Part 3: Day 0: Departing Strand
BGM: We Will Not Be Forgotten
So, let's visit the docks, then.
A familiar varl steps onto the docks. In your mind you recall a much younger version trampling the halls of Grofheim, abundant in purpose.
Comes with being old. And, if there is Vognir, there must be Hakon.
Still bleeding tributes from the poor and stupid, old yox? At what age do you lose a sense of shame?
Jorundr demands it. I'll take that over lingering to death in Grofheim. Speaking of, I had no sense that you were so far from home.
Just returned from Arberrang, in fact.
And glad for it.
Hakon motions to the other ships in the bay, sails still fluttering. Golden wolf head emblazoned on red. The king of men, or someone on his behalf.
The king's whelp.
The king's son, Ludin. Don't you know, scrivener? We visit his capital, he visits ours. It's how you make alliances these days.
It's a miserable waste of time.
Yes, Hakon has it. I'd almost forgotten. It's a good thing you're around, Hakon.
Then you're going to Grofheim? I have the distinct feeling I've finished my business in Strand and was heading there myself. We should caravan.
We should. Give it a day. In better circumstances I'd drink a week away, but, ah... let's just be done. Find me tomorrow at the gates.
What he's trying to say is the prince is a delight to behold.
Where is Mogr? Hakon, have him find a place to put up the warriors. I'm heading up to meet the governor.
A host of giants depart in his wake. You recognize a few, others are strangers to you.
Guess I'm off to find Mogr. See you in the morning, scrivener.
I'll be along.
The young prince of men ambles from his ship. He brushes off his tunic, scanning the beach with low eyelids. Ludin looks for all the world the sort of boy who grew up pulling the legs from spiders. The long road back to Grofheim should be more interesting than most years, you think.
On the other hand, if you're going to join Vognir's caravan tomorrow, it might not hurt to share a drink with Hakon, or introduce yourself to the prince they spoke so highly of.
For the first time, we are granted options! Before heading on to the Great Hall, I can optionally talk to Hakon or Ludin. I will hit up the former first.
You find Hakon in a mead house surrounded by other varl. Strand is no stranger to varl but rarely sees this many. Hakon waves you over.
Went straight for a flagon?
Vognir's the one who agreed to pass up a drink. I wasn't invited to the governor's hall anyway.
You already missed the massacre. Every year I make the rounds collecting taxes. Every year it's the human settlements that give me trouble.
No surprise. What this time?
When I got here the great hall was already full of bodies. We added a few more.
Hah... humans. I guess if I only lived as long as a yox fart I might be desperate to make something of myself, too.
It's not too late to start trying, Hakon.
Hakon lets slip a low chuckle. Any varl could recount his deeds, known as he is for cutting through dredge at Vognir's side in the second war, and regularly since then.
Down here I'm a glorified bodyguard. You might have a point. Just another reason to get back to Grofheim.
Soon enough, I imagine.
You drink until the mead house becomes overbearing, then step back into the cool air outside.
Okay, I can only put off talking to the prince for so long.
You find the prince at an inn. Guards blanket the building, including a sharp-eyed varl who must be working for Ludin. A woman in red eventually waves you over and stands nearby, arms crossed.
Greetings, Prince Ludin.
Not exactly. I've known Vognir a long time. I'll be joining you back to Grofheim, with my guards.
Ludin looks up for the first time. The woman doesn't react.
I work for the king, carrying tithes to the capital. We crossed by chance.
Oh, a tax collector. Fine company.
A varl historian? Aha. Don't you already know? Your king and mine both have been practically trumpeting it throughout the cities.
I've been on the road a while, I'm afraid.
Ludin takes a deep sigh. Whether tired or ungracious you aren't certain. Maybe both.
A formality, mostly. Vognir came to our capital in Arberrang and now we go to the varl's capital in Grofheim, to cement this grant alliance for the "next age" of men and varl.
You sound unconvinced.
There's no need for it. And it's so damned cold up here.
You get the sense he's struggling not to complain outright. You take the opportunity to excuse yourself.
And with no further distractions, we hit the Great Hall in the morning.
Your guards take the treasure wagon down to the gates. Vognir is already here. A while later Ludin and his men appear, groggy and disheveled.
You follow Mogr and join the others.
Usually the smaller doors set into the gates would be enough to enter or leave the city, but the town guards have been told to push them open entirely. They mutter things under their breath that are best not heard. Perhaps the governor expected you to draw a crowd, but there's nothing of the sort; just frustrated, tired people. It summarizes Strand well as a while, you think.
Now that we're on the road, let's talk about all those numbers!
The big one at the center is the number of days since the story began. As time passes, the ring around it fills, one full circle representing a day (or an equivalent period of time - there's no day and night with the sun frozen in the sky).
The red banner on the top is our Renown, which can be used to get supplies or upgrade units. The gold banner is Supplies, measured in days - it will go up and down as people join or leave our caravan, and drops by one at the start of each new day. We do not want it to reach zero.
The numbers on the left are the size of our caravan. Clansmen are human non-combatants, Fighters are human warriors, Varl are varl. The face to the right of these numbers is the caravan's morale - currently Great.
This caravan is very well-off. Most everyone in it can fight, spirits are high, and we have food to spare. No difficult tradeoffs involved yet.
At the end of day 2:
"Thanks for the speech," slurs Vognir...
Thanks to Mogr. I thought the damned governor would never shut up. Did he give you the history of his entire family?
He tried. Then he asked me to clean up his mess. for your benefit, turns out!
I'd have given the job to you, too. Gods, there's no joy in politics.
Speaking off, what happens after this business with Ludin?
Hopefully the boy goes back to Arberang. On his own. And I... can take out some frustration on dredge or something.
Starting to sound like Hakon. You don't like the life of a diplomat?
Haha! Don't you miss the fight, Ubin?
You down your mead instead of replying. Vognir slouches and shakes his head.
There's no great joy in killing dredge. But this... pretty sure this nonsense is some scheme between the two kings to force some kind of lineage. Used to be, warriors would follow you for what you'd done.
Isn't that why they follow you now?
Is it? Or is it because I'm the next in line? These lines are getting muddy, old varl.
They've always been muddy, Vognir.
Vognir stares into he campfire, lost in thought. You leave him to it.