Saga of Clan Kjari

Offerings to the Great Winter
Sacrifices & Extreme Bravery

After a winter spent profitably raiding in Kattegat and the Skagerrak with Bjarki the Red & brother autumn came to Rohald.

Despite the peace treaty brokered by Kjari between Jutes and Danes at the Jol feast the year before, piracy proved a continued issue. In the growing unrest, King Frodi saw the opportunity to take advantage of the recent bereavement of Jarl Hord Benirsson of Odense. He made a treaty with a Jute war-leader to marry the Jarl to his daughter. It did not sit well with those of the Isle of Fynn that in doing so they would finally be obliged to bend the knee in submission to Frodi’s Overlordship.

As if this did not bring dark enough thoughts, omens and other augery were mentioned around the hearth fires of Rohald. It was one such dark night that found all of Jorun Hrolfsdottir retinue appearing to be in a shared vision. They saw Wulfgar Gunnarsson as a bear, and others of their village in danger. They all sought Jorun, whom they found carving something into the Law Stone with a silver spear overlooked by ravens. As she turned to the group, her eyes beeding and empty, fire and destruction reigned down upon Rohald forcing all to the sword.

Hrolf Bjornsson sought the counsel of his Volvas’s – seers gifted with divination. Hild Thorbjornsdottir, a childhood friend of Jorun, was brought to the hall. They cast runes to identify who should be sent from Rohald to seek the council of the Lady of Winter – a legendary seer – found in a frozen land beyond the Skagerrak. The runes called for a noble, a warrior, a man with the soul of an animal , a loyal sword, one who stood between the living and the dead and a coward.

Casting forth on their svekkjar the “Wavedancer”, under the command of the Styrimadr Osvif, they made good time. Unfortunately a sudden meeting with Bjarki the Red caused disharmony on board, for whilst he had not recently raided Kjari vessels that was not always the case. This disharmony did not come to any great consequence, for the next morning the band found the crew frozen and dead. The ship seeming to sail its own course through a dense fog.

The fog played on the spirits of the group – causing them to snipe at each other – and almost caused the death of Bjarki as he was knocked into the water by Wulfgar. Finally their spirits were restored when they sought to tame a sea eagle.

They crashed into a shore, to judge by the dancing of the night’s dragon (the Aurora) and the location of the Bear and Wolf, Wulfgar Gunnarsson suspected they were to the far west. Kester the Thulr suspected that this may be Thule or other darkened shores.

For once Rag the Skald demonstrated some courage and saved Jorun Hrolfsdottir from the crude spears of primitive blue marked skraelings. A plan to draw these creatures out was laid, and whilst well executed, they found themselves sore pressed, with Gisli ‘Ashen Shield’ almost laid low by their leader.

Wulfgar Gunnarsson marked others on his axe, but not before they fled towards their village. When the Thulr sought to intervene to heal the Collossus, he was thrown backwards against the ship, and the Ashen Shiled earned his name by showing the full flowering of his tattoo across his shield arm.

Travelling into the icy mountains, they came across the Palace of the Lady of Winter. In an ice crater where men were frozen beneath the lake, stood a series of circular chambers made of a wood which did not grow here. Entering the huts, Bjarki the Half-Dead stood guard, refusing to go further.

Seeing a sheet of ice blocking their way, Gisli ‘Ashen Shield’ braved touching it first and fell into a trial. His soul laid bare, he was judged for his amorous ways, and barely made it past into the great hall.

With trepidation Jorun Hrolfsdottir stepped in next. She saw the all-father sitting on his throne, who sought to weigh her loyalty to her friends and to her family name. With regret she chose her family, and knew instantly a sacrfice would be called for. The All-father looked at her and made her choose one of her companions, the one she valued most, and she uttered the name of Bjarki. With a wolfs-grin he promised that Bjarki would not be the first of them to die for her families renown.

The final test fell unto Wulfgar Gunnarsson, He saw all he had every slain or destroyed. A spirit for each notch upon his axe. Whilst he fought hard, he did not prevail. So as it was foretold by Skagen, only Gisli and Jorun saw the Lady of the Ice.

They entered a great room, where a throne was carved into a giant ash tree, one that mirrored the tattoo on Gisli. Looking at them she slowly called up all of the runes carved into the tree which glowed and pulsed with the same eerie blue that marked out Gisli. Jorun entreated with the Lady and found odd her kenning of the wyrd

“Ice and fire, fear and bravery, day and night, all become one. Who can stop it, when even the gods may succumb? The children will pay for the sins of their fathers. Your Fate has already been written, the Norns have seen to that. Now only the battle matters. You! You may have the power for such a fight. Were you seeking an answer? This is only the beginning. If you believe you are strong enough to follow your Fate, then glory awaits. Nothing will be in vain. Seek out the face of Odin.”

When Jorun pressed further,her words chilled to the bone. “Soon you will pay what is due. But for the moment be still” as she shrouded herself in freezing fog, she drew Gisli away and vanished.

Leaving the room, they pondered whether the lady was the one to give them the spear from the earlier visions. They found the Beserk lying out cold, with a bear claw scar down his face and a fine mead horn by his side.

They returned to shore and found Bjarki speaking to a stranger. He claimed to be a great captain, and drained Bjarki’s mead horn thirstily. Returning, he demonstrated the keen eyes that had kept him alive and away from the tribesman since his ship was wrecked months before. From below he saw the Skraeling’s exiting their camp and above he spotted silver glinting in the winter’s sun.

Jorun barely managed the climb, hands bleeding raw stripped almost to the bone, but she claimed the Raven Spear. Only later would she hear the Skald say he believed this to be Balder’s spear, lost to the Jotun’s and reclaimed by the hero Jund Jaralsson.

The other’s did not seem to manage this journey as well, almost dying on the mountain twice – losing shield and sword down the side of the hill. As they retreated the cornice they had walked upon crashed down the side of the hill. With haste they returned to their ship, where ‘Oar-Breaker’ sought to clear the deck of those that were frozen. The ship seemed stuck, despite the best efforts of the others to push it off. They could see the hordes of the Skraelings bearing down upon them and felt their time had come.

It was only when Kester turned to Jorun and said he “saw now her choice”. He leapt off the side and threw himself into hordes of the Skraelings, cleaving them with his axes. Brave as he was with each one he felled, another three took their place, and with horror the crew saw him fall to the hands of the tribesman as they fled that place.

His sacrifice allowed them time to return to the Skaggerak, with their new captain demonstrating his skill with the waves was matched only by his capacity to outdrink the skald.

They chanced upon a Jarl’s vessel, in distress from a pirate of Hirsk, sporting the red banners of the city of chains. With seamanship that could only be from one beloved of Njord, the Wave Dancer smashed through the oars of the other vessel and stole its winds. Leaving the pirate vessel dead in the water, they followed the Jarl’s vessel to safety.

Having a celebratory meal to thank their rescuers, the ships crew confirmed that they had lost the vessel containing Princess Hedriss and Vagn Hordsson. The one-eyed Jutish captain offered the use of his crew in pursuit, whilst he limped the other vessel back to Fynn. Jorun promised to find the mssing noblemen, as soon as her drunken captain remembered the way.

Whilst the mood was generally positive, Bjarki the Half-Dead and Wulfgar Gunnarsson drew the suspicion of Ligurd and Juren who had been attacked previously.

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The Hunted
Draugurs and Wolves sore vex our heroes

The winter dragged on with many in Rohald looking to the Thulr’s to seek confirmation that this was not the Fimbulwinter that would proceeded Ragnorak.

Recovering from their wounds, the heroes of Rohald drew their furs closer around them and rode into their forests to chase off woves that preyed on the outlying farms in their territory. They were joined by a silent hunter who had travelled from the lands of the Long Shields and Sorceror Kings. Deadly and silent he stalked his prey carefully, and confidently spoke of a small pack of Warg’s that could be quickly dispatched by competent hunters.

Their Jarl jokingly suggested it would be no great loss were they to feast onGunnerson cattle instead.

Closing in on their prey, they came across a terrified merchant running through the forest pursued by three relentless horsemen. As Jorun Hrolfsdottir called a challenge, they brooked no honeyed words and bore down on Rohald’s defenders.

The hunter’s arrows felled one quickly, whilst Wulfgar’s axe cleaved through man and mount as one. The last fell to a blow from the merchant after he was fairly matched by the sword of Gisli. With his dying breath he uttered one word “Astrid”. In death it became clear that these were three brothers, with blood from a hunt marking their shoulders and matting their hair.

Over the following night the group were disturbed by the howls of wargs in the forest. Even Wulfgar began to question if the numbers their hunter had so confidently predicted were true. They set their trap, seeking to flush the pack with fire down a valley towards the Gunnerson’s land. The group took their positions, Kester secure in a tree apart from the others who drew bow and readied spear for the dozen or so Wargs. Isolated, the Thulr was unable to withstand the attack of Draugr spirits. Sapping his fury and powers of the Wyrd, they then sought to target the Beserk but with less success.

Powered by the Thulr’s spirit and their own anger they took possession of Wargs. Evil beast of snow white, descended from Fenris himsef, bore down on Bjarki the Half-Dead and Wulfgar Gunnarsson who stood back to back as brothers in the circle of flame. Three of these foul creaturesdirected a horde of their lesser brethren, a full hand dozen, towards the remaining heroes. As befit the leader of her clan, Jorun Hrolfsdottir bravely bore down on the first of these frost-warg and slew it with a mighty thrust of her spear.

To her horror a foul draugr emerged – jumping to another nearby – that leapt for her. She was grabbed from the Walkure’s embrace, by Svein the Hunter who leapt from branch to branch and cut the foul beast’s throat with his sword as he did so.

Seeing their fate, the two within the flames fought mightily. The battle-rage upon him, Wulfgar Gunnarsson leapt unarmoured into their mist, his axe like a scythe at harvest time. Grievous was his wounds, certain it was he would fall to Tyr and joys of Valhalla’s halls. Gisli whirled his blade, convinced his time had come. As it seemed all hope was lost, the Jarl’s daughter felled the last of the Fenrir spwan, causing what was left to scatter.

The Thulr recovering from his attack rushed to his friends aid – and calling on his skills returned him from Tyrs cold grasp. He guessed that the honey-words of the merchant,were little more than ways to mask the rotten meat of his lies. Her fury at the breach of traditions in place, the Jarl’s Daughter dragged the churl to the Jarl’s justice.

As they rode into the town, they saw the pitched mound and deer the brother’s had slain as proof of their intent to avenge their sister. The Jarl’s justice was swift. The Merchant was beheaded and as weregild the Jarl extracted favours from Jorun Hrolfsdottir, the pelts of the wolves, and married [[:kevin-s-hirdsman | Bjarki the Half-Dead to the wronged [[:astri-ottarsdottir | Astrid]].

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A wyrd perspective
Kester shares his thoughts on the troubles he has witnessed

Kester the Thulr is not a simple man. For as long as he can remember he has been aware of the otherness that dwells beyond mortal men’s senses. But being aware is not enough for Kester. He sought to understand this other realm that sits beside Midgard, and by understanding it he can control it.

Through his pursuit of the unknown he has been shunned by others as they are suspicious of anyone who dabbles in this other realm. ‘It is not for mortal men to know of such things’ they would yell at him, but this didn’t stop Jorun Hrolfsdottir from befriending him and making him part of her retinue.

A hunt that began innocently enough ended in violence and death. Mercenaries were encountered and destroyed, but not before we questioned one of them. A fellow thulr was amongst them and giving them orders, but he was nowhere to be seen. In a panic the retinue returned from the hunt empty handed, much to the bemusement of the townsfolk. Save 6 horses little else was delivered by the hunting party of Jorun Hrolfsdottir and that brought shame upon them.

Kester thought little of what people thought of him as he had done throughout his life. Being an outcast was his lot thanks to being touched by what is wyrd. Answers he sought and answers he would get. So determined was he that he questioned the prisoner again only to discover that he had suffered severe concussion from the attack earlier in the day that he was of little use.

The night drew in and festivities began to build. A slaver ship from Finland landed with twins, women who were touched by the wyrd that drew many in the retinue to them. This was especially true of one of the hirdsman who was particularly taken by them. That distraction led to some interactions with the twins that generated more questions about their origins and purpose.

Eventually a Jol Feast was initiated with Hrolf Bjornsson the Jarl bestowing the title of heir to his daughter Jorun Hrolfsdottir. Speeches were made by all in her retinue, including Kester, who delivered words that were drawn from the wyrd places and was deemed to be weird by all who heard them. Again Kester cared not for what people thought, only that his friend understood that he would do all that he could to help support her and her family.

The hindsman that was bewitched by the twins decided to go hunt for some flowers to give to them. Despite it being in the depths of winter the oak managed to find some growing isolated on the beach. Many took this to be a sign from the gods and it wasn’t long before Kester discovered that this giant of a man was indeed touch by the other. He sensed no malice in this turn of events, but the hirdsman’s aversion to heat was a cause for concern.

Later that evening both Kester and a beserker in Jorun’s retinue hid in the stables as they suspected something amiss was to happen there. They were right of course as the mysterious thulr was discovered lurking there and eventually captured. He tried and almost succeeded in using the wyrd to place a pox on those who was oppose him. Two men fell but his efforts grew too much for him and a battle of wills between Kester and this thulr took place. This struggle was won by Kester and the name of the person who had hired the mercenaries was revealed. It was the Tryggersson’s who were behind this attack. The in-law family of the Jarl had elected to attack the Kjari clan for reasons no one could fathom.

But there was a twist in the tale; the thulr had left a rune in the town that would cause a great sickness to spread at midday the following day, causing many to die in agony. The location of this rune was not revealed and Kester was forced to let the mercenary leave unharmed. For he had placed a spell on the information he gave that would vanish should he come to harm.

Rushing back to town the retinue had no time to spare. A search was initiated to find the rune but to no avail. Eventually tiredness gripped them and they retired, but not for long as the Jarl was bellowing from his bedchamber as he complained of stomach spasms and pains in his abdomen. Fearing the worst, Kester rushed to his aid assuming the evil rune was to blame.

Meanwhile Jorun went to speak to her sister who is pregnant. She asked about her husband and how they were bearing up. Nothing untoward was revealed and the conversation was interrupted by the wailing of their father.

In an act of impatience mixed with ineptitude and a thirst for vengeance, one of Jorun’s hirdsman challenged Captain Asger to a duel, accusing him of the ring leader of the attack. Insulted he declared a Holmgang and the fight began.

This duel created a diversion that allowed the search of the rune to continue unimpeded. Kester eventually discovered that the Jarl was simply ill from overindulging from the night before and there was nothing wyrd about his ailment.

Kester decided to witness the Holmgang and lend healing if it was required to the hirdsman. As he did so he watched the other members of the Tryggersson clan who were acting very strangely during the fight. Eventually Captain Asger was victorious and Kester had to muster all of his healing powers from both within Midgard and beyond to save the hirdsman. This did not go unnoticed and Captain Asger saw this as an affront and attacked Kester.

All the while the hirdsman that was touched by the gods had apparently discovered the rune and had been attacked by one of the Tryggersson clan and threw him out of an upstairs window and jumped after him, offending rune in hand. It was quite a sight and one Kester will not likely forget for some time to come.

A beserker in the retinue of Jorun Hrolfsdottir ran Captain Asger through as he chose to protect Kester from being slain. Eventually Stiggandi Tryggverson was killed as he tried to make his escape.

The day ended with song and cheer as the Clan Kjari once again thwarted an assault against it.

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Winter's Fall
Game Sessions 1 to 4

As the Jol celebration drew near Hrolf Bjornsson gathered his loyal retainers around him to recognise his daughter Jorun Hrolfsdottiras his heir.

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.

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