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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Zealuu

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Table of Contents

Extras
Dramatis personae, 1106
Av Åsane family tree, 1121
Rest of the World update, c. 1125


ACT I: 1066 - 1140

Prologue: Summer, 1066

Chapter 1
- August 1066 - September 1066
- Spring 1067 - November 1069

Chapter 2
- Summer 1080 - May 1081
- June 1083
- Winter, 1090 - Spring, 1106

Chapter 3
February, 1106 - June, 1106
- November, 1111 - May, 1112
- April 1113 - Spring, 1115
- September, 1115 - October, 1115
- May, 1117 - December, 1117
- April, 1123 - June, 1123

Chapter 4
- May, 1125
- June, 1129 - September, 1130
- October, 1134 - November, 1137
- December, 1137 - January, 1140
January, 1140



ACT II: 1140 -

Prologue: January, 1140 - December, 1140






I thought I'd give narrative AARs a shot, playing from a familiar part of the world, while starting out small-scale. So here's the start of a Bergenhus AAR. Bergenhus is a county on the west coast of Norway, naturally situated to be the seat of the (as of 1066 still unformed) Duchy of Vestlandet. The Ruler Designer DLC was used to make a fictitious dynasty.

A few notes on language and terms:

I intend to use some Norwegian "flavour terms" along the way. The most important of these are:

- Jarl and Lendmann (plural: Lendmenn).
Most noble titles in Norway during the early and high middle ages were inherited from the Viking age, and thus tended to have meanings relatively unlike their more continental counterparts.

Jarl has the same etymology as the English "Earl", but whereas in the game these both translate to Count-level power, the actual powers of 11th-century jarls and earls were more akin to Dukes. Jarls were expressly "second only to the King" until the rank was formally replaced with Duke ("Hertug", from German), in OTL around the 13th century. So keep that in mind when Jarls and Jarldoms are referenced.

A Lendmann manages a len, but the title represents varying degrees of power - from the equivalent of minor barons to fullblown counts.

- Hird
A professional, standing army under the command of one person. Besides the King, only Jarls had the right to retain a hird. "Kongshirden" describes the King's hird.

- Various terms and names for countries or territories:

Anglerland = England
Eirann = Ireland
Frankerland: France

Gardariket = Rus lands, particularly Kiev (Konugard) and Novgorod (Holmgard)

Jorsal = Jerusalem, so Jorsalfarer (Crusader) is essentially "One who travels to Jerusalem"

Langabardaland = Essentially Italy, but morphed to mean Lombardy

Miklagard = Constantinople
Norvasund = Strait of Gibraltar

Serkland = Catch-all term for the Middle East. Basically "Land of the people who wear only undershirts" (I am not making this up)


If the flavouring starts feeling conceited I'll just drop it, but that would be embarrassing given this is my actual cultural heritage we're dealing with.


With the formalities out of the way, on with the AAR:





Prologue

-- Akershus festning, Kingdom of Norway
Summer of 1066



akershus.jpg

The keep of Akershus Fortress


King Harald Hardråde looked preoccupied. The tall norseman was debating with the Saxon lord who had arrived earlier in the year. They spoke quietly, but animatedly. “We'll land in Jorvik – York to you. And you can absolutely guarantee the allegiances of ...”

Prince Magnus lost track as his father uttered a string of Saxon names. As Steward of Norway, it was his duty to inform the King that one of his minor vassals had died without leaving an heir, and present him with a list of potential candidates for elevation. However, interrupting his father... He would get that look again. He knew it. The one that was usually accompanied by his being reminded of how his younger brother Olaf was considered more capable, and had been named the heir. It made him feel every bit the pudgy, scorned boy he had been at ten, even now.

He stepped forward tentatively, hoping to be noticed. Tostig Godwinson, the Saxon lord, took notice, and gestured to the King.

“Yes, Magnus?”

“Ah … your Lendmann Brynjulf of Bergenhus has died. He left no heir – Bergenhus needs a new one. I have assembled a list –“

Harald waved his hand, cutting Magnus off. “Brynjulf. Where was he from?”

“A-Aurland, father. The barons of Aurland are now extinct in the male line.”

“Never liked him. Simpering fool. I won't have any need of your list – I know just the man. Are av Åsane.”

“Åsane? Isn't that …”

“A backwater, yes. The current Lendmann, however, has served with distinction in my Kongshird. I'll see him elevated before we launch the invasion - his time governing that backwater is at an end.”

Magnus bowed. “Your word is –“

The King gave him a stern look, and turned away. “I know my word is law, boy. Leave us, and make the arrangements. I have a war to plan, and I want the men from Bergen to be lead by Are av Åsane."


aurland.jpg

The Barony of Aurland, now fading into obscurity
 
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Zealuu

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Are I, Lendmann of Bergenhus

– Bergenhus festning, August 1066

Ida Billung von Sachsen, barely aged seventeen, pulled on the heavy fur cloak draped around her, tightening it as best she could. The sun was out, there was nary a cloud in the sky – yet the wind that rolled in from the sea brought with it a piercing cold. Sure, Sachsen could be harsh during the winter – but this was summer! Shuddering, she walked hurriedly into the fortress. Calling Bergenhus a fortress was generous, she thought – it was a tiny stone keep on a hill, surrounded by a wooden palisade. Overlooking Bergen, it was the seat of the local Count – her husband of a few weeks, now. Lendmann, she reminded herself. They had no barons, counts or dukes here.


bergenhustoday.jpg

Bergenhus fortress, as it stands today

She found him in the Hall, being lectured on the logistics of war by the young Prince, Magnus. Lendmann Are av Åsane was an ox of a man, fifteen years her senior. His straw-haired figure towered over the impish Prince. Are had been the Count of Bergenhus only for about as long as they had been married, and suffered no small amount of trouble trying to organize the much larger county. Being the baron of Åsane had been simple, he had told her – use the taxes from five farms to maintain a small chapel and thirty men-at-arms to watch over the len.

Bergen, on the other hand, was situated to be a natural centre for all trade going off the western coast, but the ridiculous taxation and mismanagement of the previous Lendmann had left the city shunted aside from commerce. Both Ida and Are saw this, and they both also acknowledged that given their limited resources, it would take time to rebuild the reputation and facilities that would be needed for the county to prosper. And right now, the Lendmann himself was preparing to take three longships and three-hundred men and sail for York, leaving de facto management of the reformation in the hands of Ida and the County steward – she couldn't recall his name. Are had sworn to replace him as soon as someone more competent became available.

“Since I'm already here, I'll be joining you on the journey across,” Magnus piped.

Are shrugged. “You are welcome on my ship. But I can't offer you any comforts not already afforded my men.” His voice was coarse and brutish – made for shouting commands, not conversation.

“But I won't have to row … ?”

“If the winds fail us, we will all have to row.”

Magnus blanched.

Weeks later, when the autumn winds began blowing westward, the longships finally departed Bergen. They would arrive on the Dogger Bank of York in a month's time, joining the nearly three hundred ships under the command of Harald Hardråde.

Ida frowned as the ships grew smaller against the horizon. The Saxon lords would never know what hit them.

longship.png

The longships, still in use by the late 11th century, were fast, manoeuvrable and light; with a shallow-draft design that allowed easy navigation both in shallow rivers and onto beaches. The relatively symmetric design made obsolete any need to make slow turns in order to reverse the ship's direction.


– Stamford Bridge, York
September 1066


Are av Åsane and his three hundred men stood posted outside the square of a tiny village, named simply for its one defining feature – the bridge that crossed the ford. Harald Hardråde and his armies had converged on the village some days ago, and now simply remained here, accepting tribute and offers of fealty from the northern Saxon chieftains.

“A rider approaches!” someone called from across the bridge. Tostig Godwinsson mounted his horse and trotted in their direction. Are's distaste for Tostig was immense. Tostig the Taxator, many of the men had taken to calling him after it was revealed precisely why he had turned on his brother – Harold Godwinsson had unseated Tostig rather than risk an uprising, after Tostig had pressed for a doubling of taxation. The humiliated Tostig fled to Norway, and offered his homeland to the harsh Norwegian King in return for his own aggrandizement. A toad of a man, with no sense of honour. But he had been instrumental in securing the loyalty of the northern Saxon earls.

“Who comes!?” shouted Tostig at the rider.

“An envoy of Harold Godwinsson!”

“What does he offer us?”

“Are you Tostig Godwinsson?”

“I am! Who asks?”

Tostig did not have his question answered. Instead, the rider called back: “He offers you, Tostig Godwinsson, your earldom if you will but take your men and turn on Harald Hardråde!”

A dead silence fell over the village. Many hands hafted weapons. Harald Hardråde arose from his seat.

“And what will my friend Harald Hardråde receive for his troubles?” Tostig barked back.

The rider laughed audibly. “Six feet of ground – or as much more as he needs, as he is taller than most men!”

The subject of their debate approached the Bridge, followed closely by his hird. “Tostig! This man is both brave and quick of wit – tell me, who is he?”

Tostig reined his horse around. “I believe it is my dear brother, Harold Godwinson.”

“Well, Tostig, if you want to take him up on his offer, this would be the time.”

Tostig wavered, then turned around towards his brother. “I stand with Harald Hardråde!”

Harold Godwinson raised his fist in a mock salute. “Battle it is, then, brother!” he called, and rode away. Tostig made to pursue, but was reined in by a stern King Harald. “Chase him now, and you'll fall into a trap of some kind.”

“Men!” he called. “Return to your landings and arm yourselves for battle!”
To Tostig he offered: “So now we decide the fate of England.”

Are began marching his men eastward, joining the uneven ranks of the Norse army. They were laughing and shouting, finally looking to find the battle they had been promised. “If that Tostig had been half the man his brother is" someone said loudly, "he would have fought this war himself – not prostrated himself before our King to do it for him!”
 
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Tapscott

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This AAR looks promising. I think I will follow this.
 

Zealuu

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– Somewhere in Leicester
Spring of 1067



“You and your men acquitted yourselves well today, Are.”

Praise from the King was a rarity – but the Saxons had been soundly beaten. Yet the campaign as a whole had almost come to a confused standstill, courtesy of a Norman Duke who had arrived in Dover weeks earlier, bearing a claim on the English throne. “Thank you, my King. “

The King looked wistful for a moment. “Therefore, it is with heavy heart I must ask you to return to Norway.”

Are felt like he had been slapped. “But – why?” was all he managed to utter.

“Now, don't look like that. It's not a punishment – I simply need a capable man to marshal fresh forces, and make sure the roads are safe and tolls are being paid.” Lowering his voice, he continued. “My disappointment of a son has sent yet another missive, complaining about his lack of capable help, lack of funds, and lords refusing him taxes. I need a good man in charge, someone whose loyalty to me, personally, is not in question. You are ideal.”

Are nodded, trying as best he could to look honoured.

“Do this well, and I'll declare Vestlandet a jarldom in its own right, and you the Jarl. Not to mention, I'm sure you'll relish the chance to see your wife again – you need heirs.”

“I'll leave at once, my King.”


– Bergenhus festning
July, 1067


Ida, Countess - the norse had no title for the wives of Lendmenn - of Bergenhus, could barely walk, and her back ached constantly. Shortly after Are's departure for England, a child had quickened in her womb. Essentially alone, not yet eighteen, and in what sometimes felt like an unreal, barbaric land, she had been terrified. She spent months wearing her handmaiden down with questions about childbirth, and even now, when it felt as though the child would burst from her swollen form at any moment, she felt anything but ready.

But at least her husband had returned, with life and limb intact. When his ship landed on the beach, just as summer approached and the weather was getting bearable, he had arrived in the foulest of moods. She had been able to wring the words from him eventually: The King had granted him an elevated position and sent him home, away from the war. Prince Magnus, reigning while his father campaigned, continued to prove unable to manage more than the most cursory of affairs, and Harald Hardråde wanted Are to relieve Magnus of several duties.

Are had thrown himself at his appointed tasks with berserker fury, displaying a talent for intimidating bishops, mayors and minor lendmenn, while effectively getting the clusters of men-at-arms remaining in the Kingdom organized.

A sudden wave of intense pain shook her. She couldn't hear anything but the ringing in her ears, but the scream erupting from her caused every servant and handmaiden in the castle to burst into her chambers, only to be chased away when the Count and several midwives came running.

After the ordeal, Ida lay exhausted in her chambers, watching a nurse cradle her swaddled child.

“We'll name him Tor.”

“Tor? But ...”

“What?”

“Well, the Bishops, they –“

“The Bishop rules his chapel. I rule the rest of the County. My firstborn will bear a proper name.”

“But there are many proper names not quite so at odds with the Church! What about – Harald?”

“I hope to have more sons. One of them will bear the name Harald. This one will be called Tor.”

Ida sighed. She was too spent to argue the point. Formally, she knew, the Church had recognized Norway as a united, Christian Kingdom some forty years past, after the Battle of Stiklestad. Are wasn't even born then, but Åsane, as best she knew, to this day still had no chapel. Are had only let himself baptise when he first became Baron.

But the pagan Norse Gods of old lived on, right under the Bishop's nose.

torb.jpg

A much later artist's rendition of little Tor's pagan namesake


- Aftermath of the Battle of Oxford
November 1069


King Harald Hardråde surveyed the battlefield. The Normans had fallen upon the Norse army earlier in the day, expecting an easy victory against an army comprised almost solely of infantry. The Norman cavalry had charged with impunity, never anticipating the bristle of wooden stakes that suddenly appeared in the Norse ranks. As the spearhead of the charge faltered, and the following ranks crashed into comrades and stakes alike, the Norsemen had waded in. Using their bearded axes to pull bewildered Normans from their saddles with ease, the day was won in a matter of hours.

In the fighting, the Duke known as William the Bastard died as an axe split his skull. He remains known as William the Bastard, the unlucky pretender whose bid for the English throne resulted in an unceremonious death.
 
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Loving this so far. Keep it up! :)
 

Zealuu

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Glad you like it!

And we're only just getting started ...


– Bergenhus festning
Summer, 1080


Tor and Skofte were whacking impatiently at each other with padded wooden swords. Holmgeir, the master-at-arms was still busy dressing the smallest boy, Harald, in the padded leather armours they wore for practice. When they were all strapped in, Holmgeir told them all to drop their weapons. “Conditioning, boys – conditioning!”

“But we already have our leathers on!” whined Harald.

“Saying things like that, boy – this is precisely why you need conditioning! Do you expect the enemy to wait for some servant to unbuckle you if the army needs to move before or after the fighting? No? Then learn to move as if your armour was your skin!

Over the stammered protests of Tor, Skofte and Harald, Holmgeir shouted: “Five laps! Around the courtyard! Go! Run!”

Are and Ida watched them from above. Their youngest, Ingebjørg, still clung to her mother's skirts.
The sun was out, they had six healthy children, and the past few years had seen trade passing through the county increase enormously, slowly filling their coffers. Are was in his late forties, but even greying, he was as large and imposing as ever. Ida always had, plump, squarish features and an enormous bust – both had been further accentuated by age and childbirth. Their eldest son, Tor, had taken after her – at thirteen he was already huge, with a rough-hewn, square face. Skofte and Harald were smaller, leaner. Harald looked like his father in miniature, blue-eyed and blonde, Skofte had his mother's brown hair and eyes. The girls – Årolilja, Ragnhild and Ingebjørg – were unmistakably theirs, but had all somehow ended up with a shock of bronze-coloured to strawberry-red hair.

The mood, however, remained sombre. In the year past, the Norse invasion of England had met its definitive end. Harold Godwinsson, the conniving Saxon, had bargained with all his daughters, most of his sons and half his treasury on the table, and managed to reach an agreement with The Holy Roman Emperor. The Germans had arrived in war-torn England with a hundreds of ships and an army dwarfing anything the Norse or English could field. The negotiations and preparations had been conducted with the utmost secrecy, and so the Germans completely obliterated the unsuspecting army of Harald Hardråde. Tostig Godwinsson and Prince Magnus were both killed in the fighting, while Harald himself was grotesquely maimed. It was not expected that he would be long for this world, yet the stern, rangy King still clung to life.

What remained of the Norwegian army had been allowed passage to the coast, and sailed eastward to lick their wounds. England would remain in Saxon hands, albeit inextricably bound to the Germans.

The Norwegians, finally at peace after more than ten years of barely-interrupted warfare, were uneasily, and slowly, settling into relative peace. At the behest of the Pope, military efforts were instead concentrated towards the Pagan territories in Norway's sphere of influence.

Are, however, had some military plans of his own. “I'll take my men to Rogaland next spring”, he offered to Ida.


rogaland.jpg

Rogaland, the object of Are's designs


“Is that … Wise?”

Are shrugged. “I wasn't elevated for my wisdom. I've petitioned the King for our Jarldom, as you know.”

Ida smirked. “Yes, and they gave us the most tentative of responses I have ever seen. And I have six children, mind you.”

“It was a challenge. I'm not surprised, my claim has little legitimacy beyond the fact that Bergenhus is naturally situated to be the seat of a Jarl.”

“Oh, so you think the King will be impressed if you kill some of his subjects?” Ida snorted.

“I do, but that's becoming secondary. When the King dies – and he will die, sooner rather than later – it's not entirely unlikely that Prince Olaf will strip us of everything so he can dole it out amongst his supporters. Before that, I want to be powerful enough that they'll think twice.”

Ida gave her husband a laconic smile, but remained silent.

“Furthermore,” Are said, looking over the battlements, down at the three boys being whipped around by an old Viking. “I have three sons, but only one county.”



– Karmøy, Rogaland
March, 1081


Nearly five hundred of Are's men, many of them veterans from England, stood at the beach on Karmøy. The negotations between the two Counts had turned into a long-winded staring contests between their retinues. The two lendmenn had agreed on Karmøy, a sizeable Island off the coast of Rogaland, as the ground of their negotiation.

This Are av Åsane was every bit as implacable as he looked, and dangerously ambitious, thought Knut av Sola, Lendmann of Rogaland. He had offered bribes, tribute, daughters in marriage – none of it would do. Are wanted his seat in Eikersund, and that was the one thing Knut was not willing to give up. The negotiations had come to a standstill.

Are stood up, visibly frustrated.

“I can see we are getting nowhere with this. I will give you one last chance to accept my terms now, or we take Eikersund by force.”

“But your terms are unacceptable!

“I disagree. Rest assured, my terms after defeating you in the field will not be as generous.”

“And how, precisely, do you know that you will be victorious in the field?”

Knut sounded braver than he felt. Are simply laughed cruelly at this response.

“I have more men than you. They are all better trained, better equipped, and better lead than yours.”

Knut's men bristled at the insults. Knut felt nothing but a sinking sensation in his guts. “Men!” he called. “We leave for Eikersund.”

“Fare well, Knut av Sola! We will meet again, in battle!” was called after him by Are.


karmcrop.jpg

Karmøy, where the negotiations took place



– Bergenhus festning
May 1081


Harald found Tor and Skofte fighting under the supervision of Holmgeir. They were both winded, but Tor's size would probably allow him to win again.

“Tor! Skofte!” he cried. His older brothers lowered their wooden weapons. “What?” Skofte called back. Harald came to a halt.

“Father has taken Eikersund from the Count of Rogaland!”

Tor and Skofte exchanged looks. Harald waited anxiously for their reaction, which never seemed to come. So he decided to spell it out for them. “Look, if Father has taken a whole County, it's because one of us is going to get it. So he's probably going to take at least one more.”

Something seemed to dawn on Tor. “Did they fight?”

Harald shrugged. Why was that important? “There was a small battle, but then the Count – Knut, I think he was called – saw that he would lose and surrendered. Father let him live, but took his lands.”

“Why did he let him live?” Skofte chimed.

Harald shrugged a second time. “I don't know all of it. I just thought you two would want to know. This is important.”

This time, it was Tor's turn to shrug. “Not to me. I'm the eldest son. I get the County anyway.”

“No, you don't.” piped Harald.

“What you mean 'no'? That's how it works –”

“The most able son or relative inherits, by election – not the elder. We're not Saxons, Tor!”

Harald looked confused. “So we don't know who inherits, really?” Skofte mused.

Tor decided to reassure himself. “Pfft. I'm the biggest and strongest. I think I'm the most able, too. I win.”

Harald rubbed his forehead. “It's up to father anyway – ouch!”

Tor had rapped him on the shin with the wooden sword. Holmgeir was there in an instant. The thunderous wallop he gave Tor sent the large boy tumbling to the ground.

“You do not hit people who are not wearing their leathers, you goatheaded ingrate!”
 
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Andrzej I

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Excellently written. I like the exchange between the two Godwinsons, you managed to weave it in quite well :)
 
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EmperorTojo

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I very much like this. :) I hope Harald remains strong! Hold onto life, last of the vikings! :p
 

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Good writing, Zealuu! This could turn out to be very interesting! I'll try to follow (which would be much easier if you updated less often).
 

Zealuu

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It'll probably slow down a bit as we go, especially considering I have some exams coming up later this month :p

Thanks for your comments and interest, it's very motivating!
 

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Very, very good writing. I can already see the dynastic struggle between the heir and the one denied his birthright.
 

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By the way, because this AAR is so cool and I love the name, I added Tor as a Norwegian name in my mod linked to Thor (Saxon) and Donar (German). :cool:
 

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Very, very good writing. I can already see the dynastic struggle between the heir and the one denied his birthright.

Thank you! And yes, there are certainly tribulations ahead.

Sleight of Hand:
I'm not entirely sure how the linked names and all that actually work, but - I'm honoured!

In other news, I've done some minor linguistic edits to the previous posts, both for flavour and historical accuracy - the in-game terms for the noble ranks don't translate all that well to early medieval Norway (and numerous other places, I'm sure).

Aiming to have an update out later today.
 
Last edited:

Zealuu

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– The Oslo Fjord
June, 1083


Are stood, immovable, near the prow of his personal ship, Draug. The ship was only one of five longships sailing towards Akershus Festning, all of them under his command, brimming with his hirdmenn. Docked in Bergen and Eikersund were another seven longships, watched over by the men who would fill them when they went to war.

But they weren't sailing to war. They were sailing at the behest of King Harald Hardråde, to receive his last commands before he departed this world. Whether he would ascend to the Kingdom of Heaven or Valhall was a matter of some contention.

Are had brought part of his hird with him for one express purpose: As a statement to the Jarls, and Prince Olaf in particular. As a Lendmann, Are was technically not afforded the right to a hird, but after he added Telemark to his holdings, no one had cared to argue the point. He was Jarl in all but name.

That was something he hoped to rectify with this visit.

“Father, is that Akershus?” Tor pointed to the battlements that were now showing on the horizon. The boy never seemed to stop growing. He was a month short of sixteen, almost a man grown. Already taller than his father, and broad as a well-fed bear, he showed no signs of slowing down. The detachment of hirdmenn he was in charge of had taken to calling him Tor Digre – because that was what he was: Huge.

“I believe it is.”

“Can I see the King?”

“The King is on his deathbed – I'm not sure I want to trouble him with any more visitors than those he has expressly asked for.”

“So … He asked for you?”

Are nodded, and decided to be frank with the boy. “He did. I would have come either way, but I'm hoping he'll use the occasion to name me Jarl av Vestlandet.”

Tor puffed himself up. “He better!”

“I won't have any of that while we're there. Speak only when spoken to, and keep a cool head.”

Tor deflated slightly. “But if we can intimidate them –“

“The King has the largest hird in the land, and the other Jarls are currently supportive of him. And as am I, boy. We are not here to intimidate the King. Maybe his son, but if we are named Jarl, that problem solves itself.”

Tor squinted. “I see.”

“I hope you do. If you want to be Jarl one day...”

Silence fell between father and son.

Skofte would be of age in a few years. Harald was still a boy of ten. Are now had a county for each son, but but if they were not united under a Jarl's banner, they were liable to break apart, again, into the petty fiefs he had subjugated so easily. He needed that Jarldom.


draug.jpg

Artist's rendition of the drowned ghosts for which Are's ship was named


- Akershus festning
Later that day


Inside the King's bedchamber, the smell of decay was intense. The King, looking bloodless and frail, was barely distinguishable underneath the covers.

“Herre Konge”, Are knelt.

The King coughed, then croaked: “Get up.”

The battle with the Germans had left the King with numerous wounds, and he had lost the use of one arm completely. One of the wounds had festered, and it was said something in his gut was leaking. The King had never truly recovered. It was a broken shell of a man Are faced.

“Two things”, the King said in a whisper. “Two things, I want from you, Lendmann.”

Are stepped closer. “Speak your mind, and I will do everything within my power –“

The King made a feeble gesture, trying to wave away the formalities as before. “I know, I know.” He took a deep breath. “First – I want to betrothe my youngest, Brigida, to your youngest boy.”

Are blinked. “This is unexpected, of course, but … Certainly.”

“Good, good....” The king was wheezing more than whispering. “Brigida. Her name – is Brigida. Talk to the nannies later, they'll help you find her. She's four, a pretty little – “

A coughing fit halted the King. Are let him finish, and stepped back as a courtier rushed forward with a linen cloth, dabbing away blood-tinged spittle. The King laughed grimly. “Ergh, I'll ble glad when this is over...”

Are said nothing, waiting for the King to continue.

“The second matter – I've ordered you made Jarl of Vestlandet.”

Are was on the brink of kneeling a second time, but the King beckoned for him to come closer instead. Urgently, he wheezed: “It's not a uniformly popular decision, and I'm – as you can see – powerless to make it a reality. You should have been told earlier – much earlier." More wheezing. "I suspect my dear son is actively hindering … All of it. Bureaucracy, plotting …”

The King went from incoherence to another coughing fit. He waved away the courtier as she made to come forward again. “If you're not made Jarl, then … Do it the old way.”

Are only had time to frown deeply, before the King again succumbed to the coughs, struggling for breath. “Go”, he said when he recovered. “Leave an old man to die.”

Tor, who had stood silently as a statue a few paces behind his father, gasped for breath as they filed out of the room. “Ugh, that smell!”

“The stench of men already dead, Tor. Take note.”


- - -


A tiny pair of eyes followed the two large men as they walked through the great hall of Akershus Festning. “Father? Who are they? Are they important?”

Prince Olaf of Norway peered down at Gyda, his inquisitive daughter of five. “Men from Vestlandet, dear. Be wary of those – but that's for your brother to worry about.”

“Why only Harald?”

“Because he will be King, eventually, and so he is the one who has to contend with the Åsanemenn.... ”
Olaf trailed off.

“Will you be King soon, father?”

Olaf glanced towards his father's chambers. “Very soon, dearie.”
 

Sleight of Hand

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Another great update. This is easily my favorite AAR at the moment. :)

If you want to know how editing/linking names works just PM me and I'll explain. It's easy to do and fun to add your own.
 

Sleight of Hand

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By the way, a question for you: is Jarldom the correct term? I used to use this in my mod but thought it sounded odd, so I switched to Earldom -- although I still obviously use the Jarl title for North Germanic earls.

If Jarldom is accurate I will go back to using it, but I just assumed it wasn't a real word.
 

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Bloody brilliant aar, I love the writing style in particular! Keep up the good work!
 

Zealuu

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I can't completely guarantee that it's an appropriate term in English, but it's the closest approximation or translation I can think of for the Norwegian term: Jarldømme. Given that Kingdom translates to Kongedømme, Jarldom feels right. :p
 

Sleight of Hand

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I can't completely guarantee that it's an appropriate term in English, but it's the closest approximation or translation I can think of for the Norwegian term: Jarldømme. Given that Kingdom translates to Kongedømme, Jarldom feels right. :p
Well that's good enough for me then, I'll use Jarldom. :)