Tears of Destruction
As you approach the stranger by the fire, he looks up at you, and you are taken aback by his piercing stare, his amber eyes are menacing like that of a wolf, he studies you carefully before speaking, his words are slow and heavy carrying a deliberate tone to them.
“Ah I see you have noticed my eyes, do not be put off by them, they are rare amongst my people, the Iron Wolf Barbarians, I believe you know them as”
With that he pauses “You are wondering why a stranger is out here alone, no?” without waiting for a reply he speaks again, his voice carries a heavy accent of the northern tribes “well come closer, and i will tell all”
With trepidation, you edge towards the campfire, as you sit, you swear for a second you hear a wolf howl in the distance, it must be your imagination, there have been no wolves this for south in living memory.
As the warmth of the fire slowly begins to ease your fears, the stranger speaks once more;
“My name is Ragnar Blackmane, first Huskarl of the Jarl Thunderfist, or should I say ex-Huskarl of Jarl Thunderfist”
As he speaks you try and make sense of the words, you vaguely remember hearing that a Huskarl is an elite guard and that a Jarl is a tribe chief, as your confusion passes Ragnar resumes.
“I am a follow of the old ways, I listen to the sagas of the ancients and recall their great deeds, but I am the last of a dying breed, as our lands grow soft the sagas are forgotten, and no new ones have been sung in my lifetime.
You may think this is not important, as sadly do many of my people, but it is these sagas that define us, that make us who we are"
“What do this have to do with me being here?” Ragnar states, looking at you intensely, you have to break the gaze of those piercing amber eyes.
“Well it has everything, I tried my best to keep the old ways alive, at the clan meets I took the rituals seriously, the challenges seriously, offering my praises to Kord to be strong and keep my clan safe, but the others, they do not care for such things, to them i am an antique from a bygone age, there have been no foes for over a generation, the hunts are no longer dangerous, this wolf pelt on my shoulders is the last one hunted in my lands!”
“But this was soon to change, most of the times I was left on my own, few people treated my seriously, but I kept pushing on them to remember Kord, the only one who listened was the Jarl, and he announced at the great solstice feast, that as he was without son, I was to be his favoured successor”
“This was when things changed, Kord had always sent me dreams of glorious battles like the heroes of old, however my dreams turned to darker visions that I will not speak of!”
Ragnar pauses to draw breath and you see his shoulders sag a little, and his voice quietens
“It was then things worsened, the winter was harsh, the harvest was poor, and our Gothi was troubled with visions of death in our clan. The whispers soon started, they think I did not hear them, but I did, they said the earth mother was angry that someone who believed in the old ways and in Kord would lead our tribe, then the Jarl became ridden with fever, my last supporter gone, with this the Gothi proclaimed that i must be exiled to appease the earth mother and restore the tribe. I told them they were wrong, as i will tell you, the signs were indeed a warning but about would happen if we did nothing, Kord sent them to me, to tell me dark times are coming and we need to be ready, and when the darkness comes I will be, and i will join the heroes, and have a saga of my own!”
With that Ragnar drains his tankard and throws it to the ground, he takes a grip on his ferocious looking sword, and fixes you with those wulfen eyes “Now stranger, tell me what you are doing here?”