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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Prologue
  • WJS

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    Prologue: The Sons of Loðbrok

    We are starting the game with Ivar the Boneless, Jarl of Suðreyjar, in 867.
    upload_2018-11-13_20-9-3.png


    (That's still an awesome title shield.)

    Ivar is a fierce warrior, and that's a good thing, because he, along with Hvitserk of Jorvik, start the game leading the Great Heathen Army at war with Northumbria and East Anglia (and eventually all of the British Isles). However, this means there's a risk that he'll die early, but at least he's already got a full family to back him up (including Aslaug, his mother, and instant Court Völva).

    upload_2018-11-13_20-19-48.png


    His daughter Aslaug is married to King Bagsecg of Jylland, of House Jute. It is good to know, but there's not much to be done about that, and her children are of House Jute anyway.

    But there are four sons, and their scheming matters in the early days.

    The Heir Apparent: Sigtrygg
    upload_2018-11-13_20-24-5.png


    Sigtrygg is the oldest, but not always the best choice. He's already 29, so you'd hope his stats are better by then. Ivar's sons demonstrate some randomness, but I usually end up with Sigtrygg expecting to be given great things. But this time, he's Content. We'll see.

    The Eccentric Uncle: Sigfroþ
    upload_2018-11-13_20-27-19.png


    Sigfroþ is usually decently competent, but better in support than as the heir. Still, he has rarely caused me trouble in the past, but is usually someone that can be trusted to support the Ivaring name. The military score is a shame.

    The Family Rival: Barid
    upload_2018-11-13_20-30-19.png


    Barid is usually one of the best positioned to lead, and often makes a good argument to be selected heir. But, he's also the sort to take it personally if he isn't; he's often Arbitrary or Jealous. But, sometimes, he'll die quickly in battle. We shall see.

    The Dark Horse: Guðfrið
    upload_2018-11-13_20-34-6.png


    Guðfrið is still a child, and still has decent stats. There's a good chance that he might just be the heir the dynasty needs, but it's never a sure thing.

    In any case, it's vital to remember that I've got four sons and Elective Gavelkind, no matter what. There are ways around it, if Ivar lives long enough.

    Also important to note are Ivar's vassals, as they will vote on the heir, and can provide their own instabilities.

    upload_2018-11-13_20-39-14.png


    Ketill Flatnose rules the Isle of Man, and is normally a solid supporter of Suðreyjar. He has one important resource that is sorely lacking in pagan lands at the beginning of the game, though, and makes him very valuable indeed: eligible daughters.

    upload_2018-11-13_20-42-21.png


    Olafr rules Dublin, but here we see one important change from the pre-Holy Fury game. He now has two counties: Dyflinn and Meath. He's also a bit harder to keep on side, as he's Ambitious, but also, he's a Yngling. That's the family of Haraldr Fairhair, and if I'm unlucky, Dublin will be inherited by a fledgling Norway. But that's a two-way street that can be of use. More on that later.

    Because there's a more important change that Holy Fury makes: Another new county, with another new vassal.

    upload_2018-11-13_20-47-13.png


    Iona is its own county. And it's ruled by a Catholic priest. We all know who's really going to cause trouble for the petty kingdom. (But they've got a super cool title shield, too. Pity it's just a count's shield.)

    But so far, after all this time, I haven't talked about how this relates to the Sons of Loðbrok.

    upload_2018-11-13_20-53-5.png


    Ivar is the oldest son of Ragnarr Loðbrok, and his brothers have founded their own houses, which are quite small. Björn af Munsö is the Petty King of Sviþjod, Halfdan Hvitserk is the Petty King of Jorvik, and Sigurdr Snake-in-the-Eye is the Petty King of Sjælland. A series of unfortunate circumstances, and Ivar, as the oldest, stands to inherit lands in Sweden or Denmark. Given that in this game, the goal is far to the east, this fact is important to note.

    upload_2018-11-13_20-58-49.png


    Very important.

    Speaking of east, where is the goal?

    upload_2018-11-13_21-1-26.png


    Tibet. In particular, the five holy sites we will eventually need to hold are Balkh in Transoxiana, Gilgit, Hvamna, Purang in Guge, and Lhasa in Ü-Tsang. We've got a trek ahead of us.
     

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    Chapter 1
  • WJS

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    Chapter 1: The Great Heathen Army

    First things first: check the Council, get everyone married, make sure you know who's doing what.

    First, that priest is my spymaster. This is not a good thing, but I let it slide for now. My mother would be a much better choice, as she would be a Loyalist and has a higher Intrigue, but since I'm going to kill my brother, he'll be more amenable to that. I can also send that priest abroad, that way.

    I take the Intrigue focus and join the Wolf Warriors. Both important.

    I pick Barid for my heir for the time being. Sigfroþ becomes Court Tutor. Sigtrygg... doesn't need to be at court, so I marry him to a genius priestess in Lithuania. My mother tutors Guðfrið.
    I marry a genius priestess in Poland.

    I start plotting to kill Sigurdr Snake-in-the-Eye. Thankfully, his wife is the Catholic daughter of King Ælla of Northumbria, so she's happy to help. And you think you've got a bad relation with your in-laws?

    But still, the most important thing that's happening right now: The Great Heathen Army. I have wars to conquer East Anglia and the Scotland portion of Northumbria (the Duchy of Lothian, really). I figure I had best focus on one at a time, and Northumbria can be better. The CB is an Invasion, so if I win, I take Lothian, and any other province I've occupied. That means that if I can reach 100% before Jorvik, I can take over pieces of Northumbria that Jorvik then can't.

    Olafr of Meath also immediately declares war on Tír Chonaill.

    But early on, tragedy!
    upload_2018-11-13_22-19-40.png


    Now I'm angry. I lose an early battle. I had split my forces, but that was folly. I shall adjust. And in that battle, I claim a trophy.
    upload_2018-11-13_22-25-21.png

    (Renamed because I can, now.)

    And yes, as a Wolf Warrior, I am angry.
    upload_2018-11-13_22-30-3.png


    And yet, I also receive good news!
    upload_2018-11-13_22-22-11.png
    upload_2018-11-13_22-28-4.png


    Letting rage for his mother's death fill his soul, and the joy of his newly pregnant wife raise his spirits, he spins like a predator when he hears Aslaug is back at court. "Aslaug is DEAD!" he roars, brandishing his knife. "No, Ivar," Ketill replies, "This is Aslaug your daughter."

    Taken aback, he turns to his little girl, returned to court. "Why? What brings you here?"

    upload_2018-11-13_22-37-4.png


    "Hmph. Now I'm glad I want him dead."

    Rallying together the troops back in the Isles, Ivar pulls everyone together and marches against the main forces arrayed against him in Argyll. With newfound purpose, he charges into the enemy, personally killing King Gwgan of Seisyllwg, and capturing King Eadmund of East Anglia. He thinks for a moment of slaughtering him there, to Odin, but instead makes him sign a peace treaty granting all of East Anglia to Ivar.

    In November, Olafr successfully conquers Tyrconnell and comes to join Ivar against Northumbira. Jorvik has won his war; Lothian remains for Ivar.

    On the 9th of November, Queen Eufemia gives birth to a daughter. "Aha, the stars are auspicious, Aslaug returns to us!" Ivar proclaims.
    "But I am Aslaug, father," her adult daughter reminds.
    "Ah, yes... Eufemia, Aslaug is a name promising one to the gods. What is that name, for your faith and people?"
    "It is not a concept we rely upon, but I will give her the name Wieslawa. For glory."
    upload_2018-11-13_23-12-19.png


    "Glory... glory glory..." Ivar mutters.

    Ivar fumes as he marches across the land, some days barely coherent to his fellow men. "Where is my son?" "He's fallen in battle, and died of his injuries."
    upload_2018-11-13_23-20-16.png


    upload_2018-11-13_23-15-28.png


    But, as the war drug on, the entire realm of Christendom descended on Ivar and his dwindling forces, until he decided enough was enough, and sued for white peace on 5 April, 869.

    Revenge incomplete, he looked back and realized, there might be more to life than his glory, than avenging the great losses his family endured.

    upload_2018-11-13_23-32-6.png
     

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    Chapter 2
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    Chapter 2: The Great Pillar; The Great Conquest

    Not defeated, but chastised, Ivar took stock of the situation. He realized he needs to do more for the gods, and put his trust in them.

    upload_2018-11-13_23-35-22.png


    His piety was met with instant success.

    upload_2018-11-13_23-43-42.png


    Temporary, but useful. He looked at his neighbors. Although they had banded against the threat of invasion, they were left hurting, and Ivar remained the strongest militarily in the area.

    Next, his family. Aslaug and Barid were dead. His son-in-law was killed by his brother. Aslaug the Younger was married to Olafr of Meath's son and heir, keeping that vassal faithful. Also, his son Guðfrið came of age:

    upload_2018-11-13_23-46-57.png


    A master of intrigue. Useful. Sigfroþ remained heir for now, but his youngest was promising. He then spoke to his spymaster, Bishop Feradach, to hear about the progress on Sigurdr's end.

    upload_2018-11-13_23-49-42.png


    Ivar crushed a table in frustration. Not only had Sigurdr's wife not make an attempt on her hated husband's life, she even bore him another son, and was pregnant yet again. No. This would never do. Ivar fired Feradach, put Guðfrið in the role, and plotted to remove him from power. Sigurdr will have to wait. He found a new commander to come to court.

    upload_2018-11-14_5-6-14.png


    In the meantime, the ever-despised bishop returned his reply:

    upload_2018-11-14_5-14-40.png


    Expected. Not a problem. Easily accomplished. More warriors flocked to Ivar, and he started thinking about how to expand, if Denmark is not to happen for now. He invaded Airgialla, in Ireland.

    Then, he looked to East Anglia, and the lands he conquered there. Still officially, they were owned by Eadmund, who was still rotting in Ivar's dungeon. Strip the title from him, next, but do it officially. Oh, he's not allowed to simply do it while he's in prison? No matter, ransom him then take the title. Ivar seriously considered mutilating him, instead, he simply bided his time, took his money, then his title. Eadmund gave up Norfolk without a fight. Ivar granted it to Guðfrið.

    Still, thoughts turned to Ælla, murderer of Ragnarr, and knew that no matter what, he had to reach out against him. So, he found that he had gone into hiding, but that he still needed to eat so much...

    upload_2018-11-14_5-49-21.png


    Airgialla taken, his army moved on to Ulaidh. Interestingly, Ulaidh's soldiers had all moved out; they all left for Wessex. A certain Haesteinn of Upper Brittany was invading. Ulaidh conquered, he moved on to Tír Eoghain.

    Moving his base of operations to Ulster, Ivar went back across the strait to take Nofant from Strathclyde. Haesteinn's invasion failed. Then Ivar took Breifne. Laigin.

    In the meantime, Ivar had great success getting rid of Eadmund and his entire family. One by one, they each had an inexplicable accident.

    In the meantime, Eufemia had an announcement.
    upload_2018-11-14_6-59-53.png


    Another heir. How would he keep his lands together? He ruminated on this as he marched on Laigin, and turned his network to Sigurdr once again. He had taken Jylland and still held Sjælland and Skåne. King of Ireland or Denmark would keep them together. King of Ireland and Denmark would not...
     
    Chapter 3
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    Chapter 3: The Great Festival

    In the spring of 873, Ivar decided that it would be best to rest his men before continuing his conquest of Ireland. A Great Tribal Festival was what he and everyone needed! He also needed to take care of family business; his son and newly chosen heir Guðfrið needed to be inducted into the Wolf Warriors, and he felt that now was the time to challenge Sigurdr to a duel.

    upload_2018-11-14_20-12-21.png


    Word traveled far that the Festival was occurring, and invited all the Warriors to attend.

    upload_2018-11-14_20-21-22.png


    Ivar decided it would be time to step away from his retinue and spend some quality time hunting in the Irish woods with Brynjolf.

    The festival begins, and Ivar meets with a strange man at a strange stall:

    upload_2018-11-14_20-26-48.png


    Camp Fever arrives at the Festival, but everyone continues their revelry regardless. Ivar calls for the start of the poetry competition. During the middle of the festivities, he hears that Olafr has gone to war to conquer Leix.

    upload_2018-11-14_20-34-34.png


    The Festival concluded, everyone returned home. Ivar then took Guðfrið aside, to invite him into the Wolf Warriors. He rushed to join. While waiting to see how the initiation went, Ivar then issued his dueling challenge to Sigurdr.

    upload_2018-11-14_20-40-28.png


    It would be a worthy challenge. The duel was accepted, and took place in September 873, both trekking across water to meet in Norfolk.

    Sigurdr stood tall and strong, letting his berserker rage fill him as he raised his prodigious axe. "I've been waiting for this for a long time, brother. Pity our mother is not here to witness this. I hear you let her die in a field among a bunch of butchered Christians."

    Ivar, much older, stooped, wearing furs instead of armor, armed only with his wicked dagger and a madman's purpose, smiled manicly. "Oh, dear little brother, our mother died a warrior's death. She dines in the Halls of Valhalla, the truest of valkyries. You should have seen it. You should have been here. You should have been here to avenge our father, you ungrateful brat!"

    Sigurdr looked on his older sibling warily. They had no love between them, but this hatred ran deep. Regaining his composure, he rejoindered, "Something you failed at, old man. Ælla lives still. Is this what I'm here to fear?"

    "Oh, of course you know he's alive and well, boy. You had to go marry his daughter. I have not stopped seeking his death, while you and your... seed... just serve to continue his line. And you let that blackguard's progeny dare carry the Loðbrok name!"

    Sigurdr stammered. Ivar held up his knife. "Oh, and do not fear, mother is here with us. When I pulled this dagger from her heart, I knew then that it would forever be blessed with the blood of the Valkyries. Come. Show the family what you're made of."

    upload_2018-11-14_20-53-21.png


    "You see? Mother has spoken. It's time to take the snake out of your eye."
     
    Intermission 1
  • WJS

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    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
    • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
    • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
    • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    Intermission: A Season of Death

    Ivar watched as blood slithered from the eyes of his brother Sigurdr. Reminded of the torment of Loki, he offered a prayer before turning to Guðfrið. "Son, I need a stone erected here. Let all know what happened this day. I have prepared a stave with the inscription." The elder warrior passed the bark to his son. It read:

    On 4 September, 873, here on the beaches of the Isle of Flegg, Ivar the Boneless slew his younger brother Sigurdr Snake-In-The-Eye, in blessed combat, for sins against family, their father Ragnarr Loðbrok, and their mother Aslaug the Shieldmaiden.

    Guðfrið noted with surprise that his father had written the inscription both in Nordic runes and Irish oghma. "You do know that many will call for revenge."

    "Your cousins Knud and Kolbjörn know where to find me. I will not hide like a Northumbrian. But... Kolbjörn is but a child of 5. It is hard to survive at such an early age."

    As Spymaster, Guðfrið nodded in understanding.

    Ivar stumbled. His son caught him. His breathing became shallow. "It is nothing, child. The berserk rage leaves a man spent. Bring me drink. I will recover."

    Guðfrið took his father back to his tent. Ivar stayed the week. And then, he stayed no longer.

    upload_2018-11-15_16-3-38.png


    Guðfrið added to the stone, "On 12 September 873, Ivar the Boneless went to Valhalla."
     
    Last edited:
    Chapter 4
  • WJS

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    • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
    • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
    • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
    • Crusader Kings II
    • Victoria 2: A House Divided
    • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
    • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
    • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
    • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
    • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
    • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
    • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
    • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
    Chapter 4: Succession Fever

    upload_2018-11-15_17-59-22.png


    Guðfrið's head hurt, and not because of the concussion he sustained in his initiation duel. His eldest brother Sigtrygg returned from Yatvingia to accept his rightful place as King of Suðreyjar, and he accepted the title of King of Strangfjorðr. He did not expect his father to die so quickly or suddenly.

    His father's plans to claim Sjælland were dashed. Yes, he could kill Sigurdr's sons, but that would only mean that Sigtrygg would inherit. Ivar was a first son, but Guðfrið? Fourth. Even little Uathmarán, son of departed Barid, and now the Chief of Suffolk, could claim Sjælland and Suðreyjar before he could in succession. No. Thankfully only Suðreyjar had split from his father's lands; he still held the dominant position in Ireland. He could afford to give Sjælland to Sigtrygg only once he consolidated enough power to convince him to bend to his rule.

    Although, witnessing the duel between brothers reminded him that the cost for such bloodshed could well be his own. Best to remain in the shadows. You never know who else is going to stand with you.

    King Guðfrið traveled to his new mead-hall in Strangfjorðr to discover that the Camp Fever remained very much in sway. He felt as hung over as the post-festival village looked.

    upload_2018-11-15_17-58-5.png


    Well, at least there was that. No need to tell father he lost his duel.

    upload_2018-11-15_18-45-56.png


    Sigtrygg wasted no time developing his land, but Guðfrið noted that his vassals decided that he, as a standing king, should be the next ruler of Suðreyjar... He had already plotted for Sigtrygg's death, and discovered that with a donation to the temple, Godi Haraldr, Spymaster of Suðreyjar, was willing to assist.

    Next order of business was getting his council in order. His elder brother Sigfroþ, Chief of Breifne, remained in place as Chancellor, and Olafr the White, Chief of Dyflinn, remained his Marshal, but the rest went vacant. The Flatnose brothers, Helgi and Björn, Chiefs of Galloway and Mann, Sons of Ketill, filled the Steward and Spymaster slots, and Strangfjorðr's Gydja became Seeress.

    Olafr, though, was a concern.

    upload_2018-11-15_18-48-2.png


    He did not like Guðfrið, and was warring to add Irish lands to his demesne. His power was quickly increasing. He would be a threat if not contained, but his three sons promised that his lands would split upon his death.

    Then he heard that his father's concubine was pregnant, and gave birth... but without Ivar, the child had no claim to the future.

    upload_2018-11-15_18-57-17.png


    Camp Fever continued to wage its terrible war through Strangfjorðr. The local Irish rebelled, but were quickly dispatched, the leaders rounded up and executed. Godi Haraldr planned for Sigtrygg's demise...

    upload_2018-11-15_19-6-26.png


    Suðreyjar passed back to his name. He returned to Norfolk, and rose the stone his father requested.

    upload_2018-11-15_19-25-35.png


    He left to sack Essex, trying to get his mind off things, and taking advantage of Christendom's weakness as Haraldr Fairhair invaded Mercia.

    But even then, the fever continued to bring death to all it touched. Commanders fell, then the Flatnose brothers. Rögnhildr Silvertongue, fresh without husband, sought refuge in Guðfrið's bed. He took her for a concubine, she became pregnant, then also succumbed to the fever.

    Then it took her daughter Svanhildr. And soon afterward, his own wife, pregnant again, came down with the dread disease. Desperate, he held festivals for her. Prayed to Freyja for protection. Kept her comforted, well-protected. And on 22 March, 875, his Lithuanian wife Žvorune went into labor, gave birth to a healthy boy, a son, named Haukr, and died.

    upload_2018-11-15_19-41-24.png


    He looked for a new wife, and found Sigtrygg's widow, a Romuva priestess named Jevna.

    upload_2018-11-15_19-49-9.png


    He also took a couple concubines for good measure, including a beautiful völva named Bothildr.

    upload_2018-11-15_20-8-45.png


    But after his loss, the fever left Strangfjorðr, giving him ample time to conquer enough land in Ireland to press his claim to be king of the entire island. And so 876 began with Guðfrið, son of Ivar the Boneless, recognized as King of Ireland.

    upload_2018-11-15_20-18-25.png


    (Still have a long way to travel, but we're only 9 years in, folks.)
     

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    State of the World 1
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    Im liking it but could you include some more maps please. I like them to help visually recognise who owns what and where everything is

    Sure. Here are the British Isles, with Ireland showing its vassals.

    upload_2018-11-16_7-8-17.png


    On the island of Ireland, Uì Maine, Mide, and Mumu are not part of Guðfrið's kingdom. His demesne is the darkest green. His brother Sigfroþ rules Breifne, and Skuli rules Veisafjorðr (Wexford). Sigtrygg's son Ofeig rules Iona (Iona and Argyll), and Barid's son Uathmarán rules Suffolk. Hrolfr Red-Cheeks rules Norfolk, And the big light green part in the east of Ireland are the counties ruled by Olafr of Dyflinn. The Flatnose dynasty, who ruled Mann and Galloway, has perished.

    upload_2018-11-16_7-19-45.png


    Here's Jylland and Sjælland, which I've talked about at length. Sjælland is ruled by 19-year-old Knud, and Jylland is ruled by 8-year-old Kolbjörn. After Knud and Kolbjörn, there's Knud's infant son Sigurdr, then everything is inherited by Ofeig of Iona. Now that I'm a real king, Ofeig can take that land and it will still be under Guðfrið, who can then make the Kingdom of Denmark.

    upload_2018-11-16_7-25-8.png


    Here's Europe in general. As you can see, there's some interesting rebellion going on in East Francia, and Aquitaine has separated. I'm still seeing Ireland -> Denmark -> Lithuania as the best route east for now.

    upload_2018-11-16_7-27-29.png


    Here's the rest of the way to Tibet. It is still disunited and Bön remains in place.
     
    Chapter 5
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    Chapter 5: Rule By Poison

    By claiming the title of King of Ireland for himself, Guðfrið held a Great Blot in celebration. As the festivities died down, he received word from a certain someone dispatched overseas.



    Kolbjörn and Sigurdr similarly died mysteriously. But oddly, Ofeig became independent, taking Iona and Argyll with him. Some Scottish chief had decided to raid what was our lands, now only Ofeig's, and Guðfrið realized it would be reasonable to let the raid continue. There was nothing to it. The family must stay together, and Sjælland was to be his.

    But with any move against family, comes tragedy.

    upload_2018-11-16_21-48-27.png


    Witch-Queen Jevna died, while pregnant with Guðfrið's child. She is Ofeig's father, so that will have to be dealt with. He married Žvorune's younger sister, Brekšta. He asked his old friend in Lithuania for help with the war, and he was happy to go.

    But suddenly, Guðfrið doubled over in pain, his body wracked in sickness. His physician said it was clearly food poisoning, and gave a course of mushrooms to combat it. And in a fever...

    upload_2018-11-16_22-33-19.png
     

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    Chapter 6
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    Chapter 6: The Rule of Sigfroþ

    upload_2018-11-17_20-49-8.png


    Sigfroþ watched as the boat carrying the body of his younger brother Guðfrið was launched from Strangfjorðr and set ablaze. Sigfroþ knew that the life he understood, his fate, burned and sank with that ship. He was never meant to rule. He was the kind one. He had served as chancellor. He was responsible for the education of the younger generation. But he was not a man you turned to in times of war. He never became comfortable with a sword or an axe. He took up hunting to learn about how to fight beasts, but even then, he felt more akin to trapping than to shooting prey.

    He thought about his clan.

    upload_2018-11-17_20-47-9.png


    He remained the sole adult male of his line, a line that has produced large numbers of boys yet to come of age. These boys were already chiefs in their own right; the death that came for his father and brothers made sure of that. In fact, only his two sons, Ivar and Valdemar, were the only boys not to be chiefs, and that was only because Sigfroþ lived still.

    And there remained Ofeig. Irland and Sjælland remained at war. But, Ofeig was the only Ivaring in Sjælland. In fact, Ofeig's vassals had named Ivar, first son of Sigfroþ, as Ofeig's heir. Ivar was also named heir of Suffolk and Veisafjorðr, and, as of now, all of Irland itself.

    Sigfroþ never could stomach war, nor could he stomach such a feud. He sued for peace.

    He had another issue: Olafr the White. Olafr was becoming old, and his son would soon inherit. However, his son also was heir to the Petty Kingdom of Viken. If he took that title, he would pull all of Olafr's lands out of Irland, just as Ofeig had. Olafr, or his son Öysteinn, would need to be awarded the power of a petty kingdom before too long. That required war anyway.

    Well, better against the Irish than against family.

    He spent a late evening with Linda, his concubine and Shieldmaiden.

    upload_2018-11-17_21-52-52.png


    Deep in their embrace, Sigfroþ spoke of one thing that bothered him. "I hear you took Ivar out hunting today."

    "I did." Linda was also tutoring Ivar, so this activity was normal.

    "He tells me he was caught in a snare. His ankle still shows the bruises."

    "That was an accident. He had not checked the traps properly."

    Sigfroþ released his embrace. Surreptitiously, he had managed to rope her wrists, and pulled them over her head with a tug. "I've learned quite a bit about traps myself. My spymaster has been watching you prepare the forest with lures and snares early, in advance of your outing with my son. Strange he wasn't there with you to learn the technique. Strange unless your prey was... not game. I know you hope that your son Valdemar might be the one to be the next king, but remember, we all vote on the next king, and there are plenty of eligible candidates before him."

    She twisted, unsuccessfully trying to free herself. "Yes, my king," she trembled.

    Sigfroþ smiled. "I don't blame you. Your spirit and ambition attracted me in the first place. Ivar will likely prove to become as fat as his mother, and Valdemar... will have your spark. But Ivar is who the kingdom has chosen, and Ivar still will receive Sjælland as well. I cannot afford to let a bed-partner risk the future of our kingdom and our family. He will have a new tutor. You will lead my troops to conquer Connachta. And there will be no more people falling into snares."

    Defeated yet defiant, Linda looked into Sigfroþ's eyes. "As you wish, my king. Is there anything else you desire?"

    Months later, while laying siege in Connachta, she bore twins Kettil and Freyja in service to her king.

    She was then dispatched to raid Wales, in an attempt to gain the money needed to assault the Petty Kingdom of Meath. The title was still in Irish hands, and Sigfroþ needed it to grant to Olafr of Dyflinn. During the last part of the siege in Gwyr, a rebellion rose in Dyflinn. Olafr was caught off guard, and injured badly in the riots.

    upload_2018-11-17_22-36-7.png


    There was no time to lose. The title needed to be secured. He rushed his troops back to Dyflinn to end the revolt.

    upload_2018-11-17_22-44-16.png


    And so, as the revolt ended, so did Olafr.
     
    Chapter 7
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    Chapter 7: Introducing Ivar

    When Sigfroþ's armies returned home, declaring that the whole of Strathclyde was now under Irland's rule, he turned to the task of introducing Ivar, heir apparent, to the realm.

    upload_2018-11-18_4-3-57.png


    This was going to be important, because with the death of Olafr, his three sons took his place as vassals in Irland, and they all wanted council spots.
    upload_2018-11-18_15-58-13.png
    upload_2018-11-18_15-59-0.png
    upload_2018-11-18_15-59-58.png


    With Þorsteinn as Chancellor, Öysteinn as Steward, and Karl as Advisor, he kept the Sons of Olafr content for the time being, but the threat of losing lands to Viken lingered.

    Although the introduction went well, something was going awry. Godi Vagn of Crossraguel offered to tutor Ivar in ritual, which Sigfroþ agreed to. Within the week, the Godi stormed into Sigfroþ's chambers, claiming that teaching the child was horrendous. Ivar happened to sabotage and prank the holy man at every turn, using the knowledge of the Sagas against him. Ivar was always playful.

    Many people at court started comparing little Ivar unfavorably to Ivar the Boneless, his grandfather. This would never do. Why focus on Ivar's grandfather, when his great-grandfather was who set the whole family on this path? Sigfroþ rejoindered court by proclaiming that it was Ragnarr Loðbrok's cruelty and guile that they should see in little Ivar.

    upload_2018-11-18_4-8-39.png


    And yet, Ivar's pranks, hidden jibes, and haphazard behavior continued during the introduction. Eventually, Sigfroþ saw signs of a darker, more chaotic side to Ivar's games. There was a risk that Ivar would be called a lunatic. He would have to learn the trapper's methods.

    Sigfroþ asked his son to meet him in a private family longhouse. When he retired there, Ivar greeted him at the door.

    "Welcome, father. I know you wanted to speak with me, and I couldn't dream of keeping you waiting. Please, come inside, get comfortable."

    Sigfroþ smiled and entered. "Good of you to wait for me, son. I need to speak with you about your behavior. Your jokes. Your tricks."

    Ivar grinned. "Nothing that an observant man couldn't avoid. It's all in good fun."

    Sigfroþ looked the longhouse over. The table lay set with meats and mead, the fire burning in the hearth. The boy really planned this out, he thought. With a nod, the king replied, "No doubt. But remember that Loki lies trapped in the center of the earth, bound in the entrails of his son, a serpent dripping poison into his eyes. You're going to be king someday. And then, nothing will be a game. Everything is a weapon."

    Sigfroþ reached across the table for a leg of lamb. As he picked it up, the weight of the table shifted, knocking breads and drinks to the floor. Yet unsurprised, the Trapper King used this chance to kick a tumbling pitcher into his hand, and thankful that the multitude of constitutionals his hunting hobby gave him had improved his physique, snatched the pitcher out of the air and brought it down on his son's head. Ivar fell, shocked, his ears ringing.

    "Remember when Linda snared you and left you dangling? She almost killed you. Remember how Ofeig took over Sjælland despite there being multiple heirs in the way? Funny how Sigurdr's family died all at once. Your japes and capers are a good story around the fire, but remember, son, this is no game."

    Ivar scrambled to his knees. "I'm sorry, father. I won't do this again."

    Sigfroþ laughed. "That's not what I want at all, son. You're free to keep up your tricks and ruses and ploys. Just make sure you always have your goal in mind. Know what people want, so that they can reach for your lure. People will die from your games. Make sure it's the right people." He picked up the pitcher and took a swig of the dregs remaining in its belly. "A toast, to the future king." He knocked Ivar's face into a muddy puddle of mead on the ground. "Drink when your king offers it."

    * * *

    The introduction did not go well, though. His vassals, satisfied that Ivar's antics were not the result of lunacy, could only conclude they belied a cruel heart. Electors started mentioning loudly that perhaps Ivar is unfit to rule, and that Barid's son Uathmarán should be next in line instead. Sigfroþ paid this no mind. The main difference, instead of Ivar's cruelty, was simply a matter of his age.

    upload_2018-11-18_20-44-41.png


    But still, with the festivities over, the next order of business was to arrange marriage. Brekšta, widow of Guðfrið, was available again, apparently, having become widowed of yet another high chief. No, not an option. People were calling her Poison-Tooth, these days. Let her curse another man.

    While considering worthy wives, Sigfroþ learned that his sister Wieslawa had come of age and needed a husband. He learned of one oddly intriguing candidate: Rögnvaldr af Munsö, Petty King of Svijþod. Apparently, he was the last male af Munsö, meaning that Ofeig stood ready to inherit should something happen to him.

    upload_2018-11-18_20-54-53.png


    He offered Rögnvaldr the hand of Wieslawa. She was kind, full of life.

    upload_2018-11-18_20-56-21.png


    A perfect way to keep Rögnvaldr unsuspecting of his impending demise. Which... was quite simply accomplished.

    upload_2018-11-18_21-21-48.png


    Ivar was betrothed to a genius girl named Yelizaveta from Kiev, only two years his junior.

    Votes started going back and forth, and suddenly the heir was Ivar again, then Sigfroþ's child brother Skuli, son of Ivar the Boneless and Witch-Queen Eufemia, back from after the Great Heathen Army. He was proving to be rowdy and a genius, so he might become the leader. So, that gave Sigfroþ the opportunity to grant Ivar the High Chiefdom of Galloway, and then immediately set about to see Ofeig dead. And then, Sjælland moved its heir to Sigfroþ's other son, Valdemar. Linda would be pleased, he scowled.

    And so, Ivar came of age, and became once again Heir to Irland.

    upload_2018-11-18_21-41-18.png
     
    Intermission 2
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    Intermission: Finishing Ofeig

    Watching how quickly the vassals of Sjælland moved from son to son in their votes, it was clear that he had to time his killing of Ofeig before the vassals understood what happened. First it was to Valdemar. Then to Ketill. They were choosing a boy of 3 to lead them, solely because he was an unlanded male of the dynasty. But Sigfroþ needed to let nature take its course, arrange for Ofeig to perish and the heir be already a High Chief swearing fealty to Irland.

    Then he was told of plans on a hunting trip in Iona. This was his chance. He rushed a fleet of loot from raiders back home, and used the funds to create the High Chiefdom of Connachta, and grant it to his son Ketill. The vassals of Sjælland learned about this, and started switching votes to Valdemar. Out of time and funds, Sigfroþ granted Valdemar the High Chiefdom of Strangfjorðr. The vassals, confused, looked for someone else to grant votes to, some even choosing the newborn Faste.

    But Sigfroþ knew the hunt and the trap.

    Valdemar now held the expanse of Sjælland.

    upload_2018-11-18_22-4-56.png
     
    Chapter 8
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    Chapter 8: A New Faith

    upload_2018-11-20_23-8-11.png


    Sigfroþ traveled the new lands, wondering what to make of them. He had changed his focus to religious matters of late, and he understood that the Catholic ways in most of Irland had their strength in their structure. However, Odin would never treat his people like Jehovah. No, his way must be different.

    So he gathered the priests in Sjælland, and spoke to them about the gods.

    upload_2018-11-20_23-7-29.png


    A Godi named Freyr was chosen to lead everyone, and it was his insights that helped pen the Sagas into an immutable form. The fights they had in deciding how the stories were to be interpreted were fierce, and blood was spilled many a time.

    upload_2018-11-20_23-12-4.png


    Despite the squabbles, the New Path was quickly adopted in most places, by nearly everyone in the realm and beyond. Only Småland remained steadfast in the old ways.

    upload_2018-11-20_23-20-5.png


    This was not acceptable. Sigfroþ vowed to subjugate the realm.

    upload_2018-11-20_23-20-57.png


    Before starting battle, he tried to ensure Viken would be on his side. This was thwarted by the gods.

    upload_2018-11-20_23-26-31.png


    And so, Sigfroþ noted, the lines of his brothers Sigtrygg and Barid had perished.

    upload_2018-11-20_23-28-57.png


    And so, with the knowledge of what lies ahead, Sigfroþ declared war on Rikulfr the Cruel.
     
    Chapter 9
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    Chapter 9: The Blood of Gods

    The invasion of Mumu went well, as expected. They called in their allies Scotland, whom the Irish Vikings overwhelmed. In the ensuing battles, Linda captured Bishop Peter of Dunkeld, who was taken back to the Irminsul Tree on Skye. Fylkir Freyr suspended the bishop from the branches, and plucked out his heart for Odin. His sacrifice was the first for the new faith.

    upload_2018-11-21_0-0-35.png
    upload_2018-11-21_0-1-28.png


    More would follow.

    Camp Fever taking Britain and threatening to spread to Ireland, Sigfroþ arranged to travel to Skåne in preparation of Irland's holy war against Smáland. Christians were found to have infiltrated Rikulfr's court, and they were sacrificed as they were captured.

    Upon winning the holy war, Sigfroþ looked at the new shores and considered his next move. Of importance was his new, powerful neighbor.

    upload_2018-11-21_20-2-17.png


    He had also converted with the new faith, but his son and heir had grown close to a different faith, one from further east: the Slavic faith. Rurik's second son remained faithful to Viking ways, and he proposed his eldest daughter marry him.

    upload_2018-11-21_20-7-38.png


    Sigfroþ returned home for a rest, but once again, Camp Fever had reared its fearsome head. Prematurely, he called to move everyone to the newly captured lands in Smáland, but it was too late. Sigfroþ had Camp Fever.

    Still, he did not let this stop him. He dispatched his retinues to learn more about this Slavic faith, and thought the best place to do so would be the fabled city of Prague.

    upload_2018-11-21_20-22-49.png


    Freyr's treatment proved to be the cure he needed.

    upload_2018-11-21_20-25-25.png


    Wieslawa's earlier wedding to

    upload_2018-11-21_20-34-7.png


    As the years went on, and the Ivaring children came of age, votes shifted, and the youngest brother of Ivar the Boneless, a good man named Skuli, rose to become the new Heir of Irland.

    upload_2018-11-21_21-15-38.png


    In 894, a strange man came up to the gates of Irland, in the newly named village of Kalmar. He was a merchant, but carried wares the likes Sigfroþ had never seen. The merchant explained that he was from the far-off land of Hindustan, and that he has gathered tools from across the earth. In the end, for Sigfroþ's hospitality, he offered a eunuch of his, as well as an intricately carved metal bowl. He explained that the bowl came from Tibet. Sigfroþ decided then, that he, or his descendants, would have to visit this land someday. And furthermore, that he would point his kingdom east, far from Irish shores.

    upload_2018-11-21_21-38-39.png


    Very far indeed.

    upload_2018-11-21_22-5-36.png
     
    Chapter 10
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    Chapter 10: Blood Games

    Sigfroþ looked back on his life's accomplishments, and recognized he did not have much time left. His body was growing weak.

    upload_2018-11-28_6-27-3.png


    He decided it was time to show the world, the kingdom, and the gods his dedication to this new path, and designed an elaborate set of gladiatorial games.

    upload_2018-11-28_6-30-9.png


    He turned to a companion that had followed him from Irland back to Scandinavia, a commander named Guðröðr. "You have served me well, and although you may be dying of cancer, I want you to represent me in these games. Either you will fall in battle, or you will emerge victorious. In either case, your entry into Valhalla is secured, and I want you to have this."

    Guðröðr stood strong. "I will gladly honor you and your family."

    upload_2018-11-28_6-33-20.png


    The battles waged in Kalmar, with warriors and raiders arriving from all over the Norse lands. They battled each other, faced fearsome beasts acquired from near and far, and in the end, Guðröðr emerged victorious, having lost an eye, but gaining the respect of the realm.

    upload_2018-11-28_6-36-23.png


    That finished, Sigfroþ turned to the question of succession. Skuli was the kingdom's favorite. He was the youngest son of Ivar the Boneless, born after the Great Heathen Army, and a particularly quick mind. Sigfroþ, thinking of ways to keep his realm together, had considered letting his second son Valdemar rule next, but Valdemar was always sickly, his muscles flaccid. He had asked his sister and Valdemar's aunt Ylva to marry him and try to breed some vitality back into his line, but the curse remained too strong and their daughter needed constant care. Valdemar himself died soon afterward, never able to support himself, despite the size of his lands.

    upload_2018-11-28_7-1-51.png


    Valdemar's youngest brother Gorm, the only unlanded one of Sigfroþ's sons, inherited all Valdemar's lands. And with that, everyone in the realm decided that Sigfroþ's first son Ivar should inherit Sviþjod.

    Sigfroþ had five sons: Ivar, the late Valdemar, Kettil, Faste, and Gorm.

    Ylva returned to court in Kalmar, married a nomad from the steppes who would be a strong commander, and promptly had a child by Hrolfr Red-Cheeks.
     

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    Chapter 11
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    Chapter 11: Trading Kings

    "Linda, my dove, you never had to fear. Your son will be King of Irland."



    Linda sighed, "And Valdemar, as you said, will not inherit." She drew near and placed a hand on Sigfroþ's shoulder. "Your perception never ceases to amaze me, my king."

    Sigfroþ grabbed Linda's hand and glared at her an instant before softening. Pulling her close, he replied, "Don't sing to the pig before you stick him. I know your tricks by now."

    Used to his chiding, Linda grinned. "So, the council has made their decision?"

    "They have. Ivar, first son and only son Queen Przybyczesc will become King of Sviþjod. The king's lands, the Jarldom of Smáland would also be his."



    Linda listened carefully, continuing to grin. Yes, Ivar, the boy she had tried to murder long ago, was now grown and the Jarl of Galloway, but all of Sigfroþ's other sons were all by her womb. She knew that her brood would rule over the land.

    "Faste, Jarl of East Anglia, will be King of Irland. The old king's lands of Irland, Strangfjorðr and Tyrone, will be his as well."



    "Gorm, it was agreed, has already received all of Ofeig's lands of Sjælland and the Jarldom of Sviþjod, and would receive nothing further. His lands were considered expansive enough to be a kingdom in their own right."

    upload_2018-11-28_20-39-25.png


    "As for our Kettil, a new kingdom would be created. It would be carved from Jylland and called Denmark. He would also receive extensive lands in Värend, Jamtland, and Narva."

    upload_2018-11-28_20-42-41.png


    Linda broke from her reverie on the future for her family. "Narva? Where is that?"

    "Somewhere near the Finnish lands. The af Munsös conquered it just after father finished up the Great Heathen War, and it was held by then until they died out, Ofeig added Sviþjod to Sjælland, and then..." Sigfroþ and Linda smiled in unison.

    upload_2018-11-28_20-53-48.png


    Linda inhaled, contemplating the calculus of inheritances. "Is that all?"

    Sigfroþ waved his hand. "Well, the young brother Skuli still gets some interest from my vassals."

    upload_2018-11-28_20-59-22.png


    "He wouldn't be a terrible choice. Then there is Haukr, son of Guðfrið. Some have said that he has his father's spirit, but, well, that spirit wasn't enough to protect him for long."

    upload_2018-11-28_21-1-21.png


    Sigfroþ stretched. He was no longer used to standing for long periods of time before his joints complained. He tried not to stagger. "And, I suppose, if these old bones grant me the strength to produce another son, we would have to make considerations for him. The Queen is past her childbearing years, but Halla is still young."

    Linda winced at the name of her king's other concubine. She was silently thankful that Frey had granted their union only a single daughter. So far. "Well, then you should ensure there's enough land to go around," she cautioned. "Have you considered expansion from Narva?"

    "Among other places. Honestly, I kind of hope Faste proves capable. I suspect he would make a better king back east. Let Kettil handle Irland, and Ivar Denmark."

    Linda relaxed. "That would be an interesting change of pace. We shall see, then." Taking the document from Sigfroþ's hand and placing it on the table, she then gazed upward into his eyes. "Should we see what these old bones still have in them?"
     

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    Chapter 12
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    Chapter 12: The Heirs of the Trapper King

    Faste proved competent, if not spectacular, and Sigfroþ threw his support behind him.

    upload_2018-11-28_21-50-31.png


    However, the jarls of Sviþjod took this chance to throw their weight behind Skuli, instead.

    Gorm was dead from some hunting accident. Without witnesses, it was impossible to say who it was, only that the role was held tightly. His chiefs granted their lands to Guðfrið, son of Haukr. This was a boy of 3. Sigfroþ feared that this position was cursed to kill all young boys.

    upload_2018-11-28_21-55-24.png


    And still, the family was restless. Scotland had grown weak, and the jarls of Sviþjod became like ravens picking at the Scottish carcass. Kettil declared war on Ivar, claiming that he chiefdom of Breifne belonged to him. In this scuffle, and with the passing of Gorm and naming Skuli as heir, the council returned that Narva would belong to the King of Sviþjod. Growth would have to come from there.

    Not only that, but Sigfroþ's sister was caught in a bizarre web:

    upload_2018-11-28_22-7-52.png


    Olafr did not last long in his personal victory.

    upload_2018-11-28_22-18-55.png


    Still, money was needed in the coffers. Sigfroþ sent the retinues to raid Gdansk. The year was proving harsh.

    And then...

    upload_2018-11-28_22-5-19.png


    Loki had clearly come to visit the Ivarings.
     
    Chapter 13
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    Chapter 13: The First Crusade

    The Catholics said the year was 900, and their holy man issued a new warning:

    upload_2018-11-30_23-8-48.png


    Sigfroþ figured they would travel south, but he asked the new Fylkja, a young woman named Bodil, of the gods' wishes. She stated that the time for blood would come.

    upload_2018-11-30_23-18-4.png


    In August of that year, Sigfroþ's long-ignored wife, Przybyczesc, passed away. He would be expected to remarry, but who?

    upload_2018-11-30_23-30-59.png


    He considered marrying Linda for convenience. In many ways, she was his real wife in any case. Then there was his other concubine, a clever if furious woman named Halla, who had worked her way into being the Court Seeress.

    upload_2018-11-30_23-35-16.png


    But honestly, he would not need any more children. Simply a good steward in his last days would be sufficient, no?

    While he pondered this, he sent forces to put down a rebellion for the old faith.

    upload_2018-12-1_0-5-18.png


    Linda and Haukr performed admirably, as expected, and Bodil feasted on the rebellion leader's heart.

    And so, a year after the Pope's announcement, the First Crusade was called:

    upload_2018-12-1_0-14-20.png


    Sigfroþ would never understand the Christians. His advisors told him that apparently this huge war was for someone who felt that someone else was Pope? What even was a Fraticelli?
     
    Chapter 14
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    Chapter 14: The Book of Kings

    Sigfroþ considered his next step. He was with his retinue, busy sacking London. A group of fanatic warriors was marching to the lands around Narva for conquest. He considered the most recent reports regarding the Crusade, lands east. He remembered when the Hindustani trader came by. Could there possibly be more wealth inland? And then there was a chronicle he was working on, on the side. It had been so long since he stood on British shores. "Take me to Norfolk," he told a young promising page as his men sieged down London's city walls. "I wish to see my father's runestone."

    Before the solitary standing stone, Sigfroþ pulled forth Aslaug's Tongue and lay the two together. "I've told the scribes your tale. I don't know how much they believe it, but they know that Ivar and Aslaug are legends, and I, your son, the one not meant to rule, has expanded our lands from Ireland and Iceland to Eistland. They have no reason to doubt."

    Ivar stood on the desolate East Anglian shore in contemplation, when a scouting party approached, bearing the standard of Galloway. "Ah," Sigfroþ smiled, "News from my son. How fares he? I trust he finds his childhood lands well?"

    The scout shifted, fixed his gaze on his king, and delivered his news. "Ivar the Tenacious is dead," he reported. "I now serve his son, Guðröðr, Jarl of Galloway."

    Sigfroþ gripped the knife blessed by his grandmother's blood tightly. His eyes narrowed and nostrils flared. "Who did it? Haukr? Kettil? By the gods, I've raised a generation of murderers!"

    "No, my king. Ivar fled into hiding. Last word we had, he planned to seek out Finn MacCool's hiding place. Our scouts found him walking into the sea from the Giant's Causeway."

    upload_2018-12-1_6-7-28.png


    Sigfroþ sank to the sand on the beach. "The boy always was the world's cleverest fool. I guess I must... What? How is the succession?" He looked around confused. A moment later, his resolve returned. "Here, help me up. I'll handle this in London. Trading gold for seafoam... What were you thinking, boy?"

    upload_2018-12-1_6-16-56.png


    Four men remained in the next generation. Guðfrið's sons Haukr and Hysing, and his and Linda's sons Kettil and Faste were all that remained. Past that, it was babies. Babies that were even now inheriting; Guðröðr was the Jarl of Galloway, and Haukr's son Guðfrið held all the old lands of Sjælland. Sigfroþ still hoped that Faste would inherit, but the chiefs rallied their support behind Haukr. His nephew was a good choice, though, so let it be as it is.

    ...But still, this generation was tearing itself to oblivion. Returning to Kalmar, Sigfroþ asked the council to prepare a list of young, healthy women who might be able to bear another son should the need arise. He briefly considered Linda, but she was past childbearing age. Halla would be beneath his station. After working with his council, he saw one fierce warrior woman from the steppes. "She will do, Gundes will be the new queen."

    upload_2018-12-1_6-25-43.png


    "I can't believe I'm starting new things as I'm finishing things up," Sigfroþ mused. "But a sprung trap is worthless if it is not checked... Are the stories all complete?"

    upload_2018-12-1_6-31-47.png


    "I can't believe they doubt that," Sigfroþ stated. "Aslaug was bathing when Ragnarr caught her the first time. They told me."

    He went out to the woods, trying to remember where he had placed his traps. His new wife traveled with him, and watched carefully. "You hide them so you cannot find them by sight," she observed. "So many trees, how do you get around? You must use your nose, sniff the traps out. I will help."

    upload_2018-12-1_6-40-55.png


    Sigfroþ was overjoyed. Przybyczesc never gave him a puppy, or much past a son who could barely remain sane. What was he thinking? What was he...

    The coffers needed filling again, but he checked the maps. London? Holland? Friesland? They all had been hit before. No, he needed new ground. What was the place that the merchant suggested? Georgia? Trebizond? Yes. Those lands were rich, and weak... And he did want to see what the Christians were fighting each other for.

    upload_2018-12-1_6-50-39.png

    Longships navigated the rivers until they emerged into the Black Sea and plundered to their heart's content.

    Back at home, he watched how the other Germanic realms had fared. Smáland had refused to convert to the new ways, and they were conquered. All other realms: Jorvik, Viken, Naumadal, Westergautland, and Garðariki, all had claimed the Blood Eagle as their own symbol as well. Naumadal was remote and weak, and welcomed the chance to join Sviþjod when offered. Three others stayed independent but were weakening, and wars had begun to break out. Only Westergautland remained strong, continuing to conquer the Holstein coast. But then, they proved willing to join with Sviþjod as well.

    upload_2018-12-1_6-55-26.png

    No one could doubt that Sigfroþ had brought the Norsemen together.

    The Christians claimed victory from the war with themselves. Such a strange religion.

    upload_2018-12-1_7-11-38.png


    upload_2018-12-1_7-49-56.png


    The bouts of confusion became more frequent, more exhausting. Gundes arranged for him to be returned with all due haste to Kalmar, and the raiding fleets made a final home voyage. The daily administration of the realm was given over to Hrolfr Red-Cheeks, Jarl of Rügen. There were days when Sigfroþ could rise from his bed, but most of those were spent not far from Kalmar, playing with his dog Tricky.

    upload_2018-12-1_7-56-4.png


    "Come, Tricky, my boy, I'll show you how to set snares."

    upload_2018-12-1_7-58-4.png


    On 10 October, 905, Sigfroþ breathed his last. And so, with the passing of the Trapper King, we are reminded that Death lays the final trap for us all.
     
    Intermission 4
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    Here is an update on how the succession played out:

    Haukr is King of Sviþjod, keeping all lands and vassals that were not part of de jure Irland and Denmark. Five of the six counties of his demesne are connected by the capital in Kalmar.

    upload_2018-12-1_12-56-46.png


    His brother Hysing, not a son of Sigfroþ, still has his land in Mann, the Chiefdom of Galloway, and Katanæs.

    upload_2018-12-1_13-10-11.png


    Guðröðr, son of Ivar, grandson of Sigfroþ, is the new King of Irland. Aside from a couple far-flung territories as the result of vassal relationships, the kingdom is relatively compact. The capital is in Carrick.

    upload_2018-12-1_12-59-31.png


    Kettil did not receive any kingdom, and is still the High Chief of Connacht. He did, however, receive those far-flung counties.

    upload_2018-12-1_13-8-28.png


    Faste became the King of Denmark, and the Kingdom of Estonia (which I'll be calling Eistland) was created and also given to him. His capital is in Suffolk, and most of his demesne is in Eistland. I wouldn't be surprised if we see Estonia become his primary title soon.

    upload_2018-12-1_13-13-15.png


    Finally worth mentioning is Guðfrið, son of Haukr, who presently holds a large portion of his father's kingdom:

    upload_2018-12-1_13-14-34.png


    We'll see how long he lives.

    Here's a snapshot of everyone in House Ivaring. Everyone in an unexploded branch is either dead or nondynastic.

    upload_2018-12-1_13-17-29.png


    Wieslawa's branch may prove interesting; she has given birth to two Heavenly women, and three of her four daughters are dynastic.