Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bretwalda - Daggers of Oxenaforda pt.3 - Iced-in

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


The Earldorman of Oxenaforda has invited Brynjar's danes to live under his roof in the citadel. Brynjar is itching to find a way to capitalize on this new trust from the Saxon noble. As winter is settling in, life takes a slow turn. The downtime highlights the perils of two marching armies set to clash over the city.

If another one gets diarrhea, I'm going to lose it.


Oxenaforda, First lights
After their arrival in Oxford, Brynjar's danes settled into the citadel and attempted to make a space of their own. Brynjar placed himself in the service of the Saxon Earldorman. Aarne befriended a pagan seer named Ragnar. An anti-christian resistance galvanizing around Ragnar. Hallvard spent time building a network of spies, with tentacles spanning the whole town. Brynjar and Aarne tried to engage the Earldorman into discussing a gift of land. This approach failed due to distractions as the birth of a the Earldorman's child was imminent. Hallvard queried his spies for potential farmstead sites where they could negotiate for. They were recommended to check a location near the hamlet of Foresthills.

Foresthill, 1 hour outside of Oxford
The bones are telling me pretty crazy 
stuff tonight.
Brynjar, Hallvard, Eydis and Aarne rode to Foresthill in search of a farmstead that burnt down and was never reclaimed. They passed by another stead that they assumed to belong to the theign of Foresthill. As they crossed the vale, Aarne noticed two men following them on foot. As the rest of the party explored the singed ruins, Aarne met for the stalkers.

The man was a theign, accompanied by a teenage boy. Aarne introduced themselves as the new owner of the stead, by proclamation of the Earldorman. The theign invited the danes to a meal at his home. There, they discovered that the Saxon knight was wealthy and successful. He had more tenant living in cottages than his estate really need, and had a stockpile of weapons to match. After a long conversation, Brynjar asserted that the theign has had some kind of side deal with Alda, the defunct dane leader (that they had killed a few weeks ago).

The theign was a widower just like the Earldorman. It appeared that consumption had claimed the lives of a lot of people during the past year. He attempted to court Eydis, and the other danes didn't interfere. Eydis made her usual display of contempt for the situation.

Birth of Maeve
The Earldorman had remarried very quickly after losing his wife and kids in the previous year. His new wife, Maerwynn, remained in labour for the best of the night. The household stayed up amidst the distant screams of childbirth. The full moon was driving Aarne nuts, and he has to retreat deep into an adjacent building to escape the screams and the blue light of lady moon. By early morning, a healthy baby girl was born. Eoffrey, Earldorman of Oxenaforda, paraded like a proud father.

It crossed the dane's mind that the mother, recovering in her bed at the moment, could believably die without anyone thinking about it twice. However, Aarne consulted the bones and the omen weren't good for such sinister endeavour. The Earldorman requested of Aarne an omen to mark Maeve's birth. Aarne read from the bones that Maeve's blood was brining together Saxons and Danes under Guthrum's banner. Hallvard tasked his network to spread the omen to the townsfolks. Soon, gifts from the more affluent town denizens started to arrive.

Oxford, one really bad day.
I've got a finger in every pie in Oxford
The freezing rain increased and Oxford slowly sank under the weight of blue sheer ice. The sky was purple, gray, and lifeless. The stone structure of the citadel creaked. The collapse of wooden constructions within the city walls was frequent. Townsfolk started to stream in the citadel in search of a dry patch to warm their bones. Soon, the citadel was overflowing and they began turning down people at the portcullis.

After the rain ended, a cold snap came down on the region. It turned 5-7cm of ice into steel-hard plates. The region was devastated. Overcrowding in the citadel and the remaining standing buildings soon devolved into dysentry (or something like that). Few were spared but the Earldorman.

Aarne, Brynjar and Hallvard set out to find medicinal material in the woods of Foresthill. Hallvard couldn't handle riding on sheer ice and returned to Oxford. Although the excursion was not successful due to all of that ice, they did assess the devastation and could report to the Earldorman.

When they arrived, the news of Maeve's death sank their hearts. The Earldorman had given to grief. Panic settled in the citadel and started to spread to the city.

General panic
A council of theigns was held to find a way to take control of the situation while the Earldorman was out of his mind. Beaduric was the natural next in command as Eoffrey's most trusted theign. Beaduric didn't, however, have that kind of people's skill and made the situation worst by adding his booming screams to these of the distressed population.

Aarne consulted the bones and the gods told him that Eydis was better off dying of fever than be healed. He instructed the maids to refrain from giving her water "as it made her fever worst".

Aarne took over and rallied the household with a poetic-sounding, omen emulating, string of soothing words. The gods clearly had rained on Oxford for its transgression over them, and Brynjar the wolf was here to make things right. Hallvard tasked his spies to rally folk to listen to Aarne in the town square. Aarne's broken Saxon words calmed their hearts and they regained composure. With the help of the Danes, Oxford would prevail under the banner of the Earldorman.

The next fives days were spend chipping ice, salvaging lumber to rebuild shelters, and making large pots of food. Eydis survived despite Aarne's attempt to let her die. All of the household busied to recover from the natural disaster. Brynjar enlisted the help of the Theign of Foreshill to have lumber cut from the woods to relieve Oxford.

Intrigue: Econbert, theign of Wessex
The news that a knight from King Aelfred's court arrived spread like wild fire in the citadel. King Aelfred was apparently raising an army to meet Guthrum and defend Oxford. The Earldorman tasked Brynjar to lead a mission to locate the advancing Danes and report back. Econbert insisted in being part of this mission as he didn't trust danes to negotiate with more danes. Fully award that the Earldorman wasn't keen on the Christian King to the south, they cooked a double-crossing plan to delay Wessex long enough to hand over Oxford to Guthrum, and keep the Earldorman in charge of the city. The only problem was to deal with Econbert. Their solution was to invite Osmond, the cornish dwarf assassin who had dispatched Alda so effectively a few weeks ago.

Brynjar tried to deal a land grant via his slave, Hallvard. The sharp tongue of the seer sealed the deal in the end. The ruins off Foresthill was theirs to occupy when the warm season would return.

On the third day of riding, they spotted a column of at least 1000 danes marching south toward Oxford. Upon that sight, Econbert bid his farewell to alert the Saxons and hurry the march of Aelfred's army. However, the others weren't inclined to let this news leak. Osmond got trampled trying to hold Econbert's horse and Aarne slammed the knight to the ground. The knight got incapacitated by a freak groin-first landing on a ice boulder. Out of breadth, and with a soprano-like quality to his voice, Econbert was now a prisoner.

The danes turned back toward the marching army. Eydis, ward of Guthrum, was the only one smiling. Out of these warrior probably stood the danes that they had betrayed to gain the favour of Oxford.

"Hold my beer, boys, I got this."

End state

  • Econbert is prisoner of Brynjar's danes. 
  • Guthrum's army is about 6 days away from Oxford.
  • Brynjar is a leading theign of Oxford. 
  • Oxford's people are favourable to a god-sanctionned new era of peace under the Danelaw.
  • Brynjar obtained land grant near Foresthill. 


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  2. Well, that's an interesting campaign you have going there, I'm impatient to read more about it :)

    1. Thanks. Something particularly devious is in the making for next session.