Great Khan Enthroned

Great Khan Enthroned

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Odinbjorn's Tale- another old character post.

I have been a bit busy lately and haven't had much time to create new content or comment on other OSR stuff. So, just to give you, my loyal readers, some "new" content on my blog; I present the second, and possibly last, of my old character posts from my Steppe Warrior days. This one is a little different in that it is more or less an origin story and that it has vikings as the main characters. I hope you all enjoy it, much of it is based on actual play.

Odinbjorn's Tale

Reaving. That was the root of Odinbjorn's problem, as leader of Norway's chief berserker cult it should be considered a right, nay an obligation. King Harald Fine-Hair saw differently though, and had outlawed Odinbjorn and his followers for damaging his peace with the Danes. A friend in residence with the king had sent word that reached the berserk a day or so ahead of the kings' thanes. Outlawed, property forfeit and likely to be slain; Odinbjorn had gathered his followers, household and every portable piece of property and loaded it on his ships bound for Iceland. Of course goods, women and thralls hadn't fit in his raiding fleet, so he had been forced to raid his neighbors steadings for everything that could float. Reaving had been at the root, it was the branch and the tree too. Neighbors had kin and allies, the king had kin and allies; his floating household was hunted all across the whales road. A couple of small skirmishes had lost him some men and goods but so far his luck and the will of Ygg had kept him alive and he had gained more than glory, not that it mattered; gold was for the giving when you were a chief, not the hoarding. The captives had bled their lives out for the great god.

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The storm kicked up somewhere north of the Orkneys from out of a clear blue sky. “By Odin's eye!” the chieftain exclaimed, “Ran seeks to do what all Harald's men could not. By the Farmatyr I swear we'll not drown like rats!”. He ordered his men to ship sails and ride out the storm, as he idly rubbed the ring on his left small finger; such was his wont and habit before a raid and at other stressful moments. Unbeknownst to him, the ring; spawn of Draupnir, given by Odin to the first of his chiefly line; listened and began to glow a faint silvery glow, it would see that Odin's man would not be lost to the wrath of the sea giantess Ran. The All-Father's will would not be thwarted this day.

They rode the storm out for hours. Surprisingly none of the ships was lost, even the smaller, less sea-worthy ones. As darkness fell the Draupnirling had gathered what strength it could while still protecting the small fleet, it made it's move. Odin's will must be fulfilled, this man and his sworn brothers were the servants of Odin; sworn to work his will in Midgard; and throughout the nine worlds. Storm clouds were swept away from the ships. The northern lights burned the sky. The sea grew calm as glass. The air around the ships crackled with electrical charge. An uneasy silence fell among the crews, their households and their beasts. Unbidden Odinbjorn's left arm rose above his head. The ring flashed a bright white and was no more. Men and women, children and beasts were thrown to the decks of their ships. Ships burst forth from the water and when they splashed down the sea was different. So was the sky, the sun shone above them, night had lasted mere minutes.

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Odin's sorcery had saved the fleet from Ran's doom. Of that the chief was certain. Of other things he was not. When night fell for the second time the stars were not as they should have been, their configurations completely wrong. The gothi had no explanation for this, he was as stunned as his men. The night was spent quietly grumbling and listening to the crying of the women and children. The fleet sailed west though the night, the current pushing them slightly to the north. As dawn broke land was sight to the west, a wooded coastline. Odinbjorn decided to put ashore to effect repairs and replenish food supplies. After many days at sea and the sorcery of the previous night both men and beasts could use some time on land. He left his trusted lieutenant Hrolf in charge setting up camp while he led one of the parties of men inland to scout their surroundings.

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A mile or so inland the one of the gothi's men spotted smoke, as from a camp fire. Odinbjorn had his men make ready for battle and silently invoked the All-Father to grant them victory. As they crept up to the encampment the men were met with a very surprising sight, the camp contained not men but some manner of troll-kin; large, fanged, savage looking beasts in the general shape of men, but with a greenish caste to their skin and long greasy black hair. Their camp was strewn about with bones and rotting meat and one of them was counting out of a sack stacks of gold and silver coins. Grimnir had bidden them to Trollheim then. It all made sense now. He and his men would continue Helblindi's work here then, as Midgard was lost to him and his kind.

He and his men reconnoitered the trollish camp, it seemed the had posted no guards or watchmen. The trolls weapons were of crude manufacture, as was what armor they wore. He observed as one of the vile creatures shat right in the camp then kicked it away from itself. He determined their numbers about twice his, but his men were all battle-hardened veterans with surprise on their side; so he shouted the charge and called down the red rage.

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When the skirmish was over the rage faded. Odinbjorn's great axe had been blackened with the foul juice these beasts used for blood. His and his men's work a feast for the ravens. The whole thing had taken perhaps minutes, but the gothi felt drained and weak as a kitten after the rage fled. He sat down his back against a large tree. His well trained men gathered what loot there was, to be taken back to the brotherhood for their chief to dole out. A few more minutes saw spoils gathered, throats slit and the vikings on their way back to their own camp.

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A few more days saw a proper camp springing up along the seashore, with pens for the beasts and tents set up inside a wooden palisade. Scouts had fared inland perhaps a dozen miles and spotted a road and a couple of burned farmsteads, as well as more and different kinds of troll-kin. Odinbjorn supposed they were on the move raiding as the season was good for it. They had captured a few of the smaller troll-kin with orange skins and Odinbjorn had sacrificed them as was fitting. He had also realized this land was more charged with magic than Midgard had been, his chants and rune-castings more powerful than they had ever been. Truly this was the place where the All-Father's work was to be done. The favor of the Aesir was such that wounds, when the proper healing chants were used, could mend before your very eyes. Morale was higher than ever among his men and they grew restless for war.

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The gothi led his war band south down the coast seeking the larger trollish band that was advancing before them. The woods had emptied on to green rolling hills and farmland, though the crops and farmsteads were burnt. A few times they had spotted groups of stragglers or deserters from the trollish host put ashore and put them to the sword so no word of their coming could be given. At last they spied a city in the distance, under siege. It was a port and the trollish army had not attempted to blockade the harbor, so Odinbjorn would sail his sea steeds into the harbor prepared to sack and burn, then attack the trollish host assailing the walls.

Surprise met the vikings yet again as they drew closer to the city, first in the might of the magics being thrown at both sides in the battle- Lightning, great spheres of flaming death, clouds of fog that killed everyone caught in their path and silver-white darts of light that unerringly struck their targets with the force of flaming arrows; second in that the city's defenders were men. Men against trolls and mighty magics, obviously Odin had meant for him and his men to slay trolls here, the men must be allies. He needed to rethink his battle plan, so he ordered the fleet back around to the north and sought the council of his thanes.

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He beached his longships and his drakkar a couple of miles north of the trollish battle line and, leaving a small guard behind, led his men towards the trolls in the pre-dawn darkness. When the sun rose he charged his men in swine array thrusting into the enemy rear, tearing through their camps and supply trains before hitting their battle formations from behind throwing their already only semi-organized horde into further disarray. Hacking their way towards the trollish siege engines, Odinbjorn noticed that the besieged men sent forth a sallying force to reinforce them on their great raid, but it was repulsed by the trollish sorcerers volley of magic. From the southern side of the city a great party of Jotnar appeared and charged through the ranks of troll-kin towards the vikings. Odinbjorn and his men prepared to go to Valhalla in this moment. Odinbjorn's heart sank, he had led his men to their doom. Baleyg's favor is ever fickle and his blessing of victory can be taken back at any moment, the best they could do now was to die well, swords in hand, like men.

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His men being smashed to pulp by the giants all seemed lost; when a great shout of “URRAH” was heard above the din of battle and a great force of horsemen appeared from the west. Arrows rained down into the trollish host ahead of a mass of heavy lancers and swordsmen that carved their way through towards the remaining vikings. Troll-kin and giants alike fell before the advancing horsemen and all at once the morale of the besiegers broke in the face of the relievers. The city was saved as troll-kin and giant alike broke and ran in whichever direction was furthest from foes. The besieging army was routed and Odinbjorn and his vikings saved to continue to do the All-Father's will.

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When they had chased the troll-kin from the field as far as his battle weary men cared to, Odinbjorn sought out the leader of the horsemen. He was not hard to find. Beneath a horse-tailed banner the leader conferred with several of his compatriots. They were a short swarthy bunch for the most part, but their leader was a huge man, swarthy also and top-knotted like the rest; he pointed to and fro with a battle blackened scimitar issuing commands in a language Odinbjorn did not understand. Men of the city also came to the standard of the horse chief and spoke in another language he didn't understand. He spoke in his own Norse tongue to the gathered men. Several attempts were made at communication in a variety of languages between Odinbjorn and the two groups, all of them trying every language they knew; none of them in common, until a sorcerer stepped forward and chanted a spell. At once everything was clear. The horse chief was called Jagatai, and his people Tuigan; he complimented the vikings on their brave stand versus the enemy host. Long had it been since he had been impressed with any infantry on the field of battle. Upon finding out that the Norsemen were refugees from home as well the Khakhan invited them to make camp with his people who had a lack of decent infantry and a lack of homeland here. The lord, Nasher by name, of the city, which was called Neverwinter, granted the Norsemen rights to farm the burned lands and keep the in freehold, much the same as the Steppe Warriors had been given the plains to the north and west to hold as allies.

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And so it came to pass that the viking berserker cult that had fled Norway and king Harald's wrath, joined forces with the Tuigan horde that protected the lands around Neverwinter; and later, when the great cataclysm destroyed Neverwinter, joined them on their quest throughout the multiverse.