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PF1E Crowns of Ice - A Tale of Blood and Betrayal - III

Archon Basileus

First Post
HALLS OF DUST
(ALEC MACTRIER)

The hearth burned fiercely as old Embla fed it even more. The wrinkled matron dragged her feet, a look of surprise on everyone’s faces as she energetically ran back and forth like a young girl.

“Seven Bruises, woman, that’s enough!” – Garth insisted, pointing to the fires. “How tall do you want it to go?” – Jarl Alec’s aid became nervous whenever Embla turned obsessed with something. And she had been doing it a lot lately.

“It will be enough when I say so, Garth… Now go fetch the kitchen girls, the tables need mead and game…” – she rasped while poking the fire nervously. “And see if the Jarl needs anything… He’s probably coming to greet his people…” – she silenced suddenly. Embla had helped raise Alec’s daughters with care and diligence. In fact, almost everyone could remember Embla taking care of the local children, tending to wounds and serving in the longhouse. Embla was as old as anyone could recall. Many would say she even began to look like an elm tree as time passed, the muscles twisted over the bones beneath a thin, wrinkled and spotted skin.

Garth took his time.

“She’ll be fine…” – he finally said. “Einar is a great Jarl… He’ll protect her. Don’t worry, old Embla…”

“Aye, he is the son of a great Jarl… And that’s what concerns me the most…” – she replied, contemplating the furious lights she had unleashed.

“Trust our Lord, Embla…” – he reminded her, his fingers brushing the crossed circle pending from his neck, a symbol of the Demiurge.

“I trust him to leave us to our decisions, Garth... And I hope our lady Astrid has done the right one…” – she falls silent for a moment, waving at the aid with impatience. “But no more of this! Go! I’ll check on Sylvia… Before she’s sent to Göttland or Gorias or anywhere else…” – the old woman moans and leaves the fire to roar through the halls, waiting for the arrival of the Jarl.


[The longhouse is open and festivities begin! Even though you're one daughter shorter... Well, at least the food is good! I imagined you'd have opened your halls to part with Astrid, as tradition would ask, and that you would keep the party going a bit longer, using it to discuss plans for the coming summer]

@Fenris @Queenie @tglassy @Jago
 
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tglassy

Adventurer
Alec stood at the window of one of his towers, watching as his daughter left him. It was a bittersweet moment. On the one hand, she reminded him of his late wife, and he wanted to keep every reminder of her with him.

On the other hand, she was a grown woman, and looking after her was getting to be more and more challenging with Sylvia growing into womanhood. Still, he would rather she'd chosen a different husband.

Up above, a hawk flew, circling the tower. With a mental nudge, Alec sent an empathetic command to the hawk. "Watch over my little girl, Avriel. One more time. Make sure she arrives safely."

As his familiar took off towards his daughter's caravan, he turned and made his way to the party. Social gatherings were not something he enjoyed doing, but as his mines and craftsmen were a major source of steel in the area, he felt duty bound to speak with them. Alliances were made over that steel, and it would be bad to simply insult his potential buyers. They could, after all, go to a different supplier.

He entered the dining chamber, and plastered a smile on his face, ready to greet whoever came to him.
 

Archon Basileus

First Post
ALEC

There is no shortage of relevant faces and names in Alec’s hall today. From cousins of the Gataberg lines to sages from the Peak of Sacrifice, all neighboring countries are represented. As Alec enters the hall, it is the festive Búi Elofsson, from the mining families of the valleys, that rises a boastful toast. “Health and prosperity to the MacTiers!” – a chorus of voices follow the salutation, horns raised as the lord passes. Many take turns complimenting Alec, some with sincerity, others with obvious interests. Soon enough, he is brought to occupy his elevated table, showing his figure before the hole hall. Around him, noblemen of neighboring lands, as well as his own countrymen, begin to feast, loudly and joyful.

Búi profits from the situation and rises, dancing around and singing loudly with the bards. He approaches the table, bends over and compliments Alec once again.

“Not every day one gets to marry away a daughter. May the Demiurge, the Unifier and all saints watch over her, old friend” – Elof’s four sons were a regular presence in Alec’s halls, as well as loyal subjects and reliable business partners. Their line, along with five other families, commissioned the construction of the Highwalls, a system of towers and watches designed to protect, enclose and unify the valleys and its villages.

“Now, Jarl Alec… I am proud and honored to be the emissary of my countrymen. We have left you a gift, meant to honor your daughter’s marriage and alleviate the separation. It has been delivered to your chambers, I believe, under care of your faithful servants.” – he smiles respectfully, noticing the presence of bishop Ketil – or bishop Flavius, as he insisted on being called since his ordination – at the Jarl’s table.

@Fenris @Queenie @tglassy @Jago
 

tglassy

Adventurer
The Jarl's eyes narrowed a bit at the mention of a "gift", and wondered what poor lass was now waiting in his room. He'd just send her away, like he did all the others.

"You are too kind, Búi," he said, a little irony in his voice. "Please, enjoy the food and mead, while you can. I fear I may need to retire soon. Excuse me."

He moved away from the man, and on to the other guests, asking about their families, inquiring about business but keeping it light. This was a party, after all. He began looking around for Sylvia, but didn't see her immediately. He knew she loved these occasions, so she was probably dancing or flirting. Or both. He shook her head. Thirteen and already knew how to wind men around her little finger.
 

Archon Basileus

First Post
ALEC

Before leaving, Búi smiles slyly towards the Jarl. He still insists in handling him a wrapped cloth the size of a closed fist, saying it will allow him a taste before he retires. The sample could be accepted or turned down without causing alarm, given the distraction of the guests. As far as Alec can see, the content seems solid and sphere-like in shape, and odd offering, considering the likely nature of the gift.


[Does Alec take the package or ignore Búi’s gesture?]

After being dismissed by the Jarl, Búi moves around the hall, laughing as before, and reaches a reserved corner, along with his companions from the valley.

Alec goes around a central table, where some of his hirdmen eat. Stern Olav Olavsson shares mead with Liv the Archer as usual, both sworn to each other ever since the Great Wolf Hunt – Olav would be dead if not for the coveted maiden. She now wore the beast’s pelt over her shoulders, while Olav wore the claws along with a set of scars upon his chest. Small, sly Oddmund the Spider caressed the lire as Orvar Halfman drank against Ragnhild the Shieldmaiden, both unflinching.

And, accompanying the lord’s steps on the other side of the table, a maiden of great beauty danced to the sound of music. She mirrored Alec’s steps without shame or restraint. She dressed lively yellow, enveloped in a bearskin cape, crowned with rich adornments, matching the golden hair. Clear eyes studied severely the lord, contrasting the easy, pearl-like smile. As both reach the end of the table, she approaches the Jarl, taking his arm in a respectful, albeit close, movement.

“The Peak of Sacrifice sends its felicitations… May never-ending happiness and prosperity visit your lives” – she smiles warmly, resting her hand softly upon the Jarl’s arm as she bows.

“I am Runa of the Alva. The Blesser sends her apologies as well. She wanted to be here herself, but pressing matters retained her. I am sure you can understand, my Jarl” – she glances at him with a peculiar mixture of innocence and wisdom.

Pagans. The Peak of Sacrifice held great influence upon many of MacTier’s neighbors – and even some subjects. As people use to say “Nobody ignores a mountain” – to which pagans would aid – “not even the Unifier”.

“May I accompany you through your hall for a moment, my Jarl?” – she asks in an enticing voice, ample, moist eyes staring at the Jarl.


@Fenris @Queenie @tglassy @Jago
 

tglassy

Adventurer
Alec accepts the gift from Bui, not sure what it is, considering what he expected the gift in his room to be.

When Bui left, he noticed the woman dancing, and steeled himself. He hated this constant attention from everyone concerning what he did in his bedroom. He supposed most men in his situation would glory in the attention, but to him it just felt false. They wanted his station, not him. They didn't even know him. And he didn't know them.

When Runa introduced herself, he smiled at her, and tried not to insult her.

"Of course," he said, letting her direct his steps away from the crowds, slipping Bui's package into a pocket.
 

Archon Basileus

First Post
ALEC

Alec puts the hard package away, cold and heavy as a lump of stone.

“You have always been known for your generosity, Jarl Alec” – the woman continues as they walk across the hall. “There’s wisdom in this. Even defended by high walls and strong gates, people say that the valleys are nevertheless dangerous. Your tribesmen told me stories of how Ullr and Skadi made their wedding bed into the valleys, and Ullr adorned her with the bronze and iron from the surrounding mountains.” – she smiles, studying the Jarl’s features for a while. “Others would say that it’s simply a blessing from the Demiurge, looking after the needs of his children” – she pauses for a second. “In the end, happiness visits men from time to time, and that is all that matters. Would you not agree?” – she smiles pleasantly.

Looking over his shoulder for a moment, Alec sees that the bishop took notice of the woman’s approach. Despite his love for mead and game, the man seems to be keeping his attention focused on the pair, a disapproving look upon his face.

“Tell me, Jarl Alec, would I abuse of your generosity if I asked you a favor? I assure you, it is for a good cause.” – she awaits his answer. Alec notices eyes falling over him as he passes around with the lady, demiurgian and pagan eyes as well.

@Fenris @Queenie @tglassy @Jago
 

tglassy

Adventurer
Alec's look grows slightly stern. He shares a look with the Bishop, hoping to convey he was not leading the woman on. He hated having to deal with the thoughts and expectations of others, but he had grown used to it.

"I am not accustomed to granting favors without hearing what they are. Tell me what it is you need, and I will tell you if it is within my power."
 

Archon Basileus

First Post
ALEC

"I am not accustomed to granting favors without hearing what they are. Tell me what it is you need, and I will tell you if it is within my power."

“Something rather simple, my lord…” – the woman speaks in a soft, cautious tone, as the bishop rises from his chair and begins a subtle march towards the two of them. “After some talk, I realized a few members of your community are devoted to the gods of our land…” – the last words are incisive enough to pull Alec’s attention towards the vague speech of the priestess. “Therefore, I would like to conduct some prayers and blessings on behalf of lady Astrid’s wedding… That is, if you do not mind, of course…” – her appeal ends as soon as the bishop arrives. She probably hoped to hide the request from Flavius but, considering the bishop’s background, this would not be the case.

Flavius limits himself to a bow towards the woman.

“No offense” – he says to the woman, and then begins towards Alec – “but you certainly know this would not be appropriate, my lord. As the Unifier teaches us, no false deity shall be worshiped. Remind yourself of the Chronicle of the Astray. The kings who allowed idols to be built…”

“… in the sacred hills of the Demiurge were punished by his wrath.” – the woman finishes, startling the bishop. “It is an interesting story, Bishop Ketil…” – she emphasizes his birth name – “...but should a kind demiurgian lord deny freedom of belief among his own? Would they be happy and accepting of a belief that, so far, is new to our lands?” – she finishes, glancing towards the two men.

“Kindness can be a gift from the Lord, but might as well be an instrument of the Enemy. Should lord Alec allow such intrusion of idolatry, he might pollute his own faith and shun his responsibilities as a demiurgian leader.” – the bishop looks towards Alec, hopeful and inflexible, while Runa contemplates the lord with a longing gaze.

@Fenris @Queenie @tglassy @Jago
 
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tglassy

Adventurer
Alec held his hand up to the bishop, and looks to Runa.

"It is not in my nature to force religion on anyone. I have been lenient with your people in an effort to embody the principles the Demiurge teaches. As such, I have not forbade you your holy places, in the understanding that you would respect ours.

"To offer your prayers to one who does not believe in your gods would be to disrespect the tenants of my faith. You are aware of our scriptures, as you have shown. So you understand what you are asking.

"I cannot help but wonder what you would hope to gain by putting me in this situation. If I deny you, then you can claim me intolerant and judgmental. If I accept, your people can use this precedent to incorporate more of your religion into the day to day affairs of my people, and I lose face with the Church.

"So tell me, as someone who understands the position such a question would put me in, why would you pose it at all?"


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Archon Basileus

First Post
ALEC

Alec held his hand up to the bishop, and looks to Runa.

The bishop accepts the welcoming gesture with a defying smile on his face. He gazes directly towards the woman now, unyielding as always. Adhering to the tenants of the Church at a young age, Flavius never favored the path of war. Nevertheless, strength and pride never left his manners. Many would condemn him for this, preaching that the Unifier was the embodiment of humility. But Flavius knew better than to cower before his adversaries. That alone made him the perfect candidate for bishopric.

"So tell me, as someone who understands the position such a question would put me in, why would you pose it at all?"

The woman smiles.

“Please, my lord. I’d never wish for you to be pushed into an inconvenient situation. But if our old tradition is willing to accept the presence of such novelty” – she returns Flavius’ look with a smirk – “why won’t this new… faith…. Exercise the same flexibility?” – her manners contend with the bishops’, even in silence.

“Still, it’s quite convenient that we three are reunited” – she continues – “since there is a pressing matter we must deal with. I would leave such topics to another day, given the festive nature of the occasion. But since I must return to my people soon enough, I’d rather place the matter to you and the bishop right away, my lord” – Flavius seems willing to intervene, but as the woman glances at him, he falls silent.

“Not far from the valley’s gates, a grove holds ancient stone circles, used by my people to offer sacrifices to the gods during celebrations, as you are well aware, my lord. Talking to your subjects allowed me to discover that some of them plan to build a chapel over that place – something about paying tribute to a saint, or something like that. The news are not yet widespread, as far as I believe, but they seem to be very much true.” – she pauses for a moment, pensive.

“Of course, you do realize such an act would be quite offensive to my people, as you put it…”
“You can’t possibly be suggesting to our lord that he intervenes in a matter of faith, can you, lady Runa?” – the bishop speaks in his direct, elaborate rhetorical ways.

“I am asking that you do something about it, my lord.” – she pleads, ignoring the bishop. “At least offer them an alternative, so no one loses in the end. I do not ask for confrontation, my lord, and I am sorry if my manners implied such a thing. I only ask that both our traditions build a middle ground, given our peculiar situation here.”


[language needs some correction, but I'll edit soon enough. The bulk of it is clear, I take?]
[MENTION=2820]Fenris[/MENTION] [MENTION=8058]Queenie[/MENTION] [MENTION=6855204]tglassy[/MENTION] [MENTION=6855130]Jago[/MENTION]
 

tglassy

Adventurer
"Lady Runa, allow me a moment," Alec says to her. He then lightly touched the Bishop's arm to lead him a few steps away, so she could not overhear.

"Your Grace, I would never presume to go against the church and will, of course, abide by your decision in the matter. However, it seems to me that placing a chapel to The Demiurge on a pagan holy site would be...blasphemous, would it not? Is there something special about this place that we would want to worship where so many pagans have worshiped before us? Would there not be any more suitable sites where we could bask in the glory of the Demiurge more appropriately, without staining the holiness of the chapel by placing it on grounds soaked with pagan sacrifices?"
 

Archon Basileus

First Post
ALEC

Runa simply smiles, standing aside at the jarl’s request.

"Your Grace, I would never presume to go against the church and will, of course, abide by your decision in the matter. However, it seems to me that placing a chapel to The Demiurge on a pagan holy site would be...blasphemous, would it not? Is there something special about this place that we would want to worship where so many pagans have worshiped before us? Would there not be any more suitable sites where we could bask in the glory of the Demiurge more appropriately, without staining the holiness of the chapel by placing it on grounds soaked with pagan sacrifices?"

Well, my lord… This will sound embarrassing, but… I had no knowledge of this up until now. I have not ordered such enterprise, and I was never consulted.” – his faltering voice denounces the truth of his speech. He truly seems caught unawares.

“Still, I could not agree more. I trust this might be some landlord’s endeavor, or perhaps a merchant decided to thank the Demiurge for some grace received. If you wish, I may try to uncover who’s responsible, and try to convince this person to build somewhere else. I trust this would avoid… further complications?” – Flavius’ warlike behavior seems to be left aside for a moment. Perhaps the bishop wishes to avoid conflict with the pagans, after all. Still, his concerned visage can’t be hidden from Alec’s perceptive senses. He knows the look of concern on the priest’s face when he sees it.

Were the temple to be completed, Flavius would be pushed to consecrate it and grant it regular officiants. This would surely incur the wrath of the pagans, even if Flavius had nothing to do with it. On the other hand, if he did not grant the temple its status, Flavius would most likely offend someone with enough resources to build the thing… As he himself said, a landlord or a rich merchant. In other words, no one you’d want as an enemy. This might go as far as to harm his leadership, since he’d have to choose between his community and a tenuous peace with the pagans.

In the end, though, everything returned to Alec and his rule. After all, he’d be responsible for any happenstances within his frontiers, especially if they created instability.

[I see what you did there, tglassy! Very smooth, Mister!]
@Fenris @Queenie @tglassy @Jago
 

tglassy

Adventurer
"Please do, Your Grace. Problems with the pagans aside, I would not want the Demiurge to become angry with us because we corrupted one of His chapels, and you may inform whoever is responsible of such. If moving the chapel to another location is such a burden, I will help with the extra expense."

With that, he left the Bishop and approached Runa, "We are looking in to his matter, Lady Runa. It is not entirely my decision, but we will do what we can to convince those who wish to build this chapel to do so in another location."
 

Archon Basileus

First Post
ALEC

"Please do, Your Grace. Problems with the pagans aside, I would not want the Demiurge to become angry with us because we corrupted one of His chapels, and you may inform whoever is responsible of such. If moving the chapel to another location is such a burden, I will help with the extra expense."

“Thank you, my lord.” – the bishop bends the head in response. “I am sure that whoever is responsible for this would be glad to listen to reason in the matter.

With that, he left the Bishop and approached Runa, "We are looking in to his matter, Lady Runa. It is not entirely my decision, but we will do what we can to convince those who wish to build this chapel to do so in another location."

Lady Runa bows in sign of recognition and gratitude. She smiles softly while she looks at both men, her eyes translating surprise and admiration. “I must say, my lord, I did not expect such a response to the matter at hand. Back at the Peak, some presented fierce resistance to the idea of a new faith being cultivated so close to home. Others, though, would sooner see our efforts combined to the benefit of our holds.” – she pauses, contemplating both men in silence. “Perhaps the gods have guided me to the right place, after all… Both yours and mine.” – she lowers her eyes as if covered in shyness and excuses herself, making way to the entrance.

“Peculiar.” – the bishop glances at her as she moves away. “A willing pagan, instead of a willful one. I tell you, my lord, she falls far from the rest of them. Specially the Blesser.” – his suspicions are evident to Alec. “I heard stories about the Alva. None would recommend trust. If the legends are true…” – Flavius shakes his head, refusing the worst of his thoughts. “Ah, never mind. I trust we should be glad at least once this debated did not end in a feud of tears...”


@Fenris @Queenie @tglassy @Jago
 
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tglassy

Adventurer
"Diplomacy is the art of giving no one what they wanted, but making them think they're getting the better end of the deal," Alex said in jest, clapping the Bidhop on the shoulder. "Come. No more politics. My daughter is getting married! There is too much good food to let any go to waste."
 

Archon Basileus

First Post
"Diplomacy is the art of giving no one what they wanted, but making them think they're getting the better end of the deal," Alex said in jest, clapping the Bidhop on the shoulder. "Come. No more politics. My daughter is getting married! There is too much good food to let any go to waste."

The bishop smiles and mingles with the other guests. Alec and Flavius had similar tastes and likewise habits. Most people credited such coincidence to their religious zeal, a trait not uncommon among demiurgians. Others, nevertheless, understood it to be the result of a few years of shared concerns and counsel. Imbued of a contained, yet energic, spirit, the bishop livened the party wherever he went, never overstaying his welcomes. Alec knew him to embrace happiness with care, given the “temptations of camaraderie”, as he used to say. This might be the ultimate cause for his continuous need of solitude, as he’d stroll through the fields or meditate in his chambers for many hours at a time, almost every day. It was only a matter of time before he left the party, unaccompanied and well-fed, to walk diligently and without second glances towards his own hold, not far from the longhouse.

As for the others, they fought bravely to exhaust the resources Alec’s servants so diligently kept placing upon the tables. Roasted meat, eggs, pigeons and mead, spiced fish, bread and cheese and all sorts of fruit one could find as summer approached were devoured mercilessly by giant appetites and growing spirits. The men and women from the Valleys were especially diligent in waging war against the full tables. Laughs, sweat and moans of exertion came out of dilated bellies and gaping mouths. Reddened cheeks slowly turned their attentions towards the fresh outdoors, seeking a fleeting truce, only to return to the toil of chewing and swallowing without regret or shame. Smoke of pipes filled the air as many a combatant fell, loosening belts and spreading bodies across free benches and planks. Others took to dancing, desperate to relieve the lascivious charges that overtook them as they gorged in Alec’s generosity. In the end, all desperate attempts to eat away the Jarl’s wealth – with ceremonious respect for him and his daughter, of course – were made to vanish, leaving behind a trail of half-cut pies and spewing honeycombs among flagons of tepid mead.

But right now those things do not matter.

Many hours pass, and the Jarl of Viuland now rests his weary and dutiful shoulders against the backrest of his chair. Suddenly, his heart feels heavy, as if a second loss is bestowed upon him. Seconds of agony pass as he relives the loss of beloved Saria, grief weighting his soul and making lead of his thoughts. His mind, smiting memories of pain and grief into submission, suddenly realizes these concerns are not his own. Avriel feels it; thus, he feels as well.

Sylvia is the one to bring the news.

She interrupts the languid tones of the hall with a strenuous, yet secretive, pace. Her hair and clothes are in disarray, perhaps by the rush, perhaps because of some of her juvenile provocations. But what calls for Alec’s attention are her eyes… Her eyes in distress, as they eagerly scan the place in search of the Jarl. No, not the Jarl. In search of Alec, her father. He knows that look… that look of helplessness. Since her tender days, whenever she felt helpless, that was the look that overtook her.

Her eyes meet his’, and soon enough she rushes towards him.

“Father…” – she tries to keep her tone down, but the fear in her voice betrays her.

“I saw…” – she gasps for air as she tries to speak. Her body shivers in a convulsive, desperate manner, attempting to convey a message Alec fears he already knows.

“It’s… It’s back! The boat… Is back!”

As Sylvia chuckles, breathless, the hawk returns through the open doors, flying high into the halls and towards Alec. Exhausted, it sits upon his chair’s backrest, lowering its head towards him.

Men from the docks stroll, shortly after, concerned faces, stern brows.

“My lord… On the horizon… It returns.”

And, after that, all was silence.

@Fenris @Queenie @tglassy @Jago
 

Neurotic

I plan on living forever. Or die trying.
"My Jarl! Lord Einar!" port guard barges into the Einars longhouse and stops in place as heavy cane comes up in front of his face, dangerously quickly.

Blond man holding it smiles thinly. "You do not run to the Jarl, Ongar, even if I know you. He is in his room, what is it?" Looking at the hard breathing man, Arvid realised that this must be serious if the news couldn't wait enough for the guard to walk uphill.
"Speak, man!"

"It is...it is the bride!"
"She's already here!? Impossible!" thinks Arvid as the soldier continues "She's been kidnapped, longship from MacTiers just arrived with her dress. The demand is 2 chests of silver and 1 of gold for her release!"

"Calm down, Ongar! Who brought the message? Where is he? Who took her? Do you know anything else?" As the guard shakes his head, Arvid lowers his cane and hobbles toward Einars room. "I'll tell the lord! You make sure messenger from Jarl MacTier comes here as soon as possible." On the way back he orders house keepers "Insilvis, Yarmouth, prepare a raven, we will send a response immediately."

He knocks at the door of Jarl-to-be.
"Lord Einar, grave news. Lady Astrid has been taken! Already, the pirates are asking for ransom of three treasure chests. The messenger from Jarl Alec is on the way."
Two men in the room raise their heads at the intrusion. Imposing and groomed, good looking Jarling and his new adviser, shrewd dark haired man who moves with deceptive slowness. Einar stands up to his full height towering of his tutor while dark man narrows his eyes.
"How do you know about it than, half-man?"

Arvid ignores the barb with the ease of absolute self-confidence and waits for Einar to speak.
Einars face is dark "Astrid taken! It seems I should have sent you to defend her after all. I want to speak with the messenger!" he hurries by Arvid, closely followed by the dark man. "After all this time and she gets taken! Gods must..." Arvid hears murmuring as he moves aside losing the end in the distance, hobbling after the retreating lord.

"Einar! Stop and think!" the hiss of the dark man is loud enough that Arvid just catches it. The tone is forceful as if talking to an equal, not as an adviser to his lord. At least as Arvid sees things. And that only reinforces his own feeling of deadly confrontation that will occur the moment old Jarl breathes his last. But for the moment, his sister needs him to return and for that, he needs resources. And that means finding his way out of this mess.

Abandoning the two to their discussion, Arvid takes his report to the real Jarl, Volund. He gives the report, but except for general riling against pirates, ages past and regret he cannot help MacTier himself, there is nothing Jarl Volund can do. Arvid listens until he can respectfully retreat and prepares the longhall for guests. Food, mead, and ravens await the arrival of MacTiers delegation.

Einar nods at the preparation, his teacher, adviser and co-conspirator in youngling escapades is capable diplomat even if he cannot fight anymore. From the discussion that follows Arvid gathers what exactly happened. A surprising fact that everyone was alive and even women weren't taken suggest something more than pirates. Once the facts were clear, Einar sent the messenger away and cleared the room.
"I am going after her! And woes to the pirates who took her!" roars Einar, his warrior spirit overriding the caution he lived in last several years.
"Strong reaction" thinks Arvid "Is it possible that he really loves her? It couldn't be just for show!" he remains near the door, immovable, silent, hoping to hear more.
"You cannot go, Einar. You would give even better target for the pirates. You cannot trust them. Pay and be done with it. Send someone you can trust, but expendable. One of your older guards perhaps." speaks the dark haired man.

"This is my chance! If things turn sour I can even take the gold and finally return to my land!" Arvid steps back into the room
"I will go, Einar. You shouldn't expose yourself to such danger. Raids are one thing, pirates especially brazen like these, these are dogs, unworthy of your attention. Show them your scorn by sending me, warrior wounded in a hunt not in real combat. And show Lady Astrid respect by the same measure, I'm still Jarl Volunds adviser. And your friend. I will see her returned. If possible, I'll identify some of the pirates and we can hunt them down later."

Einar looks at both his old and new adviser somewhat calmed down. If these two agree on something it must be correct. He finally takes time to think this through.
"I should keep both to check one against the other. Except Arvid would never go against old mores. No use, we have to forward or Gataberg will spread eventually. Or Demiurgist will. Peace! Bah! Weakling drivel!"

He looks up first at one then another.
"You're going Arvid. Meet with Alec on the way. I will pay the gold. If there was more time, I would pay all, apologize to my future father. Describe it as you see fit, you're good at that."
"But..." dark man tries to interrupt
"I decided, Gunne. He goes. Thank you, Arvid. Get her back." Einar voice becomes steel
"Find who they are! And kill them! Kill them all!"



Later that evening, a shadow moves over the rooftops and through conveniently placed roof window into nondescript house among the karls houses.
"Ulm. Ulm! Wake up!"
"I'm awake, youngling. With the noise you make, I was awake while you were three houses down." comes amused voice from behind him.

This time Arvid doesn't play their usual game. He quickly removes the mask from his face. "Finally, I have a chance! Either I succeed and get back into Einars good graces. Or I fail, but get the gold. At worst, I'll take the ship and get back to Gataberg! I'm sick and tired waiting for something to happen while my sister languishes in the middle of Loki knows how many intrigues. The time is now!"

Ulm holds up his hands.
"Easy, boy. What is happening?"

Several minutes of explanations later:
Ulm looks the young warrior over and decides that he really cannot wait anymore. Something needs to happen and quickly.
"I'm too old to go, if you succeed, call me and I'll come. But I cannot go traipsing on the ships now. I will prepare everything for your return. Be careful, you cannot change on the ship or even at the island, you would be made immediately."

After some more planning, Garmmörk takes his leave and Arvid returns to Einars halls to await the fateful meeting.
 
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Archon Basileus

First Post
ARVID

Preparations for the trip are solemn and fast. A well-rounded sum is gathered from Einar’s private spoils – or so he says. The pieces might as well be Volund’s. Who would know? And if the legends held any truth, Einar’s men might have fought some watchers during their search. “Such noble effort for a man to deprive himself of his riches in order to save his bride…” – said one of his closest men as he crossed the longhouse after his master’s son. No one was to know of the occurrence, that much was obvious, and as long as they were served – or, even better, drunk - no one would. Mead flowed even more now, and drinking games were stimulated around the halls. The groom was a smart man, for sure.

Back at Einar’s private rooms, Arvid meets the Jarl’s son alone. His face holds concern, perhaps even some grudge against the captors, against his dark-haired companion, against the gods. Who knows. He gestures towards a chair on the opposite side of a large table. The food is untouched, the mead, unserved.

“Help yourself, Arvid.” – he lowers his face, heavy with chagrin. “Gods know I’ve no appetite.” – his features are a mix of concern and reason.

“High up in that hall, above my father’s chair, lies his spear. You’ve seen it, have you not? You have, of course you have. The hall was built around the damn thing.” – Einar’s grey-green eyes are distant and cold as he glances through the window. “I was resolved to use it today, to recover my bride from whoever took her away. Such dishonor to Volund and his house, such dishonor to Grandael, such dishonor… To me. Why not hold that spear as I marched through the enemy’s line? So many years since I last did this. And yet, as soon as I define my fate, all the lines so clear to me… I am reminded of my duty. Here, among my people. By the side of my sick father.” – he breathes deeply, heavily. “Look at you, Arvid. You bear your scars with such honor. They may call you a half-man, and it would be a lie. You’re hole. More than men like me will ever be.” – he falls silent, as if letting this simple truth sink in. His expression is unfathomable, still bathed in the pale light that enters through the open sheets of the window.

“What a pair we are, my friend.” – he reaches for the mead, serves two pints and salute the other. After a long sip, he cleans his graying beard with the palm of his hand. “You are stuck to a bruise, and I’m stuck to a chair."

@Queenie @tglassy @Neurotic [MENTION=2820]Fenris[/MENTION]
 

Neurotic

I plan on living forever. Or die trying.
"Trust in our gods Einar. There are times when leader needs to lead the charge. The people need to see it. And there are times when you have to leave others to do your work. There is no glory in killing filthy pirates even if it is for the bride. Her father may sail in person. As should you for your wife. But she's not that, not yet. Giving the pirates the attention would just encourage others to do the same.

Stick to the old gods and tradition, do not seek power elsewhere. When it is your time, the gods will take Jarl to their halls. Quick way, easy way always carries a price. Listening to others, even me, always carries a risk that you will listen to the snake. You know my story. I would like to get warriors to free my land. But as-is, I cannot lead them to battle unless this injury heals in time."
Arvid thumps his cane on the floor
"Sitting in the hall, waiting for your father to die is hard, but you shouldn't worry about that. You're Jarl in all but name. You can sail out and raid. Or you could travel east and raid Muri lands. Show your courage to the men. And it may take your mind off the worry. I'm speaking in general, we didn't talk much for some time. You obviously cannot go out now before your bride arrives, but after our honeymoon, why not? And despite his age and tendency to ramble, your father is still capable of teaching you. Remember that he had a shot at being a king and refused it. Ask him for his reasoning and you may hear it echoing your own frustration. If you think you're bound by leadership now, how many more obligations and difficulties would you have as a king?

Maybe the gods are waiting for you to realise what is really important to you rather than keeping your from your rightful place?"
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

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