The fact that this allowed him to avoid attending King Frodi’s Thing which would require him to pledge loyalty was just an added benefit.
The winter had came in quicker than in other years, and the Jarl’s household were making preperations to store food before winter made it difficult to venture far from their fires. The Jarl’s daughter led a group on the hunt but were isolated chasing down two stags in a sudden snow storm.
The keen senses of the The Beserker identified people talking in guttural Dansk Tunga in a clearing ahead. The Skald, temporarily being bold, scouted ahead and identified a group of six mercenaries seeking to break camp and to cover thier tracks. They little knew the fury that would fall upon them. Swift was the fury of Clan Kjari, the Shieldmaiden’s spear flashed quickly, the Beserk’s axe proved he earned his bearskin honorably, and the Giant andFierce Hirdman’s swords left others as little more than meat to sate the wolves and crows. When the Thulr searched the bags of the mercenaries, it became clear that a reasonable bounty had been paid to fund this expedition and it had a missing member – one perhaps skilled in sorcery. The interrogation of the sole survivor confirmed that they had been hired by an indescript man, perhaps a thulr (to judge by his reaction on seeing Rohald’s Thulr) who had headed towards Rohald and planned to meet them at another town a few days ride away. The group surmised that some trickery had been used to bewitch him.
Returning to Rohald, the group noticed that all trace of their prey had vanished and the signs of the storm that had forced them to this place had marked itself in a strange frost on the trees.
The Jarl took measures to ensure some of his Hirdman would stay sober during the feasting in case of treachery but otherwise concluded that the feast must continu, perhaps giving them a chance to unmask the conspiracy.
In town the group’s spirits were cheered briefly by the arrival of Jorun’s sister and her Brother-in-law. It became clear that her sister was with child and to judge by the rare beauty of two Finnish slaves, they had prospered in running their trading settlement in the land of the long-shields.
Such joy was tempered by the fact that they realised a horse with the same bridle-work was in their stables, the Finnish women seemed to have runes embroiered on their clothing and a snakelike spiral pattern of ice was coiled around the entryway to the great hall.
The night of the Jol feast came around.
The group went to check on the prisoner. They found him slumped comatose making them wonder if he had been bewitched or simply heavily concussed.
Discussions were had with the keeper of slaves. It transpired the twins had gone herb gathering to assist with the bath. The group attempted to interrogate the twins and whilst the herbs could have magical use, it seemed more benign.Some susicions were raised when they seemed to use fire to dispense of the evidence.
The thulr let slip about the mercenaries – a point of interest to many other servants in the busy house. The ever vigilant Hirdman identified four groupings that seemed to act on this knowledge. These were the emissary of the Danish King, the Jutland Trader, the neighbouringJarl and the Tryggsson household.
Great speeches were made in the hall. With honour, strength and tradition Clan Kjari made a show of their loyalty. Except the thulr who was wyrd and weird.
The falstaffian Danish uncle got the Beserk drunk & vanished shortly after the sole disruption to harmony which was some ill timed praise of King Frodi from a Skald. Rag was ‘persuaded’ to calm tensions with his own song.
Whilst this was going on – the colossal Hirdman went picking flowers on the beach. Somehow he suceeded in finding a rare white bloom. A flower more common to the far north of Norway than here. On picking the flowers he noticed a blue marking running up his arm – markings only he can see. He also found out he could speak finnish, began to actively prefer the cold and saw a vision of a one handed wanderer moving through the hall during the festivities. On speaking to the twin Finns he was given a rune reading.
- Raidho – suggesting a time of uncertainty
- Hagalaz – grim forebodings
- Othala – tradition and home
These all suggested that a time of great trial was coming towards clan Kjari
As the festivities continued, The Beserker decided to clear the air with hisbrother who he believed had been behind his getting drunk. He discovered his brother to be a seasoned brawler, and came to when his younger brother returned from a mission for the Jarl.
While the Thulr and faithful Hirdsman hid in the stables, the Beserker spotted their quarry whilst he was trying to freshen up. Calling the hue & cry, his brother demostrated why he wore the wolf-skins and fell on his prey. Whilst they had the forethought to bind the mouth of the cowardly thulr, he by devious means caused those touching him to be overcome by his magic. Sensing he was close to using up all his powers, Kester struck a deal with him. In return for answering seven questions truthfully, he was permitted another hour to flee the scene. Being suspicious of the group, the cowardly Thulr marked the runes in a dye that required herbs to be gathered to make it appear.
These questions identified that: he had placed his marks upon stones that woud be close to the victim, that one of the Tryggersson’s was behind the plot, that it was tied to being displaced and the twins had nothing to do with it. The plot would take its full effect by the time the sun was at its peak.
Tired the group returned to Rohald, to discover the Jarl was gravely ill. Due to fatigue and distractions, the Thulr took longer than normal to identify that the Jarl was suffering from a severe winter fever and then it became clear the target was in fact Gudrid, who had retuned to her chambers. In a fury, the hot-blooded Hirdsman challenged the captain of the Tryggersson’s guard to a Holmgang. Whether it was his intention, or not, this caused the long house to focus on this event, allowing the giant to search the Lady Gudrid’s chambers.
The Holmgang began, with the wily wolf berserker acting as second. The Kjari prepared to strike as soon as the treachery of the Tryggersson’s became public. Unfortunately, the Captain Asger of the Tryggersson’s guard was an honourable man, and knew nothing of the plot. Also for the Hirdsman, it was very unfortunate he was an expert with his sword Ulfbert.
The first strike went well for the fiery hirdsman, he smashed through the captains shield, and left his shield arm almost useless. Blood flowed from wounds on his shield arm and chest. As the crowd continued to cheer and take bets, the Tryggersson conspirators realised that Kjari knew something was up. Dead – Stiggandi Tryggverson dispatched a trusted lieutenant Kade up to check where the collossus was.
With his arm strapped into his shield, Asger cambe back fiercly, he dodged a kick aimed for his shield and deftly struck a fierce blow back that shattered the Hirdsman shield and let his battle-sweat flow freely onto the ground. Taking advantage of the hirdman being dazed by the blow, a second strike cut a large gash across his face.
The perfidy of he Tryggersons grew, as Kade like the argr he was, tried to strike the Collosus in the back. The cowards blade struck deep, but it was of no matter to the giant hirdman. He swung round and threw the argr into the flames. Quenching the fire with his enemy, he let him run toward the window in flames. Without consequence to himself, the Giant plunged his hand into the fire to pull the unnaturally hot rune stones from it. Seeking toget them as far from the lady Gudrid as possible, he put the stones to good use by shattering onto Kades’s head causing him to tumble in flames into the duelling ground.
As Kade fell, and the treachery of the Tryggersson was exsposed, Asger struck a massive blow against our faithful Hirdsman. He fell to the ground, run through by Ulfbert, to see visions of some horrendous carrion ike creatures circling clan Kjari and ripping the soul from the dying Kade. He hoped he met a more honourable fate.
With this the battle was joined – with a roar the collosus threw himself from the first floor, scattering three of the Tryggersson guard. The berserk cleaved his way into them, scattering their churl hearts to the winds.
The thulr, with no thought to his own safety, ran to tend to the prone Hirdsman. On seeing normal methods fail, he called on the gods and his magics to bring him back from the dead. He seized the faithful Hirdsman from the Valkyrie’s grasp this day.
Asger, his traditional values offended, struck out at the Thulr, smiting him greviously. With fury in his heart, and his soul seized by fenris, the Beserk ran Asger through and growled a challenge to the remaining Tryggersson men, who opted to surrender rather than fight such fierce foes.
Seeing his plans come to nought, the traiterous brother seized Jorun Hrolfsdottir and sought to flee the spear-din to his boat and freedom. Strugling mightily against his lecherous grasp, the daughter of Hrolf proved her mettle. She broke free from his foul hold long enough to allow the collosus to smite the wrong doer. Cleaving him in twain with one frious strike, he met the sleep of swords.
With fine words from Jorun, peace was restored. The brother remarked it was well done and all retired to the great hall to conlude their festivites. The skalds sang of the battle and the heroes of the clan sought to restore themselves.
In the later events of the day, when the wounds began to sing, and furor began to drain away, the heroes had an odd conversation with a one eyed wandererand a one handed traveller. They did not seem to belong to Clan Kjari, and seeming to be old and of low status were ignored by many in the hall. Only once they had left did the beserk question if they had been graced by the presence of the all-father and the Wolfs-joint.