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This article is Fan Fiction
The contents herein are entirely player made and in no way represent official Birthright lore or history.
The characters and events listed are of an independent nature and are applied for roleplaying purposes only.
Written by Kenneth Gauck. Wiki'd by Andrew Tall, chapter headings added by Andrew Tall for ease of navigation.

[top]Chapter I - an Orphan found

Sir Malcom, Knight of Talinie; Herthbjorn, High Marshal of Stjordvik, and the skald Elgar second to the Archdruid of Stjordvik made way from Hollingholmen to Nybro, the seat of Cuthbeort, Eorl of Hollenvik. They journeyed slowly and visited many villages along the way. In the village of S÷derbek they took warm comfort and hospitality from local villagers. Malcolm and Herthbjorn brought game to table and Elgar sang songs and poems well into the night.
As always, Malcom was up early preparing the horses for the days ride, feeding and grooming them. As he attended his stallion and his companions` geldings, a glint of morning son caught he eye, and he turned to witness the first appearance of Avanalae. He gave up a prayer from his lips to the golden one. He took her catching his attention as an omen that he would learn something important this day. Across the village, Herthbjorn awoke and made way to join Malcom and the horses. On his way he passed some boys playing knallrute in a field under the gaze of the morning sun. Last to rise was Elgar, who had imbibed much and reveled late. Their mounts ready, they men gathered to honor their hosts and set off upon the road. The boys a-knalling began to argue and raised some dust. Bidding the villagers thanks, the men mounted their horses.
Suddenly, from among the boys, a shrill shriek rose up. Malcolm muttered "One of the lads has broke a bone, I think." Then followed a fierce roar. Among the boys was a small but angry bear.
Herthbjorn signaled his fellows dismount. "I'll take care of the bear, you get the boys to safety." He got the bear`s attention with some guttural grunts.
Meanwhile Elgar reminded the boys of Hulgrim (that famous figure of legend) and his courage, and he urged them to remain still. He and Malcolm got hold of the boys and led them away. They told an astonishing tale. The boy Hruthgar had accused the orphan Wulfrik of cheating. A fight broke out between them and when Hruthgar hit Wulfrik, the orphan became the bear before them.
Malcolm called out, "That`s no bear, its a doomed lad." Herthbjorn spoke in soft tones and calmed the bear and restored the boy. The child was more frightened than anything for he new not what had happened.
By now a crowd had gathered as the whole village came to see the commotion. They called out that he was doomed, the orphan was doomed. Perhaps he killed his parents? The skald Elgar threw back his cloak exposing his white shirt embroidered with gold (to remind the crowd he was a druid): "This is false, friends! This boy has the blood of the jarls of Njorldar in his veins." Elgar collected all information known about the orphan Wulfrik before they departed. The trio took the boy to Nybro, resolving to raise him as a warrior, according to his blood.

[top]Chapter II - Setting out for the north

We began at Nybro (listed as Guthrimby in the Stjordvik PS) at the bailey of Cuthbeort, Eorl of Hollenvik. Present were Herthbjorn, High Marshal of Stjordvik, victor of many battles and a skilled archer at home in the forests; Deep-Minded Toralf, practitioner of both the Galdar and Seidhr schools of druidical study, powerful master of nature and able to penetrate the Shadow World; Elgar sweetsong, son of Hjalmar, and keeper of ancient lore; Sir Malcolm Broweleit, second son the Lord of Cunningham in Talinie, and one of the most powerful men on horseback in the Taelshore; Jarnskeggi hothead, tribesmen of the Rjkar, doomed with rage, master of the axe; Wulfrik the orphan whose rare blood ability to become a bear marks him as a direct descendant of the jarls of Njorldar in Hogunmark; and of course Cuthbeort ironarm, earl of Hollenvik, cunning swordsman, and famed for his honor.
The party wanted to make for Njorldar on the R°ykenskappa, the cape of mists. They also wanted to attend the coronation of Runolf Ylvarrik, the new king of Rjuvik, in Viborg. So, they brought along eight huskarlar and planned to buy a small longship in Nalhorske.
The coronation in Viborg was a great event. The feasting was plenty, the assembly quite merry, and it was said that King Runolf gave seventeen rings to his followers and friends that night. Such an event has signaled that a traditional king again rules Rjuvik. Runolf?s coronation also took place on the day of the seven hundred, a day, so the skalds insist, when seven hundred brave Rjurik defeated an army of ten-thousand goblins from the Blood Skull Barony. Part of the story tells us that the seven hundred were young warriors like the one?s so important to the restoration of noble government in Rjuvik. Clearly, Runolf, himself a kind of young, noble exile, has tied the dryten to his throne.
The party continued northward to the Hjarring River, which divides Rjuvik from the realm of the Scarlet Baron. They had to pass through several villages until the found someone willing to part with a boat of sufficient size. They bought a small longship with six oars to a side and a detachable mast for 100 Rjuvik marks (1600 silver coins). As they made their way down the river, several times sharp-eyed Herthbjorn spotted goblin scouts watching their progress. Once, Herthbjorn suspected the goblins were preparing an ambush, but blessed Toralf spoke to the spirit of the river (he cast Control Water) and they sped past the goblins unprepared.
A second time cool Herthbjorn and wild Jarnskeggi were very much on their guard, and they noticed they were approaching a bend in the river. Surprisingly, Elgar knew exactly where they were, because the river is nearly perfectly described in the Saga of Soxolf Fornason. From his description, in verse, of the river, the warriors were sure that a large goblin ambush lay ahead, and suggested that they move to shore and pass around the goblins. Golden headed Toralf spoke to a passing bird who surveyed the goblins and revealed to the druid that a very large force sat on both sides of the river. Instead, Toralf pulled the Shadow World over them like a blanket and they passed by the goblins unseen (Mass Invisibility).
Beyond the Barony of the Bloody Skull lies Gundvirr, where three of five Hoguns dwell. At Snasah÷garna, where the river turns south west, the party left the river. Cuthbeort Ironarm, Toralf, and Jarnskeggi took the boy Wulfrik, the huskarlar, and the boat and made directly for the Aald River. They would wait in Aaldvika for their comrades. Herthbjorn strongbow, Elgar, and Malcolm would purchase horses and make overland for Veikanger. Elgar was on a mission to find information. He had been told when he discovered the boy in S÷derbek that he had been given to a family there to foster by a druid from Gundviir named Orkning Grey-Cloak. The druid had told the family he had seen them in a vision, and brought the boy to them. Elgar suspected Orkning knew Wulfrik?s true heritage.

[top]Chapter III - Hogunmark

Elgar great-word told of ancient glories of Hogunmark. He sang of Wulf the founder who bode in the burg of the Scyldings, leader beloved, and long he ruled in fame with all folk. Of Breyana, who was woman but became man. This way she brought unity among the people. So lived the clansmen in cheer and revelry, a winsome life, till one began to fashion evils, that field of hell. The Sorcerer, this one was called, predecessor of the White Witch.
Great halls our heroes expected, with flagons of ale and men of good nature. Alas, much has changed in recent months as a new force has come upon the royal court. A great city, much like Hollingholmen, Veikanger is the home of Queen Freila. Elgar thought it prudent to visit both the Emerald Spire`s temple and the royal court.
They arrived at the great stave church in Veikanger where they were greeted by several sognbarna, the young boys who work at the temple. Some are there to learn to be druids, others are orphans being raised by the temple, others are just receiving an education. The boys led their visitors to a side building. Inside there were several scribes, one of whom was Vjanik, the Cancellierňd (Chancellor) of the Emerald Spire. His duty is to run the administration of the temples for the High Druid (Thorjak) and High Priestess (Gretta Seligsdotter). Elgar explained that he was seeking a druid known to him as Orkning Grey-Cloak, who he believed had lore that Elgar was seeking. Orkning was well known to Vjanik, as he had a circle not far outside of the city and was one of many druids who would defend the city when Blood Skullers would attack.
Elgar also sought to catch up on news of the druids in these parts, and stumbled across the notion that the druids were "as divided as the court with regard to Queen Freila. Elgar pursued this line, and asked about the divisions in the court. Vjanik, whose descriptions of events lead Elgar to classify him as pro-crown, explained that the Queen favored the Jarvyll clan in a political dispute with the Otryff, that the Queen`s involvement in substantial guild activity had alienated many traditional Hoguns, and that a seer had become very influential with the queen, alienating her old councillors. Elgar recognized the Otryff clan, as their chief was also the traditional Jarl of Njorldar.
Elgar, Herthbjorn, and Malcolm rode out to Orkning`s circle. They dismounted a fair distance from the circle. Malcolm took care of the horses while the others approached the circle respectfully. Elgar and Herthbjorn found Orkning there, in meditation surrounded by birds and animals. The climate of the circle was notably more pleasant than the surrounding wood, evidently it was always late springtime in Orkning`s circle. Orkning took note of the skald and ranger and bid them welcome. Elgar asked about a young boy that Orkning might have fostered in Stjordvik some ten years ago.
Orkning knew the child, and inquired after him. Elgar recounted that his blood ability to transform into a bear had manifested and that Elgar`s party were now fostering the boy and raising him as a warrior. Orkning explained that the current head of the Otryff clan, Hromund, is Wulfrik`s uncle, and that Wulfrik was hidden to protect him from Hromund, who it is believed killed his own brother (Wulfrik`s father) to seize the leadership of the clan. The boy was given to Orkning to hide by the local druid, Svart the white. Orkning thought to hide the boy in a far off realm. Orkning believed that the boy`s manifestation in the presence of Elgar and Herthbjorn was fate, allowing the boy to emerge from hiding and begin his path to reclaim his clan.
Hromund is a dark man, bothered by an ill temperament and quick to anger. Now it is said that his son, Erling, is likewise ill favored and that his treatment of his wife, a daughter of Jarl Audun of the Jarvyll, is causing much conflict in the realm. Still, Orkning adds, it seems to him early for Wulfrik`s fate to be complete. He advises
caution and patience. Time may yet have work to do.
Elgar and Herthbjorn pass on some news of Stjordvik, Elgar relates the event`s of the new King of Rjuvik`s coronation, and they thank Orkning. The return to the horses and inform Malcolm of the situation. They ride to Veikanger.
Meanwhile, mansion-might Cuthbeort, along with Toralf, Jarnskeggi, the boy Wulfrik, and the huskarlar ran into trouble. A large aggressive force of Jankaping warriors found Cuthbeort and party rowing downstream and demanded they beach and identify themselves. Wishing to avoid a conflict over a matter of identity, Cuthbeort beached as requested and identified himself as Cuthbeort Drakkenvir, Jarl of Hollenvik, son of Arkibeald, grandson of Andros, Jarl of Tjarvaald in Thaele.
From the group of warriors stepped Bjark, Jarl of Aaldvaar, a tall and powerful warrior, who was obviously hostile. He demanded to know the intention of Cuthbeort the southerner. Cuthbeort declared they were bound for Aaldvika. Bjark skoffed. He declared to his men that too many days away from the comforts of a roof frightened the southerners. Bjark then declared that Cuthbeort and his party were his captives. Cuthbeort would had fought his way out of this situation, especially after being insulted, but he figured that the boy would probably die in a battle, and agreed to the dishonor of captivity for the life of the boy.
Cuthbeort assumed they were being held for a ransom, and demanded to know its value, but Bjark claimed they were being held as they were obviously mercenaries of the old man of Stornomark (King Alnor). Cuthbeort and his party were now aware that they were captives by mistake. He tried several paths to resolving the matter, but Alnor was not trusting of southerners, not Cuthbeort, not his Oaken Grove druid, and not King Alnor, who might otherwise explain that Cuthbeort was not his captain.
When they arrived back at Bjark`s camp, Cuthbeort offered to swear an oath before Bjark's skald, thereby putting his reputation at stake. The skald knew of Cuthbeort`s reputation for honor and urged his jarl to accept an oath in exchange for their freedom. B jark accepted the council of his skald and so an oath was given in which Cuthbeort declared he was not in service, or promised to take service with Alnor, that he would not betray the location of Bjark`s camp, and that he would be responsible for his men (the party) in this same regard.
Meanwhile, Elgar, Herthbjorn, and Malcolm rode back to Veikanger to size up the court. Elgar was aware of the controversy over Audun`s daughter Saeunn`s treatment among the Otryff. He also knew that the queen`s involvement was bad form on two counts. First, outsiders do not involve themselves in feuds without becoming a party to them. It is said, "It would be dishonorable - not to mention foolish-to interfere in another clan's blood feud." Second, the crown traditionally lets the jarls handle such matters. Elgar wanted to size up the court and gather intelligence on Hromund and the Otryff.
The royal longhouse was a great structure, built on a stone foundation, it climbed two stories and its hall was huge. Therein they found Halder Alvisson, the realm`s foremost skald; Hruthwulf bull-bear, the Chief Steward; and mysterious Njorna, the seer. Elgar and Herthbjorn agreed that Malcolm should interview the seer, as she gave them both some unease. Elgar intended to interview Halder, and Herthbjorn Hruthwulf. The Queen welcomed the party. They provided news of things on the Taelshore. They queen offered to feast her guests and the graciously accepted. Hruthwulf and Herthbjorn went out hunting to find good meat. On their excursion, Herthbjorn, himself the Marshal of Stjordvik, asked the Steward about the wisdom of a Seer so close to the Queen`s ear. Hruthwulf confided that his role was growing more and more ceremonial, as he has less and less influence on the queen. Her character has changed, she is less concerned with the harmony of the realm, she has made Leidolf of the Heimdjor her caretaker when she is not in the capital, a duty Hruthwulf himself used to fulfill.
Herthbjorn inquired as to how the queen has ignored the harmony of the realm. Hruthwulf explained how Queen Freila used to give the jarls much room to rule independently. Since the arrival of Njorna, the Queen has been more heavy handed, interfering in the jarl`s affairs, and most recently, getting involved in the feud between Jarvyll and Otryff. She and her clan have long been rivals of the Otryff, but as Queen she did not give them any reason to anger, except of late. She hoped to woo Jarvyll into alliance with Yngvi. Herthbjorn asked about Jarl Hromund, and Hruthwulf acknowledged he was a quick to anger, but slandered him not. Hruthwulf worried that all of the divisions of the realm were rising to the fore, as the Queen was no longer uniting the realm, but actually dividing it.

[top]Chapter IV - The Queen's court

We now return to gold-bright hall, where lovely Freila, Queen of the Hoguns had retired to her private quarters. And so by the fire sat Njorna, dark and mysterious, staring into the fire as if it were speaking to her. Malcolm and made pleasant talk. A noble knight skilled in courtly charm, he hoped to get a sense of her. Most of what she had to say was confusing, some of it off-putting. Behind them, beyond the tall pillars say two skalds, Halder and Elgar. They exchanged the news of highlands and lowlands. Malcolm spoke of many things, but worked his words around to the Jarl of Njorldar, then asked casually, "Do you know him?"
"Who would want to know such a man, he killed his brother." She was most matter of fact.
Malcolm drew back slightly at the news. "Really? How do you know?"
"I have seen it in a vision. His end will be justice, for his nephew stalks him." Her description lacked emotion, as though she was discussing the most routine matters.
Malcolm found it disconcerting. "If you know all of this, why not arrest Hromund for the murder and put him to trial?"
"She looked Malcom coldly in the eye and replied, "The visions of the mad are not
suitable evidence in the courts."
Halder was most pleased to hear all of the news of the Taelshore and freely exchanged information with Elgar, a professional courtesy. They spoke in a complex form based on rhymes, allusions, and poetic devices. Halder spoke of the troubles in the realm. The intrigues of the White Witch, the factions of the clans, the murderous plots on the queen, the controversy over the seer, the scandal of the Queen?s extensive guilds. Between the exposure of the Queen?s guilds, her reliance on the seer, and her involvement in the feud against Otryff, the Queen has no sympathy to or from the people, all of her former good will is gone like so much smoke upon the R°ykenskappa. The White Witch always moves to exploit such weak thrones.
Elgar revealed to Halder that they had Wulfrik in their care. He told the story of their discovery and how they had come to Hogunmark.
"Why do you do this?" Halder asked, trying to assess the motives of Elgar.
"The boy deserves his birthright, and his kin are not his advocates in this matter. The boy?s rights will be unjustly ignored if no one stands for his cause. We come here and find the Queen cannot right this matter. She has no standing with the clansmen of Otryff. If the Queen cannot provide justice for the boy, it falls to us."
"An honorable cause, and one for the singing. Hromund has his own Skald, so you will not find it easy to persuade the Otryff of the boy?s rights. You have an ally in the druid Svart the white. He was a good friend of the former jarl, and probably had some hand in his preservation."
"So it came to pass. He stole the boy here where another conveyed him to Stjordvik."
Shortly thereafter the queen returned with her sister and several ladies of the court. "Worthy and honorable skalds, sing us a merry tune and raise our spirits." Halder and Elgar sang several songs together until Hruthwulf and Herthbjorn returned with a boar. As Steward, Hruthwulf excused himself and saw to the preparation of the meal. Herthbjorn entertained the ladies with several riddles then Malcolm told them of the time he jousted with Dadric Boeruine in front of castle Seaharrow. It was as much a curiosity as it was an entertaining tale. All dined well on hearty boar. Elgar, Malcolm, and Herthbjorn compared notes and decided they were truly on their own, with the possible exception of Svart the druid. They rested the night in Veikanger before heading off to Aaldvika in the morning.

[top]Chapter V - Advancing Wulfrik's claim

The party re-united in Aaldvika, famed town of the north. There they inquired as to the location of the Otryff camp. Getting useful directions from a trader in pelts, they set off to Njorldar. Along the coast the plyed the cold waters of the R°ykenskappa. On the second day they spied a fire on the beach tended by a lone man. When the stranger was close enough he waved and signaled to the boats and our heroes. Always wary Cuthbeort was double wary given his last encounter. They beached their boats and greeted the stranger.
He identified himself as Svart Osmundsson. Elgar asked him if he was known as the white, and Svart confirmed that, indeed, he was. Svart had foreseen the arrival of these boats in a sheet of ice while ice fishing on a lake three days ago. He looked at Wulfrik and inquired if this was the boy he had sent to be fostered in Stjordvik so many years ago. When the old druid learned it was, he took heart in his action then, for it had come to pass that he preserved the true jarl. Svart warned the Southerners that Hromund would reject the boy and their claims. His followers were many and the people content with his rule. Elgar asked about the feud, and Svart answered that the people embraced the feud so were not inclined to judge Hromund or his son harshly for their actions.
Inland they walked, leaving three carls to tend the fire and watch the boats. They had to camp on the frozen ground, so they turned south a bit and crossed into the woods. The following day they found the permanent winter camp of the Otryff. Their dwellings were dug into the earth and covered with earth to insulate them. Smoke emerged from a number of dwellings as the inhabitants warmed themselves by fire. They came upon the great hall were many of the clan were gathered. The men mended their gear and the women tended several kettles. The druid called for the clan to assemble. So preparations were made for the gathering of the athing of Otryff that night before they supped.
The whole clan assembled and the Elgar Honeytounge stood to address them. He spoke of the ancient lineage of the Jarls of Njorldar, of their unique blood ability of bear transformation, gained at ancient struggle at Deismaar. So, he recited their decent unto Wulfrik, and then presented the boy. Some in the gathering were shocked, others hooted rejection. Many were obviously dubious that this boy was Wulfrik . Elgar spoke, telling the story of their discovery of the boy. He made no mention of Svart?s role.
Then spoke Rjannka with golden hair, Hromund?s skald. She too told tales of ancient lore and of the blood history of the jarls. She spoke of the shadow world beings who stole the infant Wulfrik when he was orphaned by the death of his father to a sudden illness. The baby had been replaced by a changeling and so they knew the baby was now among the Seelie court as a prisoner. Svart spoke of visions and proposed divination to settle the boy?s identity and birthright. Hromund spoke then and accused Svart of being foolishly taken in by Southerners bent on placing their own jarl in Njorldar so that they could control the place for their own purposes. He claimed that Wulfrik was dead or in the shadow, and that these pretender was false. He attacked the motives of the boy?s protectors and urged his people to reject their claims.
After the meeting the people supped on stew and discussed the matter deep into the night. Finally they settled to resolve the matter the following day and everyone turned in for the night. Toralf spoke with a pair of owls outside the great hall and recruited their service to watch over them during the night. They hunted mice while keeping watch. The next morning, Malcom woke early and began to prepare breakfast. One by one the party awoke and Wulfrik asked when he would be able to speak to the people in his own right. Cuthbeort assured him that he would do so today. The people of the clan gathered, but Svart was yet missing. His apprentice, Bjorell came to Toralf with great distress. His master had been poisoned. Toralf followed young Bjorell to the dead body of Svart. He spoke a ritual and detected a foul poison on his blanket. No one was safe. Toralf returned and advised his comrades of Svart?s fate. Toralf addressed the athing and informed them that Svart was killed to prevent Wulfrik from being invested with his birthright. He called for Hromund to step aside and for the assembly to proclaim Wulfrik their jarl. He reminded the assembly of Elgar?s evidence from the previous night and offered any divination they would need to confirm the boy?s identity.
Hromund accused the strangers of killing their druid so that no one in the clan would be able to recognize the magical treachery of the foreign druid. He called to Bjorell, asking him if he was able to tell what spells and rituals Toralf might perform. Intimidated, Bjorell pleaded that his training was not complete and that he could not know for sure what advanced magic the foreigner might use to deceive the clan. A few members of the clan called for summoning a new druid of known skill to investigate the boy and his bloodline. Hromund advised the clan that this was unnecessary for the boy was plainly a fraud. He called a vote and the clan rejected the boy. Cuthbeort stood to address the assembly and accused them of a grave injustice. They had sanctioned one and perhaps two murders, alluding to the mysterious illness suffered by Wulfrik?s father. He told them that such a dishonor was a shame upon the clan. With that he signaled to his party and they stood and left the great hall.
They loitered outside the camp while Toralf assured himself that the spirit of Svart was making the journey to Erik?s hall. Then they trekked back to their boats, and rowed north along the R°ykenskappa. So close they were to Thaele that Cuthbeort wanted to pay a visit to his grandfather, Jarl Andros. There they were welcomed and a received a much warmer reception. The small colony feasted the visitors. Old Andros was heard to say that night that Hromund would rue the day he ever needed the hospitality of Tjarvaald. Andros proclaimed young Wulfrik jarl in his eyes and scoffed at Hromund as a usurper not to be protected by the law. Cuthbeort and Toralf agreed that the time to take the jarlship by force was still distant while Wulfrik was a boy. The whole party swore to return when Wulfrik was ready to seize what was his by birthright.

[top]Chapter VI - The Battle of Rogenby

See now famed archer, Herthbjorn sharp-eye, his bow cocked to his ear and the mighty yew straining to bring this bee to sting its mark most grievously. When he releases the bow, how the arrow flies and finds its mark. A man in a dark cloak falls, his spirit now on its way to its final home. The dryten, Wulfrik moves forward under the cover of Herthbjorn's careful aim. He looks forward and to his right down the dark path between the houses of Rogenby. As he moves forward, a hidden thug lunges forward from behind a door, but Wulfrik dodges the man's shortspear and stabs him in the chest with his sword.
Alert, Wulfrim spots an archer ahead and takes cover. He signals to Herthbjorn, but it is too late. An arrow flies and pierces the wooden wall behind which Wulfrik took cover. The tip drove its way deep into Wulfrim's chest and the young man fall back and clutched his chest. There his hand filled with his own blood. Herthbjorn did not see the archer, but heard the shot and aimed based on the sound alone. "By Erik" he whispered as he released the arrow. The noise of a man falling from his perch told Herthbjorn that his arrow had found its mark. Another noise soon took the attention of the woodsman, that of footfalls approaching.
Herthbjorn rolled into position and cocked his bow against the coming figure. Like a ton of branches falling on him, Herthbjorn recognized the running man. It was Ketil, the mighty warrior in service of Arnljot the guilder, himself in the service of the White Witch. It was too late, Arnljot was now established in Rogenby, and so the many thugs they fought off tonight would be replaced by new recruits of misguided rogues. The ranger let fly his arrow, but its impact did little to slow the malevolent Ketil. Herthbjorn's powerful legs kipped him into a kneeling position and he let fly with many arrows in rapid succession, but Ketil took little notice of them.
Herthbjorn slid off the roof and pulled his sword, Wound-maker, down with him. He landed with a thud and his sword with clatter. Dogs nearby began barking. Ketil moved up to Wulfrik's position and raised his spiked mace to land a death blow against the young man. Herthbjorn threw his large hunting knife and struck Ketil solidly in the back, throwing his aim off as the pain gripped him. Still the heavy mace crushed Wulfrik's arm and sent the boy into shock. His compextion drew white as snow and his breathing suddenly shallow. Swift-footed Herthbjorn was now upon the foul Ketil and the black solider of the White Witch was now forced to face his main threat and leave the boy to his fate. Herthbjorn was absolutely aggressive making cut after cut and keeping Ketil on the defensive. When the dark warrior knew he was outmatched, he threw a shiny black coil at the young Wulfrik. When the coil struck the ground, it became a deadly viper. It was nothing for Herthbjorn to strike the snake dead, but in the meantime, Ketil was gone, escaped.
Herthbjorn quickly tended to Wulfrik. He used his archer's bracers to bind the wounded arm of Wulfrik and hold his arm in place like a splint. He tore his sleeve off his tunic and split it, tying it off and wrapping it around Wulfrik's chest. He then carried the young man to the temple. A small wooden stave church served the town of Rogenby and its druid responded to Herthbjorn approaching from the sounds of commotion with an injured companion in his arms. Davyn the Golden, the druid, asked what had happened.
"Thugs, perhaps bandits attacked us."
"It is not wise to be out after dark. Your friend will need considerable healing."
"I can pay whatever you require."
"Rich men out after dark are doubly to be counselled against travel at night."
The druid cast what healing he could and tended to him while word was sent for more powerful healers in the neighborhood. By morning, Alchfrith the elder arrived and was able to get Wulfric back on the road to recovery. "The village of Rogenby has saved you, young man, you must now save the village."
Wulfrik asked, "What danger haunts the people here that I can remedy?"
"None that I am aware of, but it is your destiny."
When the two were alone, Wulfrik asked Herthbjorn if they might have been referring to the White Witch, but the ranger could not answer.
Wulfrik took several days of resting to regain his strength, though he was still wounded and would have to avoid combat. When Wulfrik and Herthbjorn returned to the village of Arvaby, they found a messenger waiting for them that revealed a large force of Blood Skull raiders making way for Hjorvaal. This was dire news for Herthbjorn who would have to take command of the armies of Stjordvik and repel the attackers. He made for Ylvarrik Castle and there took word of what preperations were already underway. He sent out a great number of messengers in every direction to send word of what forces were being sent and when they might be expected.

[top]Chapter VII - Rogenby

Behold Ylvarrik Castle where stone masons have erected a castle of most modern design with tall towers and great curtain walls, built upon a hill, where no army dares approach. See beyond the walls where tents are erected, men work to repair armor and weapons, where horses graze and are tended too by husbands. Look now inside the tall tower in the great room where Runolf, Eorl of Arvaald in Stjordvik, acts as host to the growing army and its commander, Herthbjorn Orogsbane. Herthbjorn and Runolf have a long and complicated history. Herthbjorn has always been a devoted friend and follower of the old king, Varri, now in his final years.
Runolf's father, Olfjor, was a great thorn in the side of old Varri and opposed him on many points. Herthbjorn and Runolf were together at Sulitjelma, Andselvik, and Hoting's Pass. There they fought side by side against the enemies of the realm. So too did they fight together to recover the ancient crown of Stjordvik, long thought lost, and able to alert the king of Stjordvik when others would scry him. Was it not the lovely AstrÝ­r who won the hearts of both Herthbjorn and Runolf, and put them to arms against each other? Since the passing of Olfjor, Runolf made peace with Varri through the efforts of Herthbjorn. Today they stand side by side examining reports from scouts about the location and strength of the Blood Skull raiders.
The scene is set and now comes a rider with most desperate news. The army had turned south and was making now directly for Ylvarrik Castle and the small army assembling there. Further news revealed that a group had broken off from the main body and was heading east toward ┼benhavn, the eorl's seat in Udvika. Herthbjorn paused a moment, for on the road to ┼benhavn lay the tiny settlement of Rogenby, where he and Wulfrik had so recently been. Now the village lay in grave danger.
At the village of Arvaby, where Wulfrik recovered his full health, word arrived of the coming of the Blood Skullers. Rumors told of a company of goblin archers and wolfriders bearing down the road to ┼benhavn. Instantly Wulfrik new his destiny, and gathered his gear and made for Rogenby where he would stand with the villagers against the goblins. He sent a messenger to Ylvarrik Castle to advise the Marshal of Stjordvik where he would be.
When the message arrived, it was given into the ears of Elgar Cheersong, singer of tales and one to make men fight in battle. Cuthbeort, Eorl of Hollenvik, and Malcolm, horseman of fame, were with Elgar when the word came to him. To Herthbjorn they made haste, for this news was curious to them. In the great hall they were offered meat and beer, and were welcomed by Herthbjorn. Elgar told of the messenger and reported his news.
"Why then does the boy go hence?"
"A healer there did much good for the boy after a grave wound and proposed a prophesy that he would save the town. I think he believes it his destiny to fight there now, for the enemy hath a detachment sent down the road to ┼benhavn."
Malcolm leaned back on his heels, "Say thee this town fetched a healer and now the lad acts as its champion? Such nobility is an inspiration to any who value honor!"
The bold skald proclaimed, "I must too away to Rogenby and record the deeds of this hero."
Herthbjorn protested, "I need you to sing songs to stiffen the resolve of my soldiers."
"Oh puissant captain, you have singers here enough to make every man a battlerager. I must join him and sing his men to bravery and record the deeds of this prince of the R°ykenskappa."
"Go then, but do me this favor, and bind yourself to it."
Elgar bowed deeply, and replied, "I am your servant in this."
"Make sure the boy is not killed."
"I shall look after him"
Herthbjorn, Cuthbeort, and Malcolm returned to the tables laid out with maps, messages, and meat to keep men strong. Runolf Ylvarrik reported the latest news of the enemy strength and positions. Malcolm noted the strength of the forces moving west, and asked what forces might meet them.
"None can be spared to chase them." Herthbjorn declared.
"What of the Frontier Thunderers? They are a mighty band."
"They are already here." Runolf nodded solemnly.
"Then the road is open through ┼benhavn!" Malcolm's jaw dropped.
"We must defeat this main force, and the detachment will flee back to the baron's protection."
"Indeed, but what of Rogeby, where Wulfrik will stand?"
"Wulfrik stands alone."
"This cannot be, I must away too and stand with him."
Herthbjorn pleaded, "Cuthbeort, old friend, do not say that you will desert me as well!"
"No, you old woodsman, you will need someone to look after you too, and I will stay at your side." With that the eorls bid Malcolm swift victories and he them. But as he departed, Cuthbeort called to him, "How many such as you would it take to stop these wolfriders?"
"A dozen, good earl."
Cuthbeort took off his belt of sovereignty and held it high, "get thee thy dozen knights and carry them back again." Cuthbeort was not a man to hear a thing and forget it, and he recalled how Elgar had once told Malcolm that his bloodline could travel across water to any destination in ancient legend. His great chain belt had on it a blue sapphire greater than an inch in size, a sielshegh gem, which empowered the bloodline with great strength. Both Cuthbeort and Malcom had the blood of Masela. "And do me this favor as well, bring it back to me in your own arms, old friend."
"I shall not fail," Malcolm almost wept as he embraced Cuthbeort. He put the belt on and made for his swift horse, Stormlord. He rode hard for the river Lagan which was just a few miles away and flowed into the river Northbyrn which then flowed into the Tael Firth. Once he reached the water he could make his way to the Colonsay Strait and up the river Strathcanaird to the fortress Fionnlagh, near his family's ancestral estates.
When he reached the water he grasped the emperor's stone and willed himself across the sea as his ancestors had been said to do. As Elgar had described, the power lay dormant in his blood. Suddenly he found himself in old, familiar territory. He clamored up the paved road toward Fionnlagh where proud defenders of Freestead kept watch against Thurazor. Malcolm told the story of the boy Wulfrik and his planned defence of the village of Rogenby and asked for volunteers to aid him.
At Rogeby itself, Wulfrik prayed with the residents to beloved Erik and sought strength to hold their little town against so fierce and bold an opponent. Heartened by their belief that Erik would aid them, they set out building a barricade around the town to prevent the wolfriders from charging into the town as well as a barrier to hide from the arrows of the archers. Most Rjurik defenders had some skill with the bow, though few could boast much skill with other weapons, except maybe the spear. A few of the villagers had served in the militia and could wield a spear with some skill, but all depended on the bow for success in the hunt. Wulfrik looked out upon his defenders and considered the force bearing down on him. No one could doubt their odds were grim, but fate called him, and he could not avoid his destiny.

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