Saturday, 9 January 2016

Kampi's Saga: The Northern Hunt - Part I

Salutations all! I hope that you enjoyed your excellent holiday season and new year as much as I did my own; a great time was spent with family and friends.

During this off season from Medieval Chaos, I've been co-compiling a tale for Kampi's Saga detailing what he's been up to over the winter months; I say co-compiling as this story is shared with the character Ajax Lambeatorix Greyward; the creation/portrayal by my good friend Ash. We've both been discussing this collaborative effort on and off throughout the season, though it has been difficult to find the time to actually form the ideas into text. I aim to have this Saga arc finished in it's entirety and posted before the next off-season MC mission Kampi and Ajax are to attend: the Imbolc Ball next month.

The astute of you may have noticed I've changed the entry's name from Edda to Saga; the former originally made sense to me as I somewhat believed these entries would mirror how the historical Prose Edda was a collection of stories, but now that I've had over a year developing them they seemed more personal tales narrated from Kampi's perspective; he doesn't tend to relate MC events he's not apart of in some tangible way. Plus I believed there would be more out-of-character/non-character centric entries. So I changed it to Saga, which I feel is more fitting.

Aside from trying to write out these entries, I've also been devoting spare time in updating Kampi's kit appropriately in preparation for his return abroad at the forthcoming ball. And although I made my decision to retitle the entries before I began listening to them, during my crafting time or when I have an ear free, I've going through the episodes of Saga Thing, a podcast about
the Sagas of Icelanders. I've always wanted to read them in full, but to be honest I already have so many hobbies, let alone books I want to read. The excellent hosts on Saga Thing at least allow me to get the basic gist of each saga when I'm otherwise occupied. The Sagas themselves reaffirm my choice that the renaming was fitting.

I've also been playing a lot of Fiasco lately (perhaps a future post about that) and listening and learning more about the Icelandic Sagas makes me really want to try the Blood Saga playset; but I feel that might require all participating to have passing familiarity with the concepts of family feuds, blood duels, law and honour, Icelandic society, and all the rest of it. But that just might based off of my own expectations.

Also I kinda wanted to live RP some of the more interesting scenes in this tale Ash and I are creating, but it doesn't seem will have the means or opportunity to do so. This time...

Anyway, onto the Saga itself: For a bit of context, the entries that follow began about a week following Darkest Day, the last mission of the 5315 (2015 RL) season at MC, which occurred on the 7th of November RL. The narrative will mostly consist of somewhat sporadic journal entries with no specific dates aside from the starting one; thus everything that follows occurs in sequence until just before the 5316 Imbolc Ball.

Credit again to my buddy Ash for his creative input.

Without further ado, we present to you:

The Northern Hunt

This map has been provided for those to track the journey. Click for larger size.

The Second Day of Frigga
Month of Slaughter
Local Year 5315

Runes: Nauthiz

Divine Association: Nidthogg, the malice-striker.
Literal Meanings: Need
Interpretations: Necessary Hardship
  • Right-side: Endurance, Determination, Perseverance
  • Inverted: Constraint, Deprivation, Failure

The following dawn, we set sail from Helm's Deep, across the Malkavian Sea to the eastern port of Bone Cove.

At least that was the initial idea I suggested when the knight-errant Ajax Grayward and myself discussed the prospect at our secluded camp almost a week prior, during what is referred to a Darkest Day (named so because the date tends to mark a notable decrease from the daylight hours); a series of mock battles are also traditionally held on that day between residents of Dagger Deep, divided between two sides.

King Willumarius had decree some time before the event, that the final victorious commander of the series of battles said to occur through the dark hours of the night, would then be named the Steward of Dagger Deep, and be charged with the safekeeping of the town during wartime and would have considerable authority when the King is absent (though to what degree still remains to be seen). The two generals selected for the task of leading either force was the Rex Lucius of Hrogn, and Kendrid, Field Commander of the Butcher's Bill.

Participating factions and their members were assigned to a side, with some opting to split their forces between the two. The closest group I consider myself a member of was the Watch, and those present were mostly assigned to the side of Lucius' command, so I initially joined with them. After a brief discussion of strategy and tactics, we scattered to our own business before the first battle at the eighth hour.

Until then, Ajax, my mentor Relan, the mage Serenity, and myself, spent our time at our joint camp; the warm fire Ajax produced pushed back the chill air and as we cooked and shared our evening fare, we talked about many things. Being mostly free from the various concerns each of us had, we were able to learn things about each other that the drives of life kept us from learning; many were humorous, some personal, most insightful in a form.

After I participated in the first field skirmish, whom Kendrid's force won, the remainder of the night I escorted Relan about when he came to neutrally arbitrate the remainder of the event. Kendrid's team thoroughly won a decisive victory twice more; successfully laying siege to Fort Rowanoak defended by Luscius' team, and once more during a pitch battle in Ork's Field; thus being awarded the title of Steward of Dagger Deep.

It will be interesting what changes this may further bring about to the already existing muster of authority in the township, though I shan't witness such until I return from this journey north-east with Ajax. If I am to return at all.

I suppose I should write a little background on this prospect: A month or so ago, when Ajax and myself were becoming acquainted with one another and he was doing his usual boasting about the magical beasts he had felled for glory and profit, he mentioned his intent to travel the mainland during the cold season to a supposed ruin in the northern region of the Dragon Peaks, wherein supposedly dwells a monstrous being that has been preying upon local settlements. They call this creature the 'wendigo'.

I personally question the hearsay that has come to the braggart's ears and his motivations for desiring to take upon such a perilous journey for little personal gain it may give (he has claimed that he knows of some individuals that would pay good coin for reagents and components of a 'wendigo'; whether this is true or just wishful thinking on his part is another doubt); once more is his offer to have me join him on this 'hunt'.

He knows of my life pursuits and how they are both related to practice of my martial skill and my devout nature to the Æsir; he asked me if I had any experience hunting and I replied that I hunted game in my youth, to which he scoffed. He replied he meant against great magical beasts, where prowess in one's fighting is of greater import than skilfully managing the wilds and hunting prey (though I am sure his time as a woodsman has given honed those skills, even if his current gear doesn't support that as much any more).

Ajax, unabashedly, did admit that his lore of the nature of the 'wendigo' was limited; he claims that it somewhere between a man and giant in size and form, it is more a predator than a scavenger, and that it prefers intelligent prey. He was also willing to admit his concern that this 'wendigo' might have be a form of undead creature or malicious spirit and that his expertise with such beings is limited.

For reasons I do not entirely understand, I have taken the bold warrior up on his offer. Again, I feel an inexplicable call to journey northward, perhaps in search of any connection to my homeland, perhaps in search solely of myself.

After several proposed routes, many of which were dismissed as they would bring us through the tumultuous political states of Ankh, Ter'Solma, or Sylvania, the preparations we decided upon whilst around our campfire are laid out thus:

First, we are to voyage north-east from Helm's Deep to the mainland, to a place known as Bone Cove. From there, we aim to acquire a small river-worthy craft and proceed up Lilloo River; if securing a vessel fails, we'll follow the foot path to Goldtown. Using either method way plan on arriving at Ajax's family home, an estate that overlooks Shale Glacier, a predominately dwarven and human mining community based upon the shores of Loch Moraine.

After time spent with with Ajax's family we are to resume our quest and follow the river north where it flows from another lake: Cayoush Lake. From there we strike east to our destination: the abandoned ruins outside of a tiny settlement called Amsel, where supposedly this creature dwells.

Though rapidly approaching winter, I surmise
Lilloo River would be at its lowest and stillest, which may make passage somewhat less difficult, and when/where it begins to freeze it may make it easier to portage the vessel or proceed on foot, though the winter season presents many other dangerous risks and challenges.

Ajax has booked us passage upon a ship making a merchant voyage to Bone Cove; hopefully his silver tongue worked to our benefit, though a small part of me is concerned that shrewd barter may have took advantage of his somewhat simple nature.

Now, to sleep. A long journey begins on the morrow.

After a clear and uneventful crossing over the Malkavian Sea, Ajax and I arrived in Bone Cove, a modest trading port. Sailing is something that always makes my spirit soar, despite the cold weather. Here we begin our preparations for the journey ahead: a river transport that is able to make the attempted trip and supplies to be carried therein.

During the brief time spent in Helm's Deep before our voyage, I best tried to acquaint myself with the locales of the hinterlands we are to travel through, and after making several inquiries I was directed to a lore repository and within a series of scripted volumes called "A Pilgrim's Guide to Arrakis", detailing numerous regions and their associated points of interest. I took the time to copy several of the entries on the chance that they may prove useful.
-An excerpt from “A Pilgrim's Guide to Arrakis"
“...and just one day's walk to the West is a settlement that connects the South flowing river to the Malkavian sea. According to the town's dockyard rumours, Bone Cove got its name from the enormous ribs that once marked the boundary of the village. Once a carcass of some thrice-cursed sea leviathan that perished on land – or was washed ashore by waves of such mammoth quality. The sailors say that the bones, which have long since been overcome by the progress of civilizing the landscape and the bone boundaries have vanished into the foundations of many a tavern and tenement or carved away to re-purpose as building timbers. Bone Cove is now a bustling town full of taverns and general stores, all fed by the merchants who see the sea-ship cargo unloaded for shuttling upriver into the mountainous North.
Homes are nary more than a story, but the inns dot the town in greater number than any house. The Pilgrim's Guide to Arrakis suggests pilgrims avoid the taverns and inns by the hillock and instead stick to the waterfront where the bustle is constant and the merchants are animated with story and willing with tithe. Be warned also to keep your wits about you when dealing with the barge sellers, as the wrong passage can land a careless pilgrim in the frontier without their purse or a sword on their belt! Carrying on, as the pilgrim follows the coast South, the land becomes ...”
Bone Cove as it probably looked in the distant past.
The great towering ribs that give Bone Cove its namesake are indeed presently gone, as civilization reforged the land in and around it. Tis' a shame, for they do sound wondrous to have beheld. Hopefully the mention about shuttling cargo, it would increase our chance to obtain passage via the river. I also aim to be scrupulous in our negations with any we deal with; Ajax can do the talking and I'll watch and listen closely.

During the crossing Ajax and I were rather amicable for the first half of the voyage, but we soon encountered our first obstacle: differing opinions. Personally, I fell it would be perhaps prudent to take on some aides in our journey to benefiting from their experience and familiarity with the surrounding lands and to share the rigours of this undertaking. Unfortunately Ajax doesn't seem to agree with me; he's quick to brush off the suggestion boasting that as a 'master' woodsman we do not need any assistance and can provide all the help needed.

I do not want to seem I'm questioning Ajax's skill in woodcraft (which is somewhat considerable from what I've seen) nor imply any lack of familiarity with the lay of the land (he was born and raised in the region), I believe that the risks of this undertaking could be lessened with the addition of travelling companions to share the duties and burdens of the journey, at least when we set out from Shale Glacier.

Even after suggesting he should think upon it but wait to make a decision until after we've made it to his home town and seen his family, I get the feeling that he has already made to choice and will stick to it. I perhaps rightly wonder if he would've asked me on this journey if he didn't believe he needed me given his penchant for self-reliance.

We arrived in port as the hour grew late and we partook in a decent hot meal of roasted fish and strong drink in one of the dockside taverns called the 'Pike & Marrow', before we turned in for the evening at the adjacent inn, the 'Half-Moon'.

Tomorrow, we figure out how best we are able to travel upriver towards Loch Moraine.

It is has been a several nights since we departed Bone Cove by means of the Lilloo River ; Ajax and I have been travelling by barge with a small seemingly friendly group of river traders. They were the only group that was intending to sail upriver this season, so we bartered passage with them as additional labourers. Our duties were simple: we assisted plying the craft as it sails upstream; a few times we've had to tow the barge with ropes from the riverbank when the wind was unfavourable or a caution was needed negotiating a difficult stretch of watercourse. We are expected to defend the barge if assailed as well, which hasn't occurred yet.

We have reached a riverside trading post that acts as a connection route to Gold Town, where we took on and offloaded a couple goods, and I have taken the opportunity to make this journal entry. It seems the goods these merchants ferry and deal in are mostly foodstuffs and a few luxury items from the coast, and raw, mineral goods and furs from the hinterland settlements. Their intended terminus for this journey is to be Shale Glacier, which is fortunate for us; its also been expressed that this is to most likely to be their final trip until the thaw. The river itself has been clear of ice so far, but the further we travel inland the colder it becomes; snow and rime begin to blanket the land.

During our voyage, Ajax had ample opportunity vaunt, having a 'captive' audience; when the topic came to his kin, as some of the traders recognised the heraldry he bore on his apple and bisque vestments. He regaled, with much pride in his voice, the lineage of the Greyward house:

The clan itself is apparently one of, if not, the chief noble families established in Shale Glacier; maintaining office and management over the town's welfare and interests, mostly that of mining and smithing. Ajax's father, the dwarf Agarin Greyward is titled Duke of the region and reigns over Shale Glacier from their family keep, build into the side of a craggy mountain. There he lives with his wife, Iolanthe (pronounced: 'Yo-lan-thee') Lambeatorix, a human woman once belonging to a lower class family, and the rest of the household: three brothers apart from Ajax, and two sisters, plus their servants.

I must admit I became anxious after Ajax relayed his great familial connections and the mood of our fellow travellers shifted ever so slightly. Though they seem decent folk, I could not help but feel that if cunning and shrewd, they'd take advantage of this knowledge and our journey would become more costly before we reached our destination. Or worse.

Hopefully, those are just ungrounded fears preying upon me; provided nothing untoward occurs, we should reach Shale Glacier in a few days.

Praise Be To The Æsir

~Ref 'Kampi' Vandillson

To Be Continued...

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