The Trials of the Sons of Odin: A Paradox AAR. Chapter 11: The Hunchback

Published: 2017-07-30

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The Trials of the Sons of Odin: A Paradox AAR

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Game: Crusader Kings II

The Trials of the Sons of Odin: A Paradox AAR. Chapter 10: The Great Reaver (Part 3)

Images: 34, author: RandomHero1992, published: 2017-07-26, edited: 2017-07-27

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A moment of cruelty can undo a lifetime of charity; one bad decision can ruin many meretriciously laid plans. Such is the fate of many rulers, and Fylkir Baldewin would be no different. Although many great feats were achieved under his rule, he was best remembered for his midnight dalliances and unfortunate birth defect. Thus is the story of Fylkir Baldewin, the Hunchback.
Baldewin Bjornson was not the man his father was, a hunchback who was afflicted by a malignant condition. A great tactician, it was in the realm of intrigue that he excelled. The Fylkir spent a lot of his time concerned with his death, as his doctors had advised that they did not believe that he would live much longer.
As the Fylkir knew he was not long for the world, he spent a lot of his time with the Godi’s and the sacred texts. If he was to die soon, he wanted to know where he was going. The Fylkir funded many temples and commissioned many works of art that adorn Castle Lade.
Whilst preparing for leaving the world was the Fylkirs aim, that did not mean that he was ready to leave just yet. Fylkir Baldewin sent out messages across the realms of Odin’s followers, seeking a man of medicine.
With the death of the previous Fylkir, the alliance with the Grand Republic of Brythoniaid had dissolved. To re-establish this vital relationship, the Prince Mayor proposed the marriage between one of his sons to the daughter of the Fylkir. Once more the pacts of friendship and alliance were sworn between these two realms.
To assist with his affliction, the Court Physician Georg ordered that Fylkir Baldewin go running through the countryside at midnight. Surprisingly, court records for the next day’s report the Fylkir in good health and better moods, although at the time they did not know what to attribute it to, the story of the Fylkirs treatment kept a close secret. Eventually it was found out however, and many considered it the first step into other, more unusual habits.
One evening during a visit by the Fylkir to the holdings of the Wolves of Midgard, their Warlord and the Fylkir both got a little too drunk at a local tavern whilst touring the border defences. Although inebriated, the Warlord made mention that the provinces they have just visited would not be on the border for much longer.
This became evident when the next day when the Fylkir, still hungover from the previous night, was presented with a report that the Wolves had mobilised and were attacking the Catholics to their south. Roaring with laughter, then going back to nursing his headache, the Fylkir was pleased that again the borders of the faith increased at the cost of the Catholics.
Unable to join his vassal in the conquest of Catholic land, the Fylkir instead ordered another round of construction to be commenced. Unfortunately, due to the inheritance laws of his father and fathers before him, not much of the realm was left under the control of the crown, with many well developed provinces going to the Fylkirs brother, the newly crowned Jarl.
With the conquest of half on the neighbouring Catholic Kingdom of Great Moravia, it had become evident that the Wolves no longer needed the protection of the crown of the Fylkir. In celebration of the great victory, Fylkir Baldewin announced the assembled armies of the warband that they were free to seek their own future.
The time could not be worse for the Kingdom of Lithuania, who was currently at war with the Kingdom of Greece for the realm of Ruthenia. Knowing that it would not be long before Greek troops who had been fighting in the Crusade would be returning north, the Lithuanian king quickly called his ally, Fylkir Baldewin, into the war. Once more the men of Noregr marched east.
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News arrived from back west whilst the Fylkir was fighting in Rus that his brother had passed away whilst fighting a war against the Swedish. More surprising was that for the last year, he had been crowned the King of Pomerania. The Pomerania realm had been diminished severely in the past half a century, and was now but a shadow of its former self. With the coronation of Fylkir Baldewin’s brother, the half dozen holding he had inherited from the former Fylkir had doubled the size of the kingdom. Far had the kingdom fallen from the days of the proclamation of the Guardian of the Gate to the North.
Whilst marching east, the journals of the Fylkir showed that he became concerned at the loss of the voice of Odin that spoke to him. How was he to survive without the guidance that was offered to him. Had he been forsaken? The Fylkir instead took this as a challenge, the gods were testing him, to see how he would act without their words in his ear.
The rider that brought the report of the death of the King of Rus and the ascension of his child was quickly sent back with to that land with a proposal of marriage between the newly crowned boy and a daughter of the Fylkir. They dynasties of Herja and Dobrynich were brought closer together with another union between the two great Houses.
The Fylkir was presented with a request from the realms Spymaster, requesting realm funds to increase the security in Castle Lade. Being a man who delights in the actions that occur in the shadow, Fylkir Baldewin knew that many unsavoury actions could be prevented with the right precautions. The solution that the Spymaster had come up with was in the form of several large dogs.
Continuing with the effort started since the beginning of his rule, the Fylkir continued to sponsor many religious endeavours and founded religious schools to train the next generations of Godi’s. The mysteries of Frey were of particular interest to the Fylkir, who hoped to gain the blessing of the god of health and peace.
The new Pope, apparently having learned from his predecessors’ mistakes called for the Catholic faith to focus their efforts against the Muslims of their shared holy lands. Fylkir Baldewin was ecstatic, Catholic focus away from the north would allow him and his fellow Norse rulers room to breathe.
Upon hearing that the boy king of Rus was attempting to push into the lands of the Greeks and spread the word of the gods, was overjoyed. Sending word that he would honour the terms of their alliance, before the Russian king even had a chance to call him to war, the Fylkir ordered that the entirety of the realms armies be raised. The Greek kingdom stretched uninterrupted from the southern edges of the Russian lands all the way to the actual Greek lands and islands. This would be a powerful adversary to cut down, and the King of Rus was happy to accept any help he could get.
The Fylkirs constant companionship with the Godi’s of the realm and thorough examination of The Saga had led Fylkir Baldewin to one conclusion: humanity was doomed. No man would be worthy of Valhalla, to dine at the table of Odin. It was the Fylkirs responsibility to lead his people according to the ways of the gods, and Fylkir Baldewin would see his people made pure, or they would be killed.
To try and purify the realm, the Fylkir summoned all of his vassals to a Blot to offer devotion to the gods and to discuss the future of the realm. Many captives from the dungeons of Castle Lade were dragged from their cells and led to the assembled gallows.
Returning to Castle Lade after successfully expanding the Rus kingdom, the Fylkir spent a large amount of time instructing his son on the proper management of the realm. Young Bjorn excelled under the watchful eye of his father, and his tutors noted that the boy had become more attentive to detail and care with his duties and studies.
So far had the realm fallen that their Kings had bargained away their right to inherit the realm, leaving it up to the Jarls to pick their next ruler. The King of Pomerania was little more than a Jarl with a fancier crown, something that would not stand long under their new ruler. Fylkir Baldewin claimed he would not belittle himself to convince the Jarls of Pomerania that his son should be the next ruler. The inheritance laws were brought laws of both the Kingdom of Noregr and Pomerania were both reformed so that all titles were passed to the Fylkirs firstborn.
An interesting piece of information was presented to court, the Kingdom of Hwicce had been inherited by the King of Bavaria. Far had the kingdom fallen since the days of the rivalry between the kings of the House di Chiaramonte, with the crown passing out of that family and to that of House Kobulie. The last ruler of the kingdom was a girl of fifteen before being murdered on the order of a rebellion leader. Whilst this marked a new low for the former enemy of the many previous Fylkirs, the inheritance of the vast majority of the remaining Catholic land on the main isle put a powerful realm as a close neighbour to several Norse realms.
It became more and more evident that Fylkir Baldewin was his father’s son, in that he did not have the strongest grasp on the realm of the sane. Bursting into a council meeting one night with armfuls of vegetables, the Fylkir ordered that the realm immediately move away from gold as the means of currency and instead trade with turnips. The council feigned agreeance and resolved to have someone at all times with their monarch to enforce this illusion.
The council members were thankful that the Fylkirs son and heir had reached manhood. A masterful administrator, his grasp on the working of realm and currency (gold, not turnips) meant that the council was able to delegate more of the realms management away from the Fylkir to someone of a saner mind, under the illusion of preparing the heir for the rigors of rulership.
Yet again the Catholics failed to expand their realm and claim ownership of their holy lands. Countless men had died in the deserts of that part of the world, but worse still for the Norse realms, the distraction provided by their Pope had been removed, they would be free to engage in wars of aggression to the north.
The same voices that plagued his father were also apparently inflicted upon the Fylkir. It has longed been rumoured that it was he who was author of the heretical ‘Hinn Gaml’, a tome that describes two men who face an unknowable force. Where the first man, a conqueror, sought to make the force into something he could understand, the second, an observant man, knew that the unknowable became knowable through knowledge.
It seems that Fylkir Baldewin had been continuing the Court Physicians orders for years. One night on the march, when the full moon shone bright, a lookout for the army noticed a man howling at the moon. Unfortunately, due to his hunchback, the Fylkir had a fairly recognisable silhouette and rumours quickly spread through the camp of Fylkir Baldewins night-time adventures.
To bless the men with the favour of the gods before marching out, the Fylkir ordered the sacrifice of two vassals that had been captured by the network of the Court Godi, who had been found to be members for the forbidden Fellowship of Hel. As their corpses burned, the Fylkir lead the men from the muster grounds.
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The men of Noregr and Lithuania fell upon the armies of the Greeks. With assembled armies of equal strength, this would be the point that determined the war. The Greek were a united force, unlike the Norse and Lithuanian armies, which had only fought together a few times. The advantage was the Norse heavy infantry, where the Greek armies were mainly made up of light troops supported by light cavalry, they were unable to penetrate the shield walls of their opponents. Worn out, they were quickly overwhelmed and defeated.
In the end, Fylkir Baldwin finally achieved the first priority of his ascension: passage into Valhalla. Though it was a blade through the chest whilst fighting Livonian rebels that had assembled as the Fylkir marched home, rather than the malignant growths inside him that claimed his life. He did end up proving his doctors wrong, lasting two decades after taking the crown when they believed he would not rule past two years. With his son already having control over most of the kingdoms day-to-day running, Fylkir Bjorn the Second would be able to immediately take control of the realm and steer it to his new vision.

Next chapter:

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The Trials of the Sons of Odin: A Paradox AAR. Chapter 12: The First Norwegian

Images: 29, author: RandomHero1992, published: 2017-08-14

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