[top]Introduction to Wjulf's Saga

Like other Rjurik domains, Hogunmark entrusts the chronicling of its history to oral historians?its skalds. Hundreds of tales compose Hogunmark?s full history?far too many to set down in the pages of a single book. But one series of stories forms the core of Hogunmark?s history: Wjulf?s Saga, named for the domain?s first ruler who foresaw many of the events that have since come to pass. Written down here for the first time, Wjulf?s Saga is told every year on Midwinter Night by the skald Halder Alvisson. Oral historians conventionally mark time from major local events: in the twenty-seventh year of the Clan Wars, or in the eighth year of Breyana?s reign. For the sake of non-Rjurik readers, calendar years in Haelyn?s Count (which takes as its starting point the Battle of Mount Deismaar) appear in parentheses for reference.

[top]Tale of the seven prophecies

Our ancestors came to this land, Cerilia, with the great evil of the Shadow in pursuit. Fleeing by boat from Aduria, they did not drop anchor until they reached the northern shores of the Tael Firth. There they lived until the Battle of Mount Deismaar, in which the ancient god Reynir sacrificed himself to save his Rjuven children, and his champion Erik ascended to godhood. Our ancestors fought bravely at Deismaar and brought much honor to their clans. But these deeds are matter for other stories. In the years following the great battle, the Anuirean man Roele sought to build an empire in the south. Roele?s ambition knew no bounds, and soon his eye turned northward. His soft soldiers, dependent on their metal armors, were no match for our Rjurik warriors. But sadly, his soft words conquered many Rjurik minds.
Thus it came to pass that the Taelshore domains freely joined the Anuirean Empire a mere quarter-century after winning their independence from the evil of Azrai. Some Rjurik, however, refused to bow to Anuirean domination. Twelve clans answered the call of freedom and traveled north to the unexplored territory beyond the Aald and Hjarring rivers. They departed settlements throughout the Taelshore region over a period of several years. The Rolulf and Gautrakka clans departed Jankaping for the lure of the frontier; the Jarvyll, Trygvaar, and Kjarr clans left Halskapa; the Heimdjor and Aegilsgaard clans migrated from Svinik; the Otryff clan fled Rjuvik; the Jarnkasspel clan left Stjordvik; and the Hjarni, Yngvi, and Halskorrik clans departed Hjalsone, the domain now called Dhoesone.
The clans lived as independent entities in the vast highland frontier, having little contact with each other. Each clan had its own leader, its own laws, and its own ways of life. None settled in any particular area, prefering to consider the entire territory its home. Our ancestors, however, were not the only creatures who lived on the frontier. The clans soon found themselves plagued by orogs and goblins to the south, elves to the east, and trolls, ogres, and fhoimorien giants throughout the territory. Individually, the clans could not survive the repeated attacks of these groups ? but together, they could. One man rose to the challenge of uniting the twelve disparate clans. Wjulf, jarl of the Yngvi clan, is said to have had the doom of true fate. A hero of Deismaar, he survived both that great battle and the Anuirean War of Empire to lead his clan to the freedom of the frontier lands. But Erik had one last charge for him. One night, Wjulf experienced a dream in which a great serpent attacked twelve wolves, one at a time, and slaughtered all of them. The following night he again dreamed of the serpent attacking the wolves ? but this time the wolves fought as a pack and defeated the serpent. When Wjulf awoke, he recognized the wolves (Reynir?s totem animal) as the Rjurik clans and the serpent (Azrai?s totem) as various threats to the clans? survival. He immediately set out to meet with the jarls of each clan, urging a united front against those who would drive Erik?s faithful from the land. The jarls, reluctant to relinquish their sovereignty, agreed to a loose confederation for the purpose of mutual defense. Respecting Wjulf?s renowned military prowess and the honor he had brought to his clan at Deismaar, they elected him their king ? with the understanding that each jarl would retain a significant amount of autonomy and rule his own clan. The jarls would convene in a council once a year in a grove north of the Hjarring River. Thus, 34 years after Erik?s ascension (34 HC), Hogunmark was founded. Under King Wjulf?s command, our ancestors drove back the orog threat and forced the elves to retreat. The king led many of these attacks personally, brandishing the sword Shadowstrike that had served him so well at Deismaar.
Upon Wjulf?s death (53 HC), Hogunmark stood as the largest Rjurik domain, extending from Roykenskapa in the north to the Hjarring River in the south, and from the Aald River in the west up to the Bjark River in the east, and including the tundra regions as far east as the Sidhebyrn River. On his deathbed, King Wjulf experienced many strange dreams. In his final hour, he gathered his kinsmen around him. He told them that Erik had shown him the future and whispered these words in his ear:
''The land will choose the man who is not;
''Twelve shall become two.
''The wolves will fight among themselves and slay the weakest of the pack.
''The land shall multiply;
''The river divide.
''A bitter foe turns friend.
''And one emerges from chaos whose light chases away the shadows.
These words became known as Wjulf?s Seven Prophecies.

[top]Breyana?s tale

The death of King Wjulf sparked an argument over the fate of Hogunmark. With the orog and elven threats subdued, many jarls sought to dissolve what they considered a purely military alliance. Others argued for continuing the confederation by electing a jarl as the new king. No one outside the Yngvi clan considered passing the reign to Wjulf?s only child ? a daughter. Eventually, those in favor of electing a new king persuaded the rest to hold a Jarls Council to decide a worthy successor; if none could be agreed upon, the alliance would then dissolve.
The twelve jarls proposed to meet in the grove on Midsummer Day. The Yngvi clan, it was assumed, would chose a new jarl from among its finest male warriors before the council convened. But the Yngvi clan had already accepted Wjulf?s daughter, Breyana, as its new jarl. Such great respect did the clan hold for Wjulf that all hoped his daughter embodied her father?s noble spirit and keen intellect. They knew, too, that she had inherited some of the mysterious abilities that had come upon her father and others who witnessed the gods' death at Deismaar. They did not understand these abilities but neither did they fear them, for they believed the powers to be a sign of the gods? favor, and called them godsgifts. Breyana?s kinsmen advised her to disguise herself as a man so that the other jarls at the council would listen to her words. They gave her men?s clothes and taught her to move and speak as men do. Breyana concentrated so hard on her lessons that she invoked a godsgift none had seen before: Her appearance actually altered to better resemble that of a man. Breyana practiced using this ability until she could bring it on at will, then set out for the council. The jarls arrived at the meeting place with their retinues; the twelve then prepared to move into the grove for private discussion. Traditionally, the king would have led them, but in his absence, the jarls approached as a group. When they attempted to enter the grove, however, they could not ? some unseen force opposed them. The chiefs then tried to enter the grove one at a time. Eleven jarls failed. The last, the new jarl of the Yngvi clan, passed through without trouble. The others were then permitted entry.
The land wishes for the Yngvi jarl to rule, they said. You look familiar to us. To whom do we swear loyalty?
At that moment, Breyana revealed her true appearance to the other jarls.
I am Breyana, Wjulf?s daughter and jarl of the Yngvi clan.
The other jarls gasped in amazement but then swore fealty to her, for Wjulf?s first prophecy had been fulfilled.
Years later, in the eighth year of Breyana?s reign (61 HC), the land experienced a terrible winter. The cold weather set in much earlier than expected and was harsher than any our ancestors had ever experienced. Food was scarce and the wolves were both fierce and bold. Many Hoguns died because their nomadic ways had not allowed them time to adequately prepare for the bitter season that lay ahead. During those frigid months, Queen Breyana spent much time in thought and prayer to Erik. The following spring, she announced that her people would never again suffer such heavy casualties when nature chose to set her own calendar. With the support of several jarls, the queen founded two permanent settlements. The first lay near the grove where the jarls held their annual council; this she named Veikanger and established as Hogunmark?s capital. The other, at the head of the Aald River, she named Aaldvika. She invited members of all of Hogunmark?s clans to populate both settlements, hoping that the fledgling communities would gain strength from diversity. The queen asked her own clan, Yngvi, to rule Aaldvika and its environs; she claimed for herself and her descendents rulership of Veikanger and its surrounding lands. Three clans ? Jarvyll, Heimdjor, and Hjarni ? agreed to settle in the two villages. The remaining eight clans chose to honor the old ways. They did not wish to give up their nomadic lifestyles for the soft life of the cities. Thus it happened that Hogunmark became a domain of two peoples: those who settled in towns and those who roamed the land. Thus, Wjulf?s second prophecy was fulfilled.
Here the saga breaks off for a period of several centuries. Although Halder Alvisson knows many tales that took place during this time, they are stories of individual heroism, not of domain changing incidents, and they do not fulfill any of Wjulf?s prophecies. During this period, the nomadic clans lived much as they always had; the settled clans, meanwhile, retained many of their ways but adjusted to the permanence of village life. In all, it was a relatively peaceful time, punctuated by periodic raids and battles with orogs, elves, and other local enemies, as well as the occasional clan feud. The issues of empire which consumed the attention of the southern Rjurik realms were of little import to frontier Hogunmark and its independent people.

[top]The clan wars tale

When King Thorvald died without an heir (681 HC), his nephew Bjarni, son of Thorvald?s brother Soren, asserted a claim to the throne. Most of the jarls accepted Bjarni?s bid, but the Trygvaar clan rejected him.
Wjulf?s descendents have served us well, the Trygvaar said, ''but it is time for a new clan to lead Hogunmark, one that better
remembers the old ways. The Yngvi and other settled clans have become soft. Hogunmark requires a true Rjurik to guide her.''
Bjarni and the Yngvi took great insult in these words.
You slight our honor to advance your own cause, they said. It is you who forgets the noble ways of our ancestors.
Soon war broke out between the two clans. The Yngvi called on the rest of the clans for aid against the treasonous Trygvaar, claiming that the upstarts threatened to destroy the domain. Meanwhile, the Trygvaar sought alliances with the other nomadic clans, saying that the settled clans would divide the land of Hogunmark among themselves. Most of the nomadic clans sided with the Trygvaar except for the Kjarr, who remained loyal to Wjulf?s descendents. For 26 years, civil war shook Hogunmark. Many great warriors died, including Bjarni and his sons. The Kjarr clan, which had no permanent fortifications, was preyed upon as a traitor by all the other nomadic clans and completely destroyed. The Ygnvi and Trygvaar clans also suffered many deaths. In the twenty-seventh year of the Clan Wars (708 HC), the Trygvaar himself was killed in a raid. His son, Valthjor, agreed to a Jarls Council to negotiate peace. There, it was decided that each of the remaining eleven clans would be offered a province within Hogunmark to rule as its own. Kings and queens, to whom the jarls would pay vassalage, would be chosen from among the jarls of the settled clans; they would control holdings of office and rule any unclaimed provinces. Clans that chose to remain nomadic would be sovereign unto themselves, but allowed to freely move across province borders. Jarls of nomadic clans could attend the Jarls Council, but would not be given a vote.
The Trygvaar, Gautrakka, Aegilsgaard, Jarnkasspel, and Halskorrik clans remained nomadic. The Yngvi, Jarvyll, Heimdjor, and Hjarni clans, already settled, chose to rule provinces. The Otryff and Rolulf clans, which until this time had held fast to their nomadic ways, also chose to settle and rule provinces lest they lose a voice in Hogunmark?s government. The Jarls Council chose Arildnar, jarl of the Jarvyll clan, as king. And so King Wjulf?s third and fourth prophecies came true, for the clans slew one of their own and Hogunmark became a land of many provinces.

[top]The Sorcerer?s tale

The year the Anuirean Empire fell (973 HC), a stranger appeared in northeastern Hogunmark. It was at first said that this Anuirean man journeyed to the Northlands seeking peace from the chaos and civil wars of the broken empire. But he soon revealed his true purpose.
No one ever learned the stranger?s real name. He became known simply as the Sorcerer, for he used wizardry toward his own evil ends. The Sorcerer sought to create an empire of his own by conquering lands already ruled by others. In the wilds of Folda Fjord, the Sorcerer created a stronghold which no army ? human or elven ? could breach. From there he made war on Hogunmark and Lluabraight, hoping to carve a domain of his own between them. Calling upon the forces of evil, he manipulated undead legions and other unspeakable horrors into doing his bidding. The Hogun provinces of Pitea, Nordcapp, and Boden fell one by one under his domination, for no permanent settlements existed to help hold them, and even the stoutest warriors recoiled in fear at the sight of the Sorcerer?s servants. These four Hogunmark provinces thus became known as the Sorcerer?s Domain. Over the centuries, they came to be held by many regents, but no one can say when the rule of one ended and that of the next began. Each ruler was a wizard, and each claimed the name the Sorcerer during his reign. Hogunmark even lost one of its clans to the Sorcerer?s Domain. The captured provinces were the traditional roaming grounds of the Trygvaar. Having always felt a stronger tie to the land than to the political power that ruled it, the clan elected to live under the Sorcerer?s gaze rather than find new hunting grounds. About thirty summers after establishing his domain, the Sorcerer turned his eye south toward Lluabraight?s western forests. The elves, themselves wielders of wizardly magic, posed a greater challenge to the Sorcerer?s undead legions and other minions than the small nomadic Hogunmark clans. The war lasted for centuries, with neither side willing to concede. The Sorcerer hired many mercenaries to supplement his magical legions, and finally managed to overcome the elves by sheer numbers. By the time King Garet ruled Hogunmark (1249 to 1271 HC), Lluabraight had lost some of its outlying lands ? the provinces now called Mandal and Vejle. The elf realm retained Oulu and the land to the south of these provinces, however ? with the unwelcome help of the Jarnkasspel clan. That story is related in Kelden?s Tale. In the following two centuries, Hogunmark continued to slowly lose ground to the Sorcerer as his mercenary armies conquered Rovan, southern Solung Bank, and Torne. Many of the Sorcerer?s hired swords became permanent residents of the Sorcerer?s Domain, for its ruler paid them well. A few became trusted lieutenants ? called jarls, after local custom ? to whom the Sorcerer delegated the administration of his realm while he conducted magical research.
This trust eventually proved his undoing. Forty-six winters ago (1478 HC), the Sorcerer?s most trusted jarl took advantage of his master?s distraction to plot his overthrow. The jarl, Gunnar, succeeded. But he did not realize that an observant and power-hungry student watched and learned from his every move. Sixteen years later, Gunnar?s niece ascended to the throne after the jarl?s untimely death. This fearsome ice queen, priestess of an evil goddess, preaches expansion at all costs. Hogunmark has lost three more of its eastern provinces ? and many of its finest warriors ? to the troops of this White Witch. The awnshegh excels at stirring the Blood Skull orogs into aggression against Hogunmark?s southern provinces, then using the distraction to attack the eastern provinces. Despite the military leadership of Queen Freila and the courageous fighting of the clans, the Realm of the White Witch now counts northern Solung Bank, Soroya, and Kandalask among its provinces. (The Witch also renewed hostilities with Lluabraight, conquering Oulu, Innherad, Halten, and Bjornoya.) King Wjulf?s fifth prophecy has come true: The Bjark River now divides Hogunmark from its aggressive neighbor.

[top]Kelden?s tale

During the reign of King Brynjolf (1271 to 1292 HC), Lluabraight still shared a border with Hogunmark but was quickly losing ground to the Sorcerer. In the sixth winter of Brynjolf?s rule, the elves found themselves once again struggling to hold their northwestern territory, the province called Oulu. Kelden, jarl of the Jarnkasspel, happened upon a fierce battle as his clan moved south to meet the Blood Skull orogs. Realizing that the elves would make a strong ally against their common enemies ? the Scarlet Baron and the Sorcerer ? Kelden ordered his warriors to join the battle on the side of the elves. The clan?s support enabled the elves to win the day. For the first time in Hogunmark history, human and elf fought on the same side. During the fight, Kelden saved the life of a wounded female elf by healing her with his godsgift. When the battle ended, the elf commander approached Kelden with fury.
The elves of Lluabraight do not need human help to keep what is ours. Be gone from here at once or we shall prove it.
Kelden had no desire to break the sullen truce Hogunmark shared with Lluabraight, so he and his troops withdrew to Solung Bank. That night he had a surprise visitor: the female elf he had saved.
I offer words of thanks my father would not give, she said. You have saved my life; I shall serve you until I can repay the favor.
The elf Fianna lived many years among the Jarnkasspel clan, for Kelden was a fine warrior ? they fell in love long before he had need of Fianna?s offer. And thus, many believe, Wjulf?s sixth prophecy was fulfilled.

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