Chapter II: Pyreglass Dawn
Will lie hid
The morning dew
They have for food.
From them are the races descended.
— Gylfaginning, the Tricking of Gylfi
Who was to be Jarl, and lead the Fleet? Would he follow King Harald's royal orders, or forge a new path? Would the Norsemen stay together at all, or be cast out into this world all alone? Questions abounded throughout the night, as the Captains gathered by the grand bonfire to hold their Thing, their Wrecked Assembly, while the crews feasted and mourned. In the end, it came down to two men: Kormákr the Black, and Eirikr Gunhild. One a lowborn outlaw of the Southern Isles, the other a Norwegian nobleman turned mercenary and pirate. To the surprise of many, neither Orvar Twice-Born, Thorkell Coastcrow or Rogeirr Vilhelmsson presented themselves as candidates, despite all being held widely by all crews as strong warriors with notable pasts, or at least as men of great ambition.
The feuding and plotting on the beach is rife, with many taking time off to hold private meetings, gathering in the sand just out of the fire's reach, or in private camps. Orvar and his son Harald the Little are seen disappearing with Torunn Ingridsdotter, known as both Bear-Cub and Red-Nurse. After their meeting, the sickly giant positioned himself closer to the shieldmaiden. Kormákr the Black, likely seeking allies, met with many a Captain, especially being seen discussing something with Jóhannes Goðrúnarson, the only man to have seen Markland and the lands of the West. The "Widow-Captain" Sif Oddsdotter, so recently robbed of her husband, is seen sharing words with the likewise grief-struck Danish merchant Eskil Skjalmsson. Karl Snorrison causes much debate after leaving with Thorkell Coastcrow in the direction of his ship, before reappearing with a Byzantine Bible, preserved from the foul wet of the Storm, with the Geatish raider in tow. Although many do take it as a bit of a miracle, the presence of the monastic cleric Hubèrt d'Amboise means it's not the only Holy Book around, and many interpret the event more as a symbolic defiance of the Norman's religious authority, favouring the Eastern traditions of Christianity.
In the end, the die is cast. Kormákr Thorbrandsson of the Greygoose becomes the unlikeliest of all Jarls, the son of the Irish Sea and the Norse-Gaels, received the vote of a whole sixteen Captains, himself included. Eirikr Gunhild of the Naglfar failed in his candidacy, receiving only the support of the defiant Thorkell Coastcrow, and the two silent Norwegian Captains Gudmundr Larsson of the Saint Olaf and Hælæif Half-Shirt of the Dragon's Maw. One of them likely backed him for his would-be Norwegian royalist credentials, but it is his defence of Norse heathenry that wins Eirikr the hearts of many a Pagan sailor. Although only supported by himself and three other Captains, Eirikr becomes quite popular among the crews, and becomes well-known although not a rival power to Kormákr by any means. All twenty crews swear their fealty to Jarl Kormákr, under whose command the leaderless Red Snake is placed. Its sailors are uneasy, but happy to have a Captain. It remains to be seen if he will command it directly, or leave the longship to a trusted confidant.
Jarl Kormákr ends the night alone, having received the oaths of all. Not oaths to Norway, to God or Gods, not even to Kormákr himself — oaths to unity, to keeping the Fleet together. As he stand there, the warrior now entrusted with the fate of over two thousand souls, surely the responsibility must weigh heavily upon him. But he is not alone in this. Almost two dozen Captains, all chieftains in their own right, headmen (or in two cases, headwomen). Each holds their own will, and it remains to be seen who will do what once dawn comes, where they will sail.
While the Captains were busy with their high politics, around one particular bonfire, Seconds and crewmen gathered, men and women from each longship, and discussion broke out about what this new land is. A tired Harald Orvarsson of the First Daughter proposed "Vanaheimr", the Finnish ex-thrall Ilkka Mattisson of the Promise suggested "Buyan", the mead-maker Knut Sunesson of the Sailhound named it all as "Magh Meall", the drunken Ögmund Jónsson of the Wooden Walrus held on to "Vinland", and the mute Godfrey of the Blessed Mary voiced simply "Terra Incognita", through an interpreter. Others called for "Tselina", "Ikusiuus", "Hoddmímis holt", "Sanctum" and "Deathland", but in the end it was the rather poetic, definitely Norse Draumland that won out in the tipsy debate. The Dream Land. The name spreads quickly among the longships as the campfire cosmologists disperse, and is soon adopted by almost all. Kormákr the Black is dubbed by many as the Jarl of Draumland, even though his mandate is technically as successor to the would-be Governor of Vinland, the fallen Ivar Sigtrygsson. Notably, it was Ketil, the teenage bastard of Torunn Red-Nurse, who came up with it.
Two more names become quickly accepted among the men. Haakon the Fat, the great boar from Jarl Kormákr's retinue, dubs the campsite as Thingsandr, the Assembly Sands, marking the importance of this site, a place of death and rebirth. It catches on quickly — as does the name which Eirikr Gunhild would give the same place, should he win the Jarldom. Although he lost the fight for the name, many adopt the name he proposed, some die to loyalties to the King and others due to hatred of the same man: Harðráðistrand, Hardrada's Beach. The name becomes common among all, referring to the entirety of this stretch of shoreline, whereas Thingsandr refers to the campsite itself, with its scattered wreckage, shallow graves and pyre ashes.
The handling of the longship wreckage becomes a major issue. Many of the timbers, the fractured masts, the torn sails, and the rest of it, is burned up as soon as it has dried at least a bit, either in grand funeral pyres or in the simple campfires. No coherent effort is made to gather up and retain the materials, but any surviving items or supplies are scavenged and reused, and some wreckage is used to repair the ships. It's a slow process, with many of the crews preferring to mourn, feast or plot through the night, but at least no ships will be sinking by the morrow. The "Widow-Captain" Sif Oddsdotter, whose precarious position is somewhat solidified by her resolute management of her newly inherited crew, came across an almost entirely intact longship, but one too damaged to repair. Setting her men to work throughout the night, they quickly repurpose the broken hull into a smaller, make-shift vessel, creating a sköteka-style boat, equipped with two sets of oars and a small sail, useful for minor tasks. They dub it the Storm's Favour.
The humble fisherman Anders Simonsson spots an up-turned, capsized longship, stuck on a sandbar a few metres below the surface about a half an arrow-shot out in the dark waters. Preferring to salvage the booty before nature destroys any surviving materials below the hull, Anders sends out men from the St. Andrew's Cross to dive the wreck. One sailor, Thorfinn, nearly dies after he is caught on a twisted spike leaving the wreck. His brothers-in-arms pull him up and somehow resuscitate him. Thorfinn gains the nickname "the Drowned" as an in-joke, but will need a while to recover from the experience. The crews recover mostly containers of foodstuffs which have been completely water-spoiled, but one large package of barb-tipped hunting arrows is successfully salvaged, as is a cask of precious Rhenish wine, useful for barter. Clearly, the ship belonged to someone of noble status.
Also successful in recovering supplies from the wreckage on the beach is, among others, the Frisian merchant Fretherik Theudericsson of the Wynfrith and the half-Galician adventurer Leandro Bjornsson of the Heritage's Legacy. Young Leandro proves very popular when he shares the spoils, ten well-preserved barrels of ale, with the others. A drinking contest is proposed by the grand bonfire. Although none of the candidates for the Jarldom partakes, a number of Seconds and crewmen partake, to the great merriment of all. Eirikr's and Kormákr's words of reason are ignored. Grimoald Hinrichsson, the legendary Frisian drinker, is kept away by his Captain's orders, removing the most powerful contender from the fray. Many a fine drinker attempts to win Leandro's vote, for the joke of it all if nothing else, but almost all stumble and fall. Karl Snorrison, the braggardly warrior, downed many a horn but the task proved too grand for him. In the end only one man stands, and to the surprise of all it is Vuollá the Lapp, Second of the Gilded Arrow. Many good Norsemen curse and mutter about Lappish magicks, but all are impressed by the lithe skald's victory. He becomes the only man to receive a Captain's vote alongside Kormákr and Eirikr. Fretherik on the other hand finds a large supply of surprisingly well-preserved dried Norwegian stockfish, and prefers to not share it with the rest of the Fleet. This doesn't do wonders for his popularity, but does make the Wynfrith one of the most well-fed ships, until new supplies can be foraged somewhere.
Angering many Christians, the half-Moorish bastard with the strange name, Nacreddine, known as Rauði to his men, also find some wrecked treasure, of a holy nature: A box containing several bottles of sacramental red wine, originally belonging to the three lost Eastern priests. Rather than preserving the wine, or giving it to the Benedictine monks perhaps, he organizes a small feast for the sailors of the Foamborn, boosting morale significantly but further collapsing his reputation, at least among followers of White Christ. This is not taken as a Pagan slight, however, but as one man's singular sin.
Olaf Rolfsson, the aged lay preacher and supposed fanatic, holds a large communal prayer with his crew and some other Christians, and then causes an uproar when he leaves the relative safety of the seaside camp, and wanders off on his own in the dark, straight towards the forest. His Second Höskuldr Sveinsson seems to have no concerns, trusting the Lord in this matter, but many think he's unlikely to return. He's still out there. Concurrently with his prayer, a rivalling one was held by Hubèrt d'Amboise, his monks competing for divine attention with Olaf's men at their beachside service.
More practical is the Captain of the Ljósritari, the mysterious old Varangian Sveinn Ingolfsson, seen as many as straight up crazy. He takes measures seeking to turn the camp at Thingsandr into something more permanent. The crew keeps their section of the camp clean organized, they dig latrines, and some even are sent out to spot patches of sand, illuminated by the starlight, where they could in theory plant the same type of simple vegetables which tend to grow on infertile Scandinavian skerries. Two Captains, Hælæif Half-Shirt and Gudmundr Larsson, show an interest in this, and take similar measures. The Windseer ends the night alone by the foreshore, watching the dark waves.
Towards the end of the long night, Captain Kari Mäkinen of the Fenrir's Shadow makes a beach-wide call to identify a body his crew found washed up on the shore, distinguishable from the rest by the expensive gold cross around the its neck. Tears reach the eyes of many, as the cross is recognized, and the body — which the largely pagan crew was about to bury — is returned to the grieving family. The dead man is Ander Mikkelsson, Captain of the Redemption of the Magdalene and husband of the "Widow-Captain" Sif Oddsdotter, who fell overboard during the storm. Sif, her Second Eystein Rabbit, and the rest of the crew receive their fallen Captain with much mourning, but also gratitude, having expected to not be able to bury him. On his part, the young Kari finds his social position unwittingly improved overnight, with many viewing the young Finnish raider with significantly more respect than before. "Once a thief, always a thief" clear does not apply in this case, and the act does much to defuse some of the Pagan-Christian tensions.
Another body is found, in less respectful conditions. It's one of the three Eastern priests, brought by King Harald from the Rus and Byzantium itself, and the most important of them to boot. None of the survivors knew him, but despite its injuries, the corpse is identified as one Μιχαήλ --- Mikáel, to the Norse --- the foremost of the three. The fat, middle-aged scion of Miklagarðr, whose clerical rank is unknown to most, was liked by few, but undoubtedly represented the highest echelon of religious authority in the whole Fleet. The confirmation of his death has considerable implications. The body was found early in the morning, a bit away from the main camp, bruised and battered. A cause of death is difficult to determine, but the clergyman has likely been thoroughly thrashed and slashed by the wreckage he was found caught up in. It remains to be seen what should be done with the body.
Although Mikàel goes unburied, until someone takes the decision on how to treat his funeral appropriately, the entirety of the night and the early morning is full of burial rituals and mourning ceremonies. To the surprise of many, two of the most divisive figures are seen as treating bodies from other faiths with respect. Before leaving, Olaf Rolfsson, even though a devout Christian, let burn a large portion of heathen corpses found by his crew on funeral pyres, in theory keeping with the men's own faith, although likely having more to do with the Captain not wishing to bury pagans in the ground. Eirikr Gunhild, who campaigned for Jarl on clearly heathen terms, likewise set about taking care of washed-up bodies, drowned Christians in this case, giving them simple but appropriate burials beneath the sands (although without any personal belongings beyond their clothes). These are just some of many events which, despite attempts by some to stir rage between Christians and Pagans, cools much anger, and keeps religious conflict low. Even the raising of a large wooden cross on the shore by the crew of the Pax Christi, which may have been seen by the heathens as a clear claim of control, is largely ignored by those usually angered by such things. Much of Hubèrt d'Amboise's time is spent caring for the dead and dying, although not all welcome it.
Not to be outdone by the public prayers and cross-raising of the Christians, though, the Fleet's most fanatic contingent of Pagans mark the Hour of the Wolf by holding a Blót, a sacrifice ceremony, by the foreshore. Although faith in Red Thor, the All-Father and all the rest are at an all-time low, even the converted and half-syncretic Norse are awed by the display of simplistic heathen devotion, as the blood flows on the bone-white sand. The very simple hörgr upon which the sacrifice lays is improvised from beach pebbles, and fires are lit from longship timbers. While Orvar "Twice-Born" Eiríksson hallows the site with the Hammer of Thor, acting as the temporary goði, Torunn "Red-Nurse" Ingridsdotter leads forward the resident pony of the Gilded Arrow, and slits its throat. A smear of fresh blood is put on the face of each participant, before they together butcher, cook and eat the meat. The little stallion's penis is kept, to be dried with herbs. Vuollá, the Lappish skald, manages to sober up enough to read a short poem, composed by him for his companion's gods.
As dawn comes, two surprises arrive with it. First, Olaf Rolfsson emerges from the woods, cut and bruised. Long bush-thorns cling to his clothes, piercing his flesh, and he soon collapses into a brief fever. The crew of the Road to Damascus soon take him into their tent, and he falls into a sleep — like many others among the longships. Everyone is exhausted, it's been a long night.
Finally, as the fires die out with the first cold light of day and the embers cool down, the strange properties of the sand itself becomes clear. A first true hallmark of a wholly alien land, a Land of Dreams. Something glinters and sparkles among the coals: glass. The white sands of this beach evidently melt at temperatures far lower than any shore-stuff in the regions of Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa known to the members of the Fleet. Ash fused with sand, and the charred bottoms of the bonfires have turned into large pans of crude, haphazard glass. The crews quickly turn to calling this substance Pyreglass. Some see it as a bad omen, others as a miracle, and those in mourning are quick to break up and collect chunks of glass from the firebeds upon which their friends and kinsmen were cremated. Talismans and pendants are made from this. Some even file out crude Crosses and Hammers, to mark their faith.
The Thingsandr camp at Harðráðistrand, the first known place in this Draumland, greets the new day as a still unified force, guided by Jarl Kormákr and the Captains.
- The First Daughter (Orvar Twice-Born/NPC: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Wooden Walrus (Jóhannes the Priest/NPC: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Promise (Thorkell Coastcrow/NPC: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Sailhound (Eskil Copperhead/NPC: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Blessed Mary (Rogeirr the Claimed/NPC: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Gilded Arrow (Torunn Bear-Cub/Gesar: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Greygoose (Kormákr the Black/Coin: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Dragon's Maw (Hælæif Half-Shirt/Marankara: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Saint Olaf (Gudmundr Larsson/Huojin: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Pax Christi (Hubèrt d'Amboise/Serenissima: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Fenrir's Shadow (Kari Mäkinen/Flaming Bolshevik: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The St. Andrew's Cross (Anders Simonsson/Acecipher: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Wynfrith (Fretherik Theudericsson/DutchGuy: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Redemption of the Magdalene (Sif Oddsdotter/Snacks: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Naglfar (Eirikr Gunhild/Master of Oblivion: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Ljósritari (Sveinn Ingolfsson/Luc: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Foamborn (Nacreddine/Xaph: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Heritage's Legacy (Leandro Bjornsson/Orago: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The George's Spear (Karl Snorrison/Iss'fayn: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Road to Damascus (Olaf Rolfsson/CarpeVerpa: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Lightly Damaged)
- The Red Snake (Kormákr the Black/Coin: Longship, 60 Sailors, 40 Settlers - Broken Mast)
- In this stage, the first dawn of the new world has begun. The stage will last until everyone has given their orders for how to handle the day. This is the time to swear oaths, hold ceremonies, make speeches, rally your crews, manage the fallout of the previous night, or what not, while still on Harðráðistrand.
- The next stage will, depending on the impacts of the orders, last days or weeks. The events taking place outside of the beach and their effects will be known later.
- You may either stay on the beach or set out with your ship. Should you set out, you can order to do so immediately, and so any further events on the beach will not impact you. Just make sure to declare your departure in this thread. Also remember to note to me whether you are returning to the beach camp after a brief trip, or staying out for an extended period of time.
- Jarl Kormákr must sometime during this phase provide general orders to the Fleet, on the beach. These may be as vague as he wishes, but will steer the NPCs (unless affected by other players...) and command the general attitudes of the Fleet in regards to exploration, settlement, diplomacy and warfare.