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Shadows over Sjoldir


Ace Bronson

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Shadows Over Sjoldir

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Grey waves lap against the hull of the longship as it scrapes the gravel of the beach. An unnerving gloom hangs over the land and sea despite being midday. The passengers look up again at the sun, covered by darkness with only a thin ring of weak light ringing the void. Others on the ship shudder and mutter curses under their breath. The crew seem anxious to be rid of their passengers and shove off to brighter shores. The passengers leap from the edge of the ship, splashing through the water and onto the rugged shore.

 

The air is damp and chill, cutting through wet clothes and skin. It is hard to see through the oppressive, perpetual twilight but the silhouettes of ragged buildings emerge as the visitors make their way up the shoreline to Sjoldir. What horror has befallen this tragic place is unknown to any of them, but each of them was called here to help lift it if they may. Some are known to one another and others are strangers. There was little opportunity to converse on the ship as it was beset by storm and gale for most of the journey. One thing is certain, the Norns have woven their strands together and it is likely no others will come. None but the Norns know whether this forsaken land will bring them glory or bring them doom...

Edited by Ace Bronson (see edit history)
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As the travelers ascend the rocky path that winds up to the mead hall they pass shuttered farmhouses, neglected and in need of repair. They see no one but feel the eyes, full of fear and suspicion on them as they pass. They approach the front of the old mead hall, sad looking and sagging. Through the gloom they can see that one door is broken and boarded shut. The other door scrapes and creaks as it is slowly pushed outward to open from the inside.

There is a tired looking, elderly guard who looks dead eyed, as though you could run him through with a sword right then and there and he would have little opinion on the matter. He steps aside without a word to allow the sea-soaked travelers to enter the dark hall. At the other end of the hall a meager fire burns. It seems to struggle against the darkness, fighting to give off warmth and light. Behind it in the shadows sits a frail, uncertain youth, swallowed by a huge fur mantle around his shoulders. He sits awkwardly on his high seat, clearly unfit for it in every capacity.  He starts, nervously as the strangers entered, beginning to speak, then second guessing himself and remaining in uncomfortable silence as the walk closer. From behind his seat a hunched form emerges from the darkness. An ancient and withered crone, eyes milky white and clearly unseeing moves painfully and slowly by his side. The boy cringes away from her, clearly uneasy in her presence. 

An awkward moment of silence passes, and then the boy clears his throat and speaks, his voice catching and raising an octave before settling into his wispy, uncertain cadence. “Welcome to my hall, My name is  Ha- I am Jarl Haldur of Soldjr. Are you the ones sent to help us? So few… Who are you and from where do you hail?”

 

Edited by Ace Bronson (see edit history)
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GorenHafbjornedit.jpg.669ca2df9011e27ef0102d2a5194535e.jpgGoran Halfbjorn  Dire-Bear Berserker


Goran is in an especially sour mood, but it doesn't have anything to do with being soaked through to his bones. In fact, he likes swimming in the cold sea. He doesn't, however, particularly care for being on ships for days at a time... and he thinks this foul place smells of fear and death.

"A sickly child as their leader, no wonder ruin has found hold here," he thinks.

The towering man stands quietly behind the rest of the party, preferring not to be accidentally caught up in any senseless formalities or political panderings. He looks around the dusky hall, distastefully. He hopes this business will be done and over with soon so can get back to his quiet wood. There's just no telling what foul creature is marking all over his territory right now in his absence.

"Hjarlof owes me one for this."


Quick Stats

Human Form  

(Medium) 

Init 3  Speed 30  HP 36/36

STR 18, DEX 16, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 14, CHA 8

AC 20  Touch 16  Flat-footed 17 CMD 23 (25 vs PM)

Fort: 7  Ref: 8  Will: 4

Base Attack Bonus (4) CMB +8 (+10 Powerful maneuvers)

Primary Weapons: Shifter Claws (2) (at will) +9(1d4+4) - DR Silver/Cold Iron

Club +8 (1d6+4) / Short Spears +7(1d6+4) 20ft Range

Armor: Lamellar Leather (+4AC) (+3Dex)

Conditions: None

Special Abilities:

Shifter Aspect (Bear) (+2 CON) (7/7 min/day)
Wild Shape (Dire Bear) (7/7 hours/day)

Bear Form 

(Large)   

Init 2  Speed 40  HP 36/36

STR 22 DEX 14 CON 14 INT 10 WIS 14 CON 8

AC 21  Touch 17  Flat-footed 18 CMD 25(27 vs PM)

Fort: 7 Ref: 7 Will: 4

Base Attack Bonus: (4) CMB +11 (+13 Powerful Maneuvers)

Primary Weapons: GorenBearForm.jpg.950847badf0cbe8be7daa8830444193d.jpg

Claws(2) +9(2d4+4)+Grab

Bite +9(2d6+4)+Grab

Armor: Natural Armor +4 Shifter Defensive Tactics +4

Conditions: None

Special Abilities: Grab, Pounce, Low Light Vision, Scent: (30ft)

Combat Actions

Free:

Swift:

Move:

Standard:

Full Round:

Edited by Eborne1 (see edit history)
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BlodarnaBlôdarna Takes a pace forward, and looks at both the jarl child and the crone defiantly.

I hight Blôdarna Vigfussdottir, of the Kraken tribe. Your friend Hjarlof here prevailed on Jarl Ulfrik of the Wolves to redeem a favor from Hàkon, which resulted on my being sent and thereby losing the raiding season. What heroics do you expect of us that will be worth a kingly reward from my Jarl when I come back home with the glory I won here? Do you expect us to be able to bring the sun back?

 

Edited by Svartalf (see edit history)
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The treck back to Sjoldir was slower and much more enjoyable for the Skald. He knew that the Darkness awaited them, but to be returning with even this few to help felt right, like a compelling force was relaxing it's grip on him. Those who lived here seemed to have shrunk into a morass of fear. Something must be going on moreso than just the Darkness.

Hjarlof smiled kindly at the crone and young Jarl as the group approached. About to speak a greeting, he closed his mouth as Blôdarna spoke, none too diplomatically, to the pair. "My Lord Haldur of Sjoldir, Seer Eir. I, Hjarlof of Clan Hvítabiôrning, have returned with what aid the Jarls could muster. My Clansman Goran, Blôdarna of Clan Kragun, Ranulf of Clan Hrafning and his Clanswoman Alruna, as well as Alfdis of Clan Ulfrung. The threat to your demnes seems increased since my departure. Please, what news have you?" Hjarlof gestured to each in turn. His voice echoed in the dreary hall as he spoke.

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Ranulf.JPG.4fad043419b1e11ce6a1f0039bafcf1d.JPGRanulf the Rooster  Human Raider


Ranulf's face sits placid, his lips pursed on the way. 'Sitting another one. The captains, looking again for men with the strength of ten oxen and the wits of one.', he harrumphs to himself as he disembarks the longship. 'Even ravens would find it hard to feast here. The houses are not even fit for firewood. Whatever reason I'm here, we will see.'. His eyes return the wary glances of the Sjoldiri with matched suspicion, spindly hands tucked in his ax-belt to warm them after the soggy journey.

His feet stepping softly on the slippery stones and yanks the donkey's lead as he descends, irate with the animal's slowness, before tying it to the post near the ancient guard. Nodding a nod of respect, if more out of pity to the old warrior than habit or reverence, and enters the mead hall.

A momentary, humourless smile crawls on Ragnar's face at the greeting of the Jarl, but quickly hides it as he moves past the sour-faced titan and the impatient axe-maiden. As the skald begins their introduction, he sends one last shiver into his down-lined cloak as he seizes the chance to move closer to the meek fire. "Hail, Jarl Haldur." Eyes moving towards the wisewomen, young and old, he adds dryly as he finally has the chance to speak to Alruna, "Though with your council, Jarl Haldur, it would be more correct to say I am Alruna's Clansman, and not she mine."

 


Stats

Ranulf TN Human (URogue 4)

Init 5  Speed 30  HP 35/35
AC 21  Touch 16  Flat-footed 13 CMD 21
Fort 3  Ref 9  Will 2
Base Attack Bonus 3
Primary Weapon: Mwk Boarding Axe (2) (at will) +10(1d6+5)
Armor: Studded Leather Armour - Light Armor - (+3AC) (+5Dex) (+2 Shield when Weapons drawn) (+1 Combat Expertise, Threatening Defender)
Abilities:  Str 10, Dex 20, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 12
Conditions: None
Special Abilities

Sneak Attack +2d6
Debilitating Injury (Ex)
Minor Magic (Read Magic)

Combat Actions

Free:

Swift:

Move:

Standard:

Full Round:

 

 

 

Edited by Zaathun (see edit history)
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image.jpeg.f5efa46fe90ab5f4162a9465c071da21.jpegimage.jpeg.aca52f10b2a9e3b865a41db4504b3cc0.jpeg

Jarl Haldur rises from his seat, standing, unsure of himself, before the assembled warriors. As he begins to speak a haunted look falls across his face, with eyes that had seen things no boy of his 12 years should have seen. “W-we are beset.” A silence hangs in the air as he swallows and continues. “Some weeks ago, an unnatural darkness befell our land and the sun was blotted out of the sky. We thought the light would return, but it did not. The darkness remained, day after day. As if that were not troubling enough, awful things began to happen.” He pauses and reconsiders his words. “Truth be told, the darkness was not the beginning of our woes here in Sjoldir. For some time now we have been in decline. My father, the Jarl before me was lost to us, as was my mother. Some thanes left for better prospects and our land was left sparsely defended. People began to disappear from time to time. We don’t know how, or why. The freemen’s livestock would sicken, crops would fail and people began to mistrust their neighbors. I have done my best, but I am no leader. I know not what to do.

 

But, then the darkness came and all hope seemed lost here. More people disappeared, families woke to find their loved ones missing from their beds. And worse, there have been murders. Not the kind that make any sense, not a blood feud or robbery. Senseless acts of unspeakable cruelty and savagery, sometimes a farmer who strayed far afield, sometimes a wandering child, sometimes whole families, butchered in their sleep, savaged and gnawed upon as if by wild animals. There have been rumors of monsters in the night, but little is known because most do not survive.” He sighs, looking thoroughly defeated, like the scared and vulnerable child that he clearly is. “I know not what to do. Perhaps we should abandon these shores…” a wry smile flashes across his face and quickly disappears. “We have not even the ships left to manage such a task.” He looks up again at his guests, “I thank you for coming. My hall is yours, as it is… I bow to your experience and bravery, and hope to be able to reward you in some modest capacity should you succeed in your task of ridding this land of the evil that troubles it. You are free to do as you will. Eir can tell you more about her vision, if that may be of some help to you. Let us hope that no more of it comes to pass…” With that, he slumps down in his seat, seemingly exhausted from the effort of addressing his guests. 

 

Eir shuffles forward and it felt that she was peering through their souls despite her sightless eyes. Her ancient voice croaks and cracks as she speaks. “All was dark and cloaked in shadows. The shadows began to writhe and twist. They took the shape of people, dancing with wicked abandon around a profane altar slick with sacrifice. The altar swelled and bloated, consuming the dancing shadows. It was then a huge, quivering mass of flesh and gore, alive and pulsing. Then the cry of a young goat out of the darkness. Then another and another… It started that way but became an awful sound, not of this world, not meant for our ears. The awful din rose to become deafening, I feared I would go mad and stab out my ears to make it stop, and then, silence and black…”

 

 

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GorenHafbjornedit.jpg.669ca2df9011e27ef0102d2a5194535e.jpgGoran Halfbjorn  Dire-Bear Berserker


Goran sighs audibly. It sounds to him like a job for priests and druids and he wonders what they expect him to do about any of this madness.

He moves over beside Ranulf and raises his meaty hands out toward the flame, mindful of its reach. He looks down at the slight man there, stoically, with a stiff and furrowed brow, and wonders what prowess he could possibly have in a pitched battle. Goran notices that the man doesn't shy away from his gaze.

"'Monsters in the night'...," he muses, moving his attention back to the flame.

"When else does the boy think monsters should come out?"


Quick Stats

Human Form  

(Medium) 

Init 3  Speed 30  HP 36/36

STR 18, DEX 16, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 14, CHA 8

AC 20  Touch 16  Flat-footed 17 CMD 23 (25 vs PM)

Fort: 7  Ref: 8  Will: 4

Base Attack Bonus (4) CMB +8 (+10 Powerful maneuvers)

Primary Weapons: Shifter Claws (2) (at will) +9(1d4+4) - DR Silver/Cold Iron

Club +8 (1d6+4) / Short Spears +7(1d6+4) 20ft Range

Armor: Lamellar Leather (+4AC) (+3Dex)

Conditions: None

Special Abilities:

Shifter Aspect (Bear) (+2 CON) (7/7 min/day)
Wild Shape (Dire Bear) (7/7 hours/day)

Bear Form 

(Large)   

Init 2  Speed 40  HP 36/36

STR 22 DEX 14 CON 14 INT 10 WIS 14 CON 8

AC 21  Touch 17  Flat-footed 18 CMD 25(27 vs PM)

Fort: 7 Ref: 7 Will: 4

Base Attack Bonus: (4) CMB +11 (+13 Powerful Maneuvers)

Primary Weapons: GorenBearForm.jpg.950847badf0cbe8be7daa8830444193d.jpg

Claws(2) +9(2d4+4)+Grab

Bite +9(2d6+4)+Grab

Armor: Natural Armor +4 Shifter Defensive Tactics +4

Conditions: None

Special Abilities: Grab, Pounce, Low Light Vision, Scent: (30ft)

Combat Actions

Free:

Swift:

Move:

Standard:

Full Round:

Edited by Eborne1 (see edit history)
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The Shield Maiden's eyes became blue slits as she heard the child's account, and her mouth set in a grim line as she heard the seer's. What do they expect from us? This is a job for high priests and mighty sorcerers, not for warriors. For sending me into this mess, Andvari my friend, I'll carve my name into your back.image.png.ef3895aba93a604b6f074c5e4bc517a2.png

Edited by Svartalf (see edit history)
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Ranulf.JPG.4fad043419b1e11ce6a1f0039bafcf1d.JPGRanulf the Rooster  Human Raider


Ranulf rubs his hands together. Returning the look of appraisal from the Bear-clanman, he shuffles to the side to let Goran take in some of the flickering heat.

The tale of the young Jarl and the old crone seems to raise the man's interest, and his spirit. Rolling his eyes at the brash axe-woman, he puts his hands on his belt, and says, "Dark tidings. Your youth gives you the wisdom to ask for aid, instead of using your neck as a shield to protect some valour, Jarl.", he twists his lips, before turning towards the two grim, broad shouldered warriors. "You spoke of heroics, no? Everyone has drank from the South's gold. Even a child can recite two dozen sagas of the type. Who have you heard of that has battled monsters and shadows? Who have you heard of that has brought back the sun? There is greater glory here, even if there may be no riches, Vigfussdottir of Krakung."

Reaching to a small pouch, the man draws a linen cloth, within a meager few strips of dried meat. He places one on a seax and hangs it next to the fire, leaving the rest on the table with an ushering gesture. "And if nothing else can be done - I'll teach you all to build a longship or two.", he grins.


Stats

Ranulf TN Human (URogue 4)

Init 5  Speed 30  HP 35/35
AC 21  Touch 16  Flat-footed 13 CMD 21
Fort 3  Ref 9  Will 2
Base Attack Bonus 3
Primary Weapon: Mwk Boarding Axe (2) (at will) +10(1d6+5)
Armor: Studded Leather Armour - Light Armor - (+3AC) (+5Dex) (+2 Shield when Weapons drawn) (+1 Combat Expertise, Threatening Defender)
Abilities:  Str 10, Dex 20, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 12
Conditions: None
Special Abilities

Sneak Attack +2d6
Debilitating Injury (Ex)
Minor Magic (Read Magic)

Combat Actions

Free:

Swift:

Move:

Standard:

Full Round:

 

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image.png.ef3895aba93a604b6f074c5e4bc517a2.png

Upon hearing Ranulf's speech, Blôdarna's brows started making a strange dance. she reflected for 30 heartbeats before responding

 

There is no saying nay to your speech O Ranulf, but what I fear is that we may not be the heroes to get that saga composed. I am a mere warrior, not a Galdor mastering puissant spells or a scholar able to carve potent runes.Will my ingenuity find the answer to the riddle of the sun's hiding place? Will my steel cleave the shadows? My trouble is that I fear we may be no more suited to helping these folk than they are themselves.

Edited by Svartalf (see edit history)
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"All the great heroes of our clans must have felt as you, Lady Blôdarna, though the Sagas do not mention it. Tales of deeds done only rarely tell of the internal struggles. For our part, we can but do as the Norn have woven, and sing and drink to what we accomplish after. The Gods have not forsaken this place, even though it might look as such. We have an aged and experienced Seer, four warrior paragons and yours truly to spin the tales and share the story far and wide once the glorious deeds are done."

Hjarlof looked around at his companions. They looked as stalwart a group as one could wish for. They would triumph over whatever crossed their paths. "But before we drink to battles won, prudence dictates we gain as much knowledge of our foes as we can."

He turned back to the young Jarl Haldur. "My lord, you mentioned that few have survived the night terrors. That means some have. Are the survivors still alive? Can we speak to them, and how many of your people are still alive? These are questions whos answers would help us to fight your enemies."

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GorenHafbjornedit.jpg.669ca2df9011e27ef0102d2a5194535e.jpgGoran Halfbjorn  Dire-Bear


Goran does not skip a beat at the rogue's offering of dried meat, after talk of glory and heroics, which upon a cursory few sniffs, he determines to be venison. His expression softens slightly and he even offers Ranulf, what some would call a gratuitous nod from the stoic barbarian.

Hjarlof's speech quickens Goran's blood further and he is reminded why he finds the fellow amusing.

"The warrior woman is not wrong. Claw, tooth and steel can only do so much, but nor perhaps are Hjarlof and the small man wrong either. Perhaps the gods do want us here. Perhaps some greater glory, worthy of a bear's honor, awaits us in this sickly place," Goran reasons.

Goran would no longer deny the challenge had been laid before him, whether he likes it or not. He would give the gods no reason to suspect his courage faltering. He was not one to linger, long undecided.

"If the boy's monsters be beasts or men of flesh and blood and bone.., I will stalk them and crush them beneath my weight and tear their bodies asunder with my own hands," Goran suddenly announces in a booming voice, hands raised in display.

"I am Goran Halfbjorn of the Hvitabjorning!"

"My father is Harold Barrikson!"

"I have spoken."

With that, he returns his gaze to the fire and to contentedly chewing on the dried meat as if there were nothing more to discuss on the matter.


Quick Stats

Human Form  

(Medium) 

Init 3  Speed 30  HP 36/36

STR 18, DEX 16, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 14, CHA 8

AC 20  Touch 16  Flat-footed 17 CMD 23 (25 vs PM)

Fort: 7  Ref: 8  Will: 4

Base Attack Bonus (4) CMB +8 (+10 Powerful maneuvers)

Primary Weapons: Shifter Claws (2) (at will) +9(1d4+4) - DR Silver/Cold Iron

Club +8 (1d6+4) / Short Spears +7(1d6+4) 20ft Range

Armor: Lamellar Leather (+4AC) (+3Dex)

Conditions: None

Special Abilities:

Shifter Aspect (Bear) (+2 CON) (7/7 min/day)
Wild Shape (Dire Bear) (7/7 hours/day)

Bear Form 

(Large)   

Init 2  Speed 40  HP 36/36

STR 22 DEX 14 CON 14 INT 10 WIS 14 CON 8

AC 21  Touch 17  Flat-footed 18 CMD 25(27 vs PM)

Fort: 7 Ref: 7 Will: 4

Base Attack Bonus: (4) CMB +11 (+13 Powerful Maneuvers)

Primary Weapons: GorenBearForm.jpg.950847badf0cbe8be7daa8830444193d.jpg

Claws(2) +9(2d4+4)+Grab

Bite +9(2d6+4)+Grab

Armor: Natural Armor +4 Shifter Defensive Tactics +4

Conditions: None

Special Abilities: Grab, Pounce, Low Light Vision, Scent: (30ft)

Combat Actions

Free:

Swift:

Move:

Standard:

Full Round:

Edited by Eborne1 (see edit history)
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image.jpeg.d373c2575d22d29ba36cc4b33b787ae3.jpegimage.jpeg.974fed46eb2e9e243a12329660060396.jpeg

The young Jarl sits, uncomfortably small in his high seat, he looks to the herald and says, "There is a woman who... survived, yet her family was lost to her in a most unspeakable manner. She is... unwell. You may, of course speak with her but I caution you to not expect too much of her that will make sense. My doorman will take you to her if you wish. As to how many of us are left, when I was little it is said that Sjoldir was 250 strong with 50 fighting men to answer the Jarl's call. I fear we are a shadow of that now. Many have left, others disappeared, men slain defending their homes and neighbors, others killed in their sleep or when they've wandered. There are perhaps 100 left all told, with no real fighting men to speak of. " Haldur trails off and goes silent.

Eir sits with the words of the travelers for a spell and then speaks in her gravely tone, "It is enough that you are here. Do not question the Norns for the fate that they have woven for you! You may only choose to face that fate with bravery or with a faltering heart. Perhaps this land is where you will die. Perhaps no one will tell your tale. Weep on that if you must. You will not be the first or last to suffer such a fate. But know this, those of you who doubt your worth, there is much darkness and evil beyond this world that none of us can fathom, nor should we try. But when these powers come to us, they come through a vessel of flesh and blood. Often those most easily corrupted are those who seek to wield such forces. I know not the precise nature of who and what we strive against, nor what you will face in your trial, but I see blood, I see entrails, I see ichor, staining weapons and spilled upon the ground. It is not only your own that shall be spilled. Take from that what comfort you can."

 

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image.png.ef3895aba93a604b6f074c5e4bc517a2.pngBlôdorna was thinking

Well, if those monsters, whatever they be, are immune to steel, I'll die, but I'll spit in their eyes first... If, as the witch says, they be clothed in flesh and blood, then we can destroy them and gain glory. Either way, let's get on with this.

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