Open Chronicles The Festival of the Pale King

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Arnor Skuldsson

The Axe of Knottington
Nordenfiir
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264
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Arnor looked over at her. Jobs were everywhere. She wanted something more than just a steady income.

"It's more than a job to you, isn't it?"

He remarked, folding his hands behind his back. He marched with her back up to the main area of the festival, where the warmth of the lights bathed them and the general mood improved.

"The most important her I know would certainly help you out." He said, looking around for the redhead of his dreams. He absent mindedly touched the lock of hair she gave him, braided into his own.

"You aren't trying to speak to the Queen by chance, are you?"
 

Ellory Duvstrih

Shield Maiden
Nordenfiir
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7
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The sound of the packed snow beneath Ellory's boots stopped as she turned to look at Arnor. There were many women she could have been looking for, but he had pinpointed the Queen in an instant. Perhaps he could help her. Even though Ellory had spent the majority of her life serving the Queens grandfather, she had no idea what Queen Maude looked like. She had simply been hoping that the crowd would lead her to the right person.

"That is exactly who I am trying to speak to. I," she paused wondering what she should share with this man. "I was a Shield Maiden for King Iordahn and I am hoping to return to my purpose in her Queensguard." If she will have me, Ellory lamented. "Do you know her?"

Arnor Skuldsson
 

Arnor Skuldsson

The Axe of Knottington
Nordenfiir
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264
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Did he ever know her.

In fact, the question made him abruptly stop walking for a moment. He did know her, in fact she was never far from his mind. He instinctively reached for the hair braid, woven in with is far too early graying hair.

"I do. I haven't seen her in quite some time, however."

What he meant, and what the other woman could deduce is that he was avoiding her. For many.

Ellory Duvstrih
 

Ellory Duvstrih

Shield Maiden
Nordenfiir
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7
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Ellory could tell that there was something to his story, but she would not push him for details. Perhaps it would be different if she knew the man. She did not say anything else to Arnor as she continued to walk again. "I am guessing that she is not here yet?" She really wanted to ask if he would introduce her but she held her tongue.

"Would you be opposed to keeping me company at this festival for a bit? I feel wholly out of place here and I am not even sure what all is happening in town." Perhaps Arnor would be good company until the Queen arrived. Perhaps she could talk him into that introduction.

Arnor Skuldsson
 

Brenna

Cadet of The Sanctuary
Nordenfiir
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166
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Brenna countered the heightening disgust with a smile as warm as the Summerlands sun. This simple back and forth between them had become something of a mummers play and they both knew how it would end. As aptly demonstrated by Gylfi giving in, albeit roughly towards the stranger. The Nordenfiir rolled her eyes and shot the Outsider an apologetic look as he received the rough edge of Gylfi's tongue. Well, the rougher edge. Whereas Gylfi tramped through the snow like a plough Brenna walked across it with barely a indent left behind and her hands shoved into her pockets. Her eyes flickered rapidly between the two men to catch the words their lips soundlessly formed, her own twitching in amusement at the sudden change in how the outsider spoke.

She had just grabbed a hold of Gylfi's arm to sign her response to the offer of a drink when the Omen dropped in a bloody heap at their feet.

The fair-haired girl went almost as white as the snow but despite the shock and fear she was only a second behind Gylfi in performing the common sign to ward off evil. Her eyes opened wider when Garrod said the unthinkable after a time such as this, and even wider when Gylfi rounded on her and proclaimed he wouldn't help anymore.

Are you insane?! Her hands were a flurry of agitation and fear. You want to anger the Pale King and deny him a gift after this sign?! A bloody dove. She wracked her mind to remember what the old Sharman said about doves and what it might mean if one died at their feet. The end of a life? The end of something good? Her stomach churned and her complexion took on a green tint. Others were beginning to notice and shoot their own snotty snowballs at the bird whilst giving the three a wide berth.
 

Arnor Skuldsson

The Axe of Knottington
Nordenfiir
Messages
264
Character Biography
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Arnor turned to look at Ellory, suddenly feeling the weight of his twin swords and the lack of mountains around him. There was nowhere to run here, no creatures to fight and no deeds to accomplish.

He was simply back home.

Alone.

"Haven't seen her yet. She'll be around for this, I imagine."

Arnor's eyes flicked to a certain building, a great and tall home built in Faarin. It was taller than the others, easily recognizable in it's silhouette. Arnor gazed at it before speaking.

"I'm more out of place than you are."
 
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A turn, quick and with a snap, fingers curled with rage and a whole mountain of flesh tight with threat. Garrod looked on, wide eyed as his own muscles coiled and tensed, ready to spring anew. But he kept quiet, stayed ready and watched as large hands set to jab, gestures that looked as angry and frightful as the man who made them.

"Hey, easy now, I meant no harm by it," Garrod stammered, not wanting to get into another fight so soon after the last.

A pause in his mind as his previous savior gestured back, her own person showed fear too, but there was a defiance in her posture, a disagreement. Garrod's eye fell to the dead dove, spat on and covered in snow. He eased himself. He bent down and scooped up a bit of snow and summoned what constitution he could, and spat a phlegmy glob into the ice pack, then threw it on the dove.

"Better late than never, Sinns always said," he muttered, as he wiped his hand off on his cloak. He turned to the other two, and cleared his throat. "I uh, thank you for your help so far," he added, and looked deeper at the forest ahead. "I just take this into the forest, yes?" he adjusted his gift once more, and bowed to them slightly. "I think I can manage on my own then," he said as he rose up. He turned, and made his way onward.

As he passed around the bird he couldn't help but notice the small creature again, so covered in ice and mucus, the deep stain of blood still sunk into the snow around its fresh corpse. He cast his eye forward, keenly alert, and pressed forward into the woods. Colder then as the tall trees and their thick branches blocked out the sun.
 

Lodin Hjornsson

The Bloody-Nine
Member
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5
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Lodin's hazel eyes squinted in the cold winds seeing the far distance the visage of a settlement. He used what saliva he could muster within his mouth and spat on the ground. Usually the the sight of ones birthplace brought emotions of jubilation and euphoric recollection. For Lodin, the sight of Faarin was nothing short of pain and hate. Faarin was a hard life lived being one that was not blessed. It would of been a mercy if his father had discarded him at birth. Instead, Lodin lived a life in Faarin treated as a outcast, neglected and abused at almost every turn. The worst of it was from his own family. His father, Hjorn, ignored him at the best times and only acknowledge his existence under protest by one of his mates Dalla , Lodin's human mother. His older half brother was exceptionally abusive towards him. Good portion of the scars that Lodin bares were created by Sven.

At the mere thought of his brother, Lodin's left hand instinctively rubbed the large harden leather pouch that dangled off his left hip and attached to his belt. The contents within was all that was left of Sven, a heavy clothed covered cap of a skull, Sven's skull. A token Lodin took after killing him in a vicious duel just after their father's funeral nearly twenty years go. Since then, the faarinians would label him 'carennydd', or kinslayer in common. Lodin was not favoured to win, nor did most of the faarinians wanted him to survive. But here he was, still breathing the cold air they do.

Lodin's right hand jerked as the heavily laden mule protested the forced march and pulled against the reigns he had tightly gripped. Lodin could tell the mule was not long for life, the cold was getting to him even with the ox fur blanket covering him. With his nord strength, he tugged back on the mule forcing him further towards the village. Was cruel, but life was not fair at its finest, why should it be any different for this creature? The mule buckled and collapsed off to its right side, plunging into the snow as it weakly gasped for breath. Some of the load the mule was carrying scattered further off the path. A collection of exotic furs from the southlands and trinkets Lodin had acquired in his travels.

"So be it!" The Nord growled, judging the distance between the downed mule and the village. "The Pale King will have to get his offerings here!"

Lodin drew his long hunting knife from its sheath and quickly sunk it deep into the mule's throat, cutting it wide open to allow the steaming red fluid to flow thick and heavy. A quick death for the beast of burden. A small mercy as Lodin whispered a blessing in fiirevek over the dead mule and its loot. He then rose, cleaned the blood off his blade before sheathing it. He then would trudge onward, towards home.

---------

Sometime later in Faarin, deep in the village and at the heart of the festival. Lodin found entertainment watching a outsider, Garrod Arlette , getting a taste of the Faarin hospitality, only to be spared by a norden woman, Brenna , before the spectacle got more thrilling. Lodin couldn't tell why he found it amusing, even though he is Faarinian he was just as much of a outsider, or Straenseir in their native tongue, as the southman was. Here in Faarin Lodin would be called kinslayer which could be considered much lower in status than outsider. A distasteful title he had been given, though those that knew him in the south had a different name for him. The Bloody-nine, he was noted for his shroom fueled ferocity on the field of battle, or simply Ninefingers to moniker the physical attribute of his missing right hand middle finger. Foreign lands revered him as a respected warrior, home treated him as a burden.
 
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Gylfi Runarsson

Warrior
Nordenfiir
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114
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[I don't care! Not helping!]

Like his stature, Gylfi's stubbornness was also a mighty thing. The pair weren't given much more time to argue, however, as the outsider went off on his lonesome. Not that it was hard, anyway, to find where to go.

The towering Norden snorted and, turning back to Brenna, shrugged. Just like that, Gylfi was on to his next thought.

[Have you eaten?]
 

Brenna

Cadet of The Sanctuary
Nordenfiir
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166
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Brenna punched Gylfi square, hard, in the side before marching on past him in a fit of rare temper: she didn't like it when he was in one of his pig-headed moods. Besides, this was her home and it was a festival open to all. A stranger should be treated with kindness. Perhaps even more so when an omen such as that fell literally at their feet. The thought of the bloodied dove was almost enough to turn dowse her anger and send her running back for soup and bread but she knotted her hands into fists and ploughed on. It wasn't long before she caught up with the stranger despite his longer legs.

Deftly she tapped him on the shoulder then shook her head at the direction he was going, motioning for him to follow her a little further north with a tight lipped small smile. If he followed her he would realise he had been going in the wrong direction. Soon others begin to appear among the trees and with them the sight of hundreds of different offerings hung up or left among the tree roots.
 
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Dark shadows danced around Garrod as he ventured deeper into the woods, his mind so full of the image he had seen, the bird torn apart, and the three ravens that peered down from on high. Before he knew it, he was lost.

He stopped for a breath, his legs hot with effort, and his body not used to the cold air each lung-full took in. "I'm lost," he admitted to himself with a rueful smile. "Damn it all," he cursed as he cast his glance around. "It all looks the same,"

Then came a tap, quick and light, and he turned, just as quick and not so light, to find whatever it was that had touched him so and his arms clutched tight the bundled gift to his chest. It was the young woman who had saved him earlier. He blinked at her, dumb founded, and relaxed some as she bobbed her head and gestured toward a new direction.

Garrod glanced back at the aimless nothing he had marched so blindly toward, then at the figure of the woman, as she moved through the snow. "Right," he said to himself, and to her if she could still hear him, and he followed after.

It was not long before other people came into view, and their very sight warmed him enough to curl his lips up in a smile true.

"You are my savior twice now," he said, in earnest. "Thank you," though he remembered she could not hear him, and her head turned away, she could not see his lips to read. He nodded to himself, as they came to a clearing.

All around were the gifts laid in the white of snow, and the beneath the boughs and branches. Swords and axes, and piles of food. Some things shimmered with magic, while others looked old and rusted, their value, their worth, felt no less important still.

Garrod walked, slow as he took in the sight of so many a offering. But it was the sound of it all, of them all. Small chimes that tinkled and howled and sang with each cool breeze. It was the sound that stirred him most. A smile, warm yes, but sad too. He was not sure why, but he thought of old Sinns, of the time they had come out to this small place at the edge of the world. He cried some at the thought, and laughed a little too.

Remembering the need to show his lips, he turned his head toward the young woman. "Thank you," he uttered, and put down the gift which had been entrusted to him by old man Sigvind. He undid the wrap and revealed the fine piece of metal, so carefully shaped and masterfully crafted. It gleamed with an old magic, woven into it with runes older still.

He knelt there a moment, and bowed his head. To the Pale King? He could not say. But he took his hunting knife from his belt, and laid it there beside the axe. His head angled again toward his guide, some part of him wanted someone to hear, no, to know. "It was a gift, from the man who was my father," there was a cold wind that blew, but the chime which hung overhead sang its hallowed song, the scenes of an old story set to motion as the fine flutes clattered and clunked soft against each other, and the chill did not go so deep.

Garrod rose, and turned to the young woman, and wiped the tears from his eye. "Well, that was something," he said through a half-smile. "I really do owe you now, don't I? Beer and some food to start?"
 

Gylfi Runarsson

Warrior
Nordenfiir
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114
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It would have been like a fly bite, Brenna's punch, had it not caught him entirely unawares. And in the kidney.

"Oof!" he winced and immediately held his side, brow twisting in anger and jaw muscles dancing as he grit his teeth. "Fine! Whatever! Don't come asking me for a share of my bread or soup later!"

Brenna was storming off. His words never reached her.

"I'll fucking eat alone," the boy grumbled, then rubbed his side and stood up straight before stomping back towards the village.

While the tiny cadet guided the stranger to the altar, Gylfi found a longhouse to dine in and began to ravage a hearty stew and old bread.
 
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Arnor Skuldsson

The Axe of Knottington
Nordenfiir
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264
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Stalking away from the affair of the Shieldmaiden- Arnor made his way to the longhouse. He ran his fingers along the rocks that protruded just before the home, built into the solid rock of the Earth. A testament to the strength of the man who built it.

His father.

And the man who dwelled within, if memory served correct.

Arnor was a lot of things- a savior to some, a mercenary, a monster hunter, tracker, hunter, avenger, swordsman. But all those came after his first reality- he was a bastard, a murderer.

Patricide was the grievous sin of which he was guilty. His father was not without guilt or shame, either- the grave crime of disturbing the Pale King, even further in his hubris and foolishness, the attempted hunt of the great protector. In reality, Arnor had only hastened the death of his father. Whether by a broken bottle of liquor, or by the axe of a headsman, Arnor's father was doomed.

It was the only sensible thing that Arnor knew the prior King had sentenced in his wretched rule. Arnor stared upwards, each step measured and paced, a gait built on years of memory to fit into that groove and this groove, to avoid the ice collecting on that step and so and so forth.

And his hands grasped the door handle. The smell of burning wood, spices and light meat. A stew was on. A hearty meal prior to a hunt, or festival. Something to keep them warm during a hunt, or to relax.

His mother's recipe, if nose served him correctly.

Grimacing, Arnor opened the door, and prepared to face his brother for the first time since he not more than a child.
 

Brenna

Cadet of The Sanctuary
Nordenfiir
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166
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Brenna folded her arms over her chest and leaned against one of the trees as the stranger deposited his gift and made his silent prayers. She watched him curiously for a moment, before averting her eyes to afford him the respectful privacy and looking instead at the other Cadets dotted about the forest. They had all taken up a similar position to her for the appearance of being relaxed but with just the right amount of menacing that let it be known violence and disputes would not be tolerated here on this sacred ground. While she saw them she didn't really see them, her mind wandering back to what she had done to Gylfi. Guilt was a tight knot in her chest. But he had been an arse! But maybe she hadn't needed to punch him...

She blinked when Garrod appeared in front of her with tears in his eyes. A faint, sympathetic smile crossed her lips which grew into a grin when he mentioned food.

"That's what I am talking about," she said slowly then winked and begun to lead him back towards the busy town.
 
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Garrod nodded, pleased, and followed after his newfound guide. He was glad to have met at least one soul beside old Sigvind who brought some warmth to this frigid place, and he stayed close behind her as she paced through the snow-packed earth.

Crunch after soft crunch, each puff of their breath rose in wisps of warmth that left them, turned to fog that curled and stretched and dissipated. His muscles shivered and tried to keep that same warmth his lungs let go so freely. He supposed, as they walked, that it made sense then. If the body was left greedy for warmth, then the spirit too likely spared and rationed its own.

The Summerlander's cold contemplations came to a close as the calls for friends, far off and near, picked up in his ear. His eye cast up, and he saw bear after bear pad about, nuzzle others, and be embraced by bear and non-bear alike.

"I still can't say I'm used to it," he said at his guide's side, his voice measured, and there was a warmth therein. "But I feel as if I am fortunate all the same."

Come the longhouse, and there came the smells of roasted meats, sizzling fat, and butter hot in pans and pots that sat in blazes bright and fed. It immediately made him feel his hunger.

Garrod turned to the young woman. "So," he began. "What is good to eat?" He asked, a hungry gleam in his eye, and excited crook in his lip.