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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
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Revan86

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Wow!

Using some 'near rhythmic' phrasing yourself here, I see - has a drum-like quality that brings Beowulf in its original, or Dream of the Rood, readily to mind (or folk-metal bands like Forefather and Svartsot). It almost gets to be too much, practically a run-on, when you're describing Bacsecg the Jute in battle, though. Interestingly (I don't know if you intended this or not), the description of ropy entrails sliding to the ground between grasping fingers, and Sigurðr striking his opponents and watching them bleed slowly to death, both supports the serpentine imagery you keep playing with regarding Sigurðr Snake-in-the-Eye and adds to the general ominousness surrounding him, without belabouring or distracting from the flow of your narration.

Did the Saxons have a particular reputation for cunning, though, or is that just Halfdan slighting them with faint praise?

I see also that you're keeping the fault-lines between Sigurðr and Halfdan visible in the battle's aftermath (with Halfdan looking grimly on as Sigurðr leads them to their fate, presumably too horrible even for a Viking fond of blood-eagles to mention) even though they aren't of particular importance this chapter.

Great stuff, Lord Durham; I always look forward to more!
 
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Mithfir

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ABBA? Pffff! I was thinking about Amon Amarth, Nightwish, Hammerfall or In Flames... Or even Skolldir's theme from Awesomenauts! :(

When I saw Muspelheim, the realm of fire, I then thought about Valkyrie Profile. You ever play that game?
 

Stuyvesant

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Sigurd might be a right bastard, but he clearly knows how to fight. Or should I say that he knows how to kill - his fights are very one-sided. Then again, so are Halfdan's and Bagsecg's, so perhaps it's not all down to Sigurd's corruption. I liked how you write "it is said that vipers coiled by his feet", leaving it ambiguous: they might have been there (they probably were), they might not have been there.

In the Secret History, I like the somewhat snooty offhanded remark from Geoffrey Monmouth: "Indeed, I have wrote the true account of King Arturus in my Historia Regum Britannia." Nothing like being a self-promoter and cocksure to boot. :)
 
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Lord Durham

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I enjoyed the graphic description of Snake-in-the-eye's fighting, and the image of Halfdan looking over the aftermath of the battle. You're writing really is very emersive!
Appreciated. You can thank influences like Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Karl Edward Wagner, Glen Cook and David Gemmell for shaping my style.

Looks as though the Saxons could strike back, but I think that with the mighty Cthulhu on their side, the Ragnarites shall prevail.
Except for Sigurd's wanton excesses, this is essentially a Cthulhu-free zone. Halfdan will have to earn his victories with his axe. Expect a lot of marching and counter-marching.

Not to mention Halfdan got a big Axe and a very nice army :)
A big axe and a very nice army can go far in Viking-dom...

Wow!

Using some 'near rhythmic' phrasing yourself here, I see - has a drum-like quality that brings Beowulf in its original, or Dream of the Rood, readily to mind (or folk-metal bands like Forefather and Svartsot). It almost gets to be too much, practically a run-on, when you're describing Bacsecg the Jute in battle, though. Interestingly (I don't know if you intended this or not), the description of ropy entrails sliding to the ground between grasping fingers, and Sigurðr striking his opponents and watching them bleed slowly to death, both supports the serpentine imagery you keep playing with regarding Sigurðr Snake-in-the-Eye and adds to the general ominousness surrounding him, without belabouring or distracting from the flow of your narration.

Did the Saxons have a particular reputation for cunning, though, or is that just Halfdan slighting them with faint praise?

I see also that you're keeping the fault-lines between Sigurðr and Halfdan visible in the battle's aftermath (with Halfdan looking grimly on as Sigurðr leads them to their fate, presumably too horrible even for a Viking fond of blood-eagles to mention) even though they aren't of particular importance this chapter.

Great stuff, Lord Durham; I always look forward to more!
You caught me. The intent was there, both with the run-on description displaying the differing combat styles of the brothers and Bagsecg, and the snaky, descriptive tie-ins with Sigurd. As for Halfdan and the Saxons, he is offering faint praise. I had to do something to describe how the AI wouldn't lump all their forces together, instead attacking several counties, practically at once. Actually, that makes the war more interesting, and a little more strategic for the brothers to handle. Halfdan is a Viking who follows Odin, and doesn't mind the odd blood-eagle. What he finds abhorable is Sigurd's new found 'religion' and the demands that go against the teachings Halfdan grew up with. Plus he doesn't trust the 'people' behind the scenes who influence Sigurd and Ivar. Thanks for your great comments.

ABBA? Pffff! I was thinking about Amon Amarth, Nightwish, Hammerfall or In Flames... Or even Skolldir's theme from Awesomenauts! :(

When I saw Muspelheim, the realm of fire, I then thought about Valkyrie Profile. You ever play that game?
No, that was on the old Playstation, wasn't it? I've always been a PC person. No consoles for me. In fact, I hate that so many console game ports have been dumbed down for the PC because the developers were too lazy to take advantage of the PC's strengths. But that's another kettle of fish. How about Roxette? :)

Sigurd might be a right bastard, but he clearly knows how to fight. Or should I say that he knows how to kill - his fights are very one-sided. Then again, so are Halfdan's and Bagsecg's, so perhaps it's not all down to Sigurd's corruption. I liked how you write "it is said that vipers coiled by his feet", leaving it ambiguous: they might have been there (they probably were), they might not have been there.

In the Secret History, I like the somewhat snooty offhanded remark from Geoffrey Monmouth: "Indeed, I have wrote the true account of King Arturus in my Historia Regum Britannia." Nothing like being a self-promoter and cocksure to boot. :)
I had to leave the Arturus legend a touch ambiguous, since scholars today aren't sure where Avalon is located. Aballava is an actual choice, though low on the scholarly totem pole. It's Geoffrey of Monmouth who essentially created the legend of King Arthur, so I had to give him props. Or at least, let him give his own props. I kept the killing one-sided as I wanted to describe the various fighting styles of the key Vikings. Note each used a different weapon. The battle was certainly tough, and not one sided, but with more battles to come I don't want to essentially write the same thing over and over.


The next update will be tricky, on my part. Lots happens in different locales, and I'm not sure if I want to gloss over it with my Monmouth preamble. I'm trying to figure out how best to do this.

Thanks for the feedback.
 
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J. Passepartout

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Except for Sigurd's wanton excesses, this is essentially a Cthulhu-free zone. Halfdan will have to earn his victories with his axe. Expect a lot of marching and counter-marching.
Indeed, rather light on explicit reference, but Cthulhu always has his noodly appendages nudging the action, however subtle.

As for your remarks on the next update, I rather like the Monmouth bits, but I don't know what information you plan to convey in the next update, so all I can say is that he is a cool individual.
 

unmerged(174159)

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Do you know Apoptose, LD?
They make me think of your vikings a little bit (they're German alas). Here's a sample.

[video=youtube;G9hsj4--Ia8]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9hsj4--Ia8[/video]
 

c0d5579

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Can the next update handle being broken up into multiple smaller packages, or is it too tangled to do so?
 

Hastings1066

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I've caught up with reading these AAR, and I must say that before I started I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it all that much, not being my area of interest and all. However, after I had started, I realized that I was going to enjoy this very much indeed!
 

Whitesnake777

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Nice read. I like your twist with Cthulhu as on of the 'Old Gods'. It's different from other AAR's I've read, but really good.
 

Lord Durham

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Indeed, rather light on explicit reference, but Cthulhu always has his noodly appendages nudging the action, however subtle.

As for your remarks on the next update, I rather like the Monmouth bits, but I don't know what information you plan to convey in the next update, so all I can say is that he is a cool individual.
I think there will be some Monmouth, but only a little this time around. And you are right, the Great Old Ones love to nudge things in the background.

Do you know Apoptose, LD?
They make me think of your vikings a little bit (they're German alas). Here's a sample.
Not familiar, but that's pretty cool. I imagine it's copyrighted material, otherwise parts of it would sound good for my next book trailer.

Can the next update handle being broken up into multiple smaller packages, or is it too tangled to do so?
Yeah, that's what I think I'll end up doing. Be a bit of jumping, but it will work.

I've caught up with reading these AAR, and I must say that before I started I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it all that much, not being my area of interest and all. However, after I had started, I realized that I was going to enjoy this very much indeed!
I appreciate you taking the time to read it, and I'm glad it turned out more than you expected. I'll admit the subject matter is kind of specialized, but it doesn't mean it won't make for a good AAR, or story (he says with trepidation :) ).

Nice read. I like your twist with Cthulhu as on of the 'Old Gods'. It's different from other AAR's I've read, but really good.
Your first post. I'm honoured. Glad you like the tale so far, and I hope to hear from you again.


I was hoping to have a post ready today, but real life intruded. I'll see what I can do for tomorrow.

Cheers,
LD
 

aldriq

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Always great to see the AI making itself useful to add even more flavour to the story :) Looking forward to the next chapter(s).

I liked how you write "it is said that vipers coiled by his feet", leaving it ambiguous: they might have been there (they probably were), they might not have been there.

... the true account of King Arturus ...
I'd take any of his accounts with several (un)healthy doses of salt. But then history in those days was far more about the embellishment than about the facts.
 

DensleyBlair

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Well, I've certainly missed quite a bit – though I must admit, given my general feelings towards creatures of a serpentine nature I'm somewhat half that I was well-hidden in Greece ;)

Sigurd (I don't even want to think about how he acquired his cognomen) seems quite the dislikeable character – even for a Viking. I'm wondering if his entrance is some sort of foreshadowing for more ominous things. Perhaps we'll be seeing some noodly appendages soon?

And, as Revan noted: nicely done with the serpentine semantic field. When done with just the right amount of subtlety, it's a technique I enjoy reading and utilising.

Looking forward to murdering some Saxons! (Or rather, seeing some Saxons murdered...)

Oh, and my musical library is 'sadly' lacking of anything even vaguely relating to Swedish culture. I'll just have to put on James – again ;)
 

Lord Durham

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Always great to see the AI making itself useful to add even more flavour to the story :) Looking forward to the next chapter(s).

I'd take any of his accounts with several (un)healthy doses of salt. But then history in those days was far more about the embellishment than about the facts.
Sometimes the AI actually helps make things interesting. You are right about history being little more than embellishment, especially back in the day. Come to think of, there's a lot of revisionist history going on these days, too...

Well, I've certainly missed quite a bit – though I must admit, given my general feelings towards creatures of a serpentine nature I'm somewhat half that I was well-hidden in Greece ;)

Sigurd (I don't even want to think about how he acquired his cognomen) seems quite the dislikeable character – even for a Viking. I'm wondering if his entrance is some sort of foreshadowing for more ominous things. Perhaps we'll be seeing some noodly appendages soon?

And, as Revan noted: nicely done with the serpentine semantic field. When done with just the right amount of subtlety, it's a technique I enjoy reading and utilising.

Looking forward to murdering some Saxons! (Or rather, seeing some Saxons murdered...)

Oh, and my musical library is 'sadly' lacking of anything even vaguely relating to Swedish culture. I'll just have to put on James – again ;)
Are you saying there are no snakes in Greece? Sigurd is evolving, now that he is away from Ivar's shadow. Or should I say devolving. Who knows... ;). As for killing Saxons, just hang on.


Sorry it's taken so long for the next update. I had a couple of really good invites come my way, both that I'd be crazy not to take up. This could interfere with my posting, though I'll do my best not to let it happen (as much as I'm able). The text is ready, just have to do graphics, though I think I may forgo things like maps for this one and add them in later.

I'll post in a bit. Thanks for your patience...
 

c0d5579

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Are you saying there are no snakes in Greece?
The Pythia might disagree.

Whatever speed you're writing at, I promise it's faster than mine. Recently I've gotten practically nothing done, for one reason or another (there are two, and they are, as I speak, hungry...). Your update will beat mine by leaps and bounds.
 

Lord Durham

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Cartmel


December 868 - February - 869

It was with much insistence that Halfdan did agree to arrange betrothal between Ubbe and Gunnhildr of Ostfreisland. This arrangement was settled on December the Fifteenth, on the fields of Lancaster, as Halfdan and Sigurd prepared to battle the Saxon.

Elsewhere, and on the Twenty-Second, Ubbe and Bjorn did take the stone fortifications of Burgh-by-Sands in Cumberland, where they did acquire Helga Dodington as prisoner, a mere babe and Heir to Cumberland, and did leave a garrison before proceedeth to Carlisle. It was believed that Carlisle held religious significance during those years, but that holds false. In the Roman times did Carlisle serve as military fort to anchor Hadrian's Wall, and in truth did not gain religious import until my lifetime.

As spoken, Halfdan and Sigurd did seek and bring to battle a coalition of Saxons, where they did prove victorious, causing many deaths, and thenceforth prosecuted the siege of Preston, or Prestune, meaning Priest's Town. And no long after did Preston fall, on the Twelfth of February in the Year of Our Lord 869. Immediately thereafter did the brothers marceth on Barrow-on-Furness and, finding no opposition, did bring the place to siege.

Now Gudfrid did marceth north and west to Westmoreland where he did join with brother Ragnar, whom had claimed great fame as a fearless warrior, said to fight as one given to madness, and they founded a Saxon army near Cartmel, and on the Twenty-Third of February did bring it to battle.


From 'Being the Secret History of Geoffrey Monmouth'





"With me," he shouted.


February 23, 869 - The Second Battle of Cartmel - Aftermath


The Saxon prisoners sat huddled in a great circle on the cold winter ground, silent, defeated, staring vacantly into nothing, nervously pondering their fate. All, that is, but a handful of defiant ones, dour men who observed their Viking guards with dark, baleful eyes. One such Saxon quietly watched two men approach, trudging through the carpet of bloody snow. Young they were. Brothers at a glance.

They halted before the ring of prisoners, arms crossed, surveying the Saxons with unconcealed disdain. The younger of the pair spit and then clapped the other on the back. "Tell me, Gudfrid, did your Franks fight as poorly as these women before us?"

Gudfrid smiled, though to the observant Saxon it was a thing devoid of humour. "The Franks fought well, brother. It was the lack of men that had us return when we did. If I had your numbers to command while I raided, then I could have boasted of many easy victories, too."

A quick cloud passed over Ragnar's features. He said, "I may have had numbers, Gudfrid, but so did the enemy. I earned those victories." Raising a fist, he made to clutch an imaginary sword. "With these hands I sent many a Saxon back to the earth."

Gudfrid took a subtle step away from Ragnar. "Yes. I heard tales of your battle-madness. They call you berserkr." His eyes trailed the length of Ragnar's armoured body. "When will you take to wearing wolves' fur and biting your shield?"

The younger man snarled in response. "Does my brother grow envious?"

Gudfrid shrugged. "No, merely curious. I did not see you fight, so I go with hearsay. I was busy leading my men, and had no time to stand and watch you perform heroics." Pointing at the Saxon who had intently watched their exchange, he said, "And while you frothed at the mouth and slew farmers, I took this man prisoner. Earl Oswaine of Lancaster, he claims he is."

"An Earl? Then I commend you on your contribution to my victory. The Saxon dog will bring a nice ransom."

Hand dropping to the hilt of his sword, Gudfrid opened his mouth to retort, but the long, deep blast from a war horn caught him short. Both men exchanged looks, and Gudfrid said, "An alarm."

Ragnar sprang to action. Pointing at one of the guards, he said, "Keep a watch over these prisoners. Make sure each is tightly hobbled. If any so much as stands, kill him. All save the Earl. You are in charge here. I hold you responsible. Understand?"

The man swallowed and nodded.

A Viking rushed up, near breathless, each exhale forming a frosty mist. "An attack, Ragnar. Over there, beyond that stand of trees. Cannot say how many. Hrolf is forming your men."

"An attack? By Odin, these Saxons sure enjoy death. Good, then. Let us go kill more of these dogs." Turning to Gudfrid, he said, "See to your men, brother."

Gudfrid merely grunted and set off to where his men had camped, finding Hrothgar had already formed them into a shield-wall. Taking his place at the fore, he listened to the sharp clamour of battle drifting from the forest, watched as stragglers from Ragnar's command charged into the heavily wooded area to join the fray.

Hrothgar, his stern visage fixed on the place of combat, shook his head and said, "This is no battle. It's a skirmish. A distraction."

Gudfrid pondered that, and drummed his fingers along the hilt of his sword. Suddenly he turned toward the copse where the prisoners were held. "With me," he shouted.

When they reached the copse, they saw a few surviving Viking guards fending an attack from several dozen enemy, dead and dying littering the ground from both sides. Grossly outnumbered, it was obvious the remaining guards were hard-pressed and losing.

Drawing his blade, Gudfrid crashed into the Saxon flank, catching the enemy unaware. His first opponent went down with a sword cut across the back, severing the spine. Pressing on, his next opponent collapsed as he sliced deep into the Achilles tendon. The third turned, only to receive a pommel to the mouth, shattering teeth in a bloody spray. Leaving the man to be dispatched by the following Hrothgar, Gudfrid spotted someone clad in a shirt of fine mail. Someone of import.

The warrior caught Gudfrid from the corner of his eye and spun around in time to parry a blow, the swords meeting with a sharp ring and flash of sparks. Stepping back, they briefly took each others measure before attacking again in a clash of blades that quickly became a flurry of slashes and feints.

He was good, Gudfrid realized. Perhaps better skilled than he. But, time was on his side. And as they sparred, the remainder of the enemy was killed or captured, and soon the Vikings gathered in a great circle to watch the contest continue.

After a time arms tired, and Gudfrid and his opponent stepped away for a momentary respite, an unconscious mutual agreement between warriors. The young Viking took the opportunity to speak. "Slay me and you are dead, Saxon. My men will give you the blood eagle."

The man hesitated, and Gudfrid knew he understood. Lowering his blade, he continued, "Surrender and I will make you prisoner. In time you will be ransomed back to your family. No harm will come, this I vow."

The man regarded the grim warriors surrounding him, then studied Gudfrid, looking for sign of deceit. Resigned, he dropped his head and let the blade fall to the snowy ground.

Gudfrid smiled. "You chose wisely, Saxon. You have saved your life. What are you called?"

Haltingly, the man replied in poor Danish, "I am Anarawd ap Rhodri, heir to the throne of Gwynedd, and I am no Saxon."

"Indeed. I would say you chose the wrong side, Anarawd ap Rhodri." Spotting Hrothgar amongst the men, he said, "Two noblemen in one day. Let Ragnar go berserkr over that, eh?"
 

DensleyBlair

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A member of my party actually did spot a snake at one point of the holiday – though thankfully I remained oblivious until later on ;)

I certainly feel for those Saxon wretches captured by the brothers. Will all the peasants be sacrificed, or will they just be killed for sport?

And good to see a Welshman enter the story – even if he may not be set for the longest role in the narrative... I must admit, Gudfrid's final pun of sorts did unsettle me. You wouldn't expect a Viking of his demeanour to be coming up with dark wordplay – or maybe you would?
 
Last edited:

J. Passepartout

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I also welcome the Welsh, and it is good to capture a few good ransom-sources. Will Ragnar overplay his hand in excess confidence?

Are you saying there are no snakes in Greece?
St. Patrick beta tested his snake removal practices in Greece before driving the snakes out of Ireland. Probably all the snakes ended up with our heroes.
 

Stuyvesant

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St. Patrick beta tested his snake removal practices in Greece before driving the snakes out of Ireland. Probably all the snakes ended up with our heroes.
It's clear that he ironed out the last few kinks between Greece (some snakes left) and Ireland (100% success rate). Proving once again that good QA is worth its weight in gold.

More grim battles and more prisoners who await a grim fate. Is Ragnar simply overcome with bloodlust, or is his behavior yet another manifestation of the Old Ones' corruption seeping into the family?

The duel made for an interesting change of pace, being decided in the end by rational calculation as opposed to brute force. Good for the Welshman and good for Gudfrid that they used reason. Having said that about Gudfrid, I will say that Gudfrid and Ragnar show touches of rather diva-esque behavior. Ragnar belittling Gudfrid's contribution to the victory, Gudfrid accusing Ragnar of going berserk... On the outside, they are all hardened killing machines, but on the inside they apparently are struggling with their self-esteem. ;)

All kidding aside, a great update and a nice chance for Gudfrid to show a more rational, calculating side to the Vikings.
 
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