Gabrelik

Almighty Maker of Sandwiches
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Hello all you wonderful people! I've recently started getting back to writing, and I have decided to utilize a novelization approach for the next game project by Charred Fur Studio. What that means is that I will essentially write the entire game as a full-length book first, and develop the rpg either afterward, or at least alongside.

This will be a much longer process, but I feel it will ultimately give me a better sense of character development and more fleshed out story. I'll say ahead of time that my process is...interesting. I tend to have absolutely no idea what is going to happen in a story, and I let the characters tell it to me as we go. I'm just the scribe!

I'll begin with the first chapter here, and make subsequent updates and edits through spoilers. I would love to share this journey here with you all, and welcome any comments or feedback as we go. Thanks for taking the time to read! :)

Also, if you'd like to check the progress on the game version, you can do so here.

We also have a Discord if you'd like a more in-depth journey!

Revna awoke with a start, and stumbled forward out of her bed. Sweat dripped down her withered body like a river, and her breath came in ragged gasps as she steadied herself against a chair. The hut was quiet, but for the whispered crackle of a fire in the pit, and the odd sounds of the night. Even the various animal bones suspended from the ceiling were oddly still.

She looked about her, and rubbed at tired eyes. The vision had been so painfully clear this time. The Gods were speaking to her, but as was the way with these things, what they chose to say was often maddeningly cryptic. Her raven, Kona, sat perched on the brim of a battered stewpot, staring intently toward her with head inclined. Revna reached for a scrap of old meat and tossed it to her silken black companion.

“Fret not, Kona,” she whispered. “They were particularly insistent this time, is all.”

The bird paid her no heed, as the Raven was now busy tearing into the graying meat with her beak and talons. Revna moved out of the hut and into the night. The moon was high and lit up the cliff upon which she lived and practiced her art. The air was cool against her face, and as she came to stand along the edge, she looked out into the valley beyond the mist.

Far below, the seaside kingdom of Ereby sat nestled against a forest thick and teeming with life and sound. While the people slept, nature was alive and restless. The Gods, too, were present here, but it was not these things that had caught Revna’s attention. The vague silhouette of the Longhouse off in the distance sat unassuming; calm in the stillness of dead and quiet things, with no knowledge of what went on within those walls of man. Somewhere in that house, the Norns were hard at work in weaving a particularly strong fate.

Revna smiled, looking on as Verdandi cast her stones, Skuld busied herself at the loom, and Uld sat in the corner, skulking. Very soon, a warrior would rise. A figure who’s deeds would be carved into the hearts and minds of men for generations to come. The Skalds would sing of their exploits, this much was true, but in what way might their words bend the ear? So little was clear, but Revna knew their world would be shaken by this. When the blood had dried and the Valkyr had come for the worthy dead, nothing would ever be the same again.

With the smile still playing at the corner of her lips, the old seeress returned to her bed, and slept soundly.



Eona gritted her teeth and lunged forward. Her opponent smiled as the spark of his axe met her blade, and the attack was effortlessly parried. With a swift kick, his boot met her gut, and the young girl felt the breath leave her. She crumpled to the ground with a decidedly unladylike grunt.

“You’re putting too much into each strike,” Dainn said, harshly. “It gives you away.” Eona squinted up at her childhood friend as the nausea rose in her belly. The sickly-sweet scent of the rabbit roasting over the fire nearby was suddenly not so appetizing.

As her vision cleared, she saw his arm was extended. Grudgingly, she took it, and pulled herself to her feet.

“Well, maybe if you fought fairly, I wouldn’t get so riled up,” she retorted.

Taking a few steps back, Eona regained her breath before settling into a now familiar fighting stance. She glared menacingly at the boy, beckoning silently to him for another round. He smiled playfully, and slid his axe into a ring at his belt.

“No fight is ever fair, but that is enough for today,” he said. “You need to get back before the Jarl notices you’re missing.”

Eona looked him over. They had been at this for several hours now, and while he would never admit it, she thought he looked as tired as she felt. She spared a glance to the east, and the settlement of Ereby in the valley below. On the horizon she could see a coming storm. The thick cloud was dark with the weight of its burden, and spread wide across the sky like a blanket. Already, the scent of rain was heavy on the wind, though the breeze was welcome against her face. She relaxed her body, and put away her sword.

“They never notice me, and why should they?” she asked, half under her breath. Dainn had returned to their small fire on the hillside, and had begun digging at the rabbit with his krumkniv. He handed her a leg, before settling back into the grass with a large piece of his own.

“Your station does not make up who you are,” he said, through bits of meat. “So you are a slave. There are worse things to be.”

“That is easy for a blacksmith to say. You are a free man. You may come and go as you please.”

Dainn laughed aloud, and tossed aside his long braid as he laid back against his furs.

“Very true,” he replied, gnawing on a bit of bone. “Though where is it I would go? Is my livelihood not also dependent upon those around me? Am I not merely a different kind of slave?”

Eona snorted, and crouched down beside the fire to stoke it. The flame had begun to die out.

“You sound like a skald, Olafsson,” she whispered. “but I have no ear for poems or philosophy. Such things are for the Gods.”

Dainn tossed the last of his rabbit away and clasped his hands over his chest as he closed his eyes.

“If I am a skald, truly Midgard has never seen my like, nor will it again.”

The wind from the east was cooling the sweat on their brows, and the scent of birch and rain calmed Eona’s spirit. Despite her demeanor, she was glad for Dainn’s company, and could not imagine a greater friend. She had known him since the day she was brought to Ereby, and couldn’t remember one since without him in it. Before long, the crackle of the fire was met with a subtle snoring, and she realized he had fallen asleep.

“In this way at least,” she whispered, “We are certainly not the same.”

Hiding her sword in the nearby log she had come to know well, Eona left her friend asleep on the hillside, and began making her way back to the longhouse. Despite what she’d said, she knew Dainn was right. They would be wondering where she was, and there were still many chores to be done.



Ereby was abustle with the morning routine of a seaside village. The scent of fresh fish was on the air, and from each house wafted a smoke rich with the warmth and flavor of a succulent stew. As Eona hurried along the docks, she realized she hadn’t eaten much of the rabbit, and groaned.

Not many spoke to her as she weaved between the busy crowds, carefully avoiding the chickens and geese crossing her path as her eyes remained fixed on the ground. Young men were hard at work scrubbing and oiling the oars of the ships, and the market thrived with the calls of vendors pitching their wares. Brightly colored spices and cloth caught her eye, while the baker’s trays reminded her that the Queen would have a list of things for her to purchase today.

Eona stopped as a group of Filungar passed with a figurehead they had carved in the forest. The eyes of a multi-headed serpent seemed to glare at her from the freshly chiseled oak. It was a lovely, though equally terrifying piece, and would likely be brought to the shoreside and affixed to the prow of a new longship. She looked up at the encroaching storm, understanding that it might be one of the last spring rains she would see. Summer would soon be upon them, and that meant that most of the able-bodied men would be going raiding.

Eona always looked forward to this time, for it brought her a small semblance of peace. Jarl Gorm was a mountain of a man, and though he was no longer a spirit of youth, he always preferred to lead the raids himself. If the Jarl was gone, so too were his harsh words and harsher hands. As she passed the central square to the stoop of the longhouse, Eona rubbed absently at the back of her neck and the whisper of scars left by the whip. She shuddered and climbed the steps.

The “Great Hall of Ereby” was hardly that, as the Jarl’s house was relatively modest compared to those of similar wealth and stature. Though small, it was still easily the largest house in the village, and boasted an array of intricately carved weaves and patterns, painstakingly crafted into the timber. The crest of the TwinWolf Clan hung above the open door, and the images of the children of Fenrir burned like the sun. Shields adorned the walls, along with various furs and woven tapestries illuminated by fishoil lamps.

In the center of the house was the longhearth, a great pit of coals and embers that remained lit throughout the year, and provided a means of warmth and cooking. This was especially useful during the large feasts that the Jarl was fond of throwing on a whim.

Eona caught the gaze of another slave adding new wood to the fire, a boy called, Colborn. He glared at her before returning to his task. She didn’t begrudge him. It was becoming a greater habit lately for her to wander off in the early hours of the morning, or late at night when all the work of the day was done. Colborn had likely been having to carry her extra weight. She reminded herself to do something nice for him.

At the end of the room was the raised dais, where The Queen of Ereby sat brushing her daughter’s long, blond hair. In her youth, Inga had been a famous shield maiden, and fought in many wars alongside Jarl Gorm. While her disposition these days was hardly more pleasant than her husband’s, she was easier on her slaves than the Jarl, and life seemed simpler in the times of year where she ruled over Ereby alone.

Eona approached the thrones, and knelt before her Queen.

“Queen Inga,” she spoke, “Please forgive me for my absence. I have no excuse.”

Inga’s daughter turned to her mother and smiled, and the Queen patted her leg before sending her off to play. The warmth of the woman’s face chilled as her gaze came to rest on the lithe young girl at her feet.

“Eona the Restless,” she began, beckoning for a cup of mead. Colborn was quick with the request. The Queen tilted back the full measure before continuing. “Eona the Bold. Eona the Arrogant? Or...Eona the Careless.”

The woman stood gracefully, and the folds of her simple gown billowed out before her like an enveloping cloud, accentuating every curve and feature. Though she had grown older, Inga had lost none of the strength and beauty of her youth. Even now, she was spectacle of grace, framed by a braided crown of peppered hair and the wisdom of hard-fought years. Eona had never truly feared anyone, but she did respect the Queen for all she had accomplished. Besides, she owed her more than she would ever care to admit.

“Tell me, child, where you go in the pre-dawn hours of the day?”

Eona stood, but kept her eyes on the Dais.

“I…have—”

“Before you lie, girl,” the Queen interrupted, “Understand that I have no patience for it. Your punishment will be far less severe if you speak the truth.”

“I…have been on the hillside overlooking the sea,” she whispered, and found her hands to be shaking. She closed them into fists to try and steady herself. The Queen smiled.

“You have never struck me as the fanciful type,” she replied. “Surely you are not caught up in the kind of whirlwind romance that often strikes the young and pitifully naïve?”

“No, Queen Inga.”

“Then what might a girl of your age have to do so early in the morning, that shirks her responsibilities, and risks the ire of her Jarl and master?”

Eona paused, and thought a moment about what she might say. She could hardly tell the Queen that she had been training to fight as the men and the shield maidens did. She could hardly admit to her own aspirations of joining the raids and escaping this Gods-forsaken hole on a map of nowhere. She could certainly say nothing of her deepest desire to return to the land from which she came, and find out who she was supposed to be. Fate surely had more in store for her than to live and die as a thrall in service to this Jarldom…but such dreams were not meant for slaves.

“Your face gives you away,” the Queen said suddenly. “It was a simple question, but clear to me that the answer is complicated.”

Inga stepped down from the Dais and began walking toward the door. Eona turned to face her as she left.

“Queen Inga?” she started, but was cut short as the Queen suddenly pivoted, and hurled the empty carved horn cup at Eona’s face.

Reacting instinctively, she threw up her hand and caught it without hesitation. A long silence followed as the Queen stared her down through squinted eyes. It was deafening. There were few other people in the room, aside from the slaves, but all had stopped to see the commotion before quickly returning to their tasks. In Ereby, drama was prevalent, and it was never wise to insert yourself unnecessarily. Seeming to eventually find some satisfaction in what had just happened, the Queen pursed her lips, and turned again for the door.

“Not all callouses are born of farmwork. Come,” she said, and Eona knew she would be foolish not to listen. With a shared and worried glance toward Colborn, she set the cup on a table, and hurried after.



Eona said nothing as she followed behind the Queen. Their path led them around the longhouse and into the forest beyond. The crunch of the brush beneath their feet met with the distant rumbling of the storm, while far above, the clouds had dulled the sun. Beneath the canopy of the trees, the world had taken on a near ghostly hue, and a million thoughts raced through Eona’s mind in the space of a moment. Had she been found out? Did Inga mean to kill her, and leave her body for the wolves? She didn’t know, and the uncertainty of it was maddening.

The two women came at last to a small clearing of moss and black birch, and the Queen stopped in the center. The scent of wintergreen and almonds was on the wind, and the faintest hint of impending rain. Eona looked about her, and realized that this place had been disturbed by man before. Alongside a fallen tree were targets constructed of branches, hide, and straw. Several of them suffered old wounds, long forgotten by time. A small table sat at the edge of the clearing, upon which was a wooden cup, a rusted axe, and the bones of a long-consumed chicken. A bedroll sat neatly poised beneath, familiar and well-worn from heavy use.

“What is this place, Queen Inga?” she asked, still taking in the site. The Queen turned as if from a trance, though her gaze lingered about the clearing a bit longer. She appeared distant, as though lost in thoughts of her own.

“This is my place,” she responded from a fog. “Or at least, it was…many years ago. I used to come here in my younger days, when my arms didn’t ache under the weight of my shield, and my blade always found its mark.”

The Queen moved to the table, and ran her fingers delicately over the broken iron of the axe blade. She looked up and about the trees, gripped in memory as a light drizzle began to fall. After another moment, she broke from her daze and turned to stare intently at Eona.

“You feel the call, yes?” she asked, directly. Eona was confused.

“I don’t know what you mean, my Queen,” she replied.

The Queen was across the clearing quickly. Fast enough that Eona had only a second to wonder how she could move like that, the way she was dressed. Before she could react, the girl felt the threatening bite of a dagger against the side of her neck. The Queen was close enough that she could make out the specs of gold in the green of her eyes. There was so much depth there, and wisdom, accompanied by a great sadness. Eona didn’t look away.

“The beating of shields in your heart, girl,” she hissed. “The cries of ancient drengr that echo on the wind, and the ring of iron against iron in the heat of a long forgotten battle.”

Eona slowly nodded her head, careful not to move more than necessary. Satisfied, the Queen smiled, and took a step back. Eona let out her breath in wave, unaware she had even been holding it in.

“You do hear it, then, as many of us do. It is the call of the shield maiden,” Inga said, again growing distant. She began to pace around the clearing, still clutching the dagger in her hand. “It is said that we are the enslaved spirits of the Valkyrie, bound to the flesh by some twisted Seidr. Our thirst for the battlefield is the cry of our spirit, yearning to be free and return to the halls of Odin.”

Eona watched the Queen for awhile, saying nothing and not daring to move. The wife of Jarl Gorm seemed somehow less than herself in these moments, as if each day she put on a mask to face the world, but here in this place, she didn’t need to. Finally, Eona spoke.

“Why have you brought me here?” she asked. The Queen said nothing, but approached the young girl with hands clasped behind her back. As Inga came to stand before her, the wind played at hair slightly damp from the rain, and a stray sunbeam broke free of the canopy to alight her face. She seemed so very tired.

“I wanted you to see this place because I see myself in you. Not as a slave, of course, but a kindred spirit. We are far more alike than you may know, or than our stations may have you believe. I want you to come here whenever you feel that call. Let it move in you as it once did in me. Do not ignore it…and do not let it die out.”

Eona hesitated a moment, then spoke, “My Queen, it is forbidden for a slave to learn to fight, or to practice warcraft in any way.”

Inga smiled broadly, and laid a hand on Eona’s shoulder before starting back in the direction from which they had come.

“My dear girl,” she chided, “since when has that ever stopped you?”

After a moment she was gone, and looking down, Eona’ realized the Queen had placed the dagger in her hand.
 
Last edited:

Gabrelik

Almighty Maker of Sandwiches
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Added a new bit to the story. It was originally intended as a second chapter, but it occured to me that this bit should occur before what I had previously written, so I suppose it is a bit of a prelude? Either way, it is now placed at the beginning. :)

Please let me know if you have any feedback or suggestions!
 

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