Of the Overraskelse Hunt and the Wounding of Ivarr

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As told by Mistress Alisandre Oliphant, OL, with a poetic Afterward by Cynric of Bedwyn

Once upon a time in the fair lands of Bjornsborg in the days of Baron Jan, the barony hosted a great hunt for all manner of game. It was the Overraskelse Hunt, and folk from all across the kingdom, yea, even the King, came to join Bjornsborg. To help care for so many guests, the folk of Bjornsborg raised a small village to host and shelter them.
Jan’s court shone with the fame of its people – among them Emrys Shaunnon and his lovely lady Brianna ny Oran, both of them tall and fair and wise, as well as Catriona MacEnruig, Briony Blåaslagen, Conall MacNaughten, Petros the Unmerciful, and other names of legend.

Those who gathered to Jan’s court for this hunt were no less renowned – Seamus of the Cats the king, Karlana of Applecross Woods, his queen, Hector Phillip Martel, Rowan Beatrice von Kampfer, Valerius Fidelis Camerinus, and many others.

Ansteorra is not known for her wealth of navigable rivers. Alas for the folk of Bjornsborg, for the ships of the Vikings can go where other ships would founder; it is said they can float on the mist, on the dew, on the promise of rain. And this must be so, for a ship full of Vikings had traveled far into the barony, following the poor directions of Bjorn Haroldsson. Its raiders lay near this new, unfortified village, and saw the many rich guests, and sharpened their swords, and smiled.

The hunt went well, and many feats of daring were done, and much game was taken, and the baron hosted his folk and his guests and his king far into the night, with much merrymaking and wine and song. And then they went to a well-deserved rest.

But late, late in the night came the raiders and began to lay waste to the village, stealing and reaving. They were led by Ragnar Ulfgarsson, called Morkwulf, and numbered many feared names, including Ivarr runamagi, Randall von Nordlichwald, Willow de Wisp, Svan Coldbrowskaldsson, Regenwulf Osbern of Nympsfield, Gunnar Thordarsson, Jorund Ivarsson, Hrolf Ivarsson, and many more. They cleaved the quiet air with sudden war-cries. Caught sleeping and unprepared, the warriors of Bjornsborg and their guests nonetheless leapt from their beds at the first alarm, reaching for weapons and running to their lord that he might lead them against the raiders.

Battle was met in the narrow village streets, and many were the acts of valor. And Sir Emrys had run into the street to defend lands, liege, and lord, but he was ambushed and set upon by Ivarr’s sons and slain there. And there Brianna found him, and knelt over him as the village burned, and felt both grief and rage.

Jan’s folk pressed the raiders sorely, and these rabble had come to steal, not to fight – so hearing the cry against them and seeing their grim foes, they began to flee to their ship with their gains. They burned the village as they fled, and fire and smoke swirled around both raider and defender in the night. The raiders fled, calling to their fellows through the flame and confusion so that all might hear and escape.

Ivarr Runamagi heard the cries of his fleeing companions and joined them, and as he retreated through the burning streets he saw the beautiful Brianna keening over her fallen lord, and laughed at his good fortune.

Brianna, hearing his laughter, looked up and knew pure wrath. She ran at this foe to do him as much damage as lay in her power. And he, laughing at the fair fortune that sent this treasure running to his very arms, caught her up as his plunder and threw her over his shoulder and began to run to the ship.

But Brianna was valiant and single-minded. I have also said that as well as being fair, she was tall. Pinioned over the raider’s shoulder, dangling head-down, she found her face near a soft and unarmored part of his anatomy. She was a woman of Bjornsborg. She was Emrys’ lady. She used the only weapons left to her. She sank her teeth into the closest part of the raider she could reach. As deeply as she could.

This unexpected attack in an unexpected quarter at the moment of his triumphant escape made the raider loose her and continue his flight to the ship alone and limping. The next day, beside the smoking ruins of the village, Brianna donned armor to strengthen the forces of Bjornsborg in pursuit and vengeance.

Ivar runamagi Device.jpg
Black Star advertisement for the event

Baron Jan and King Seamus found both the raiders’ camp and their ship – for, hoping for other gain, they had fled no further. Their leader Ragnar sized up his enemies and sent his warriors against those who seemed the richest targets. But Seamus and Jan led Bjornsborg to victory and punished the raiders for their violence. Jan allowed some who survived to stay on in Bjornsborg on the promise of living in peace. One of those was Ivarr.

Ivarr never failed in his respect for the great lady who had given him his only wound in the terrible raid, and in her honor, from that day to now, his coat of arms has told of her successful attack.

This is a true tale told to me over the years by Hrabia Jan, the lady Brianna, and Ivarr himself, as well as others who were there and saw all this come to pass.


Notes

  1. “Overraskelse” means “surprise” in Norwegian.
  2. Bjornsborg really had built a village – thin paneling, cardboard, scrap wood – with one tower, Emrys’ fine manor, and other buildings - and the raiders really did burn it to the ground late Friday night. The landowners loved it.


See Also: A Chronicle of Elfsea Defender

A Biting Glory

By Cynric of Bedwyn

(With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

In Bjornsborg’s north did Baron Jan
A bankside hamlet build, and good:
Where greensward met meand’ring stream
Stout yeomen hoisted block and beam–
A masterpiece in wood.
Lo, ev’ry citizen therein
Had bread to eat and coin to spend
Many were the hovels, halls, and towers
Boulevards and paths of cobble and scree,
Sun-splashed squares and shaded bowers:
Sound dwellings of prosperity.

But oh! that gem of commerce glinted as gold;
Fair jewels bedecked an untamed land.
Their radiance beckoned to raiders bold;
Swift ships, with fey warriors filling each hold,
Who sailed beyond the salt-sprayed strand.
From the sea-bosom those reavers roared, none refraining:
Up the river road they oared, mighty sinews straining.
From towers were they spied anon, a fearsome plund’ring band:
The townsfolk scrambled madly then to take a warding stand.
The marauders swept in force ashore, a fierce intemperate gale.
They breached the walls; the bastions tall as polecats did they scale.
Hale brethren met them from the west and fought them in the east;
Though doughty men, they had few skills for taming Odin’s beast.
The battle raged throughout the day with no quarter shown or given
Feats of prowess flew, ravens that winged their way from scarp to nest,
As Helios trod the lower path and sought his labor’s rest,
The day was lost for the village when their war band’s chief fell, riven.
The victors gathered gold ere burning manor, keep, and hall:
Not scraps for starveling mice they left, but took it all.

Never content, the raiders wanted more.
Behind smoldering barricades, women waited.
Vikings saw them as spoils of war–
With none to gainsay; as chattel fated.
The conquerors came forward then to reap
The harvest blood-stained bodices did keep.

A damsel fair with flaxen hair
Across a shoulder then was tossed.
She was of late a bold knight’s mate;
Though frail of frame her resolve was great:
Courage kindled from her loss
Though she gagged from soiled breeches’ reek,
Brianna, for vengeance clamoring
Sunk sharp incisors into ample cheek.
Then did the hated captor loudly sing
A rousing chorus, penned by a lady’s spite:
‘Cross dale and fen and gaily poppied lea,
From icy eagle’s eyrie to far flung foam-flecked sea,
Pirate’s proffered protests echoed throatily.
The falcon, dropped, took wingéd flight.
The berserk’s battle lust was spent:
Evening’s gloom by his groans was rent,
Mead boasting doomed by maiden’s bite.