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Field Marshal
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Jun 13, 2017
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I'm going to do a bit of an experiment.

I'm starting a Shattered World AAR, where all the leaders start at 16, everyone is a single province count, religions and cultures are mixed. And then I'm going to worldbuild madly from there. I might end up jumping from main character to main character, based on where the story goes, and what appears to be the most fun. It will be narrative heavy. It might just be completely ridiculous. And this time, it's saved non-Ironman on the cloud, so I won't possibly lose the game, as happened previously.

So join me if you'd like to learn more about the lovely Chieftess Madelgarde.

  • 1Like
Seems like a neat idea. Will try to keep up.
Chapter 1: The First Few

At the dawn of the new year, five men stood waiting on the frozen coast. Last year, they had waited and received nothing. The year before, they also returned without a sign. A decade ago, their fathers held this vigil, as did their grandfathers, and on for centuries, each time returning empty handed. Yet still they waited, knowing that one year, the Gift of the First Few would finally arrive, long after the riven land was saved from eternal darkness.


Frobert was first to see the color in the ice. Jutting up from the coastline, flat white expanse to the southern horizon, the rising sun caught a rosy patch. He called his companions over, and excitedly approached. There, a rime-covered body emerged from the frozen surf. The five men quickly wrapped the figure in furs and excitedly rushed back to the village.

Hildoin took over, insisting that the body be taken to the center of the village. Most of the Kemi Tribe lived in small wooden huts, partially buried in the earth to save warmth. Small hovels for a poor people. Yet they had spent centuries building a larger, grander building. A building bedecked with furs, colored cloth, high rafters, and a giant hearth. The fires were kept lit throughout the winter, and yet, the building remained empty.

Ragambald called ahead, directing the villagers to open the doors, clear the way to the hearth. Berold picked up collections of firewood and tended the flames, warming the cavernous room. Gualter carefully placed the body down by the hearth, picked away the largest wisps of frost, and stood watch as ice melted away.

The villagers gathered around expectantly. What happened? There was a body? Are they dead? It's a girl? A young woman? Red hair? Are you sure she's not dead?

A sudden gasp echoed through the chamber, and the woman suddenly woke and sat up with a start. She pulled the furs around her body, growing increasingly damp as she thawed, and staggered to her bare feet.

Hildoin called forth, "All hail the First Few!"

Everyone responded, "All hail the First Few!"

She stood, confused, shivering, wearing only the furs she clung to, as meltwater dripped from her coppery tresses.

Hildoin continued, "All hail the Chieftess!"

"All hail the Chieftess!"


The world rejoiced. Across all lands, foundlings were discovered on every plain, atop every mountain, deep in every forest. The Kolans and Hålogalanders deemed that they were the First Few, come to lead their people to a new prosperity. The priests calculated that seven hundred and sixty-nine years had passed from when the lands were saved from perpetual disunity and darkness, and that a new golden age had begun. Central barrow-halls were filled for the first time with light and merriment.

The Chieftess had a name: Madelgarde. She listened with bewilderment to Hildoin's prophecies, but settled into her high-backed seat and gracefully accepted the fussing of an entire village devoted to her well-being. Mead flowed for days, she dined on suckling pig, and met the gaze of each reveler with wide, friendly eyes.

Days past, and Madelgarde walked through the large hearth-chamber of Kemi, the home built for her. She had outfits, coats, dresses available to wear, but none amused her more than simply wrapping herself loosely in the furs she first awoke to find herself in. The furtive stares of the men were a thrilling jolt, each swallow and moment of distraction a guilty pleasure.

Once the basic understanding of the lay of the land had been discovered, she invited her entourage, the five men who pulled her from the ice, to dine with her. She found an enjoyable, haphazard way to pull her furs around her, some fashion that looked as if they would slip off at any time.

"Good sirs, I am most grateful for your coming this evening. Now that I have rested and recovered, I must insist that we settle the first order of business at hand." She llicked a morsel of pork glistening at the end of a skewer and slowly waved it about, pointing at her rescuers. "I need a man."


The five gulped and remained silent as she leaned forward and looked into each one of their faces. "I need a man who will warm me, one who will speak with others of my kind and be my advocate far beyond the Kemi lands. And so... Gualter. You will do these things for me. Now let's enjoy dessert and then leave. Except for you, Gualter. We have much to discuss.

As they lay together, Gualter explained who of the First Few emerged throughout the nearby lands.


Westrobothnia was blessed with Berengildis, pulled from a sea cavern with a shell in her hand, known for a sharp wit and calming demeanor.


The uplands of Lappland were hosts to Brunhild, retrieved from the hollow of a great oak, singing the hymns of the First Few.


A rock had split open near Rovaniemi, and Gisela emerged. Of all chieftesses, though, she brought only cruelty and an appetite to her chosen people. Her villagers wailed at the idea they should serve one such as she.


But none frightened Kemi as much as the First Few of Oulu to the south, a man who already showed skill with troops and money.

Madelgarde smirked and stretched like a cat. No, she was sure Yehudah would not give her any trouble.


As winter slowly melted into spring, Madelgarde dressed properly and headed out to the fields to meet with Berold.

"I can't stop thinking of our poor neighbors in Rovaniemi," she fretted. "Why should they be so unlucky to have someone who sees others only as tools to her own sense of power?"

"We would not dream to doubt the wisdom of the First Few," he replied.

"Well, that's why you have me, isn't it?" Madelgarde ran a finger across Berold's bicep. "I think we should liberate Rovaniemi from Gisela, and I will take care of both villages' needs."

"I'll raise the warriors and head out."

"No, wait for a bit. The time is not yet right. Let the snow melt longer. No need to fight in the frigid air. Hildoin will want to read the flight path of the birds to tell us more about when to strike."

"As you wish."

Madelgarde's patience proved helpful, as Gualter's travels bore sudden fruit: Vilnius and Vycheda reached out asking for non-aggression pacts, which were welcomed, if too distant to be of practical use. But then, Gualter found success closer to home:


Erich, hmm? Madelgarde remembered this for later. Yehudah was proving a harder target than expected, and she was sure she couldn't hold up the pretenses for two men quite as deftly. Yet. And still, Erich eagerly entered into an alliance with Madelgarde.

But then, even greater success was had:


This was the sign she was looking for. Brunhild welcomed Madelgarde and the two agreed to work together for their mutual benefit. Lappland joined the war for Rovaniemi, and Madelgarde and Brunhild's warriors met to rout Gisela's men and take the village for themselves.

Madelgarde left the battle and siege in Gualter's capable hands. She then headed south under cover of darkness and stealthily made her way into Yehudah's grand hall.

She hid herself all night in the hall as Yehudah listened to the concerns of his villagers. She listened to demands for recompense between farmers, of tales of a cow wandering onto another's lands. She waited as he dismissed everyone for the night, hiding in the shadows.

"Always at each other's throats, they are..." he muttered to himself.

"Makes you want a throat of your own to be at, doesn't it?" Madelgarde revealed herself, her slender neck, and a long trail of flesh down her chest.

Yehudah turned with a start, then relaxed. "Madelgarde, how do you always manage to get away? Aren't you needed back home? Don't you have a siege to lead?"

"My husband is taking care of the siege. Brunhild is with him."

"Doesn't he get suspicious? Isn't he your spymaster?"

"Frobert is spymaster now. He has better eyes. And besides, the people have no idea where we come from, do they? Why wouldn't they just not consider when we disappear?"

Yehudah raised a finger. "They... We shouldn't speak of them."

Madelgarde grasped Yehudah's finger and placed it on the top of her sternum. "Then we shouldn't speak."


Erich needs to be next, she decided.

And within the month, the north was as conquered as the south.


Madelgarde rode out to accept Gisela's surrender. She looked over the fallen chieftess in pity. "Please, Gisela, you were supposed to care for the people. Aren't we?"

"Care for them? Certainly. I knew what I was doing. Yes, maybe I was strict, maybe I was cruel. But this world's golden age is not going to come through our arrival alone. You're already doing so much more, marrying into the commoners, reaping the benefits of alliance near and far."

"Of course. Everything we do is in service to the First Few and for the people."

"Oh, Madelgarde, my dear Few sister, are you even aware what you are doing? You're doing me a favor."

"What do you mean?"

"Think of before, Mads. Surely you remember Gerbert."

Madelgarde waved her hand in front of her face. "Not in front of everyone."

"Oh, no, it's perfectly safe." Gisela pulled a scroll out from her bodice. "The Golden Boy was pulled from a seam of precious ore... in Kantalahti. So near. So very near."

"I hadn't realized. How is he?"

"Read it."

Madelgarde opened the scroll and read.

To my dear Few sister Gisela,

The auspices of our emergence cannot be denied, and the weakness of your position is unenviable. The stars and paths of the reindeer in these lands make it clear: you were never meant to rule. For this reason I hereby declare upon our right as rulers of these people, that Rovaniemi is mine to rule. You will vacate your position and hand over the role of Chief to me. Your emergence is Stone, but mine is Gold.

I and my multitudes approach. Your days are numbered, witch.

Gerbert of the First Few, Chief of Kantalahti and Rovaniemi


Gisela cackled. "Have fun, Mads."
  • 1Like
Is someone getting a bit above themselves here.
Well, this looks to be an interesting tale. Following :)

Madelgarde sees some early success in pursuing her ambitions -- but it looks like she's about to fall afoul of a powerful enemy. Let's hope she hasn't bitten off more than she can chew...
And interesting start and lovely narration.
Are the First Few a mod. I have returned to CK after years and I've been blown away by new options, but I haven't encountered people with these pretty facial tattoos yet.
And interesting start and lovely narration.
Are the First Few a mod. I have returned to CK after years and I've been blown away by new options, but I haven't encountered people with these pretty facial tattoos yet.
Not a mod. Well, not entirely. I am using Better Looking Garbs, but that only adds some details to the portraits.

As for the face paint, it was added, along with Shattered Worlds, in Holy Fury. It's tied to African pagan religion, and to the Rite of Passage religious trait. The randomized Leczycaite religion actually starts with a Hellenic base, but the Rite of Passage was randomly added to it. So now we've got folks in this part of the world running around with face paint.
Chapter 2: Few Sisters
Chapter 2: Few Sisters

"Gualter! Gualter! How many warriors do we have?" Madelgarde ran into her husband's arms as he directed camp to be taken down.


"We have about 340 men, not counting Brunhild's forces."

"And Gerbert? How many do they have?"

"A thousand. They'll flank us the moment they meet us."

"Let's go find Brunhild. Her men are still here! Maybe they can stay just a little while longer."

Madelgarde mounted her horse and rushed over to Brunhild's camp on the other side of the river. She watched in urgent fear as most of the camp had already been uprooted. "No, no no no..." she muttered to herself. "Brunhild! Wait! There's still more!"

A pair of guards held back her steed as she approached Brunhild's tent. "Patience, my lady," one of the Lapplander guards said. "Chieftess Brunhild in in her afternoon prayers. She will be out soon."

Madelgarde nodded and waited.

Soon enough, Brunhild emerged and embraced her. "Few Sister! So good of you to see me off. We did it! Gisela is no longer a problem. I'm sure you'll do a better job taking care of the villagers than she will."

"Thank you, Brunhild, but... Can't you stay for a while longer?"

Brunhild let her go and looked into her face. "I'm getting married, Madelgarde. I've accepted a proposal from Chief Lothar, up in Kola. You remember Lothar, don't you?"


Madelgarde scrunched her nose and looked around. The Lapplanders continued breaking down the camp, not paying attention to the two women.

"Oh, sorry, yes," Brunhild whispered.

"Oh! Lothar? In Kola? That's close, isn't it? Lothar has the Mark of Power too, doesn't he?"

Brunhild inhaled. "He does, yes."

"So he can come help, too, can't he?"

"Madelgarde," she replied, placing a conciliatory hand on her shoulder, "He's not going to just call his village to war for the benefit of a friend of his wife. That's not how this works."

"But you will come to my aid?"

"After the wedding, yes. I will honor our alliance."

"Thank you, Sister." Madelgarde wiped a tear from her face.

* * * * *
Dearest Erich of Naumadal,

I am so thankful you welcomed my husband into your home. I feel relieved that you wish to maintain our burgeoning cooperation and relationship. I am compelled to write, however, because I am in danger. Gerbert of Kantalahti has sworn to come and attack my people and conquer my land. Please, I beg of you, come to my rescue. There is nothing more in this world that would bring me joy than seeing your beautiful face again, leading your men.

In honor and love,

* * * * *
Dearest Madelgarde of Kemi,

I am honor-bound to answer the call to arms. I can not bear to imagine harm coming to a single hair on your head, or to a single villager of your realm. My warriors and I march to your rescue. I shall not rest until I can see you again, safe and secure.

Forever yours,

* * * * *


Winter came. Gualter pulled his men back first to Kemi and then continued the long, slow march to Lappland. Further afield, the Naumadalians crossed the mountains to meet with Kemi and Lapplander forces. The going was slow, through the cold and the snow. Gerbert arrived in Rovaniemi and sieged it down. Madelgarde and her allies finally met up in Westrobothnia, as Gerbert's men laid siege to the village in Kemi.

As Naumadal arrived, Madelgarde rode out to meet with Erich, to secure the alliance.


Madelgarde, Gualter, Brunhild, and Erich joined their forces and marched into Kemi. Gerbert noted the size of the combined force, now nearly 2,000 men, and pulled back to Rovaniemi. Madelgarde rallied and continued the advance on Gerbert.

One morning, Madelgarde bent over, suddenly dizzy and nauseous. Her first fear was camp fever, but soon it became clear it was something else, entirely:


Gualter was proud and happy for the entire advance on Rovaniemi. Madelgarde kept counting the days in her mind, and sent home for salt and ice from the surf she emerged from.

As spring came to the land, the allied warriors descended on Rovaniemi village, and began the long, slow process of rooting out Gerbert's men. Gerbert had established outposts, saw the approaching allies, and met them in battle. Madelgarde felt the first kick inside her. She needed guidance.


Madelgarde and Brunhild rode fast into the forest in the dawn twilight from camp. Gualter had wanted to send guards, but they insisted their offering to the First Few must be made by themselves.

The two chieftesses located the spot they were looking for. A low stone slab lay on the forest floor. Brunhild rubbed her hand over the stone's mossy covering, and it parted, revealing three stars carved into the surface.

Brunhild nodded. "The offering can be placed here. I'll be waiting a distance away. You do remember the prayers?"

"I do. Thank you, Sister. I was afraid I could never make the offering, in the middle of the war."

Brunhild looked around. "No need to Sister me. You need the help."

Madelgarde raised an eyebrow and Brunhild looked around. "It's not safe here. Gerbert probably knows this place as well. And his men aren't the only risk out here. There are wolves. Bears."

"Bears? Do you think--"

"The offering, Madelgarde. Let's do this and get home. For the sake of both our children." Brunhild lightly patted her own swelling belly, then turned and left the clearing, with perhaps the slightest scowl.

Madelgarde swallowed and approached the stone. She retrieved the salt and ice from her bag, and poured shavings into each of the three stars.

"It is I, Madelgarde of the Surf. I seek you. I beseech you, answer my prayer. Protect my child. You who saves the world, I ask for your continued guidance and protection you offer all."

The salt began to glow a faint blue, visible against the first golden rays of dawn.

"I beg of you, show favor on my child."

The glow rose from the stone, suspending in the crisp morning air. The shadow of a triangle appeared between the three luminescent vertices. The floating shape pulsed. A voice was heard, clipped, aloof, transcendent. "User: Madelgarde. Domain: Kemi. Emergence: Surf. Password accepted. Welcome, Madelgarde. Request for child's beneficence received. Please designate form of request. Designate: Brawn. Beauty. Brain."

As much as she understood the value of brawn or brains, all she could think of was everyone else who had gotten her here.

"Beauty," she replied, voice trembling.

"Beauty accepted," the spirits intoned. "Attention: Full effects may not be visible upon birth. Effects may also differ depending on father's source. Full mating with locals is still experimental at this time."

"Wait! Does this mean Gualter is the father? Not Erich?"

"Authorized service completed. Logging off." The stars' glow faded, the triangle disappeared, the sun announced its full force across the clearing.

"No, no, wait..." Madelgarde fumbled in her pouch, looking for more salt, when Brunhild hastened to her side. She ran her hand over the stone again, the moss cover returning.

"Time to go. Riders approach."

"Can't I stay?"

"No, now I'm protecting your child. We need to go, now."

The two women mounted and rode back to camp. Madelgarde kept looking behind her, thinking of the stone, and of the spirits.

The camp opened and welcomed the two back and sent off warriors to meet the last of Gerbert's men, before routing them.


The village was resecured, and they marched forth into Kantalahti.

"My dear," Gualter started, "I know you wish to be here to bolster our spirits, but Kantalahti is no place for a woman with child. Please, head back home to Kemi. Erich and I can handle the forces from here. Get some rest.

"Yes, my husband, so I shall." She gathered her belongings and prepared the ride back home. "Brunhild, won't you please join me? I'll have everyone toast you for the occasion. Really, I can't thank you enough for coming to my aid so much."

Brunhild considered this. "A feast? For me?" She looked around. "All right, let's do it. Let's see how you live."


Kemi was bright with Madelgarde's return, and the central hearth was lit and welcome. She had boar and ice-fish and seal brought in for the feast. "This child has the hugest appetite," she explained.

Brunhild laughed. "Our children need it. They'll be beasts in a new world."

Madelgarde giggled. "I know you married to the Few, but I decided I wanted to keep my name and crest. Only the locals would allow for that. Not even Erich was willing to budge."

"He had been following you around like a puppy. I've heard rumors about you."

"All true, I'm sure!" Madelgarde chuckled. "But really, the locals are just as good as the Few."

"What do you mean? Marrying Lothar hasn't been bad at all. He's mostly away in Kola, though."

"Doesn't that get lonely?" Madelgarde rested her tilted head in her hand, curious.

"Sometimes, I suppose?"

Madelgarde looked over the villagers, all willing servants. Mostly men. Their loyalty without question. She turned to one, young, with blond hair and broad shoulders. "Yohann, come here." The lad obeyed, and she held out her plate. "Skewer my meat."

Brunhild watched with astonishment as Yohann obediently reached down, sliced a bite sized portion from the boar haunch, placed it on a metal rod, and fed it to his chieftess. She could barely contain herself as Madelgarde then grabbed Yohann by the back of the neck and clamped her mouth over his. Coming up for air, she replied, "You really need to try the local meat."


Brunhild left later that week, hazy and oddly satisfied. It wasn't the only caller to the feast.


In the end, Madelgarde only laughed at how she and Yehudah always sneaked into each other's bedchambers somehow.

Gualter came home victorious from Kantalahti, Gerbert surrendered, and Madelgarde gave birth to a son, named Gualtari, after his father.


Madelgarde took Gualtari with him on a trip to Lappland to call on Brunhild. She had also given birth to a son, Lothar.


The two new mothers embraced. "Madelgarde! So good to see you. And this is Gualtari! An honor to meet you, good sir."

Madelgarde giggled. "We had to visit and see you and little Lothar. I do hope all is well."

"It is. Lothar will be going to his father for his education. I'm sure he'll be well off there."

Madelgarde bit her lip. "That will be good for him. It'll leave this place needing something to do."

Brunhild inhaled and rubbed her temples. "I'm afraid I won't be available for another banquet, as lovely as that was."

"Oh, that's all right. I wasn't planning something like that."

Brunhild sighed. "All right, Surf Girl, what are you planning?"

"Well, it's just that Gerbert's weak now that he's been defeated, and it's only right to make sure he doesn't try anything like that again."

"Ah. Have you spoken to Erich? I'm sure he'll give you the support you need. Or perhaps Yehudah? Don't you have any more Few in your pocket? I've heard rumors about you and Waltgaud of Kainuu."

"Please, Sister, the difference between dalliance and alliance is more than just the d."

"Plenty of that, I'm sure," Brunhild retorted. "Fine. my warriors will join you one more time. But dear Madelgarde, you really need to learn how to handle these things yourself. We can't forever just jump to satisfy your whims."


The war went well. Erich, Brunhild, and Madelgarde made short work of Gerbert's men and forced him to submit.


And yet, with child, husband, lovers, and the servants of three villages, Madelgarde felt as lonely as ever.
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And yet, with child, husband, lovers, and the servants of three villages, Madelgarde felt as lonely as ever.

Sometimes the most lonely you are, is when you are in a crowd.
May I inquire which mods you used? The baby portraits look awesome.
Also, how do you get the orgy event?
The baby portraits are in the mod Better Looking Garbs. By playing around with the child portraits it breaks achievements, but I don't mind, especially for Shattered World play.

The "orgy event" is something that can fire if you're swaying someone. If you're a Hedonist, Socializer, Gregarious, Seducer, or have high Diplomacy or Intrigue, the banquet is a possible event. For someone like Madelgarde, it's the only thing she can think of to sway someone.
  • 1
Technology instead of gods, i didn't expect that.
I'm going to be doing all sorts of quirks and anachronisms and oddities throughout this AAR, just because we're so ahistorical that I can.

I'm also going to heavily use the customization DLC to rename things to make things more fun as we encounter them.
Chapter 3: Whose Land Is This, Anyway?
Chapter 3: Whose Land Is This, Anyway?

Madelgarde caressed baby Genovefa, her second child by Gualter and first daughter. Ragambald, Chancellor, arrived to address her.

"Milady, we have received news from Kem in the southeast. Guadulf of the Dew has died."

"Guadulf? One of the Few? Gone? Who killed him?"

"He died of the flu."

Madelgarde swallowed. "I..." her voice trembled. "We are mortal, like everyone. It will happen. All part of the--" she stopped, words choking in her throat. "Has there been a replacement?"

Ragambald looked about, confused. "Replacement, milady?"

"Does someone rule Kem? Are we sending Gisela or Gerbert?"

"Merovech has risen to lead the village of Kem."

"Who's Merovech?"

"A local man, from before the Few. He has taken a standard, called Jerome-Karling."

"Strange name. But seriously, the locals are now ruling?"


"I guess I'll just have to meet this Merovech for myself, then. Invite him to a banquet. I'll get Brunhild, we will have fun."

772.8.10 Merovech and Banq.png

"I swear, Madelgarde, you loop me into the worst situations, but you really make it fun."

Madelgarde pulled herself out from under a deeply dozing Merovech to regard her friend. "The locals are a joy, even when they try to rule on their own."

Brunhild whispered, "Are you sure Gualter won't mind?"

"He's out preparing the warriors for a raid, why should he even know?"


During the festivities, Gualter was guiding ships with Kemi's warriors south. There were stories of a temple, a temple held by someone who did not respect the primacy of the First Few, along the coast in Memel. It was here that he and the Kemi forces invaded. This was farther away than he had ever traveled. The people looked different. The Lands were different. They believed differently. What did this mean, ultimately? Did they not receive the benefit of the First Few? Their leader appeared to be among them, after all.


And, in the meantime, his wife was ensuring the protection of her lands in the way she knew how:


Gualter led his men through the village of Memel, above the protestations of their chief. He followed through by looting the temple, a place open to the sky. And yet, he met no resistance. The people stood cowed, accepting of their fate.

Spear in hand, he walked up to their chief, a man called Aha, and spoke.

"You! You are the Few of Memel, are you not?"

"I lead them, yes."

"And yet you offer no resistance, why?"

"Better you than the Pyre. Take what you need, and go back home."

"Pyre, is that what you Fischauites call the Horror?"

"Chaos is still worse than the Pyre, but you are but men. You are nothing compared to the Pyre, who is a great agent of Chaos."

Gualter watched Aha warily, unsure what to make of their people's attitude, but took their meager belongings regardless and returned to the ships and sailed north home.

Madelgarde was not at the shore to meet the warriors as they returned. Gualter found this odd. He unloaded the boats. She did not come. He led a procession back to the central hearth. She did not wait in the village square for him. He entered the chieftess' chambers and found her.

Hiding. With child.


"I leave, leave my home for months, at your bidding. I risk my life, the lives of our men, to bring back treasure, at your behest. And this is how you repay me? This?"

Madelgarde swallowed, having played through this scenario multiple times. Turning on her fire, she shouted, "It is the way of the Few! I've secured our borders!"

"Well, there's one border that's wide open, isn't there?"

"That's... That's just the way we need to be!"

"Oh, is it? When I met with Brunhild, I didn't do anything. Does she sleep around like this?"

"Well, when I get her here..."

"I can't believe it. I'm the who's securing the alliances! Brunhild. Erich."

Madelgarde realized too late she looked expectantly upward.

"Erich. Oh, so this is Erich's child?"

"No. Leovaldo's."

"And Gualtari? Genovefa?"

"They're yours. I'm pretty sure of that."

"Pretty sure? Who else has there been? Leovaldo, Erich, who else?"

Madelgarde slumped over. Does this fight have to keep going? "Yehudah. Waltgaud. Merovech."

"Oh, all our borders. Lothar too? Gerbert?"

"I haven't touched either of them."

"Maybe I shouldn't either."

"Maybe not."

Gualter looked away, out the window at the forested landscape. "Maybe, maybe not... No. I can't do that. What do you want, Chieftess?"

Madelgarde just pulled her furs tight around her. "Just go. Just go. You don't want me. I won't keep you."

Gualter left the central building, and returned to the hut of his family. Madelgarde spent the rest of her pregnancy in private.


With Adalbert, she instructed her council to pack everything up. She could no longer stay here, in Kemi, with Gualter. She insisted on moving to the central hearth of Kantalahti.

While the court was being moved, she insisted Brunhild join her at the sacred grove in Rovaniemi. Her more pious friend showed her the correct location, opened the correct spot on the stone.

"You've really made a mess of things, you know that."

"I know! You don't have to remind me." Madelgarde had not managed to clean herself up after her pregnancy. Her hair was tangled and oily, her furs merely piled around her. "I just need advice from the spirits."

"You know what The Code says," Brunhild reminded her. "Marriages matter, and the locals are unsure of the ways of the Few."

"...I told him that sleeping with the other Few was how I kept our borders safe."

"You what?"

"I said it was the way of the Few." Madelgarde hunched deeper into her furs.

"Why did you do that?"

"I hoped it would be okay."

"You're a worse mess than I thought. Got all the chiefs at your beck and call, but it's all just a giant pile of chaos, isn't it?"

Madelgarde grunted and squealed.

Brunhild dropped any scorn in an instant. "What? What's wrong?"

"I... Ever since the pregnancy ended, I still have these contractions. I don't know why. I think there's something wrong with me."

"Right," Brunhild barked. She pulled out a handful of wood chips from her robes and placed pieces in each of the stars on the stone. She called out to the spirits.

"It is I, Brunhild of the Oak. I seek you. I beseech you, answer my prayer. My friend is in need."

The chips crackled and burst, alighting in blue flame, tendrils of smoke rising to the heavens.

"I beg of you, share your wisdom with the Few."

The tendrils of smoke coalesced into a triangle, which ignited in blue. "User: Brunhild. Domain: Lappland. Emergence: Oak. Password accepted. Welcome, Brunhild. Request for advice received. Please indicate nature of advice."

"My friend is ill, is there medicine for her condition."

"Material request: Incompatible with Code. Please rephrase."

Brunhild wiped her brow. "Lousy spirits... yes, medicine won't work. Physician, then. Emerge a physician for treatment."

"Request accepted. Physician will be dispatched with next emergence cycle. Time remaining until emergence: 765 years."

"What? No, cancel request."

"Request canceled. Time remaining for request: 40 seconds."

"Just, is there anyone who can help her?"

"Closest physician located. Designation: Glaurung. Accept, Yes/No?"

"What kind of a designation is Glaurung?"

"Accept, Yes/No?"

"Yes! Accepted!" Madelgarde called out.

"Authorized service completed. Logging off." The triangle dispersed as smoke.

"Why do the spirits always speak so weird?" Madelgarde trembled.

"The spirits only speak the purity of The Code."

"It's annoying."

"Better than the Cosmic Horror."

* * * * *​

Erich rushed to her side when news of her divorce, bastard, and health condition reached him. He insisted on helping nurse her back to health. In days, they were married.


Erich still had business in Naumadal, and was away often. Madelgarde considered seeing if Yehudah wanted to visit, but she was still in no condition to see people.

And so, she did not.

The alarms rang out around Kantalahti. Looking outside, Madelgarde saw warriors rushing together, spears at the ready. The sun dimmed, and a huge figure darkened the sky as it flew into the central town, and landed.

The smell of brimstone filled the air. The cold northern light reflected dully off scales the color of rust. The village's spears pointed at the new monstrous visitor, and Madelgarde walked forth best she could to face the newest menace.

"I, Madelgarde of the Surf, Chieftess of Kemi, Rovaniemi, and Kantalahti, do hereby command you to state your business, and leave peacefully."


"Madelgarde..." the dragon hissed, "I am Glaurung. The physician you called."

"You! Glaurung?"

"Yes. You requested me, so here I am."

"What could you possibly know about the health of humans?"

Glaurung slid a forked tongue languorously over length of his serrated jaw. "Plenty."

"Well, uh... what should I do about the cramps?"

Glaurung snaked his head out, looking over the chieftess carefully. His tongue flicked out, tasting her. Satisfied, he pulled back. "Nothing."


"Nothing. The cramps will pass. You are with child again."

"I... I am?"

"You do this so very much, Madelgarde. You are young. Everything is fine."

"So... then..."

"Then I am free to stay."

Sure enough, nine months later, she gave birth and the cramps resolved.


"Dragons? There are dragons here?"

"Oh, not here. But I don't mind leaving my home. I do not like how they have... coalesced."

"What? Why? Where are you from?"

"A place simply known as and ruled by The Pyre."

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