Shattered Land: Chapter Three

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The second day after the arrival of Yuwen Blue-Eyes dawns cold and clear, with a blanket of snow on earth and eaves and a deep blue sky that stretches for miles beyond the tops of the pines. As is his wont, Thorvald has gone with first light to cut wood in the forest above his home, leaving his strange guest in the care of his wife Gritta and of Sora, her slave.

When Gritta was told that Yuwen would not be leaving in the morning, her face had shown a mixture of confusion and subdued pleasure, for the man was surely charming company. When she was told that Thorvald would be helping the stranger ambush the armed Lakelander who was following him, her confusion had become silent worry. Today, with Thorvald away and no pursuer in sight, that worry is shading towards ill-concealed annoyance.

Yuwen, too, seems ill at ease. Waiting does not suit him. He lounges now by the morning fire, playing absently with the embroidery around the collar of his green tunic, watching as Gritta and Sora clear away the bowls emptied of breakfast stew. Every now and then he goes to the door, cracks it and peers out over the snow; then he returns to his place and flops down again.

Silence lengthens between the three in the little house.

As last, while handing bowls to Sora for washing, the matron Gritta remarks, “Another quiet day.”

To which the stranger, after eyeing his host, returns a sardonic, “Indeed, madam. May they continue so. No man of action I.”

“So my husband says,” Gritta answers. Guest and hostess smile briefly and thinly at one another.

Sora has had her own worry to cultivate, hand in hand with those that come with the dawn. Beyond the practical matter that she has agreed to help their charming guest with this dangerous matter, and beyond the temper of her mistress, there is the troubling matter of her belly. She was certain it was flat when she lay down to sleep yesterday and now it curves out from its former smooth concave, giving every indication that she is some weeks gone with child. Continue reading “Shattered Land: Chapter Three”

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Shattered Land: Chapter Two

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As Thorvald and his wife prepared to settle for the evening, the woodcutter offered their guest a place by the fire.  However, in a show of humility, Yuwen Blue-Eyes insisted that such a thing would be an intrusion, and claimed that he would be happy with a place on the storage room floor.  Gritta seemed mildly displeased– perhaps by how this might reflect on her as mistress of the house– but Thorvald was easily convinced to agree.

And so it is that the slave girl Sora finds herself sharing the close confines of the storage room with the traveler named Yuwen.  He’s stretched behind her, closer to the wall, wrapped in his cloak with his hood drawn up over his face.  Frail fingers of warmth from the banked fire scarcely reach beneath the leather hanging to the place where Sora lies, so the stranger must be subject to whatever chill the house’s logs can’t keep out.  Wind thrums over and around the house at intervals.

He doesn’t move, but Sora has little doubt that Yuwen is awake in the darkness behind her.  Awake, and watching her. Continue reading “Shattered Land: Chapter Two”

Shattered Land: Chapter One

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The first installment of my one-on-one dark fantasy campaign played using the Blood of Pangea ruleset from Olde House Rules.  Our dice were rolled in a chat program while we took turns writing the results into a Google Docs document.  The actual play document follows.  

Thorvald went raiding as a younger man, but now makes his living cutting wood for trade.  He lives with his wife Gritta on the edge of a great pine forest, in a cabin of rough-hewn logs tucked into the foothills of the mountains.  Once he had a son, but Halmuth fell in battle and dwells now in the Silent Halls of Lord Moon.  Such is the way of things.

Sora is the woodcutter’s slave.

The cabin she shares with Thorvald and Gritta has two rooms: a great room with a central fire pit, where cooking, conversation and all the business of life are carried out; and a storage room, colder, separated from the home by a hanging of leather.  Sora sleeps in the storage room.  There’s also an earthen cellar dug out beneath the house, and accessed through a door outside.  

Most days, Thorvald spends the sunlit hours in the forest, felling trees and hewing wood that he then carries home across his back and deposits in the massive woodpile between the house and the well.  With winter beginning, those hours have become fewer, and the woodcutter has been inclined to work long into the twilight, risking attack from wild animals or savages in order to make his daily load.  So it is today; as the last light leaves the sky and a lean snowfall whirls in winds that brush the great timbers of the house, Gritta and Sora are alone before the fire. Continue reading “Shattered Land: Chapter One”