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Sigurd Hring

Sigurd Hring is a legendary viking war strategist and king made famous for killing Ellrulf Trygvirsson and Harald Wartooth at the Battle of Bravellir, and for defeating the Taiyou emperor Shimizu Takayama at Iskjerne Bay.

1 · 946 views · located in Iskjerne Bay

a character in “The Multiverse”, as played by Sigurd Hring

Groups

A band of adventurers that were chosen for a quest that started out for mere stones through deceit. Nightfall is coming to Gaia with the Second Rising of Eras. The Champions will either plunge the world into darkness or bath it in everlasting light.
Titans of the North, with a line of ancient kings going back for centuries to the time of the Trojan War.

Description

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PROLOGUE
Story: The Viking Sagas
Chapter: Sigurd's Saga
Scene: Iskjerne's Vikings
Writer: NJAuthor (Siggy)
Artists: GPZang, Laguz, AFshen
Rights: ©2012, ©2015, (ɔ)2018
Publishers: NastroMedia, LLC and Quill, INC

BASIC PROFILE
Character: Sigurðr Randvérsson
Nickname: Sigurðr Hringr or Sigurd Ringtaker
Age: 35 (in Earth years)
Gender: Male (masculine)
Place of Birth: Roslagen (Sweden)
Current Location: Iskjerne (Ellaria)
Nationality: Dano-Swede (Geatish)
Language: Nordic & Anglic (Bilingual)
Education: Medieval (self taught)
Religion: Norse Pagan (Heathen)
Occupation: Dana-Svía Konungr
Title: King of the Goths (Geats and Gutar)
Predecessor: Haraldr Hilditǫnn
Clan: House of Munsö
Flag: Raven Banner
Income: Wealthy (Upper Class)

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION
Kingdom: Animal
Class: Mammal
Order: Primate
Family: Hominid
Tribe: Hominin
Genus: Homo
Species: Sapien
Race: Caucasian

APPEARANCE
Hair Color: Charcoal (Black)
Hair Style: Long (Varies)
Facial Hair: Shaved (or Goatee)
Body Hair: Chest and Legs
Skin Color: Peachy (Apricot)
Eye Color: Greyish Blue (Periwinkle)
Height: 6'ft.2"in. (187.96cm)
Weight: 165'lbs. (74.843kg)
Build: Muscular (Toned)
Features: Chiseled (Defined)
Flexibility: Athletic (Nimble)
Strength: 300'lbs. (lift)
Balance: Strong (Stable)
Scars: Several (Everywhere)
Tattoos: Body (Tribal Runic)

MEDICAL RECORDS
Birthday: February 26th, 750 CE
Bloodtype: AB+
Birth Defects: None
Diseases: None
Allergies: None
Amputations: None
Heart: Strong (Good)
Lungs: Average (Okay)
Liver: Damaged (Poor)
Eyesight: 20/15 (Sharp)
Hearing: 0-40'db. (Great)
Addictions: Smoking, Drinking
Brain: 1350gm. (Healthy)
Disorders: Mild PTSD

FAMILY RECORDS
Father: Randver Longaxe, King of Gardarike
Mother: Princess Inghilda of Svealand
Spouse: Queen Alfhilda, former Princess of Alfheim
Sons: Ragnar "Lodbrok" Sigurdsson, and Hrolfir "Rollo" Sigurdsson
Daughters: Ingstrid Hringsdottir the Shieldmaiden
Grandsons: Ivar the Boneless, Ubba, Halfdan, Björn Ironside, Hvitserk, and Sigurd the Snake-Eyed

Harald Wartooth and Randver Longaxe were both sons of King Rathbarth, and after he died, Harald became the King of the Eastern Geatish territories, while Randver became the King of the Western Geatish territories, until Randver Longaxe died raiding England, being succeeded by his son Sigurd "Hring" Randversson, whose accomplishments became legend. Sigurd Hring and his uncle Harald Wartooth held a close friendship throughout King Harald's reign. They each raided other lands, but avoided each other's territories out of respect for their kinship. King Harald won many victories and was never defeated in battle. In fact, he lived to be an old man. Fearing that he was now too old and would never go to Valhalla, the aged warrior king asked his nephew King Sigurd to honor him in an epic battle. Sigurd agreed, and soon the news had spread far and wide that Harald Wartooth and Sigurd Hring were going to war. Danes, Swedes, Norwegians, Angles, Saxons, Irish, Scots, Franks, Slavs and Finns came from all over Europe to join sides with one of the kings of their choosing. King Harald was joined by the legendary heroes Ubbe of Friesland, Uvle Brede, Are the One-eyed, Ellrulf Trygvirsson the Ulfhethinn, Dag the Fat, Duk the Slav, Hroi Whitebeard and Hothbrodd the Indomitable as well as three-hundred shieldmaidens led by Hed, Visna of the Slavs and Hedborg, while King Sigurd recruited the legendary heroes Starkad, Egil the Bald, Grette the Evil of Norway, Blig Bignose, Einar the Fatbellied and Erling Snake. Famous Swedes were Arwakki, Keklu-Karl, Krok the peasant, Gummi and Gudfast from Gislamark, all great jarls and legendary warriors of their time. Entire forests were cleared out of wood to make over 3000 longships just for King Sigurd's fleet, with King Harald's fleet having even more ships by comparison. After several years of preparation, King Harald Wartooth and King Sigurd Hring faced each other on the battlefield, with all the great heroes and legends of old who came to join them. 50,000 men in all had showed up to the Battle of Bravellir.

At first the two armies fought collectively, but after a while Ubbi was in the centre of attention. He slew first Ragnvald the Wise Councilor, then the champion Tryggvi and three Swedish princes of the royal dynasty. Humbled by this, King Sigurd Hring sent forth the champion Starkad, who managed to wound Ubbi but was himself even more seriously wounded. Then Ubbi killed Agnar, and took the sword in both hands and slashed a path through the Swedish host, until he fell riddled with arrows from the archers of Telemark. Then the shieldmaiden Veborg killed the champion Soti and managed to give additional wounds to Starkad, who was greatly angered. She was killed by the champion Thorkell. Infuriated by this, Starkad went forth in the Danish army, killing warriors all around him, and cut off the shieldmaiden Visna's arm, which held the Danish banner. Starkad then proceeded to slay the champions Brai, Grepi, Gamli and Haki in combat. Ellrulf then stabbed King Sigurd in the shoulder with his spear, but Sigurd broke the spear and killed Ellrulf the Ulfhethinn in melee combat. After the great King Harald had observed these heroic feats, he stood on his knees in his chariot with one sword in each hand and killed a great many warriors both to his left and to his right. After a while, Harald's steward Bruni deemed that his liege had amassed enough glory and clonked the king's head with a hammer. Then the great King Sigurd walked over with his axe and chopped off King Harald's head, ending the battle. In total, over 40,000 warriors died in the Battle of Bravellir.

After the battle, Sigurd Randversson took the king's ring from Harald Wartooth and placed it on his own finger. 10,000 warriors roared and cheered for the new High King of Denmark and Sweden, now known as Sigurd the Ringtaker or Sigurd Hring for short. King Sigurd already started as a legend, but his story is just beginning. This is the beginning of the Sigurd Saga, a story which will involve a great deal of violence and drama. It is a story about romances, politics, religion and mythology. It is a story of unlikely marraiges, acts of vengeance, the falling of kingdoms and the rise to fame. There will be glory and honor, along with poisonings and assassinations. This is the story of Sigurd Hring, the semi-mythical legendary High King of the Geats who founded the House of Munso and reigned during the 8th century.

So begins...

Sigurd Hring's Story

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Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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It was a fair day for seafaring as the dawn's blue morning sky appeared over the rine covered mountains and hilltops. A thick blanket of fog swirled over the salty sea, caused by the rapid temperature change as the first golden ray of sunlight pierced the frigid air. The air was cold and stiff, but there was an absence of wind in the bay area which made the air feel warmer. Apart from light blue skies and dark aquamarine colored waters, everything else was white. The clouds formed like perfect cotton balls up above. The receding fog was also white, grey and wispy as it snaked around the mountains and valleys into the sea. All of the mountains were blue and grey with white caps, while the hills and lowlands were covered with a thick blanket of snow several inches deep. There was very little green vegetation, hardly any trees and almost no sign of any wildlife. Only the beach area was free of snow, instead being riddled with small black stones that had been rounded smooth from centuries of natural polishing and tumbling at the mercy of the waves.

There was no sign of life in the Iskjerne Bay, apart from a few rare white birds on the shore. They were similar to seagulls but smaller and better adapted to the extreme cold climate. Inside the bay were tiny silver fish and the occassionally larger fish which would jump out of the water only to dive back in, perhaps trying to escape from a hungry whale or whatever other giant monsters lay hidden in the deep. Up on the shore was an old wooden dock or port which was rotted and water logged from neglect and had not been used for a very long time, given that there were no ships present and some of the dock had collapsed into the water. There were ruins from an old settlement on one of the snow covered hills which had also fallen apart or decayed from many years of abandonment. It was clear that Iskjerne was on the edge of a frontier into a land that had not been navigated for quite some time. All that was about to change.

From out of the fog, a viking longboat appeared. Like an apparition, the large ship drifted calmly and quietly through the fog, a wooden dragon's head carved at the bow like a monster emerging from the sea. There was a decent sized crew aboard the vessel, but they were all silent. No oars were rowing, no voices were chattering away. There were no waves crashing against the front of the ship, no wades or other noises to stop the peace and calm of silence as the boat drifted into the bay and reached the shore. As the crew approached the land, the crew's leader King Sigurd would listen carefully while looking out over the water to the horizon. "There is no ice beneath our boots. The water below the boat is shallow enough to walk on," he said before gazing out at Aether Dock, or what was left of it. "There are people here," one of the crew mates said with alarm in his voice. "No, they are gone, look" Sigurd replied calmly while pointing to the abandoned settlement on the hill. The crew would stare all around them with awe and amazement. After sailing over trecherous oceans and iceberg mazing seas for almost two and a half months, finally the vikings had reached a new land. It was enough to bring joyful laughter and a smile to their bearded faces as the longship drifted slowly up to the rocky beach.

The air was frigid and cold, but the Weargtooth Mountains had created a landlocked slightly warmer oasis which stopped the wind from being too breezy or unbearable along the beach. Sigurd Hring sniffed the cold air and squinted his eyes towards the hills, allowing his senses to take in everything his crew was experiencing for the first time. Although there was no sign of life anywhere this far north, Sigurd was unfamiliar with the arctic northernmost regions of Ellaria and he knew there could still be hidden dangers lurking in the snow. Their band had pushed their way to the extremes in search of new lands, exhausting food and resources along the way. With their rations and supplies running dangerously low, he knew that his gang would not last at sea much longer. They needed to camp, and the remote fjords at Iskjerne Bay provided a suitable place to do so. It was very cold and there wasn't much to offer, but the vikings were well adapted to such extremes and found no problems with the adjustment.

Within a few minutes, the ship was anchored to the shore and all of the different Northmen would jump out into the shallow waters, working together as a team to push and pull, dragging the large vessel up on to the rocky shore. The smooth black stones acted almost like wheels and round balls to help slide the ship up on to the beach. It was a tactic they had used hundreds of times before with great success. Once the boat was up on shore, the crew then immediately went about dividing the work between them. Some of them would start unloading the ship while King Sigurd and two of his best warriors walked up the bank to the ruined old settlement on the hill to look for the inhabitants. Once he reached the top of the hill, Sigurd was not surprised to see that all of the inhabitants were gone. There were no skeletons, no graves, no signs of human habitation anywhere that he could find. It seemed as though they had all just disappeared without leaving much behind. Sigurd and his two best warriors approached the old wooden longhouse cautiously, looking at the broken stone rockwall around it. "Hello?!" Sigurd shouted, drawing his sword and using it to nudge the swinging door open. The door was partially unhinged from rusting away and it creaked eerily as he peaked inside. Seeing no one present, he turned to look at his guards. "Open it," he commanded. The two large vikings would pick the broken door up and remove it to create a suitable opening. The three of them then stepped into the longhouse and looked around. Immediately the temperature was warmer as they stepped inside, and they could recognize the familiarity of the long open hall with its viking flags still hanging above the now open doorway. It was a Norse settlement, belonging to a viking colony that had disappeared mysteriously without a trace.

"Where did they all go?" one of Sigurd's guards asked curiously. "I don't know," he said, providing the most honest answer he could think of. It didn't matter now, however, for it would soon be inhabited again. Sigurd Hring was not alone on his journey. He was accompanied by a decent sized band of pioneers and explorers in search of new land. Some of them were craftsmen. Some of them were farmers. All of them were seafaring vikings and arctic warriors who knew how to survive in the wild, even on lands as infertile as this. "Keep scouting, let me know if you find anything" Sigurd said before leaving the longhouse and walking back down to the beach. The vikings had wasted no time in unloading and setting up camp. They had already assembled a tripod with a water filtration system and had dug out a small round pit for a fire. Sigurd gazed out at the water again before looking into the sky. The sun was shining yellow and the weather seemed just about perfect for the occasion. The viking ship had just about all the goods they needed to survive, including a few horses and some dry logs to make firewood. Noticing the lack of nearby trees and fauna, however, King Sigurd knew that he would have to think of a plan quickly if he wanted his crew to survive for another week on the ice.

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Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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After about a week or so, the surrounding landscape would change. The vikings had ventured out in search of flora, and finding a few large evergreen trees riddled about the northern slopes, they would use some long logs they cut to roll their longboat up the slope to the top of the hill. They had removed the ship's mast and then flipped the boat over to create a domed rooftop shelter. Leaving nothing to waste, the vikings had turned their vessel into a long hall, accessible through an opening in the side of the capsized longship that originally was used as a docking ramp, but now acted as the hall's entrance. Inside the hall, all the ice and snow had been dug out and replaced by a flattened carpet of moss. The crew had used clay mudbrick they fashioned and hardened from the bay area and used it to build a central fireplace inside the long hall. Using the benches they had brought with them, they created two large wooden tables inside the hall and placed the benches around them on both sides of the central firepit. Then they setup a tripod with a cauldren for boiling and cooking, and placed all of their kitchen supplies inside the hall.

Just outside the hall was another firepit, this one encased in a cone of clay that was being used as a local forge. Two of the vikings, the blacksmiths, were fanning the fire and working their anvils to produce the tools their settlement would need to make life easier. Down on the beach, some of the women had found another use for the smooth black stones and were using the stones for different purposes like washing clothes and grinding seeds or wheat grains. The vikings had sacrificed one of the horses they brought with them and offered a portion of it to their gods. The meat they used for cooking. The bone they used for making tools. The sinew they used to make thread and wire, and from the horse's hide they made waterproof leather fabrics. The bay's new settlers were very busy. Some of them had been fishermen, and had fashioned fishing poles using some of the tiny silver shore fish as bait. They had also re-used the longship's net for fishing purposes, stretching it from one side of the small inlet strait to the other. This net served a double purpose, not only for fishing but also for defense against any unwanted vessels that might drift into the bay. The net was submerged and hidden under the water, but would rise once tightened on both sides to act as a large whaling net, or as a suitable trap for ships.

As there wasn't much sustenance on the land, the crew looked instead towards the bay. Fishing would be their main commodity, and most of their food and resources would be gathered directly from the shores. They used fish oil and blubber to make different soaps and lanturns for providing light. They used bones to fashion hooks and harpoons or spear tips. They used snails and shells to mix pigments and dyes. Mixing ink with clay, they created a strong blue pigment which they used for multiple purposes. Some of the vikings had also discovered trace amounts of gold on the beach and were sifting the sands for any other metals they could find. King Sigurd walked around the growing viking village, overseeing the large construction of their new settlement. His two guards accompanied him up the hill to a high point at the foot of the mountains. This gave him a slightly more aerial view of the landscape, allowing him to better survey the area. As they walked around, King Sigurd explained to them where he wanted to build a stone wall and discussed the architectural designs with them. It was during this conversation when they by chance happened to stumble upon a cove with a cave going down into the rockface at the foot of the mountains.

"My lord, there's a cave here" said one of the guards. King Sigurd and the other guard would casually approach the rockface, looking down into the cave entrance. "It's hidden by the rocks," the other guard said. Sigurd glanced down at the hidden rockface before turning to look back at the village. "I wonder what lives in there," Sigurd said while turning his head skyward to look at the giant mountain. "It's close enough to the village that we could use it," the other guard said. Sigurd nodded quietly. "Do we explore it, or die trying?" King Sigurd looked down at the cave entrance, then nodded again. "Try it," he said before placing his hand on the rockface and stepping down on to the narrow slope. His guards turned to look at one another, shrugging to themselves before following close behind him. Stepping down into the cave entrance, they would pull out their handy ropes and ignite their oil lamps while King Sigurd unsheathed his sword. Looking into the cave, he noticed that it was darker and deeper than he had thought. Although they had to crouch to get through the entrance, inside the cave was large and hollow with different tunnels leading to different passages. There were a few rock carvings and cave paintings on the walls and ceilings, but there was no sign of life at the entrance of the cave. A few human skeletons had been carefully placed near the back wall of the cave, and Sigurd could tell that they had been undisturbed for at least a hundred years, if not longer.

"This must be where they buried their dead," one of the guards said. Sigurd nodded in agreement, grabbing the lanturn and examining the skeletons. One of them had a bronze arm band and there were silver coins in the dirt beside him. Sigurd would pick up one of the coins, wiping it with his thumb before studying it. "Norwegians," he said while tossing the coin to his guard. "Ay, that's King Egil's currency, I haven't seen this type of stamping since I was a young boy," the guard explained. "King Egil disappeared at sea over one hundred years ago. Could it be?" The suggestion was hint enough. Sigurd Hring had found the long lost resting place of Egil Skurljasson, a legendary Norwegian king who lived long before his time. "They must have built this settlement," the guard said. "Or built over it," Sigurd added before looking around at the cave walls. The rock carvings told a pictographic story which Sigurd pieced together. King Egil apparently had got lost at sea after a successful naval battle and in a desperate attempt to save his people, decided to build the old settlement. It wasn't enough, for the settlers appeared to have died or moved on after some time, probably dying from sickness or starvation. The last remaining Norwegian settlers, in an act of empathy, had buried their king in this cave before abandoning the region. This was a humbling sight for King Sigurd, who would turn and walk back towards the cave entrance. "Come, do not disturb them" he said before all three of them climbed out of the cave and back into the cove. "What now?" one of the guards asked as they walked back to the long hall. Sigurd sheathed his sword and handed the oil lamp back to his guard. "Take five men, and explore the cave. Bring back to me word of its condition," Sigurd said as he approached the hall. "Ay my lord, will do" the guard said before carrying out his king's order. "And watch for animals," King Sigurd commanded before opening the door and walking into the warm long hall.

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Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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Deep inside the cave, down one of the long, dark passages, undiscovered for what was probably decades, maybe years, or even just months; were more skeletons, five in total that were hidden away, deep inside a winding, rocky passage that was steeped in brackish water.

These skeletons were different than the Norwegian men that were found further up inside the cave. These skeletons still had their decayed clothing. Clothing that consisted of wool uniforms in a dark green color, which were barely recognizable amid the brackish water, and mud. However, these dark green wool uniforms were accented at the collar by dingy red collar taps, which bore a small yellow chrysanthemum design, and yellow rank striping.

There was a rotted leather strap that ran across the chest, which held pouches that like their owners, had completely rotted out. These pouches contained small brass cylinders that had long since corroded, these small cylinders held small, pointed lead projectiles that were coated in copper. Among the decaying cartridge cylinders was a foul smelling paste that exuded from the ends of the cartridges, the smell of the paste was reminiscent of sulfur, and ammonia.

Some of the men had strange objects clasped firmly in their hands, the wood had largely since rotted away, and the metal corroded, and rusted to be almost unrecognizable, were they swords? Or were they clubs, only a keen, and discerning eye could find out.

One skeleton in particular had a cloth wrapped around his head, or rather draped around his neck. This cloth had dark bold writing of some kind, superimposed around a red circle.

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Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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Within a month or two, the small viking settlement would gradually take the size of a decent sized ring fort having three tiers with stone walls going all around each tier in concentric circles. The earth around the great hall was additionally raised up to form an artificial hill with an earthen mound at the top, so that the vikings entered the hall by going through a thick wooden entrance into the earth mound. Once inside, the thick smokey air and heat of the warm fire provided a sharp contrast to the arctic weather outside. The earth was now acting as a buffer to insulate the great hall, and would keep it nice and toasty for everyone inside. They didn't even feel like they were in the cold, such was the extreme difference in temperature. The wooden beamed entrance was the only means of ventilation for which the smoke could escape, and the natural random fog helped to mask the smoke and provide an exceptionally good camouflage for such a moderately sized settlement. The vikings used all the local natural resources for just about everything, rather than travelling great distances in search of the ones they were used to. This enabled them to conserve energy and work more efficiently and productively in a shorter timespan. By the end of the second month, King Sigurd had built a hidden watchtower at the base of the mountain with a stone stairway sloping down a ridge into the snowy hills. In the middle of the hills was a thick frozen river which the vikings navigated with ease using sleds and skis. So adept were they at skiing that they would hunt snow fox and large hares while skiing down the hills.

There were a couple of reindeer herds which the vikings put to good use, as their large bodies helped to carry larger loads across the thick frozen landscape. The bay area also provided King Sigurd with something of even more value. The vikings discovered hundreds of different species of fishlife in the arctic waters, and a variety of sea monsters also. They hunted whales and narwhales, sea birds and seals. They caught massive sharks, huge oisters and large giant squid beneath the frozen ice. They also gathered nuts and green lichen from the ground beneath the snow, various plant roots and sea grasses which they used for cooking food or medicine. Some of Sigurd's crew members had developed scurvy from being out on the sea, but were already beginning to make a quick recovery. Life was not bad for Sigurd Hring and his vikings. What started out as a struggle for survival was now turning into a life of thriving luxury. Sigurd had his doubts before, but was now thinking that they could all easily survive the winter with no problem. This sudden realization caused him to ponder the reason why the previous settlement had been abandoned. He theorized that perhaps the previous settlers had exhausted their food supply, suggesting that after they disappeared, the sparse and very rare wildlife gradually returned within a hundred years. He warned his people not to make the same mistake and suggested that they should all be mindful of their own growing population while inhabiting the settlement.

By now, the secret nearby cave had been explored most of the way and its many tunnels were being used as underground mining chambers. Inside the cave, the vikings found freshwater streams with vast sparkling traces of gold and silver. Inside the caverns they discovered more human skeletons and a horde of hidden treasures. They were also able to mine various gems and crystals from the rocks. Deeper into the cave they found stalagtites and other strange or beautiful rock formations, hot springs and salty gas chambers formed slowly over millions of years with nobody around to witness them. Apart from finding one animal family living in the cave, the vikings instead encountered several species of animals who dwelled in different areas around the large underground labyrinth. There were large white bats, cave spiders, beetles and other rare insects who lived their entire existence inside the cave. These critters shared the sunless habitat with olms and salamanders, raccoons and even cave bears, which the vikings both hunted and showed great reverence for. Some of the bears were even captured alive and trained or traded as pets. King Sigurd himself was gifted by his explorers with two white polar bear cubs, which he intended to keep and train as they got bigger.

After another month rolled by, the viking settlement at Iskjerne Bay had grown into a small permanent kingdom that was truly wonderful to look upon. The fort had grown considerably and there was now an added stone wall enclosure circling a small remote village made of earth homes and skin tents. Some attempts had been made at farming, but so far there was no success as the climate was too harsh. But the vikings had figured out a way to irrigate the land and create a clean energy efficient environment in which to live. They had a primitive plumbing system, but it was effective, and the hygienic practices among the settlers prevented an outbreak of any parasitic insects, illnesses, plagues or diseases which might infest their lands. The subzero temperatures also helped to cut back on the spread of any viruses or germs, allowing the vikings to become quite strong and healthy. After a while, Sigurd Hring would gain a little weight from staying at the new settlement. His beard grew dense and long, while his clothing became layered and thick. His bearskin coat was large and hairy, its thick hide offering him protection from weapons and weather alike. He sat on his wooden throne inside the great hall, listening to the music provided by bone flutes and leather drums. At least one hundred people were gathered in the hall with him, feasting while enjoying the last barrels of mead they had brought with them on their journey. Once the mead was gone, they would have to resort to drinking the malt beverages they invented using the local roots and tree nuts. Although it was still good, the local beer was not as preferable as the mead they had grown to love back home. It was much stronger, however, and so the vikings often got drunk and hammered during the long winter storms and blizzards when everybody was confined to the great hall. During such times they would dance and tell stories, then after the blizzard they would go back to their normal lives. King Sigurd gazed around the great hall at all the cheerful faces before him. Once again, he had succeeded in founding a viking colony, one he was hoping would not soon be destroyed.

Just then, one of the large cave explorers walked past the builders into the great hall where people were partying. He would bow to King Sigurd from across the open room, and Sigurd would motion for the explorer to join him at the nearest table. Making his way around the benches full of people, the man approached King Sigurd and whispered something into his ear before taking a seat. Sigurd would glance up to him with a look of great interest before sliding him a drink. It seemed that the miners had discovered yet another set of remains inside one of the chambers, only these remains were different from all the other ones they had found previously. They were not Nordic, but from a people they had never seen before. They were also much better preserved, perhaps from being in a more remote part of the cave which wasn't exposed to so many elements or scavengers. King Sigurd decided that he would go visit the discovery for himself once the chamber had been deemed safe enough for further investigation. The vikings were no strangers to caves or the dangers that could be hiding within them. Half a week prior to making the discovery, a few of the miners almost died after unknowingly starting work in one of the chambers that had gas pockets in it. The miners accidentally struck a gas pocket while mining, releasing an invisible cloud of tasteless, scentless poisonous gas into the chamber they were working in. Luckily, they managed to escape with only minor headaches, but the workers weren't about to take any more chances. Sigurd instructed his men to catch some of the cave dwelling mice and release them into the deeper cave tunnels as a safety precaution. By doing so, any dead mice they found in the various chambers would be a sign that there was a possibility for the presence of gas. It was a simple tactic, but one that King Sigurd hoped would work by lowering the chances of any of his people dying.

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Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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After a few days, the vikings deemed the deeper cave chambers worthy and safe for exploration. King Sigurd would accompany some of the explorers into the cave, making his way down the twisting tunnels and narrow walkways until he reached the chamber where the new skeletons had been found. Taking a lanturn with him into the chamber, he would hold the light up to examine what the workers had found. "How many?" Sigurd asked. "We found five so far, these two here, and the three over near the wall behind you," one of the miners answered. Sigurd would crouch down to look at their skeletons, which apart from their clothing and decorations, seemed very similar to the other humanoid Norwegian skeletons he had found. "Any idea who they might be?" the lead explorer asked. "No, I've never seen anything like it before," Sigurd responded as he examined one of the skeletons a bit closer. He would take a mental note of the skeleton's clothing and accessories. He studied the old rotted dark green uniform made of wool, a material the vikings made great use of, but in a style unknown to them, and in a region where wool was hard to come by. The vikings did not doubt that mountain goats and wholly sheep inhabited the bay area, but they had yet to actually spot any. The faded red collar and staunchly decay told them that the skeletons must have been down there for quite some time, perhaps months or even years.

Sigurd also took a mental note of the faded yellow chrysanthemum symbol on the skeleton's clothing, along with the stripes near the shoulders and around the collar. He looked over the rotted leather pouch and picked up one of the corroded brass casings with the pointed lead projectile on the end of it, examining it closely. "What is it?" the miner asked. "I'm not sure," Sigurd answered. "It's some kind of metal, almost looks like the same material the Serks were trading in the southeast," Sigurd added. "Are they Arabs?" the explorer asked. Sigurd noticed the strange paste, catching a wiff of the putrid sulphiric smell before thinking quietly. He then stood up and examined the other skeleton next to it. He noticed the same standard clothing design as before, and a rotted wooden object in the skeleton's boney grip. Sigurd noticed the cloth draped around the skull with a red circle on it bearing some form of writing or symbolism. He then turned to study the other three skeletons, finding all of them to be in a similar condition as the other two. "No, they are something else, but what for sure I can not say" King Sigurd said quietly.

Sigurd handed the lanturn to one of the explorers before trying to pry the decaying object from a skeleton's rather tight grip. After retrieving the object, he examined it more carefully, wiping part of the rusted metal fitting with his thumb. The object was strange and new to him like nothing he had ever seen before. It looked like a tool that had been crafted using some form of alchemy or magic. After pondering on these different things for a little while, the vikings determined that what they had discovered were the remains of five dwarves or mountain elves who had likely either died inside the cave or were entombed there after dying elsewhere. King Sigurd, though skeptical as to who the five skeletons really were, was nevertheless satisfied with this answer and decided that the remains should remain undisturbed just like the others they had found before. The miners were instructed to work around any remains that they should find while being careful not to disturb them. Whenever the miners happened to stumble upon a gravesite or tomb, they simply skipped past it and kept on going as if giving the dead their own personal space. Some of the more superstitious vikings would actually place additional objects inside the cave as an offering to the elves and spirits who dwelled within, perhaps trying to appease the gods and prevent their ghosts from returning from their graves like undead revenants.

In the following weeks, the Norse colony had nearly doubled in size. King Sigurd's kingdom was expanding and the settlement at Iskjerne Bay was growing to accommodate more people. By now the vikings had started to establish a social order and the early beginnings of a local government with basic laws and taboos. Woodworkers had reinforced some of the smaller stone walls with tall wooden palisades made from thick heavy logs. They had torn down the ruins of the broken Aether Dock and replaced it with a small wooden shipyard with a seaport where fishing boats and small merchant ships could go in and out of the bay area. The vikings built a watermill and a grainery where they could store larger quantities of nuts and grains throughout the winter. They had wooden mangers and stocks where they kept their horses and reindeer. Some of the settlers had learned to domesticate the large dire wolves who lived in the mountains and were now keeping the wolves as pets. Others had learned to train the sea birds for fishing purposes, while many still preferred their nets and fishing poles. Life was not easy for the people of Iskjerne Bay, but for the vikings it was good living and there was still plenty enough to go around. King Sigurd sat on a rock near the beach shore, staring out at the waves while pondering.

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Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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As the time rolled by and night turned to day, the weather was getting colder. On this day it was snowing and little white snowflakes drifted over the hills. The water in the bay area was beginning to form ice sheets, making it increasingly more difficult for the longboats to get in and out of the shipyard. Fishing in the bay became more dangerous as the ice was still thin in some areas, creating strong water currents and cold air pockets that the vikings knew could cause someone to drowned if they were not extremely cautious. This didn't stop some of the brave fishermen from ice fishing, however, as they put on their heavy fur coats and stocking caps and poked holes in the ice for which to lower their hooks and traps into the frigid water.

As the warm blooded animals went into hibernation for the winter, hunting in the snow actually became quite easier for the vikings who put aside their fur traps and took to their bows and spears. Rather than chasing game or trapping rabbits, the hunters would use their tracking skills to locate their prey, wearing wide wooden snow shoes that they tied to their boots so that they wouldn't sink into the snow as they walked. The furs they gathered were absolutely vital to their survival in the arctic hills. Luckily, the rare isolated animals that inhabited the far north were evolved and adapted furs to camouflage them and protect against the relentless climate. The vikings of Iskjerne Bay were undaunted, flourishing in a land that was truly inhospitable. The wind was cold and sometimes a white curtain of snow created frost and rine over everyone and everything that it made contact with. Some of the vikings had frost on their beards, and the white flakes collected over their stocky shoulders like bad dandruff as they navigated through the chilly arctic, steam emanating from their mouths and noses they breathed. To most lifeforms, winter in the far north was similar to hell. But for Sigurd Hring, the king of the Geats, it was a perfect time for a water bath.

Sigurd was down in the cave sitting completely naked in one of the warm hot springs, enjoying a nice steamy bath while thinking and relaxing. His break was soon interrupted however when a large viking stepped into the chamber. "Pardon the interruption my king" the large man said while removing his fur snow cap. "What is it Evan?" Sigurd asked, opening his eyes. "The scout in the tower has informed me that there is a storm coming. Soon, we won't be able to push our ships out of the harbor," Jarl Evan informed him. Sigurd sat up, looking up at the jarl. "I see," the king responded. "My other advisors tell me jarl that you wish to lead an expedition further south," he said while standing up shamelessly and stepping out of the hot bath. "Ay my lord, as a jarl I wish to help our people. My men and I-" Evan was suddenly interrupted. "Your men, Jarl Evan?" King Sigurd grabbed the towel to wipe his face, but his naked form was no less intimidating. "Forgive me my lord," Jarl Evan digressed while folding his hands together and bowing his head. "How many ships are in the harbor?" Sigurd asked. "Five ships in the yard and two at sea, and there's no more trees in up country," Evan answered. "Did the scouts look south?" Sigurd asked while drying off. "They did my lord," Evan replied before continuing. "They found a forest beyond the mountains, about six days south on horseback, just beyond the mountains in another fjord," he said.

Sigurd Hring would get dressed, putting his clothes on while contemplating his next move. "Oh, one of the fishermen also just recently found a runestone buried near the shoreline. We think it was put there by the previous settlement." Sigurd looked over briefly with curiosity while putting his shirt on. "Were you able to read the runes?" he asked curiously. "Ay lord, it was broken and faded but we were able to make out two of the words," Evan said. "Iskjerne Bay," he added. With these words in mind, Sigurd knew that the vikings now had the name of their arctic settlement. "Iskjerne," Sigurd whispered as if the very word itself had magical power. Evan would grab the king's heavy fur coat now that he was dressed and draped it over the king's shoulders. Sigurd would slide his arms through the coat while talking. "There are now over 200 people in our settlement here, Jarl Evan, many of which swore allegiance to me and came all the way from their homelands to be here," King Sigurd explained. "Danes, Swedes, Estonians, Geats both east and west, I am the king of everything but Norway now and I will not be a disappointment to my people like all the kings before me jarl," King Sigurd said as Jarl Evan placed the king's golden crown on Sigurd's head and then bowed again, kissing Sigurd's ring as it was extended lazily. "The people follow you because you are a great king, sire" Evan replied.

"Flattery Jarl Evan, flattery will get you nowhere." Sigurd adjusted his crown and then fastened his sword and scabbard before turning to look at the jarl. "My lord?" Evan asked quietly. "One longship jarl," Sigurd suddenly said loudly. "I give you one ship, and fifty of our men to take with you," the king exclaimed. "Go south, explore further as you'd like. But do not disappoint me Jarl Evan, your brother King Erling already made that mistake once when he turned against me. Your family treads on thin ice with me jarl, but I trust you will keep your honor intact," the king's words were both pleasing yet warnful. Jarl Evan nodded silently and then turned to walk out of the cave chamber. "Evan," Sigurd stopped him. "Yes my lord?" the jarl asked, turning again to see his king standing there in full winter costume. "Go with the gods my friend. Come back either with your shield, or on it" Sigurd said respectfully. Jarl Evan Skjalsson would clench his fist, holding it to his own chest while bowing his head to King Sigurd before walking away. Sigurd himself would gaze at the prehistoric carvings on the cave wall, trying to interpret their meaning from his own limited perspective.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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Somewhere on Niihama...

It had been the final stretch of underground work for the crew of the 1st engineering corps of the Ten-Shi Zaibatsu's resource and mining division. So far excavation had progressed quite smoothly, and Supervisor Takao Eguchi, and his assistant Musume Kobitsu were taking their final surveys of the cave formations where the new laboratory expansion for the deep seismic research was going to be built.

The large cavern was strange to the pair of engineers, and that expression was evident upon their faces while their crews worked to set up the next line of explosive charges.

"Initial construction survey stated there was a great number of pre-dynastic artifacts here." Musume said, shining a flashlight on what looked like carvings. "As well as military weapons from around the period where the great wars took place." He said, shining his light over towards where a group of archaeologists were digging up a pile of skeletons.

The group of men were hard at work, taking small brushes and great care to remove small pieces of dust, and dirt from the skeletal remains. What baffled them was the attire the skeletons had been wearing, armor unlike anything the men had seen before; armor accented by designs, and lettering that were foreign to the group of archaeologists, whom muttered among themselves in hushed tones. One of them reached out to retrieve a coin, inspecting the rugged face on the coin, as well as the rune like lettering. Once the coin was dusted, he placed it in a small plastic bin that contained a few trinkets such as silver rings, arrowheads, and the remains of a dagger; knurled and rusted.

"Clear! We're setting the explosive charges in Cooridor 'C'" One of the foremen called out from deep within one of the tunnels.

The Archaeologists reacted quickly, one of them peering upwards before placing a pair of thick earmuffs over his head; the others quickly taking the cue, and following suit.

"Clear!" Another voice called out in the darkness.

There was a deafening crack, and the ground shook, rock was split asunder by the explosive force of the dynamite that had been carefully drilled into place.

Inside the cavern where Sigurd was gazing at prehistoric carvings, pondering their nature, the peace and serenity of the cave would be suddenly interrupted by the sound of an explosion, the ground shook, and everything proceeded to quiet down.

The sound of the explosion gave way to voices calling out in an alien tongue. The language was fluid, but it's syllables were differently structured than the european style languages that Sigurd was likely so used to hearing.

The voices died out, as the men on the other end were trying to figure out why the lights in their cavern had suddenly stopped working, the electronics too had failed, as their radios seemed to chatter, and work only intermittently while in the vicinity of what appeared to be a strange marble doorway of some kind.

"Bring me a gas lantern!" Musume called out, holding out his hand to take a propane lantern, which illuminated the gateway, and the dark cavern.

"I think we found something!" Koda Tomeji, the head archaeologist called out. "Shikashi, kanshō no ikutsu ka no shurui ga arimasu ka? Watashitachi no rajio ya raito wa koko de daun kinō shite imasen!" "But there's some kind of interference! Our radios and lights aren't working down here!"

His nasal sounding voice, and foreign words carried through the gateway, and into Sigurd's caverns.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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As the day grew longer, the vikings of Iskjerne Bay were busy at work. The fishers were fishing. The hunters were hunting. The miners were mining. The sailors were getting ready to sail on their next expedition. Jarl Evan Skjalsson had recruited a gang of explorers to go with him on his seafaring mission to the south. He knew what was expected from him, even if his king did not specify. Jarl Evan was expected to survey the southern coastline and lead his crew inland for further exploration. They were in a new foreign region afterall, and were not yet familiar with the entire landscape or of its inhabitants. Little did they know that their king and all of his people had sailed through another oceanic portal to get to the bay area. Unknowingly, they entered the Bermuda Triangle and by some strange Earthly phenomenon had teleported from one body of water to another. As far as Sigurd Hring's kingdom was concerned, they were still on planet Earth, they just weren't exactly sure of their location. Their crossover had been so subtle to them that it didn't even occur to them that they were in a different solar system. To the late great Sigurd Hring, it was still the Viking Age.

As the legendary hero stood in an empty cave chamber examining the strange drawings on the wall, suddenly the earth began to tremble. There was a loud and unexpected explosion, one which would rumble and echo through the corridors. Nobody outside the cave would hear the explosion as it was muffled by the towering mountain, but everything else inside the cave would immediately be alarmed, including several tiny rodents and animals which quickly scattered or took to hiding. Several miners were just behind the wall when it exploded, being blown backwards and injured by the debri. King Sigurd himself would stumble over and fall as the earth shook and small bits of rock came tumbling down from the ceiling. As he looked up at the cracks in the cave wall, his mind suddenly raced as to what all could have caused it. Was it Thor's mighty hammer? Or was it a giant snoring? Sigurd briefly recalled from his childhood how his father had told him about the earthquakes he encountered during his voyages. His father had told him that the trickster god Loki had offended the Aesir gods at Aegir's party, and had been chained to a rock deep within the earth as a punishment for his many offenses. The goddess Skadi placed a venomous serpent with Loki to torment him for all eternity. Each time the serpent's venom dripped on to Loki's head, the god would roar in agony. "And every time the giant's son roars in agony my boy, that's when the ground is said to shake" his father King Randver used to say.

Within a few moments, the vikings in the cave had regained their composure. The miners immediately stopped what they were doing, and were now checking on their injured coworkers or else running through the tunnels towards the corridor where the explosion had come from. King Sigurd would stand up and readjust his crown before also going towards the corridor. Once the dust cleared, several of the injured laymen looked up to see a hole in the wall surrounded by a smooth stone doorway. Just on the other side of the doorway they saw something even more astonishing; another group of miners, but not their own. These were strange looking people in brown uniforms, having smaller statures and different facial features. They were standing on the other side of the open corridor, mumbling and whispering amongst themselves in a completely foreign language which the viking miners did not know or even recognize. Were they dwarves, gods, or demons? The sudden encounter sent the vikings into a fierce frenzy and immediately the miners would take fighting stances, gripping their hammers, shovels and metal pickaxes just as they would any other weapon with a long staff behind it. For although they were miners, they were also vikings, being large and exceptionally strong warriors. One of them, the leader of their mining crew, stepped forward with his giant sledgehammer and issued his command. "Raise arms!" he shouted, assuming their colony was under attack. The crew quickly responded and was just about to counterattack when suddenly they heard another roar thundering through a nearby cave tunnel. "Hold!" someone shouted. Just then, King Sigurd walked into the corridor where everyone else was located.

"You will disregard that order!" Sigurd shouted with authority as he stepped through the gathering crowd to the front of the line. By now, he was fully prepared to lead the miners into battle, but he wanted to see for himself first what all the commotion was about. Stepping forward with his hand on the sheath of his precious sword, Sigurd looked to see a large doorway with many people standing on the other side of it. To his surprise, many of them did not appear to be wearing any armor, and most of them were holding shovels and similar tools to the ones his miners were using. But they weren't vikings. These were different people, from a race that Sigurd had never encountered before. This left him confused and nearly speechless as he clenched his sword hilt, looking at the Taiyou workers with bewilderment. Seconds passed, but it seemed longer as the two different crews stared at one another from opposite sides of the cavern, the Taiyou workers on one side and the Viking miners on the other. The tensions were high and everyone was caught off guard, unprepared for whatever might happen next.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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There was a great deal of commotion within the chamber, dozens of miners were clamoring for a light source, while the bright halogen lights mounted on reflective yellow helmets began to flicker, and burn out under the influence of this strange marble doorway.

The dozens of men stood in contrast to the strange fair skinned men before them. This brought quizzical looks, and murmers in hushed Taiyou as they tried to figure out what was happening. They wore iron, bronze, and furs, and looked like aliens to many of the miners, who had never seen someone of another ethnicity.

In the fierce display of intimidation, and violence. The miners, many of whom lived in modern comforts and were unused to facing off against a foe backed away in fear. Their whispers remained hushed as many of them clenched their tools at the display, looking unsure to their compatriots. The strange men before them appeared to be warriors of some kind, but seismic scans showed no life forms this deep; and nothing seemed to add up.

Near the rear of the Taiyou side of the cave, someone managed to get a Yunboro running; the large yellow humanoid shaped machine hummed to life, and moved slowly, and rather awkwardly through the tunnels, it's bright halogen light flickering with it's movements, but otherwise flooding the previously dark caverns with a yellow light, a yellow light that poured through the gate, bathing the fair skinned men on the other side in it's warm glow.

The halogen light cast a long shadow for Musume Kobitsu, drowning out the orange-yellow light from his lantern.

"Darekaga toppu ni idō shi, shokuchō o shutoku suru hitsuyō ga arimasu." One of the men called out. "Someone should go to the surface and get the foreman!"

The rest of the men murmured their agreement, and that responsibility fell upon Kobitsu, whom turned towards Eguchi, as the supervisor placed a firm hand on the assistant's shoulder.

"Hi sesshoku chika no buzoku o hakken shimashita!" He said in excitement. "Darekaga kantoku ni iwanakereba naranai, tashikani kagaku-shō wa watashitachi no hakken ni ōkina kanshin o motte irudarou!"

"We've found an uncontacted underground civilization, perhaps the science ministry will take great interest in this discovery!"

Takao Eguchi was a middle aged man in his thirties, a construction worker almost his entire life. He was a thin, but well built man who was used to working with his hands, but he was also college educated, which enabled him to avoid conscription. His attire was different from the others, with a tan jumpsuit worn over a white shirt and tie. This tan jumpsuit bore bright silver, and yellow reflective tape on the arms, and the torso, and his yellow hardhat bore the Ten-shi Zaibatsu logo, a symbol which was no doubt alien to the men before him.

He took the lantern from his assistant, and then a step forward. His boot made a crunching sound under the freshly blasted gravel, while his arm held the lantern out outstretched.

He kept his movements slow, and deliberate as to not spook the strange men on the other side, his hands were kept visible, and away from his synthetic tool belt, which held a hammer, tape measure, a pouch of pliers, and screwdrivers.

The Taiyou were not a warring people like the Vikings before them; and while they boasted a powerful army unlike anything their rivals have ever seen. These men were frightened at the shouts, and the preparations of the Vikings. Sigurd could overpower them all easily, as the men weren't trained to fight, and their hand tools offered little in the way of resistance.

Only the Yunboro in the back could offer any fight, but it too was slow, and cumbersome.


Eguchi finally approached the gateway, but he did not advance past it. Rather the man placed his hand on his chest, while keeping the other one outstretched holding the gas lantern, which made a slight hissing sound.

"Takao." He said, holding his hand to his chest. "Taiyou." He said, moving his hand to gesture towards the miners behind him. "Mugai." He iterated. "Harmless" "Yūjin" He said. "Friend."

He kept his hand flat, and his movements deliberate while holding it out towards the Vikings before him. "Anatahadare?" "Who are you?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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Sigurd Hring stood in front of the hollowed out gateway, looking puzzled as he cocked his head and watched as several of the foreigners suddenly backed away from him in fear as he stepped forward. The miners on the Viking side of the doorway were also standing back, perhaps cowering behind their king, none of them saying anything. They didn't have to. Their swift gazes and widened eyes, along with their concerned head turns towards one another made it quite obvious that they were scared. The only one who wasn't frightened was Sigurd, whose expression showed more curiosity and confusion than anything. As he looked over the Taiyou crew in front of him, he heard a loud mechanical noise and suddenly found himself standing in the dim spotlight. As the yellow orangish beam shined over to his side of the cave, the viking miners behind him would split off and back further away to both flanks of the doorway, trying to avoid the mysterious light as if it was magically dangerous. Sigurd himself would raise his free arm to shield his face as the light got brighter, but continued to gaze through the doorway with squinted eyes. After a brief moment, he saw an elongated giant shadow emerge from the brightly lit corridor. As the shadow got smaller, soon Musume Kobitsu would appear holding a lanturn.

By now, a few of the viking workers had fled the cave and returned to the surface, informing the guards of their situation. One of the guards at the cave entrance would turn and give a hand signal to the guards on top of the watch tower. One of those guards in turn would hit the large gong with his hammer, causing a loud bell-like sound which was low pitched, long and drawn out. It's ring echoed for miles in every direction, alerting everyone on the entire settlement. Fishers, sailers, hunters, gatherers, farmers, shamans, everyone would pause and look up towards the tower, listening carefully. Once the gong rang a second time, everyone immediately stopped what they were doing and ran back towards the ring fort. Panic mode was initiated, as some of the women and children started crying or screaming. As all the workers in the fields hustled to enter the ring fort, a well armored, well orchestraded line of armed viking soldiers would emerge from the great hall and make their way towards the battlements. As that was happening, a handful of guards would descend from the watchtower and make their way towards the cave entrance.

There were thirteen jarls who ruled directly under the konung, King Sigurd the Ringtaker, only five of which were at the arctic settlement in Iskjerne Bay, and of those five, all but one was in the great hall. Jarl Evan was the exception, as he was down at the shipyard scraping ice off the side of a longboat with about a dozen others who had agreed to venture south with him. Each jarl commanded about 45 karls or freemen, and about half a dozen thralls or slaves. As the warning gong alerted those vikings in the shipyard, Jarl Evan would drop his scraper and run up the hills towards the great hall with all the others. Without knowledge of the king's condition, control of the settlement would fall to the table of the five jarls, who would immediately gather together and discuss their plans as a democratic collective. Lots would usually then be drawn or chosen as to which great warrior would go save their king, but as Hrollaug was the king's son, Prince Hrollaug immediately volunteered to go first. This act of bravery inspired the vikings, who cheered for him as his servant brought forth his shield and armour. Hrollaug was an ox of a warrior with broad shoulders, bigger and taller than most of the others. His arms and legs were strong, and he had developed a reputation for once wrestling a bull to death with his bare hands. With calluses on his fingers and toes and the bull's black hide on his back, Hrollaug dropped the visor on his uniquely horned helmet and began walking towards the great hall's exit, followed by others who were rooting for him and boosting his morale.

Sigurd wasn't in need of assistance though. Not yet anyway, as he stared at Takao Eguchi for quite a while without saying anything. As the supervisor's assistant approached the doorway slowly, Sigurd sniffed the air and fixed his gaze on Eguchi, scanning him from head to toe with his squinted eyes. "Det er en ond dæmon, min konge, vi skulle trække tilbage" one of the vikings standing to the king's flank would say lowly with fear in his tone. Sigurd continued to stare at the Taiyou assistant before stepping closer. "Det är möjligt," Sigurd responded casually before approaching the gateway. Takao looked up at Sigurd as the large king approached. Sigurd's frame was tall and built, judging by the thickness of his arms and neck, as the rest of his body was concealed beneath crimson red robes and a thick animal fur coat which looked to be made from a large wholly creature of some kind, perhaps a buffalo or small mammoth if such animals still existed in the far north. Sigurd wore many rings and a silver armband engraved in the liking of a large feline, possibly a forest cat or cave lion. His black leather belt held a similar black scabbard in which his jeweled sword was sheathed. This was his only visible weapon besides the seax on his hip, but concealed behind the king's back on the back of his belt were also two throwing axes. His pants were hard to see beneath his long red fluffy robe, but he was also wearing wool pants with furry snow boots and thick socks to keep his legs and feet warm. The bulkiness of his costume made it apparent that he was from a colder region and that hidden beneath his robe was likely some form of heavy body armor, while the crown on his head made it obvious that he held a high rank in viking society.

"Takao," the Taiyou assistant said while holding his hand to his chest. Sigurd watched carefully and listened as Eguchi moved slowly and gestured to the workers behind him. "Taiyou," he said directly, looking towards the viking leader. "Mugai," he said with a smile. "Yûjin," he said unmenacingly, hoping the vikings wouldn't attack suddenly. "Hvad siger han?" one of the viking miners would ask. "Hvad siger han?" he asked again being panicky. "Vara tyst," Sigurd said calmly before looking over Eguchi's shoulder to the Taiyou workers behind him. There was a brief moment of silence before Eguchi spoke again. "Anatahadare?" he asked while deliberately pointing to Sigurd himself. Sigurd looked at Eguchi's tool belt before turning to face him directly, now placing his free hand on his own chest. "Ég er Sigurður, sonur Randver" he said boldly, with humility and wisdom in his tone. His voice was loud and deep but somehow still calm and peaceful. "Jeg stoler ikke på det, min herre, hva drømmer han om? De er demoner, vi burde drepe dem," another one of the viking miners said, this time coming from the king's other flank. "Om han är en demon, varför talar han så här?" Sigurd asked, still gazing at Takao Eguchi without moving. "Sigurður, ég er Sigurður" he said, tapping on his chest. "Norðurmaður" he said calmly, just as the handful of guards from the watchtower were arriving. Seeing their king standing face to face with a strange foreigner, they stopped in the tunnel behind him, keeping a fair distance away from the king's conversation. They held their large round shields in front of them, each guard holding a long handled atgeir similar to a glaive or poleaxe. Unlike the viking workers, these guards were wearing hornless visored helmets which completely shrouded their faces, with chainmail coats of armour beneath their dark blue robes, each robe decorated with the symbol of two ravens intertwined, matching the larger black raven symbol on their shields.

Although there were only seven of them, the Norse guards still were stronger and larger than any of the Taiyou workers on the other side of the gate that they could see, and appeared bigger than the Norse miners as well, if only because they were wearing armor instead of working shirtless, armed only with shovels, pickaxes and wheel barrels. Sigurd would tilt his head slightly while looking at Eguchi with estranged curiousity. Was he a dwarf? Was he a king? Perhaps he was a goblin, or maybe a god or giant in disguise. Sigurd Hring had thought that Takao Eguchi said that his name was Takao Taiyou, and that two of the workers behind him were named Mugai and Yûjin, but his misunderstanding was of no consequence. He got the gist of what the Taiyou assistant was saying, as the viking miners slowly began to pull back, helping their wounded coworkers and taking them to safety. Luckily, none of them had been seriously injured, just a few bumps and scrapes, and maybe a few broken bones at most. With some medical care they would be back to work in no time. But before anyone else could do anything, they needed to find out more about these strange visitors and what had really happened in the cave chamber. This responsibility belonged to Sigurd Hring, who stood there looking at Takao silently, wondering what the Taiyou work crew would do next.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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Takao kept his movements slow, and deliberate. He didn't want to spook the men on the other side, and he especially didn't want to frighten or upset the man directly in front of him. Rather he listened to his words carefully, his eyes watching his hands, and observing his body language. His Gaze even briefly moved to the Vikings behind them, silently observing them as they moved away from the Yunboro's light. If these individuals were an underground society, perhaps the bright light coming from the Yunboro was irritating, so Takao slowly raised his hand, and called out. "Denkiwokesu." He ordered.

The bright lights of the Yunboro were promptly shut off, leaving only the dim light from the various headlamps worn by the Taiyou miners, and the light from Takao's lantern.

Kobitsu had taken the opportunity to slip away from the exchange, and make his way through the vast tunnels that led to the express elevator, where he picked up a landline telephone.

"This is Kobitsu Musume, Site Supervisor Assistant for Site nine, we've discovered some kind of underground civilization... we need to get security down here, I think my supervisor is in danger!" He called into his telephone, the voice on the other end assuring him in hushed Taiyou that help was on the way.

The Taiyou methods at mobilization were a bit more direct. An alarm began to sound inside the massive Ten-shi Zaibatsu campus, towering spires of concrete, and glass directly contrasted the Viking fort, the alarm was shrill, like a buzz, a deafening repeating buzz that signaled there was an incident.

"Security to site nine, level one alert!" The voice called out in Taiyou.

Armed security officers prepared their gear, and had began to assemble in a large room while they began to put on ballistic vests, and coveralls for the mine.

There were ten of them in total, each of them putting on their reflective jumpsuits, which would be worn with white reflective vests that bore the symbols "警備員" Which were Taiyou for "Security"

The next thing to do was prepare their weapons, Seburo C26a assault rifles, were checked, each of the men carefully went over every curve of the bullpup assault rifle. The weapon was cradled naturally in their arms, turned over, and inspected for flaws, and mechanical malfunctions. Each Tungsten tipped 5.45x45mm cartridge was checked over, before being placed inside magazines. Once they were ready, they turned to their own supervisor, a security sergeant.

They went over medical gear next, making sure they had bandages, and medicines for the wounded if there were any, and finally they performed a radio check, their radios would be in good working order, something that was confirmed with a chirp from the small black plastic devices.

Seno Miyagi, the Director of the Science division of the Taiyou Empire's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology too had just arrived, having recieved a call from the Security director of Site Nine in the Ten-Shi Dig.

The man slowly stepped down from the cabin of the Botanachi DRHC Tilt Rotor aircraft, his feet hitting the concrete of the helipad as he briefly took in the skyline of Niihama City then proceeded down into the dig site via an express elevator.

---

Takao stood there in the gateway for what seemed like hours, working slowly to decipher what Sigurd was telling him.

The Taiyou man moved to scratch the back of his neck in confusion, before making an attempt to pronounce Sigurd's name.

"Shi-ga-do... Zonnu Ran-de-buu" He enunciated with a thick almost syrup like consistency, the words completely alien to his tongue, but he tried to pronounce them as best as he could. "No-ru-du Ma-nu-duru" He said slowly, bringing a finger to his mouth trying to pronounce the words, but he struggled with the language even if it was an earnest attempt at pronouncing it carefully just as his own guards arrived from the tunnels behind him. Five of the ten security officers, whom didn't seem to hold much more of a stature over the other workers, but their clothes were different and they certainly didn't carry tools. They kept a calm demeanor though, and were careful to keep towards the rear of their cave, near the yellow Yunboro. They took up positions as to not be as threatening as possible, but positions where they could act if violence erupted.

The newest man stood out from the rest, unlike the mining jumpsuits that Takao, and his men wore. This man wore a simple dark jacket, and tie, along with dark colored slacks. His hair was combed neatly to one side, and his beard was carefully groomed. A pair of glasses rested gingerly on the bridge of his nose, which he pushed up towards his brow as he observed the men in front of him. "Watashi wa anata ga kanari mitsukeru koto o sanshō shite kudasai." The man said, making sure to keep his own movements slow, and deliberate.

Takao grimaced slightly while keeping his gaze on Sigurd. His hand moved over to Seno's chest, to introduce him.

"Seno Miyagi."

Seno seemed somewhat apathetic to the crowd before him, and in his own ignorance he brought a thin white paper cylinder to his lips, and then a small chrome device, which made a 'chick' sound, a small gout of flame emerging from a brief white spark. Seno inhaled the flame through the paper cylinder, the bright cherry forming at the end of the cylinder as the lighter extinguished itself.

Seno held another thin paper cylinder out to Sigurd.

"Shigaretto" He said slowly, puffing a small whisp of acrid smelling smoke wafting from his mouth.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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Sigurd Hring watched closely as Takao moved, gripping the hilt of his imported crucible steel viking sword as Takao slowly raised his hand. "Denkiwokesu," he called out, and as the Yunboro's orangish light was shut off, Sigurd took a small step back. His guards would take a small step forward, each of them locking their shields together to form a tight shield wall, while the viking cave workers stayed to the flanks of the hole in their cave wall, some of them poking their heads around the hole to catch a glimpse of Takao, only to duck back skittishly as soon as he tried to look at them. "Vad händer?" one of the vikings asked. "Vilka är dom?" another one questioned. Seeing the multiple headlamps from the Taiyou worker's helmets as they moved about and shined over him, Sigurd sniffed the air again before examining the hole in the wall. He glanced at Takao's lanturn, mentally noting the similarities and differences between his own lanturns and Takao's lanturn. The viking lanturns were similar in shape and practicality, but were probably much bulkier and heavier, made of crafted iron and brass, fitted with transparent crystals and fueled by fish oil to produce a long lasting, albeit dimmer greenish light. The viking lanturns were used for finding diamonds, gold and other gemstones however, moreso for detecting precious metals than with providing sufficient light to see in. For visibility in the dark, the vikings still relied heavily on candles and torches.

"Jag tror att han berättade för dem att dämpa ljuset," Sigurd said quietly, his necklaces jingling as he moved. "Berätta för alla att lämna tunnlarna," he said calmly, keeping his eyes fixed on the Taiyou in front of him. "Hvað um konunginn?" one of the workers asked. "Du hörde honom, lämna" one of the guards responded. With that, more armoured warriors walked into the chamber, proceeding Prince Hrollaug, and took up positions beside the handful of guards in the center, forming two more shield walls as the viking miners pulled back from the flanks and stepped behind the shield walls before leaving the cave chamber. Sigurd Hring was now surrounded by a C-shaped wall of viking shields which covered his back and flanks as he stood in the middle of the chamber between them, his crown, sword and jewelry shimmering with each passing beam of light from the Taiyou headlamps. He listened to Takao Eguchi as the man tried to pronounce the Nordic language, but the translation was horrible and Sigurd only managed to learn the man's name. "Far, hvem snakker du med?" Prince Hrollaug would call out, stepping forward from behind the shield wall. "Håll dig tillbaka Rollo," the king said, causing the guards to pull Hrollaug back again behind the shield wall. "Han heter Takao säger han. De bakom honom heter Muginn och Eugene" he said just as another voice called out. "Watashi wa anata ga kanari mitsukeru koto o sanshō shite kudasai."

At that moment, Seno Miyagi walked up from behind Takao Eguchi and looked through the doorway at Sigurd Hring and his silent wall of shields, drawing a cigarette while ignoring the fact that Sigurd's troops were confused and anxious. Takao would grimace, holding his hand to Miyagi's chest while introducing him. Sigurd would try to pronounce Miyagi's name as he pulled out a chrome device. "Senna," was all he managed to say before Seno Miyagi flicked his butane liter, causing a spark and small flame which sent the vikings into a frenzy. Suddenly, the whole cave chamber would fill up with the deafening sound of several highly alarmed vikings in a state of panic. Hrollaug readied his small throwing axe as the shield wall closed in on the king. But Sigurd just raised his hand in the air, haulting their advance. He watched quietly as Miyagi drew the flame to his lips and lit the cigarette. The vikings watched in awe and fear as Seno took a drag before holding up another cigarette and offering it to Sigurd.

The Geatish warrior king showed no fear of Takao or Miyagi, but was cautious about stepping closer as he kept his hand on the hilt of his sword. "Shigaretto," the security director said slowly as he exhaled a puff of smoke. Sigurd would sniff the air again, recognizing the smell of tobacco. The vikings were no strangers to hemp and tobacco, and Sigurd himself often hit the smoking pipe. But none of them had ever seen a rolled cigarette before, or a butane liter. Sigurd cautiously reached out and slowly took the cigarette from Seno Miyagi, sniffing it before tasting it with the tip of his tongue. Sigurd would then touch the end of the cylinder to his lips, looking at Miyagi's body movements carefully. Sigurd would not say much, instead watching and listening to everything around them. Slowly, more vikings started to form in the tunnels outside the cave chamber. Evan Skjalsson and his leidang had arrived and were not in the cave chamber, but just outside in one of the mining tunnels where nobody could see them.

King Sigurd took a moment to analyze the situation before turning his focus on Miyagi specifically. He gazed over Seno's slacks and dark jacket, taking note of the man's strange tie and glasses. Watching as Miyagi hit his lit cigarette a couple more times, Sigurd finally stuck the unlit cigarette between his lips and held it there loosely before reaching for Seno's glasses. His action was slow and deliberate, but perhaps also somewhat crude and inconsiderate. He didn't ask for permission or say anything to Seno, instead stepping forward and blatantly trying to take Seno's glasses so as to try them on for himself. The vikings had never seen eyeglasses before, and King Sigurd was curious. At that moment, Prince Hrollaug stepped forward again, lowering his axe as he approached Takao, Miyagi and his father with an ambitious confidence in his step. "Hvað er þetta? Leyfðu mér að sjá," Hrollaug said as he walked up to his father and tried to snatch the cigarette from his lips. Sigurd would cock his head to the side, evading his son's attempt to snatch the cigarette before smacking him lightly on the back of his head. "Rör inte vid!" Sigurd shouted, smiling before turning to look at Miyagi again. Hrollaug smiled too before stepping closer to Takao and Miyagi, standing over them with his giant stature, ox-hide coat and horned helmet. Hrollaug would reach out to grab the elbow of Miyagi's jacket and tug at it, before grabbing the open collar near Seno's shoulder and tugging at it gently. "Það er fínt kápu, hvar fékkstu það?" Hrollaug asked, obviously taking an interest in the man's choice of clothing.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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Through the narrow opening, the security officers watched closely, even as Seno brazenly lit his cigarette, and the Vikings on the other side went into a frenzy, the only reaction from the Taiyou guards were subtle re-positioning; some of them opted to tighten the grips on their weapons. They watched Seno, and Sigurd's movements carefully, and closely, for any indication of the outbreak of violence. But the Vikings eventually calmed down, and the Taiyou guards followed suit, some of them moving around the Yunboro to get a better look, others moved to switch on small LED flashlights mounted on the tips of their rifles.

Seno took note of the unlit cigarette, and quietly, but deliberately raised his hand, opening it up to reveal the lighter inside. Seno put his thumb on the button, pressing it and causing the flame to shoot fourth from the lighter. He demonstrated the motion again, and then a third time before offering the lighter to Sigurd. It was an attempt at common ground. Seno was also buying time, searching through records for any indication as to what these people were.

At that moment his eyes moved towards the Prince that approached them, but not for long as Sigurd seemed to be reaching for something; Seno's eyeglasses. Seno grimaced, he needed these glasses to see, having shunned the prosthesis that had been offered to him, he liked their style, as well as their adaptive darkening nature.

Seno craned his head back, moving out of reach of Sigurd's attempts to take his glasses, but he recognized what the Viking king was trying to do, so he turned off the adaptive Heads-Up display so the man didn't think he was seeing ghosts, and in a deliberate motion, he pulled the glasses off his face, folded them up, and handed them to Sigurd.

He waited quietly for the Viking King to place them on his face, before he turned briefly towards the Yunboro.

"Yunboro no raito o mōichido on ni shimasu."

The bright lights of the Yunboro were turned on once more, and they flooded into the chamber through the doorway, but the eyeglasses Sigurd was wearing would darken, cutting out the glare from the Yunboro, and making the light easier to see. When the Yunboro's lights turned off, the glasses lightened back up. Sigurd would also likely notice the distortion from the lens prescription, Seno required them to see, as his own vision was flawed.

Their language bore a stark resemblance to the fair haired peoples of Skygeirr; an unassuming small fringe world on the edges of Taiyou space. They were a hardy people, adapted to the frigid conditions of the planet.

Seno would try again to communicate, this time in English, a language he learned nearly a decade ago, from dating a girl from the Ferrisville territories outside Aschen space.

"Do you understand these words?" Seno asked, his Taiyou accent lilting his words slightly, but his eyes fixated on the pair of glasses, and the lighter Sigurd was still likely holding, and briefly towards the approaching Hrollaug, whose words were compared to hundreds of different datafiles, from both old Taiyou archives, and the local peoples in the Galaxy. Seno also inferred he was asking about the jacket. It was a modest department store jacket, he didn't think the jacket would fit the towering man, but Seno took the jacket off anyway, handing it to Hrollaug. Gesturing for him to take the jacket.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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Seno Miyagi watched the viking king's reactions with his son before holding up the liter again. As he hit the button to ignite the flame, Sigurd and Hrollaug took a step back. Hrollaug raised his axe again, while the guards behind him raised their large round wooden shields to protect themselves. Miyagi demonstrated how to use the liter again before offering it to the king, who was still holding Seno's eyeglasses. Sigurd looked around himself, throwing caution to the wind before taking a step forward. Hrollaug held up the jacket that Seno handed over to him. He flipped the jacket around, examining it before realizing it was too small. He sniffed the Taiyou's jacket before tossing it to the vikings behind him. A few of the Norsemen immediately began fighting for its possession, tugging at it as if it was some precious magical relic that would give them power. "Det er min!" one of the guards shouted. "Nei, slipp, det tilhører meg!" another one shouted. Sigurd set the glasses on the crown above his head before reaching out and accepting the butane liter. He fumbled with it in the palm of his hand before opening the cap and flicking the button with his thumb. It sparked a couple of times before he figured it out. Once the flame appeared, Hrollaug and the others stood there motionlessly as if hypnotized by the small chrome device in Sigurd's hand.

Sigurd would stare at the open flame for a moment, waving the liter back and forth with a slight smile on his face. "Det er magisk," Hrollaug whispered calmly, staring at the flame. "Se, han holder ild i hånden!" one of the guards shouted, letting go of the jacket he was tugging on, perhaps losing interest for something of greater value. Sigurd Hring turned to face his guards, waving the liter in front of them with a smile. The vikings jumped back in fright for a moment, fearing their king's new power. "Det brinner inte mig," Sigurd said before liting his cigarette. He would take a drag slowly before exhaling a puff of smoke, nodding his head with acceptance of the taste. Sigurd smiled, examining the cigarette before hitting it again. "Bra smak," he said while handing the cigarette to Hrollaug so that he could taste it.

Sigurd would next try on the director's eyeglasses. He placed the glasses on his face and peered through them. His vision was slightly blurred by the prescription, and Sigurd waved his hand in front of himself as if trying to reach out and touch the image in front of him. " "Yunboro no raito o mōichido on ni shimasu," Miyagi said and soon the bright spotlights from the giant machine would kick back on. This caused all the vikings to shield their eyes, including Hrollaug who raised his arm up to protect his face. Sigurd alone seemed to be unaffected as the glasses darkened and the lenses became tinted. He squinted through the lenses, adjusting the glasses while trying to peer through them. "Det är som att titta genom dunkelt vatten," he said, confused as to the purpose of such an accessory. But as he went to remove the glasses, he suddenly became aware to the Yunboro's extremely bright lights and quickly held the lenses to his eyes again. He noticed that the glasses made it easier to see Miyagi's form even with the bright light surrounding him. "Ooo," he said with newfound curiosity. "Ljuset, det lyser inte så klart genom glaset," Sigurd said with an amazed tone of voice. Sigurd would slowly unsheathe his sword and wave it in front of him, poking at the untouchable light with uncertainty before removing the glasses again.

"Du kan se in i solen?" Sigurd asked Seno while sheathing his sword again and handing the unfolded glasses back to Seno as the Yunboro's lights turned back off. "Do you understand these words?" Seno suddenly said in English, a language that the vikings were familiar with from their many relations with England and the westlands. Hrollaug stopped and hit the cigarette again before handing it back to his father. "You speak Anglish," Hrollaug answered while his father looked up towards Miyagi without speaking to him directly. "I am called Rollo," Hrollaug said calmly, tapping his fingers to his own breastplate. "This is my father, King Sigurd" he said while motioning to the crowned king beside him. King Sigurd took another drag off the cigarette, exhaling slowly.

Evan Skjalsson and a dozen of his best warriors would casually enter the cave chamber, taking up positions behind the C-shaped shield wall with their stringed yew bows, iron-tipped arrows, metal axes and throwing spears. All of them wore deep blue robes bearing the white raven symbol on their chests. Most of them were wearing blue turbans or snow caps. All of them wore dome-shaped visored helmets with chainmail masks which covered their faces. Some of them were holding lit torches, but none of them were holding shields. Jarl Evan himself was instead dual wielding a pair of one-handed war axes which he gripped tightly while getting into a ready position behind the wall. "We are Northmen," Hrollaug said calmly, talking to Seno while motioning to himself and the shield wall behind him. Sigurd Hring would listen quietly, still smoking the cigarette while twiddling the butane liter between his fingers without saying anything. "You do not look like Angles," Hrollaug said with affirmation. "Are you from Serkland?" He asked with heeding interest.

"Hvad siger de?" one of the vikings behind the wall asked frighteningly. "Hvorfor angreb de os?" another one whispered quietly. "De angreb os ikke, hulen skal have kollapset på sig selv," a third viking chimed in. "De er demoner, vi burde drepe dem" one of them suggested. "Du kan ikke drepe en demon," another one retorted back. Soon the chamber became filled with undistinguishable whispers and chatter amongst themselves. "La kongen bestemme hvem de er," Evan commanded, causing King Sigurd to turn his head towards the jarl. Hrollaug would look at his father nervously before turning to Miyagi again, swallowing behind his mask. King Sigurd would finish his cigarette, flicking it to the ground before stomping it out with his fur trimmed snow boot. "Ge mig stenen," Sigurd said quietly. Hrollaug reached into his belt pouch and pulled out a small transparent clear sunstone, handing it to his father. Sigurd stuck the butane liter into his own belt pouch before stepping towards Seno again slowly. "Ge honom tillbaka sin rocka," Sigurd said calmly. "Men han gav bort det, han ville inte ha det" one of the guards responded. "Nu!" Sigurd shouted, spitting on the ground. The guard would step forward, offering the Taiyou jacket back to Seno with caution before stepping quickly back into formation.

Hrollaug watched with confusion and uncertainty as his father contemplated silently to himself for a moment before holding up the sunstone and offering it to Seno in exchange for the liter he had pocketed. Hrollaug looked at his father, then to Seno again before speaking. "The Northmen call it a sunstone," Hrollaug said. "On a cloudy day, hold this stone up to the sky, and you will always see the sun." Hrollaug demonstrated with his imagination using one hand, forming a circle with his fingers and peering through them towards the cave ceiling. At that moment, Jarl Evan called to King Sigurd from behind the shield wall. "Hvad nu min konge?" he asked. "De kan ha sjukdomar!" someone shouted from the far back. King Sigurd thought quietly again for a moment before answering. "Om de var demoner skulle vi vara döda redan," he said calmly. "Evan," Sigurd called out. "Vill du fortfarande hjälpa vårt folk?" the king asked quietly. "Hej min konung," the jarl answered. "Bra, för jag har en ny strävan efter dig" King Sigurd Hring explained in his own native tongue. Rollo looked behind him to Evan before looking back at his father confusedly. Sigurd would turn and wink to Hrollaug silently before looking to Miyagi again with a smile. "Berätta för honom att vi vill fynda," Sigurd said. Hrollaug nodded before hooking his axe to his belt and stepping forward between Seno Miyagi and Sigurd Hring, touching his father Sigurd's shoulder with one hand and Seno's shoulder with the other. "The king says he wishes to make peace with your people," the large prince explained. "He says he is willing to trade..." Hrollaug stopped, looking to the king. "Handel vad?" Hrollaug asked. "Krigare," the Geatish king answered. Hrollaug nodded then translated his father's words into English. "He is willing to give your people strong workers in exchange for warmer clothes and dryer wood," Hrollaug said slowly, making sure to speak clearly so that Miyagi could understand him. "There is much splendor down here," he said while stepping back and motioning to the gemstones and precious metals that sparkled like tiny dust all around them before stepping closer. "He will share it all with you, in exchange for strong medicine" Hrollaug said calmly, looking down at Seno while breathing deeply through his metal visor and chainmail faceguard.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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Seno nodded in approval at the vikings' understanding of his words, they were forming some common ground through communication, and that was a great improvement over the language disparity.

So the man was called Sigurd, and the son was Rollo. This brought a smile to the Taiyou science director. But this first contact had to go deeper; so Seno took the glasses back, and placed them back upon the bridge of his nose.

"We are northmen."

Seno considered his response, before he offered a slight nod, bringing up his hand to stroke his dark beard. "We are the people of the sun. We are called Taiyou."

"My name is Seno Miyagi, I am the director of Science and Technology for my people." He said, pausing as he tried to parse the words into something more easily digestible for the king before him. "I am a scholar, and a shaman for my people, I help give them strong medicine, but I also help their warriors grow strong through special alchemy." Seno explained. "My people control a vast empire, across many realms. My king is a powerful, but fair man." Seno said, gesturing back at his people. "These are workers, miners. We are peaceful."

In one motion, Seno gestured towards the rear of the cavern, nodding for the security personnel to relax. Raising his right hand, he held his hand up open palmed; and the men in the rear lowered their weapons, visibly relaxing as Seno considered his next move. A next move that was decided for him as the King handed him a sunstone.

Slowly, Seno took the sunstone, and turned it over in his hand, inspecting it, before he nodded in approval. "Before we can trade, my king will wish to meet you." Seno explained. "Do your people live under here in these caverns? We would like to see your settlement, of course; if you can tolerate the sunlight I would show you the surface?" The Science Director was full of questions. But now was time for the talk of trade, while Seno wasn't exactly equipped to make a trade, he knew that Prime Minister Kayabuki would be more in a position to negotiate a trade.

"Your majesty, your offers of strong workers is fair, but it is not strong workers we require, we wish to learn your people's ways, how you hunt, how you fish, how you govern your kingdom."

"For this we will trade strong medicine, strong weapons to defeat your enemies, teach your warriors great skills, and teach your people our ways."

Quietly Seno considered the situation, hoping that they understood his words.

But that quiet was split asunder by the sounds of the lift engaging, metallic doors sliding open with an audible hiss from the elevator shaft which Seno had descended from. Inside the elevator shaft was a group of men, dressed differently than the security personnel, the miners, and Miyagi himself. These men were wearing dark green, mottled with tan, white, and different shades of green. Their weapons were similar, albeit a little more updated than the security officers stationed around the perimeter, and their demeanor was much different. "Jieitai wa koko ni arimasu." The Supervisor said. This statement caused Seno to grimace, as the men started to approach, keeping their flashlights trained on the group of Vikings on the other side.

"Buchō, koreha ima jiko bōei no mondaidesu." The lead man called out, stepping up behind Seno, nearly shoving the mining supervisor out of the way. "Korera no rōdō-sha o tsureteitte kōzan kara dete kudasai." He ordered, and the Supervisor tried to argue, turning around to face the man with a scowl.

"Kore wa akiraka ni kagaku no kankatsu-ka ni arimasu!" Takao shouted, Slowly, Seno turned towards the Self-Defense Force sergeant.

"Anata no shiki-kan wa daredesu ka? Kare o shōkan!" Seno spat, pointing rather angrily back towards the elevator shaft. Then Seno turned his attention back towards Sigurd.

"These men are our kingdom's warriors, tell your people not to spook them... I will try to straighten this matter out."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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The weather was freezing cold in Iskjerne Bay, the whole land covered in a thick blanket of snow as the blizzard pressed on, bringing with it the frigid winds and subzero temperatures. There were only about fifty vikings down in the northern cave. Another one hundred or so were inside the great hall where it was much warmer. Another twenty five guards had taken positions just outside the wooden beams supporting the hidden cave entrance, with some of them taking posts along the watch tower to provide the guards with an aerial view of the cave entrance from above. Yet another seventy five vikings took up positions inside the ring fort surrounding the great hall, all of them wearing thick furs and padded body armour to protect them from the extremely cold weather. Of the thirteen jarls serving King Sigurd, three of them resided in the great hall while two of them, including Jarl Evan himself, was in the cave chamber.

Evan Skjarlsson was an exceptional warrior with strong arms and a thick neck. He was not as tall as Rollo, or as muscular, but still larger than most of the vikings around him. Evan had a mix of fair and pale skin with long red hair and a braided beard. He wore a long bright blue fur robe with cotton white trim which was folded over and tied around his waist with a thick brown sash. The sash itself was overlapped by a thin black leather belt with a large triquetra-shaped silver belt buckle. His left hip featured a long seax in sheath, while his right hip dangled a black leather belt pouch. His white wool trimmed fur boots too were also black, as were his similarly fashioned gloves. Only his mouth and beard was exposed behind his reinforced metal visored helmet, which concealed his nose and upper face. He wore a throat protector wrapped by a heavy red scarf which draped down, and a blue snow cap or turban under which was concealed his long red hair and head. In each hand, Jarl Evan was holding the short arm-lengthed handle of a viking throwing axe. Although he was a noble lord equivalent to the status of a high ranking Earl, it was apparent that Jarl Evan no less shared the same obligations and hardships of those around him.

As the snowfall increased, optical visibility in the area became more difficult. A white haze made it nearly impossible to see anything beyond a few meters away. From the ring fort's location on the hill, not even the giant mountains could be seen. There was nothing above or below, only a bright white curtain as far as one could see. The earth mound protecting the great long hall was virtually invisible during the snow storm, blending in and appearing almost as part of the white hill itself. The weather was brutal even for the vikings, but it was also providing a natural cammoflauge that the Northmen were quite aware of. The walls around the ring fort were being buried and hidden with fresh snow, but inside the toasty oasis within the great hall, the viking settlers were still scrambling and being very active, preparing themselves for the worst. As the bay and rivers continued to freeze and solidify, the time for boating became narrow. Soon, no sea vessels would have access to or from the bay area. The vikings were landlocked, and would be forced to stay in Iskjerne for the remaining winter. King Sigurd had prepared his people for such an event, but had not planned on staying in Iskjerne for that long. The unexpected arrival of the Taiyou party would delay their exploration for at least another month.

But the Norsemen under Sigurd's rule had become highly adaptive and were not idle in figuring out a way to use their time wisely. Without the king's presence to rule them, the three jarls in the great hall were already pre-appointed by King Sigurd to form a temporary democracy until either Prince Hrollaug or the king himself returned to lead them. But that was not the only thing King Sigurd had taken into consideration and prepared them for. The jarl, Evan Skjalsson, was also being tested. Evan's brother King Erling had betrayed King Sigurd and had started to establish a Christianized viking society in Norway, leading many heathens to turn against King Sigurd and the old gods of their forefathers and ancestors. This resulted in a lot of distrust from King Sigurd, who now sought to test Jarl Evan's intentions. Evan had requested to take a leidang and explore the southern coastal region on a quest for help, hoping to find better resources. The sudden presence of the Taiyou, however, had now provided King Sigurd with an even better opportunity for testing the jarl's loyalty. He was offering to lend them Jarl Evan and his crew in exchange for the Taiyou's help. Just as always, Evan would be expected to learn and gather as much information as he could about everything he encountered during such an important mission.

Prince Hrollaug wanted to protest against his father's suggestion, but he couldn't. Sigurd Hring was the sovereign and leader of their whole establishment, and he knew better than to put his own son at risk in the hands of foreign people, especially from a civilization as alien to him as Seno Miyagi himself. Just like the mice Sigurd had released into the cave tunnels to test the chambers for deadly gas, he was now using Jarl Evan as a guineas pig to test the foreigners for anything that might pose a threat to his people. That is, if the Taiyou were willing to accept his offer.

Seno considered his response, before he offered a slight nod, bringing up his hand to stroke his dark beard. "We are the people of the sun. We are called Taiyou" he said. Sigurd would reach into his pouch and fumble with the liter again, his imagination running wild as he tried to consider the meaning of Miyagi's words. Could it be? Were the Taiyou actually demigods, descendants of Mundilfari, the one who moved according to the times? Sigurd recalled how his own father King Randver had once told him how their cosmology worked. "Mundilfari had a son called Máni, and a daughter called Sól or Sunna, most beautiful among the goddesses with radiant gold hair. Together they drive the sun and moon in chariots across the sky, forever being chased by two monstrous shadowy wolves called Hati and Sköll." Sigurd's father had relayed to him before he died that the Sun was married to a being named Glenr, and that they had a daughter who was one day destined to continue with her mother's course across the sky. Sigurd was now beginning to think that his father was telling the truth, for directly there in front of him was the proof of such a race. With their bright LED flashlights, Yunboro spotlights, reflective work clothes, chrysanthemum symbols and the ability to harness fire at their fingertips, the Taiyou certainly did appear to the vikings to be a people of the sun.

"I am a scholar, and a shaman for my people" Seno Miyagi said. "I help give them strong medicine, but I also help their warriors grow strong through special alchemy." Hrollaug listened carefully as Seno spoke, this time in a language that he could understand. As the security director motioned for the personnel behind him to relax, Sigurd offered him the sunstone. Miyagi accepted it, nodding with approval. "Before we can trade, my king will wish to meet you." Seno explained. "Do your people live under here in these caverns? We would like to see your settlement, of course; if you can tolerate the sunlight I would show you the surface?" Up to that moment, King Sigurd had still not spoken in a language Seno could understand, instead continuing to speak in his own native tongue. He did not answer Seno, instead leaving his oldest son Rollo to do the talking. Hrollaug would look to his father again before turning to address Seno's questions. "No," the prince answered directly. "We come from the surface," Rollo explained. "Our workers were just mining the cave tunnels when suddenly the earth opened up and then you appeared," Prince Hrollaug said, obviously still baffled by the explosion which opened up a new chamber the vikings had not discovered and still had yet to explore. Little did they know that the Taiyou had actually opened up a portal to another dimension of time-space parallel to their own. They couldn't see the portal, for it was invisible or transparent. To the men in the rocky chamber, it appeared to be just another opening in the cave wall. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary to anyone from down inside the tunnel. Everything appeared to be the same on both sides of the gateway. It wouldn't be apparent to them that they were in two different worlds until after they had reached the surface.

"Your majesty, your offers of strong workers is fair, but it is not strong workers we require, we wish to learn your people's ways, how you hunt, how you fish, how you govern your kingdom." The Taiyou man's words were respectful, slowly spoken and clearly understandable. "For this we will trade strong medicine, strong weapons to defeat your enemies, teach your warriors great skills, and teach your people our ways." Hrollaug listened to the offer before turning to look at his father again, hoping he might be able to advise him on what to say. But the king just scratched his beard quietly and kept staring through the cave opening, gazing at all the Taiyou headlamps on the other side with growing curiosity. "Hva skal jeg fortelle dem?" Hrollaug asked while looking at his father. Just then, the sound of the elevator shaft screeching and its metal doors opening would disturb their train of thought. A group of men in green and tan uniforms would step out of the elevator and approach the area where Seno and the vikings were trying to negotiate. Sigurd sensed trouble, but he kept his thoughts to himself as he watched the armed soldiers approach.

Soon the Taiyou would stop and engage in an indistinguishable argument amongst themselves. It was apparent to the king and prince that Seno was not happy about something, but the Taiyou's words were too fast and in a language that the viking leaders didn't understand. King Sigurd would glance down at one of the strange god-like weapons the Taiyou troops were carrying. For a moment he thought it looked vaguely reminiscent of an item he had seen among the skeletons in one of the burial chambers several days earlier. He started to wonder about the object's purpose and function, knowing only that it must have been a weapon of some kind judging by the soldier's demeanor and how he was handling it. While the Taiyou were briefly preoccupied with arguing amongst themselves, Hrollaug managed to casually slip past Seno and step through the hole in the wall to the Taiyou side of the gateway. "Psst, hej! Vad gör du? Kom tillbaka hit," King Sigurd whispered loudly, but Hrollaug ignored his father's advice and stepped over to the other side, wondering how many other Taiyou foreigners the negotiator had brought with him. "Wow, se på hvor stor denne inngangen er. Den er enorm," Hrollaug said with heightened amazement just before he was stopped by one of the Taiyou's security personnel. Hrollaug would pause quietly, but his large towering frame enabled him to see over the security officer's head to all the other personnel and heavy machinery they had behind them. He saw the Yunboro sitting idly in the cave tunnel, the metal elevator shaft, and the faces of several Taiyou workers and soldiers, none of them looking the way he had imagined the people of the sun to look.

Just a few yards away on the Viking side of the gateway, King Sigurd's forces kept their shields locked together and maintained their positions. Jarl Evan used a silent hand signal motioning for his leidang to ready their weapons. At that moment, the archers behind the shield wall would notch their bows and draw back on their bowstrings. Such quietly subtle movements took place behind the shield wall where nobody could see, being hidden by the curtain of interlocking shields in front of them. King Sigurd decided to take a step back away from the hole in the cave wall, feeling slightly uncomfortable with the Taiyou's conversation amongst themselves, while Prince Hrollaug himself continued to look around, unaffected by their jibberish conversations. He was unaware of the severe danger he was in, for the people of the sun appeared small to him and insignificantly weak. Their weapons were smaller and more compact, and from Hrollaug's point of view the Taiyou soldiers appeared to not be wearing any armor at all. He was completely oblivious to the fact that the Taiyou were more advanced, his own bulky armor and heavy weapons probably looking quite primitive and equally strange to them.

After a minute or two, Seno finished talking to the Taiyou commander and would turn to address Prince Hrollaug once again. "These men are our kingdom's warriors, tell your people not to spook them... I will try to straighten this matter out." Hrollaug turned to look at the Taiyou commander that Seno was talking to before looking back at his father. Sigurd looked rather angry and disappointed with him as he tried to hiss at Rollo to rejoin the others on their side of the cave chamber. At that moment, Hrollaug would slowly and casually step back through the opening in the cave wall and silently take his place again at the king's side, only for his father to smack him upside the head again for being stupid. "Okunnig dåre, försöker du bli dödad?" Sigurd whispered before turning to look at the Taiyou soldiers in front of them. Sigurd would fold his arms quietly as Rollo stepped behind him, watching Seno Miyagi and the Taiyou soldiers carefully without making any sudden movements which might alarm them.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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The argument among the Self-Defense commander, and Director Miyagi went on for several moments, the two of them attempting to iron out a course of action, with the Commander insisting that they seal the tunnel, while Seno insisted that they see reason and allow an exchange to take place.

Seno had managed to get the Self Defense Force Commander talked down when Hrollaug slipped past them, and into the Taiyou side of the chamber. Hrollaug would see the worker move away from him, giving him a wide berth as they watched intently, whispering among themselves in the same language that Seno, and the Commander were talking too.

Until one of the Self-Defense Soldiers moved towards Hrollaug aggressively, his rifle pointed at the man's face.

"Asoko ni modotte!" He shouted, getting the attention of the other Taiyou in the chamber. "Ima sugu modotte ki nasai!" The angry Taiyou soldier, who seemed to stand no more than five feet in height, and weigh no more than a hundred or so pounds shouted, before he pulled a lever on his rifle, the weapon making a loud 'Clack-clack' sound.

"Torimodosu ka, watashi wa uchimasu!" The soldier ordered, while Takao moved between the armed Taiyou soldier, and Hrollaug. Takao spread out his arms, and called to the Taiyou soldier. "Utanaide! Genjūmin wa kore ijō yoku shiranai!" Takao called out, trying to get the Taiyou soldier to lower his rifle.

The Soldier abruptly tossed Takao to the ground, the workers all tried to intervene, but the Soldiers quickly gained control of the situation by pointing their rifles at the workers. The workers backed up even more, cowering away from the soldiers, and raising their hands to show they were not a threat, the Soldiers subsequently lowered their weapons, and brought their attention back to Seno.

When Hrollaug returned to the Northman's side of the cave, tensions began to quiet down, but the men preparing for battle didn't go unnoticed by the Self-Defense personnel inside the cave.

A few more moments of heated exchanges in Taiyou followed, before Seno turned back to Sigurd, and Hrollaug. "My apologies... our soldiers spook easy."

The Science director turned to Takao, before inclining his head, the Taiyou worker scrambling off the damp, muddy cave floor. Then Seno turned back to Hrollaug.

"Takao Eguchi is willing to exchange, to learn your ways." He took a step back, and gestured for Takao to step forward, eliciting a glare from the Self Defense commander.

Unlike Hrollaug a moment ago, Takao slowly, and purposefully crossed the threshold into the other side of the cave, until he was standing close to Sigurd, but aiming to keep a humbled appearance.

Takao offered several short bows to King Sigurd, while rapidly repeating the phrase "Gomen'nasai"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring

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Takao Eguchi offered several short bows to King Sigurd, while rapidly repeating something in his own native language that the king did not quite understand. Sigurd got the gist of it however from Takao's body language, being a keen observer and deep thinker whose only concern was the well-being of his people. Hrollaug would look past Takao Eguchi to the security director and Self-Defense personnel, his own mind also absorbing the experiences and events that were taking place. "Jeg liker ikke det," Prince Hrollaug said quietly, talking next to his father's ear. "Oroa dig inte, jag klarar det," King Sigurd responded quietly before smiling to Eguchi and bowing slightly. He would smack Hrollaug's breastplate with the back of his hand before bowing again. Hrollaug would look at Eguchi and then try to copy him by bowing slightly. The Norsemen's movements were very rigid compared to Takao's however as none of the vikings were used to bowing to people. They barely ever bent a knee for their own king, much less for outsiders or foreign visitors. "Gör bara vad de gör," Sigurd said before smiling again, returning a bow to Takao for every bow that Takao gave to him. Hrollaug was slower to respond, but he tried to keep the pace as he too bowed to Takao, his large frame making it somewhat difficult for someone of Hrollaug's tall stature to do quickly, and so it became a game for them like Monkey See Monkey Do.

After a while of Sigurd and Takao bowing to one another, Sigurd would look over to Seno again, his widened smile slowly fading to a serious expression as he nodded his head in agreement. "Vi accepterar," the king said. Rollo would stop and look at the king before turning to address Seno Miyagi in the common language they both understood. "He says he will accept your offer," the prince translated. King Sigurd then turned around completely and started walking towards the center of the C-shaped shield wall behind them. "Komma," the king said before waving a hand at the viking guards and motioning for them to step aside so that he could walk between them. "He says to follow him," Prince Hrollaug translated to Takao Eguchi before motioning for him to follow. With that being said, Hrollaug would take one last look at the Taiyou officer who had yelled at him and pointed his weapon at his face. Hrollaug nodded quietly to the soldier and then to the alchemist Seno Miyagi again before turning around and following behind his father. Hrollaug wasn't so sure about leading the Taiyou ambassador to their establishment, but he knew that his father was a smart man and would not do anything to endanger their settlement. As the prince followed shortly behind King Sigurd through the dark cave tunnel, a million questions and thoughts of uncertainty ran through his mind.

Meanwhile, the two jarls ordered the Norse guards to hold their positions until the king and the prince were safely out of the cave chamber. The vikings had formed an opening or walkway for King Sigurd and his guests, but otherwise were still holding their shields up to form a defensive curtain, guarding the gateway between their cave chamber and the next one over. Just like the Taiyou's self-defense response units, the Norse guards were also on edge and very quick to spook. As the viking's highest authorities left the chamber, followed by a handful of warriors who followed behind the prince, Jarl Evan now had the responsibility of taking command over the Norse phalanx. The task was actually quite simple. All he had to do was make sure that the Taiyou didn't do anything stupid, like try and attack the king. For this they would selflessly give their lives like bees protecting their hives from an imminent danger. Jarl Omar was also in the chamber with Evan, and together they maintained the order and kept the viking troops organized while on high alert during their Taiyou encounters.

As the king started heading back towards Iskjerne's cave entrance, he stopped at one of the empty cave chambers. It was the spot where his explorers had discovered the remains of many human skeletons several weeks earlier. Hrollaug crouched down, entering the small open doorway into the cave chamber, followed by the handful of guards he had brought with him. A few of the guards would hold out their torches, as King Sigurd worked to brush away the hanging cobwebs which drifted in front of them. He pointed to the five skeletons sitting on the ground against the cave walls. "Se, de liknar dem där inne" Sigurd said, causing Hrollaug and the others to step forward and take a look. Sure enough, the skeletons bore a remarkable resemblance to the Taiyou soldiers they had just encountered, albeit with some slight differences. Hrollaug squated down and took a mental note of the rusted weapon that was resting against a corpse's chest, tucked under his boney arms. Although slightly different, it looked very similar to the triggered device that was pointed at him by the Taiyou self-defense team. Hrollaug then noticed the rusted metal casings on the ground next to him and, noticing the ooze coming out of one, decided to dip the tip of his finger into it and taste it. "Eck! Ptew! Svovel," he said while spitting on the rock wall.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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Takao briefly shot a glance back towards Seno in slight confusion, while he had every confidence that the Science director knew what he was doing, he couldn't help but consider himself nervous at what Seno was trying to do. The man only spoke Taiyou, and a little bit of the Aschen languages, and he knew that wouldn't help him here. One last glance, Takao looked Seno directly in the eyes, before frowning. "Kore honkina no?" He asked, before Seno passed him a small book. "Kore wa karera no kotoba ni yakudachimasu." Seno said, putting a hand on the man's shoulder, and offering a nod.

"Anata wa kono tame ni, atarashī jobu o shutoku shimasu." Seno added, patting the man on the shoulder, before turning to Hrollaug. "I want to see him in one week, to learn his progress, can you do this?"

Seno offered one last farewell to the young Takao before setting off back into the interior of the cave. The miners were slowly beginning to disperse, being replaced by self defense personnel, more of which arrived via the elevator shaft, they were carrying sandbags, and they began to set them up in semicircles around the interior of the cavern, one of the Self Defense personnel were setting up a Type M2 12.7mm Machinegun near the elevator shaft.

While Takao didn't understand the King, or Hrollaug, he was smart enough to know that they wanted him to follow them, so he complied once he took the book from Seno, and offered one last glance back towards the Taiyou soldiers in the other room.

As they walked out of the chamber, the Self-Defense personnel on the other end made no efforts to cross the threshold, rather they maintained their positions, with their guns lazily trained on the opening, watching the Viking guards on the other side carefully.

Takao watched Hrollaug closely, and made an effort to keep pace with their movements, though the much larger armed men made him nervous, without the protection of the Self Defense Force, Takao was vulnerable, and swallowing hard, he wondered if Seno made a mistake. But he trained for this, he went to school for this, Xenoarchaeology was a study of his, and here he was, putting every bit of that grueling coursework to practice.

Coming up on the skeletons, Takao slowly approached, but looked deferring to Sigurd, and Hrollaug. If allowed closer, he would make his way to the skeletons. He reached into his pocket, and produced a small liquid filled stick. He broke it with a snap, then shook the stick for a few moments as it began to glow a brilliant green.

He held the stick up to the skeletons to get a better look, and pursed his lips briefly. They were Taiyou alright; he recognized the collar pips, the uniforms, though they appeared to be very old.

"Hmm..." He looked the uniforms up and down, they appeared to be pre-ascension. The insignia dated back to the Taiyou Empire's infancy.

Takao's line of thought was suddenly interrupted, however, as Hrollaug tasted the contents of one of the cartridges. He tried not to laugh, instead he kept a straight face, that turned into a slight grimace.

"Dangan." He said, pointing to the shell casing. Slowly he reached down to pick it up, noting the corroded bullet. He thought for a moment, then held it up. "This." He said in broken english. "Goes to this." He said, with his thick accent mincing his words while he pointed to the rifle. "Raifuru" He said, slowing down. "Rai-fu.... Rifle" While he didn't take the skeleton's rifle, he brought his hands up like he was holding one, jerking his hands and saying "Bang!" Like he was firing it. "Like arrow." He tried to explain. "It shoot, bang! Kill enemy." He tried to explain, before looking down at the soldier, and flipping through the dictionary. "Warrior, Taiyou, very old, be here long time." Noting some of the viking skeletons, he saw something peculiar in the green light. The rotted armor he was wearing had several small holes in it, the skeleton was flat on it's back, like whatever hit it had thrown it back, embedded in the skeleton's back, lodged inside what was left of one of the ribs was a deformed, and mangled bullet. He pointed to the skeleton. "Gomen'nasai, he kill your friend, humble sorry." He tried to explain, pointing back to one of the Taiyou skeletons, that was propped near the back of the cave, the remains of his mummified hand over his belly, where a seax was embedded.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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After the king and his closest men had left the chamber, jarl Omar the One-Eye would turn and nod to jarl Evan Skjalsson, who nodded back. Together they orchestrated the Heathen forces, calling their archers, javelins and axe throwers to lower their weapons and pull back. Jarl Omar took control over the shield wall and ordered them to hold their positions until all of the Nordic troops behind them had seperated into different tunnels which all led to the same chamber closer to the cave entrance that would eventually lead them out of the cave. After the shirtless warriors made their exit, then the lightly armored vikings would leave behind them. Then as the Norse soldiers in blue robes started to go, Jarl Evan took one last glimpse at the opening between the Taiyou and the Norse, and then nodded again to Omar before leaving.

Jarl Omar nodded back, but remained unmoving at the shield wall with the rest of his phalanx. The viking's large round shields, made from wooden planks and gripped from the center behind an iron boss, along with their heavily padded armor and thick fur clothing would guard the exits and protect Evan and his leidang during their departure. Omar the One-Eye focussed on the Taiyou in front of the giant hole. He watched as more of the Self-Defense personnel arrived carrying sandbags, and watched for a moment to see what they were doing. "Okay, let's go" he whispered while patting the man's chest beside him. As the remaining vikings pulled back and started to leave, Omar watched the Taiyou guards begin to setup a small wall using the sandbags. Assuming they were just going to close the hole, he turned and exited the cave chamber following the rest of the shielders, looking back one last time to catch a glimpse of the M2 machine gun before leaving the chamber.

Meanwhile the king had led his companions into another cave chamber for reasons unknown to them. But as he brought their attentions to the skeletons, it soon became clear. Takao Eguchi would look down at Prince Hrollaug then up to King Sigurd, both of whose eyes were now fixed on him, as if looking for insight. Takao approached the skeletons and pulled out a neon green glowstick, snapping the capsule inside of it to produce a florescent glow. Hrollaug would stand up slowly, towering over Takao while gazing silently. Sigurd watched quietly from a stone pedestal across the chamber, while Hrollaug's guards would place a hand on their weapons, looking at Takao with sudden awe. "Hmm..." Takao hummed while stepping past Hrollaug and waving the glowstick over the skeletons. Hrollaug stared quietly from behind his metal helmet, wiping the taste from his mouth with his arm sleeve as Takao examined the remains for clues. "Dangan," he said whilst pointing to the metal casing before picking it up.

"This... Goes to this," Takao said in broken English, struggling to translate his thoughts into words which they could understand as he pointed to the rifle and imitated what it could do. "Rifle... Bang! Like arrow," he said as he pretended to fire it. "It shoot, bang! Kill enemy." Sigurd and Hrollaug watched and listened carefully. Neither of them had seen a rifle before during the Viking Age, but they did have experience with Frankish crossbows which operated similarly using a trigger mechanism. Takao flipped through the book in his hand, searching for the right words to say. None of the Norsemen in the chamber were literate, but King Sigurd took notice of Takao's ability to read as he shined his glowstick over the pages in front of him. "Warrior, Taiyou, very old. Be here long time" he explained before examining the viking skeletons. He showed them the holes in the viking's armour and explained to them what had happened. "Gomen'nasai, he kill your friend, humble sorry" he tried to explain.

"Komma," the king said before turning and climbing up into yet another tunnel. Hrollaug glanced at the glowstick and then at Takao before following before his father up towards the cave entrance. His guards would wait for Takao to go first before following him. Once at the narrow entrance, King Sigurd was greeted by the soldiers he had appointed to guard it. He ordered one of them to fetch some warm clothes, and the guard immediately carried out his orders, running up the stone stairs towards the blistering fog. The blizzard was unbearable and windy, the stairway being the only surety of the presence of the watchtower up on the mountain, which could not be seen from the cave entrance. "Min konge, du skal gå nu. Blizzard bliver værre!" another guard at the entrance would say as he pulled three Icelandic horses over to the king. "Holde," Sigurd motioned for him to wait as he turned to look back at his son and the others, as if to see if they had followed him.

As the storm ravaged on, the wind between the rocks and mountains was louder than words, so King Sigurd had to raise his voice to be heard. "Vi passar inte alla!" he shouted as the guard handed him the reigns. "Du og prinsen går. Jeg vil vente her," the guard said, grabbing his belongings from the back of the horse's saddle before walking down towards the narrow cave entrance. King Sigurd looked at the horses, petting one of their noses before mounting the saddle on its back. He climbed up on to the black horse and waited, still holding the reigns of the other two horses, one golden brown and one silverish grey. All three horses had black hair, but the brown horse had a white nose with white socks on each leg. These particular horses were of a larger more stocky breed, with almost woolly hair and bearded chins adapted to the harsh cold. It was obvious they were bred to pull the viking's large sleds through the snow and over the hills. Sigurd's black horse was more built for treading over rocky terrain than for riding into battle. It was not a war horse, but a burdening horse capable of carrying heavily armoured vikings, some of whom were over six feet tall and when in full attire weighed 300 pounds. Such toughbred horses breathed frost and frigid smoke, clawing at the icey rock with their thick black hooves and hairy socks.

Within a minute or so, the guard who ran to the tower would return with a bundle of thick furs and weatherproof sealskins. The skins had been groomed and conditioned using bone scrapers to close their pores, therefore making them both waterproof and windproof. Hrollaug would approach one of the horses, standing almost at eye level with it. He pet the horse's neck before taking the reigns from his father. "These horses are too small," Hrollaug said boldly as he looked over at the other horse. Sigurd smirked before turning to look at the other guards who were stationed at Iskjerne's cave entrance. "You must follow the tracks before they fade," one of the guards said to his king. Sigurd nodded again before nudging his Icelandic horse into the storm. The guard with the animal skins would walk over to Takao and offer him a thick white furry robe made from polar bear hide, motioning for him to pick a horse. "Det er en storm framover. Følg dem, de tar deg til den store salen" the guard said quickly. "He says there's a storm up ahead. We have to move quickly," Hrollaug translated, again motioning for Takao to choose one of the horses. Hrollaug's voice was deep and loud, his apparel making him look almost like a physical hairy metal demon as he held the reigns out to Takao.

After Takao chose a horse, Hrollaug would mount the remaining horse and then look over to Takao before speaking. "If we follow the tracks, it will lead us to the great hall," Hrollaug said loudly, talking over the wind while breathing heavily behind his mask. With that, he brought his horse into an ambling gait and it would prance through the blanket of snow into the blistering cold fog ahead, following the fresh tracks left behind by his father. It was at this time when all the vikings who were still inside the tunnels began to reassemble and gather back into formation. Jarl Omar and Jarl Evan would meet up inside a different chamber closer to the cave entrance, but still underground. There were rock wagons, wheel barrels of sand, buckets, benches and Norse mining tools laying all around the chamber as the two companies entered the chamber from two different tunnels. "Kongen gjorde det sikkert ud," Evan said in a hurry as his soldiers gathered into a circle around him. "Der er mennesker med våben i disse huler," Omar responded while looking at those around him. "Tror du de vil utgjøre en trussel mot oss?" one of the vikings in blue robes would ask. "Jeg vet ikke, men de arbeiderne så redd" Evan replied. "Hva nå?" Omar asked, setting his shield down before resting on its edge. "Me levimme. Tee itsemme näkymättömiksi. Sitten odotamme," one of the others suggested. Evan and Omar looked at one another, then nodded silently in agreement.

And so it was that Sigurd Hring, the Dano-Swedish king of the Svears and Geats travelled through the blizzardy snow, pushing against the frostbitten winds through the thick hazey white curtain of fog and ice along a fading horse trodden trail back to the Ring Fortress of Iskjerne Bay, followed by his oldest son and those who accompanied him. King Sigurd had agreed to bring Takao Eguchi with him back to their Nordic settlement in order that Takao might learn from them in exchange for medicine and trade goods. But the Taiyou ambassador had provided Sigurd with so much more than just material objects. He could read words from a book, show them the Sun people's technology, and explain things to Sigurd that the Norsemen would probably never understand otherwise. King Sigurd knew that there was a good chance that Takao was really being sent there just to gather information and send it back to the Taiyou, and would likely betray him sooner or later. But what choice did the king have? As he neared the outer wall of the settlement, Sigurd stopped by the two small gate towers in front, looking up at the guards on the wall while fumbling with the butane liter in his belt pouch.

"Halt! Nogen nærmer sig porten!" a guard in the gate tower shouted. "Það er konungur, opnaðu hliðið," he added before waving for those behind the wall to raise the spiked gate. As the gate was lowered, King Sigurd's horse trotted into the first open yard of the ring fortress, stopping before he dismounted it and handed the reigns to one of the slaves. "Ta med mig dödens ängel och en smed," Sigurd commanded before walking up the tiered hill to the next level of dirt enclosed by yet another higher inner wall, similar in structure to the outer wall. The messenger quickly ran inside, carrying out his orders as Hrollaug and the others approached the ring fort.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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The young man listened quietly to the king as he instructed him to follow. The word Komma, he was instructing Takao to follow him into the next chamber. The Taiyou man did so without hesitation, but also noticed that Hrollaug was eying the glow stick, so out of humility, Takao handed the stick out to him, the light would eventually fade, and the stick would be useless, so Takao thought it would be a suitable even if brief novelty.

If Hrollaug took the stick, Takao would turn and follow the King, and his men up towards the entrance of the cave, making sure to keep his footing on the damp rock. It seemed this side of the caves were much colder than the other side he was at, and he was seeing light at the end of the caverns, which meant that this wasn't an underground civilization.

The closer they got to the light at the exit, the more agitated and confused Takao would become. "Rikai dekimasen!" Takao called out, greeted by a gust of frigid wind that whipped through his baggy clothes, causing him to bring his arms close to his body, and let out a shiver. "Samuidesu!" The Taiyou called out, stepping into the blizzard, but quickly shrinking back into the cave for a moment. "Samuidesu!" He cried out again, wrapping his arms around his chest, pulling the fabric of his reflective vest, and his Tobi outfit closer. His footwear offered little protection against the snow, and he could feel his feet becoming cold, as well as the icy wind whipping at his face, and through his hard hat. Now that they were in daylight, Takao's dirty face, pale skin, and odd facial structure was clear to see, the glow stick also did not seem to glow anymore, being overpowered by the light of their surroundings.

Takao stood there in silence, shivering in the brutal cold until someone handed him some seal skins, and fur. Takao offered a brief nod of his head before speaking. "Arigatōgozaimasu." He said in a grateful tone, pulling the warm furs close to him, and shivering slightly.

The next strange thing were the horses, the Taiyou worker looked quizzically at the beasts of burden, he was completely unsure how to handle this situation, and that much was obvious as he cantered his head at the horse before him. But that confusion slowly dissipated when he saw Sigurd climb onto his horse, so the man followed suit, scrambling up and failing at least twice, before getting his footing, and pulling himself on top of the horse, unsuredly taking the reigns and looking towards Sigurd first, then Hrollaug for guidance.

The man had absolutely no clue how to operate this strange creature, and sat awkwardly inside the saddle. He watched Sigurd walk off into the storm with the horse, and so he turned back to Hrollaug, watching his movements and trying to mimic them, as they moved through the storm.

During the trek the man mostly kept to himself, not saying much, if anything to the men accompanying him. Thoughts were racing through his head, however. They must have crossed through some kind of portal to another realm, or another dimension. This would be invaluable information to relay back to Seno, and the Science Ministry so they could follow up. This Special region would be invaluable to the Taiyou Empire, enriched by it's cultures, and possible wealth. The young Xenoarchaeologist smiled under his furs, and skins, but otherwise followed the other's lead, unless directly spoken to, he would remain quiet.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi Character Portrait: Bjorn Ironside Character Portrait: Hrafn-Floki Character Portrait: Lagertha Character Portrait: Harald Fairhair

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Planet Earth... 770 CE.
Kattegat, somewhere between Sweden and Denmark...


Everything was dark and quiet for a moment. Then the screeching sound of a metal lock could be heard followed by the sound of a wooden plank being slid to the side just before the large oakwood arched twin doors opened. In walked the silhouette of a 20-year-old prince named Ragnar Sigurdsson, known as Ragnar Lodbrok to the people of Kattegat, a powerful jarl and second in line to the throne of the Dano-Swedish kingdom. As he entered the Great Hall at Kattegat, his average height and stocky frame could be seen cascaded by the sunlight as he entered the doorway. Inside the Great Hall was empty apart from there being three other people. Ragnar's wife, the renouned Princess Lagertha, seemed quite surprised to see him. She was walking around the Great Hall, cradling their newborn son by the central fireplace and nursing him on her nipple while her house servant Hermala added wood to the fire. Hermala's apron was covered in blood and there was a pile of wet blankets next to a water bucket beside one of the straw covered wooden beds. Lagertha had just recently went into labor, and Hermala had delivered the baby just minutes before Ragnar walked in.

"Lagertha, I thought you would be in bed" Ragnar said with amazement. The beautiful blonde haired princess would walk over to him slowly, still nursing the baby in her arms with a straight expression. "Back so soon Ragnar? I thought you would be in Iceland by now" she replied with a bit of sarcasm, before showing him their new baby boy. Ragnar's eyes lit up as he placed his large calloused hand on the infant's forehead. "He has your eyes," Lagertha said with a slight smile. Ragnar's eyes would tear up for a moment as he stroked his thumb over the newborn's cheek. "Can I...?" Ragnar seemed speechless as Lagertha smiled, handing the baby over to her husband. Ragnar would cradle the infant in his arms, making baby noises as the tiny child giggled and reached up to touch his beard. "What will you call him?" Hermala asked as she continued to clean up, unfolding a clean fur blanket and draping it over the bed. Lagertha would look up to Ragnar for an answer, but Ragnar kept his eyes on his son, smiling in a way that the princess had never seen before. After a moment, Lagertha turned to answer her house servant. "Bjorn," she said with a smile. "His name is Bjorn..."

Jarl Ragnar played with his son some more before handing baby Bjorn back to his mother. "So what happened? Where is your brother?" Lagertha asked inquisitively. "I don't know," the young prince responded. "There were thirteen ships, only eight of them returned," he explained. "We travelled west, but got lost in a storm. The last I saw, my brother's ship had drifted south. I tried to stay in sight of him but the waves were too big," he said quietly, sitting down by the fireplace while looking into the flames. "Well, your brother is a great warrior, I'm sure he will find his way home" Lagertha assured as she wrapped her baby in warm blankets and set him into a straw basket to fall asleep. "My father went with him," Ragnar added, causing the princess to sharpen her eyebrows. "To Iceland?!" she asked rhetorically, heightening her voice with confusion. "Aye, one of Jarl Skjal's boys was with us too" he continued. "Oh and I suppose you were just going to leave me here to run Kattegat all by myself?" Largetha placed her hands on her hips angrily. "I thought you wanted to be queen," he said sarcastically. "Not if you are dead," she retorted back.

"I am here now my love," Ragnar said as he stood up to hug and kiss her. But the princess stepped back and scoffed at him. "Only because you got lost," she said, walking back over to the bed and sitting down on the edge of it next to the baby's basket. "Besides, I don't need your help Ragnar, I have Bjorn now." Ragnar would roll his eyes, looking up to the domed ceiling before looking back down at her. "She is a shield-maiden," Hermala butted in, coming to Lagertha's defense. Ragnar bit his lip and walked over to Lagertha, sitting down next to her on the edge of the bed. "I know you are my love. You are the best fighter in Kattegat," he assured her. "Maybe not as good as you," she said with a smile before kissing his cheek, then suddenly grabbing his testicles firmly. "But if you ever leave me like that again I will cut your balls off... Understood?" Lagertha's tone was flirtatious, quiet and sweet, but not unthreatening. Ragnar gasped and swallowed, nodding silently to show her that he understood. "Good," she said with a smile, letting go of his nuts before kissing him again, this time on his lips.

Meanwhile...
Planet Gaia, year unknown...
Iskjerne Bay, south of the cave entrance...


It was winter time, and the Jol holidays were coming to an end. There was a blizzard sweeping through the Arctic circle which would cover the realm with frost and pale snowfall as it headed north to south, originating in the frigid most region before dissipating as it ventured south into warmer climates. A thick mist of icey rain provided little visibility for those outside at the Norse settlement, with temperatures dropping to -20 degrees below zero, enough to freeze a man's lungs or cause frostbite. The rivers were frozen solid, and even the salty waves leading to the sea were slowly beginning to freeze. Thin ice sheets covered the whole bay area, creating a barricade to prevent all sea vessels from going in or out. The Norsemen were now landlocked, with large glaciers and icesheets forming all around their settlement. There was no easy way into or out of Iskjerne now, as all the roads and passages had been blocked off by towering ice walls, some as tall and as thick as mountains as the blizzard pressed on, the only protection from its rime ironically being those very same mountains and ice walls. But all was not lost, for deep within the heart of the storm was a Norse settlement that was built to deal with the cold weather.

As Prince Hrollaug and Takao Eguchi rode their winterbred horses through the thick snow trail heading back to the settlement, Hrollaug would glance up and point to the fortress, still holding the fading glowstick in his hand. "Look, there it is" he said as they approached the gate, their horses tolting out of the blinding fog. There before them was a tall wooden fence standing 20 feet off the ground, made of upright wooden poles which had been buried vertically side by side going 10 feet into the dirt below them. The fence was large and round, each pole being roughly 24 inches in diameter, curving on both sides of the large wooden gateway entrance to form a wooden circle around the entire village. The gateway itself was flanked on either side by tall wooden towers, each one having a flagpole and waving the white Raven Banner, its flapping cloths in the wind giving the raven logos an almost alive feel as Hrollaug and Takao approached the gate.

The gate itself was made of wooden spikes, fashioned simply using thick ropes as a pully system to keep the spikes raised when the gate was closed. This helped to protect the entrance from charging cavalry, or from any unwanted predators that may wish to enter. As the gate was lowered, it doubled into a ramp, allowing Hrollaug and Takao to pass through unharmed.

As they entered the village, the gatekeepers and some of the guards posted in the towers would shoot ackward glances at Takao, and to the faded glowing object in Hrollaug's hand. But nobody dared to question them as Prince Hrollaug pointed to the stable, motioning for Takao to follow him there. The stable was also of a simple construct, all-natural made from wooden beams, piled rocks and earth. There was a feeder where the horses could eat, a well where they could drink, and several straw-filled horsebeds where they could be groomed and find protection from the snow. The stable's rooftop was thatched together using grass and straw, while the stone walls that supported it were further reinforced with earth and mud to keep it insulated. Despite being very simple in their appearance, the Norsemen were apparently excellent builders and craftsmen both economically and architecturally. Takao may have even noticed that the wooden framed open entrance to the stable was finely crafted and had been carved by hand, depicting a sort of Jelling style artwork showing many horse-like figures and other animals hidden within the leafy knotwork, vinework and serpentine 3-dimensional designs which could have only been carved by an expert woodsmith. Next to the stable was a wooden manger with horned woolly sheep, bearded goats, pigs and other livestock which the Norsemen had brought with them on their ships. Just outside of the manger was a herd of reindeer which, despite the frigid weather, seemed unaffected by the temperature as they walked around freely and grazed on the moss or whatever mushrooms they could find buried beneath the snow.

As the large prince dismounted his golden brown horse, he noticed that the light from the glowstick had died out. He tried to shake it up again, but to no avail. Finally, he tried to snap it like Takao had done. Hrollaug underestimated his own strength, however, snapping the plastic canister in half with ease. The clear liquid would spill out on to the ground, causing Hrollaug to sniff his fingertips and taste them. "Ptew!" he spat on the ground, before looping the horse's reigns over one of the posts. "We will be safe here," Hrollaug told Takao before pointing up the hill to another circular wall-like structure. On the next tier ahead of them was an inner wall, this time made of bricks and stone. This wall was not as tall as the first wall, only about six feet high, but it was much thicker with an area big enough to ride a wagon on. There were many stations setup along the wall where troops could garrison incase of an attack, and just as before there was a spiked wooden gateway with two flanking stone towers bearing white triangular flags waving the raven banner. There seemed to always be two flags posted together, or two ravens flying over each entrance to the Norse settlement, in any given location. "Huginn and Munnin," Hrollaug said to Takao, pointing up to the raven banners as they walked up the pathway towards the inner-gate.

As the gate was lowered, Hrollaug would lead Takao beyond the circular stone wall into the interior settlement where all the Norse houses and finer buildings were located. There were four different farmsteads neatly organized with an arrangment of four houses per square, all of them located off to the side of the road around a third interior wall-like structure. It seemed that the Norsemen had designed their settlement in the shape of many concentric rings, each level being built on tiered ground which their workers had lifted up using the dirt that was already there to begin with. In just a couple month's time, the Norse had created an artificial landscape, turning the largest hill at Iskjerne Bay into a decent sized ring-fortress, which Takao and Hrollaug were now entering. There were twenty homes in all on the second tier, but they were longer and larger than what Takao was probably expecting. Each house could accomodate up to 50 people, including the Norsemen's pets and slaves. The rooftops were peaked sharply all the way to the ground so that any snowfall would not collect on top of them, but instead build up around the base of the houses to help keep them insulated. This gave the front of each house a triangular look, and each one had a wooden frame made from two planks which peaked at the rooftop and crossed at both ends. Both ends were hand-crafted and carved to look like two ravens facing opposite directions. It was obvious that the symbol of the two ravens everywhere in the settlement were somehow significant to the Norsemen's belief system.

Moving along up towards the third tier where another wall had been constructed, Hrollaug stopped and turned to look at Takao, speaking directly to him. "My father started building this wall two months ago, using stones from the mountains up ahead," he said, motioning for Takao to approach the guards at the gateway. "Beyond the wall, you will see the great hall, the biggest building we have. Everyone is already inside," the prince told him as he signalled for the guards to open the gate. "And this is where I leave you," Hrollaug said. "King Sigurd is waiting for you in the hall. There you will find warmth and plenty to drink. Today is a holiday for us so there will be feasting," he said. With that, Hrollaug would breathe heavily, steam elevating from his visor as he turned to look at Takao one last time. He would rest his giant heavy hand on Takao's shoulder, nodding to him. "Thank you Tako of the Sun," he said before walking away with his large bison-hide cloak draping behind him.

Iskjerne Cavern...
Somewhere in the cave tunnels...


Jarl Evan Skjalsson and fifteen of his best warriors were standing in a very dimly lit tunnel, painting themselves with charcoal and a clay mixture of lanturn oil and black ash. They covered their weapons, their shields, their armour, their faces, their hair, their beards, their helmets, everything from their head to their toes. Jarl Evan's small leidang were cammoflaging themselves specifically to deal with the Taiyou's bright lights. Jarl Omar One-Eye and the other fifteen Norse warriors had descended into a different tunnel and were doing the same thing, only they were slightly faster in getting ready. They had killed the flames on their torches, and were sitting in a perfect circle, passing around a leather drinking bag filled with a magical sustenance made from the same mushrooms that the reindeer at the settlement were eating. As the scarry eyed chieftain drew a character similar to the letter "F" on his face using black clay, Jarl Evan ordered his leidang to turn off the lanturn. Both crews would spread out through the tunnels and go their seperate ways.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Seno Miyagi Character Portrait: Yoko Kayabuki Character Portrait: Shimizu Takayama Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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Imperial Taiyou Palace, Niihama City, Niihama



The conference room was steeped in the aire of tension after Director Miyagi delivered his report to the Emperor, and he sat uneasily at the table as Shimizu considered the report, and the contents thereof.

"You were foolish to send that worker across the threshold, without proper security protocols being followed, Director your reckless decision not only threatens the moral of those workers, but now Kenji Tenzai is personally upset with us for your decision." Shimizu explained coldly, throwing the file folders upon the knurled, and ornate wooden table. The interior of the room was sparsely decorated, with a dark marble floor, muted wood paneling along the walls, low overhanging lights, and a large slanted window where the cityscape could be observed.

The pitter of rain filled the gaps in Shimizu's speech, where there would otherwise be a deafening silence. Interspersed with the pitter of rain, was the occasional rumble of thunder, and the flash of lightning that illuminated the otherwise dark Niihama sky.

The Taiyou Emperor brought his gaze downward at the file folder once more, opening it up and detailing the report, as Seno began to speak.

"The possibilities of the special region are almost without limit, we have an undiscovered network of caverns deep within the planet's crust, furthermore with the prospect of a possible entire realm at our fingertips, it was an opportunity I didn't want to pass up, Tennoheika."


Kayabuki kept quiet, occasionally letting her fingers move through her hair, before focusing back on the notations before her.

"Technology doesn't work beyond the threshold." Shimizu said flatly. "Mr. Tenzai has reported bugs, glitches, and power outages in his entire corporate campus since the discovery of the special region; Mr. Miyagi, I'm inclined to instruct the Umibozu to infiltrate the special region, extract Mr. Eguchi, and seal the gateway permanently."

Seno pursed his lips slightly, than tapped his pen on the table. "Respectfully, Tennoheika, I've gained their trust, all I ask is that we await Mr. Eguchi's report, if he does not report, then we can send in the Umibozu?"

Shimizu simply frowned. "Perhaps you're onto something, since Technology does not function in the special region, I would be better served..." Shimizu cast a brief glance back towards two men standing behind him.

"Azaka, Kamidake; travel to the special region and locate this man." Shimizu said, turning in his chair and pulling the file off the table.

"Bring him back, preferably alive, and in one piece."

The two men offered humble nods, and in unison they spoke.

"Tennoheika."

---

The Iskjerne Settlement

Takao quietly took in the sights as they passed through the gate, his hand was put to notepad, and he was scribbling his kanji, and hiragana notations as everything happened all around him. It was as if he had stepped back in time, nevermind the cold whipping at his face, and nevermind the uncertainty of being in an alien settlement, with alien people.

When it was time for Takao, and Hrollaug to part ways, the Taiyou offered the Prince a deep bow, before he spoke once more. "Takku Firr." He tried to croak in poorly pronounced norse. "arigatou gozaimashita" He said again, offering another bow.

He looked back up to the grand gate, and then started towards the hall, his steps purposeful, and careful as his eyes wandered about the camp.

Once at the building, he reached out and pulled on the great doors, pulling them open and quickly being greeted by the warmth of the house, his face was red from the cold, and frost had accumulated on his eyebrows and nose.


He quietly stared forward, slowly removing the heavy coat he had been provided, and then he reached down and slowly began to undo his shoes, a Taiyou custom.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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Image



Takao Eguchi would knock on the heavy oakwood doors and open them, being greeted by a large guard who stared him over for a moment as Takao removed his shoes. The guard gave him an ackward gaze before turning and shrugging his shoulders, lazily motioning for Takao to enter. Once inside the Great Hall, the Taiyou ambassador would immediately feel the relief of the warm dwelling. The hall was exceptionally large, crafted from a single longship that the Norsemen had flipped upside down. Takao would smell the smokey air and cooked meat roasting over the open log fire. There were wooden benches and tables set about, with over a hundred or more people sitting down or walking around inside. Some of them had musical instruments and were chanting, singing and dancing merrily inside the great hall. If he would look up towards the ceiling, Takao would notice mistletoe hanging from the rafters above his head. Just then, two beautiful bare breasted shirtless blonde women would walk over to Takao and grab hold of him, leaning up against him and kissing him on both cheeks. Sigurd was sitting on his throne at the opposite side of the great long hall, surrounded by others who were laughing, drinking and having a good time. Seeing this, Sigurd would laugh and smile, waving Takao over to join him.

The Norsemen were a rowdy bunch. There was little distance between them, if any, as a hundred or more settlers gathered around the festivities. There in the middle before them was a banquet fit for a king, as Sigurd stood up at the far head of a long table and raised his mug. He yelled something loudly, before laughing and sitting back down on the throne. A small group of people around him would laugh at the apparent joke, but nobody else seemed to even be interested or paying attention, lost in their own jokes and conversations. The background noise from all the gossiping, laughter and music made it difficult for Takao to hear over the crowd of Heathen ruffians, who didn't seem to be paying him any mind at all. Every one of them seemed to be lost in their own world. There were lit candles, holly wreathes and tinsel, and little glass orb-like decorations everywhere. It was Yule time, a winter holiday for the Northmen, and Takao had just walked into a party. This particular occassion was a very special party, one which served a quadruple purpose and therefore was extra special. One of the shorter, less brawny Norse workers would bump shoulders with Takao, eyeing him hatefully as he walked by. "Takku, komma. Setjið með okkur. Fáðu þér drykk," the king shouted, motioning for Takao to sit with him while offering the Taiyou a large double-pint tankard of wine and an empty seat at the table. Everyone else at the table was already gorging on turkey legs and roasted ham, enjoying the mead and festivities.

After a moment, one of the large men sitting beside King Sigurd would stand up, gripping his steak knife tightly and suddenly lunging towards the king, intending to cut Sigurd's throat. The king was quick to react, however, deflecting the blade with his mug before picking up his own steak knife and thrusting it into the assassin's abdomen, hugging him tightly as he slid the sharp steel blade deep into the Northman's stomach. The man would choke and cough, blood oozing from his mouth as Sigurd let go of him, allowing his large body to hit the ground with a loud thud. King Sigurd would glance at Takao briefly before sitting back down and finishing his meal as if nothing had even happened. The noise never stopped, even for a minute as the rowdy settlers continued to party and play their daunty music. Two slaves would drag the dead man's body out of the hall, while a third servant walked over to Sigurd and refilled his mug before turning to offer Takao some more wine. Sigurd nodded quietly to Takao, waving for him to eat. There was no shortage of mead and food in the king's hall, and the rest of the Norsemen seemed delighted to have him as their leader. Sigurd himself was pleased to have Takao as his guest as he raised his mug in the air and nodded to the Taiyou ambassador, giving him cheers. "Skál," he said before taking a swig of the homemade Danish brew.

Omar the One-Eye, formerly known as Omar Finnsson, was standing in the darkness of one of the many cave tunnels which formed a network of different underground chambers sort of like a rocky labyrinth, all connecting in some way or another and leading to a single entrance. Jarl Omar was a middle aged Norseman of Scandinavian descent with shoulder-length dirty blonde hair and one aquamarine colored green eye. He was six feet tall with a large muscular frame and thick bronze skin, squared stubby chin and chiseled features. He was beardless, clean shaven and ready for the task at hand. Omar's nickname came from the scar over one of his eyes, seered shut with a hot iron many years ago after being shot by an arrow which pierced his skull, leaving another small circular scar marked by a tiny bald spot where the arrow had gone through to the back of his head straight out the other side. Omar lost an eye, but he miraculously survived and went on to become a jarl and a great warrior. Jarl Omar and his group of fifteen Norse ghost warriors had painted their entire bodies black with ashes from head to toe. Omar presented his group with three small mysterious clay canisters and a cloth bag. They were about to attempt an infiltration of the Taiyou gateway using whatever means these tools could provide to help them avenge their injured comrades, who were now undergoing traditional medical treatment back at the Iskjerne settlement. King Sigurd was not aware of the jarl's intentions, but Omar took it upon himself to be a hero for his people. As the drinking horn was passed to him, Omar took a sip of the magical shroom juice before passing it around the circle.

Afterwards, one of the vikings would step forward holding two dogs on a leash, with another small bag which the jarl opened before pulling out another live animal. It was a small black bird which squawed and flapped its wings, trying to escape. Omar would snap the bird's neck, before draining its blood onto the rocky cave floor. "Accept this offering," he said quietly as the bird's blood was absorbed by the ground. This was done to appease the Norse gods, and to prevent the goddess Hel from allowing any of her draugirs or ghosts to interrupt their mission while they maneuvered through her shadowy dark realm deep underground. Afterwards, he placed the bird's carcass on a smooth stone altar with its wings spread over it. After this, Omar the One-Eye and his ghost warriors would seperate into pairs and spread out through different tunnels while the jarl himself took a handful of them down deeper into the cave, nearing closer to the chamber where the Taiyou gateway was located. This group of six would bring with them the dogs on a leash, the three clay jars and the small cloth bag as they approached the empty chamber, remaining hidden in the dark tunnel just around the corner from the gateway. The other ten ghost warriors would part ways, taking up secret positions inside the many winding tunnels where they hid in the darkness, blending in with the natural texture of the rocky caves.

Meanwhile, the other sixteen vikings led by Evan Skjalsson had dispersed throughout the caves, seperating into four bands of four. Jarl Evan was another six foot tall Norseman of Norwegian descent. Him and his brother Erling had been sons of Skjal Olofsson of Norway and through many years of diplomacy and war, had managed to take up high positions in Norse society. Skjal was killed in a naval battle, but his older son Erling Snake became the King of Norway while the younger one, Evan, became one of Sigurd Hring's jarls after the war. Evan was tall and built tough with broad shoulders and strong muscles. He had icey blue eyes and a shaved bald head with blue tattoos. He also had a bright orangish red beard which hung down loosely to his neck. Jarl Evan was just slightly younger than Jarl Omar, but no less intimidating to look upon. His thick animal fur robes concealed his chainmail tunic and padded leather body armor as he and three of his kinsmen took up their own positions inside the Iskjerne caverns, aided by their heavy helmets and large round shields.

Jarl Omar would glance around the corner to the lit up gateway, then look to the five warriors beside him, nodding silently. One of the ghost warriors nodded back before suddenly tossing one of the clay jars into the Iskjerne cave chamber. As the jar shattered near the open rockwall, a thick black stream of billowing smoke rose up before the Taiyou gateway. Within a few seconds, the whole chamber would be smothered in a cloudy mass, obscuring the Jarl's next move. The ghost warriors would try to step around the corner, but Omar held them back. "Wait," he said, allowing the smoke cloud to thicken while waiting to see the Taiyou's reaction. If the Taiyou would fire their weapons into the smoke, the one-eyed chieftain would see to it that they hit only rocks and nothing more. After a moment, however, if there was no gunfire Omar would give the signal for one of his men to turn the corner and walk low towards the flank of the gateway, using his hands on the wall to guide him through the smoke cloud. As he neared the open hole in the rockwall, he crouched down and opened the small cloth bag, tossing the whole sack around the corner into the Taiyou chamber. The bag landed in the middle of the ground, and instantly a thousand honey bees came buzzing out of the bag in a pissed off angry storm, looking to sting anyone and anything inside the Taiyou chamber. The thick smoke cloud on the Iskjerne side of the portal would prevent the bees from flying through the gateway, so instead they would swarm around the Taiyou soldiers and the mounted machine gunner.

As the bees kept the Taiyou busy, Omar turned and signalled for the man beside him to unleash the dogs. The man nodded before setting the hungry canids loose. The dogs darted around the corner and through the smoke curtain into the open gateway, barking and lunging at the nearest Taiyou officers in their sights. The battle had begun, and with that the Norse ghost warriors made their move. All six of them emerged from out of the smoke with weapons in both hands. The smell of smoke on their skins would prevent the bees from stinging the Norsemen as they entered. As they entered the Taiyou chamber, one of the viking ghost warriors would hurl his spear at one of the Taiyou officers before charging at the others with his sword and seax. Another one of the vikings would throw his axe at the Taiyou before charging at them with his sword. Yet another would emerge with a large club staff and begin swinging it around in a circle, aiming at the Taiyou soldiers to both his left and right with little to no hesitation. A couple of the Taiyou security personnel would raise their weapons to fire upon Omar's gang, but would themselves be greeted instead by a pair of arrows flying from out of the smoke as two other vikings entered the gateway holding stringed bows. Finally the one-eyed jarl emerged, smiling deviously, holding a pair of bearded axes in both hands. Jarl Omar would hack his way over to the Yunboro in an attempt to shatter its most brightest light source with the head of one of his axes. "Die demon!" he roared, apparently viewing the Yunboro as something other than a machine.

Jarl Omar knew that King Sigurd would not approve of his actions, but it was in the hands of the gods now as he let out a beckoning laughter, the magical shroom juice in his system taking its effect on him. Omar the One-Eye and his five companions were now fearless and impervious to pain as they took on the couple dozen Taiyou officers all by themselves, hacking and slashing mercilessly with the combined support of their two attack dogs and stinging bees. Their roars and battlecries would echo through the cave tunnels. Jarl Evan would order his own three companions to stop and be silent. "Shhh, do you hear that?" he whispered. "Sounds like fighting," one of the Norse warriors responded. Jarl Evan grimaced, knowing it could only mean one thing. "Ivan," he said quietly. "Go inform the guards that we have a situation." With these words spoken, one of Evan's comrades would nod, raising a closed fist to his own chestplate before turning and heading back towards the surface. "The rest of you, follow me" Jarl Evan said as he started to walk down further into the cave.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Umibozu Character Portrait: Sigurd Hring Character Portrait: Takao Eguchi

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The young Takao was caught completely by surprise as the pair of rather well endowed blondes ambushed him at the door. He let out a surprised cry, and a shout as they pressed themselves against him. "Nani!?" He called out, but as quickly as the women came, they had mingled back into the crowd, and the young man was left all the more confused. But that didn't stop the man as he looked up to the great king, admiring the grandeur that was the longhouse. He had beckoned the man to enjoy a drink, and feast, and certainly the rich meats roasting on the open fire brought a growl from the man's stomach, unused to the sheer volume of food before him, having subsisted on processed, and packaged foods nearly his entire life. This was all a welcome sight for the man though, and the aromas drew him closer

Takao quietly reached for a turkey leg, pausing only to gasp in horror as someone moved to stab the King in the gut, of course things only seemed more exacerbated when the great king swiftly defeated his assassin, only to carry on enjoying his meal like nothing had transpired.

Takao quietly remembered the attempted coup on his Emperor, back when he was but a child. The news cycles spoke of the attempted assassination for weeks, and the assassin was publicly, and brutally executed.

There seemed to not be much difference at all.

At first Takao looked to the food on his plate, reaching into his tobi and pulling out a small pocket knife, given to him by his father. He flipped the tanto shaped knife open with an audible 'snick' before carefully cutting at the flesh of the turkey leg, cutting it into manageable, bite sized pieces. He carefully, and politely took a sip of wine, a stark contrast to the rowdiness of the men, and women around him.

Folding the knife back in on itself, he produced a pair of chopsticks that he kept for his lunch. Fumbling with the metal sticks for a moment, Takao reached down and picked up a piece of turkey, and placed it into his mouth with a smile.

"Kono tabemono wa oishīdesu" He said with a smile, then he flipped through his book, pausing in between bites to look up the appropriate english word. "This very good." He said, nodding his head politely, before putting the book away, and picking up another piece with his chopsticks.

---

Inside the cave, the Self-Defense soldiers kept a vigilant eye on the gateway, they had situated themselves in small redoubts positioned throughout the interior of the chamber, behind sandbags, and razor wire. The entire facility had been under lockdown for some time now, much to Kenji Tenzai's chagrin, with the Self Defense Army, and elements from the Imperial Taiyou Army positioned inside the campus, they were trying to decide how best to proceed.

Sergeant Mori was thoughtfully oiling the machinegun when he noticed smoke starting to waft through the gateway, and that the other side had been completely obscured by smoke.

"Mon o miro!" The Gunner cried out, and everyone began to snap to attention, leveling their assault rifles on the gateway in anticipation of whatever threats were about to come through.

They did not open fire quite yet, they simply watched, then the call went out. "Bōdoku masuku!"

Almost in unison, the men began pulling protective hoods over their face, gas masks in case the strange smoke was come kind of chemical agent, these round-eyed masks bore a canister shaped extension over the mouth, to protect their faces from whatever was to come next.

It was the bees, the bag full of angry bees was what got them to open fire, the heavy machinegun fired first, letting out a deafening 'rata-tatatat' that echoed through the cavern chamber, 12.7mm bullets whizzing into the smokey maelstrom, and striking rocks, sending small rock shards in every direction as they hit.

The bees came in waves, and the Taiyou soldiers cried in agony, and confusion. Then came the dogs, of course they didn't fare as well as the angry bees, as they lunged towards on Taiyou officer, he managed to empty his magazine of 5.56mm armor-piercing bullets into the charging dogs, in a spray and pray fashion. The dogs likely would yelp in pain as the bullets struck one of them, bringing it down swiftly.

Some weren't so lucky, as the dogs managed to maul one of the other men to death, another was killed as his comrade tried to shoot the dog that was mauling him. Then the men came through amidst the confusion; and more gunfire erupted. One soldier brought up his weapon to the viking that impaled their Commander with a spear, loosing off roughly six shots with his rifle before an arrow struck him in the chest, impaling his heart. Caught by suprise, and outnumbered, the Taiyou tried to press back, firing at anything that seemed to move through the cloud of angry bees.

There was a cloud of bullets too, as they tried every opportunity to get off a shot, hoping at the very least the deafening crack of their weapons would startle the barbarians.

The man in the Yunboro was not spared, as the Jarl charged at the Yunboro, the frightened worker quickly emerged from his glass coccoon, scrambling over towards the Elevator, where a wounded Soldier was calling into his radio.

"Watashitachiha, kōgeki sa rete imasu!" He cried out, as the Worker ran to the elevator shaft, swatting bees in the process.

As soon as his cry for help went out over the radio, an axe struck him in the back, and he lurched forward with a grunt, blood coating the console nearby.

---

Niihama's Surface, near the Elevator.

Two Umibozu soldiers were the first to hear the call going out over the radio, the Defense team had been overwhelmed, and the gateway chamber was compromised.

They looked to eachother before they looked to the commander.

"The gateway chamber has fallen! They will reach the surface soon! We must summon reinforcements!"

Quickly, they took position near concrete jersey barriers, racking their weapons as the Commander got onto his radio.

"Cut power to the Site 9 main elevator until we can get some reinforcements, the Special Region has launched an attack, we mut assemble a counter attack at once!"

As the battle came to a close, Omar and whatever number of his warriors managed to survive would be greeted with dead soldiers all around them, both Taiyou, and Viking. The Taiyou side of the chamber was still well lit, and among the swarming bees, their technology could be made out, through the acrid smell of gunpowder, and the crunch of shell casings under Omar's foot. The Yunboro hummed as it's engine churned, despite Omar's hacking at it's metal hull, at least until his axe severed a fuel line, and the Yunboro died, with a violent spray of diesel fuel, and hydraulic oil all over Omar, then it shuddered slouching forward.

Omar had won this day, but the controls to the elevator were unresponsive, and the distant klaxxon of alarms could be heard in the distance.