The Ruin of Ethersberg
A warrior awakes on the deck of a longship, its mast and dragonhead black against a sky on fire. He does not remember how he came here, only that his world had ended, and he has escaped with his life. All around the injured warrior, men as big as bears call to each other in gruff, battle-hardened voices, as they wrestle their boat back from the jaws of a violent volcanic storm. Like him, these are men with no history; brave and fearsome men, hailing from the deepest forests, the highest mountain lakes, the darkest caves. They are warriors, answering the call which runs in their blood: the call of their king, the dragon-born. They are Wild Vikings.
Ethersberg is a sea of spitting flame when the fleet finally arrives. The royal longhouse burns like embers in the hearth, yet at its heart the king sits still upon his throne, unscathed and lost in trance. As his raiders approach, the old man looks up, his eyes glinting. King Sbørn Dragonbløt has been waiting years for this very moment, when the most loyal, ruthless and ambitious of his warriors shall aid him in his hour of direst need. It is time, says Sbørn, to stake their claim in what is rightfully theirs.
The Wails of Lost Souls
From the searing heat of Ethersberg, King Sbørn and his Wild Vikings journey into the frozen wastes of the north. For as far as the eye can see the world there is cold, merciless blue and blinding white. Snow flurries obscure their path, often forcing the horde to double-back or leading them to the precipice of some bottomless crevasse.
No fire will catch, and so at night they huddle together for warmth, sharing mead and tales of their adventures; listening to King Sbørn tell of his fire-breathing ancestors; trying not to heed the wails of lost souls carried by the freezing winds. Each morning Sbørn asks his men, gripped by the agonies of frostbite, which direction to take; and though the way is tough his faith in their judgement proves well-founded. Soon, the Wild Vikings look down upon a green land once more.
A Brief Moment of Peace
In the valley north of the wastes, Sbørn’s men build a settlement to rival Valhǫll. Each of their wooden buildings is carved richly, with murals depicting their plight: the fall of Ethersberg, the call of King Sbørn, the desolation of the North.
Together, they craft armour light as air, and weapons fit for heroes from meteoric ore found buried in the ice. They rebuild their ships, lost to the frozen lakes, and train for the final leg of their journey: fighting each other bare-chested and bare-knuckled, or growing lithe and agile on daily hikes into the hills to retrieve wood, hunt game, scout for enemies.
Village of Riches
At last, they are ready to journey west, across the OpenSea whose waters, it is foretold, shall bring them indescribable wealth. No longer a ragged bunch of mercenaries, Sbørn’s Wild Vikings are now trained raiders, disciplined soldiers bent on valour and glory. Across the sea they sail, putting sword to the terrible Kraken hiding below the waves, avoiding the hypnotic gaze of the selkies – seal people whose song would lure them to a watery grave – and offering themselves as tribute to the thunder god. When they finally reach the western shores, they find a Village of Riches unlike anything they could ever have imagined.
The village is carved into the side of a sheer mountain face, each house, hall and square lined with gold and jewels, so that it appears the village cascades as a heavenly waterfall from the clifftop. The mountainside itself is luscious: tall with oak, birch, maple, and willow, green with carpets of soft moss, iridescent with blooming flowers. Arable land brimming with wild crops rolls out from the base of the village in great fields, and the Vikings weep with joy to find that their new farms are nurtured by the liquid of the fabled Ethereum River. This brave, bold and adventurous band of brothers has made it to the promised land. High above them, the floors of their new home appear to reach upward, toward a harvest moon, golden and full.