The Chronicles of Hroar: The Exiled Warlord

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Chapter 1 The Exiled Warlord



The scar on his chest stinged as he saw the dark red and dark blue flags billowing on the wind. The waves lapped at the bow of the small vessel that made its way to the pier jutting from the little piece of rock he called home. It had belonged to on of his father’s enemies and the Jarl was courteous enough to let him keep that little piece of land. The loss of his challenge against the Jarl still stung, beyond the scar that it left. It was a deep wound that carved into his soul. The exile was as if he had lost every reason to live. Gudrun seemed to have almost welcomed it. She enjoyed his company and spent most of her time reading books and singing old songs. It was almost as if she thought that him losing the challenge was the best thing that ever happened to them. But she didn’t understand. How could she? She had never gone to battle. She did not revel in the beauty, the violence and the brutality of it. And he did. And he missed it.
And here they were. Coming back to him. He saw that bastard Thorfinn grinning on the bow of the ship. As if they were close friends.
Fool.
That stupid grin could catch the blade of his axe if he did not state his business soon. The boat’s timbers banged against the pier.

“Hroar, my dear friend!” the fool bellowed, “We need to talk.”
 
 
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Chapter 2 Voyage of the Fyrdraca



He rested his hand on the top bowstrake. It felt good to sail again. The creaking of the wood and the oars as his ship the Fyrdraca flew over the waters of the Mirrorsea. The sea breeze blowing through his hair gave him happiness.
A small island slid by a small tree waving in the same breeze, almost as if it were wishing them farewell on their voyage. A spray of sea water splashed in his face as the bow pierced a wave. Rán was merciful this day.
“So? What do you think of the offer?” the fool said.
Hroar sighed and turned to him.
“Why do you think this offer would end any other way than our last?”
“Yes, but this time it is different. The Jarl is wounded. He is old and will not endure much longer.”
“He endured me. Do not underestimate Jarl Rygnar.”
The fool smiled.
“But you will take up the challenge Hroar? If the Jarl sees fit to die?”
Hroar contemplated his words. The challenge against the Jarl had left him defeated. And though he was able to wound his old friend, it did not seem enough. The Jarl had not only defeated him, but he had also refused him Valhalla. Rygnar had exiled him. Humiliated him.
But it was the words he said before he exiled him that had hurt the most.
“You are wrong, Hroar. They deceive you.”
There was a look of disappointment in Rygnar’s eyes when he uttered those words. And it caused a doubt in Hroar that he had not felt before. Ever. Hroar’s gaze fell upon Thorfinn. Was this one of ‘They’ that Rygnar warned him about? It had been Thorfinn who came to him and planted the idea in his head to pursue the challenge. And now he wanted him to do something that went against the honor and tradition that had made their people so strong, feared and even revered along the continent.
“Hroar?”
The shrewd eyes on this fool’s head looked at him trying to read Hroar’s face.
“I will. But first I need to see an old friend.”
 
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Chapter 3 Gerulf's Cottage



A bellowing voice echoed through the trees around them.
“By Odin’s beard, if that is not little Hroar!”
Hroar kept his gaze on the long spear levelled perfectly to pierce his gut. The creature holding the spear looked grim and serious as one of his hooves scraped across the ground. In the corner of his eye he saw a human figure walking up to him, but he never took his eyes from the centaur standing in front of him.
“King Athanares, you can lower your spear. He may look like an intruder, but I can assure you that he is harmless.”
Hroar’s gaze flicked to his old friend for a moment as stepped between the tip of the spear and Hroar and looked him in the eyes.
“Well, maybe not harmless, but he is of no threat to me,” Gerulf spoke, but his look turned serious. ”Or is he?”
“I am not.”
The seriousness disappeared as soon as Hroar said those words. The centaur king lowered his spear and he saw his three soldiers do the same. One of them relaxed his bowstring, but kept the arrow notched.
Hroar looked at Gerulf and tried hard to stifle a grin as his old friend stood in front of him. His friend was old in more ways than one. The lines, wrinkles and scars in his face told a story all by themselves. A story that entwined with his own for most of their lives. Was he as old as his friend? He had to be. But somehow it didn’t feel like it.
“What brings this old fool to my humble abode?” the rumbling voice asked as he stepped closer to Hroar. His humble abode was shrouded in the shadow of a large tree. Hroar clasped his hand around that of his old friend. It was somewhat odd to see the man he had stood shoulder to shoulder with in many shield-walls, he had seen him carve his way through dozens of warriors. Yet here he lived in this peaceful and tranquil cottage. Was that guilt he felt inside? Was it wrong to take his friend on this mission of madness? Hroar hesitated and looked at Gerulf who did seem genuinely pleased to see him. He smiled at his old friend.
“Well, we have much to discuss. How fares the Ormurinn?”
 
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Chapter 4 Arrival at the Cliffgate



Hroar looked up at the large tower. Nobody knew how old it was as it had stood here before the Frosgrim had sailed to these islands. But Nornaturinn had endured the rough seawinds and salty seawater and still stood atop the cliff. Hroar had always welcomed the sight as it meant calmer waters were ahead, all the way to Gladheim. But now it filled him with dread and anger. He saw the dark red and dark blue banner of Thorfinn high on the tower, suggesting he was the lord here. This was news to Hroar.
“Nornaturinn is Thorfinns?” Hroar asked.
“His eldest son’s, Dagfinn. He married Eldgrim's daughter since Eldgrim did not have any sons himself.”
Hroar nodded and looked back to where Sygfinn, Thorfinn’s youngest son, was leaning against the steering platform. The young man smiled at him, but was just out of earshot of Gerulf and himself.
Hroar was surprised how well informed Gerulf was. He might have been living remote on his woodland island, but apparently he still had someone inside the city supplying him with more than just food and ale. And now Gerulf had to smuggle him into the city like he was some sort of brigand and outlaw. Well, he was an outlaw so that part was right. Hroar pulled the hood of his cloak deeper over his face, hoping nobody would recognize him. He even combed his beard hoping it would be enough to fool people who would know him. Gerulf suggested shaving his beard off, but that was a line he would never cross.
“Do you think it is a smart thing to come here?” Gerulf asked him as the oar-banks rose and fell like the wings of a dragon. But this was not the Fyrdraca. The serpent’s head of the Ormurinn looked malicious as it protruded from the stern, its tongue lulling from the mouth.
“Smart or no, we have to come here. Aegill knows where the hammer is. It would be too obvious for him to leave his smithy,” Hroar turned to Gerulf, “But if you show up to talk to him as old friends, maybe bring a bodyguard into the city. A lot less conspicuous.”
Gerulf looked at him and Hroar could see the thoughts racing through his mind.
“I just hope nobody will recognize you, friend. As disguises go, this one is rather weak. I would much rather you just stay on the ship,” his friend pleaded.
“It is much easier for me to blend into a crowd in the city than it is for me among the crew here,” Hroar replied. It was mostly true. There was no reason for the harbour master to inspect the ship as long as only two people entered the city. So he would be safer on the ship. But he was tired of being told what to do and to hide like he had been for the past few years. He wanted to feel the life of a town full of people. He even yearned for the danger of being in a town that would hang him the moment they found out he had stepped ashore.
The bow thudded against the pier and Hroar stepped ashore, he saw the harbourmaster coming towards them as he fastened the ship to the pier. Here we go...
 
 
 
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Chapter 5 Stroll Through the City



“Are you sure you need the hammer?” Gerulf asked as they hurried through the streets.
“Don’t be preposterous, of course I do. If I am going to show them that I am worthy to lead the people from Frosgiath, they need to see the Hroar they know. And how can I be the Hroar that struck down Gimgrástr the Stonegiant, Hroar who crushed the traitor Arnfinn Hrafnhár’s skull beneath that very hammer, if I carry a common axe? No, they need to see Grimmur Göltur in my hand.”
“How are you so sure that Aegill has it?”
Hroar looked around him but nobody seemed to recognise him, as of yet.
“After the Jarl beat me I saw Aegill hide it under his cloak. If he does not have it he might at the very least be able to point us in the right direction.”
Although Hroar had not been in Nornaturinn often it felt like he was home. He could see the street urchins scatter out before them, as they would often for well armed men. The guards paid them little mind as both Hroar and Gerulf were not acting out of the ordinary and they were just arguing amongst themselves, not posing a threat at all.
“Hroar, I just…”
“Everything will be fine Gerulf, trust me. Aegill will welcome us with open arms,” He interrupted his friend. Hroar grinned as they hurried on, feeling more alive than he had in a long time. He was finally venturing again, tempting fate and his destiny.
 
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Chapter 6 Aegill's Smithy



“By Odin’s beard, leave! Have you become completely mad?” Aegill hissed beneath his breath as he hurried Hroar and Gerulf behind his forge, out of sight of people on the small square. Hroar opened his mouth and closed it again, surprised as to how his friend welcomed them. Aegill was still holding the tongs that clamped around the iron rim of a shield. His eyes were furious as he looked at Hroar and Gerulf.
“Well? I hope you are pleased with yourself, you just probably put us all in chains or on the gallows,” Aegill said softly but there was no mistaking the intention behind the tone of his voice, his eyes darted quickly across the square trying to see if they had been spotted.
“I, just… What do you mean?” Hroar asked, surprised and he looked at Gerulf. This was not at all how he expected to be greeted by the man who had been with him since he was a small boy. Aegill gazed at him with a look of astonishment.
“You have been exiled after you challenged the Jarl. Are… Are you of sound mind?”
“Well yes, I have been exiled. Me, not you nor Gerulf. I do not see why me visiting you would put both you and Gerulf in chains with me.”
Aegill shook his head and turned to Gerulf.
“You know of what I speak, he has visited all of the old crew. He told me that everyone has had the warning,” Aegill said. Hroar saw him clutching the tongs as he was seething of anger. He turned to Gerulf as well, who looked at both of them worried and surprised.
“I… Nobody visited me, not until Hroar showed up five days ago. Who gave out this warning?”
“Thorfinn. Thorfinn Gunnarson.”
Hroar felt as if someone had slapped him in his face. He had called Thorfinn a fool, but apparently it was he himself who had been foolish.
“Hroar?”
He looked up and saw that Gerulf and Aegill had been looking at him.
“Thorfinn visited you?”
“Yes. He told me that we were being watched and if any of us were to seek you out we would be put in chains and tried for treason.”
“That weasly piece of grizzled goatshit,” Hroar cursed and slammed his fist against the brick wall.
“What? Why? Can somebody please tell me what in Thor’s name is going on right now?” Aegill seemed to get impatient, his eyes flicked across the square every few moments as if he thought guards were coming marching across it every moment.
“Thorfinn came to me two weeks ago. He said the Jarl’s wounds have still not fully healed after our fight and asked me to take up the challenge when he should succumb to the wound. When the Jarl dies my exile ends and I am free to take the challenge to become the new Jarl.”
“Then why did he give us that warning?”
“Because he wants to be the hero that brought down the treasonous Hroar Thrugilsson.”
Hroar looked at Gerulf and saw the realisation turn to anger on his old friend’s face.
“I only told you where I went, Thorfinn did not know where I was living. If he had known I would have gotten the warning as well.”
“Where is Thorfinn now?” asked Aegill urgently.
“At my place,” Gerulf replied grimly.
“Not Sygfinn, who no doubt is hurrying to his brother as we speak. He seemed awfully eager to make port at the city.”
Hroar clenched his fist and jaw. He had been so preoccupied becoming a free man again that he had not found it odd that Thorfinn had shown up out of nowhere. Aegill cursed as he looked across the square again. Half a dozen men led by a formidable warrior made their way straight towards Aegill’s smithy. Aegill sighed and dropped the tongs walking over to a chainmail coat which he started to put on. He fastened a sword-belt around his waist and nodded to Hroar. Aegill had been his man ever since he could wield a sword and Hroar swallowed and swore. Gerulf grabbed a shield and seemed to estimate the weight in his hand as he slowly drew his sword. Hroar walked to one of the war-axes on the wall grabbing the handle firmly.
“I think the time for disguises is over,” he spoke as he lifted the axe free and pushed the hood back..
 
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Chapter 7 Brawl in the Low Quarter



Nornaturinn was essentially two cities, the High Quarter and the Low Quarter. The Low Quarter had its own harbour, but it lay in a bay, making it hard to traverse for larger ships. And because it lay in a bay that was shielded by cliffs and strange currents, most warships made port at the Cliffgate, for the wind was strong and ever present, making it a quick way to sail off towards Gladheim and other cities to the south. Which is why Hroar had made port there. The harbour in the Low Quarter was bigger and used by most merchants to moor there for it was easier to sell their wares. Leaving the port was mostly troublesome as you had to row against a strong current and wind. But fate had forced Hroar hands as he made his way towards the Low Quarter’s harbour. There were only three men left from the half dozen that had made their way to Aegill’s smithy and Hroar and his men’s weapons were bloodied as they made their way to the seaside. Hroar wondered why Dagfinn had sent only half a dozen men to him when he heard the clattering of sword on sword and shield and a scream filled with anger.
“Gunnbjorn,” Aegill exclaimed and hurried through the alleyways.
Of course… Hroar thought. Aegill was not the only one of his men who had made their home in Nornaturinn and apparently Dagfinn, the treacherous’ Thorfinn’s son had sent men to all Hroar’s former men.
They rushed into the square that lined the harbour and saw the slaughter that had happened there. A massive man was swinging his sword and Hroar saw at least four men in front of him, some without limbs, some with grievous wounds and others not moving anymore. Still half a dozen men stood around him, more careful and their shields held high to protect themselves from this beast of a warrior. Mere moments later Aegill attacked the guards from behind, breaking their ranks as Hroar and Gerulf joined. Gunnbjorn bellowed a laugh as he saw his old mates come to his aid. The guards had not woken up that day to be pitted against seasoned warriors and the remaining few scattered to find safety in the narrow alleys and away from swinging blades and axes and the four of them stood alone. All the merchants had sought refuge in the stores, warehouses and behind stalls.
“Good to see you lord,” Gunnbjorn thundered and clasped Hroar’s arm.
“Likewise, Gunnbjorn, I see your lust for carnage is still as strong as ever,” Hroar grinned and looked around the square but his gaze quickly fell on a row of boats.
“Who else of our men is still in the city?” Gerulf asked Aegill as they made their way to the pier.
“Beside Gunnbjorn, just me and…”
“And us,” a woman’s voice interrupted him as she and a man appeared from a different alleyway. Her blade was slick with blood and the man had an arrow nocked on his longbow as they made their way to the jetty.
“How did you know where to find us?” Gerulf asked as they made their way to one of the ships that looked the most seaworthy. Although Gyda was a woman she was more than formidable in a shieldwall and deadly where her long thin blade. She pointed her blade to Gunnbjorn.
“He’s never been subtle so it was quite easy. As soon as we heard his shout we knew they were attacking our crew.”
“How many men did they send your way?” Hroar asked as they clambered over the bowstrakes into the ship.
“Only four,” she answered disgusted. Most men underestimated her dearly.
“They probably did not expect me to be there,” Orvar, the bowman, tried to reassure her but she evidently thought it was still a grave insult that they did not send more men.
“Why did they not expect you?” Hroar asked as he looked at the square, expecting more guards to appear any moment.
“Because I just arrived yesterday, lord,” Orvar replied as he grabbed the bowstrake.
“I am sorry, Orvar, but I have a different mission for you. I need you to make your way to the Cliffgate and warn the crew of the Ormurinn to set sail and meet us just south of Ràn’s Daughters.”
Orvar nodded and made his way along the pier back inside the city. If they did not know Orvar was in the city they might not be on the lookout for him.
Hroar heaved the mooring lines into the ship and they set off, just in time to see the guards stream onto the square. But it was too late. Hroar pushed on the steering oar as Gerulf, Gyda, Aegill and Gunnbjorn pulled heavily on the oars, making the eaglehead-prowed ship slide across the bay.
“Where are we going, lord?” Gunnbjorn asked.
“I still do not have my damned hammer,” Hroar replied and steered the ship southward.


 
 
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Chapter 8 The Settlement at Greycliff



The eagle-prowed ship thumped against the wooden pier. Hroar jumped ashore and turned to Aegill.
“You are sure it is here?” he asked as he helped the man get ashore as well.
“I am sure I left it here, what my brother has done with it I do not know.”
Hroar nodded and turned to the small settlement built on the scattering of cliffs in the north of Frosgiath. Men and women here were tough, they had to be for it was not an easy living. A large man approached them, the sides of his head shorn, just like Hroar did, but his hair was graying though he was not much older then Hroar. The large dark skinned man he knew to be Taelor and it was odd to see a southerner this far north. Hroar also knew that his skill in battle was ferocious and he was glad they were not welcomed with leveled spears.
“Brother! Who do I have to curse for your ugly mug to have come visit me!” thegn Sihtric asked playfully as he walked up to Aegill, his brother. Aegill smirked and embraced the thegn. Aegill was the youngest of four brothers and therefore not eligible for a large inheritance, so he sought out to carve an inheritance for himself and Hroar had always found him as one the most hardworking of his crew. Most of his crew went home after his exile and some even died in raids by other warlords. But he sent a raven to the few he could trust that were still alive.
“We are here for the hammer, brother,” Aegill answered as they made their way to the hall on top of the cliff. Hroar looked around them. These people were thriving. Even though it was colder and more inhospitable than further south. They seemed happy. For a mere moment Hroar even envisioned Gudrun and himself settling down here. Sihtric’s voice shattered that vision.
“It is not here.”
Hroar frowned and stopped in his tracks.
“Where is it? Aegill said he left it with you in safekeeping.”
“This is true. Thorfinn and his minions were said to sail along our coasts and everywhere else to find out who would show allegiance to you. I could not risk him finding it here. So I hid it.”
Hroar clenched and unclenched his fist, her stared out at sea before turning back to the thegn.
“Where? Where did you hide it?”
“Up north, near Thinturinn. The Elves hid it in one of their temples. Look, Hroar, I was not sure what would happen and I have to protect my people first of all. That hammer would have condemned them all and it was not a risk I was willing to take. For all I knew you would wane away on your little island and the hammer would be safe in their hands.”
Hroar nodded and sighed. He could not hold it against Sihtric for it was not his problem that Hroar sent himself into exile.
“You are in luck though, Ithroniel has come to visit us and can serve as guide to her homelands. You will have your hammer back in no time.”
 
 
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LegoRK
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Mooie bouwwerken  :duim:
Helaas leest het Engels voor mij lastig.
 
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Raven
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Heel leuk verhaal met diverse aanknopingspunten voor mooie bouwwerken. Daarnaast erg mooi gebouwd, de sfeer van het verhaal zie ik ook terug in de bouwwerken. Erg goed uitgevoerd
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JeroenD
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Super toffe bouwwerken :duim: zeg en typisch jouw dat je er uitgebreide verhalen bij schrijft. Daar moet ik nog eens extra lang voor gaan zitten.
Ik ben benieuwd naar de toekomstige bouwwerken.
 
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VlieBricker
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LegoRK schreef: vr mar 04, 2022 7:46 am Mooie bouwwerken  :duim:
Helaas leest het Engels voor mij lastig.
 


 
Ik herken dat wel. Daarom heb ik getracht om deze Cronicles te vangen in het Nederlands, voor degenen die het lastig vinden om de aandacht bij dit lange verhaal te houden. Ik heb het in een pdf-je gezet, die kan iedereen wel openen. Ik zal proberen dit aan dit bericht te koppelen zodat iedereen die dat wil deze zelf kan opslaan en op z'n/ haar gemak nog eens kan nalezen.
 
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LegoRK
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Bedankt Vliebricker!
Ga ik binnenkort eens voor zitten.
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