Stormfall Exile of the Varangia.
The brilliant minds at Stormfall: Saga of survival asked for some fanfiction the other day so I decided to write some.
When I came up with a plot I looked up some lore from both Saga....and Rise of Balur/Age of War. I've written some Stormfall fiction before so I relied on both (or all) games' lore to come up with the plot.
Since I did that it's only fair that I not only post it on the Saga of Survival page but here as well. With permission from the guys at Saga, I decided to post my work here as well.
Have a read, post a comment if you like and please tell me if you want to see some more.
Take care and see you in Darkshine!
It has been five years since the death of Greer the Elder, one of the mightiest lords of Stormfall. Internecine feuds that once ravaged the land have long abated and peace, at long last, reigned supreme over the common folk. It was time for Greer's heir to take the late lord's place as the one true ruler of those lands. Alas, ill omens hang about like a storm cloud....
The Legions of Balur have crossed over the Farwol mountains into Stormfall once more, they are led by a cunning Warchief called Gorvar the Red. Under Gorvar, the Hordes have smashed their way through the dwarven mountain defenses and pillaged all along the king's road. Oberon of Stormfall has called all the Lords and Ladies of Stormfall to arms to counter this threat. He has instructed the new Lady Greer to hold off the orc hordes long enough for reinforcements to arrive, under the command of Oberon's adoptive daughter Ser Amelie of Stormfall.
In ages past, House Greer was the first to defend the lands of Darkshine of the horde of orcs and their evil kin that came from beyond Farwol's ridge. Now the new heir Lady Vanera Greer, untested in the ways of war and has only started to learn how to rule, must pass this baptism by fire. If House Greer holds off Gorvar's Horde, Lady Vanera's reign will be accepted by all surrounding lords and her bannermen along with a long and prosperous fortune guarenteed by Oberon. Together with her younger siblings Varwynia, an warrior of Varangian descent, and Thorgal, a adept spear druid, and their adoptive uncle the dwarven lord Hadgar Dainson, House Greer stands on the precipe of glory or ultimate failure for should House Greer fail in stopping Gorvar's Horde, all of southern Stormfall would be defenseless against Balur's children.....
Beyond the Farwol's Ridge, Eastern Marshes.
Varwynia kept focused as the rain plummeted down from the dark skies above. Despite her flax linen hood, her auburn hair beneath it was sodden as were all her clothes. She felt clammy, cold and her throat started to burn as she suspected a common cold would suprise her in the morning. She quickly put that thought aside and focused on her prey. She went of the sodden road and followed the muddy deer tracks through the trees, thanking the gods for the reprieve from the rains as their mighty branches caught most of it, as quickly but as silently as possible. One wrong move, one snap of a branch was the difference between roasted venison or berry tea with turnips for the tenth time. She rubbed her green ring for good luck.
She kept her spear close as she moved through the forest, feeling the familar weight of the rocks on her purse along with the rope that served as her slingshot. A far cry from her days when she had access to all kinds of magical items back when she was a Varangia for House Greer. Only the spear, it's head made of dwarf metal with inscribed runes, was what she was allowed to take with her into exile. That spearhead, which she has named Bran after the god who created the stunty mountain folk, was the only thing she could truly rely on in the wilds. More reliable then any man, beast or magical spell she ever had the chance of knowing. She thanked her uncle Hadgar for that gift numerous times since her exile.
The rain lessened, the noise of raindrops dropped significantly. If the deer listened carefully, it could hear it's hunter. Varwynia slowed her pace as she made her way through the rushes. She stopped. There it was. A tall, brown buck drinking from a small stream. It's brown fur still glistened from the rain and it's antlers seemed worn and yellowed. A old beast, no wonder she managed to keep up with it. She did not hesitate. Carefully she placed the spear down and took out her sling. With her blue eyes, she scanned the area. She rubbed her green ring. Her fingers found her purse and picked up the biggest rock she could. The rock was placed in the sling. She only had one shot at this, the briefest of moments. She quietly stood up and began swinging the sling, rolling her wrists to make momentum. The deer heard something but could not place it. It looked all over before his eyes met hers....and was about to dart away. The rock launched from it's sling and hit it's target. Right in the head.
The deer fell down to the ground, crying out in pain. Varwynia picked up her spear and darted for the downed creature. She leapt and slammed her spear into the deer's neck. It was dead in moments. Her breath come in shallows, it took her a moment for her heart to calm down. The adrenaline left her body, leaving a sense of bliss. A smile danced on her lips. She did it. She killed the deer. Immdiatly she took out her knife and began cutting away. Leather for was taken as well as choice meats. She could not take the whole deer, not without drawing a lot of attention. Best case were other exiles like her, at least they you could reason with...and she had killed men before. Animals such as wolves....
A growl drew her attention, the sound of several bodies moving through the tall grass. Two bright eyes flared up in the bushes where she was but a few moments ago. She kept her spear close as several more pairs of eyes surrounded her. One. Two, three....six pairs, wait....eleven eyes. One of them was missing one. Canine teeth were the first thing she truely saw of her rivals, the distant howling that accompanied wolf came second. Wolves, it seems this pack were also following this old buck. Varwynia took great care not to show fear. Her thumb ran over her green ring nerviously, drawing strength from it.
They had her surrounded, their intentions were obvious. The wolves beyond the Farwol's Ridge were more dangerious than their kin down in softer Stormfall. They avoided humans and knew not to kill one lest a whole village would come into the forest and eradicate the whole pack. But the wolves she faced her were those orcs rode into battle, homocidal beings who dined on human flesh just as much as other prey. One pack of these could kill a whole village if no armoured guards were there to protect them.
The largest one came out in full view. A hungry, slobbering creature about her size even on its four legs. Matted black fur marred with numerious scars and a missing eye. It's undermaw was slightly crooked to the right and strangest of all, it had a old saddle on it's back.
"Balur's balls..." she cursed softly. She heard of this pack from other exiles. One eye, the largest wolf beyond Farwol, an escaped wolf mount from an orcish raiding party. He could kill a knight and her horse by himself the stories say.
It stepped forward, growling as drool came down from it's mismatched maw. One of the lesser wolves came closer, growling at her as well. It was the last thing it did. One eye's powerful jaws came around the wolf's neck and snapped it. the others in the pack backed off, it was clear their alpha wanted this human all to himself.
That's fine, Varwynia thought, one on one. She held her spear close and went into a defensive stance. She controlled her breathing and kept her eye on the monster.
" Come on then..." she urged." I don't have all day."
One eye howled loudly before it charged at her. She gave a mighty cry and jammed her spear, hoping it will be enough.
One month ago,
Greehold, seat of House Greer.
She loved the open balcony, showing her the distant Farwol mountains and the two large statues carved on the mountain face that stood aside of the one path that led through Farwol's ridge. The first statue was that of a barbarian king holding a sword in it's sheath while leaning a shield with a boar emblazoned upon it while the second was that of a dwarven king leaning on his axe, large gems were decorated along the axe's edges that could still be seen from miles away, depending on the alignment of the sun.
The one on the left was her ancestor, Greer the first, the lord of Stormfall who turned Greehold from a small collection of barbarian clans into a proper Stronghold against the forces of Balur. Legends say Greer was a barbarian chieftain whose clan settled in what would become Greehold later on along with a few other clans. The soil was farmable, the lifestock was fat and the waters were clear. It was a paradise on earth safe for the orcish invasions. For generations the clans lived in fear of orcish raids until one year a large raid would've wiped out all the clans. Greer knew that divided the clans would fail so he united them and pushed the orcs back thanks to the help of the dwarf king who was immortalised next to him.
The dwarven king Dain, aided Greer the first in the construction of Greehold and gave them dwarven steel to give the barbarians more bite. The daughters of Greer the first, and every Greer that followed, would be known as Varangia, warrior maidens of the North. Warrior queens of barbarian blood that would often lead the fight against Balur's children.
As House Greer became more like the southern Houses of Darkshine however, the practice faded untill the daughters became just as meek as the other ladies of Stormfall. Her father, Greer the Elder, brought the old tradition into practice when he sired Varwynia with a nomad woman and had her trained in the ways of her mother's people until she was of age to come life at Greehold.
Varwynia took the liberty as the younger sister to ride across Greehold and the lands around it. Sometimes hunting boars, sometimes fighting harpies, helping out farmers or sometimes going to the pub for a drink. Greer the elder left big shoes to be filled and after the infighting with their cousins, the Greer family name needed to be out in the public more often. To be honest she enjoyed helping the common folk out, going on adventures with her trustworthy friends.
But what she enjoyed most of all was the fact she got to wake up next to the love of her life. She looked up to the sleeping figure she had rested her auburn head on during her sleep. He was an elf. A handsome elf with the perfect jawline, dazzling smile with long white haired and green eyes. He was a champion of her father's back when Greer the Elder still ruled and sided with her side of the family during the civil war with her cousins. During that conflict a love bloomed between them, one forged in blood and adventure and sealed in the bedroom. He was her world and she was his.
The Varangia turned to her lover and began straying his long, pointy ears. The elf's eyes fluttered awake, a smile creeping on his lips. " Who knew you druids could be so full of stamina?" She smirked."Barely had time to sleep."
Halmadir closed his eyes as he enjoyed his mistress' ministrations." No...us elves are just well versed in the art of love making..."
Varwynia snorted." There's that arrogance of yours again....but well founded." she slid her fingers around his chest. He held her in his arms, both not saying anything but enjoying each other's company. Her eyes fell on Halmadir's green ring, an heirloom he had on him ever since the day they first met." Think we'll need Eir's help today?"
Halmadir breathed deeply." It always helps to have a bit of luck on our side...." he began rubbing the ring himself." It's been in my family for generations....always gives the best of luck."
"Always?" She asked.
"Always." he replied with a kiss. He strayed her cheek." When are you going to tell your family about our plans?"
"Soon." she replied.
His ears dropped a bit as he gave a mock pout." Are you ashamed of me then?"
Varwynia took her lover's hand and placed it on her cheek." After this battle, I will tell my sister that I, Varwynia daughter of Greer the Elder will take you Halmadir, druid of Tal Alrand, to be my husband. For now until the end of times." She kissed him lovingly.
When she broke off, Halmadir smiled." In that case, we best celebrate it...." He flipped her so she was on her back again." The elven way..."
The couple kissed each other deeply as their passions reignited, stopping only when the door to her bedroom opened. Even before she saw who entered, she knew who it was. Only one man in the castle was brazen enough to enter her room without permission. The dwarf was rougly half her size with a long, red beard with grey streaks here and there. Already he was dressed in his armour, in thick metal inscribed with runes and decked out with shiny gems. His hammer was slung on his back, it to likewise was covered in similar runes and gems. He gave an annoyed growl.
"Uncle!" Varwynia groaned annoyed herself.
"Commander Dainson..." Halmadir smirked." Care to join us?"
The dwarf did not take the bait. "War council is on in half an hour...be there, alright lass?"
"Yes uncle..." she replied.
He nodded. "Good." he turned to leave. " Although i'm sure this sapling will be done in a minute."
Halmadir's reply was smothered by Varwynia's bosom." We'll see about that, uncle!"
The two lovers continued their play as the dwarf left the bedroom.
Half an hour later, the playful Varwynia was replaced by the Varangia. Blue warpaint had been applied beneath her eyes along the ridge of her nose. Dressed in leather armour showing the Greer boar and a spear befitting her station as heir to House Greer, she entered the war council. Inside were the elite pikemen along with her sister Vanera, her uncle Hadgar and her brother Thorgal.
Vanera was dressed in her own military garb, befitting a warrior queen although it was obvious to the learned eye that the armour did not fit her like a second skin yet to the eldest daughter of Greer the Elder. Unlike Varwynia, who was sired by her father on a nomad, Vanera was a daughter of a Stormfall noblewoman and only had the basic of warcraft under her belt. Thorgal, her younger brother, was their second child. As a scribe he came up new technologies and magics nearly daily and uncovered lost arts that some thought would never surface again after the fall of the larger Stormfall empire.
"Finally, you're here sister." Vanera called her over." Don't you know we have a war on?"
Varwynia mocked. "So you mean all those pikemen, dwarves and boar riders that are camping outside our walls are not for show?"
Her elder sister glared." At least I know my duty takes priority over carnal pleasures."
"Vanera, if there is someone who desperately needs carnal pleasures in this room, it's you."
"Alright, settle down you two." Hadgar interceded just like he always did since the two were children." I swear you're both worse than your old man when he was your age. Bran's beard..." he turned to Thorgal and gave a nod to the scholar.
Thorgal unfolded the large map that encompassed Greehold and it's surrounding lands." We have word from our Shades that a large orcish force is headed for a hamlet north of us, a place called Denerim fields."
"How big is the force?" Vanera asked as servants propped small figures that served as indicators of enemy forces on the map.
"A thousand orcs give or take, two hundred cavalry and some ogres. They've already sacked three villages" Thorgal replied." We also have reports a large swath is following them as well. Women and children....my Shades also claim Gorvar is part of this warband."
Varwynia rubbed her chin thoughtfully." And our numbers?"
"We have four regiments of pikemen, two regiments of dwarven warriors from Karag Bolg, my group of Necromancers and several of the boar and horsemen tribes answered our call to arms." Thorgal paused." Even so the orcs numbers us three to four times over."
"Bran' beard..." Hadgar cursed in his own beard." That's a lot of 'em."
"Getting scared, uncle?" Varwynia asked.
The dwarf guffawed." Hardly, lass. I've faced worse. Still...." he moved the figurines that represented House Greer." If we move our forces to this hamlet, it will be protected from the river Strik from both the east and west. This bottlecap can hold off the Gorvar's forces long enough for Amelie's army to arrive and relieve us."
Vanera rubbed her chin thoughtfully." A good plan uncle....but it lacks a more deadly approach."
The dwarf raised his brow." Oh?"
"Holding them off is one thing....but if we were to get Gorvar?" The Lady of Greehold took some of boar riders and knights and placed them east of the map." When Gorvar comes to hammer on us at the hamlet, a cavalry force charges in, cutting straight through the horde....and kill him?" She took one of the orc pieces." Balur's children are chaotic beings by nature. If we kill their leader, they'll begin fighting each other to see who becomes the next leader."
"A big IF, lass." Hadgar replied." The reason why we're waiting for Oberon's forces is because we lack the men to defeat this Horde. Our cavalry will receive heavy losses. Near damn suicide. Even if Thorgal's necromancers do their magics." He shook his hand over the map as if he was casting a spell himself." We wait for Amelie and Oberon's men."
"And if we wait for Oberon's men, Gorvar might get away and bring in more orcs from across the Farwol Ridge to burn our villages down." the eldest daughter of Greer the elder said." Uncle, you promised my father on his deathbed you would be there to help me. Help me do this, please. I need your help." She turned to her siblings." I need all your help."
The war council fell silent. It was a daring plan but it could prove very costly.
Thorgal asked." Who would lead the cavalry charge? I can do it if you like."
"No, you stay here in case the worst happens. There always needs to be a Greer in Greehold." Vanera placed the orc piece down before she turned her gaze, to her sister." Var, can you lead the charge?"
This caught the Varangia by surprise. Vanera and her never got along, not only because they were half-siblings but they had different ideals. She was the noble, the regal Queen. At home at balls and political intrigue. Varwynia was the warrior, uncaring of the politics and social norms. The complete polar opposite of her sister. Even now this daring plan to kill Gorvar the Red was a game. If Gorvar were to fall it would save a lot of lives, true...but it would also impress Lord Oberon who was the closest thing to an over-arching ruler over all of Stormfall.
Varwynia gave it some thought." It's an idea....a bold one." She ran the plan through her mind. It was very risky but the pay-off would be worth the risk. " I will do my best.....but me and my men will need an opening afterwards so we can escape."
Hadgar reluctantly approved." I can provide that. You have one shot to kill the Warchief. Even if you fail you head to the bottleneck so I can let you and your men in." The dwarven commander frowned at her, every word that came from his mouth was very clear. "One shot and you and your men come home.Do you understand?"
He continued. "Lass...this is a very dangerous plan. You might-"
Varwynia waved it away." I know....but I know the men. I know Denerim fields. The terrain, used to go hunting there with Halmadir, Thorgal and Vili. I'll be fine."
Her brother held her shoulder." I promise, my necromancers will do all they can to give you that opening. I've your back, sister."
She smiled and held her brother's hand.
A pregnant pause fell over the room.
"Well then...." Hadgar sighed." Guess we have our plan then." He rested his hands on the table." May the gods be with us...."
Three days later, Commander Hadgar Dainson had his answer.
The forces of House Greer took up fortifications on the food hamlet. A river circled around the hamlet with only one bridge leading inside the place and beyond that, outer Greehold. The dwarves quickly created a proper wall on the bridge made out of stone and brick as the civilians were urged to go to the safety of Greehold. Despite the warnings, it did not stop a band of militia from being formed who offered their help to the soldiers of Greehold. Commander Dainson, admiring these men and women who were as stubborn as dwarves, set them to work along the edges of the frontline to deal with any fires or securing the wounded when the fighting would begin. Groups of nomads from Varwynia's tribe further north also heard the call and set up positions along the hamlet, ready to rain their arrows upon the enemy. Along with the knights of Greehold came the Boar riders, more barbarians from the north who had long distant ties with Greer the first and unlike the men who now lived in Greehold remained the same people as they were centuries ago. The boar on House Greer's banner came from the fact that Greer the first was in fact a chieftain of one of those tribes.
The men of Greehold armed and dressed in steel, who were once distantly related to these half naked fur wearing warriors, looked upon their allies suspiciously but knew to mind their tongue.
A few third parties flocked to Denerim Fields as well, sellswords mostly but also a few camp followers who set up camp just outside the hamlet. The women offered their services to the fighting men (and some of the nomads as well) but even they kept their distance from Thorgal's necromancers.
Men and women in dark robes covered in bones and tomes kept their own company. They remained in their dark purple tents and allowed none in except Shades who were jsut as mysterious.
"Do not fear the Necromancers." Thorgal told them before." They use fire to fight fire, making Balur's children burn for their treachery for their god hates him for his betrayal. It took me years to understand their rites and even more to get them to respect me enough to get them to be on our side. They swore their immortal souls to me that they would serve House Greer. The moment they turn, I will deal with them, personally."
A day after they arrived, Varwynia led her cavalry across the bridge and led her men to a small cave alcove west of the hamlet. She rubbed the green ring around her finger as she had ridden out of the hamlet.
"I want you to have this." Halmadir told her." You need it more than I do."
"But it's your ring..." she replied as her servants saddled up her horse.
"No, it belongs to my family...which you'll be after this battle" He held her hand lovingly.
She gave a small nod as the elf eased his ring on her finger. It fit like a glove, nice and snug. The very ring itself seemed to bring her at ease.
"Whatever happens, when you rub that ring know that I'm always with you." The two held each other for as long as they could.
Two days after the war council, Warchief Gorvar and his men marched down Denerim Fields.
The children of Balur numbered many, way more than a thousand. Green skinned monsters the sizes of men but dressed in dark armour, armed with wicked looking blades and chanting their ugly tongue. Varwynia did find it interesting that all orcs, and some ogres, had some article of red on them. Either a bandana, war paint or a piece of armour dyed red. She had faced orcs before but those were a incoherent war parties that were easy rattled. This gave them a sense of unity. All clans were together in this crusade.
It was obvious to spot their leader as well.
Gorvar was a tall orc, covered in red warpaint and red armour. He was mounted on a large wolf with pitch black fur. Unlike the other orcs who were chanting and acting on their primal extinct, Gorvar the Red was calm. Reserved. He did not bark his commands like his officers but sternly ordered his troops as if they were a proper army. The heavily armoured orcs and ogres, that were from his clan guessing by the amount of red on them, behaved more like an Stormfall army than a orcish rabble.
Varwynia remembered her uncle speak of the quiet orcs.
"The quiet ones are the ones you need to worry about. They're the ones who are figuring things out. How to climb to that ladder and maintain that power."
Pikemen and dwarven soldiers held the line as the orcish hordes came for them. Pikes penetrated green flesh, axes chopped off limbs and magic spells and skeletons were thrown by Thorgal's Necromancers. Halmadir, dressed in his wooden armour along with a wooden mask that had the shape of a monster that lurked in the woods, picked leaves from the ground and uttered softly to them before he blew them at the enemy. When they touched the enemy, the soft leaves became like knives and cut through their skin. Hadgar's hammer glowed bright blue as he smashed one wave of orc aside after another. Lady Vanera to was at the frontline, protected by her elite guard but she fought alongside them. The banner of the Greer boar flew bravely against the red horde of Gorvar.
Despite the many orcish deaths, House Greer received just as many in return.
As the battle was waged afar, Varwynia prayed her sister, her uncle and Halmadir were safe.
"Balur's balls..." she cursed softly. She rubbed the green ring around her finger and remembered the conversation she had with Halmadir the day before. Varwynia held the cavalry back until she knew for certain where Gorvar was. When she saw the massive red banner driven into battle towards the bottleneck she knew. It was time.
Varwynia turned to face her knights and boar riders. The knights were properly armoured, their steeds ready for battle. The ladies made blessings to Veyon and Ran as the boar riders began working themselves up to a berserker frenzy. Varwynia smiled, she was proud of her and they would do all they can for their House Greer.
"Listen men! You only have permission to die when Gorvar is dead!" She held up her spear as her men cheered." For Greehold! For House Greer!"
"For Greehold! For Varwynia!" They cried in return.
She led the spurs on her horse as the cavalry charged at the orcish horde. A wolf rider noticed her and turned around. Varwynia held out her spear and thrusted it towards her enemy. The rider was speared through the chest, dropping off his mount as a knight took out the wolf mount. She kept up the charge as they plunged into the orc horde, stabbing with her spear as she cried out a mighty battle cry. One way or another, glory would be found on this battlefield.
One month later,
Varwynia's camp, beyond Farwol's ridge, Eastern Marshes.
Pain was her constant companion. She held her side where she was bleeding and used her bloodied spear as a walking cane. Her clothes were covered in bite and scratch marks, trouser legs torn and her slingshot ripped to pieces.
Blood covered her green ring when she rubbed it, making it more slippery from the constant rain. She saw her dwelling on the hill, a small wooden building she found and managed to rebuild somewhat in the early days of her exile.
The climb up the hill was a struggle and filled with pain. "One foot in front of the other." She remembered her mother teach her." In life you will go through pain. Life is pain. Pain is life. All you can do is put one foot in front of the other and show life you're more stubborn than it." One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other.
She barely remembered falling through her door before darkness claimed her.
That night her dreams were visited by the same old nightmares. She was back on that battlefield near that hamlet. Orcs, wolves, a disapproving Vaerna who looked away with disappointment. Halmadir was standing in the middle of it all, waving at her with his handsome smile. Varwynia was shouting, pointing behind him as an ogre came toward him. She shouted, cursed, pointed by the elf kept waving. Even when the ogre picked te elf up and brought his head to his mouth. A sickening crunch is what woke her up.
It took her a moment to get her bearings. She was in her bed, bandaged, with the fire roaring.
She took a moment to calm herself, to try and remember. The last thing she remembered was One eye, she barely got away from her. Killed a wolf. No that was earlier. She remembered pain and barely making it to the house....a cold realization hit.
She fell flat on the floor. She didn't bandage herself or pet herself in bed or put on a fire.
Someone else was here. Her spear was to her right, she lunged for it when the pain flared up. With a painful yelp she fell to the ground, holding her bandaged side.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you..." a female voice said. Varwynia looked up. A ebony woman in similar exile attire like Varwynia was sat at the fire, tending to the venison which she fried on a skillet. She walked over and knelt down and helped her back on the bed.
"Easy, easy...." the woman said." If I wanted you dead, you'd be."
Varwynia calmed herself down as the pain subsided. Her guest who made herself at home went back to the fire and flipped the venison." I thought you wouldn't mind me helping you make dinner." She pointed to the cleaned out purse in the corner that held the meat and leather." The meat would've gone off otherwise."
Varwynia saw her guest look around the house.
"Where do you keep your spices?"
Cautiously she pointed towards the cupboard. The woman opened it." Ah, thank the gods. The meal would've been ruined otherwise!" She quickly added some to the venison before she began setting up the table. She took things from her own rugsack and placed down plates with forks and knives. " Dinner will be ready soon!" She said cheerfully.
"Who are you?" Varwynia asked.
"Oh, my appologies. My name is Sheva." She pulled the wooden chair back a bit and urged her to sit.
Cautiously Varwynia moved over to the table, using her spear as a cane, and took a seat as Sheva dished out the meal. Venison with turnips and some potatoes.
"I don't grow potatoes...." Varwynia looked up.
"Oh those are mine." Sheva smiled." After all...it's the least I can do to make a proper meal for the Traitor of Denerim Fields."