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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Farquharson

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Murmurandus: Just making my humble contribution to pushing back the frontiers of historical research. ;)

kadvael56: Um - no doubt... But not having read those books I couldn't say for sure! :wacko:

Enewald: Harald Hardraade is of course already dead at the start of the CK 1066 scenario - I don't think too many people mourned his passing. We've yet to see Thora's reaction to the news of course!

Alfred Packer: And it's all rigorously researched, I can assure you! :D

coz1: Good question about the Norwegian succession. Harald Hardraade left the kingdom to be ruled jointly by his two sons, perhaps a pretty good compromise given that the younger (Olaf) was far more able than his elder brother Magnus. Of course joint kingship is a little tricky to represent in CK, so at the start of the game you find Olaf as the King and Magnus as the powerful Duke of Trøndelag, which comprises the entire northern part of Norway. In reality the brothers agreed that Olaf would rule the south and Magnus the north, so this is a reasonable representation. Also Magnus has an Intestinal Worm and in reality died in 1069 leaving Olaf to rule alone for the next twenty-four years. Stay tuned to see what happens in this game!

J.Passepartout: Well, Thora is getting near retirement age now, and for some reason Skofte wasn't allowed to make her his Marshal. :confused:
 

kadvael56

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Farquharson said:
For by now she had a growing list of people upon whom she was determined to wreak vengeance. They had no idea what was coming to them.
When I read this it reminded me of Arya Stark from the "A song of ice and fire" series. Maybe Thora could also become a member of an elite and terrifying company of professional assassins.

Farquharson said:
for some reason Skofte wasn't allowed to make her his Marshal. :confused:
Did you try editing the save game, if Thora is the spymistress there should be "court = 5" just above her dna, if you changed that with "court = 4" she should be your marshal.
 

Farquharson

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kadvael56: Thanks - that is a useful tip to know. However, I'm writing all this up several years after in game time, and so we'll just have to leave Thora as Spy Mistress I'm afraid. Perhaps we'll have a female Marshal at some later time in the game though, now I know how to do it. ;)
 

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I have to apologise :eek:o.I'm afraid I wrote too quickly, it does not work. When I played the emirate of Abbasid I had a female muslim diocese bishop with "court = 6" but when I tried to change it with "court = 4" she is not my marshal :(.
 

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kadvael56: Too bad - obviously the Viking Age really is past. :(

The_Guiscard: Thanks - more is coming, at last!

Yes indeed, I have to apologize for the long break in updates. Shortly after the last one my wife had to go into hospital for a minor operation, so I was a bit distracted with other things. And as those who know me might remember, once I've stopped writing an AAR for a couple of weeks or more I have a hard time restarting it. I have to thank Saithis for motivating me to get back to it by very kindly nominating me as "Character Writer of the Week", although she didn't of course know what peril the AAR was in!

So anyway, here is the next instalment, written at various stages over the last month...
 

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6
The Schemer

Thora Thorbergsdottir of Giske was a widow. News of the debacle in England had now reached Norway - the death of her husband King Harald Hardraade and the destruction of most of his army at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Thora was not particularly grieved to hear of Harald's death, in fact she was quite pleased since it meant that her two sons, Magnus and Olaf, were now ruling Norway. Whether Thora would have any special influence because of her relationship to them remained to be seen, although her brief encounter with Magnus upon her return to Norway in 1066 had not been too encouraging in this respect.

Thora was now the Spy Mistress in the court of her nephew Skofte Ogmundsson, Count of Trøndelag, and she had many schemes which she wished to put into operation. The first was a letter that she dictated and sent to His Grace the Archbishop Adalbert of Bremen and Hamburg. In it she detailed certain failings and weaknesses of the King of Denmark, Svend Estridsson. These included his failure to deal with the pagan tribes on his doorstep, his extremely un-Christian behaviour regarding the numerous pretty wenches that seemed to catch his eye, and finally and most damningly, the fact that he was now a murderer, having killed his own son Bjørn whom Thora herself had borne to him. Thora did not suggest any particular course of action for the Archbishop to take, only expressed her confidence in his piety and good judgment concerning what ought to be done about such a son of perdition occupying the throne of Denmark.



Archbishop Adalbert is shocked​

The next scheme on Thora's to-do list concerned the survival of the noble house of Giske. The worrying fact was that her new liege, Count Skofte, was the only surviving male heir of the family. Three years previously his wife Gudrun had borne him a daughter (named Thora, appropriately enough), but Gudrun was now 37 years old and there was little hope that she would be able to provide the necessary son to succeed him. Of course the traditional way of dealing with this sort of problem was to somehow get rid of the old wife and get a new one of a more suitable child-bearing age. Thora of course had no scruples about killing defenceless women and children and Gudrun's life would have been in grave danger if it hadn't been for the fact that in Gudrun Thora at last discovered a soul-mate.


For true Viking blood coursed in Gudrun's veins also. Like Thora she too long for the olden days of heroic deeds and great Viking conquests. She listened with rapture to Thora's tales of the wars between Harald and Svend, of battles without number, of valorous deeds and great victories. By this time Thora had learned to play down some of her own more questionable activities, such as beating the brains out of small children and so on, so Gudrun never had to decide if this was actually acceptable Viking behaviour or more a sign of some kind of psychiatric disorder.

In any case, Gudrun's hero-worship of "Auntie Thora" almost certainly saved her life, for by this stage Thora had precious few people left in the world who actually liked her. Skofte the Count was not one of them. Skofte was in fact a wise and temperate ruler, the very antithesis of Harald Hardraade, last of the heroic Viking chieftains. If he could, Skofte always thought long and hard about any important decision, and he was now regretting not having thought longer and harder before accepting Thora Thorbergsdottir in his court. He was also regretting marrying Gudrun Thordardottir, whose reckless spirit drove him to distraction. He had made her his Chancellor not so much because of her diplomatic skills but because it meant she traveled a lot, getting her out of his sight as often as possible.

It was therefore doubly miraculous when, in the year 1068, Gudrun, now aged 39, announced that she was expecting another child. Only a few weeks after this astonishing event, news arrived from Rogaland that Count Aslak had at last died at the age of 76.


Thora Thorbergsdottir, Spy Mistress: Well young Skofte, that puts you in line for the title of Rogaland.

Skofte Ogmundsson, Count of Trøndelag: Me? How come?

Thora: Well, Uncle Aslak was the only son of your great grandfather Erling Skjalgsson of Sola - his only daughter Ragnhild was my mother, and your grandmother. So if Aslak's line were to die out, you would become Count of Rogaland - simple!

Skofte: Err…

Thora: Yes, well never mind the genealogy, let's just get on with plotting the assassinations.

Skofte: Assassinations? Good gracious Auntie Thora, you're not thinking of ending dear old Uncle Aslak's line by murdering his descendants are you?

Thora: But of course!

Gudrun, Countess of Trøndelag, coming in from the next room: Did I hear something about murder? Who? Where?

Thora: We're just planning to make Skofte Count of Rogaland by means of a few carefully placed daggers and sachets of poison.

Gudrun: Oh, how exciting!

Skofte: It is NOT exciting, it's barbaric!

Thora: What's wrong with being barbaric? Did our ancestors sail the seas in their mighty drakkars and bring fear to the hearts of half the world by being NICE?

Gudrun: Nope! They did it by being BARBARIC! Right, who do we need to murder then?

Thora: Well, there's Svein the new Count, but murdering Counts is a tricky business. Best start with the children - they're a lot easier.

Skofte: *groan* I don't believe I'm hearing this!

Thora: So Svein has two sons, Knud who is now three, and little Magnus aged one. Should be a pushover. His wife Ragnhild Svendsdottir is 27, so there's a fair chance she won't be giving him any more.

Gudrun: So, just two little killings and then you wait for Count Svein to pop off from natural causes. That doesn't sound very barbaric now, does it dear?

Skofte: Killing two innocent children in cold blood?

Thora: Um - there's one other thing. Uncle Aslak's widow. She's pregnant.

Gudrun: His widow?

Thora: The nubile young Ingegerd Bjelke, twenty years old and already a widow. So tragic!

Gudrun: Well, maybe she'll have a daughter, or just die in childbirth.

Thora: I suppose so. Well, that just leaves Knud and Magnus. You're OK with that then, are you Skofte?

Skofte: No I am NOT OK with that.

Gudrun: Aw, but just think darling, "Skofte Ogmundsson, Count of Trøndelag AND Rogaland" - wouldn't that be wonderful?

Skofte: I'm thinking "Skofte Ogmundsson, Kinslayer" - wouldn't THAT be wonderful?

Thora: Ah, but there you're mistaken, young lad. These are not Giskes we're talking about, they're Solas. You would not technically be a kinslayer.

Skofte: Well I don't really care about technical details. Murder is murder, and I'm afraid I am not willing to indulge in it, even to become the Count of Rogaland.

Thora: But…

Skofte: No buts - that's final.

Gudrun: Pooh! What a spoilsport.

And so the lives of Count Svein's two children were spared. Ingegerd Bjelke found her way to Ireland where she married the eldest son of the Count of Mide, who was happily a lot closer to her age than Count Aslak had been. There her child by her former husband was born - a son, and thus yet another infant that would have to be cleared away in order for Skofte to gain the title of Rogaland. Thora had her work cut out for her, but the most difficult task was clearly to persuade Count Skofte to agree to any assassinations at all.

In the summer of 1069 the long awaited event drew near - the birth of Skofte and Gudrun's second child. But would it be the longed-for son and heir that Skofte was earnestly praying for in order to keep the Giske family line alive, or would it be "just another daughter", a little playmate for five-year-old Thora? Indeed, would Gudrun, now approaching her fortieth birthday, survive the ordeal at all? It happened early in the morning on the 8th of June. Gudrun went into labour, was closeted with the midwives, and then, three long agonizing hours later Skofte was brought the news. His wife was still alive, and he had a son. The Count was overjoyed, as indeed was Aunt Thora. The little lad was given the name Håkon. The only person who was not overjoyed was young Thora, Håkon's older sister, whose only comment was "Pooh! Who wants a brother?"



Of course the fact that the Giske line now looked less like it was going to come to an end with Skofte meant that Thora redoubled her efforts to bring the County of Rogaland into the Giske family holdings. Her spy network was spread far and wide: to Rogaland, from where she learned that Knud had been sent as a fosterling to the County of Telemark; to Mide in Ireland, where Ingegerd and her child Magnus were still. Ingegerd Bjelke, Uncle Aslak's young widow who had also been his Spy Mistress. But who had Count Svein appointed as his Spy Master or Mistress now that Ingegerd was in Ireland? The astonishing answer was "no one".

As soon as Thora realized this, she knew she had no time to lose. No time, for example, to try to persuade Skofte to agree to the plan. Instead she left Giske alone on horseback at dawn one icy morning in November and headed for Rogaland. Infiltrating Count Svein's court and slipping a sachet of poison into young Magnus's dish of sodd proved to be even easier than she had hoped. Two weeks later Thora arrived back home and presented her fait accompli to Count Skofte.



Count Skofte: You WHAT?!

Thora: I succeeded. Really it was child's play. Those poor Rogalanders, I almost felt sorry for them.

Skofte: You didn't perhaps feel a twinge of remorse that you had ended the life of an innocent child?

Thora: Errrm… no.

Skofte: You are a barbarian, Aunt Thora.

Thora: Why, thank you. I'm touched!

Skofte: And yet…

Thora: Uh huh?

Skofte: Count of Trøndelag AND Rogaland… No, what am I saying! But if the others were simply to die of natural causes… Well, I suppose I'd have no objection.

Thora: The first teetering steps to barbariandom, my Lord Count - I salute you!
 
Last edited:

Murmurandus

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Like all men Skofte is folding for a woman's logic...;):D
 

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Thanks for another great story, Farquharson! :) You always have a demented genius for this sort of thing. :p

I've never played CK, but I've wondered about it frequently. I just don't know if I have the stomach for the court intrigues as compared to the EU period. It's ironic -- I think nothing of playing EU and slaughtering a 20K army to the last man, but the thought in CK of specifically targeting one named individual to be murdered gives me the creeps. All the more so when it's someone in one's own family! :eek:

May God save Norway from Thora and Gudrun. As I read the last chapter I was thinking of The Phantom Menace when one of the Trade Federation cowards said to another (referring to the appearance of Darth Maul) "Now there are two of them. This is getting out of hand."

Good luck as you continue the game and AAR.
 
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Haha, very good. Somehow, that picture of a shocked archbishop being shocked was very amusing. But not as much as your writing, though. And Thora may well be advanced in years, but with Gudrun's disposition I still fear for no end to mayhem. :D
 

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Mumurandus: I'm afraid so. Having Thora Thorbergsdottir in your court is a bit like having weeds in the garden. If you don't get rid of them quickly, before you know it they've taken over. :eek:

jwolf: I'll take "demented genius" as a compliment! :p And I don't know why you haven't yet had a go at CK - I think you would love the character-based aspect of it. You don't actually have to plot assassinations all the time - in fact personally I hardly ever do, since mine usually seem to fail anyway. I think this may have been my first ever successful and undetected one! :)

The_Guiscard: You're right about Gudrun - I think Thora will be grooming her up as her mayhem-creating successor.

Next chapter coming up.
 

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7
The Best Laid Plans

Kind Svend of Denmark's eye had just been caught by yet another pretty wench. Resistance of course was futile, and he was now back in his bedchamber, succumbing. It was then that a knock came at the door.

Svend Estridsson King of Denmark: Not now!

Muffled voice from behind the door: A visitor wishes to see you, Sire!

King Svend: I said "Not now!"

Muffled voice: But Sire, His Grace the…

At this moment the voice is cut off and the door bursts open. A tall man in sumptuous church robes strides into the room.

Archbishop Adalbert of Bremen and Hamburg: As your messenger was saying, King Svend, I wish to see you. Now will do nicely.

King Svend: Ah - well, Your Grace, I must say this is a… er, pleasant surprise. Not the most convenient moment, however.

Archbishop Adalbert: And who might that be in your bed, King Svend? Not your wife, I note.

King Svend: Ah, yes, a shrewd observation as ever Your Grace. It is indeed not my wife. Just a… errm… pretty wench who caught my eye.

Archbishop Adalbert: I thought you had repented of pretty wenches, King Svend? At least, that's what you said the last time you came to confession. And the time before that as I recall… In fact the last twenty-six times, if I'm not mistaken.

King Svend: Yes, well, er… I'm glad someone's keeping count.

Archbishop Adalbert: In fact, you are an unregenerate sinner, King Svend.

King Svend: Um, I guess so.

Archbishop Adalbert: You are also a kinslayer, as I have recently learned.

King Svend: Oh bummer.

Archbishop Adalbert: The blood of your own bastard son is on your hands, Svend Estridsson. Your manifold sins are heaped up to the heavens. You leave me no option.

King Svend: Confession time, eh? Well, Gytha, I guess you'd better…

Archbishop Adalbert: Confession time my Aunt Fanny - I have come to cast you out of communion with the Holy Mother Church!

King Svend: *gasp* You don't mean…

Archbishop Adalbert: Excommunication!

Gytha the pretty wench, leaping half naked from under the bedclothes: Eeek! I'm in bed with a heretic!

King Svend: Well, isn't this jolly.

Archbishop Adalbert: And henceforth your divine right to rule the Kingdom of Denmark is forfeit.

King Svend: OK, listen here Mr Bigshot Bishop with your fancy dress and your funny hat. If you want to know, I don't care half a pfennig whether I'm in your stinky old church or not. I can manage just fine without you.

Archbishop Adalbert: Yes well, we'll see about that.


Bad news for King Svend​
It did not take long for the news of King Svend's excommunication to travel the length and breadth of his realm. Most of his vassals stayed loyal, seeing as how they were in fact his own bastard sons to whom he had generously granted legitimacy, lands and titles. The Duke of Sjælland, Skjalm Tokesson of the house of Hvide, on the other hand was not related to King Svend. In fact even before he heard the news, relations between the Duke and his liege were at a low ebb. It was therefore no surprise when he was the first of the Danish nobles to declare independence. Duke Skjalm had an army over 2000 strong, and after some brief fighting, King Svend who, as will be recalled, was better at conquests in the bedroom than on the battlefield, paid his former vassal 28 gold for peace.

The ageing Count of Jylland, Ulf of Viborg was King Svend's other vassal who was not one of his own sons. By 1072 he was just contemplating whether to follow in Duke Skjalm's footsteps when he unfortunately died leaving the County to his son Thrugut. If Ulf had been disloyal, Thrugut was even more so and immediately declared independence. However Thrugut's army was not as large as Duke Skjalm's had been and even the blundering King Svend had soon defeated him and given the County of Jylland to another of his own bastard sons.

Far away in Giske, Thora Thorbergsdottir received reports of the disintegration of Svend's kingdom with glee. All was going exactly according to plan. It was now time for the coup de grace, and for that she had chosen her own son Magnus, who was currently ruling Norway jointly with her other son Olaf. It was time to pay Magnus a visit at his court in Trondheim.



The modest King Magnus poses as "just the Duke of Trøndelag"​
Thora Thorbergsdottir of Giske: Ah Magnus, my dear, long lost son. How wonderful to see you after all these years!

Magnus Haraldsson, Joint King of Norway: Oh good grief, not you again.

Thora: Now, Magnus, don't be like that. I am your dear mother after all.

King Magnus: Yes, yes. Excuse me while I wring out my handkerchief.

Thora: Well listen Magnus, I've come to make you an offer - an offer you will be foolish to turn down, so why don't we just cut to the chase, shall we?

King Magnus: Well, well - what sort of an offer then, mother dear?

Thora: Well, it concerns your joint rulership of Norway with Olaf. I wondered if you wouldn't prefer to be sole King?

King Magnus, regarding Thora suspiciously: Olaf and I are on very good terms, I'll have you know - what are you suggesting?

Thora: Simply that Olaf could be King of Norway, while you, Magnus, could be King of Denmark.

King Magnus: Denmark?

Thora: Just think, Magnus - a whole kingdom to yourself. Wouldn't that be a lot easier than trying to share a kingdom with your brother?

King Magnus: Ahem - and what does your lecherous pal King Svend have to say about this idea?

Thora: Svend Estridsson is NOT my pal, and nor is he rightful King of Denmark any longer, since he has been cast out of the church. As far as I am concerned, the throne of Denmark is currently vacant, and the Kings of Norway have every right to step in and claim it. Your late father the great Harald Hardraade would certainly have lost no time in doing so, of that I am in no doubt.

King Magnus, under his breath: Yes, mainly to get away from his ex-wife probably.

Thora: What? What was that?

King Magnus: Nothing, mother dear. I was just saying you're probably right.

Thora: So, you are going to go to war against the accursed kinslayer then?

King Magnus: No, as a matter of fact I'm not, mother. My father may have been a despotic tyrant who liked marching in to other people's kingdoms and seizing them by force, by I'm afraid I find that approach a little… barbaric.

Thora: Auughhh! You too! Is there no man left in Norway who has not been corrupted by this new-fangled wimpish way of thinking? Where are the great heroes of old?

King Magnus: You mean the guys with the big hair and the horns on their helmets? Sorry, mother, we're clean out of them here in Trondheim these days.

Thora rode home to Giske in a furious mood. The plan depended for its fulfillment on someone being willing to go to war with Svend Estridsson over the throne of Denmark. Her son Magnus had shown no interest, and she had little hope that her other son Olaf would be any different. But as she headed home to Giske, her thoughts began to turn in another direction. A new idea began to form in her mind, and the more she thought about it, the more she liked it. But would she be able to pull it off? She would have to bring all her diplomatic skills to bear. She would have to make sure she didn't make any mistakes this time. But if she was very careful perhaps it might - just might - prove successful.
 

vanin

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Excellent AAR! When i read the first chapter I thought it was a 'dead-serious'-styled story, but when I reached the dialogue I was proved wrong. Really great so far, keep it up! :D
 

Enewald

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Lols, heroes forever gone, except Thora.... it's time to take the sword and kill the danes alone? :p
 

Murmurandus

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Mmm, wondering what Thora will do next... marry King 'Oh Bummer' Svend?;):D
 

unmerged(15337)

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Hmmm, well, I am guessing that Thora's plan will involve Gudrun in some way. But beyond that, I have no idea. I don't have the demented genius that Farquharson does! :p And I do mean that as a compliment!

Alas for poor King Svend! The historical solution for that kind of problem was to make a discreet bribe to the Pope, miraculously lifting the excommunication. Does Svend in-game have that option? It might even restore his image with that pretty wench. ;)
 

Farquharson

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vanin: 'dead-serious'? Um - no. Glad you like it anyway! :)

Enewald: Thora Thorbergsdottir alone against the Danish army? Well, she probably enjoy herself anyway, but I don't think she'd win somehow.

Murmurandus: A marriage between Thora and Svend seems like a fitting punishment for both of them, but I can't imagine Thora actually planning it! :wacko: Unless she thought she could wreak the most havoc as his wife I suppose... :rolleyes:

jwolf: Yes, I think Thora will be enlisting Gudrun's help in some way, but since Gudrun's only trait is "Reckless" she'll have to tread doubly carefully if she does. And yes, I believe there's a random event that might allow you to get un-excommunicated by paying a wad of cash. Usually worth it since the alternative is to watch your vassals one by one becoming "Disloyalty incarnate" and declaring independence. Svend doesn't seem to have got it yet though, or if he did he declined.

Anyway, the next instalment is nearly ready, in which we learn just what Thora has up her sleeve. Should be appearing tomorrow I hope.
 
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Wonderful! :rofl: Your dialogue is just great, funny but never silly. And the rest of the writing isn't half bad either. :)

I'a eager to see how this is going to develop. I fully expect Svend Estridson to get his comeuppance. And well, this isn't jolly for poor Svend. :D
 

Farquharson

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The_Guiscard: Poor Svend, I almost feel sorry for him. He was actually quite a good king - Saxo Grammaticus records that he was remarkably generous and encouraged the building of churches and the spread of Christianity but that he "soiled this spotless conduct only by the excesses of his lust".
 

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8
An Astonishing Revelation

The year is 1073 and Count Skofte of Trøndelag is doing an excellent job of managing his County. His wife Gudrun appears to be fully preoccupied in bringing up their little son Håkon, their pride and joy who would one day follow in Skofte's footsteps as Count.

Gudrun, Countess of Trøndelag: Skofte, dearest, remember you asked me to find an astrologer to do a horoscope for little Håkon?

Count Skofte of Trøndelag: A horoscope? I did nothing of the sort, I can assure you. A lot of mumbo jumbo as far as I'm concerned.

Gudrun: But you did, Skofte - you must just have forgotten. You know how your memory is getting a little poor these days.

Count Skofte: Is it? I don't remember that.

Gudrun: See what I mean?

Count Skofte: Errr…


Count Skofte faces up to the onset of middle age​
Gudrun: Well dear, I did the horoscope like you asked and guess what?

Count Skofte: Let me see… He shouldn't rush into affairs of the heart till at least next Tuesday?

Gudrun: No, no, this is serious, Skofte. It turns out that our son Håkon is going to be King of Denmark one day. What do you think of that?

Count Skofte: King of Denmark? Hah! Poppycock.

Just then Aunt Thora comes in clutching a dog-eared manuscript.

Thora Thorbergsdottir: Ah, there you are Skofte. Look what I've just found.

Count Skofte: A message in my tea leaves?

Thora: It's an old manuscript I just found in a cupboard. I was wondering if you could read it for me and see if it's something we should be keeping. It looks more like it belongs in the trash, but you never know with these old manuscripts.

Count Skofte: Let me see, it certainly doesn't look important.

The Count reads the manuscript and as he does so his eyes widen and his jaw drops.

Count Skofte: But… but… this is incredible!

Thora: What? What is it?

Count Skofte: It seems to be some sort of agreement drawn up by King Harald Hardraade and King Svend of Denmark. It specifies that if King Svend's line dies out, the House of Giske should inherit the throne of Denmark!

Gudrun: There, you see! The manuscript, the horoscope - it all makes sense!

Thora, innocently: Horoscope? What horoscope?

Count Skofte: But wait a moment - this could be a fake. Are these really Harald Hardraade and King Svend's signatures?

Thora, peering intently at the manuscript, then nodding sagely: Ah yes, without a doubt. I'd recognize them anywhere!

Count Skofte: But that means that if King Svend's line dies out… I'll become King of Denmark!

Thora: Well, it already has, hasn't it?

Count Skofte: What?

Thora: Svend Estridsson has been damned to hell by the Holy Mother Church, which makes him as good as dead.

Gudrun: And everyone knows that his sons are all bastards, no matter what he might call them. Yes, it would appear that the Knytling dynasty has indeed died out.

Thora, kneeling dramatically in front Skofte: Your Majesty! Let me have the honour of being the first to pledge allegiance to you. May God's hand be with you! May you smite your enemies by the thousand!

Gudrun: Oooh… wait a minute. I must be… the Queen of Denmark, then. Queen Gudrun! How exciting!

Count Skofte: Ahem, now wait a moment you two, I think we're rather jumping to conclusions here. I mean, Svend Estridsson isn't exactly going to take this lying down, is he?

Thora: Ah no, most certainly not. That accursed dog will probably try to resist. It will need a brave and fearless warrior to stand up against him.

Count Skofte: Errm… Well, I'm pretty brave and fearless, don't you think?

Gudrun, falling at his feet: Oh darling! You're the bravest and fearlessest warrior I ever set eyes upon!

Count Skofte: Really? I mean, yes, of course.

Gudrun: So - I'll just send a declaration of war then, shall I?

Count Skofte: I… yes, well… perhaps we should think about this for a moment…

Gudrun: Think?

Count Skofte: Well, what sort of an army can we raise? How many men does Svend have? Can we afford a military campaign at this point in time?

Gudrun: We can currently raise exactly 985 men, and we have 79 gold pieces in the coffers.

Count Skofte: Goodness, you seem to be on the ball, Gudrun!

Gudrun: You know my motto, dear - "Be prepared"!

Count Skofte: Really? I don't remember hearing that before.

Gudrun: Didn't I say your memory was getting poor these days?

Count Skofte: Ummm…

Thora: And the spy network informs me that Svend is currently at war with several of his breakaway vassals - the perfect moment to strike!

Finally convinced, Skofte quickly summoned his Marshal, Bård Skjegge, and began making careful plans for the invasion of Denmark. After several hours they had come up with what seemed like a foolproof plan - they would go by sea.

However, no sooner had the plan swung into action than Kings Magnus and Olaf of Norway decided that they also wanted to go to war against Svend Estridsson. Skofte and his men, not to mention his Auntie Thora, sailed swiftly southwards in their swift drakkars. But would they be swift enough? Or would they arrive in Denmark to find someone else already installed on the throne? Skofte tried to tell himself that he would take it philosophically. Only a few weeks ago the idea of becoming King of Denmark would have seemed like a fantastic dream. But now - now it was oh so close to being possible.