Saturday, 31 December 2016

Kampi’s Saga: Recounting and Rumination

I still live!

Another year come and gone; so little time to write about what's been done.

I managed to pull enough free time together to bust out a basic recap of all the recent events this past year concerning Kampi and his Saga.

For more frequent updates of my doings, follow me on Instagram; I've been making a point of posting smaller gaming/LARP related things there as I don't have the time to here. Hopefully I'll get to odd chance to do a few more blog posts about what I've been doing that keeps me so busy, but for the time being this blog is mostly going dormant.

Enjoy and have a great 2017!

Third Day of Woden
Month of Yule
Local Year 5316

Rune: Jera
Divine Association: Eir, Goddess of Mercy
Literal Meaning: Year
Interpretations: Harvest
Right-side: Promise, Renewal, Reward
Inverted: Interminable, Repetition, Reversal

It has been quite a long time since my last journal entry, over half a year ago. Many a time I raised charcoal to parchment, but was never able to finish what little I began. Aside from my life being occupied by a great many things, I feel that I cannot still my thoughts during my free moments long enough to find peace; I have an ongoing sense of foreboding in my mind. Despite all that is good in my life, I cannot dispel a dread I feel lurking in the dark recesses of my mind; the occasional headaches and nightmares do nothing to improve this feeling that the shadows in my soul lengthen.

As of late I have been spending my winter in a meager inn near within the harbour district of Helm’s Deep; sharing a small rented loft with my kinsman, Volm, for over a fortnight until he departed eastward on personal errands, leaving me alone in our small room. I have tried to venture forth and be sociable, sometime visiting the various taverns and barrooms throughout the city, but I feel out of place in crowds and reclusive. The longest night of Yule has just passed last evening; my thoughts cannot help but wander back to the celebration with the Greyward house at Shale Glacier the year past, and the grim affairs that later occurred at the hamlet of Amsel.

Much has happened since I last wrote in this journal during the Month of Flowers, nor have I even recorded all that has occurred before that entry, which has always been an intention of my own. Since that fateful 'hunt’ nearly a year ago, my life it seems to have become increasingly more complicated; I will try to summarize what has happened to over the course of the past year since my last entry in an attempt to order my thoughts:

Word reached me during my stay in Uberland during the month of the Sun that Gnimh was present on the 16th day of with her loyal pack and was attempting to exert her influence over the local mongrelfolk and gain the town's trust by offering aid against the hoard of black orcs that had invaded Dagger Deep. By the time I arrived both groups had been dealt with in their own way. I stayed in the Guard Barracks following that incident, wishing to be present to lend aid against another invasion or if Gnimh made another appearance.

Near the end of that month, several days following Midsummer, was the Festival of Osis. I recall still being a member of the Town Guard then; I will elaborate on the fact I am no longer one later. I enjoyed observing the tournament and the great gathering of folk celebrating; I ran I short athletic pastime that was well received. I strung and shot bow a few times in the archery contest, but didn't stay to compete. 

Although Relan was present we had little time to talk privately, in fact I spent more time with his 'brother’ Hector; I am still unsure how I feel about that man, though we are both as some would say of the ‘faith militant’, his outlooks upon the nature of morality, divinity, and free will tend to run contrary to my own and he seems far from willing to openly debate them. It's a wonder how Relan abides him; I've heard them loudly buttheads over some viewpoints. True be told I wasn't feeling sociable and eventually retired, the crowds getting to me.

About a month following a 'tribe’ of various types of goblinoids (many base, with some of cinder, some of rime) converged on the lands surrounding Dagger Deep. Talks with the goblin folk proved futile as they quickly lost patience with any discussion and many of the townsfolk, both single-minded boors and bloodthirsty mongrels, attempted to drive them away with force. If the entire town was committed to such action, we might have been successful, though a large group was either unsure, unwilling, or attempting to find a peaceful resolution; I found myself in the latter. A disposed pair of somewhat astute cinder goblins spoke to us of the the plans of the ‘bullies’ in charge were to perform rituals at each of the five nearby magical portals to seal them, on the idea that the portals have caused nothing but trouble and closing them would weaken their foe, 'the mother of magic’, Gnimh. There was even a rumour that her hated sister Shaar was the force behind goblins plan.

Having been first hand witness to their slaughter at the petty whims of Gnimh and her inhuman agents, I was supportive of their cause, even if for the reason if the portals are closed sooner, than less blood needs to be shed by both the goblins and the townsfolk, and depriving Gnimh of her power could only have beneficial consequences; how wrong I was.

Having personally volunteered as sacrifice for the closure of the Air portal (the second portal they closed following the Water portal; to my endless regret, it was my own blood that sealed it) and experiencing the magical backlash of it, along with that of the Earth and Fire portal, the last being a pyroclastic release of energy that incinerated all those present (mostly goblin). I just quested the top of the barren stone hillock and was brought to my knees at the sheer devastation I gazed upon; something that has become a too frequent dreamscape of my nightmares as of late.

It was quickly decided that allowing the goblins to seal the final portal, that of Life and Death in Woodhenge, could have disastrous repercussions; long story short, despite our weak forces having been split between defending and attacking, and a betrayal by the few cinder goblins we trusted resulting in the shattering of the magical globe of protection around the portal, we succeeded in the end of driving them off. They seemed content with the closure of four of five portals.

And now on to the part where I abandoned the Guard: Exhausted from the ordeals of that day, I came to a gathering of the Guard with their superiors, along with the warlord Alucard and a few concerned citizens; after witnessing the way our ‘superiors’ treated the concerned citizens present with contempt, and the airing of the failures to properly drive off the goblins and prevent them from interfering with the portals, combined with the earlier summons for Relan, Mathuin, and others to be brought in, interrogated, forced to take sleeping draught, and incarcerated for alleged connections to Northbrook; that was the moment that tipped my already unsure loyalty. I walked away from the group in disgust, and after a moment, I briefly returned only to toss in my sash.

I then proceeded to the C&A where I got drunk. A few allies tried to convince me to reamain in the Guard, Relan included, and even though I felt I was breaking my bond to the citizens I swore to protect, I felt that by being hampered by our corrupt laws, I would only be breaking my oath to protect the folk of this town. I left town the following morn into the hinterlands for a few weeks of solace.

It was soon after I noticed my connection to my gods was waning; believing my actions as an oathbreaker had angered them, I returned to town, to discover that I was not the only one whose mystical powers were hampered; it appeared to be effecting the faithful and non-faithful alike, and it was rumoured that the closure of the portals was the cause.

As I was gathering my affects from the Barracks, I saw and spoke with Tibalt the Bard, whom had been incarcerated for attempting to beseech Gnimh for aid in reopening the portals; though she did make an appearance she was of no help, and Tibalt was arrested for consorting with the enemy. I began to realize the full consequences of going along with the portals being sealed, how I my choice to protect townsfolk only resulted in driving them to desperate acts to return things to how they once were, and I saw the law punish those for making the correct choice for the greater good. I did my best to aid those looking to restore the portals, and I witnessed more personal sacrifices as Mordag attempted to call in a favour from Lyra, the so called Queen of Undead and former general of Sakacuron, and Dodger, now preferring to be known as Jackrym, sacrificed his connection to a Fae court to unseal the Air portal. Dispite this, I still stand by my choices, and I support any who also do so for the greater benefit of all.

Eventually all the portals were restored, and it came as no surprise that once her power had been returned to full, Gnimh returned with her force, perusing a pack of mongrels which refused to submit to her will; The Maw I believe is what they referred to themselves as. Like countless times before the town was caught between two warring groups, but the town had few positive feelings for Gnimh and allied with her foe to attempt to drive her away. Our small numbers were crushed and I lay dead off the beaten track for sometime, so long the sky had grown dark by the time a rogue named Starn had revived me (Still owe him a favour); once I regrouped with my allies we found the shredded body of Odez (Lieutenant of the Guard), who'd be mauled to death by the lead mongrel of Gnimh, Silverfang. We collected what remained of his body upon a shield and carried it back to town, where by the grace of the Æsir I was able to restore life to his frail body.

In all honesty, if I knew he was going to become one of them, we would have buried him where he had fallen, for that is where the last decent member of the Guard remains.

Sometime after his recovery, Ajax and I witnessed his physical change into one of those mongrel beasts, and we confronted him upon hearing he hunted down a young lad to sake his unending hunger; harsh words were exchanged but it was kept civil and no blood was shed; I am certain the Odez I knew and respected is gone.

Despite all chaos and seemingly hopelessness, during this I found strength in companionship, the single bastion of hope I have. My kinsman, Volm, who I thought lost on his initial journey eastward over the Dragon Peaks, returned to these lands, and has chosen a path of faith in our old gods similar to my own; I have been doing my best to teach him the ways of the devout, though I frequently question myself, feeling a poor comparison to my mentor Relan, at least before he began enjoy drink too much for his and others well-being. Aligning with his interests and temperament, Volm has chosen Freyng, the god of the Harvest, Fertility, and the Sun, to be his patron deity.

Soon after our pairing, another approached us with interest of our faith, a strapping young lad by the name of Kygo; from his manner of speech, dress, and the lands he claimed to hail from, we believe he is perhaps a distant kinsman of Volm or myself.

I have as well become firm friends with a Caledonian warrior named Connor of clan MacPherson; though a bit bullheaded, he is an honest and true companion. Despite being a warrior first, his devoutness to his goddess(es), The Morrigan, shares many similarities with our own, particularly the association of the raven and collecting the souls of the slain in a manner reminiscent of the valkyrja. He has been more than kind enough to offer the holy grounds he has acquired at Dagger Deep as a site of worship for the Æsir; with our faith slowly growing, I am greatly considering his offer, along with another to join him in Caledonia come the new year, though the distance and method to be travel sounds unbelievable (I have traveled by airship once before, but I was mostly in recovery from Amsel) .

And when I’ve seen him, Ajax has always been supportive in his own way. The last time we met I handed him a lengthy letter to send to his family in Shale Glacier, specifically to his young sister Nerys. It dealt with her a misplaced infatuation with me; it was the hardest thing I had to write. Though Ajax spoke that he was not intending on visiting his folk this winter, I trust he will see the message safely delivered back home, though I would not put it past him to glimpse at the contents out of concern for his sister; between the two of them I hope that at least one of them accepts what I have written.

I have not seen him since we last spoke on Samhain, where we got into a heated argument regarding my consideration of joining with Red Keep’s army that was preparing to march upon Northbrook in a upcoming winter war following Yule. He brazenly stated if Connor and myself were to foolishly risk our lives in such a madcap endeavor, he would have to accompany us to ensure we came to no harm; having known he had intentions on travelling southward to locate the land of his lost love, Erinn. I tease Ajax for pining for her, but it's obvious he deeply cares for her, though perhaps it was not until that moment how much he also cared for his friends; like his sister, he desires no harm to come to them and will take steps to prevent it.

Sometime following Samhain, Connor, Volm, and myself participated in a wargame of sorts between Helm’s Deep and the kingdom of Uberland, with us on the side of the Red Keep. Our forces were mostly outmatched in combat and we had to rely upon our cunning against the trials of that long night. To my shame as a follower of a god of war, it was further laid bare to me that I feel unfit as a soldier; like Connor and Volm, we all have fought many a time and at times do not shirk from battle, but at least in my regard I that was when my spirit is bolstered by a noble cause or threat to those I swore to protect. Though the threat of Northbrook and their supposed god-slaying weapon looms over all, I feel it is outside my capabilities to combat; I will support those who seek to remove the threat they present, but I have concluded that this in not my battle. It seems Connor has made similar choice, deciding to return to Caledonia.

I am sure Sigrun would be disappointed in my choice as well.

I should explain who Sigrun is before I continue; sometime before Samhain when Connor, Ajax, and myself were present together in Dagger Deep we met a comely yet aloof shield maiden, whom went by the name of Sigrun. She claimed to be a valkyrie and an avatar of the goddess Valfreyja, and though at first I did not believe such a bold claim (perhaps because I had always considered the gods of my homeland distant deities with no direct interest in this realm), when she spoke of her task to recover a necklace from a trickster named Seeker Foxkin, a masked avatar of the god of mischief, Lokki. I did my best to aid her in this endeavor, and although we succeeded in recovering the necklace it was shattered and the trickster placed a curse upon the prominent gem that cause the bearing to speak lies every other time they spoke.

Sigrun spend most of the remainder of her short time in our company before she returned to Asgard with the pieces of the broken necklace, and she honoured me with the gift of a relic in the form of a worn cloth she wore bearing the symbol of thrice intertwined drinking horns of the gods. Despite this reward, I could not help but get the impression she was overall dissatisfied with my performance of the representative of the Æsir. I shall try to remain resolute and endeavor to be worthy in her and the All Father’s sight; to some, I must be considerable, for when I awoke by my lonesome the morning of Yule I was pleasantly surprised thrice:

First, upon the floor leaning against the hatch to my room, resting adjacent to my worn boots, lay a great leather-bound tome; at first I was alarmed, as I meant someone had managed to enter my loft during the long night as I slept without knocking my boots over or disturbing me, but upon further inspection of the article, with its wondrous, illuminated contents upon the sagas and myths of my homeland, I deeply suspect it is a gift from either a very clever accomplice, or a possibly a mythical benefactor. Something to both occupy my time during the winter months and possibly gain insight from.

When I descended to join my host and the other tenants in a shared feast to break our fast, after exchanging pleasantries and well-wishes, the owner of the townhouse presented me with a small pine eski, and explained he was to give it to me after it had been delivered to him that morn by a porter. He politely refused the few coins I had for his service, citing it was no trouble. I sat upon a bench near the fire-pit in inspected the small coffer: the front latch was kept closed by a piece of twine looped through it and the ends contained within a wax seal of green; peering at it with the firelight was the imprint of a griffin rampant. At once I knew whom the chest was from: Ajax.

Upon breaking the seal and lifting the lid, my eyes fell upon a worn piece of parchment with the contents listed in a recognizable script; the first of which read:
‘Salt - A most potent and striking anathema against the evil immaterial. Decant from phial in a ring around the hexxer, ensuring there are no gaps lest spectres exploit it.’
I searched the box and drew out a small phial matching the description filled with crystals of salt; after gazing it I placed it beside me upon the bench and read the next item:
‘Oil of Blencathra’ - A blade anointed with pure oil from the Blencathra region will pierce hides of creatures impervious to normal steel.’
I fished out a bottle of verdant smoked glass sealed with red wax, the outside etched with unrecognizable glyphs; I set it down and proceeded to the next item.
‘Talisman - Bruxa are tricky and capricious, and can curse the most are ardent hunter. Arm your with this charm and be not afeared of their sorcery.’
I fished out a metallic disk that hung upon a cord adorned with various mineral beads; after glancing around, I looped it over my neck and trucked in beneath my tunic.
‘Candles - Thrice blessed, candles in ritual preserve oneself from injury of the unknowable and esoteric.’
A pair of pearlescent tallow candles rested in the coffer next to the following items: A small coil of twine and a bulb of garlic.
‘Cord of Hemp - A coil of hemp plantwire, soaked in knotweed to imbue it with strength in binding the impure.’
‘Bulb of Garlic - Each Wampyr, Nosferat, and Lamia cannot stand garlic, and will flee from he who presents it. Instrumental in staking a final-rest to the unnatural living cadavers.’
For a moment I consider that claim: I had heard that the cursed beings of Dagger Deep and Arrakus have no love of the bulbous plant, but I have not heard it being used to effectively drive them off; perhaps it only applies to certain realted creatures. I read and inspected the final item; a long colourless glass phial containing a clean liquid:
‘Holy Water - A phial of crystal water, sanctified by the blessings of monastic orders who defend against evil and malevolent daemons.’
I have both heard and witnessed my mentor Relan bless water in the name of his god Ithus and use it to occasional effect against those demonically possessed. I’m sure I could do the same for a short time, but having a phial of blessed waters that remain indefinite could be useful in its own right.

Replacing the contents back into the chest I could not help but consider the possible intents of this gift: given that many of these objects have protective values, it’s apparent Ajax is obviously concern for my well being, yet at the same time one needs to be in appropriate perilous situation to make use of them; evidently he wishes me to continue aiding him on his ill-boding ‘hunts’ against threats to the innocent. Perhaps in this regard he knows me better than I know myself.

I may as well resign myself to such fate the Norns have woven for me; as much I claim that I desire peace, my soul yearns for conflict.

I am sure this new year shall provide what it desires.

Praise Be To The Æsir

-Ref ' Kampi' Vandillson