Our Setting: The Trüng-Holt, a stronghold bordering on the Baltic Sea that defends a harbour and port and is threatened by a raiders from the sea, an unlawful crown (seized by a tyrant, Miklos of the Zsolt), and a local warlord, ambitious and bold. Its fortifications include a hilltop position, a bottleneck approach up the side of the cliffs, an outer palisade wall, and a deep well; its armoury includes spears, round shields, hide coats and leather helmets, and bows, enough for 10 warriors.
Our Cast (thus far):
Amai the Touched, Wicker-Wise of the Trüng. She is wyrd, wary, and strong, but goodness yet evades her. She is wise in poison-craft and whispers to ghosts. She can enchant someone or something, and is sometimes overcome by oracular visions.
With one hand in each world, Healer, counselor, Bloody to both elbows.
Hilda the Right, Peasant Beauty of the Caymbre and Zsolt. She is bold, good, and strong, but the ways of wyrd elude her. She is breathtaking and fell when she appears on the battlefield, and her foremothers were queens of the Old Blood. She is radiant and stunning, and receives gifts and offerings on behalf of the summer, the earth, and the river.
Born free, feet upon the earth, But in my birth are secret things, And in my future, fire.
Ritva the Certain, Blacksmith of the Kekkonen. She is strong, wary, and good, but the ways of wyrd elude her. She speaks wisdom to those who come to her for counsel, and has the right to take on a student as her apprentice. Were she wronged, she could muster champions to demand blood recompense and they would come; were danger near, she could rally warriors from among her peers to the defense of all and they would listen.
Scorched and roaring, Fearless, indomitable, Sanctified by crucible and forge.
Soku the Swift, Court Wizard of the Laung and Trüng. She is wyrd, good, and wary, but her spirit shudders away from boldness. She is literate in Persian and Arabic and has the right to seek the truth in any troubling situation, unhindered by any. She is able to step out of her earthly life and journey in other places, and can see into the heart of unnatural creatures.
Astrologer, necromancer, Scientist and sage Trembling before God
Spring in the cliffside Trüng-Holt: the lean time, with winter stores devoured but the first harvest of spring not yet ripe.
Hilda the Right and the Caymbre spend the season preparing for what their matriarch, Nan, fears is coming and through their trading contacts manage to make arrangements that will double the size of the stronghold’s armory.
Ritva the Certain spends the season working alone in her smithy, but with only one strong pair of arms progress is slow and she turns her mind to the question of finding a worthy successor.
Amai the Touched spends the season in rites and celebrations, slaughtering those of her family’s livestock grown old or weak to supplement the scarce food supplies left during the bare time of early spring.
Soku the Swift spends the season celebrating the rites of her people, shedding her courtly manners and duties to reinforce her ties to the pack, culminating in a ritual hunt and bonfire the night before spring turns to summer.
Summer in the cliffside Trüng-Holt: the weather warms and the winds die down so that the beach becomes a place of revelry and ritual.
Soku wakes up at dawn beside the ashes of the bonfire with her people laid out hungover and still-senseless around her. She exchanges words with the only people awake, Bian Many-Voice, who predicts the coming of a storm. Obligations to her people fulfilled, Soku returns to the Trüng-Holt and the central household and reports the conversation to Parvana - leader of the Trüng and therefore, by default, the stronghold - who asks her to investigate the nature of this possible ‘storm’.
Just outside in the forge, Ritva sets to work refining the last of the iron ore left in her stores into usable metal. Her work is interrupted by the arrival of her mother Janike, to whom she had entrusted finding her candidates for apprenticeship, and Hilda. Hilda proposes several of the Caymbre, none of whom Janike thinks highly of, and then offhandedly mentions her cousin Gaspar of the Zsolt, whom Ritva likes the sound of and who Janike regards as a passable candidate.
There is only one problem: Gaspar is Zsolt, not Caymbre, and Nan is not prepared to pay his apprenticeship fee, while Janike is unwilling to let her daughter and clan take on an apprentice without a fee to compensate them and to give their kin a financial stake in them doing well. Ritva seeks out Parvana, who had previously encouraged her to take an apprentice and turns out to be willing to pay the cost of Gaspar’s board and lodgings and take this burden off of Janike. This reduces but does not eliminate the cost of the fee, and so Hilda leads the other two off to talk to her parents.
Soku settles down in her quarters, stepping out of her earthly life and allowing her consciousness to expand out of her body and into the world and the beings around her. Her consciousness expands too far and too fast, however, and Soku soon loses track of the concerns of her earthly life and no longer desires to do anything but pursue the vastness and intricacy of the world’s life-web.
Amai practices in full armour with shield and spear on the mustering field but soon grows bored and having overheard the conversation about Ritva’s search for an apprentice passing by decides to go off in search of Hilda’s parents’ house where negotiations remain ongoing. Ritva makes a passionate case for the opportunity and lifelong security that Gaspar is being offered and Marta, Hilda’s mother, agrees to pay his apprenticeship fee.
Amai, who had arrived just in time to witness this, is overcome by an oracular vision and collapses and Hilda and her father, Helmich, banish the others to the street to continue the conversation there while they care for the Wicker-Wise. Ritva takes Gaspar aside as Janike and Marta haggle over precise details of payment and cost and takes his measure and explains to him what will be expected and required of him and how he will be treated in return.
In her unconscious state Amai’s vision skates out over the water beyond the harbour that lies at the foot of the Trüng-Holt and she sees the trading vessel owned by the Caymbre, carrying the iron ore and weapons they’d purchased in the spring, pursued by a mass of stormclouds that resolved into a raiding ship. Upon the deck of this raiding ship, barely a hand of time’s sailing away, stands a ritually-scarified pale-skinned man with wild never-cut hair and the gleam of sorcery in his eyes.
Amai wakes with a start and cries out a warning to Ritva and Hilda, who begin mustering nearby warriors of the Trüng and Caymbre to defend the shore and the ship. Soku’s consciousness jolts and retracts in response to the intensity of emotion developing back around her body. She wakes in time to hear the cry going up of attackers sailing into harbour towards the beach and remembers with horror that her people are still mostly laid out senseless and helpless where they slept the night before after their ritual on the beach.