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Farquharson

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Annals of the Arnungane

Part One: Daughter of Thor



1
When Harry met Thora

Harald Sigurdarson was what is known in the trade as "a man of the world". In eleventh century Norway, such men were few and far between. Let's just say that not many Norwegians could claim to have fought along side Yarolsav I Grand Prince of Kievan Rus in his wars against the Poles and Wends, to have served as chief of the Varangian Imperial Guard in Constantinople and to have camapaigned in Italy, North Africa and the Holy Land. In fact there was Harald Sigurdarson, and that was about it.

The travels of Thora Thorbergsdottir of Giske had been somewhat more modest. She had travelled between the island of Giske, her family home, and Trondheim, and not much else. But in her dreams, she had traveled to Valhalla and back. Thora Thorbergsdottir was a true Viking maiden and she dreamed of the heroic deeds of old when men were men and Viking women were pretty much like men as well. She dreamed of sailing the seas in a swift drakkar, raiding, pillaging and slaying her enemies by the hundred. Unfortunately, openings for this sort of activity didn't seem to present themselves to her very often - until she met Harald Sigurdarson that is.



Harald Sigurdarson during one of his many campaigns​

Harald arrived back in Norway in 1046 to find his nephew Magnus the Good on the throne. As far as Harald was concerned, there wasn't much that was "good" about Magnus, the bastard son of Harald's half-brother King Olaf. Olaf had died in 1028 and Magnus had fled leaving Norway in the hands of Knud the Great, King of Denmark, England and now Norway as well. Knud is best known of course for his trip to the seaside with his throne, but despite being unable to halt the tide, he was still a fearsome opponent and Magnus had only returned to Norway to claim the kingship after Knud's death in 1035.

Harald regarded his own claim to the throne of Norway to be much more legitimate than Magnus's. Whilst abroad he had amassed a vast fortune, and he now began to spend it lavishly in an effort to win the Norwegian nobility over to his cause. It was at one of the great banquets that he held in Trondheim for this purpose that Thora Thorbergsdottir first set eyes on him. She was smitten as if by a thunderbolt.


Thora Thorbergsdottir: Ouch!

Harald Sigurdarson: Is something the matter my lady?

Thora: I think I have just been smitten by a thunderbolt!

Harald: Uh… I didn't notice any thunder. In fact we've been having some pretty nice weather recently, haven't we?

Harald might have travelled and fought all over the world but he still wasn't that imaginative when it came to chat-up lines.

Thora: You must be the great Harald Sigurdarson.

Harald: That's me.

Thora: I've heard so much about you my Lord, but nothing could prepare me for this moment - a moment of destiny, surely, prepared by the gods!

Harald, looking dubiously at his wine goblet: What did we put in this stuff?

Thora: Take me, my Lord! Take me with you on your journeys to the ends of the earth, to do valorous deeds and to slay your enemies by the thousand. I shall stand by you in life as in death, a shield-maiden helping to guide your mighty hand to victory!

Harald: Actually, I wasn't really planning on doing any travelling in the near future…

Thora: Oh. What were you planning to do then, my Lord? Some other mighty deed of valour no doubt! Whatever it is, I pledge myself, body and soul, to be there at your side to serve you in whatever way I can!

Harald: I was planning on becoming King of Norway as it happens.

Thora: Ah! A heroic deed indeed! Yes, we shall slay the evil King Magnus and put his minions to flight! We shall…

Harald: No, no, my lady, please! Keep your voice down!

Too late, Thora's passionate cries have drawn the attention of most of the other guests, including her brother Ogmund.

Ogmund Thorbergson of Giske, Count of Trøndelag: What's that my sister? You want to slay the King?

Harald: Ahem, no my lady - I don't think that will really be necessary. I was thinking more of some kind of… er - amicable agreement, actually.

Thora: Oh. Couldn't we even slay him just a teensy bit?

Ogmund: Now Thora, I don't think you've really thought this through, have you? You can't just go around slaying Kings willy nilly, you know.

Harald, speaking to the whole company: There is no need for any bloodshed, my friends. Magnus the Bastard can simply step down and leave the throne to someone whose parentage is more fitting.

Ogmund, looking hopeful: Did you have someone in mind, my Lord? We of the noble family of Giske are true-blooded Norwegians…

Harald, in a menacing tone: I was thinking of me, actually.

Ogmund: Oh - right…

Thora: And then, my Lord, when you are King, you will go forth and slay your enemies by the thousand! The evil pretender to the throne of Denmark, Svend Estridsson and his worthless followers for example! They shall perish beneath the war-axe of the fearless Harald Sigurdarson!

Harald: Um. Yes, I daresay. Whatever…

But King Magnus the Good was not willing to step down from the throne. He did realize that Harald was a threat however, so in the end the two came to an uneasy agreement. They would share the throne of Norway between them. As for Thora Thorbergsdottir, Harald couldn't seem to get rid of her, so he decided to make her his wife. It seemed like the simplest solution.

Next there was the question of the throne of Denmark. After Knud the Great's death in 1028 his son Hardaknud had succeeded him as King of Denmark. Magnus King of Norway and Hardaknud King of Denmark had then signed an agreement in 1038 that if either died without an heir, the other would succeed him. Conveniently for Magnus, Hardaknud had indeed died without an heir just four years later in 1042, leaving Magnus as King of Norway and Denmark. Or so he claimed. It was at this point that Hardaknud's cousin Svend Estridsson (whose mother Estrid was Knud's half-sister) appeared on the scene and pointed out that he should rightfully be King of Denmark and not some ignorant Norwegian.

That was why in 1047, a year after his return to Norway, Harald found himself with Magnus on campaign in Denmark, trying to get rid of Svend and his pesky claim once and for all. Needless to say, it had not been possible for him to leave Thora behind, since she threatened to kill herself if she was not allowed to accompany him. The war went well for the Norwegians, with Thora invariably being in the forefront of the fighting and Svend's minions perishing beneath Harald's war-axe, at least by the dozen if not by the thousand. Rather annoyingly however, Svend himself always seemed to get away. And then tragedy struck -after a particularly fierce and bloody battle King Magnus lay dying on the field. He called Harald to him and uttered his last request - Harald was to become King of Norway while Svend would become King of Denmark. And with that he breathed his last.



Thora and Harald mourn the passing of Magnus the Great​
 
Aug 3, 2008
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:p, I say! :p, because there is no smilie with tongue-in-cheek. Which is exactly what your story is, Sir. Fine tongue-in-cheek humor. I'm looking forward to reading more of it. :)
 

coz1

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Huzzah! Another Farquharson AAR! You know I am on board as always. Great start though I can tell I am already going to get confused with names.

Wonderful to see you back and writing on the forum, Farq!
 

phargle

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She dreamed of sailing the seas in a swift drakkar, raiding, pillaging and slaying her enemies by the hundred. Unfortunately, openings for this sort of activity didn't seem to present themselves to her very often.
I like this.

I also misread this thusly, and thought it was very hilarious for awhile:

Magnus King of Norway and Hardaknud King of Denmark had then signed an agreement in 1038 that if either died without an heir, the other would succeed him. Conveniently for Magnus, Hardaknud had indeed died without an heir just four years earlier.
 

Farquharson

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The_Guiscard: Yep - I never remember to put a smiley beside a new AAR, but that would be the one!

coz1: I have indeed been away for a while, but it's great to see old "faces" still around! Ah - the names thing. I'm afraid "you ain't seen nuthin yet" as they say. :wacko: To confuse things further I'm planning on perpetuating the Scandinavian custom of referring to people as X Ysson or X Yssdottir even when the game doesn't. [ And btw why doesn't it? It's a Scandinavian game isn't it??? :p ]

J.Passepartout: But of course, this is CK - one kingdom under one king is never enough... :D

Alfred Packer: I really hesitated before taking the plunge and starting this AAR after a long absence. But then I read the first post of your new AAR and that inspired me to go for it! :)

phargle: That gives me a great idea - we could have an undead king ruling Denmark... Or perhaps not. I've decided that this AAR should stay reasonably "normal" with regard to the storyline, but only time will tell if I manage to keep to that resolution. :rolleyes:

OK, a few additional words about this AAR. I'm playing the Giske family, starting with the County of Trøndelag in 1066. The Giske family were apparently also referred to as "Arnungane" for some reason, hence the title. I'm playing DV, and the settings are normal/normal. As usual I picked Trøndelag completely at random, and soon noticed an obscure courtier hanging around by the name of Thora Thorbergsdottir of Giske. As I started to do research for the story I discovered that she'd actually had an amazingly colourful past. In fact it seemed to tie in very nicely with the events of the first ten years of the game so I decided to start the story with her. I'm not sure how many chapters there will be before we actually reach 1066, hopefully not too many!

As for the style I'm aiming for "character-driven comedy", which of course CK is a great game for generating. For game goals I have none except for enjoying myself. I've never played a game of CK to anywhere near the end, and I don't even have anything wacky lined up like the P conquest in my Passau AAR. Just go with the flow and see what sorts of crazy people the story throws up!

As always, what's most likely to keep me going is replies - so special thanks to those who leapt in with these so quickly after the first chapter! Thanks to you the second should be coming along soon.
 

Murmurandus

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Right I'm on... It has Viking Lasses to say the least... ;):D
 

Farquharson

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2
A Perfect Family Outing


With the death of his nephew Magnus the Good in 1047, King Harald Sigurdarson had just become Norway's sole king. Magnus had also expressed his dying wish that Svend Estridsson should be recognized henceforth as the rightful King of Denmark, but, said Harald, who cared what a bastard like Magnus wanted? Norway and Denmark should obviously be a single realm, with a single King to rule over it, and that King should obviously be himself. His warmongering wife Thora Thorbergsdottir of Giske was very excited about this, especially since Svend was clearly intending to defend his claim to the death, which meant even more war, killing, bloodshed and general Vikingesque mayhem on the horizon.

King Harald soon became known as "Harald Hardraade" which was Norwegian for "Don't mess with me, pal". As far as he was concerned, the best thing the people of Norway could do was pay more taxes to fund his wars against Svend, and the best thing Thora could do was provide him with some royal heirs to make sure his dynasty would not die out. Despite being rather hazy about some of the finer points of babycare, Thora did do just that, and little Magnus was born in 1049, closely followed by little Olaf in 1050.

By this time the troublemaking Svend was back in Denmark pretending to be King, so Harald decided it was time for some raiding and pillaging in Jutland, as a convenient way of "levying taxes" as he called it. He summoned his brother-in-law Count Ogmund to come with him and to bring the men of Trøndelag along too. Count Ogmund was still mourning the recent death of his wife so at first he was at a bit of a loss what to do with his ten-year-old son Skofte while he and his men were away pillaging Jutland. But then, of course, he thought - his sister Thora was now saddled with two infants of her own. She would surely be willing to look after Skofte as well.


Ogmund Thorbergsson, Count of Trøndelag: Greetings, my sister. I trust all is well with you!

Thora Thorbergsdottir, wife of King Harald of Norway, looking rather distracted with a baby in her arms and a toddler clinging to her left leg: Yes, fine! Just trying to get the packing finished!

Count Ogmund: Packing, my dear? Ah, of course - you will be planning to take the children back to Giske while the King is on campaign!

Thora: To Giske? I'm bleeding well going with him to Jutland!

Count Ogmund: Er - what about the children?

Thora: Well, they'll be coming too, won't they? Never too soon to start a Martial Education is it?

Count Ogmund: I'd have thought the age of four and a half months was a tiny bit soon, my dear…

Thora: Nonsense, brother - just look how Olaf is brandishing his little toy war-axe!

Count Ogmund: Um - well that kind of puts me in a spot. You see, I was sort of hoping you'd be able to take care of young Skofte while we were off with the King - I've brought him with me.

Thora: Oh, smashing! Isn't he getting a Martial Education too?

Count Ogmund: Err…

Thora: Well that settles that then. Pillage, bloodshed, disembowelment! A perfect Viking family outing!

Skofte: Dad? Does that mean I'm coming too?

Count Ogmund: Er - yes son, it seems you are. Auntie Thora will be - er… looking after you.

Skofte: Auntie Thora? But Dad, didn't you say she was that crazy woman who's married to the King?

Count Ogmund: Shhh! No Skofte, I'm sure I said no such thing!

And so, much to King Harald's annoyance and Count Ogmund's dismay, when the warband sailed across the Skaggerack to Jutland Thora came with them, along with the King's infant sons Olaf and Magnus and young Skofte Ogmundsson. When Thora again threatened to burn herself to death if she was not allowed to come, Harald was sorely tempted to let her but decided against it in the end.


Harald Hardraade's plan of campaign in 1050​

As far as Harald was concerned, the campaign went perfectly. The army landed near the northern town of Borglum, attacked it, removed everything of value, then burnt it to the ground. Svend meanwhile was busy mobilizing his own warband to try to stop the Norwegians coming any further south, but Harald was too quick for him. Like a tidal wave the Norwegian army swept down through Jutland, capturing, looting and burning cities as they went. One by one they fell - Viborg, Aarhus, Ribe. And everywhere Thora was there, slaughtering the evil enemies of King Harald, men, women and children. Harald watched this with increasing worry for the future of his own sons. Were they really safe in the hands of this female berserker?

Finally as King Harald's army neared the wealthy southern city of Hedeby, Svend at last managed to bring him to battle. The armies were perhaps evenly matched, but Svend's tactical skill was no match for Harald's and before the day was out the Danes were utterly defeated and routed from the field. Alas, Count Ogmund was among the brave warriors who fell that day, leaving young Skofte a ten-year-old orphan and the new Count of Trøndelag. Of course the most awful thing about this was that he was now utterly dependent on the dubious ministrations of his Aunt Thora.

The road to Hedeby was now open and King Harald lost no time in leading his warband there. Before they arrived, the city was one of the wealthiest trading centres in northern Europe. After they left it was little more than a shattered jumble of smoking ruins. It was during the sack of Hedeby that King Harald found his wife beating the brains out of a child who must have been no more than six years old. He said nothing at the time but he decided there and then that something would have to be done. The warband gathered together as much of the vast wealth of Hedeby that they could transport, together with a large number of prisoners for ransom or slavery, then headed for the ships.

But Svend and his army were still lurking not far away, and moreover they had now been joined by fresh forces arrived from Skåne. Harald was now dangerously outnumbered and as soon as the Norwegians had boarded their ships and set sail northwards, Svend began to chase them in his own ships. Weighed down with loot and prisoners, Harald soon realized his peril - in a sea battle his ships would easily be sunk. Cursing his folly in not finishing off Svend's army properly, he decided that his only chance of escape was to throw the loot overboard and hope that Svend would stop to pick it up.


But Svend did not stop. He passed by the floating barrels and chests and continued to chase the Norwegians. It was Thora who came up with the next idea to persuade Svend to give up the chase - throw the prisoners overboard. While Harald's men flung the Danish prisoners one by one into the icy sea, Thora cavorted in the prow of Harald's royal drakkar shouting at the top her voice "Death to the Danish pigs! Death to the foes of Harald Hardraade!" It was at this point that Harald came up behind her, slipped a large sign around her neck and deftly tipped her over the side of the ship.

The sign read "To Svend, from Harald Hardraade - with love".
 

Teep

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Just remember to loot then burn, it never works the other way round.
 

Jestor

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Huzzah for Farq's return!
 

General_BT

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Just remember to loot then burn, it never works the other way round.
Well, it could, so long as the items you intend on looting are valuable melted as well as whole. And looting, pillaging and burning always makes a great medieval Scandanavian family outing! This AAR is great! :D
 

Murmurandus

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Waw, a little toy war-axe... :D
 

unmerged(90994)

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Jan 14, 2008
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Don't "Pillage" and "Slaughter" already qualify as "Mayhem"? That said, that map owns. And have to like Harald's method for dealing with an overzealous wife. :rofl:
 

Farquharson

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phargle: I'll have you know that Harald was a Knowledged Tactician with a 15 Martial score - his genius was that he made complex plans look simple! :D

Teep, General_BT: Of course the craziest Vikings enjoyed burning so much that they didn't even bother with the looting. :eek:

Jestor: It's nice to feel wanted! :)

The_Guiscard: That is indeed the key question, and I'm not even sure of the answer myself at this stage.

Murmurandus: Actually neither Olaf nor Magnus have a Martial Education in the game - which fits given that they've now been happily removed from Thora's sphere of influence!

It's Amazing: Yes, "Mayhem" is just Viking shorthand for "simultaneous Pillage and Slaughter" - being a Knowledged Tactician Harald was well acquainted with these technical terms.

OK, another update is in the oven - should be ready at the weekend.
 

Arilou

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I whole-heartedly endorse pushing Thora off the boat, as long as she doesn't survive, remember who did it, and seek revenge.
Bah, that NEVER happens in viking sagas.