[Book] The Danstrar Serpent

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[Book] The Danstrar Serpent

Post by Tristior » Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:18 pm

Sing, bard! This is the song of King Bergryf Serpent-Slayer, only trueborn of Little Queen Kraka and first king of the Corpse-Hold of Danstrar.

Bergryf was first seen by the skald's sentimental gaze as the petty king of Gorvik. He was a tall, gale-beaten Nord and known to wear a third eye within his skull in the manner of his clan (the Sightless, so named because they could see better than any other). With this eye, Bergryf could see all the winds upon the sea and thus were his fleets the swiftest and most feared among the elves and lesser men of the North. This was during the reign of High King Snorik, in the time after the death of High King Wulfharth but before his return, when Nords still knew the different ways to wear their senses.

But at this time the peerless fleets of Gorvik were kept ashore, high above the tidemark, for not even the shallows were safe. Death stalked the Northshore in the form of a great water-serpent, which the people called Thirst. No ship could set out to hunt or raid without the glittering head of Thirst reducing their keel to splinters, and the shore-bound crews were vocal in their dismay such that the air was thick with cursing. And so Bergryf, knowing that the land alone could not sustain his people, summoned his thanes and Tongues and hunt-wives and set his entire fleet to either skin the serpent or perish together.

Most loyal amongst Bergryf’s hird was Jhugyr, the owl-faced navigator of the Sightless. He was a cunning clever-man and friend to the sea-hags that kept Kyne’s favour on great expeditions. Before the portentous unbeaching of Bergryf’s fleet, Jhugyr had dived to the place where hags traded storm-whipped foam for the baubles of the dreugh-folk, and offered many feathers from his own arms in return for their counsel. The sea-hags knew that Orkey, the foul dead snake, had followed Ysgramor’s ships out of Atmora, and Jhugyr had learned that the Gorvik wyrm was but one of Orkey’s children. Thus Jhugyr knew that they could kill Thirst by skinning it (all snakes are susceptible to this) and through the patterns of his flight was able to guide the Gorvik fleets towards its lair.

And thus, far below, as the smell of rot and death poured into his nostrils and the ships of his fleet formed up into six serried waves, Bergryf leapt upon the prow and bellowed challenges at the monster.

“Vile, hairless creature!” he roared (knowing that the children of Orkey are very sensitive to this) “In your cowardice, you skulk in open sea and have never stepped before my throne in honest combat. Well, now I come to your foetid lair with scorn upon my voice!”

Barbed by these unmatched taunts, the thrashing form of Thirst came rushing through the water towards the ships of the Sightless. Diving beneath Bergryf’s keel, its forked tail shattered the ship to either side and in surfacing its toothy mouth another. But wily Bergryf had anticipated these losses and knew that even the children of Old Knocker can only kill so many. Thus he sent the first wave of his ships, sharpened rams secreted beneath the water, charging into the wyrm’s flank, where they dashed themselves to pieces upon its shining scales. The same for the second, and third, and fifth waves (the fourth felt fear and made themselves the seventh).

But at the sixth wave the great glittering armour of Thirst, gruesome child of Orkey, was rent at last, and that was when the great longship of Bergryf surged forward. The petty king of Gorvik had kept a vajrar of Tongues by his side for just this moment, and as one, with spray whipping their faces, they Shouted the body of Thirst high upon the shore. The cold seas ran warm with serpent’s blood as the creature thrashed and cried, but the Voice is without mercy and with a final thunderous bellow the naked flesh of Orkey’s child lay splayed upon the shore.

Seeing this, the lesser folk of Gorvik - farmers and those bound to the land - swarmed down from the hills where they had been hiding. With knives and cleavers, they hacked the flesh from the still-bleeding wyrm - gorging themselves or packing it in snow for winter - until naught was left but steaming bones. And seeing the fortuitous way these bones had fallen, Jhugyr the clever-man rejoiced for he knew that this would, for all the days until Alduin's stirring, be a prosperous holdfast and a safe harbour for the unparalleled reavers of the Sightless. And King Bergryf, hereafter given the knowing "Serpent-Slayer", declared that mighty skull Danstrar, the new seat of a new kingdom on the Northshore.

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