Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bretwalda - Daggers of Oxenaforda pt.2 - Ousted

Location: Oxenaforda area, Danelaw's territory, Border with Wessex.
Time: January
Character Cast:


New in town, Brynjar has usurped the leadership of a small group of dane invaders. They are seeking fertile lands for their family still cooped up on Eofforic (York), and are hoping to steal lush pastures from the Saxons. With Guthrum's army marching onwards, and the edge of Wessex pinned on Oxenaforda, Brynjar and his danes are in a frontier town where everything is possible (and messy).

Brynjar trying to play nice with angry danes.


Beckley, 3km off Oxenaforda, First lights
The Danes in the fort pulled themselves out of their drunken stupor only to learn that Alda, their leader, had died of his wound overnight. Osmond's murderous dagger had bled him dry through an existing wound without leaving a trace. The news swelled in the fort as if is was about to blow up. Eydis, the temperamental matriarch, prompted Aarne to get the horses ready for an escape. The pair could feel that the news of Alda's death wouldn't end well for them. Their leader, Brynjar, was convinced that he could assert his leadership over the unruly Danes. Aarne made up a prophecy, but the poem instead sent waves of confusion amongst the Danes. Brynjar, made lots of noise to appeal to their boisterous nature while Hallvard was trying to isolate the second in command (Bjorn) and secure support for Brynjar. Things devolved quickly: Alda's men would never rally under Brynjar. Everyone sensed that their welcome was expiring in the most violent way.

Brynjar asserted that he did kill Alda in a fair fight, and negotiated a way out of the fort for his retinue without much more than jeers as injury.

Beckley's town centre, early-morning
When the clan made its way out of the fort, they were met with a group of Saxon villagers converging from their dwellings. One of the Saxon was a blacksmith. He clearly didn't seem to be interested in talking to the Dane until Hallvard, in perfect Saxon, explained that Alda had been defeated by Brynjar. The reaction to the news was surprisingly positive. Hallvard got from him that the villagers were waiting on the sideline to take down the invaders. Seeing in Brynjar's retinue the enemy of enemies, a match made in hell was forged.

Aarne making prophecy up by bustin'
At that time, jeers from the top of the palisade mixed with the throw of a spear. The projectile bounced off the heavy sleeve of Hallvard's cloth armour. The Saxons and Brynjar's Danes dispersed. Hallvard and Osmond volunteered to be messenger to warn the Earldorman of the developing situation. They left for Oxenaforda within the hour and sped to walled city.

Still in Beckley, Brynjar leveraged his mounted status to command respect and leadership over the rabble. He directed the 80-strong group of men to encircle the fort to seal Alda's danes inside.

In side the walls of Oxenaforda
Hallvard and Osmond entered the city without being stopped at the gate. They galloped into a mire of mud and fecal matter up to the citadel. The guards are the porticullis interrogated the odd pair of a smartly dressed dane and a cornish dwarf. Soon, they were ushered into the citadel to meet with the Earldorman.

Hallvard explained the situation and impressed on the timeliness of the opportunity to re-take the fort in Beckley. Eoffrey, the Earldorman of Oxenaforda (Oxford), accepted the take Hallvard inside his household as a reward. The Earldorman rallied his theigns and set upon to march out of the city to Beckley within the hours.

While the meatheads were suiting up, Hallvard scoured the citadel in search of his sly counterpart in the Earldorman's household. However, the chaos engendered by the mobilization distracted his search such that he had to leave before he had found his target. Osmond also disappeared on a similar errand.

By early afternoon, a force of 62 spearmen, 9 theigns and the Earldorman marches out of Oxenaforda and up the highway leading to Beckley.

Beckley, late afternoon.
Hallvard, complex yet beautiful man.
The shouting match subsided between the Saxons and the Danes over the palisade. Women brought food and mugs of beer. Brynjar and Aarne made the rounds to make friends. There was much interest in Korda, Aarne's pet wolf. Brynjar and Aarne decided to leverage this into a brand building exercise by starting to refer to Brynjar as "the wolf". The Saxons were definitely trusting Brynjar and his danes. Eydis disappeared to socialize with whom she thought were the main players in Beckley. It became clear that the majority of the folks in Beckley were not christians. This was a welcomed surprise.

By late afternoon, kids ran into the village to announce the arrival of the Earldorman. The army relieved the villager and encircled the fort. Aarne, capitalizing on the fact that the Earldorman himself was pagan, improvised another false prophecy. The Eardorman received well the news that Brynjar the wolf was to introduce him to Guthrum, Bretwalda of the known world, and advancing with his army to subjugate the King of Wessex.

The Earldorman, aided by Hallvard as translator and accompanied by Brynjar and a few Saxon theigns, met with Bjorn (the new Dane leader) and 4 of his warriors. Brynjar was still determined to take over the place, but the Earldorman managed to negotiate the ceeding of the fort to the Saxons without bloodshed against a free passage out of Oxenaforda. The slaughter of the danegelt escort would be disregarded.

As the last of Bjorn's dane left the fort amidst the jeers of the Saxons, they entered the place to find it in a decent state. The coffer with the danegelt had been thinned out, but the strategic location was back in his hands. The fort was entrusted to a theign who was a relative to the deceased Theign of Beckley.

Eoffrey the Earldorman of Oxenaforda formally invited Brynjar's danes to be his guest. They left Beckley and arrived at the citadel in Oxford by torchlight.

End state

  • Brynjar has sided with a Saxon noble to evict Guthrum's dane. Can this be smoothed out?
  • Brynjar's dane have made allies of the people of Beckley.
  • Brynjar is now a guest/hot potato for the Earldorman, but at least is going to remain close.
  • Gurthrum's army is assumed to be marching onwards with an ETA of 30-90 days.
  • Hallvard has added the Earldorman as a patron.

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