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levithan123

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Lord Durham I am pleased to announce that you are (for the second time ever) The Best Character Writer of the Week. For your characters past and present in this very AAR.

You whetted my appetite for more, and that's what brilliant characters are for. Thank you.

Levithan
 

Specialist290

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Well, this is an extremely pleasant surprise. A well-known AAR author weaving a tale about a few of my favorite characters to play as with ties to a cosmic horror mythos I thoroughly enjoy. It is as though the stars themselves have aligned. And it's seemingly brought quite a few of the other old AARland noteworthies out of the woodwork as well.

Also, congratulations on the award!
 

Avindian

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Excellent looking so far! Do you intend to include gameplay screens as well?
 

Revan86

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[A loud thwack resounds through the hall.]

Sorry, that was me kicking myself for not finding and reading this earlier. Lovecraftian horror? Vikings? Lord Durham? I have no excuse for not having leapt onboard by the first page.

Great start on the writing here, by the way. I love the tension building up in the Florentine interludes, and I keep wondering how this is going to play out.
 

Lord Durham

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This is giving me ideas for a unique perspective when I finally get around to writing my own AAR. Color me interested.

I'll pitch my vote in for putting plenty of focus on the interludes. The parallel story is good!
If this tale contributes in any way to your first AAR then I have accomplished something. I look forward to reading it. Looks like more interludes are winning. Love your avatar, BTW.

A nice read, the sons of Ragnar will take their revenge.
Or die trying. Or become a minion of Dagon. Or something. Thanks for reading!

If there was a regime ever set up to be ridiculously overconfident about dealing with powers beyond its understanding, it's Mussolini's Italy. So... yeah, framing narrative too.
Good point about Mussolini's Italy. Seeing as Madelyn and Carlos will apparently get some more air time, who knows, maybe the old dictator will make an appearance. After all, in previous framing posts from years gone past Sir Jonathon Thomas York sat down for tea with the likes of Howard Carter and Max Planck.

I always liked Sir Terry Pratchett's 'The Necrotelicomnicon' (Latin: Liber Paginum Fulvarum, or The Book of Yellow Pages). Compiled by the mad arab Al Aksandir Garambel, it contained the means to contact all manner of dark and infernal creatures.

Madelyn is exactly the sort of plucky, headstrong young woman to unravel the mysteries and master the hell-spawn. Unless she gets eaten in the next chapter. :unsure:
Eaten? Who do you think I am? GRRM? Joss Whedon? I'll create sacrilege and profess I was never a huge fan of Pratchett. However, the idea of a hell-spawn phonebook is kind of cool. "Hello, Nyarlathotep? Yeah, it's me. Wanna get together tonight and cause some chaos? Yeah? Good. I'll pick you up at nine. Later."

Lord Durham I am pleased to announce that you are (for the second time ever) The Best Character Writer of the Week. For your characters past and present in this very AAR.

You whetted my appetite for more, and that's what brilliant characters are for. Thank you.

Levithan
Thank you, Levithan. I've always enjoyed creating intricate characters and putting them through their paces, so the honour is appreciated. Would this be a good time to plug some of my written work that is currently online? Naw, probably not. Anyway, more is coming very soon. Thanks again.

Well, this is an extremely pleasant surprise. A well-known AAR author weaving a tale about a few of my favorite characters to play as with ties to a cosmic horror mythos I thoroughly enjoy. It is as though the stars themselves have aligned. And it's seemingly brought quite a few of the other old AARland noteworthies out of the woodwork as well.

Also, congratulations on the award!
Be careful of aligned stars and what they may portend ;). I am glad you find all of these ingredients favourable to your palate. They certainly are to mine. Seeing some old familiar faces drop around, as well as a lot of new, is nice, considering my last AAR was etched in clay :). Thanks for reading. I hope you continue to find this tale interesting, and thanks for the congrats.

Excellent looking so far! Do you intend to include gameplay screens as well?
Thanks, Avindian. Yes, I will be including gameplay screens. Given the nature of this AAR, the problem I'm having is finding the right place to drop them in. There are a couple in the upcoming post.

Brilliant, I do enjoy a good Cthulhu Mythos AAR, will definitely be following
Thanks for dropping around, Fiftypence, and thanks for reading. More mythos coming...

Grats on the award!
It was certainly a surprise. Now get writing... ;)

[A loud thwack resounds through the hall.]

Sorry, that was me kicking myself for not finding and reading this earlier. Lovecraftian horror? Vikings? Lord Durham? I have no excuse for not having leapt onboard by the first page.

Great start on the writing here, by the way. I love the tension building up in the Florentine interludes, and I keep wondering how this is going to play out.
That must have been some kick :). I agree that Vikings and Lovecraft are a great match. Hell, Viking myth alone is dark and mysterious without a liberal dose of Great Old Ones. Now that it looks like the interludes will keep coming, I'll have to flesh out the original framing plot line. Not that it's a bad thing. Thanks for dropping by, reading and commenting. I'll be making a point of checking out 'Day of the Doves...' ASAP.


Thanks all for the feedback. It encourages me to keep going (and is taking away from certain deadlines, like a space opera due the end of this month) I blame all of you :).

The next post is coming shortly...
 

Lord Durham

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The brothers march


January - June 867

So on the day following the great sacrifice Ivar did depart Jorvik for Northumberland, accompanied by brothers Bjorn and Sigurd. Halfdan Ragnarsson, with bastard son Ragnar and half-brother Ubbe did join them, as both armies need take an identical route north.

Finding no opposition, Ivar did continue, bidding Halfdan and Ubbe a curt farewell, whereas Halfdan did deploy his armies before the fortified town of Durham and entreat Earl Eardulf to surrender and accept overlordship. The overture was responded to with derision, and Halfdan did swear mighty oaths and order his men to lay siege.

It was mid-February when Halfdan received word Ivar had won a great battle in Northumberland over Earl Oswaine of Lancaster, investing Bamburgh immediately after. It was said Ivar sacrificed scores of prisoners to the Deep Ones in gratitude, so much so the beach was stained red and remained so for years after.

By April a messenger informed Halfdan an army from Wessex had invaded Jorvik and laid siege to his capital. Dividing his armies, he entrusted his son Ragnar with the task of relieving the siege and driving the invader from their lands.

As it was, with Spring near giving way to Summer, Halfdan enjoyed good news...

From 'Being the Secret History of Geoffrey Monmouth'





Halfdan stood defiant...


June 9, 867 - Gates of Durham

Halfdan stood defiant under a morning sun clad in a chainmail shirt over white tunic, iron helmet cradled in the crook of one arm, free hand toying with the haft of a battle-worn axe.

To his left was Ubbe, idly kicking at a tuft of grass as he warily eyed the Saxon defenders standing still on their battlements. Behind the brothers the armies waited, grim men clutching painted shields and brandishing axes, swords and spears.

Suddenly, and to their amusement, a distant raven took flight, chasing down a smaller red-backed shrike. As the aerial pursuit drew increased attention, the men began urging the raven on. And when the predator finally caught its prey, the men let out a cheer, pleased with what they believed was a fine omen.

Ubbe glanced over his shoulder at the men and nodded approval. Looking askance at Halfdan he said, "A good sign from Father Odin, brother, for we are the raven and those Saxon dogs the prey. And not a Fishman-lover in sight to gainsay us."

Halfdan merely grunted, noting the gates of Durham's wooden fortifications creaking open. Four men tentatively stepped out and slowly approached.

"Should we go meet them?" Ubbe asked.

Halfdan shook his head. "They come to us." He motioned toward the battlements. "We will remain beyond bowshot."

Minutes later the small entourage stood before the brothers. They were haggard and withdrawn, their clothes threadbare and bodies thin from starvation. These are Thanes, Halfdan thought. They will have had the best of the food. What will the inhabitants look like?. "Well?" he demanded.

One stepped forward, his face a mask of resigned fear. In halting Norse he said, "We have suffered long enough, and no one has come to aid us. The town is yours. We offer ourselves as hostages. Please, bring no harm to the people. They have suffered enough."




The siege of Durham ends



Ubbe said, "And where is your Earl? Do you speak for him? Does he hide under a table?"

"He is gone, my Lord. He deserted us last night."

Halfdan's face flushed red, near to matching his fiery beard. "Gone, you say?" Turning, he shouted, "Einar! Hrolf!"

Two men, one short and thin, the other tall and stout, separated from the Viking formation and jogged over. They waited silently.

"Eardulf has fled Durham like some craven dog. Einar, take your cavalry and scour the countryside. Bring him back, alive."

The short man nodded sharply and ran off, shouting orders.

"Hrolf, take men and secure those gates before someone in town changes their mind. Then gather and disarm the garrison."

Moments later some fifty Vikings trotted past, following the dirt road toward the town entrance.

Ubbe eyed the four nervously waiting Saxons with disdain and said, "What about these?"

Halfdan shrugged. "Durham has a new liege now. We don't need hostages. As they did nothing to prevent Eardulf's escape, let them return to the earth."

Ubbe drew his dirk as several men rushed up to restrain the Thanes, ignoring their pleas as they were pushed whimpering to their knees, heads drawn back, exposing throats.

Halfdan waved his men forward, and led them into town.




To the victors the spoils


Amidst the screaming women and anguished cries of husbands and fathers, Halfdan felt little pity for the conquered. Though the town was his--and he had every intention of holding it--he understood the need of his men to vent their lust and exaltation. After all, Durham had denied them for six months, and they were owed some reward for patience. It could have been worse, he reasoned. He could have been Ivar.

Sitting on an empty wagon under an evening sky, a horn of honey mead in one calloused hand, he watched a line of carts driven by thralls, pulled by oxen and laden with food pass through the gate. Halfdan decided he would give his men to morning before restoring discipline, and then distribute the food to the townsfolk. It would go some way to mollifying this night of terror. Victuals to a starving person was a welcome bargaining chip, a means of encouraging good will, and a way of shortening memories.

In two days time he would march on a town north of Durham, where there was said to be a shrine dedicated to St. Cuthbert. Halfdan understood it was important he take these holy places. For two reasons. The promise of spoils and the demoralising effect it had on Christians.

A rider trotted through the open gate, maneuvering his horse around a cart. It was Einar. Halfdan stood and raised an arm. The thin Viking saw him and nudged his mount over. Halfdan could tell the news was not good.

"He eluded you?"

Einar nodded. "My apologies, my Lord. We searched for several miles. He could have attempted the river instead of striking across land."

Halfdan sat heavily and growled into his beard. He motioned with his arm, honey mead sloshing over the rim of the horn. "Bring your men to town. Enjoy the night. We will talk in the morning."

Einar dipped his head. "Thank you, my Lord. One other thing. We met scouts from Ragnar's army. He defeated the enemy at Skardaborg and chased them to the border. Now he is coming, and should arrive by tomorrow noon."

Halfdan grunted his thanks, and Einar departed. In all it was a good day. Though Eardulf had escaped, his conquest of the county was well underway, and his son had proven himself in combat. Yes, it was a good day. He would arrange a sacrifice to Odin...




Ragnar proves his worth
 
Last edited:

J. Passepartout

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Grubb-Slithergoth the ancient alien sat stroking his cat and watching the humans on his telescreen. 'Interesting,' he said. 'Perhaps I shall help these people build a pyramid. Unless that nasty old Cthulhu gets in the way, the little brat.'
 

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Grim and unpleasant, but what you would expect from a siege. Hard as it is to view Halfdan with sympathy through modern eyes, I must admit he is restrained. Not too much murder, only a limited time of pillaging and its accompanying unpleasantries. As Halfdan self-servingly remarks, it could have been worse.

The line 'It was said Ivar sacrificed scores of prisoners to the Deep Ones in gratitude, so much so the beach was stained red and remained so for years after.' sounds exactly like the grain-of-truth-haystack-of-exaggeration that I would expect from a medieval chronicle, and it enhances the overall verisimilitude (I had to look that word up, I admit) of the 'Secret History' section.
 

Estonianzulu

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Such lovely people these Vikings are. Im fascinated in no small part because I have never read any of the pulp horror stories or know anything more about Lovecraft than that he was prolific in his influence and he gave us this lovely fellow:

TYVHP004lg.jpg
 

Saithis

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Bloody and violent, no doubt about it, but I have to echo the notes of others that Halfdan is relatively restrained - or at least as restrained as you can expect a medieval ruler to be. If Dunholm didn't wish to be sacked, perhaps it should have opened its doors and shown no resistance from the start (although, I have no doubt the thegns would have met an ill fate either way, what with an acquisition of a treacherous reputation on top of their existing uselessness to the 'Great Heathen Army'). Your written idiolect is lovely, of course, and the historic passage at the start of your piece really captures that - moreso for me, anyway, than the rest of this so far.
 

DensleyBlair

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I would agree with Saithis; your idiolect makes for a wonderful read. I especially enjoyed the use of 'gainsay.'

Interesting to see the first real instances of Vikings flexing their muscles, so to speak - indeed, it could've been worse for the Dunholmians. Halfdan could've been Ivar.

Looking forward to the next part - and congratulations again in the awAARd.
 

Lord Durham

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Just getting started on this but just like to say I'm loving it, and congrats on the Character award. Well deserved.
Thanks for dropping around and the kind words, Jape. Hope it continues to hold your interest.

Nice to see Durham (or should I say Dunholm, at this point?) is thoroughly under the Norse heel. Hope to see the rest of Northumbria follow suit shortly.
Funny thing about Durham/Dunholm. I didn't know it would change names once conquered (not really giving anything away here, am I?), so I was really scratching my head when I saw Dunholm. At first I thought I was imagining the county had originally been named Durham. Took me a few minutes to figure it out. They both mean the same thing, anyway. Hey, I'm new to this particular version of the game :).

So you're now Lord of Durham, very good
Lord Durham... Lord of Durham... Lord of Dunholm... Yeah, I always wanted to conquer the home of my ancestors--or namesakes. I've been researching my family tree and so far traced them to early 1700 Pennsylvania (I'm a UEL). Unfortunately I've hit a wall when it comes to where they set sail from in the old country (one source says Ireland), and where exactly they originated. It's been fun, though. Turns out the Durham side played an important part during the War of 1812.

Grubb-Slithergoth the ancient alien sat stroking his cat and watching the humans on his telescreen. 'Interesting,' he said. 'Perhaps I shall help these people build a pyramid. Unless that nasty old Cthulhu gets in the way, the little brat.'
Deep in the Pacific Ocean a huge creature stirs. Thick tendrils sway, a tentacle shifts, an eye opens and a alien voice mumbles, "Who called me little?" Hey JP, thanks for visiting.

Keep it up!
Will do!

Says it all really, between traditional Viking pillaging and modern sacrificial pillaging I know which one folk would prefer....
Yes. Especially once word starts getting around which side of the clan may be the lesser of two evils.

I'm on board, and looking forward to seeing how things fall apart!
Heh. Good line :). Hopefully they don't fall apart for a while. I haven't played that far ahead yet...

Grim and unpleasant, but what you would expect from a siege. Hard as it is to view Halfdan with sympathy through modern eyes, I must admit he is restrained. Not too much murder, only a limited time of pillaging and its accompanying unpleasantries. As Halfdan self-servingly remarks, it could have been worse.

The line 'It was said Ivar sacrificed scores of prisoners to the Deep Ones in gratitude, so much so the beach was stained red and remained so for years after.' sounds exactly like the grain-of-truth-haystack-of-exaggeration that I would expect from a medieval chronicle, and it enhances the overall verisimilitude (I had to look that word up, I admit) of the 'Secret History' section.
Thank you. That's exactly what I was going for with Monmouth's account. After all, he's writing a few hundred years after the fact and his telling would be based on oral tradition, perhaps something jotted down by a monk, and his flare for the dramatic. It's not unlike the ancient authors who often exaggerated the number of participants in a battle--1,000,000 Persians at Gaugamela according to Arrian, for instance. Halfdan is not like his brother, but he is still a Viking, and will no doubt do things that will continue to be quite unsympathetic--by today's standards :). BTW, I came across a website that takes a sample of your writing and tells you what famous author your style most resembles. So, I pasted the Monmouth text into it, and apparently I'm comparable to Raymond Chandler. Wow, who knew :) Here's the link if you want to take a look: I Write Like (obviously it's about as useful as a screen door on a submarine)

Such lovely people these Vikings are. Im fascinated in no small part because I have never read any of the pulp horror stories or know anything more about Lovecraft than that he was prolific in his influence and he gave us this lovely fellow:
Ah yes. Cthulhu makes a wonderful pet and great conversation piece, though he's been known to drive people insane... I'm a bit of a latecomer to Lovecraft myself. Always wanted to read him, but never did, though I've seen lots of movies based on his material: Dagon, Dunwich Horror, Reanimator, and so on. Then I read some horror tales by Robert E. Howard that tied into the mythos and grew curious. His style is very dry and depressing, but engrossing. At the Mountains of Madness is an absolute classic. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth, Pacific Rim) has the rights to that story and wants to film it. He'd be perfect for the job, IMO. Another thing I discovered is that it's OK to write stories that use Lovecraft's characters. They're not trademarked, unlike Howard's characters, so that's why I tried my hand at writing and selling mythos horror.

Bloody and violent, no doubt about it, but I have to echo the notes of others that Halfdan is relatively restrained - or at least as restrained as you can expect a medieval ruler to be. If Dunholm didn't wish to be sacked, perhaps it should have opened its doors and shown no resistance from the start (although, I have no doubt the thegns would have met an ill fate either way, what with an acquisition of a treacherous reputation on top of their existing uselessness to the 'Great Heathen Army'). Your written idiolect is lovely, of course, and the historic passage at the start of your piece really captures that - moreso for me, anyway, than the rest of this so far.
Thanks, I think? :) Nah, I appreciate that. I studied some translations of Monmouth and Bede in the hope of capturing the essence of that style and doing it a modicum of justice, so I am glad it met with approval. I didn't want to make the main text, especially the speech patterns, overly complicated, but maybe I'll look at it...

Halfdan may come across as restrained, but he's not there to pillage and leave. He plans on keeping Durham/Dunholm, so I think he's being pragmatic in his approach. Don't worry, he's not going to get all warm and fuzzy :). However, you bring up a good point about sieges. I wish the mechanics included a intimidation/fear factor that would either hasten a siege, or let a town immediately capitulate based on just how fierce their opponent was. IE: If Durham holds out, falls and is sacked, then chances are the other towns or holdings in the county, and possibly the neighbouring lands, would think twice about resisting.

I would agree with Saithis; your idiolect makes for a wonderful read. I especially enjoyed the use of 'gainsay.'

Interesting to see the first real instances of Vikings flexing their muscles, so to speak - indeed, it could've been worse for the Dunholmians. Halfdan could've been Ivar.

Looking forward to the next part - and congratulations again in the awAARd.
Thanks, DB. Halfdan and crew will flex their muscles, trust me :).


Once again I appreciate the great feedback. I'll try to have the next post up by, or on, the weekend.

Cheers,
LD
 
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