A Brief Prologue
Glory beyond the seas, wealth beyond comphrehension. Liberty. That was the promise. To Vinland!
The great Vinland Fleet, led by Jarl Ivar Sigtrygsson, was assembled in the Spring of the Year of Our Lord 1066. Fresh oaks were felled across Norway to build longships adapted both to deep-sea travel and warfare. Recruits were gained by the promise of fertile land, free from civilized settlers, open to claim by royal charter. Implicitly, a future away from the cold of the North, a life away from the blood feuds and oppressive societies back home.
Not only second sons and poor farmers signed up for a chance in the New World --- there are mercenaries, adventurers, bandits and traitors, a mangy assortment of cutthroats. Merchants, too, seeking profits. Not to mention the last few opponents of Hardrada himself: Rival clansmen and dissident Heathens, seeking political and religious freedoms. Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, Lapps, Finns, Norse-Gaels, Englishmen, Bretons, Welshmen, Normans, Frenchmen, Frisians, Germans, Balts, and so on.
With the blessings of King Harald himself, the Fleet set sail in later summer, arriving not long after on Iceland, where not only supplies were attained, but new recruits made, with a couple of Captains seeking one form of escape or another. Deciding to forgo Greenland's safe harbours and head straight for the promised land, Vinland, Jarl Ivar forged a path straight out to sea. Poor choice.
Somewhere out on the Atlantic, clouds began forming. Ignoring it, the Jarl pushed on, not wishing to fail his beloved King. An even poorer choice. When the Great Maelstrom got him, Ivar had little time to curse his Maker, let alone himself. The storm of the century --- or half-century, some would later say --- overtook the Vinland Fleet, scattering it with its waves and winds, setting some ships alight by intense lightning strikes, and pulling it all down into its dark maw.
When the survivors emerged from the Great Maelstrom, they found a New World indeed, but not the one that they had aimed for. The stars do not make sense, and the bone-white beach and murky forest beyond does not match the descriptions of Vinland. Something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
Captains, choose your destiny.