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On Icy Shores

Dark Age Europe

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a part of On Icy Shores, by LordTalbot.

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LordTalbot holds sovereignty over Dark Age Europe, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Dark Age Europe is a part of On Icy Shores.

2 Places in Dark Age Europe:

3 Characters Here

Brynjar Witch-Breaker [7] A grizzled old viking and a wanderer of the northern ice fields. Wreathed in mystery, he stares from behind a white beard with eyes as blue as the sky.
Yrenhild 'Yre' Asvardottir [1] Yre is a shieldmaiden of great strength and wits, some claiming she was blessed by the Gods
Ekkhart Dumont [1] Saxon Huskarl

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Brynjar Witch-Breaker Character Portrait: Vilhjalma Litsdottir Character Portrait: Lady Arlette Character Portrait: Lord Landry Character Portrait: Ekkhart Dumont Character Portrait: Gunnar Eriksson Character Portrait: Kotah Character Portrait: Aethelstan of Lincoln
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Stormy seas and frozen fields greet the start of our story. It is February, not long since the death of Charles the Great, and Europe lies in turmoil. The sons of the dead emperor tear at the spoils left behind, leaving the back door to their kingdoms unguarded. Saxon England, reeling from another summer of raids by the Vikings, turns upon itself, the rising power of Wessex challenging the older kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria. Across the North Sea the Norsemen of Scandinavia winter their longships in triumph. Yet another successful year. However, power struggles at home leave the Vikings in need of yet more wealth.

It is in this time of chaos and violence that out story begins in two very different places; Winchester, the capital of the kingdom of Wessex, and Uppsala, the principal holy site of the Norse faith in Svithjod. Our characters are as of yet unawares of the great task they will be called upon to achieve. They will face danger, death, and the fickle nature of gods and creatures old and forgotten. What is their task? Who can say, but that whoever completes it first will change the course of history forever.

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Two moons have passed since the Yule festival, but the land still cowers in the grip of winter. Snow lies heavy on the ground, and icy winds whistle through the dense forests around Uppsala. A place where no man rules. A place where the gods alone reign. The skies are heavy with rolling clouds, threatening another heavy snowfall, even as the winter light fades quickly. Wolves prowl these forests, their howls echoing across the hills and hidden valleys. Only the strong survive here. This is a land of warriors, chosen by the gods for glory and conquest.

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A small settlement lies along the river Mälaren, smoke rising from a few crouching huts. The only sounds as the long dark approaches are the occasional bark of a dog, and the crunching snow as some of the people move about the buildings. The huts themselves are simple wooden affairs, aged and insulated with sod. One structure stands taller than the rest, a small hall, from which the sounds of singing can be heard. Though not as grand as some other halls, this one appears homely. Going down to the shoreline, a small dock pushes out into the icy waters of the Mälaren. A few fishing boats have been dragged up onto the bank, and two longships sit tied to the dock, their dragon-headed prows silent and imposing in the gathering dark. Just outside the main village, there is a ring of standing stones. Some of these stones are carved with intricate runes, telling tales of warriors long dead, and gods long distant from the realms of men. More stones lead away from the circle, and along a well-beaten track into the forest.

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High above the river and the settlement, sits the ancient temple of Uppsala. In all the world, no other place can bring someone closer to the gods. The forest around the temple is eerily quiet, and approaching the temple is in itself a task, as you always feel as if you are being watched by unseen eyes. Tokens, and offerings to the gods litter the trees, some as simple as wicker symbols, some forming small piles of bones. Even as the more grisly offerings are covered in a layer of snow, the empty sockets of skulls still bear an oppressive quality to any prospective worshiper. The temple itself is a tall, wooden structure, its eaves decorated with images of the gods. Small braziers flicker outside the doors, the flames flickering in the cold wind. Inside the temple the light is dim, the interior lit only with a multitude of candles. Statues of the gods loom out of the shadows, in places with solitary worshippers knelt in front of them. A woman, her flaxen hair in two long braids, kneels in front of a statue of Freyja, her belly showing the early signs of pregnancy even through her cloak and furs. An old man stands before a statue of Odin, his once strong hands shaking as he holds them raised to the heavens.

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High above the waters of the English channel, sits a great, stone-walled town. Above the wall can be seen the tower of a cathedral, and myriad rooftops made of everything from thatch to tiles. The ruins of some ancient Roman buildings are evident outside the wall, and the great stone roads leading to and from the gates are obviously from the same time. The guards on the walls huddle round braziers, as cruel winter winds whip along the ramparts. As night closes in the gates are sealed, great wooden cross-beams laid in place to hold them shut. But despite this the town is still lively. Many people go about the streets, and light spills onto the muddy streets from houses and taverns. The sounds of a busy town fill the air, but louder than most is the sound of blacksmiths’ hammers. Working hard into the night, the smiths labour to produce hundreds of swords, and the heads of spears. Wessex is preparing for war.

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Close to the center of town is the palace, home to the kings of Wessex. Once a Roman villa, the palace has been expended by generations of Saxon kings, though the hypocaust remains intact. The halls are richly decked out with tapestries and oak furniture, carpets and furs covering the stone floors. In the main hall, a throne sits on a raised dais, looking down across two long tables leading to the main door. A group of housecarls sits drinking at one of the tables, their conversation often interrupted with raucous laughter. Fires burn brightly in the fireplaces dotted around the palace, and servants scurry along the corridors. In a chapel, attached to the royal chambers, a richly dressed man kneels before an ornate altar. King Egbert prays for guidance. His recent wars against the Welsh have seen Wessex soar in prominence and wealth, but now he faces opposition from the king of Mercia, the largest landholder in England.

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Character Portrait: Gunnar Eriksson
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Gunnar roared with laughter and slapped the back of the thick-set man sat next to him. The man was nursing a red cheek as he looked sullenly after a serving girl who was now pushing her way through the crowded hall back to the mead vat. "Don't worry Hemming. The night is young. You'll get another chance." Laughing again at the sour look on Hemming's face, Gunnar stood and raised his mead horn, shouting loud over the noise. "To love! And those of us lucky enough to have it!" As the men around him echoed the toast amidst raucous laughter, Gunnar sat down to glowers from Hemming.

"Always have to poke fun don't you Gunnar?" Hemming snarled. He was red in the face and clenching his fists, aware that a group of women sat at a near by table were glancing at him and giggling.

Gunnar raised an eyebrow, offering a quick smile to the girls. "Oh come on. It was your idea to come here. Uppsala is the arse end of nowhere." Stretching, he snatched another horn of mead from a passing serving girl. "Besides, I have plenty of girls back home." Looking around the small hall Gunnar scanned the crowd for anyone worth noticing. The hall was muggy with the heat from the fire, and the oak doors stood sealed against the winter night. The chief sat on a small dais at the far end of the hall, red faced and roaring with one of his huscarls. Filling the rest of the hall were men and women from all over Scandinavia, come to visit the temple. Gunnar smirked to himself and fingered the hilt of his sword. Maybe now was the time. He was tired of all this talk of gods anyway.

Quickly clambering onto the table Gunnar raised his horn. A few people around looked at him in quaint interest, wondering what the boy was up to. "A toast!" Gunnar roared above the noise, which noticeably dimmed as people turned to him. The chief looked up and scowled. "To our glorious host, to the gods, and a new summer!" Downing his horn of mead the hall remained silent, besides a few laughs at the precocious youth. Tossing down the empty horn, Gunnar smiled. "And to this hall of cowards, none of whom I bet will accept my challenge." A deathly silence filled the hall, then one of the warriors burst out laughing, almost keeling over. Soon the whole hall was in stitches ad Gunnar stood red faced.

Over the peals of laughter the chief shouted "you've got some nerve boy! You couldn't even fight the least of my men." At this the laughter renewed, a couple of people throwing hunks of bread at Gunnar.

"Hemming. I need a favour." Gunnar seethed through his teeth. Seeing Hemming nod Gunnar bunched his muscles and launched himself off the table and onto one of the closest warriors, whilst Hemming tipped the table up and over, spilling mead and food. Grappling the man he was on, Gunnar smashed his fist into his face, his legs flying and his eyes blazing. Hemming grabbed another warrior and, before he could react, headbutted him backwards into another group. In another moment the hall was filled with roars and shouts as vikings from different places laid into one another. The sounds of splintering furniture and the thumps of bodies filled the hall and spilled out into the night.

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Character Portrait: Lord Landry Character Portrait: Aethelstan of Lincoln
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Character Portrait: Brynjar Witch-Breaker Character Portrait: Vilhjalma Litsdottir Character Portrait: Kotah
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Character Portrait: Brynjar Witch-Breaker Character Portrait: Konungr Erak Sigurdsson
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#, as written by Alator
Erak inhaled the fresh and chilling air as he emerged from the Temple. He was in a spectacular good mood, felt closer to the Gods than he'd done in years, and overall he felt alive. He had always enjoyed to visit Uppsala, yet in the months before he would unleash his plans, he felt that the support of the Gods was of severe importance.

Four of his Huscarls sat on small logs around a fire outside the Temple, not that he needed them. The fierce and loyal warriors was merely a show of power. He stretched his arms under the thick cloak and looked out over the surrounding lands. It was dusk, and the light was quickly dwindling. The woods around Uppsala and the waters of Mälaren was illuminated by the gloomy orange light.

Although many was still moving among the trees back and forth from the Temple, many had headed down to the village. As was evident by the sound of fighting that crowding has an ability to cause. Turning his gaze to the left, he spotted an old and grizzled warrior sitting by himself, with a black cloak swept around him. Walking over and leaning himself against the wall next to the old man, Erak said "One is never alone, least of all here. The Gods are with us, always and forever."

Slowly turning his head and looking down on the old man, he asked "Tell me, what do you pray for?"

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Character Portrait: Brynjar Witch-Breaker Character Portrait: Konungr Erak Sigurdsson
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#, as written by Alator
The bluntness of the man made Erak smile the small crooked smile again. It was a nice change from the many lickspittles that tends to flock around people with power. Though hearing about the man from Trondelag did not bother him, Trondelag was of little concern, far away, and no enemies of his. Erak would spend the night in Uppsala before setting sail towards Birca, he was assembling eighteen longships to pay a small visit to England. By the time he would return it shouldnt be long before all the preparations were finished. He was eager to see the land for himself, and what sorts of defences it would have against a larger force.

Erak rose aswell, turning his gaze upon Brynjar and saying "I have need of capable warriors, join me on my journey to the West, you will not regret it."

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Character Portrait: Gunnar Eriksson Character Portrait: Einar Eldrson
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Moments after Einar pulled the woman from the fire, he was pulled into the fray once more as another man rushed forth and slammed him into a support beam. Einar shook his head clear and brought his elbow down, driving it into the man's shoulder blade and causing him to buckle before simply throwing him aside. Laughter intermingled with cries and roars of pain, all overlaid by hearty battle songs that all blended together to create a strange sort of merriment to an otherwise dangerous and violent, if sportingly natured tussle.

That good natured atmosphere quickly died away for Einar as his mismatched eyes settled on a blade withdrawing from the Little Upstart's companion.
Einar was at a moment of disbelief, rarely would one draw a blade during a drunken brawl under another Jarl's roof. The audacity and disrespect were astounding. To his credit however, Einar quickly recovered and crossed the gap before the man could strike again. He grabbed the other man's wrist in his vice-like grip and was satisfied to feel the bones cracking beneath and causing him to drop the knife. With a twist, he raised the man's arm over his head and delivered a crushing stomp to his right knee, dropping him before slamming his fist into his jaw.

By this time he was hoping the Jarl would put an end to this so the loathsome underhanded man's crime could be punished properly.

Einar looked to the young man and his friend, saying, "Get him some aid boy, before he bleeds out!"

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Character Portrait: Brynjar Witch-Breaker Character Portrait: Konungr Erak Sigurdsson
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#, as written by Alator
The man interested Erak, yet he had no more time to spend here. Night had already fallen and he would be leaving tomorrow. After gazing up on the skies, Erak turned back to Brynjar with the reply "I will be setting sail for Birca on the morrow, seek me out in the morning or in the city, should you happen to have a change of heart." Erak added the last part with a crooked smile and started to walk down to the village. He was eager to have something warm to eat, as refreshing as the air was, it was still chilling.

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Character Portrait: Brynjar Witch-Breaker Character Portrait: Kotah Character Portrait: Konungr Erak Sigurdsson
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As she waited for Vilhjalma, Kotah took in her surroundings. The men took notice of her, but since she made no moves towards them they did not attack. That was good, she did not want there to be bloodshed on this day, it was too important of a day. She waited while a man came out from the temple and asked another, one she had not noticed before, if he would join him in battle. Instead of a yes or no, the only answer he received was a riddle. The man left without answering and took his warriors with him.

She mulled it over after they had gone. "Why not go with them?" Her voice was an breathy echo coming from a mouth that did not move. "Or at least give a straight answer...What does a goldsmith's hammer have to do with joining a battle anyways?"

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Character Portrait: Yrenhild 'Yre' Asvardottir
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Tirelessly walking through the forests of Wessex in her constant search for any hint of a viking raiding party, Yrenhild kept a wary eye out for anyone that would attempt to do her harm, due to who she was, as she wandered the endless expanse of the forests. Slowing herself to a stop along a small riverbank south of the City of Winchester, she crouched down beside the faintly running water as she reached her cupped hands down into it, to catch some water within them, before lifting her cupped hands to her mouth to drink the freezing water as she thought about her next move, should her kinsmen never return to the land. Shaking the discouraging thoughts from her mind as she dropped the remaining water back into the river, she stood from her crouch and shook the remaining water from her bare hands as she looked into the sky overhead to see Vilde flying high above the trees of the forest to help keep watch for anyone that may have been approaching, her eyes falling from the sky shortly after to glance off to the north as wrapped her fur cloak around her body, to stay warm, and followed the bank of the river toward Winchester in thought of raiding the walled city only to rid the thoughts from her mind as she knew that she would be unable to successfully raid it on her own. Returning her gloves to her hands as she walked, she stared ahead to see several hunters in the forests, searching for food, despite the time of year, as she slowed herself to a stop before immediately moving behind a larger tree to hide as she withdrew her sword from her belt and her shield from her back to prepare for her possible battle, her mind drifting to prayers to the Gods as she hoped that battle was not to come in a time such as that.

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Character Portrait: Brynjar Witch-Breaker Character Portrait: Vilhjalma Litsdottir Character Portrait: Kotah
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The tigress nodded as her charge exited the temple. The man seemed wiser than most, he seemed to understand the flow of fate and fortune however much he talked in pointless riddles. She would speak more to him, but now was not the time for that. She stood, her fur ruffling in the cold wind and approached the one armed warrior.

The crippled Berserker was ready to start down the temple's meager stairs when she stopped. She'd missed it at first, white fur blending in so well with the snow. She had no excuse for missing the dark stripes. Despite having no idea just what a tiger was she was still certain seeing such a creature was significant.

The creature stretched as if bowing and then moved backwards to rise onto its hind legs. Slowly it shrank, giant, clawed paws becoming frail looking hands. Powerful furred muscles became lithe, smooth skin. And the deadly muzzle became a smiling female face. She stood there for a moment, smiling as her white gown flapped gracefully in the wind. She closed her eyes and hummed enjoying the sensation of being in a human form. Then she opened her eyes, the same brilliant silver as the tiger's. "Hello, Vilhjama."

Even the blonde warrior knew that the supernatural was not something to mess with and a shapechanger knowing her name brought the trickster Loki immediately to mind. She took half a step back and changed her stance. "You have business with me, spirit?"

She nodded, seeming unpleased by Vilhjalma's change in stance. "I have had for a very long time. But now is when we finally talk, face to face."

"What could you possibly want from me, and why now?" She wasn't openly hostile but there was something to be said for being suspicious. Few would accuse Vilhjalma of having a smooth personality.

"The only thing I want is for you to fulfill your destiny and for me to be there when you do. And now? Times are changing, something big is coming. Now is the time for us to meet, there was no other way."

Hearing the spirit's purpose suddenly made her feel uneasy. Destiny. It was said that even the Gods could not escape or change their destiny, Ragnarok. What if her destiny was something she wanted no part in? She would have no hope of changing it. "Destiny you say...is mine so important?"

"I would not be here otherwise."

"Do you have a name?" She stood up straight once more, Dane's axe resting against her shoulder. No sense asking about this important destiny of hers. Oh it was tempting, but was it better knowing? Maybe one day she would regret not asking.

She nodded, smiling again. "I am called Kotah." She was happy to see her acceptance so readily. She had not known what to expect, so this was a pleasant surprise.

"Kotah, right." The woman sighed. "You already know my name. Introducing you to my traveling companion may be...tricky." Einar, still waiting for her down at the great hall. He was going to think she was mad.

"I can remain hidden, or in the form of a tiger, if you wish."

"That...is up to you, spirit. Kotah." She finally descended the stairs and passed by her newest companion, asking "Aren't you cold?" over her shoulder.

"Tigers do not mind the cold. But being like this...is somehow more freeing." She shrugs then turns back towards the old man. "It was nice talking to you."