The Trials of the Sons of Odin: A Paradox AAR. Chapter 13: The Reborn

Published: 2017-12-16

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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. Interlude 2: 1265 (Part 2)

Images: 11, author: RandomHero1992, published: 2017-10-29

What happens when a man, who had by all accounts surpassed the greatest moments of his life, is suddenly elevated to a greater post than anything he has ever held? Most men would flounder under such pressure, but the men of House Herja were not most men. This is the story of Fylkir Baldewin II, the Reborn.
At the age of 33, the crown of the Fylkir was placed on the brow of Baldewin II Bjornson. Once a great warrior, Baldewin had been brought low by afflictions of the body and was now a shadow of his former self. This is not to say that he was not a man of great skill, rather that his best years had appeared to be behind him. With his father’s death a surprise, as many had believed that he would have many years left to rule despite his advanced age, Baldewin’s unexpected thrust into power was served by his diligent and just nature.
To mourn the passing of his father and honour the gods, the newly crowned Fylkir ordered the building of a great pyre and the hangmans noose. Many of the foes and prisoners of the last monarch were dragged from the dungeons below Castle Lade and met their end as sacrifices to the gods. Once the proper rituals had been completed, a great feast that had been prepared was brought forward and the celebration of kings and gods lasted well into the night.
The next morning, a traveling godi who had arrived for the festivities brought news from a forgotten corner of the world. A small community of chiefs who worshipped ancient tribal gods of their forefathers were living on the border of between Norge and Rus. Although no real threat, their presence was an unacceptable slight on the Fylkirs idea of the faith.
The new monarch is not the only one battling this last den of the northern unfaithful, on the march to Chief Nga’s holding, the Fylir is met by the King of Rus. After a night of festivities, the two men swear friendship and cooperation.
Whilst on the march, the realms steward raised the rumours of the lost blade of Fylkir Bjorn the Great to the young ruler. During the war to bring the faith the Rus people, the sword was lost whilst the then Fylkir was leading a charge across a river. Knocked to the ground, the sword was washed down the river and was never seen again. Excitedly the Fylkir ordered that a search be launched for the old blade, for the glory of House Herja.
But stories of ancient swords would have to be put off for another day, as the pagan army was finally met. Inspired by the stories of his forbearers, Fylkir Baldewin was determined to lead from the front this day, to prove his place amongst the mightiest of his kin. Although many fell that day, the Fylkir had earned his place with a vicious charge that shattered the foe.
Not all was right with the realm of Norge as its ruler was making his name in the east. In the west, a former member of the Félagi Auðr rallied many peasants to her banner with hopes of establishing a more militaristic Kingdom of Frisia. With the armies many miles away, the rebels had hoped to establish a commanding position before their return ….
… this was not to be.
Reserves left behind to guard the realm marched on the islands before the peasants had had a chance to make any preparations. Falling upon them with vengeance and holy fever, the peasants were slaughtered as they tried to stand against them.
So vicious was the battle that the leader of the rebellion was initially nowhere to be found, only to later discovered to have been crushed under shield after a charge on the flank. In the end, all who had raised their blade against the Fylkir either ended up in irons or as food for the carrion birds.
After several battles against the High Chief’s forces, it had become apparent to even him that the last pagan holdout would not last against Fylkir Baldewin’s army. Coming before his new religious head, the High Chief renounced his old gods and swore allegiance to Odin and the Fylkirs. With the conflict ended, the warriors of Norge marched back home.
On the march back to Castle Lade, news reached Fylkir Baldewin that one of his kinsman, a Duke who had not yet come of age, had recently been attracted by several assassins. Investigations had revealed that it was the young Dukes own vassal that had ordered the assault. Enraged, the Fylkir granted his relative a claim to the offender’s lands.
News of wars reached the Fylkir upon his return, it seemed that the Muslims had failed in their attempt to recapture the African coast. The Catholics kingdom had once again managed to prevent their foe from pushing them from their foothold in traditionally hostile lands.
Once again the oligarchy of Welsh lords ordered their troops to the ships to launch another invasion of the mainland in an attempt to solidify their control of the Breton peninsula. Although the growth of Norse power and influence was a thing to celebrate, the possibility of that power and influence being at the control of a rival was cause for concern with Fylkir Baldewin and his council.
That is not to say that there was no growth within the realm, as cities grew due to the peace that had been experienced by the peasants. Although never a people to refuse to take up a blade when called upon, strong armies and wise leadership meant that it had been many years since the people of Halogaland had felt the harsh realities of war.
It was the responsibility of the Fylkir to ensure that the Félagi Auðr maintained their reputation as fearsome raiders, and no Fylkir had ruled without earning his place at the head of the troops. So when the warband next boarded the boats, standing in their mist was Fylkir Baldewin.
This flow of gold to Castle Lade from both inside and outside the realm meant that when Ale requested more funds to continue the search for the rumoured blade of Fylkir Bjorn, there was plenty available. More than just a search for a piece of history, Fylkir Baldewin saw the search for his forbearers weapon as integral to maintaining the prestige of House Herja.
When the King of Rus wrote to him reporting of the ignoble behaviour of visiting lord however, even the Fylkir knew that it would be better to face momentary humility than risk an alliance that was integral to the realms prosperity. Swallowing his pride, a return letter was carried to the king in the east bearing apologies for his vassal’s behaviour. Upon the minor lords return, he was not able to get away with his slight unpunished.
Once more word reached Castle Lade of a war closer than normal, as the fierce rivalry between the Swedes and Danish once again resulted in war. The lands on the southwest of the peninsula have been contested between the kingdom and republic since the founding of both.
Foreign wars were removed from council agenda when reports of a rebellion by minor nobles and landholders. Angered at the incorporation of their lands into the Norge and the loss of the prestige of the now defunct Kingdom of Pomerania, the leader of the rebellion raised his banner hoping to reforge that crown and nation.
Underestimating the threat, the Fylkir ordered the local Duke to raise the local levies to deal with this menace. Ambushing the men as they mustered, the loyal soldiers were massacred as they were wholly unprepared for the well-disciplined and motivated foe that faced them.
Despite the focus on internal matters, interesting news came from the battle torn Hellenic lands where the Pope had called a Crusade for the ancient city of Athens. Despite the great boon this would be for the Greek queen in her attempts to rebuild the glory of the former kingdom, she was already at war with the Revendids and rather than co-ordinate forces the Pope rallied support for a separate attack. Whether this would help or hinder the Greek effort would remain to be seen.
With the local levies overwhelmed, reinforcements were sent to meet up with the men that had fallen back. Resupplied and re-energised, they marched back towards Pomerania to avenge their fallen and remove the rebel stain from their homes.
Meeting on the fields outside the city of Mecklenburg, where the rebels had constructed siege equipment attempting to breach the walls. Like heroes of old the hardened troops charged into the demoralised rebels – siege warfare has never been good on the moral of either attacker or defenders.
In the end, it was the rebels who were forced to retreat after suffering massive losses. Almost half the number of men that had been a part of the siege force laid dead on the ground as their compatriots fled. Unlike the previous retreat, the loyalists did not allow their foe a chance to recover and chased after them. With their death marked the end of the embarrassing but short-lived Pomeranian Rebellion.
Able to return his hand to matters of state and the continuance of his family’s dominance, Fylkir Baldewin started to bring his son and heir to council meetings. After meeting the realms Marshal, the young heir is taken under his wing to learn the ways of a warrior.
And part of that warrior’s way was leading men into battle. Leading the men far south to the Iberian Peninsula, Fylkir Baldewin lead an assault upon the coastal provinces of Asturias. Attacking the personal holdings of the king himself, the message was clear; the kings of the north were strong and their reach, far.
Not all the gold was bound for the coffers in Castle Lade, the Jomsvikings were a holy cause and thus donations were a holy act. They were warrior-priests; whose congregation was the battlefield. Although the order had land in Angland that was used to support itself, theirs was a hard and expensive life and they required donations from rulers to continue their works. For unlike the Wolves of Midgard, whose role was to be the bulwark between the Catholics and the Norse, the Jomsvikings were attackers and raiders, whose mission was to bring the wrath of the gods upon the unbelievers.
An update arrives from the neighbour on their border. The boy-king of the realm of Svipjod or Seva Rike, depending on who ruled, had embarked upon that great family pastime of war with the Danish merchants. This time it was for control of the vital island of Aland.
One morning, whilst hunched over a desk dealing with matters of state Mayor Ale bursts in. Having left several weeks earlier on yet another trip to hunt for the artefact, he was not expected back for some time. Ordering in a companion, a twisted and rusted blade is placed upon parchments and books. Directing the Fylkirs attention to the hilt, there was the engraving of Fylkir Bjorn.
In order to be able to project its power, Fylkir Baldewin ordered the improvement of many shipyards under control of the crown. In a naval empire such as Norge, having a large army meant that a large supporting navy was required to transport these men, lest they be forced to march long distances before even meeting their foe. In times of peace, these ports would be used to spread trade and influence.
On the very edges of the kingdom, the last of the major settlements of Catholics in Holland are converted to the true faith. Finally, the people of Norge followed one faith, they were the sons of Odin.
Knowing that he did not have long for this world, Fylkir Baldewin starts to prepare his realm for his heir. Diverting attention from possibilities of expansion of the realm to expansion of possibilities within the realm, the administration was expanded and functionaries employed.
Expanding the court system to allow access by peasants to air grievances at regular appointments. This won the Fylkir support from the common people, as they now had a way to air grievances against their fellows and even their lords. What was supposed to be a display in the righteous display of benevolence, quickly became an exercise banality as it devolved into petty squabbles between petty people. Listening to these people drone on wore the Fylkir down, and those closest to him started to notice changes in their leader’s behaviour, a smile would not cover as much of his face and a laugh would not be as joyous.
However, the exacerbation caused by this council did serve to have an unexpected benefit. The heir to the realm, Prince Amaneus, saw the benefit that came from the patience that his father was showing to those below him.
The trade routes that spread from the capital, many of which has been established many generations ago, were in constant need for expansion and supply. Several of these were run by the crown, and therefore the royal treasury was needed to pay for expenditures.
The trade routes were not the only area that was in constant need of expansion, as the need for protection whilst traveling was one of the few things raised during the peasents councils. Several groups from the province of Sjaelland had raised the issues of travel and the Fylkir decided to act. This province would be the start of a great improvement to the realm to put in place a system of guard posts and then roads.
This grand project would never come to fruition however, as before the orders were signed the Fylkir was found dead in his bed. Next to take the throne was a young man, almost at maturity but still requiring a regent for a few years before being able to ascend to the throne in his own right. The Fylkir had hoped to hold on for a few more years, time to prepare his son and for him to reach an age where his rule would be unchallenged, however this would not to be.

Next chapter:

Game: Crusader Kings II

The Trials of the Sons of Odin: A Paradox AAR. Chapter 14: The Warrior-Scholar (Part 1)

Images: 35, author: RandomHero1992, published: 2017-12-30

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