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The Multiverse

Setting

The Immense Great Forest of Ellaria, home to a diverse population of flora and tree outcroppings. To the north the forest connects with the Weargtooth Mountains, to the south the Bituin Desert and Rolling Plains of Stone. To the east the landscape changes for the abstract in the Groenbogs, part forest part marshland part bogland part hills. In the southeast many landscapes on Ellaria converge at the Razor Tiara.

To the west the forest tries for the sea, but is interrupted by the Sentinel Mountains. Here rises the tallest peaks on all of Ellaria, cutting from the trees to the sea, the desert blowing against a wall of stone.
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Great Ellarian Forest

The Immense Great Forest of Ellaria, home to a diverse population of flora and tree outcroppings. Many civilizations find home here in the forest which takes up much of the continent.

Minimap

Great Ellarian Forest is a part of Ellaria.

4 Places in Great Ellarian Forest:


Geofrey Lumarre materializes from the void.
Geofrey Lumarre has left the area, heading west into Sentinel Mountains.

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Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings
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#, as written by Sigurd
Are the One-Eyed arrived in the Great Forest from the north, riding a grey horse with three white socks and a white mane. He was holding a flagpole, waving a white banner bearing the black raven symbol of the House of Munso as he headed through the forest on his way to the Bez Daha Trees with a message from Sigurd Hring, the King of Iskjerne Bay.

The Precursor has left the area, heading northwest into Sentinel Mountains.

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Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings
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In the skies above the clouds, a strange shape winked into existence, and began to move slightly, a keen eye could make out it's artificial, bulbous nature.

Braigneth: The White Hand arrives, coming from Ellaria.
Cole Maibara materializes from the void.
Cole Maibara descends into Gwie'vre.
Braigneth: The White Hand descends into Gwie'vre.
Thorvald Asvaldsson has arrived, coming from Weargtooth Mountains.
Thorvald Asvaldsson has left the area, heading south towards Bituin Plains.

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Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings Character Portrait: Hermann der Cherusker
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A long time ago, or so it was told, there lived a very brave man who had fought selflessly for his king. His deeds were immortalized in skaldic poems and stories. One song recounts how he lost an eye at the Battle of Bravellir, before single-handedly killing nine of King Harald Wartooth's devoted kinsmen. His name was Are the One-Eyed, and he hailed from the House of Sigurd Hring in Iskjerne Bay, carrying a flagpole bearing the white banner with a black raven logo as he rode his white maned three socked grey horse deep into the forest, long long ago or so it is said. Indeed the Iskjerne Vikings had ventured far and wide, expanding beyond the Weargtooth Mountains and even adventuring to other moons and planets.

Some of the Iskjerne Vikings had broken off from the original tribes and intermingled with races from other cultures, as such that they took on entirely different neo-cultures of their own, practicing different religions and even speaking different languages over time. One group of about 12 individuals stemming from Are the One-Eyed's second expedition had returned at some point and migrated south, going through the Great Ellarian Forest and settling on the open Plainsland, where they setup a small farming village along the edge of the treeline just between the forest and the plains, since the land there was fertile with rich soil, and the area itself was rather uneventful, allowing the Iskjerne Vikings there to be productive and enjoy a sense of peace with good harvests on the southside of the Weargtooth Mountains, far from the Viking Civil Wars in their northern homeland. Are the One-Eyed's third son Sigred the Strong became the Jarl of the Bituin Plains, and the Bituin Vikings who lived there were said to be friendly and peaceful farmers known for their carpentry and woodworking skills whose main export was potatoes and corn.

Sigred the Strong had saved his money wisely over the course of many summer raids, having served in the Svinfylking war unit for nine years under different kings. He established the first Viking settlement on the Bituin Plains along with 11 other individuals by creating a small farming village and building 6 small wooden cabins for all of their families to lodge in. It was a tiny and cozy little village with domesticated horses, cows, sheep, goats, pigs, pheasants, dogs, cats and even prarie rabbits. The Vikings of the Bituin Plains had apple trees, grapevines, cornfields and open meadows of strawberries and elderberries, potatoes, pumpkin patches and beehives. The entire village was encompassed by a very basic and very simple makeshift wooden fence that stood waistline around the whole perimeter, offering little in the way of protection, but it was enough to keep the horses and cows from escaping.

The Vikings were a large and tough, masculine people who liked to have the biggest things in life, from large drinking horns to large women, long ships and long beards, heavy swords and bulging muscles. This was reflected in their livestock as well, as Sigred the Strong's village had only the fattest, strongest and largest breeds of animals available to the Iskjerne Vikings at that time. But even the Vikings were not prepared for the giants that were about to rain hell itself down upon them. For lurking nearby in the deep dark forest was a band of nightmarish warriors painted like human skeletons, clad in all black from head to toe. Some of them wore deer antlers on their heads, while others wore different animal pelts and mantles made from black wolves or black bear. All of them were half-naked dawning simple skirts and trousers, apart from one Equestrian on horseback who instead wore Roman armor and a full-visored helmet with a metal facemask bearing an eerily nonchalant or emotionless expression which concealed their identity. Over the top of his or her Roman metal armor and bright crimson robe they also wore a mantle and pelt made from a giant black mountain wolf, whose head and eye holes draped down over the top of his or her helmet forming a hood, similar to the mantles worn by the Ulfhednar of long ago before the Viking Age.

The equite in the metal facemask was accompanied by 11 other riders on horseback, and all of their horses were pitch black from nose to tail, painted with ashes to look like equestrian skeletons similar to the half-naked warriors on foot, as if they were some kind of primitive ghost army. Among those who lurked in the forest were the Harii, or an offshoot of the Harii tribe, similar to the ghost warriors who had once served Sigurd Hring, only this branch was different and spoke a different language, stemming from an unrelated older Harii tribe of nightmares who also painted their bodies and weapons black, looking very similar to the Iskjerne Harii sub-tribe but speaking a different language, one that was older and more archaic. These were nomads, not settlers. But the army lurking in the forest was not a single tribe, rather a coalition of several neighboring Germanic tribes who shared a similar culture and language. Among them were not just the archaic Harii, but also the Chatti, Marsi, Suebi, Cherusci, Bructeri and other tribes who had long predated the Vikings, and who had banded together as a single horde of nomadic raiders and Germanic forest tribes under a single war chieftain who freed them from the tyranny of Roman rule.

The Germanic tribes were known to be fierce and savage. The Iskjerne Vikings didn't even know what hit them. They waited for the first fog after the rainstorm and then struck like lightning as a dozen black horsemen descended from the treeline, followed by fifty or more Germanic warriors in animal skins as they rushed into the Viking farm village, quickly and silently without even announcing their presence. As they moved through the fog, they quickly spread confusion and chaos by attacking randomly without organized formations, setting fire to the Nordic people's tiny wooden houses whose straw rooftops ignited with ease. They attacked mercilessly, armed with spears and javelins rather than with the bows and axes that the Vikings were most accustomed to and known for. The style of the Germanic tribes was also quite unique, involving a lot of twirling movements and spinning or acrobatics unlike what the Vikings were used to. Because they lacked shields or heavy armor, the nomadic raiders were more flexible and capable of adjusting more quickly. They were also terrifying to look at and used their hellish ghostly appearances to instill fear and shock to their totally surprised and unbeknownst audience. But that was only the beginning of what was to come.

For reasons unknown, the Germanic tribes began to slaughter and destroy everything. Apart from tearing down the wooden fences and setting the houses ablaze, they also proceeded to kill the livestock and burn the cornfields as well. This was something of a taboo nature that even the Iskjerne Vikings would never do, as corn and livestock was considered expensive and highly valuable. But the Germanic raiders killed everything and everyone without bias or prejudice. Men, women, children, even dogs and pets were not spared from the painful and gruesome death. Everything was laid to waste within a matter of minutes, and soon there were about thirty dead bodies laying in the charred smokey fields where the Viking's farming village had once stood. Burning flesh, dead flowers and ashes filled the air as the raiders gathered water from the wishing well and stole a few horses, collecting the metal pots and pans or whatever else they deemed valuable enough to take with them. But they left many things behind that other farming communities might find valuable, such as the wheel carts and wagons, and the bags of grain. These things had no use to the hunter-gathering nomadic tribes who lived in the Great Ellarian Forest, whose main concern was accumulating war horses and metal for their spears.

After a while, the person in the Roman armor would notice a wounded Viking tradesmith crawling away on his stomach, peirced in the back by a javelin that had not quite managed to finish him off. It was the local jarl, Sigred the Strong, who had lived up to his name. The enigmatic figure in the metal facemask dismounted their black horse and approached Sigred, looking down at him silently from behind the emotionless human-faced Roman visor. Sigred the Strong would reach his hand out and grasp the Roman figure's sandal, gazing up at the character who stood before him while wincing in pain from the javelin that was still imbedded in his back. Sigred was confused, having no idea what his village had done to merit such a brutal and vicious attack.

"Who are you? What do you want? Please, spare my wife and children, I'll do anything!" the Viking nobleman pleaded in agony, hoping that the person in the metal facemask would have some sympathy, at least for his family.

But the mysterious warlord said nothing, simply unsheathing the Roman spatha sword from their belt and thrusting it into Sigred's throat, putting him out of his misery before casually walking away, as if they had done this a million times before. There seemed to be no empathy, no rhyme or reason for the Germanic leader's onslaught. The massacre had been unprovoked, and for what? A few horses and some cooking pans? It was as if the tribes were just sending a message, or making a bold statement. But they left no clues or answers behind as to why they had raided the village. Instead, after the barbarians made sure that everything was completely and utterly destroyed, they got back on their horses and ascended once again back into the deep dark forest from whence they came, leaving only the ravens, buzzards and mountain wolves behind to pick at the corpses and clean up the mess they had left behind.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Livia Caesarius Character Portrait: Argosian Soldier Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings Character Portrait: Hermann der Cherusker
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Among the ruins, among the dead, and the dense fog, the specter of vengeance looms...

After the dust settled, the fog only seemed to thicken among the ruined Viking settlement, the culmination of months of planning, and the dedication of a single soul to the prospect of vengeance for a perceived wrong brought here. With the thickening of the fog came the distant din of voices, and the heavy sound of boots on the blood, and mud soaked soil. The Entire plain was bathed in a thick fog just beyond the forest. This particular location was chosen deliberately, and had the previous band of savages not massacred the Vikings here, another, more methodical force would have. In a way, Sigred the Strong was spared a far worse fate, humiliation or enslavement against an uncaring, disciplined, and hardened war machine.

The fog continued to churn, and whirl around a central source, an unusual icon adorned in crystallized wooden ornamentation, inset with a large orange gem that resembled a serpent's eye. This unusual icon was held by a woman, central to the entire formation of three thousand men, formed within dozens of Phalanxes, along with hundreds of tons worth of equipment being towed by mules, and asses. The voices carried with them the creaking of wooden carts, the squealing of iron on iron, and the occasional blare that sounded eerily like a roman Cornu.

Thousands of boots thundered on the ground for a series of synchronous steps, and as suddenly as they arrived, and the fog began to dissipate revealing what appeared to be an entire Roman legion in the valley, near where the now destroyed Viking settlement once stood. Slowly, an auburn haired woman set on a well cared for white horse lowered the unusual icon, the Eye of Aaran, a gift bestowed upon her people by an ancient, wise, and powerful race now facilitated the invasion here, and spread out nearly as far as the eye could see was a well formed sea of red, silver, and white, as thousands of Argosian Legionaries, Calvary, and Siegeworks moved quickly to get their bearings inside the valley.

Slowly, the auburn haired woman dismounted her steed, and landed with a heavy thud on the ground, her equipment standing out from the rest as it had been fashioned in what appeared to be gold, with purple plumage, and a billowy red cloak with purple accents, which was wrapped around her form. This was an intentional statement made to both her enemies, her men, and her people back home. She remembered her instructions when she beseeched her Emperor. She would take Iskjerne Bay for the Empire, and she would slay every last Iskjerne inhabitant, guilty or innocent as punishment for their treachery, It was a scorched earth policy that she herself proposed, as she firmly believed degenerates such as those belonged on a cross.

She however took wisdom from her time with Ragnar Lodbrok, in the Taiyou Hospital, and she had learned much from the Viking Savage, but her own duty called, and the importance of it weighed heavily on her.

The Woman didn't react, or even so much as feel pity, or sickness for the burning village, and the bodies strewn about, she gazed upon them as uncaringly as she would gaze upon a swine, even as her eyes moved to the formation of Musketeers, they had traded in their Aestus muskets, for carbon fiber, and polymer crossbows given to them by their allies, the Taiyou, and they had all trained extensively with them to provide the same effect as a musket's volley.

She didn't think it would be enough, as she turned around to inspect the packed carts that carried the materials to construct the siege engines that were necessary to take Iskjerne Bay, six Onagers, six Trebuchets, and twelve scorpions, did the Emperor think she could make due with this?

She would make due. Even as she inspected, her men worked quickly to move and establish camp, like a well oiled machine, Legionaries and their assistants moved out to begin construction of the trench that would surround their encampment, as well as an earthen wall supported with wooden beams, and reinforced with quarter inch steel plates brought with them in large wagons. It was as if they knew exactly the terrain they were going to be fortifying, as they did not bother to survey the surrounding area before setting to work. What was once the thundering of boots was now the din of hammer blows, and shovels moving earth as they moved in a well disciplined synchronicity to establish the outer defenses quickly.

"This was recent." The Centurion said as he looked out to the smoldering ruins. "Three hours until camp is struck." The Centurion added, as the woman pulled out a pocketwatch, which had stopped ticking. The woman frowned, and pocketed the golden medallion, flipping it closed.

"Whoever did this is still out here." The woman remarked. "They will show themselves, and we will kill them, and then we set for Iskjerne Bay, over the mountains, where we will lay siege to the settlement, and end them." She said, pointing out to the Weargtooth mountains. All while one of the Legion's Decanii placed a large color printed map on a folded out table, affixing it to the wood with weights, the map was incredibly detailed, like a photograph taken from impossible heights. The woman understood them as orbital images, satellite pictures.

"Centurion, you have until sundown to finish this encampment, we will not leave ourselves exposed to attack." The woman said, clasping her hands behind her back as she surveyed her hard working men.

She let her mind slip until she was deep in thought.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Livia Caesarius Character Portrait: Argosian Soldier Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings Character Portrait: Ragnar Lothbrok Sigurdsson Character Portrait: Hermann der Cherusker
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#, as written by Sigurd
The Argosian Army wasted no time in working to build their fortifications and seige weapons. Thousands of highly trained soldiers in armor stood over the burnt field where the Germanic tribes had left their mark just hours before. The legionaries were hardened and ready. Hundreds of riders on horseback marched along the plains in stylized formations, and the sound of their hooves was similar to thunder as the Argosians arrived on the scene with their onagers, scorpions and trebuchets. They were led by their legata, a legendary woman by the name of Livia Caesarius, whose name inspired both fear and respect from the barbaric peoples all across the continent. Livia had a long history with the Vikings, and it was by no coincidence that she herself had returned to Gaia in order to finish what she had started long ago.

But she wasn't alone on this mission. Livia had captured one of the heathens, or rather, had saved his life for reasons still unknown, but her brief act of mercy had altered both of their destinies forever. She had tried to reason with Ragnar Lothbrok to stay behind on Niihama and wait for his body to make a full recovery, but the pagan chieftain was as stubborn as his father was before him and had decided to join her conquest anyway. Ragnar was no longer wheelchair bound as he approached Livia slowly from behind, leaning on his single metal crutch as he limped up beside her and stood next to her, looking out over the field to the thousands of soldiers they had brought with them. Upon seeing all the workers and engineers, Ragnar Lothbrok smirked quietly. Alas, the time had come, as the once diehard Viking jarl now stood beside the legata, no longer wearing his ragged Viking furs and animal skins, but now adorned in high-quality Argosian military attire and lightweight nanosteel armor, distinguished from all the other men around him by his color and rank. Ragnar had been bestowed the rank of a centurion, the first Viking to achieve such a status, and was now the commander of 100 men, a small but powerful force within the Argosian wall that stood mounted behind him.

Although he had a slight limp and walked with a crutch, many of the Argosian soldiers still seemed intimidated by him. As he stood next to the legata quietly, there were whispers in the air about the son of Sigurd Hring, and the fury of the north associated with such a handsome figure. Even his own men now feared him, although nobody had ever actually seen him fight before. But his reputation alone had proceeded him, and there were many Argosians among them who, although still obedient, did not like the idea of having a Viking chieftain at the front of their formations. Livia and Ragnar were both quite aware of their superstitions, yet nobody dared to express those opinions out loud. Regardless of whatever foreign land he had come from, or whose blood had flowed through his veins, Ragnar Lothbrok was an Argosian now, as his dark navy blue tunica and brown horsehair parade crested helmet made obvious. He was civilized now according to their standards, and was expected to conduct himself accordingly.

The soldiers were ready for war. Ragnar turned to look at his legionaries, and nodded to the flag bearer who was holding the standard which would guide his forces on the battlefield. The flag bearer nodded back, and soon Ragnar turned to address his optio, or second in command, a warrior named Longinus whom Ragnar had hand-picked from among his own 100 men to act on his behalf and carry out his orders. "Memento ut propinquus manere et aurem vento tenere," Ragnar said. But he wasn't speaking Old Norse this time. He was speaking the language of the Argosians, albeit with a rough Nordic accent that still betrayed his heathen origins. Longinus nodded, raising his closed fist over his own chest, addressing his commander not as Ragnar Lothbrok, but as Reginarus, the name that the Argosians had given to him in hopes that he would forget all about the old world he had come from.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Livia Caesarius Character Portrait: Argosian Soldier Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings Character Portrait: Ragnar Lothbrok Sigurdsson Character Portrait: Hermann der Cherusker
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Deep within the Great Ellarian Forest, the semi-nomadic Germanic tribes, led by their mysterious leader in Roman styled armor and an iron mask, listened quietly as the forest became utterly silent. The birds, frogs and grasshoppers had all stopped chirping, and for a moment it sounded like the barbarians could hear thunder in the distance. "A storm approaches," one of the Cherusci warriors said in his native Germanic tongue. The enigmatic figure in the iron mask leaned on his or her spear and gazed up through the tree branches into the sky, catching a glimpse of the sun. It certainly didn't look like it was going to rain any time soon. As the barbarians continued to listen intently, they soon realized that the sound of the thunder was consistent and appeared to be coming from one direction. What the Cheruscans and their allies were hearing wasn't thunder. It was the sound of horses, seige machines and thousands of footsteps marching over the Bituin Plains, in such great numbers that they could be heard coming from a mile away.

The person in the iron mask would motion for one of the barbarians to bring forth a small iron cage. Opening the cage, the figure reached in with chainmail gloves and pulled out a black raven, which crowed wildly as it was picked up. The raven was set loose, and soon the large black avian flew up through the trees and left the forest, heading in the direction of the field where the Cherusci, Harii, Chatti, Marsi and Bructeri had slaughtered the Iskjerne Vikings just hours before. The raven flew above the Argosian Army and circled around them before flying back. As the bird returned to the person in the forest, they opened the small metal cage and placed the raven back inside it before closing the cage again and handing it over to one of their subordinates. The mysterious leader in the Roman styled armor then motioned for the Germanic tribes to push forward and sink deeper into the forest, away from the direction in which the Argosian Army was headed, for reasons yet unknown to anyone but themselves.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Livia Caesarius Character Portrait: Argosian Soldier Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings Character Portrait: Ragnar Lothbrok Sigurdsson Character Portrait: Hermann der Cherusker
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As the hours drew on, the soldiers continued hard at work to construct their fortifications. Earthen redoubts supported by wooden framework had been erected, along with hundreds of tents, and a large wooden gate on the north side of the fortress, facing the deep forest that this massive army would inevitably have to cross.

Livia, and her Centurion companion Ragnar, or Reginarus would be now standing besides a large wooden table, that had been quickly set up by one of the Legionaries for them to plan, it wasn't much longer before that table was inside a large, plush canvas tent. The tent itself was illuminated by pressurized gasoline lanterns, which offered a brighter, whiter light than their conventional flame counterpart, the liquid sloshing inside the lanterns with the movement of the walls of the tent, while Livia was quietly going over the plans, a red marker drawing arrows as she contemplated the forest.

"I want to burn it down, a path here, and here. So that our Siege engines can move through without fear of attack." She said, drawing a large path through the forest, through to the Weargtooth mountains. "We'll use explosives to blast the cliff facings through here, and build a road, with enough laborers, I should be able to move a main line directly to Iskjerne bay." Livia remarked in Argosian, the marker chirped, and scraped against the glossy paper. She looked briefly to Ragnar, as if seeking his counsel. The Centurion across from them, in command of one of the other Centuries nodded, it seemed to be a sound plan.

A Third Centurion stepped into the tent, and offered a crisp salute. "Legata, the Weygate is complete, it simply requires you to place the control." The Centurion reported, and Livia offered a slight nod. "Good, I should be able to requisition more supplies." Livia looked over towards Ragnar, and she offered a nod, before reaching into one of the large trunks that had been placed by the table, withdrawing a large circular stone like object, with a large inset red stone, and thirty eight unusual symbols.

Livia offered one last glance before tucking the large stone under the crook of her arm, and moving out of the tent into the fort, which was now nearly finished, as redoubts, towers, and large palisades surrounded the fortress. The siege engines had also been moved into a large open area near the front of the Fortress, while barracks were being constructed near the southern part of the fort. In the center of it all was a large wooden circle, grown from a tangle of vines, knurled tree trunks, and various tendrils of plant material, this large ring of entangled vines had eight orange orbs which were like amber, and seemed to glow dimly.

Livia moved to the center of the large encampment, and set the stone into a pedestal of tangled vines, which moved, and warped to accommodate the stone, wooden tendrils fusing with the base, and causing the symbols, and the large red gem to glow briefly.

Livia surveyed the Weygate It stood at roughly six and a half meters above the ground, while it was large enough to get people and supplies through, they would not be able to move any large equipment, or siege engines through.

Livia nodded in approval, and then turned back to the large tent.

"Tonight we rest, and then tomorrow we begin our movement into the forest." The Legata remarked.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Livia Caesarius Character Portrait: Argosian Soldier Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings Character Portrait: Ragnar Lothbrok Sigurdsson Character Portrait: Hermann der Cherusker
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#, as written by Sigurd
As the soldiers went about constructing a tent for them, Reginarus leaned on his crutch, standing over the wooden table where Livia had laid out the map and was going over the battle plans with them under the light of the gas lamp. Reginarus listened quietly as Livia discussed her operations with him, using a red marker to draw an arrow through the forest. She began talking about explosives and seige weapons, and clearing a path into the mountains. Reginarus still wasn't used to such planning and overkill of equipment, and quite frankly the strategic planning was beginning to bore him. He didn't really understand what all the preparations were for. He was just eager to start fighting, and would have been quick to just march straight into the enemy camp and kill everyone like he did in the old days before life was so complicated.

Of course, the Argosians did things much differently than what Ragnar Lothbrok had been used to. The legata's legions were far more advanced and sophisticated than the medieval kings and armies that Ragnar had dealt with in the past. As Livia briefly looked up to Ragnar for additional input, he said nothing, but just nodded silently, agreeing with whatever she said before she pulled out what looked to him like some type of magical stone. Reginarus had seen similar looking trinkets in his homeland. But he didn't pay much attention to it, for it vaguely reminded him of a medallion or some other piece of women's jewelry, and such things were quite common but had no appeal to him as he glanced down at the map again before turning around and gazing into the forest.

He watched the raven for a second as it flew in a circle high above him in the sky before flying back to where it came from. There were no other noticeable signs of life in the area apart from the Argosian Army itself as Reginarus' view of the forest became obstructed by the tent that the soldiers were erecting around him. Ragnar looked down at the map again, then followed Livia as she turned and walked out of the tent into the fortress that their legions had built very quickly using strength in numbers to erect hundreds of other tents, a palisade, a barracks and even a large entangled tree-like or vine-like Weygate for moving in additional troops and supplies.

Reginarus admired the glimmering gem-fitted structure for a moment, considering old tales he had once heard about the great world tree Yggdrasil, the hanging tree from where Odin learned the runes and gifted them to mankind. Ragnar gazed around the nearly finished settlement, watching as the Argosian work crews picked up the dead Viking bodies and had started stacking a single large pile of corpses, cleaning the scorched field in order to build their own structures. He limped back to his optio's tent and debriefed his legionaries on the plan that Livia and her centurions had decided upon as Ragnar's staff officers worked quickly to prepare a meal for the troops. Ragnar now had 80 legionaries, 5 cooks, 5 medics and 10 laborers to look after. It was a great responsibility, and some of the Argosian contubernia were not too fond of having a Viking centurion in charge of them, but Reginarus treated the ten decanae well, and the optio Longinus kind of liked him because there was never any shortage of feasting, eating and wine tasting.

Reginarus had developed a reputation for being able to win any drinking contest with his men, and had caused such a stir during his training on Niihama that he was forced to go on a diet and only permitted to cook 3 cattle per day to feed all of his legionaries. Reginarus listened to Longinus' thoughts on the whole situation as he picked up one of the pawn pieces from the chess game on the table in front of Longinus and moved it to another place on the chessboard. Longinus pondered for a moment before picking up the opposite colored pawn and moving it forward, explaining why he thought the legata should have sent Reginarus and his legionaries to go assess the situation beforehand. Ragnar picked up the small wooden bishop from the chess game and moved it three spaces, but didn't say a word.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Livia Caesarius Character Portrait: Argosian Soldier Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings Character Portrait: Bjorn Ironside Character Portrait: Iskjerne Berserkers Character Portrait: Ragnar Lothbrok Sigurdsson Character Portrait: Hermann der Cherusker
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#, as written by Arminius
As time progressed and the Argosians maintained their position, building up their defenses and seige weapons around the edge of the forest, the Germanic tribes led by the equestrian in the iron mask continued to withdraw further and further into the forest, heading east towards the Groenbogs, taking great care to remain invisible in the forest, out of sight and out of mind from anyone or anything that might perceive them as a threat. Nobody on Gaia was even aware that the Germanic tribes existed, and since they were semi-nomadic without any bases or settlements of their own, it was easy for them to maneuver around in the Great Ellarian Forest without being seen. After all, the forest was massive and took up much of the continent, while the Germanic tribes themselves were fewer in number than most of the other unified nations and peoples who had settled on Ellaria, and had maintained their lightweight mobility.

But the Germanic tribes were also very different from their distant northern cousins in many other ways. Unlike the Iskjerne Vikings who spoke Old Norse and had many similar Scandinavian dialects, the Germanic tribes spoke an older Proto-Germanic language and weren't considered a single unified nation of people at all, but rather a loosely organized confederation of different neighboring tribes who shared similar customs and traditions. Nor did they represent all of the many Germanic tribes that existed in their homeland. Of the hundreds of tribes that existed on mainland Germania, only a handful of tribes had joined Arminius and his wife Thusnelda on their campaign against the Romans and Vikings, and they were by no means similar to the other Germanic tribes east, west and north of the Black Forest, who had either joined the Vikings or the Romans, or had mingled together with Celtic and Slavic people over time.

Thus Arminius' confederation had remained fairly isolated and were still distinguishable from other tribes. Among the tribes who had joined his rebellion were the Chatti, the Marsi, the Bructeri, the Harii, the Suebi and the Cherusci, so that there were six tribes in total who had banded together under a single cause. They had come from Earth during the first century AD, and were therefore much more primitive than the Viking Age cultures further north. But they were no less savage or dangerous, for among all the Germanic tribes near the Elbe, Weser and Rhine rivers, these six had been labeled the most feared and warlike, and most capable of fighting the Roman Empire to a standstill at the very height of its power. Arminius had seized not one or two, but three individual Roman eagle standards, golden banners which were worshipped in battle by the Roman legions and held with such high regard by the Roman Empire that falling into enemy hands had meant a shameful disgrace for the emperor.

It was difficult to imagine that such a feat was even possible when looking at the Germanic tribes up close. They weren't a very powerful looking people by any means. They weren't nearly as tall or as muscular as the Vikings, but were of average size and stock, if not even a little bit on the thinner side, being quite limber and flexible, perhaps due to the fact that they traveled a lot on foot and were semi-nomadic. They lived in the trees and wore simple foilage and animal furs, blending in perfectly with the natural landscape around them. The Germanic tribes derived their origins from no other country, appearing to value their cattle and horses more than anything else, with no concept of gold or currency. They believed in a god or hero whom they called Mannus, and it is from this Mannus and his 3 sons that they all claim descent. They also did not appear to worship the same way that the Vikings worshipped, instead placing their faith in Hermann, the man they called Arminius, who was like a father-figure and founder to them in his own right. Whether mythical or human, they ascribed to Arminius certain powers and attributes that seemed vaguely reminiscent of the Norse god Odin or Woden, and perhaps this was his own intentional doing as he sought to bathe himself in mysticism, becoming a sort of wizard or spiritual leader to his followers over time.

The Germanic tribes had horses, and lots of them. But they only rode them straight into battle, or turned them about and rode back, with very little maneuverability, unlike the Romans who had horses adorned in armor which rode in formations. The Germanic tribes fought with simple javelins and rounded shields, rather than with Viking axes and spears. The javelin was to become their most favorite weapon, and they developed a reputation for being the best at using the javelin for everyday use. They could twirl and spin their javelins, and perform all sorts of acrobatics, swinging from trees and doing flips. They could use the javelin by itself, but were more likely to use it in pairing with their wooden shields, which were also lightweight and easy to maneuver. They trained with these weapons regularly so that even their cavalry had javelins and shields, and they were just as proficient in close-quarters with the javelin as they were at hurling it at a distance. In fact, the very name of the Germanic people themselves, and the whole land of Germania was said to derive from a word for these javelins.

The tribes continued to push east through the Great Ellarian Forest as they neared the mossy swamps. There were 600 of them altogether divided between the 6 tribes. This didn't include Arminius himself, his wife Thusnelda, the other petty-kings, princes or chieftains of the 6 tribes, or the horses and cattle they had brought with them. They weren't looking for an open war with the Argosians they had left behind them, nor with the Iskjerne Vikings over the mountains to the northwest of their location. The Germanic tribes were content to stay isolated and pick their battles carefully, preferring to target smaller more vulnerable groups which would make for much easier raids, using cleverly orchestrated hit-and-run tactics before disappearing again into the forest. Arminius' scouts went ahead of their caravan into the Groenbogs and reported back to him what they had found. They had spotted Bjorn Ironside and his handful of Viking berserkers heading towards them in the swamps. It was a perfect opportunity to ambush the Vikings as they neared closer to the Germanic tribes, so Arminius commanded the tribes to hide in the forest near the edge of the Groenbogs and wait for Bjorn Ironside's party to enter the groves, where the equestrian in the iron mask had setup a hidden trap and waited patiently.

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Character Portrait: Livia Caesarius Character Portrait: Argosian Soldier Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings Character Portrait: Bjorn Ironside Character Portrait: Iskjerne Berserkers Character Portrait: Ragnar Lothbrok Sigurdsson Character Portrait: Hermann der Cherusker
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It had been many hours since Livia assembled the weygate within the center of her camp, and she watched silently as her men worked diligently to assemble the battery that was going to be used to lay siege to the forest, she had taken a pair of binoculars to the top of one of the fort's now complete battlements, and she had made her decision.

During Ragnar's game of chest, the tent flap was pulled open, and Livia's form cast a long shadow over the chest table, as she bore a slight smirk. It seemed, during their respite, Livia's legion had been hard at work building, and transporting Argosian Levin type Howitzers to the forward battlements. She was prepared to lay waste to Iskjerne bay, and she had ensured that her legion was up to the task.

Livia looked at Ragnar and offered another wry smile, before the echoing words of her legionary commanders carried through the entirety of the camp.

"Inpono!"

Livia continued to stand within the doorway, as the silence followed the initial command, she kept her eyes affixed to the chessboard, and then to Ragnar.

"Parate!" The voice called again.

In a large raised battlement facing the great Ellarian forest, roughly a dozen Cannoneers, and a dozen Argosian Levin thirty pound artillery pieces were leveled against the dense, deep forest, hundreds of men had chosen their targets, and the cannons were concentrated in a single point through the forest. These cylinders of carefully forged steel were leveled against the forest, mounted upon wheeled carriages, and filled with a magically imbued gunpowder the Argosians called Sparkpowder, an insurance policy against the magical, whimsical nature of Gaia.

"Incaendo!" The voice called out, and what happened immediately next was something that could be described as ragnarok, the ear splitting sounds of thunder, the orange flashes of flame like an erupting volcano that spread throughout the land, and could be heard as far as Iskjerne Bay itself, and even far to the south. The rumbling of cannon fire, along with the shrill whistle of incendiary shells lasted roughly twenty seconds, and was enough to shake the very ground itself, as orange flames, and acrid, black smoke began to erupt from the various places the rounds impacted far into the forest, enveloping it in a relatively linear path of flame, which had an acrid, almost chemical smell, and quickly began to engulf the forest if left unchecked.

Livia simply stood in the tent with a grin, before abruptly turning to leave.

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#, as written by Sigurd

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Character Portrait: Livia Caesarius Character Portrait: Argosian Soldier Character Portrait: Iskjerne Vikings Character Portrait: Bjorn Ironside Character Portrait: Iskjerne Berserkers Character Portrait: Ragnar Lothbrok Sigurdsson Character Portrait: Hermann der Cherusker
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#, as written by Sigurd
Bjorn Ironside was traveling west through the Groenbogs, heading further into the swamps as he made his way towards the Great Ellarian Forest, accompanied by a handful of Iskjerne Berserkers who were diehard and ready for anything. These brutes were all large men standing well over six feet tall with thick necks, huge shoulders, big muscles and long rugged beards. They were shirtless apart from the bearskin mantles they wore over their shoulders. Some had hoods made from the bears head and jaws. Others wore necklaces, arm rings and bracelets adorned with bears claws. All of them wore bearskin boots, and some wore amulets or tiny idols resembling Iskjerne Bay's endangered cave bear species. A few of the berserkers had tattoos covering their bodies, chests, backs, arms and hands, necks and faces. The rest didn't show any signs of being tattooed. Yet all of them had painted skin, in different colors of black, blue and green, like splotches of camouflage using a series of random stripes and patterns, some bearing the likeness of runic signs or some other magical symbols meant to give the wearers power and strength, and protection on their journey.

Bjorn Ironside himself was dressed similar to the others he had brought with him. But he alone had shaved his head and cut off his long blonde hair so that he was bald. Bjorn did not have any tattoos, but he did have the Fehu Rune painted on his forehead in black dye, and a long reddish blonde beard which he had combed and braided neatly hanging from his chin with small beard ties to keep it tight. He wore a brown bearskin mantle over his broad shoulders and a bearskin kilt or battledress around his waist over baggy wool trousers and bulky bearskin boots. He also had bearskin gloves, and although Bjorn Ironside wasn't the oldest man in the group, he was the tallest, the strongest and the fastest. Bjorn himself could still speak, but the five other juggernauts he had brought with him had only the ability to growl, as all of them had removed their tongues at one time upon an oath they had once made when joining Odin's bear cult. It was clear that these were no ordinary Vikings, but rather something of an elite sect devoted to the cult of the bear. They looked like bears, growled like bears, and were known to be as strong and ferocious as bears when going into battle.

A mythos had developed around Bjorn Ironside and his followers over time. The kenning 'Ironside' came from the belief that Bjorn could not be stabbed, after numerous warriors had witnessed his skills in battle on multiple occasions and never once saw him get scratched. He was said to have thick skin and that the bearskin he wore had been imbued with dark magic, protecting the young leader from injury. But other myths surrounded the berserkers also. It was said that they possessed a magic recipe that only the chosen ones of Odin could withstand, a potion that could render them invincible to iron and fire, but would also give them added strength and blind rage. It was a super power bestowed only to the berserker, who foamed from the mouth and roared with such frenzy, gnawing on his own shield or axe like some type of rabid animal that many armies fled at the sight of their madness, or the fervor for which they had in war, showing no sign of pain or fear, but embracing danger. It was no wonder there were whispers of werewolves and other monsters lingering around Gaia's surface. Some of the lesser informed rural villagers and common folk around Ellaria had mistaken the Iskjerne Berserkers for werewolves and man-eating bear demons, angry warlocks, sasquatches or Bigfoot families, making up all sorts of fairytales surrounding the cult.

The Groenbogs were also surrounded in myths and legends. The bogs and swamps were full of hidden dangers, from bubbling boiling mud springs to sinking clay sand, peat and tar pits, not to mention poisonous vines of ivy and oak, thorns and thistles, alligators, snakes and spiders. It was a harsh environment filled with leafless wild trees and tangling branches, hanging mosses and flowers, and rocks or stepping stones covered in layers of fungi, slippery grass and lichen. The swamps were hazey and foggy, offering limited visibility and a very moisture rich setting. It was treacherous landscape, but the berserkers continued their journey, hacking their own path through the Groenbogs using their seaxes, swords and axes as frogs croaked around them in the scattered shallow ponds. Bjorn Ironside and his followers had no idea that there were spies in the swamp who had reported their presence in the middle of the night. Little did the berserkers know as they left the bogs and headed into the Great Ellarian Forest that they were about to venture into an ambush. A confederation of Ellarian Germanic tribes had stationed themselves in the forest, and were setting a trap for Bjorn and his men. With nobody to warn them, Bjorn continued forward, walking straight into Arminius' trap.

Everything was going perfectly according to plan. The handful of berserkers made their way down over the rocky ridgeline and into the narrow leafbed heading into the forest. All of them were slow to move and kept looking around in the trees for any signs of danger, all of them with large white eyes. They moved cautiously and stealthily, the only sounds in the forest coming from the cracking of twigs and the crunching of dead leaves beneath their bearskin boots. While all of them were now on high alert as they entered the eastern edge of the forest, looking around in every direction in front of them and behind them, even peering up, Bjorn and his berserkers had made the grave mistake of not paying attention to the ground or the potential snares that lay hidden in the sticks and leaves beneath their feet. As they entered the Great Ellarian Forest and went deeper into the trees, the atmosphere slowly became darker, less light penetrating through the branches above as the forest became more dense, increasing with vegetation the farther in they traveled, almost close enough to hear the explosions in the distance caused by the Argosian cannon fodder.

The sound of the thundering cannons took several seconds to reach the eastern edge of the forest, being that the sound needed to travel several miles through thick brush and densely packed trees. It would've sounded very faint to Bjorn and the five berserkers, but they could hear it from far away if they listened carefully.
It sounded like low rumbling thunder, but also apart from not being aware that the Germanic tribes were right on top of them, Bjorn Ironside had no clue about the Argosian legion or the seige they brought with them. Bjorn Ironside was about to have a very bad day.