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    Lady of the North Star Demi Moderator Saithis's Avatar
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    Piety of the North Star - The Hvide of Sjaelland


    An alternate history AAR based the Hvide Clan of Sjælland in Denmark.

    Game Details
    • Difficulty Level - Hard
    • AI Aggressiveness - Normal
    • Default Hastings (1066) Scenario
    • Modified and Personalized Version of the DVIP Mod
    • Modding Save File is Permitted ONLY if it does not particularly impact gameplay, such as to change a country's primary title, or to modify a character name (e.g. adding Audensen to a son of Auden's name) or if it is deemed important and sensible to the storyline without being full-on cheating.

    Shiny Shiny Trophy Cabinet


    Table of Contents


    * Descriptive pieces with little or no attached storyline or narrative.

    ----- -=-=- ----- -=-=- -----



    Chapter 01 - Rise of the Duke


    Skjalm Tokesen Hivde felt it pierce through the layers of insulating furs and his portly figure, right to the very bone. Icy cold hands like the devil's wraiths clutching at him, threatened to devour his whole being right there. It was no blade of steel or hellish magic which had conjured up this terrible sensation, but the grip of the winter frost which now blew across Sjælland, and indeed all of the north. The danish, however, were used to the cold, and his warm garments would keep him through the warm enough through the trip. The party's life was in no danger despite the flurries of white powder tugged along by invisible currents of air, whipping into their faces and chilling to the bone.

    Skjalm was the Count of Sjælland and this made him one of the most important nobles in Denmark, and certainly Northern Europe as a whole. As the Count of Sjælland, he was responsible for overseeing the whole island, tending to its wellbeing - an especially important duty, as the Kings of Denmark had a great fondness for residing upon the island. A great responsibility had been rested upon his shoulders, and when his master called, he had no choice but to obey.

    That was why he was making the journey some 12 leagues from his estate outside Køpmannæhafn, all the way north to Søborg Castle, the current residence of choice for his liege-lord. Svend Estridsen Knýtling, King of all Denmark, had issued direct summons to him, to make the journey north as soon as possible. Skjalm did not understand what his Majesty could possible desire, but he was worried. Very worried.

    He had spoken to Ragnar Eriksen, a rather unnoticeable jarl of a lesser estate, whose home he had spent the prior night. The Jarls were a rather diverse and confusing group, but they were the social elite, the nobility of Denmark. The Danes, however, were still primitive in many ways compared to their neighbours in Saxony. Primitive trials of pagan origins and sovereignty by might were still the accepted ways. The kingdom was divided into petty, feuding portions of land, ruled by rival Jarls who sought to undermine each other's strength and wealth. The King himself was a proud man, but inevitably he was no Canute. Under his rule, the once mighty Viking Danes had become no better than cowering children, lurking beneath the shadow of the Germanic Kingdom.

    The Norman invasion of England last year had made one thing clear: Denmark and similar states were still backwards realms, scattered and divided. This was why Norway had slipped out of their fingers, why Sweden was still a power, and why the Franks ruled over Anglo-Saxon lands which by all right belonged to Viking blood. These were things that made him angry, and Skjalm clenched his fist unconsciously from unbidden rage. His King was bringing ruin to the great country he loved so much. Admittedly, though, Magnus the Good was as much to blame for Denmark's decline - though he had won a great victory against the Wends over twenty years ago, he allowed the fierce rivalry between Harald Hardråde and Svend Estridson to develop in the first place, and so contributed at least partially to Svend's embarrassing inability to defeat him and reclaim Norway for Denmark.

    So why was he being summoned? What was Svend planning? What was he going to do? And how the hell did Skjalm fit into this picture?

    The looming figure of Søborg Castle appeared before him in the fog and snow, lantern lights highlighting the castle's figure even in the fading light of dusk, granting the fortifications an eerie glow. His procession of a dozen huskarls followed him closely, all mounted like he, all ready for anything. His bodyguards were amongst the best-trained and equipped soldiers in all of Denmark, and they would protect him and his family with their lives if necessary. He paid them exceptionally well in order to ensure that. As they approached the iron gates, his herald announced his coming and the iron gates opened almost immediately. Through the streets of the small settlement within the castle walls they moved, until at last they reached the keep proper. A large number of men were gathered in the courtyard waiting, and Skjalm was instantly on guard, unsure of what to think or say.



    "Skjalm, wonderful to see you!" a voice called out from the head of the crowd. The torchlight illuminated that speaker's face, and Skjalm's eyes quickly focused, picking out details. Rannveig Thordarsdatter, the Royal Chancellor of Denmark, and the diplomatic face to all noble visitors to the King's demesne.

    "Rannveig, a pleasure, of course." Skjalm stated dryly. He was not here to see this woman. "I have been summoned by the King, I wish to see him."

    "I'm afraid that's not possible, Skjalm."

    The portly noble focused on this new voice. It was his brother, Auden, the bishop of Roskilde and some said the holiest man in all of Denmark. A truly pious and brave soul...but why was he here? Skjalm's confusion grew, and a sense of nausea was beginning to overtake him as the crowd of people spread out, starting to surround him. It was at that moment, Skjalm realized his huskarls were gone, and he was alone, trapped.

    "Auden, what is going on? Explain immediately, I have no time for this game! The King has summoned me!"

    Where Auden's gentle face had once been, a snarling, fanged demonic grin now stood. His voice as he spoke shifted from that of his noble, pious brother to a monster. "Your soul has been taken by Satan, brother. We will cleanse you."

    "No...no, stay back!" Skjalm screamed, drawing his sword and waving it wildly, his horse bucking. As if by some chance of fate, he was thrown from the saddle, up into the air, into the sky, clouds rushing past him, and all at once, he fell...

    ----- -=-=- ----- -=-=- ----- -=-=- -----

    February 17th, 1067


    Skjalm awoke with a thud, his chubby form colliding with the wooden floor of his bedchamber. He wiped his mouth with one hand and pulled himself up, groaning and scratching at tender parts. It was just a dream...just another nightmare. He was safe.

    "Skjalm, at last, you're finally awake. The King has requested to speak with you this morning before his departure!"

    That stern voice was his wife Signe. She was some twelve years his junior, and a determined woman of great moral fibre. She was also extremely crafty, and one of his closest advisors. There were few he could trust to help manage the financial affairs of Sjælland, and she was easily the best steward and bed companion he could ask for. She was plain to some eyes, perhaps, though certainly not foul or displeasing. Indeed, Skjalm had noticed the roving eyes of his King the day before, examining his wife's figure with lust; not that he, as a lesser noble, could do anything about it.

    The tired noble reached for his discarded trousers, left to the bedside during lastnight's happy celebrations with his wife. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he acknowledged that since their marriage, she had not produced him one heir. He was beginning to grow concerned about this, and had prayed several times for help. Maybe this time, God's help would come.

    "Hurry, Hertug of Sjælland, lest the King changes his mind!" Signe put the emphasis on the title, and Skjalm nodded fervently, obeying his wife's urging. His mind, however, was still on the dream. He had dreamt of such things every night since he arrived at Søborg three days and four nights prior. He had made up his mind to speak to Auden about it tomorrow, for a sense of forboding had crept into his heart.



    Within a few minutes, the noble dane was fully dressed and a servant was helping see to his disheveled bed hair while he hurriedly piled in his morning meal of fruits and nuts, washed down with a glass of wine. To say that Skjalm was hedonistic would not be entirely true - he was no more hedonistic than your average noble, but he certainly found time to enjoy more than his fair share of food, contributing to his rotund figure. He ignored his wife's occasional clucks of disapproval - she was no fan of excess, and only begrudgingly put aside her disapproval of it in favour of her love for him. Their marriage was, unlike many, one of honesty and romantic idealism, one of love and not political bargain.

    The newly-appointed Duke marched confidently down the stairwell, and found his way to the side gate of the castle, where the well-armed and armoured entourage of the King's personal huskarls greeted him. King Svend Estridsen himself was busying himself in conversation with Rannveig and a strange man he did not recognize. He had the look of an Italian but the speech of a Dane; he was certainly no foreigner, but neither was he any noble that Skjalm knew of.

    Skjalm approached the King and bowed low with respect, keeping his distance, but neither straying too far. "My liege."

    His liege smiled and beckoned for him to rise. "Ah, ah, there he is, man of the hour. Are you feeling well? You look pale even in this dreadful weather." The King beckoned to the grey skies above.

    Skjalm nodded and stood. "I am well, your majesty, perhaps a little overwhelmed at your appointment of full control of Sjælland, but well. Where was it you said you were to depart to, again?"

    The King was looking over some piece of parchment thoughtfully. "Århus. My son has agreed to surrender his estate there, and it will be, for now, my new demesne. As for your new power...it was well deserved. For some time you have reigned over this island, and the Hvide clan has done a good job of it too. Loyalty deserves reward, Skjalm, and I believe that with the full administrative power over Sjælland, you can perform even better. Besides, the kingdom ran into a fair bit of money after the recent marriage and treaty with Norway. It wasn't hard to arrange for the money for your new title, High Chief of Hvide. Just keep the place together, and keep your eyes on the future."

    Immediately, a puzzled look crossed Skjalm's face. "The future, my king?"

    Svend laughed. "Think about it, Skjalm. Just think about it. We are danes, are we not? We are conquerors, warriors, lords of old. Our names once struck fear into the heart of all the baltic. Now...those days are over, but our viking blood has not been diluted in the least. Skjalm Tokesen, we are true vikings, and if you look to the south, you will see lands that may yet become our proving grounds."


    "Northern Europe as of February 1067 A.D. - Denmark seems a minor power compared to other leading European states."


    The Jarl thought carefully about this, pondering upon his knowledge of geography. "Mecklenburg, my liege?"

    "Oh aye, they're the obvious first step...but think grander, my boy, grander than just Mecklenburg. Pomerania, Prussia, Lithuania...given the state of the Teutons, perhaps someday even Hamburg and Saxony!"

    "You're...I see, my liege. Where do I come in, at this stage, sire?" Skjalm seemed doubtful, but dare not voice his concerns, out of fear of punishment.

    "Skjalm, you are one of the few nobles I trust to get the job done. Sjælland is one of the most important provinces in the whole of our country, but there are other places of import as well. I must look to Fyn and Slesvig, I must raise an army. I have sent my capable sons to Halland and Skåne to arrange for matters there. You too, Skjalm, must do your part. The lands of Sjælland are some of our most populous and certainly the wealthiest - I look to you to set things straight. Begin building up a new army, stockpiling weapons and supplies, and ensure we have a fleet of longships to transport them. When the time comes to prove our viking blood, you will be on the front lines, earning glory with the rest of us..."

    King Svend quickly mounted his horse, and started to laugh heartily. "Imagine yet, Skjalm, that the Danes might rule over all the Baltic before we are done! Arm your huskarls and sound the call...for when I ask you, you must be ready to join us in war!"



    Svend's procession turned away, and departed in the direction of Kømannæhafn, where the Royal Fleet had berthed itself just weeks earlier. Skjalm shook his head in incredulity at the slowly shrinking figure of his liege-lord, and pondered what to do. Svend was proposing a vast military campaign when Denmark was not even stable enough to avoid civil war. If they could not hold on to Norway, if they could not keep their english lands from the inferior Saxons or the damned Normans, how could they hope to stand against the ever growing armies of the other European states?

    Skjalm retreated into his castle - with nary a thought to the fact that it seemed strange one of the two mightiest castles in Denmark was now under his command - and began to brood. His thoughts took him down dark lanes, and for a week he thought and pondered with little action. Skjalm Tokesson Hvide was Duke of Sjælland, vassal of the King of Denmark, but he recognized that this path could lead a weakened Denmark to destruction. What, then, should a concerned Duke do?

    Skjalm Tokesen Hvide was a troubled man indeed. But before long, he had broken through and come up with a plan - all he needed was a little help...and he knew just the man to make it happen.


    "Asbjørn Ulfsen Sprakalegg, close friend to Skjalm and the marshal of his host, the armies of Sjælland."
    Last edited by Saithis; 29-02-2012 at 02:29. Reason: Updated

  2. #2
    Blasted Conniving Roman General_BT's Avatar
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    You certainly haven't bored me... I was thrown for a bit, and thought for a second we were going to have a vampiric CK AAR! Svend Estridson doesn't have that good a reputation here in CK AARland, sadly, and Skjalm's experience doesn't give me much heart with regards to the Danish king. If Skjalm's smart though, he could always turn all of this to his advantage... maybe that's what Asbjorn will advise.

    Looking forward to seeing how this thing goes!
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    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    Nice beginning.
    Vikings shall one day rule the seas again.
    But first one needs to united them...

  4. #4
    v.nice, I'll be keeping track, LOVED the nightmare bit
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    Very good. It is nice to see that I am not the only one who has fallen down from bed.

    I'll be following.

  6. #6
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    I'm sold to boot. Keep at it, sir!

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    Cisár všetkých Slovákov demokratickid's Avatar
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    Hey, nice AAR! I especially like the MTW:II graphic add-ons!

    P.S. Welcome to the forum, it's nice to have you here!
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    Remember Carcosa! Fiftypence's Avatar
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    I like it so far. I always enjoy a story about Denmark

  9. #9
    Lady of the North Star Demi Moderator Saithis's Avatar
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    Trying to get through this early stuff as fast as I can without shoving too much into one installment...some stuff just needs to be done though. I'm eager to move on to the future, as some rather interesting events are going to fall in place for Denmark. I'm rather glad I played ahead before writing this, because it's all added up brilliantly in a way it couldn't have ever done if I had just written it as it happened!

    General_BT: Vampires? Well...nah, not yet. ;) I'll save that for an AAR of Transylvania. ;) As for Svend, this would be my third time playing as a Danish vassal, and my first game ever was as the County of Jylland. During this time I found Svend to be exceedingly frustrating, a complete idiotic plonker. I later came to realize that this was often true of all CK AI, but Svend always left that bad first taste in my mouth. This was only reinforced when I actually researched the historical King and found that he presided over the loss of Denmark's control of Norway and plenty of internal unrest. I'll try my best not to be TOO harsh on him though. :P

    Enewald: Glad you liked it, the vikings will most certainly aim to rule the Baltic and beyond. Old habits die hard, and you can certainly expect the Danes to be raiding across the seas before long...

    Maver1ck: I have no idea why, but nightmares tend to feature rather prominently in my writings. At least 75% of what I've written in the past 5 years includes a nightmare during the first couple of chapters. xD

    Spothisto: Thank you, and you certainly aren't the only one. ;) I think we've all taken a tumble down the sheets at one point or another.

    Rabic Bogling: Glad you like it, though the pedant in me wishes to point out that 'madame' may be a more suitable title, the appreciation is taken wholeheartedly. ;)

    demokratickid: I wanted to try and bring it to life a little bit more, and MTW:II was a great way to do so. Even my poor old computer can run it well enough to take set up scenarios and take screenshots at max settings. I'll probably use them mostly for battles, but every now and then I'll try and find something to help set the scene a little better. Thanks for the welcome. =)

    Fiftypence: I'm glad! I'm fond of the old Vikings myself. ;)

    ----- -=-=- ----- -=-=- -----



    Chapter 02 - Prelude to War

    February 24th, 1067


    "How many? Well, I wager...maybe 1,100 men in total, Skjalm. Why?"

    Skjalm Tokesen paced across the chamber, maps and various bits of parchment strewn across the heavy oaken table. Across from him was a stern looking Asbjørn Sprakkaleg, dressed in finery. Where Skjalm was portly and slow, Asbjørn was the exact opposite - the perfect image of a viking, down to his carefully groomed facial hair. Rock-hard muscles were clearly visible even beneath the clothes, indicating a man of great strength and endurance. Asbjørn had been Skjalm's bodyguard for some number of years now, and the Duke was loath to enter into any military situation without his advice.

    "That's including the levied troops?" Skjalm inquired.

    "Ehm..." Asbjørn seemed less certain. "Not all of them, but a fair enough amount. Maybe 200, 250 would be taken straight out of the farmers and fishers. We wouldn't even have means to equip them with anything beyond basic implements of war. Of the rest, only around a hundred and a half are our own huskarls. We can't necessarily trust any of the rest to fight with valour in wartime."

    Skjalm sighed and lowered himself onto a chair, elbows resting upon the table, slipping ever so slightly at the papers beneath. "From what I gather, the King is planning on going to war...a long war. From what he says, he desires to see all of the baltic under the Danish colours..."

    Asbjørn raised an eyebrow. "At current strength? It would be an extremely difficult prospect. To dominate the baltic, we would not only have to conquer and pacify dozens of chiefdoms and tribes, but Sweden as well."

    "I know, I know..." Skjalm frowned. "But do we have a choice? He is the king...we must prepare to help him as much as we can. Perhaps there will be a way out of this mess without watching our people stick their heads onto the chopping block, hm?"

    "Well...we could always reject the call to war, when it comes." Marshal Sprakkaleg let slip a sly smile at that one. "Refuse to go to war, refuse to raise our armies in his bloody crusade."

    Skjalm shook his head. "No, that would merely see our position weakened, if he lost the war...understand, I want a strong Denmark, not a weak one. Better to find a way to use our men more appropriately than he might. Besides, it wouldn't be the honourable way."

    There was silence between the men for some time.

    "Asbjørn...understand, I am placing my full, utmost support behind you. I want you to arrange for the training of new men, call for new recruits for our huskarls, and see to it that these soldiers are equipped with decent arms, not the tribal methods of old. You have my treasury at your disposal, do what it takes to turn these petty militiamen into the greatest fighting force in Denmark." Skjalm gritted his teeth in firm determination.

    His Marshal bowed. "It will be done, my lord."


    "A fairly typical Danish huskarl, well armed and armoured. Note the use of the axe in the left hand, an unusual danish style common to the huskarls."

    ----- -=-=- ----- -=-=- -----

    October 21st, 1067


    The cold winter had begun to descend upon Denmark, and once again, Skjalm Tokesen faced a bitter cold challenge. The stress of what was happening was beginning to get to him. He met the King again in May, and the King confirmed he had hatched a plot. He had originally intended to seize the land of Finnveden, but after they became vassals of the King of Sweden, that plan was abandoned. From what little he knew, he would wager the King's plan was to strike against Mecklenburg to the south. The unruly Tribe was a strong buffer against the Germans, though, and removing that buffer...well, Skjalm had some doubts, but would do his part.

    To make matters even worse, his Marshal's wife, Ingrid, was with child, and Skjalm was feeling doubly mocked by God. Signe had still managed to avoid a blessed event, and not for lack of trying. Skjalm confessed his faith had begun to slip, and the cold sweat upon his brow was not just from stress, but from the dreams which haunted him night by night. His family, his friends, his liege, everyone turning against him. His world collapsing around him. Visions of war, visions of doom, all haunting him. Ghosts of a midnight dream telling him of his evils.

    Skjalm had yet to speak to Auden about it, but he knew that he must, sooner or later.

    His court had gathered before him, ready to speak of the affairs at hand. They were of course, his first priority. These people were more than just mere courtiers, they were his family, and his closest friends. He could trust them, more than he could trust anyone else, anyway. Politics...it was a draconian game, one that bided its time like a snake, waiting for its moment to launch the killer strike. Venomous, cold and cruel, just like Satan who spawned it.



    The Duke's gaze traveled around the court. First and foremost was Signe, his wife. She was more than just his wife, though, she served as his Steward and head of finances. She was in charge of all the coin traveling through his treasury, and of dealings with the burghers. Under her supervision, the economy of Sjælland had begun to prosper at last. She was a proud looking woman, the daughter of his own friend and advisor Asbjørn, and his marriage to her had tied the two families together forevermore.



    Asbjørn...the very pinnacle image of a viking. Marshal of his Army and the best tactician in all of Denmark; there were few Skjalm could trust to get the job done like this man. He had served under the Hvide family for some 24 years, first as a huskarl in his Toke Hvide's army, growing through the ranks until becoming chief of his father's huskarls. When Skjalm inherited the County of Sjælland from his father, there seemed no better choice to help him with military affairs.



    His eyes strayed left to Asbjørn's wife, a young maid named Ingrid. She was a well-spoken, well-meaning academic, imbued with the same fiery heart as her husband. She was with child, rumours said, and it was starting to tell, her belly swollen to a noticable degree. His marshal was clearly proud, as was she, and though Skjalm was perhaps jealous of their success, he wished them the best. He also hoped the pregnancy went well, for Ingrid served as his chancellor and was well versed in the diplomatic arts. He trusted her to help deal with any and all difficult situations.



    Sitting opposite to the trio, at his left hand, was Auden Tokesen, the Bishop of Sjælland and Skjalm's personal, spiritual advisor, as well as his younger brother and heir to the Dukedom. Though one of the diocese priesthood, he was happily married to Gro Svensdatter Knýtling, tying the Hvide family bloodline into the Royal one, though they were far from inheritance. King Svend had produced many heirs, much to Auden's disapproval, but younger in his life, Auden had fallen for the woman and he couldn't let her go now.



    And Gro...another of the Knýtling clan, Auden's pride and joy - she was a reasonably intelligent young woman of good breeding, and Skjalm had to admit he had a certain fondness for her and her ways. She was not as pious as her husband, and the flirting glances that sometimes swept his way hinted at a lack of chastity he had concerns about, but it was not his place to speak to Auden about it. She was a sneaky, clever individual, renowned for her trickery amongst the court, but while a fair bit was used for her own personal gain, her loyalty to Skjalm and to the Hvide dynasty was not in question. Not in the slightest.

    This was his court, all of his loyal followers and advisors. A family better than any he could ask for. He was comfortable displaying how decidedly uncomfortable he was in the current political situation. Strange things were most certainly afoot - with the King now based in Slesvig and a complete reorganization of Denmark's system. Skjalm had to begrudgingly admit that these new changes might result in a stronger Denmark. Skåne was building up a huge army, albeit mostly of levied peasants with a core of huskarls and some professional infantry from mercenary companies, and all of Denmark was seeing greatly increased economic fortunes.

    "You really think he will go to war with Mecklenburg?" Auden pondered.

    Asbjørn let out a deep, hearty laugh. "Well, of course they will. The question is, will he do it at the right time? Timing is essential, my lad, and though our armies are more than adequate to defeat Mecklenburg's alone, he may drag other Tribes into a war against Denmark, which we may not be able to win."

    Skjalm pondered. "What would be a good time, then, my friend?"

    The Marshal of Sjælland leaned back in his seat and folded his arms, thinking. "Well...the forces of Mecklenburg are many, and we alone are too few to oppose them. The King could, of course, but it will take time for his forces to muster, and time to organize an advance. He will not be fast enough, he will wait too long. What I propose is a lightning quick strike against the pagans, Sjælland alone, without waiting for the King's armies to arrive."

    Skjalm frowned. "Even if the projections you have shown me are correct, we will be hard pressed to find victory against the Mecklenburg Tribe - they outnumber us three to one. What could we do to stop them?"

    Gro smiled and raised her hand. "If I may, my agents in Saxony have brought news to us...word says that the Holy Roman Empire has made peace with the papacy on a deal that Heinrich, King of Germany, take it into his hands to begin seizing and purifying Pagan lands. Doubtlessly, this will lead them into conflict with the Mecklenburg Tribe and the Pomeranians, who border Saxony and Brandenburg, respectively. It will be an ample opportunity for the Germans to solidify their Empire and expand."

    Skjalm nodded thoughtfully. "You propose we attack the pagans once the Germans begin to move?"

    Auden nodded. "A good plan, and we would be seen favourably by the Pope for aiding Germany against the pagans."

    "Svend may not like it, though...what if he turns against us?" Ingrid piped up, looking worried.

    "Let me handle Svend." Skjalm said gruffly, puffing up his cheeks. "I am not a coward, nor am I a fool as he is. He will come around to see reason, especially after we bring some glory to Denmark through our actions. Do you think the other Tribes will come to Mecklenburg's defense?"

    The raucous laughter of Asbjørn rang out again. "They would go to war with the whole of the West if they did, remember, the King of France has signed a treaty with Heinrich as of last spring. No, they will keep their nose out of this affair, reasoning 'at least it's not us.'"

    Skjalm nodded. "It is a good plan, assuming the bulk of Mecklenburg's forces move to meet Heinrich's armies in battle. We should send an emissary to the German courts to speak of cooperation in this matter, perhaps?"

    Ingrid shook her head. "I wouldn't, no. If we do, word may find their way to the King of what we plan. Better to strike fast and hard while he isn't looking, and negotiate with Heinrich once we get there."

    Skjalm sighed. "Good point, for all his incompetence in some matters, Svend can be a remarkably perceptive fellow. Very well then. Asbjørn, I want you to continue with the mobilization of an army. Make sure they're ready to move at a moment's notice, I want them to be capable of rallying and being ready to sail at Helsingør within no more than three day's notice. Make sure the jarls are ready to serve, too. I don't need them tearing this county apart in our absence, as they will be wont to do."

    His Marshal nodded firmly. "It will be as you command, my lord."

    The Duke rubbed his temples and then sighed again, closing his eyes. "Then we are finished. You know your duties, I ask you to leave me in peace; my head begins to ache and I wish it some peace."

    The courtiers bowed and began to retreat, his wife stopping for a moment to gaze longingly and worriedly before leaving as well. Once they were gone, Skjalm groaned and stretched before pulling himself up out of the chair. He was starting to feel old, this weight was getting to him. He picked himself up and wandered through the halls, mostly alone, mostly uncomfortable. Finding his way to a large window, he peered through the foggy, thick panes of glass at the world beyond. It was growing cold again, and soon the winter snows would be upon them.

    "My lord?" A voice trickled into his ear. He glanced, and saw a concerned looking woman, his Master of Spies, standing next to him.

    "Oh, Gro...I didn't even hear you approach."

    "I am light-footed. You do not look well, my lord."

    Skjalm shook his head despairingly. "No, I do not feel well. Troubles in my mind, plaguing me. I fear God has turned his back on me, on us, and that we will suffer his wrath even greater than I already have. For my wife, no matter what I do, seems utterly barren..."

    Gro frowned and took his hand, squeezing it - at this moment, the leader of the Hvides felt his heart flutter. In this moment, he realized that he considered her a very attractive woman, and her charming smile was sparking a sensation most unholy in him. Lust, of a kind he knew was wrong, knew he should not feel, was pulling at his heart-strings.

    "It is natural to feel fear, my lord, but I am sure God will be with us. Is there anything I can do to alleviate your feelings of stress?"


    "Skjalm struggles with his own selfish, impious desires."


    Skjalm swallowed, then shook his head. "Just...just keep your eyes open, and pray for us..." He sighed, and nodded. "That is all. That is all I could ever ask of you. It's getting late, you should go; I'm sure Auden will be waiting for you."

    The delicate hand released his and she stepped back, moving to a more defensive posture. "I-I understand, my lord. I am sorry. I will do what I can to help you."

    The thin woman pulled away, and retreated down the halls. Skjalm said nothing for a minute, then growled and kicked the wall in frustration, his boot colliding with the stone in futility. He ran fingers through his hair, then exhaled sharply, his stress fading away as he did. "This stress, I cannot linger on it...I have work to do. I must prove my worth in God's eyes, I must...Auden, I must speak with Auden tomorrow, as soon as I can muster the strength."
    Last edited by Saithis; 07-05-2009 at 14:50. Reason: Typo fixing after the fact...

  10. #10
    Cisár všetkých Slovákov demokratickid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saithis
    demokratickid: ...I'll probably use them mostly for battles, but every now and then I'll try and find something to help set the scene a little better.
    That's always good. MTW:II has always been a good way to get extranneous screen shots for CK AARs, even if its taken from an old computer...

    Good update!
    Current AAR: Das Vereinigte Königreich von Mitteleuropa - Last Updated: October 19, 2011
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    I'VE BEEN CANONIZED

  11. #11
    What was Skjalm thinking? She was offering herself and he turned her down...

    Otherwise very good, those pagans don't deserve to live..kill them all

  12. #12
    Remember Carcosa! Fiftypence's Avatar
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    Skjalm faces difficult days ahead, it seems

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    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    Useless stress.
    But omg, your character looks odd!

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    England's Sphincter Rabid Bogling's Avatar
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    Aye. There's something of Alf about him.

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    Second Lieutenant Christian V's Avatar
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    Smile

    Ah. I always enjoy AARs involving Denmark You have most certainly pleased me, and I shall follow this one closely.

  17. #17
    Lady of the North Star Demi Moderator Saithis's Avatar
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    Took longer to do this than I thought, got a little bit of writer's block at the beginning. Finally broke through it though.

    democratickid: Well, I exaggerate with old, it's not THAT bad. xD It can actually run full spec MTW:II pretty well, it just can't run Bioshock, Fallout 3 or anything like that... Also, thanks. :P

    Spothisto: Well, if all you had seen in that update was her in-game portrait, wouldn't you want to be finding a way out?! In all fairness though, he's trying to be a good man for now...that is his brother's wife, after all. ;)

    Fiftypence: You don't even know the half of it.

    Alfred Packer: It is my first indeed, but it is far from my first piece of writing. I've been writing stories since I was five or so, though only in more recent years did they get anywhere near decent. ;) I did a fair amount of research from other AARs too.

    Enewald: Useless? Maybe, but it gives me plenty of writing material to work with. ;) And yes, he does look a bit strange...I tried to explain it by calling him a fatty. xD

    Rabid Bogling: *Ponders which Alf this is...*

    Christian V: Uh oh, one of them natives! *Gets out the stick.* ;D I'll try my best to continue pleasing you, and do forgive any mistakes towards your culture and history I may end up making!

    ----- -=-=- ----- -=-=- -----



    Chapter 03 - Punishment and Crime

    October 22nd, 1067


    Søborg Chapel was in a rather somber state - its stone walls echoed from songs of choirs past. Though small and humble, it was a House of God nonetheless, and Skjalm offered it his deepest respect, bowing his head as he entered. Quickly making his way to the altar, he offered a hurried prayer and sign of the cross, before looking up to see the equally somber face of Father Anders, the local priest. Skjalm rose to meet the priest's gaze.

    "Anders, I've no time for formalities," he said, interrupting the priest as he began to bow slightly, ready to spit out his pre-memorized greeting. "I'm here to see my brother Auden, please take me to him immediately."

    Anders took in the words slowly then nodded and led him through a door into the back room. The Bishop Hvide came into view, crouched over an oaken table, perched upon his stool, poring over some old book. Anders cleared his throat awkwardly, glancing back at Skjalm, then to Auden, before beginning. "Your Grace, the Duke of Sjælland wishes to speak with you."

    Skjalm brushed past the holy man and waved dismissively, familiar enough with his own brother to ignore such technicalities. "Auden...my brother! I must speak to you in private at once."

    Auden blinked and slipped a piece of cloth betwixt the crease where two pages met, and closed his book. "Very well...what is it you wanted to speak of, Skjalm? You do not look at all well, my brother. Have you been sleeping?"

    "Sleeping, yes...yes, I've been sleeping, that's part of the problem." Skjalm grumbled and glanced back at the door, seeing the retreating back of the priest. "Auden, we must talk in private, away from any prying ears."

    His brother's eyebrow arched curiously, but he did not question, and merely stood. "Very well, let us take a walk. There is a trail through the nearby orchards, I'm sure we can find some quiet there." The bishop rose from his stool and led the way towards the chapel's side door and out into the autumn morning, warm sun beaming down one last time, a reminder of the summer before the bitter cold grip of winter came to steal it away from the year once and for all.


    "Søborg Chapel, where Auden Tokesen Hvide stayed during his trips to Sjælland's new capital."


    Skjalm, once confident they were reasonably safe, turned to his brother as they walked. "Auden...I am having dreams. Nightmares, more like...of hell. Of Satan's touch, corrupting all I know to evil, and turning everyone I trust against me. I fear God is questioning my faith, and the Devil may be tempting my soul. This comes in the wake of...impious thoughts concerning my wife's inability to bear children. I need help, brother. I need help returning to the righteous path."

    Auden stopped, and seemed thoughtful. "You have quite a predicament brother, but that you accept this and come to the cloth with such passion to restore your faith...Skjalm, I do not think hell will ever see your soul touch it. You are a noble man, of pure blood and intent. God has a plan for you, and I am sure these dreams are nothing more than messages for you, messages through which you may divine a greater purpose. If you but put your faith in God and his Wisdom, and follow the path he has laid out for you, I am sure all of your problems will be solved."

    The Hertug of Sjælland frowned, his chubby cheeks wrinkling noticably, then gestured to the 'path' before them, nothing more than a slight indentation in the sea of red, orange and yellow which consumed the orchard floor. "How, brother, can one see the right path through all these leaves? Could one not be walking a dangerous path without ever knowing, because one presumed?"

    That elicited a frown in return. Frowns from his brother were a rare thing. "Skjalm...faith is the only answer. I cannot tell you what God's plan is, only God may do that, and if your dreams truly are God speaking to you, then in time you will learn what he wants you to do. Just pay attention to the signs, and have faith. Faith is the most important thing you can do for him."

    Skjalm cast his eyes downward, then turned back towards the Chapel. "I must pray for awhile, brother...thank you. I think I understand what you mean."

    As the portly Duke retreated, Auden slowly shook his head. "My brother...I fear his lack of trust will be the death of him."

    ----- -=-=- ----- -=-=- -----


    Skjalm spent most of the day in prayer, refusing any offers of food, and accepting only water as drink. He prayed for many things. He prayed for his family, for himself, for Denmark, and most importantly, for a child. Of all things in this world, the thing Skjalm desired most of all was a son and heir to his legacy. Scholars of the time claimed that upon that day, Skjalm was blessed, and received a vision of what was to come, for he emerged from the chapel with a new sense of strength and purpose. Father Anders Ulfsen Møller wrote later that 'The Duke of Sjælland emerged from our humble chapel...a changed man, bathed in the light of heaven, the wings of an angel behind him, and a halo of gold about his head, proclaiming his sainthood to all living beings.'

    This account was written some fifteen years after the fact, and is widely considered to be a gross exaggeration. What is known is that Skjalm undertook a visible change in determination and strength after his prayers, and his apparent change in demeanour may have been blessed, for it was known upon his return to Søborg Castle that evening that his wife Signe was pregnant, and Skjalm's faith was completely and utterly restored. Unbeknownst to the celebrating Hvide family, though, their happiness was not to be.


    "Within hours of Skjalm's newfound change of heart, he learned of Signe's pregnancy."


    The autumn skies turn to grey winter, and winter snows blanketed the land for many months. Asbjørn and Ingrid had a daughter during this time, named Anna, a frail runt who was the concern of her mother and father, for even young in her life, she seemed prone to illness. Despite this time spent with the child, Ingrid was with child within a month, and the winter eventually turned to spring, and spring to the hot July summer, when it happened.

    Signe's pregnancy was finished, but no joys were to meet them upon the fateful day. Skjalm's world was shattered, as the child he had so looked forward to was stillborn, a lifeless husk, worth nothing to anyone. In Skjalm's eyes, in this moment, God had forsaken and betrayed him, and one of the most pious of nobles in Denmark was stilled by troubled thought. With his wife in their estate near Køpmannæhafn and the rest of his court away on various business trips, Skjalm lurked alone, with none to bother him. He remained this way for weeks, only allowing servants to deliver him food and wine, and drowning his sorrows in it. Despair had overtaken the King, and for a moment, it seemed there was little he could do.

    ----- -=-=- ----- -=-=- -----

    August 12th, 1068


    There was silence in the chambers, and Skjalm sat at his table, staring blankly at the wood below him. It had not been long since his child was born dead, and he had given up hope in God's plan. What God, he reasoned, would spite him in such a manner. His wife had fallen into such a depression she would not speak to anyone, not even him, and he feared Sjælland would fall into disrepair without strong hands at the reins. His Marshal had done an excellent job, for in a year and a half, his Duchy had become one of the most powerful of the Kingdom, capable of fielding some 1,200 men, including almost 400 huskarls. All were well-equipped and had received good training. When Skjalm gave the word, they would be ready to move, and even now, the training grounds near Roskilde would be training new men, issuing new arms and ensuring Denmark would be strong enough to fight a war.

    He had been so lost in thought that he hadn't even noticed the soft footsteps behind him, or the quiet rustle as the secret door opened, and Gro, his Spymistress, emerged from the shadows.

    "You look so hopeless, my liege..." Gro said, her face plastered with a frown.

    Skjalm jumped and looked up, almost reaching for his dagger. "Gro...you scared me half to death. I didn't realize you had returned from Jylland. Good news?"

    Gro nodded. "I spoke to my informants, and it seems the Germans truly have reunited their Empire. Thanks to their Treaty with France, no vassal dares turn against them, and the calls for a western mercenaries by the Byzantines has gone unnoticed. News suggests their war against the Saracens is going poorly, and that if Christendom does not unite to fight the infidel as one, all of the west may be at their mercy. This has gone completely unnoticed to the King of Germany, whose Teutonic Empire has turned its gaze north to our Pagan neighbours. News has reached my ears of a military buildup along the borders of the Tribe of Mecklenburg. Clearly the Germans are planning an invasion."

    "And of our plans?" Skjalm said half-heartedly, as if uninterested.

    "...Well, the King seems unaware still. I think we will catch him by surprise, but he will act fast once he realizes what's going on. We will be stealing his glory, after all. I have the latest reports on the Mecklenburg Tribe's army...I don't think you'll like it. They have over 3,000 warriors, some 200 of which are elite heavy cavalry, armed in the manner of Frankish knights. I am no military expert, but I do believe that means we will have troubles overcoming them even with German aid."

    The Duke nodded disdainfully. "Even their inferior troops will pose some threat to us in those numbers. I'll try and have Asbjørn step up the speed of training if we can. Anything else of note you wish to tell me?"


    "Gro Svensdatter Knýtling, Princess of Denmark and Wife of Bishop Auden Tokesen Hvide."


    "Just...one more thing, my liege." She leaned in close. "Your melancholy, my lord...it strikes us all. Sjælland needs a strong leader, something to unite it against Denmark's foes, and to make our heritage great once more. It needs a man who won't hesitate, who will act against all of God's enemies, and who will reunite the viking people under the cross and one crown. To show the world that we are more than pagan savages, but a force to be reckoned with!"

    Skjalm blinked, taken aback by the passion he saw in her eyes. "Gro...I..."

    She shook her head. "My liege, you must, simply must, do this. My father will never be able to bring Denmark to greatness. You can. I know you are in pain, but you have proven your wife can get pregnant once...maybe she can again. And maybe you will have another child regardless, maybe everything will go well. Maybe when you need it most, you will reach out and take the comforting hand offered to you."

    Skjalm hesitated, feeling something he had not felt for nearly a month, as Gro's breath fell upon his face. He reached up, pulled her close and kissed her, unable to resist the temptation.

    His brother's wife offered him more than just a comforting hand that night.

    ----- -=-=- ----- -=-=- -----

    May 3rd, 1069


    "-nd clearly the forestry operations will expedite the process of creating new homes and farming implements in the south. It will cost in the area of 24,000 pfennings to set up the operations, but if we start saving now, we could afford it by the end of the month."

    The doors of the castle's great hall burst open, interrupting a rather pale Signe's words. A rather pale, disheveled looking Gro burst in. Skjalm was surprised and immediately uncomfortable - he had not seen her since the "incident", for she had left to investigate matters on the mainland, with his approval. "My lord! News, my lord! From Saxony! Heinrich has declared war on the Tribe of Mecklenburg!"

    Skjalm hesitated for a moment, then picked himself up out of his chair, taking a deep breath. "Signe, fetch the servants, I need my armour. Asbjørn, you already know what you need to do. I want everyone rallied at Helsingør before the week is out. We go south to war, for God and Denmark!"


    "The Danish fleet gathers near the port of Køpmannæhafn. The Danish army lit great bonfires and partied long in the night before departing, working up their morale. It was the first great assemblage of Viking strength in years."

    ----- -=-=- ----- -=-=- -----


    After no less than three events to woo the spymistress, I eventually gave in and decided to let Skjalm go through with it. Now the ball starts to roll, with war on the horizon and strength in his arms, Skjalm's about to declare war on a rival with over twice the military of his little Duchy. Will his plan work, or will he be crushed beneath their superior numbers? Or worse, will King Svend rush in at the last minute to save the day with a surprise peace treaty, taking the lands for himself? Only time will tell!
    Last edited by Saithis; 04-03-2011 at 18:32.

  18. #18
    England's Sphincter Rabid Bogling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saithis
    Rabid Bogling: *Ponders which Alf this is...*
    "Alien Life Form";


  19. #19
    Lady of the North Star Demi Moderator Saithis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rabid Bogling
    "Alien Life Form";

    My Gods, it's a spitting image of Skjalm!

  20. #20
    Second Lieutenant Christian V's Avatar
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    Another great chapter.

    But as a native, I most point out that Helsingør didn't exist at that time. Not until 1241, and it was called Flynderborg.

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