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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Herbert West

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Thank you, thank you:)

Todays update will give more of a big picture of things, If I run out of writing time, you will have to wait for a little suspense extraordinaire till tomorrow:)

Khaos: lets leave Jailbitch where he belongs. He is a great disgrace to everything Norse. Some of his regressive and neo-primordial thoughts are very nice, but he sometimes misses the whole context, sometimes only small nuences, but these nuances make all his writings rubbish in my eyes. :spit:
 

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Sturmvogel​

vih0.jpg

The House Of The Wolf And The Bear

This was the new name of the once run-down heap of stone the warriors called home now. They refurbished it masterfully in only two months, not pausing until all arches were decorated with elaborate knot-motives and rune-snakes, until all
rooms were cleaned, and all of them decorated with stone motifs, with leather and fur, with tapestry and with carpets, some of them from their old home in Norrland, some from the tower of Bureus, all gifts from powerfull magicakns and lords, thus only fit for decorating the main hall of the building, and some from the markets and craftsmen of Uppsala.
And int the front doors, a painted pair of wolf and bear, looking at each other like a seal, with the Rune-names of the Bear and Wolf Mothers engraved above them, and above the door, the greatest bear and the greates wolf-fur Uppsala had ever seen.

In one of the inner chambers of this now magnificent new home was the study- and teaching-room of Bureus, though he would spend much of his teaching-time in the garden-turning-forest behind the manor. Today was such a day, as he walked with another selected group of the warriors lecturing them int the Art Of Runes, in the Art Of Plants, in Seid and in Kabbalah and in all Old Knowledge, for it was their task to preserve this if Bureus was yet to fall from the grace of the king. He taught all warriors into the Rune-craft, but only those who were gifted with the baility were taught in way of higher Rune-Magick, and even fewer were taught in Kaballism and Alchemy, as it was not their original way of Magick. Todays group was a more down-to-earth one , wanting to hear little about how numbers dances when spoken in right pattenrs, but wanting to now each and every use for all plants on Midgard, and all Runes and all their Gates and Forms there are. Bureus was more than happy to oblige them. A messanger - one of the quickest-footed of the berserkers - interrupted his lecture about the staves on the rune of Mannaz. The first of the new-faither students arrived, not at the time they were told to. Bureus shook his head and told the young berserker that the new students are to wait outisde the main gate, and that he would go to them exactly at the time they agreed.

His students were upset by these news. Why did their godi teach these man on the Old Gods?

The same reason you have to learn the history of Svealand! They may be of the new faith, but they are still our people, only lost. But, fear not, they will only be hearing history and sagas, and a few greater trouths here and there in-between. Otherwise, they wouldnt understand. They are like children, even more than you are
- and the old man smiled at the embaressment of his pupils.

He continued his lesson untill the great clock-tower signaled the end of it. He handed out fine sheet of pergamen from his private stock to his pupils, so they may copy the scriptures and rune-book given to them. After watching the warriors go, conversin with each other, and drawing runes into the air, he set off to the main gates trough the shortest, if quite incomfortable way of a small passage that ran trough the main axe of the buliding, bulit as a quick escape-route in case of he and the warriors becoing outcasts.

He greated the other group of pupils, who where an interesting mix of disillusioned young priests fled to him in secrecy, of mostly ignorant but still promising young dabblers, of young soldiers already trained by the warriors, of common folk wanting to learn more of these strange new people, of old, broken-backed man who spent their lifetime trying to find bits of knowledge about the Old Times with a harsh row, and reminding them of the wonderfull invention that was called "town clock", and what it displayed.

Then, he led them into one of the smaller halls, and sat down in their circle, reciting the Gautreks saga to lighten them up, and proceeded with telling them of the Great Summer Army that brought England under danish heel, about the kings that lie deep inside the mounds near Uppsala, and their deeds, with a word or two about the Old Gods, the Great Ash, or the Runes insterted here and there. He saw these truths make their way towards the hearts of these man slowly.

Finally, deep into the night, he gave them freshly-copied books his warriors had made. Some Sagas, some history, and a few pages from the Edda insterted seemingly by accident. And then, he sent them home, for he was very tired from a days work of talikng and teaching.

A few quarters away from Bureus, Thorri contemplated on the events of the day as well. He trained no less than twenty of the kings supposedly finest man alone, but they were all slow of mind and body, and he doged all their attacks while landing blow after blow on them, with fists, with axe, with sword, or with pike if need be, despite that he had only a weeks training in pike. Most of them wouldnt even make it into the thrall-man of a leidgang in the old times, he shook his head. Some, however, were stannding out rom that crowd, and, as his borthers told him, more nad more such exceptional soldiers gathered at the gates, all wanting to be better, and all drawn there by the need to fill the holes in their spirits, albeit none of them knew of the later. Indeed, these individulas were fit stock for becoming berserkers, or Ulfhedin, whatever animal-mother they chose, or whatever mother would choose them. These people even listened to him when he whispred to them a bit abot the Ancient Times and the Old Gods, but they quickly dismissed him as someone stuck in the past. The rest, the rest did not even hear him, neither in ear, nor in heart.

Perhaps the old man was right, after all, and the Old Ones were destined to return, and these people were fit and worth that return. Still, he had some doubts. It was a bit too quick, and some of his man, and his other brethren were too quick to make themselves at home in this city that was not theirs. Some even went as far as to hire themselves out as bodygurads for the extra gold that brought. While he welcomed the capital, he disliked these strange new turns very much. He was also very concerned about Yngve. He was very young, and very easy to influence if one knew where to talk to his soul.

But all in due time. He turned in his bed, closed his eyes, and dreamed of the harsh but welcoming forests of Norrland.

A few quarters away, a mouse scurried away quickly after doing its task to the One Who is Chained Below A Snake.


The kings court, the same night


Gustav Adolph was conversing with his priests.

No! I, as your king, declare that they can stay. They teach my soldiers in war-crafts they would never learn elsewhere, and they teach my people about theri ancient history, something you have seemingly forgotten.

But majesty, this is apostasy, and least, and heresy at worts! They are heathen people, to be burned in Hell for all eternity!

I know that all, but consider this. I need all man, trained the best as possible, for my coming campaings against the papists in Germany and Poland, you know that as good as I do. How many a soul can we save with better soldiers! Is the price not worth the prize? And do not even dare to call me a heretic in my own court! My faith has faltered for a moment, yes. But it is more stronger now than it was before these heathens have tested it.
- he paused a bit an wondeed wether or not this was the truth. But such thoughts had no place here and now. - They stay and enjoy my hospitality until they cross me, or the church. Speaking of which, have I or have I not doubled the gold that flows from my coffers into yours? Have or have I not allowed you to bouild another ten churches in the northern realms of my kingdom? Would I do this If I were a heathen?

No, your majesty.

Then this is taken care of. If you want nothing else, leave, and let me sleep, the matters of the state are a tireing business.



The priests left the kings court, and conversed amongst each other. Something had to be done!
 
Jul 29, 2002
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I'm really quite enjoying this, Herbie. :)
 

Khaosliege

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Herbert West said:
Khaos: lets leave Jailbitch where he belongs. He is a great disgrace to everything Norse. Some of his regressive and neo-primordial thoughts are very nice, but he sometimes misses the whole context, sometimes only small nuences, but these nuances make all his writings rubbish in my eyes. :spit:

Don't tell me you don't belive that the human race has come from a planet in the Sirius system and that the best form of govern for mankind would be that thing with elves on the moon... :p

Seriuosly speaking, that thing on Burzum was just a joke; I basically agree with your judgment, even if I must say that some of his later "works" are much better written and show a deeper knowledge of the subjects he writes of. Where he belongs he must have a lot of time to read! ;)

Jailbitch .... nice, never heard this nickname :)

Back to the AAR: I don't like this Gustav Adolph, he looks dubious...
However that thas not mattee, the title of the AAR does not leave space for doubts on who will stand undefeated on the battlefields! :)
 

Herbert West

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Vincent: Thanks, but Herbert is prefered:p

Khaos: the wheel will turn many times before the Old Gods become cemented once more.


All readers: either this, or the next update will be the last for some time, Im am going on "vacation" with my family for 10+days. Gods in Asgard, give me strenght to endure!
 

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Lokasenna​

481px-Manuscript_loki.jpg

Inside the Cave Of Loki


The bounded one was smiling in his torment. Despite the best efforts of the Aesir to bind him down enetirly, he was still able to move small parts of himself around in Midgard in the form of mice, rats, and otters. Now, his self-messangers returned to him and told him about the mischief they had caused. Seeds of dissension had been sown in the hearts and minds.

A monastery near Uppsala

A strong, deep chant rose from the room, drawing on the energy of the faithfull, and strenghtening them in their belief:

Vår Gud är oss en väldig borg,
Han är vårt vapen trygga;
På honom i all nöd och sorg
Vårt hopp vi vilja bygga.
Mörkrets furste stiger ned,
Hotande och vred;
Han rustar sig förvisst
Med våld och argan list:
Likväl vi oss ej frukte.​

Amen, my brothers, the abbot said. And now, lets discuss the matter of our king and these heathens.
Something must be done - rose the murmur in unison.
Something, something, the abbot replied with a clear sarcasm. I have heard that for two months, now. Who can tell me an idea that we could actually use?
Well, there is that doubter in their ranks you have told us about, a young priest said from the end of the mess-hall.
At these words, an apparition formed itself high above them in the air, a thirty-three year old long-bearded man and whispered the next words: Use the traitor!

Inside his cave, Loki was very exhausted by this appearance, despite having drawn much energy from the chant. But it worked, or at least, so he hoped.

Back in the monastery, all monks and priests were shocked by the apparition of Christ, and nodded in unison.

Then, we shall use the traitor to murder the King?

Murder our own King? That is blasphemy!

He isnt our King anymore, he has granted heathens safe haven! And besides, even if the assassin fails, we can frame the heathen and cleanse them from our land forever!

I like that: What should we promise him?

I think a payment of thirty gold will be most sufficient
- grinned one of the monks

Responding with the same vicious grin, the abbot laughed hard - So it shall be, then. Amen.

A few days later


So, then we are in agreemnet.

Yes. This new, stone-cold and unnatural world is not mine, nor is it that of our kind. Bureus was a fool to lead us into this viper-nest, and we were even greater fools to allow him to lead us! I spit on him and all thinks this represents! We are fossils of a bygone age, and I am tired of not seeing Asgard. I hope that my actions cause our end, so we may wait for Ragnarok in the Halls Of The Gods instead of this bleak and soul-less world.

Whatever, heathen. Just kill the King.


The warrior took the gold, spat on the floor, and left.

Inside Bureus' ritual-chamber, in his tower

Bureus meditated this night, as he did on most nights, exploring the aether in and around Uppsala. It was durty, as always, but something was not right. Something was amiss.
 

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Herbert West said:
All readers: either this, or the next update will be the last for some time, Im am going on "vacation" with my family for 10+days. Gods in Asgard, give me strenght to endure!

And what am I supposed to do while at work?

:p
 

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Wolves In The Throne Room


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winter_mist.jpg



The kings study, more than a week later

The king sat in his private study, reading reports from all over the country. The new churches he comissioned were slowly being built, the nex church tax was being collected, and all in all, the church had no reason to be afaraid. Yet, they were, he sensed it in their every word, in their every move. They acted very strange, as if they were trying to hide something from him. He wandered what I could be, but did not find an answer today, or any other day he thought about it. He was, after all, their King, and the Protector of their Church. Yes, he had doubts in his heart, and he vaguely remembered a sleep-walked night where he prayed in tongues in the great cathedral, but ever since then, the doubts were becoming smaller and smaller by the day, and his prayer were filled anew with vigour, altohugh he spoke in tongues once or thwice, when he did not notice, and referred to Jesus Christ as White Christ in himself. Strange as this was, he had the matters of state to keep him occupied, and he was very gald for this. Otherwise, he may have to dig deep into why exactly his stance on his own faith changed so much.

Perhaps the church was uspet becouse of the heathen. That he could understand. But every sane priest had to do the wager. A few heathens lost here, a thousand, ten thousand, maybe hundreds of thousands of protestants gained here, under the swedish banner. Was the cost not worth the prize for them? Fools they were, then.
He shooed away these thought with a flick of his hand.

He focused on the task ahead, on the sheet of pergamen instead. Ah, yes, the royal guard would have a weekend off for their exceptional, corruption and duty-neglection free service of six month. A sceleton company would still guard his castle, but most of the man would be in the arms of their loved ones for two days. And they deserved it, he agreed, as there were no incidents for over a year. Happily, he signed the order with his most ecquisite cursive, and placed his wax seal upon in:
"Gustavus Adolphus, Leo Borealis, Protector Protestantorum"


The Monastery

Excelent news, my abbot. Almost all of the King's guards will be off-duty this weekend. The time to strike has come!

Wonderful! Go and meet with our pawn, and tell him that we will be conversing with him saturday, in the morning.


The same place, saturday, around 10 o'clock

I see you have arrived, Tool-of-our-wrath.

What a fittingly "pagan" name you have chosen fro me, false priest.


Enough of the plesantries and worldy darts. Come, we have much to celebrate. The kings guards will be out in town today and tomorrow, and we will get you past the front guards. - with these words, the abbot led the traitor to a table filled with the finest foods and wines, and spoke about nothing, while the warrior sowly ate and drank away his guilt, and replaced it by alcohol-fueled false bravery and strenght. By this time, it was almost night, and the priest were a bit nervous.

Now, the time has come. Come, let us take the carriage. Wear these robes so you may look like one of us!


The traitor spat and took on the robes of a monk. Then, he climbed into the carriage, and rode with his protestant conspirators into the castle of the King, then passed the guards in the colthes of a monk, then, realising his conspirators had already left, made his way to the only room from which light still came in the otherwise cold and dark keep.


Asgard


Freya was spying trough her mirror-water, and, just out of curiosity, took a sight at Uppsala. What she saw, terrified her. She threw the bowl away, spraying magical waterlike drops over the floor of her Hall, and gathered all her strenght to call to Odin, who was quite busy down in Jotunheim, arguing with the giants, again.

The One-Eyed heard her cry, and sensed the danger. Hugin an Munin had to be quick.

The ritual-chamber, a few moments before

Damn! Something interrupted his meditation! What was it now! What damned stellar filth trod its way into the city this time? But, wait! This is no ordinary disturbance. Something was happening. What? How did a raven get into this chamber, past the locked doors and the runes? What? Was this raven speaking? Gods, lend me strenght!

Quickly, the rune-master cast some runes, and preyed to the gods that the warriors were listening.

House Of The Wolf And The Bear

Yngve saw the runes, floating high in the main hall. He knew that there was danger, to them and to the king, and to everything they had worked for. A traitor! Loki be damned!

And damn the berserkers for chosing this day for their excursion into the woods! And damn most of his brethern for going with them! Perhaps there was more than one traitor? He shooed thse thought away, sounded the main alarm bell, and quickly as he could, gathered his weapons. He then gathered waht few man remained in the House, and explained them the situation as best as he could while runnig fast towards the Castle.

At the gates of the Kings Castle, minutes later

Damn you, you blibbering idiot, just let me in! The king is in danger, dont you understand?


Surely. Monks are soooo harmfull. Now, return to your hovel, wolf-man!

You ignorant fool, the monks are conspiring against the king!

What? How dare you insult our holy man, heathen scum?
- the guard slapped Yngve across the face.

Just let me in, I will explain everything later.

Not in hell, scum
- and with these words, the guards crossed their pole-arms before the door.

Helheim it shall be, then
, said Yngve, and hit one of the guards in the face with ihs battle-axe. Ther would always be a time to apologize later, provided the arse would be alive by then. His fellow man hacked at the other guards, quickly felling them, but one Úlfhéðinn fell to their sharp poles.
Yngve kicked open the door. He knew the kings room was on the third floor, and ran up the spiral staircase, his man behind him.

He paused for a moment, then, after seeing the source of light that must bee the kings study, tore in the wooden door with his shoulders ....
 
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Herbert West

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Khaosliege said:
And what am I supposed to do while at work?

:p


Umm, work?:p

Now, this is the last update for now. I hope the cliffhanger eats at your thoughts like a ravishing beast:p

The name of the last chapter is an homage to the band with the same name, a black metal band from the US, who play very beautyful, nature-influenced, archaic and primordial BM. Check them out.

I am offline for at least ten days. May the Aesir guard your steps, my readers!
 
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Herbert West

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It lives!
 

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Provided I get home at adequate time (or the blasted heat keeps me up until 2 o clock) you get an update today ending the suspense.

(And yes, I know protestants dont have monasteries, I will correct this:))
 

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Herbert West said:
Provided I get home at adequate time (or the blasted heat keeps me up until 2 o clock) you get an update today ending the suspense.

(And yes, I know protestants dont have monasteries, I will correct this:))

The Anglican Church has monasteries, I think. That's irrelevant for this story, though - Sweden is Lutheran.

Keep it up.
 

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Vargtimmen


pyro_kit_wolf_eyes.jpg


...and found the traitor panting heavily, his drawn sword directed at the kings throat.

What thrachery is this, you damnable wolfman? - whined the Lion Of The North like a scared kitten.

Shut you mouth, you idiot, and prepare to meet that white god of your! - the traitor spat these words at the king, acommpanied by a little thrust of his sword, so its edge tuched the kings skin, and by a cloud of foul-smeeling wine.

Stop this, at once, you worthless piece of dung! I will not allow you to destroy everything we have worked for!

Destroy? Destroy?! What is there left for us to be destroyed? This damnable Bureus has torched our homes, taken our holy books, and dumped us off in this rat-infested hole to be his kings loyal lapdogs!

Loki has taken your mind! - shouted Yngve, and hit the traitors sword with his own, forcing it to sweep over the pergamens and papers on the kings desk - How dare you question the wisdom of our gods? How dare you question Bureus, your, our, and whole Svealands only godi? Is there nothing left of honour in you?

Dont speak to me about honour, you worm! - by now, the traitors eyes were fixed upon Yngve, his sword firmly pinted towards the chest of the wolf-leader - I would have been the leader for our kind if this damnable outsider did not interfere! I was pointed by the wolf, not you!

Stop babling and stop dragging up old corpses, fool! - and with these word, Yngve thrusted his sword towards the traitor.

There is only one corpse here, and that is yours! - spat the traitor, parring Yngve's attack and positioning himself into a defensive position.

You do not know what you speak - and the freshly-drawn small battle axe of the wolfen leader underlined every word with a metallic klank of the traitors sword and chest armour - The Wolf chose me, the godi chose me, the Gods chose me! The Old Wolf merely paused by you, and sprinted away from your foul soul like a scarred rat! - It was now the turn of the traitors axe to underline the words of Yngve.

The traitor merely spat, and gestured his former commander and friend to an Úlfhéðinn, drawing the imaginery circle with the edge of his axe.

You do not deserve the honour of being felled in a clear duel - Underlining this was the big piece of saliva Yngve spat in his opponents face, than charged, sword in the right, axe in the left. His opponend paared with his axe, locking it in the curve of his enemys weapon, and throwing both towards the kings desk, where they fell with a loud cracking, splitting the desk in two.

Yngves sword, however, remained unchecked, and cut a deep flech wound into the traitors arm, forcing him to jump back in pain.

After a heartbeat, the traitors now scared and desperate voice cried the words:

Dont you understand, my brother? I have loft everything in that fire that we ourselves have set to our past! I have nothing to live for anymore!? You speak of wisdom and guidance from our Gods?! How could they allow this? How could they let my whole past burn away in a single night, tearing out my roots from the very earth itself and setting me here, stranded in this damnable cold, wet, alien stone prison?


The cry of his voice was constantly accompanied by the cry of metal-upon-metal, as he underlined all his words with ever furious and stronger, and more desterate attacks, wounding Yngve with many a small, and some few flesh-wounds.

You whine like a little girl who has lost her toy, you fool! Dont you think that we all have lost almost everything there in our home? Dont you think I long to see my family and love again?! What selfish little worm you are, unworthy of our name and title. May you find no peace in the Halls!
- and, upon invoking the name of the Places Of The Dead, Yngve made a quick and unaticipated thrust toward his enemys ankle, cutting the tendons in to, and sending the traitor to the ground, his cries of pain echoing along the corridors.

Yngve lifted his sword to finish this matter once and for all, but the loud crack of the voice of his godi, standing in the doorway, interrupted him:

Enough of this! Leave him to me! You two! - gestrunig two of the wolfen - Take this rat into my quarters and make sure he lives for at least another tow days. Bandage him well. The rest of you, take care of your leader. Yngve! You must come to my room tomorrow morning, I will give you some healing oinments! And now, get out, all of you! I have instructed the guards not to obstruct you. If they do, your hands are not bound for this day.

The Úlfhéðnar left without a word of objection. The king, seemingly scared, scarred and simply dumstruck, looked at his house magickan with questionnig eyes.

What in the nether hell??

It is alright, your majesty. Let me explain.
 
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.... from the jaws of ....

AL02824.jpg


I hope you have got a good explanation, my old mentor, becouse your heathens have just made their last mistake. As soon as my gurad arrives, they are as good as dead.

Please, your majesty, curtail your rushness, for a minute!


What?! You dare order me around again?! No matter what foul powers are working behind you, I am not bowing to your damned will again, warlock!
- the king slammed his fist onto his table, then, realising what had just transipred, lumped into his chair - All right, speak, but be quick!

Bureus gathered his remaining strenght, the alerting of the Wulfen and the quick dash into the palace having drained much of his energy. And this matter was very delicate indeed. Even he did not know the full possible extent of this treason, nor what motivated the traitor. Nevertheless, he knew of some powers standing behind said scumbag.

As you wish, my lord
- said the godi, with his most sweet and seemly voice, hoping to calm down his wordly king - The one traitor who assailed you was just that, a traitor to su just as well as he was a traitor to you. As you have surely heard, my warriors had to torch their homes before getting here.

Lord in Heaven, why?

It is their custom, and it is the custom of the world. For the new to be born, the old must die. Preferably, in an offering to our gods. But that is not relevant right now. What is relevant is that it was your own guards, or the remaining catholics that conspired against you!

How dare you insult my guards!?

Think, majesty. One traitor could never make it past your guards armed. Either he sneaked trough the tunnels, which I doubt, as he reeked of wine, or someone smuggled him in.

There is wisdom in your words, old friend.


What a surprise, you dolt - thought the magickan, but replied: So, either your castle guard, or your protestnat priests, or those remaining catholics conspired against you.

As have your warriors!

Your majesty, one of them, a fool, tired to kill you, and the others ruched in here as quick as they could to stop him. It was your own guard who did not let them in, and had to be disposed of.

What?!!


Only two or three dead guards, as I have counted them. I am sure the rest can be cured rather well. Do you see now what strenght in battle these "heathens" posess?

And why should I belive you, and not think that this may only be a small part of your plot to lull me into letting my guard down.

I can only offer you my word of honour, and the words of honour of my friends.


And I am to build my thrust upon that?

As you can not build it upon your home guard....


Bah, to hell with all this. I want you and your "friends" leaders in my study by tomorrow noon. The guards, the bishop and the protestnats should be here as well. And now, get out of my sight and let me sleep. I will sleep in my armoured quarters.


As you wish, majesty
 

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Vem är du?​

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Later into the night, in the palace

The king strode trough the empty corridors, unable to sleep. Every once in a while, his thought returned to the key question of the night :"What to do?", and he pounded the wall with his fists at every such opportunity. on a level, though, he was grateful for this. Confusion and anger took his mind away from the burning questions of faith. But nevertheless, the situation was a wasps nest disturbed, with questions flying all around him, answers nowhere to be seen. And all this becouse some damn german nailed some postulates on that church more than a century ago! Religion? Bah!? What a fine name for the simple ring in the swines nose, to be pulled about by it! And where is that damned captain of the guard? I have summoned him ten minutes ago!

And those damn catholics! I kept them here so I can show off to everyone who passes in my city that I command catholics and protestants alike! Damned nether hells, I even made up my innermost guard of these damned catholics! What a fine way to repay me.

Heavy boots interrupted his thoughts.


Your majesty, I came as I could. I assure you, I knew nothing about this ploy.

Assure me of nothing! I will assure myself! I granted your man the highest honour possible for any sopilder, and you betray me, treasonous papist swine!

Your highness, I had no idea! I would have been the first to thwart the plot if I knew!

Stop babbling! Now, tell me, how did this traitor get into my room?

There is no way. My amn had strict orders not to let anyone in.

Orders they have breached, as it seems
, the King replied with kinfe-sharp irony.

Well, I saw a group of monks exiting trough the main gate, but they would never betray you. They are holy man, m'lord!

Oh, and how holy! If you did not notice, I almost died an hour ago, and only the heathen saved me. Yes, those heatens you hate the guts of!

They killed at least five of my best man! And they dare insult our monks!

Obviously, your man were not so great. Now, get me those fools who let the monks in, if they are still alive. And those who have not let the heatens in, as well.

The guradsman truned sharply, and, boot thumping, came back in a few minutes, alone.

I said get them, you deaf idiot!
- the King yelled at the man.

The man did not reply for a second, looking visibly shaken. I.. I .. I could not. There must be some misunderstandind here. I .. I onyl saw four hooded figures leaving, but my man said there were five entering. And.. and that garment they say the traitor wore ... and, and i have not found the fifth monk. This can not be true, my lord! They are holy man! Harmless! They serve only the Lord above! They would never do such a thing. This, this...

the man fell to the floor, crying.

Get yourself together in the face of your King! Stand up!


The guardsman complied with painfull slowness. But, but, but - he muttered.

Nothing "but". Your monks are not as holy it seems as you want them to be. And now, get out of my sight. Your man are relieved of their duty. Permanently! Get out of my castle, NOW!


The man strode off, sobbs shaking his body with every step. His world had been thorn apart in a few minutes.

Well, at least now I know what I have to do - the King thought, irony-loaded. He walked into his study, burshed away the paperwork thrown about by the two axes still lying on the desk, and began to make up a plan to turn this all to his favour. There was one opportunity, at least.


The House Of The Wolf And The Bear, an hour later.


The King was not the noly one thinking of a good way to solve this mess. Bureus was immersed in thoughts as well. At the current state of things, despite the delicate balance, things were looking rather well. The catholics were discredited once and for all, and he was very greatfull for this. With all its flaws and lies, catholicism was still a potent force, and almost capable of filling the spiritual hole in the hearts of man. Protestantism, one of the most dull faiths he knew, could not, and this would ease his work strongly. And if he could only replace the kings Honour Guard. After all, it was his man who averted disaster.

Yngve strode trough the corridors, pain with every step, but he did not care. His pride at saving the honour of his man was curled by the uncertainity of this night. Sleep eluded him as it eluded everyone involved. The morning would have to tell of their fate.
 

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Dies Irae

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The Kings study, ten o'clock in the morning


The usually big room was becoming cramped as everybody, nervous, tense, and some guilt-ridden, arrived. The abbot was the first to enter the study, alongside him his closest advisor - whom his robes revealed as a Hound Of God* -, only a few minutes after the great tower bell struck nine. He tried to persuade his King to open up his heart, but the Lion Of The North shut him up quite efficiently by calling him a papist scoundrel. After this, the abbot and his hound sat in silence, their thoughts raging inside their minds. The next ones to enter were the Head Council of the protestants, weary from the lack of sleep, and visibly puzzled. They tried to ask some questions, but the Lion had finally found his teeth, and ordered them to wait in silence, while the other "guests", Yngve, Thorri, Bureus, and the still shaken leader of the Royal Guard. Once they arrived, the King sat behind his desk, surveyed them one by one, while some of them began to sweat and admire the fine ornamentation of the walls rather than to face such a gaze.

Finally, the King spoke:

One of your groups, or more than one, have tried to kill me, to ursup my throne, end my dinasty, and plunge the kingdom into total and utter chaos!


His words rang across the room, forcing some of his audience to gulp.

You there!
- pointing his finger at Yngve - it was your barbarous warrior who tried to murder me!

Thorri snapped, he was tired, and in his opinion, this was nothing more than some incident with a traitorous scum.

And, your majesty
- he formed these words with an attitude that came very close to sarcasm - , it were his men who saved your life.

What could be a very nice plot to fool the King! - one of the protestants spat.

We have honour!

As we have seen proved,
the abbot snickered.

The King thundered: Silence, all of you! You papist swine should hold your mouth in particular! I know that it was your man who smuggled the traitor into my castle!

Surely, a misunderstanding.
- responded the abbot, pretending to be at a loss of words.

You are playing with your life here! I have the word of the leader of my guard that it were hooded figures, carrying crosses, chanting in latin, and first and foremost, coming from your monastery who smuggled them in! Is it not so, oh, now ex-leader of my guard?

The broken man could only nod.

We told you not to trust these papists!
- the protestants told him in unison.

Speak if I ask you, else, be silent. The well-being of your church still depends on my goodwill!

Mylord, have you lost your faith in us?
- the protestnat were quite shocked, the rumours are true, so it seems.

Not in your God. But the security of Sweden is my first and foremost concern. Now, I have nothing to prove that your church was involved in this plot, and I shall leave you to be. Should I get even a rumour, a ossip, a subtle little hint that anyone of you was involed, Sweden will throw you out, no matter the consequences! And now, be silent and listen.

With these words, the King reached into his desk, pulling out an ornamented cross and some bloody robes. Throwing the robes into the abbots face, he smashed the cross onto the table, and thundered at the catholic delegation:

And now, lets end this little game. There you have the traitors robes! I am assured that he is still alive enough to be questioned, and furthermore, you all know what Bureus can do with a recently passed-away soul.
- the King pointed at Bureus, who smiled wickedly at the abbot - In the presenc of thy worldy lord, and thy Lord High Above, confess, or I shall whip you with my own hands untill you do, swine! - his last words turned into something akin to a snakes whispering, only loud, filled with the cry for vengance, and the anger at being stabbed in the back by his own man.

The abbot said nothing, but his companion threw himself to the floor, and began to pray.

I thought so. Now, you have untill nightfall to vacate your monastery. I shall be gratious, and provide you with two horse-carts. Apart from their load, you may only carry stuff on your backs. My soldiers are on their way now, and will escort you to the sea. See to it that you have a passage arranged. And now, get out!

Watching the catholics leave, Bureus was stunned. His King has regained his old fervour and cunning. Very good. Now, unto the question of the guard.

Majesty. I notice that with this day, you are without a royal guard. Perhaps we could arrange a replacement.


You are not suggesting these barbarians!
- the protestants were stunned.

Oh but yes, I do. They are not interested in the little chit-chat that your churches are having, they despise both equally. They have exeptional skills, are honourfull people, and have proven their loyality even if it involved killing one of their own. What better guard could you have, m'lLord?

The King laughed loudly. I expected a move like this, old friend. Very well, the warriors are now my personal guard, with some conditions. First, they are to dress accordingly when in my caslte. Secondly, they are to disguise their marks of faith for now.

Yngve and Thorri observed in silence, then responded simultanely by bowing in front of the King. It shall be done so. It will not be easy, especially your second condition, but you have our word of honour.

And what about us, Lord? asked the protestants.

Ah, yes. You are to have all installations, churches of the catholcs, except for their cathedral. Also, all wealth, except for the one in said cathedral, is your for the taking. In return, you will be silent about my agreement with the Northeners. Also, you will send letters to all protestant kingdoms informing them that I am their willing ally in the coming struggle, and you will write long praises about me in those letters. After all, I have expelled all catholics, havent I? Oh, and yes, write a lot about this assasination by the catholics, ut write only about them. Blacken their names in the deepest pits of tar, if you wish. And now, get out, all of you.

The delegations bowed, some smiling, some crying. Then, they left. The King was once again sitting alone. And he was very pleased. He managed to turn all this into his favour. After all, the catholics were now expelled, the protestant strenghtened, his name will be written in gold for some years in the court of the protestant lands, his alliances will be knotted stronger, the peoples faith abroad in him will rise to new levels. And he was quite sure that even if a word got out of the pagans being his new guard, it would be dismissed as the usual inter-court squabling and bad gossip. Smiling, he leaned back, and started to write the documents that made all what he had said a reality. He finished them very quickly, as most of them were prepared already. He had long planned to get rid of the papists, but only now did he find a good cause for it. Ah, yes, they would start spreading rumours. But he did not care. No matter where they went, he would attack that country anyways in a few years. Stromclouds were already brewing above Europe, the first lightning already hitting the top of Prague castle.

Having finished his work, he went to his bed-chamber, and, fully clothed, fell face-down into it, sleeping at last.


At the Monastery, some hour later, in the early afternoon

So, God punishes me for the sins of Cain and Brutus. So, our last stronghold in this country, whose spirit if now far away from Christos Pantocrator, is to be abandoned. Forgive me my sins, o Lord! We are thyne unworthy, sinfull servants! Forgive us!

Such thought raced trough the mind of the abbot as he oversaw the hasty abandonment of the monastery. It was a beautyful buliding, etched from the cold stone by finest craftsman more than five hundred years ago, expanded over the centuries, the last bastion of catholic faith save those few little churches. And now, it was to be abandoned. His brothers took the weight of their punishment in silence, hoping to gain absolution trough suffering. They were, after all, right, he thought. Has Christ himself not suffered? Who are we, mortal man, to fear pain? Yes, I have sinned deeply, but see into my soul, Lord, I did it for the good of my flock! See into my soul, see the wounds that will soon fester upon my flesh like the plague, and forgive me! For the love of your only son, forgive me!

Thus, he took on his robe on penitence. His brother were ready, all clad in the same thick, heavy, uncomfortable robes. One of them, at the front of the gathering, carried a huge cross. Other already took out their whips, other whatever crude intruments they could find to punish themselves with. Some carried thorches, their hands also covered in grease to burn as the flames will lick lower and lower in the night. Trodding to the front of the coloumn guarded by the soldiers, the abbot ripped open the back of his robe with a strong slash of the whip, and began to chant:

Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando judex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discussurus!​


His brother joined his chanting, ripping open their backs slowly, flog-by-flog, advancing towards the sea in the night, a bloody, screaming-chanting coloumn of repenting illuminated by torches, accompanied by awed and terrified soldiers.


(* Hound Of God= domini canes, the common nickname for the Dominicans)
(** the Abby, Monastery, and all these things are the same, they are where I put my out-of-place-and-time catholics in the story. This is the last you have heard of them.)
 
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Tomhet



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The traitor awoke slowly, very slowly, his limbs aching, the pain from broken bones being supported by the burning senstion of the knots that tied his hand and feet. Light invaded his mind like the edge of a jagged sword, bringing searing pain from his eyes into his skull. Slowly, he got accustimed to the light, coming from one signle torch, on the side of what apperaed to be a round chamber. He moved his head around, as best as he could from the pain that accompanied his every move, stinging into his nerves like a thousand searing-hot pins. The floor was covered with something that reminded him of sand, at least, from touch. Its color was more like that of day-old dried blood, yet, it smelled of roting sea-grass. Around the traitor was a circle, drawn in deep purple, that seemed to syphon away the light from the torch, becoming darker and darker as he looked at it, and it seemed to move around him, slithering like a hungry snake. Frightened by the moving patterns, he took his gaze of the floor, and up to the ceiling. It was criss-crossed by little arches and broken pieces of what appeared to be a former gothic decoration. There was something very uncany about it, he thought. Its jagged surface was completely covered in strange, glowing, dark red runes, and they, along with the breaks if the decoration, almost looked like a dragons head, about to spit fire upon him. From the ceiling, huge tapestries were hanging down, all in dark cloros, red and blue and green, decipting what he was sure must be scenes from Helheims deeper pits, vile beasts tearing at the honourless dead, and the spiders venom dripping from the rooftops as it will after Ragnarok. From the very center of the ceiling, where the throat of the dragon seemed to be, illuminted by red runes, hung a globe, blacker than the blackest night, not reflecting, but devouring all light that tuched it, creating a smoke-like shroud around itself. The traitor could feel the cold emmiting from the globe, feel his own warmth sucked away slowly. The cold terrified him even more than the snake-like thing around him, and finally, he tried to rest his gaze on the walls.

In vain. The walls were painted, or covered, or sprayed, he could not tell, with the same dark green and red and purple and blue colors like the rest of the room, arrayed with strange runes he had never before seen, and even more alien curves and lines that danced all around him. The whole room was a sickening visual cacophony of glowing dark colors, sucking black globes and sand-lines, and ever-dancing scripts and drawings. He closed his eyes, but the glow and sickening movement penetrated under his eyelids, the patterns etched into his skull with a blade of fire, or at least, so he felt.

The pain, thundering somewhere in the back of his self while he observed his prison, returned now, amplified by the sickening dance, a hundred times stronger than before. He tired to cry out, but no sound left his mouth. He was used to pain, searing, blunt, or sharp, but this was a thousand times more than what he could take. It tore at his very mind, ripping it apart slwoly, inch-by-inch, filling the places of thoughts with hot, searing pain, clod, freezing pain, stinging pain, blunt pain, sharp pain, until he felt like being made up of nothing but a little sack of flesh and pain inside.

Far away, somewhere past this shower of horror, he could hear a door open, and the muffled noise of human speech came to his ears, distorted and weak.

I see, you have woken up, scum. Oh, yes, the pain. Do not worry, soon, you will not feel a thing.

A shudder crossed the traitors mind. Was he about to die?

Death? Oh, no, death would be too kind a punishment for your sin.


The traitors guts froze. What? To live in this state? No, Gods, please, no! I am only a lost soul!

You dare call up the gods! You, who went agianst their plans! Oh, and dont be surprised, here, I can hear your thoughts. You claim to be a lost soul, when you are a dullard at best! Oh, yes, you should fear.

At these word,s the traitor tried to move, crawl away from Bureus, and doing so, he crossed the sand-snake. A thousand poisoned mouts bit into his soul, sending him back into the middle.

Fool! Now, stand still, I hate it when the mouse tries to spoil the play for the cat.


Bureus reached down onto the sand-like substance, and he seemed to pet that line that bit the traitor. He murmured a few words, and then, he guided the line, closing it, as if a snake bit its tail. The very moment the line was thus sealed shut, the traitor felt the globe of void slowly descend upon him. Or was it the dragon that devoured him?

The next second, the pain was gone. Then, he felt other things go. His feelings were the first to be sucked away. He could see them in the void, anger, hate, love, sorrow, all dancing away in a miriad of stange colours, sucked into a glowing point far away on the horizon. Horizon?! That world lost its meaning. He was swimming, floating in a sea of blakcness. After his feelings, his senses were the next. He could no longer feel the faint after-glow on the sand on his fingers, no longer feel the scents of the room in his nostrils. His tounge tasted nothing. His eyes saw nothing. Yet, he did see every part of him being sucked away with a sight somehow higher than the physical one. The void around him invaded his self. It made its palce towards the holow holes left behind by his feelings, filling them out, yet ceating only an even stronger, tormenting after-echo. It invaded his eyes, his ears, his skin, his mouth, his nostrils, living blackness crawling all along his body. Memories, images, words, and concepts went next, all sucked out of him, repalced by that yearning, unyielding emptiness of the void.

Yet, he remained there. An after-glow of a person. A long-shed spider-husk, a decaying snake-skin of a soul. He did not exsist, yet, death eluded him, and everything became a hole, filled with the Void. It would have been the utter torment, had he not lost his ability to feel. Now, he only glided trough the Void, feeling nothing but hollowness, and after-images, each hole more yearning and shadow-painfull than the other. As his last parts left him, he could hear, or feel, or at least, somehow understand the distorted words of Bureus:

Enjoy your stay on the Plane Of Void.

After these word,s his "world" began to light up, diffent shades of pitch distinguishing themselves against the vene darker, even colder back-ground, places of things, people, feelings he had lost in this state, each only enough the strenghten the need for his soul-holes to be filled, yet only deepening them. On the edge of his horizon, he could see other figures. Other beings of non-being, other shadows and husks, floating around in the Great Nothing.


Forever.
 
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Nah, that would be to easy. Sweden has to establish isfelt first to allow such a great upheval.

All shall be revealed in due time. Be patient, the Norns weave never-ending:p

And, BTW, did I manage to describe Nothing?
 

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Herbert West said:
And, BTW, did I manage to describe Nothing?

Yes, you did.

I don't know why Bureus sent him to Ginnungagap though, as Hel was said to be the final destination of dishonourable people who have broken oaths.