Gram Broad-Shoulder awoke. His memories were dazed… but images of giants… Hill giants… Fire Giants and Frost Giants… even others… descending upon the wooden walls of Trondheim drowned in a blur of combat. But he was alive! Gram searched for survivors finding only the hacked and battered remains of his Norse race. His son’s body was not among the fallen and he staggered off, looking for his kin.
Gram found him near a bridge by the great river. Alone. But alive. He took Hrolf Gramsson by the hand and pulled him to his feet. Hrolf remembered giants, everywhere—then blackness.
Together they entered the broken city finding only more destruction. They rested at the blasted temple of Odhinn and were met by another survivor – Knut Kyrre (the Peaceful) – the priest. A massive funeral was in order so they headed towards the beach to begin collecting the corpses of the slain. Among the bodies scattered over the fields they recovered two more living kinsmen, the berserker brothers Egil Grimsson and Finn Grimsson. Gathering the dead was gritty business but a shout over a hill called them to another living Norsemen – one of the legendary Skalds, Aki Sleggjasson. He dragged a prisoner in his thrall, a mortally wounded Hill Giant. They hauled the giant to the shore, built up a large pyre and there Hrolf noticed a figure looking out to the sea. The half-breed Ketil, the king’s executioner. Next to him, the fallen King. The giants left Ketil alive to tell of the carnage and to laugh at him, the outcast from human and giantkind. Ketil’s recount was simple. The giants raided with immense war ships much as the Vikings had done on others. They slew the entire population of Trondheim to the last men, women and children whom they took back across the sea as slaves or sacrifice. Ketil handed the fallen King’s winged helm over to Knut — as high-priest, the greatest living symbol of leadership.
Knut commenced the sacrifice of the hill giant and as burning embers licked up the creature’s feet, Gram thrust his spear into the giant’s heart and Odhinn, their great God appeared before them, commanding them to follow the giants and avenge their race. Ragnarok, he roared, is upon us! But beware… their may be some other force behind this union of Giants… perhaps even the machinations of Loki himself!
Taking on the charge the survivors gathered what supplies they could find and unearthed a buried Viking long ship, made it sea worthy, and loaded up for their final raid. Knut advised that a new king was in order, and Gram Broad-Shoulder was crowned their new leader.
Two ravens appeared on the dragon-carved prow of the ship, Hugin and Munin, and lead them on, over the sea, for two wearisome weeks.
The skald Aki made this song:
None knew the color of sky… only the waves that swept around them. They were the hues of slate, save for the tops, foamed with white. The horizon narrowed and dipped and widened and dipped and the waves seemed like jagged edges thrusting up in points like rocks.
They rowed and rowed as the top mast slashed to and fro. The long ship pranced like a wild animal in the waves. It was by Odhinn’s mystical gift that we scrambled over the walls of waves, and into the air, crashing down to face the next menace. And always before the prow, the ravens, two black specs that led us on…
The party of Vikings did find land, a large rocky and forested island, that none had ever heard a tale of before. They beached their ship, took a load of supplies and followed Hugin and Munin into the wood. Miles later the ravens perched over a small black opening at the bottom of a woody hill – a cave. A place to rest and set camp. And they did.
The morning of the assault Aki informed the party the ravens had gone but two beautiful female warriors clad in white samite, with swords that gleamed bright though the sun’s rays could not pierce the clouds overhead, appeared in their stead. The awe-inducing women announced themselves as Varna and Syn, Valkyries sent by Odhinn to aid the Vikings in slaying the Giant chief.
The Valkyries lead them for two hours to a hilly stretch of country below the mountains and there they spied a massive wooden fortress – a mockery of a Viking Hall! The structure itself seemed to be made of iron bound logs the size of trees and loomed nearly one-hundred feet tall at the central peak. All eyes were centered on a tower that jutted from the outer hall.
Ketil stalked ahead and infiltrated this outer hall, finding three giants drunk and asleep, and assassinated all three, clearing the way for the Vikings to enter.
They could hear great laughter and noise beyond a set of twenty foot high wooden doors and decided to take a passage to the right. A sneak attack was called by Gram.
They cleared out the first three rooms in their path – looting as was their nature, slaying two sleeping giants and a room full of hill giant children, showing even these young giants no mercy. At the advice of Aki, they clothed themselves in the garb of the slain children to appear as young giants. Gram eased the rage of Egil and Finn who argued to continue the slaughter. The Valkyries urged them forward. They wanted death or glory as Odhinn commanded. Knut questioned this as they had the element of surprise but vengeance triumphed, sending the Norsemen deeper into the torchlit hall – ready to find the Giant chief.
End of session one. Click here for Session Two.