Joined: 9-October 05
Chapter 1: A mongrel, in Manx
In the court of the king of the island kingdom Vannin, a large party of
norsemen were seated at the long tables in the great royal diner. The king
was holding a feast for the travelers, while the kingdom was independent,
they had a long good standing with the norse. Many sat wearing their armor,
as norsemen, having a rather ill reputation, would rarely travel outside
their homeland without wearing some form of protection, usually in the
shape of a helmet and mail shirt.
One of them stood out from the rest, with a dark iron helmet on his head and
dressed in foreign lamellar on black cloth and worn mail with a black cloak.
He had a long unkept black beard, a gnarly, weathered old face and an eyepatch
for his left eye, his skin weathered and bruised, the bags beneath his eyes
almost reaching his jawbones. His entire attire was black, and for a
stranger, he would look like a black-bearded disguise of Odin himself, if
not for his somewhat short stature.
The dark figure rose from his seat, and held out his arms.
"Fellows! I hold today a toast for the good memory of the King of the
western kingdom, Brytenwalda Penda! We might not be in what used to be
his kingdom, but this is where the first Starkhandr came after the king's
The men cheered, and he lent back in his seat, until he remembered he
forgot something important, or atleast, made it seem so.
"Oh, and toast for our good host as well, he bothered to have us in his
court this time." He sat down again and the men laughed, the king with
"Good, Starkhandr! I, King Herald Crovan of The Kingdom of Ellan am honored
to have you all here as guests. I would have preferred a speech
about myself, but again, the greatest of Saxons should not be forgotten,
not even in this time and age, I hope my reign will be as great as his, but
not as violent. Let the festivities begin!"
King Herald signaled to one of his guards, the guard walked closer to
the throne so he could speak lowly to him.
"Do you think I might have insulted Penda by that remark?"
"No, your liege. He is dead."
"I don't have time for jokes. Starkhandr is very sensitive about Penda
and his legacy. I have never seen him angry, but his face is always
brooding, as if thirsting for a reason for him to draw his blade."
"Make bloody well sure there is no reason for him to do so, by the gods."
Herald's fear of Starkhandr was genuine, but not just based on his
appearance alone. The name "Starkhandr" was also the name of Penda's
right hand, and had at times been given to particularly fearsome norsemen
throughout time ever since. The current Starkhandr was not that known
for his combat provess, but the battles he had won were also modern
legends. He supposedly cut a mountain troll's head in half with his axe,
and ripped apart a man while being pierced by ten arrows. Indeed,
Herald knew that "vikings", as they were called, were in truth not more
or less fearsome than any other band of mercenaries, but the tales of
their wars in the west a hundred years ago and Starkhandr's intimidating
presence made him sure to keep his security high.
Amongst his own people, Starkhandr was treated with great respect and
awe, something he had grown weary of. The only man who could stand tall
with him was his Hersir, his troop commander if needed be, Sven. Sven
was in his late thirties, a shaved head and a small bushy red mustache,
the same color as the fox pelt around his neck. His head was rotund, and
he was of medium build, and stood taller than his Jarl, something that
gave Starkhandr much chargrin.
"Jarl, will we return to Tyrsvik tomorrow?"
"Probably. Unless we are given a better offer. We lost most of the profit
"I blame the scurvy."
"I blame the peasantfolk who thought we only ate meat and nothing else."
"They did offer us their daughters, though."
"Disgusting lot. Selling off their own flesh and blood for a bit peace
of mind. I would have slaughtered them all for the sake of decency but
then I would need to offer those poor girls new parents, and I trust
these men even less than those women should trust their fathers on that
"I have told you should keep your temper down, or you will end up being
as terrifying as you appear."
"Worthless filth everywhere I go, as if not the blasphemer filth was
"The blasphemers are nothing but stragglers, you shouldn't worry too much
"Tell that to them, they still believe in their non-descript "salvation",
which is probably to be eaten by their maggot god.
"So much for this feast."
"Sorry if I have ruined your day, Sven, but just spending a day thinking
pisses me off. I am off to sleep, if I get any. Have fun with the rest
of the mongrels."
A man with a long white beard sat on Starkhandr's side, wearing a golden
helmet with horns. The man was sleeping upright, and as Starkhandr rose out
of his chair and knocked the helmet off his head.
"For Odin's sake, gothi. If you aren't channeling the gods don't wear that
"Sorry, your greatness, won't happen again!" The man said shocked as he
woke up, and picked up his helmet and held it in his lap.
The king followed him to the gate, as Starkhandr had caused some commotion.
"Starkhandr! Have I offended you?"
"No, highness. I am just tired. Let the men feast."
"Yes, of course. We will have a toast in your honor."
"I would prefer if you didn't. And king, not to offend you, but you should
act less like a cowardly peasant and more like a monarch, like your father
before you. The Crovan dynasty will quickly end if you show a sign of weakness."
"I... I am not intimidated by you."
"Then why are you shaking?"
"I won't kill you, or hurt any of your subjects. We are merchants first and
foremost, and I stand in debt to your people for being welcoming, unlike the
Picts who think of us as a pack of some sort of overgrown rat, which is
probably only partially accurate. You are in the middle between three great
military powers, and I suggest you act headstrong. You
have norse blood in your veins, and while that means nothing, people around
here see that as something and you should consider that." With those words,
He sat down on a grass hill. He lied down to rest, but got none. he turned his
head, only to see a black figure wearing a silver mask. The mask was faceless,
with eight small holes, four for each eye.
"Who are you?"
"I can't ask the same, can I?" The figure said.
"Are you here to kill me? If so, you will meet the same end as those before you.
Try range next time." He was about to reach for his axe when the figure hold out
"Wait, before you decide to kill me, I need to ask you a question."
"What are you supposed to be?"
"Foreigner, if I am to tell you my name, let us say... Alastar."
"You are not certain?"
"I have many names, all depending on dialect and language. Your name,
for example, would be Starkhandus in Rome, would it not?"
"Don't soil my name in barbarian tongues."
"Sorry if I have offended you, but I am here to ask you for a favor. I have lost
a very dear item of mine and would like to get it back."
"You lost an item and want it back? Why would you ask me for this?"
"Because the place I lost it happens to be a castle, and the Count is under the
odd impression that it is his."
"And I should trust this from a robed faceless figure? I think not."
"Do you even know why I wear this mask? My face was torn off. I can't wear my
regular clothes here, as his spies might find me and torture me again. Please,
I beg you, Starkhandr, you serve just gods, do you not? You will be payed
beforehand and afterwards."
"I do. But what you are asking for is a full-scale assault on a castle,
"I do, but I believe we are at an advantage." Alastar pointed to the
"Right there, straight ahead lies the county. For months the county has
been besieged by an undying fog. Crops have died, the people
starve and bandits roam. To besiege the count now would be perfect, would
"I suppose it would be, but I can't simply rely on my men for this. They are
an inexperienced lot, skilled, but inexperience will be the death of
"No problem, I have a band with about fifty Irish mercenaries ready, kern and
"And the castle defenses?"
"The castle walls are tall, but the gates are rotten and in disrepair.
You would only need a log to break it in." Alastar put a fat purse of gold in
"I would hold the promise. Tomorrow we change course and go to England.
What does this item look like?"
"It is a medallion, a golden medallion with the figure of a bull's head.
I will give you ten times your initial payment."
"Consider it done." Starkhandr lied down again and the figure disappeared into
The next morning, Starkhandr and his men had gathered at the docks, but the
men were unsure of why their journey home was being delayed.
"Listen, yesterday while you were eating yourselves fat I was tasked to bring
you all to England, straight ahead from the docks. Our payment is good, and if
we succeed even greater. I have been promised Irish mercenaries, and they will
arrive shortly." He shouted to them.
"Starkhandr, I was under the impression we were going home." Sven asked him.
"We will once we get this done. We need the gold."
"Of course, but I fear we might be risking too many lives, the ones at home
thought this was a mercantile trip."
"I didn't bring promising fighting lads with me for them to see us selling cod,
I brought them here if an opportunity like this would occur!"
"Yes, yes. Of course."
A number of men in mail armor and the occasional cuirass with a variety of
strange helmets entered the dock, wielding two-handed axes and swords, some
with longbows and javelins on their backs. Behind them stood a company of
men wearing primarily yellow-tinted white robes and only a few with cloth
or leather caps, armed with a variety of simple halberds and spears, some
"We're the Boars of Ulaid, and ye're the norsemen in charge of this siege, no?"
A man from the company came before the others and said, wearing mail armor but
no helmet and a large sword resting on his shoulder. His hair was blood-red,
his huge beard stood out in all directions, and on his head was a short ponytail.
"Are you the leader of the galloglaigh?"
"No, that would be me." Another man said, and a man wearing a steel cuirass and
morion helmet stepped forward, holding a claymore sword in one hand. He was
white-bearded and a curled mustache, and had the looks of a seasoned veteran.
"Good. I suppose you know everything so far then?"
"More than can be said about your men, I see."
"We were supposed to leave for the Norselands, but I got this offer in the
"I see. We were given orders to follow your command, and as you can see, we
are less than prepared for a siege scenario, but I believe you have a plan?"
"Your men will be last into battle, my shield wall will handle their bows and
crossbows, your men will deal with the stragglers once we have taken the walls."
"You seem sure about yourself."
"My men might be an inexperienced lot, but if we focus on the walls firsthand
we should be able to win you enough time to allow you to storm the keep itself."
"Very well. We will discuss further tactics once we get inland, there is a coastal
village we can easily take and use as our camp. I can show you the way, been
"Right." Starkhandr said and walked to his men.
"Everyone, get your gear together! We'll leave for England, a battle before we
return home! And wake the old gothi, we will set sail immediately."
"Aye, let's get on them longboats and set sail fer glory!" The wild-bearded
"Is he supposed to be your lieutenant?" Starkhandr asked the Galloglaigh leader.
"No, but by far the loudest. Don't worry though, his confused insults will
surely drive our enemies into confusion." He said and laughed, Starkhandr sighed
and walked to the longboats.
"I am Cathbad McLeod, leader of the Boars. It will be a pleasure to fight by your
"The same. And the wild-bearded man?"
"Bloodbeard, they call him. He hasn't, probably won't, speak about his own name as
long as he breathes."
"You should be careful, Cathbad, with men who hold secrets."
"As a mercenary? Highly doubt it."
"Those are your words."
They left for the ships, and set sail for England.
Herpus es Derpus
Posted: Jun 12 2012, 10:25 AM
Quilly the White
Group: Old Archivists Society
Member No.: 1
Joined: 26-September 05
I just saw this!
Posted: Jul 8 2012, 08:20 AM
In FBTB Realm
Group: Balladeer on Quest
Member No.: 8
Joined: 9-October 05
Chapter 2: The Ivory
In a small fishing village at the western shore of england, a few fishermen stood at the single pier,
looking out into the distance. A young woman with long brown hair and freckles, dressed in the simple
garb of a male peasant with a pale white longsword with a great crossguard she had in a
makeshift scabbard, ran up to the elders on the pier, curious of what was happening.
"What do you see?"
"A figure in the mist, looks like a sailing ship." One man said.
"I hear oars, many of them." Another said.
The figure came closer and the girl could now clearly see it, but the fishermen began to panic.
"Vikings! It's a viking ship!"
"Another! Two of them!"
"Bandits on land and from sea... This mist brings nothing but the worst." The girl muttered for herself.
They all left the pier, and the peasants quickly organized a militia, but with only pitchforks and
fishing spears, aside from the girl and her sword, holding her hand on the hilt. They all
awaited the norsemen to attack from the pier or the beachside, but as the ships came closer they
saw none of the sailors rising from the ship and prepare for landing, instead all sat still.
"You sure this is a viking ship?" One fisherman said to another.
"Of course you fool! It's a longship no doubt, with a hull like that and a dragon head in front."
"I don't know, could be ghost vikings. Normal vikings would have rose and bitten their shields by now."
The first ship docked the pier, and the norsemen rose, but only to dock their ship proper and take down
the dragon head. The militia become unruly, as the two other ships hit the beach but all men in them
sat waiting for something. As they could only stand their with their polearms at hand, the militia
became unruly and approached the pier.
The footsteps of a single viking's chausses hitting the pier wood could now be heard even by the
women and children hiding behind the men, and all backed as the steps came closer and the man became
clear. Starkhandr, a dark and intimidating figure, now stood at the foot of the pier and looked over
the frightened peasants. They all pointed their spears at him, but he simply sighed and looked
"What is this? Are you expecting a raid? Do you think we're here to kill you all and take your
belongings? What, are you disappointed? We are merchants. We trade goods. We get into fights, but
that's usually when we're provoked. Are you provoking us by chance?
"No, not at all, most noble master." The village elder stepped forward and pleaded.
"I don't like your tone. Be less pleading and treat us like merchants like you're supposed to."
"Yes, yes noble..."
"Yes, sir merchant. What do you have for trade?"
Starkhandr stroked his beard and thought for a while."
"Nothing you could possibly afford. We're going to stay here for a while however, any household willing
to host my men will be paid handsomely, well, in your eyes I bet it is."
Starkhandr's eyes turned to the girl, who still held her hand on her scabbard.
"Missus, I don't recall peasants affording swords of that length around here. Did you scavenge it from
a dead knight, perhaps?"
"It's a family heirloom."
"Oh, really? Let me take a look at it."
"A one-time look? I can give you a one-time demonstration."
"Don't provoke the viking! He will do terrible things!"
"I will not!" Starkhandr shouted with a voice so terrible everyone cowered.
"Again, we are not raiders, we are merchants. The girl is not provoking me, she is playfully suggesting
that if she will show me the sword, she will also kill me, which I admit isn't the wisest thing to say
considering the misunderstanding." Starkhandr desperately tried to remain calm as he explained to the
"You should hand him your sword, Eleine, it's for the best." The elder told her, and she hesitated
at first, but soon gave it to him."
"Good, men, you can get in land now!" Starkhandr shouted to the men in the ships, and they marched
into the village, fully armed. The villagers helped them with their things and the warriors could soon
speak with the peasants about places to live, while others brought out tents from the ships.
"Why are there irish mercenaries with you?" The elder asked Starhandr.
"We are merchants, we need bodyguards." He told him, but the elder was not convinced.
"When can I get my sword back?" Eleine asked Starkhandr.
"Show my to your house, we'll talk there."
She showed him to her small cottage, which was in disrepair. They entered the building and he saw
no other objects that could prove she was of fallen noble family. He unsheathed the blade and
saw that the entire weapon was white.
"Why are you wearing pants anyway? Doesn't seem like an ordinary thing to do."
"Skirts restrict movement."
"Do you know what material this is?" He asked her, changing subject.
"No, but some men here believe it could be whale teeth, possibly."
"That would be an abnormally large whale. I neither believe it could be narwhal tusk.
"This weapon has been made from a single piece of ivory, and I have yet to meet a whale large enough
to have a tooth thick enough to cover in this here crossguard. I can neither see the blade being
blunted or any other marks of being weathered."
"So what do you think it would be then?"
"That is my second question, my first is where you found it."
"I inherited it after my grandfather passed away."
"A girl did?"
"I was an only child."
"And you didn't marry?"
"I did, but my husband died last year to the Scots, he was a soldier."
"Yet you didn't give him your sword?"
"A poor soldier with a sword like this? It would have been confiscated and taken by some lord."
"That was clever of you, uhm, him. Now, I am not the sort that steals things that aren't mine..."
"So you won't take my sword, then?"
"No, I will take it, mind you. It's mine by right. You are a soldier's widow and since you have no
children, you probably need to get yourself a new husband, and potential husbands are impressed by
wealth, not old bone-swords."
"Are you offering money for my family heirloom?"
"Yes. and I expect that you will agree. It seems more feasible, no?"
"Let me show you something." She said and walked out of the building quickly, giving Starkhandr some
difficulty with following.
"Wait, what are you going to show me?"
"Give me the sword first."
"Really? You aren't desperately going to fight me with such a simple trick?"
"I might be a born fool, but more fool than that, I am not." Her words made Starkhandr scratch his head.
"Well, I have guards everywhere, and I really doubt you'd be able to take me on in combat anyway.
He handed her the sword, and she backed from him and took a stance.
"Throw anything at me." Starkhandr picked up a large rock.
"You sure about this, missus?"
"Throw it the hardest you can!" He held the rock above his head and throw it with great force,
but as it flew at her, she dodged it with uncanny skill, and had at the moment moved up to Starkhandr,
and held it to his throat, only to seconds later sheathe it.
"What just happened?"
"This sword, and why I am not going to give it to you no matter the price."
"You are telling me that this sword gives you great skills?"
"I have seen street thieves with similar acrobatics. You are good, but your passtimes doing tricks
isn't going to convince me this sword is magical."
"We'll see about that." She said and walked out into the mist.
"Wait! You can't simply walk away from me like that! I am Starkhandr! A Jarl! I demand you to..."
She had already disappeared into the distance before he could finish his sentence, so he followed her.
"Wait, where are you going?" Asked Sven and Starkhandr stopped.
"Trading, I suppose."
"Well, it doesn't concern me, well, not right now as I have an important question."
"Related to what, exacty?"
"We are moving guards in every direction of the village, but people are getting suspicious. Our men
refuse to give the Irish their posts, and we might be dealing with infights because of this, not to
mention villagers being suspicious over merchants fighting with hired guards over who will be on guard
"I told you we should have brought veterans... Now, we probably should tell them what we're actually
up to, or it will be hard for us to explain why we are making ladders and a battering ram."
"But they may report back to their sovereign."
"The mist is too thick, and even if they would, they would be easy prey for bandits, beasts and the gods
know what out there. They wouldn't stayed in this poverty-strucken pit if they knew a safe way out
of here. Tell them, guards will deal with anyone trying to leave and when we leave, it doesn't matter
"Yes, it will be done."
"Now, if you excuse me, I need to chase some girl, but not of the reasons you might think."
"Uh, yes, of course. I will have to ask you about that later though." Sven smiled and left, and
Starkhandr walked into the mist.
In the meanwhile, Eleine had walked into a group of about fifteen brigands, an obvious conclusion as
they wore a mixture of looted armor and peasant garbs, some wore blacksmith's aprons and other items as
makeshift protection and armed with weapons of varied quality. Among them stood a large man dressed in a
studded leather surcoat over mail and a great helm, wielding a blank iron shield and a bastard sword.
"Good day, lass. What's that you have with you?" said one of the bandits.
"It's my sword."
"And what are you doing with that there sword?"
"Well, depends on who is asking."
"We have swords too, maybe you'd like to polish them?" The bandit said and laughed.
"I only see three of you with actual swords."
"Well, about that..." The bandit said and the group approached her slowly.
At that moment, a exhausted Starkhandr had gotten to her, and some distance away, not seeing the amount
of bandits before her.
"Missus, why the hell did you run away like that?"
"I am about to show you." She said but he could now clearly see the bandits.
"Who is this? Your grandfather?" A bandit asked Eleine.
"That man must be a mercenary." Another told the first.
"No, that looks more like an old man in armor."
"Are you done insulting me?" Starkhandr asked the bandit, who wasn't fazed by his presence.
"Yes." The bandit said and another pulled out a crossbow and shot him in the chest. Starkhandr fell down
on his knees.
"Take the girl, Forlorn can deal with the old one." The bandit said and the tall one walked forward.
As bandits approached Eleine, she pulled out her sword and cut off the hands of two. As the brute
changed his attention to Eleine, Starkhandr rose up, with a bolt still sticking out of his chest,
brought out his axe and attacked the brute, who quickly turned around and deflected the norseman's
strike with his shield, and bashed him with it, causing him to fall off his feet, but quickly rose
up again, swinging his axe wildly at Forlorn.
But as he swung his axe, Forlorn evade each strike by stepping backwards, allowing one bandit to sneak
behind Starkhandr and pin him down to the ground with a spear. Unable to move and having suffered
terrible damage to his aged body, he could do nothing but face down in the mud. He looked up with his
one eye and saw the brute now about to decapitate him, which he faced with a smile. However, as the
sword was about to hit him, the brute's head fell off, rolling out of his helmet as it hit the ground.
Eleine reached out her hand to Starkhandr. Every bandit had now been slain.
"Are you still alive despite all of that?"
"The gods doesn't want me to die, I suppose."
"You took a bolt and a spear, at your age I thought the pain of that would be enough to kill you."
Starkhandr rose up, and pulled out the bolt from his chest.
"Most people don't reach my age. As for you I don't even know where to begin."
"You killed a pack of bandits singlehandedly. Either you are blessed by a god of war or what you say
about the sword is true."
"It's not the first time I kill, really. Last week there was a smaller group of bandits who tried to
take advantage of me as I was out picking berries, about five of them or so."
"Killing doesn't bother you?"
"If they were people, probably yes. But if an outlaw decides to attack humble folk, I can't see them as
anything but monsters."
"You use the term "humble" very loosely I hear."
"And what about you, norseman? Was that the legendary jarl's great fighting prowess?" She said and
looked as if about to laugh.
"I can fight, it's just not one of those days."
"I hope that day will come when you do what you came here to do, merchant."
"You knew about that, I figure you would."
"There is really no other reason why anyone would get here at this time, especially since you could have
only gotten here after going to Vannin first. So, did the Scots hire you to do this?"
"That's none of your business."
"Before it gets dark, well, darker we probably should get back to the village. You will need to attend
those wounds." She said and Starkhandr looked a bit confused, as if forgotten his own gaping wounds.
"Yes, let us go back, I will have to send men here to bury the dead."
"Is that important?"
"What a norseman slays must be buried. That is the law."
"I'm not norse though."
Herpus es Derpus