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Calradian Adventures

By: Wotan

Page 1, Calradian Adventures is based on the game Mount and Blade Warband by Taleworlds. It tells the sory about Vigdis, a strong-willed woman with the charisma and the skill to rise from poverty to true power.

Calradian adventures

The legend of Vigdis

A Mount & Blade Warband game

To be able to see the screenshots from the game you'll have to visit my website and read the story there:

http://medlem.spray.se/wotan/Calradia/Rewritten.htm

To part 2

Björn Vilde was born years ago, in a land far away. His father was a veteran warrior. As a child, Björn's family scabbled out a meagre living from his father's wages as a guardsman to the local lord. It was not an easy existence, but the family was too poor to afford much of an education. Björn and his younger sister learned mainly how to defend themselves on the streets, with or without a weapon in hand. They started to learn about the world almost as soon as they could walk and talk. Björn spent his early life as a craftsman's apprentice. As a boy growing out of childhood, Björn apprenticed with a local craftsman to learn a trade. After years of hard work and study under his new master, Björn was promoted to journeyman and employed as a fully paid craftsman for as long as he wished to stay. Then, as a young adult, life changed as it always does. Björn became a game poacher. Though the distiction felt sudden to him, somewhere along the way Björn had become a man, and the whole world seemed to change around him. Dissatisfied with common men's desperate scrabble for coin, Björn took to his local lords's own forests and decided to help himself to its bounty, laws be damned. His sister Vigdis hunted stags, boars and geese with Björn and sold the precious meat under the table. They cut down trees right under the watchmen's noses and turned them into firewood that warmed many freezing homes during winter. All for a few silvers, of course. But soon everything changed and Björn decided to strike out on his own as an adventurer. His insatiable wanderlust made him make this decision.

Björn heard of Calradia, a land torn between rival kingdoms battling each other for supremacy, a haven for knights and mercenaries, cutthroats and adventurers, all willing to risk their lives in pursuit of fortune, power and glory. In this land which holds great dangers and even greater opportunities, Björn believes he may leave his past behind and start a new life. He feels that finally, he holds the key to his destiny in his hands, free to choose as he will, and whatever course he takes, great adventures will await him. Drawn by the stories he has heard about Calradia and its kingdoms, Björn joins a caravan to Praven, in the Kingdom of Swadia.

Björn came by caravan through the heartland of Calradia. Green shoots of wheat, barley and oats are beginning to push through the dark soil of the rolling hills, and on the lower slopes of the snowcapped mountains, herds of cattle and sheep are grazing on the spring grass. Occationally, too, Björn catches sight of one of the great warhorses that are the pride of the Swadian nobility. The land here is rich -- but also troubled, as the occational burnt-out farm bears witness to. Björn keeps a wide berth of the forests where desperate men have taken refuge, and it is some relief when he crests a ridge and catches sight of the great port of Praven, its rooftops made golden by the last rays of the setting sun.

In Calradia

Björn Vilde starts to make a living by travelling between the towns and joining every tournament he is able. With his figting prowess and shrewd bets on himself, Björn quickly makes lots of denars for himself. And when there are no tournamets to fight in, he rides around the countryside with his band of mercenaries, hunting down bandits in the forests and in the mountains. He hunts raiders on the tundra and the taiga and takes on the sea raiders by the coast in the Kingdom of the Nords. And in the opposite direction, he visits the steppe of the Khergit Khanate and hunts down steppe bandits and even farther south, in the Sarranid Sultanate, he rides through the desert hunting for the nomadic desert bandits. It is a dangerous life and he sometimes loses a member of his party, but more often than not, his men are wounded and not killed. And with every battle their experience grows and they may acquire better equipment. Björn Vilde quickly gains renown in the tournaments and in the field. He is a welcome quest in all the castles and allowed to rub elbows with the nobles. Björn even tries to attract the attention of some young noble ladies. While the occational young noble woman might me enthralled by him, her father or brothers are not. So long as Björn is not a noble himself, no one will give his daughter's hand to him. But maybe, one day a ruler will offer him a fief as a minor noble. In any case, life is better here in Calradia than it was back home. Björn only misses his younger sister. But what he does not know is that Vigdis has followed his footsteps and is coming to Calradia with a caravan.

Vigdis is exhausted by the time she finds the inn in Praven, and she falls asleep quickly. However, she awakens before dawn and is eager to explore her new surroundings. She ventures out onto the streets, which are still deserted. All of a sudden, Vigdis hears a sound that stands the hairs of her neck on end -- the rasp of a blade sliding from its scabbard...

Vigdis draws her weapon, a rusty old hatchet. She sees the assailant come at her and dodges the bandit's initial attack. Vigdis tries to cleave the bandit's head with a powerful blow, but the attacker parries with his sword. He counter attacks, and Vigdis parries with her hatchet. The nimble young woman dodges another attack and quickly steps around her assailant's flank. She swings her axe and makes contact with the enemy's flesh. The bandit cries out in pain. Vigdis strikes at the bandits head to finish him off. Blood splatters all over the place as she cracks his skull. Then she hears the footsteps of someone quicly approaching. Vigdis stands ready for another fight... or to greet the guard -- whomever it is -- it turns out to be a merchant...

"Are you all right?" he asks. "Well... I guess you're alive, at any rate. I'm not sure that we can say the same for the other fellow. That's one less thief to trouble our streets at night, although Heaven knows he won't be the last... Anyway, maybe you can help me with something. Let's talk more inside. Out here, we don't know who's listening."

The merchant takes Vigdis to his house. Once inside, he stands by the door for a while checking the street, and then, finally convinced they have not been followed, he moves near Vigdis to speak...

"Now... Let me explain my proposition. We've always had brigands in the hills, driven to banditry by war, debt, or love of violence. Recently, however, they've been getting bolder -- leaving their camps in the wild and venturing into town, looking for unwary prey. The watch commander tells us it's because of all the fighting on the frontiers -- fewer men to keep an eye on the streets -- but I'm not sure what to make of that. It seems to me that the most logical explanation is that these bandits have an ally inside the walls, who helps them enter unnoticed and helps them identify particularly tempting targets... Last week, you see, they took my brother. I don't know what my brother was thinking -- a lad from a prominent house, out alone after dark in times of these... Well, I suppose you were too, nut you're a stranger here, and didn't know how bad things have become. He had no such excuse. But he's family, so what can you do? If you don't protect your kin, then people will start thinking that you can't protect your investments either, and I can't have that..." the merchant says. "No doubt the gang will soon send word about a ransom, but I don't care to pay it. So here's my proposition. You look like you've had a bit of experience with a blade -- and more importantly, you must have a bit of fire in your belly, or you wouldn't be coming to Calradia to seek your fortune. So here's what I'm asking you to do: gather a small party, track down these bandits to their lair, teach them a lesson they won't forget, and get my brother back safe. In return, you'll earn my lasting gratitude and a bit of silver. What do you say?" the merchant continues. "I am interested," Vigdis says. "You won't be able to do this by yourself, though. If you try to take on the whole gang singlehandedly, the hunter will become the hunted, I'll warrant. You'll first want to round up a group of volunteers. There's always a few lads in the villages around here, looking for a bit of work that's more interesting than tilling the soil or hauling water. They'll follow you if you pay. So... take this purse of 100 denars. Consider it an advance on your reward. Go round to the villages, and use the money to hire some help. I'll reckon that you need at least five men to take on these bandits," the merchant says. "Very good, sir. I'll go collect some men from around the villages," Vigdis says. "Good. You can find me again in the tavern here in Praven after you've got your group together. Then we'll speak about what to do next," the merchant says.

Gaining renown in tournaments and socializing with nobles

Vigdis bids the merchant a good day and leaves his house. The streets are beginning to fill up with people. The young woman decides to visit the market square. She has several furs, thank to her poaching skills, to sell. They bring in a hefty sum and with the addition of the merchant's money and her own fortune coming to Calradia, Vigdis buys the best sword, shield and armour she can afford, with money to spare. She also buys two lame sumpter horses -- they won't be of much use in a battle, but they can still help carry her party's inventory. Then she buys some food and visits the tavern...

"Greetings, traveller. Would you join me for a drink?" a stranger asks her. "Certainly. With whom do I have the pleasure of drinking?" Vigdis wonders. "I am Baheshtur, son of Azubei, grandson of Badzan. Were you not a barbarian, you would likely know from my lineage that I am a Roan Horse Khergit of the highlands, of the tribe of Shamir, from the Pantash valley, and you might guess why I am so far from home. For as long as anyone can remember, our people have feuded with the tribe of Humyan, many of whom have settled in the next valley over. Many have died in this feud, on both sides, including two of my brothers. The khan himself has ordered us to cease, to save men for the wars in Calradia. But I know my rights, and my brothers' blood cries out for vengeance. I waylaid and killed a Humyanon a track over the mountains, and I rode out of our village the same night, without even having the chance to bid farewell to my father. I will bide my time in Calradia, for a year or two, then return home when the khan's men have forgotten. The Humyan will not forget, of course, but such is the price of honor. In the meantime, any opportunities to earn a living with my sword would be most welcome," he says. "That's the spirit! I might be able to offer you something," Vigdis says. "Why, that's a most generous offer. I shall not betray you -- so long as, of course, you do your duty to me by feeding me, paying me, and not dragging my miserable hide into a battle where there is no chance of winning. Hand me some salt, if you will --- it is the custom of our people to take salt from our captains, as a token of their concern for our well-being," Baheshtur says. "Certainly. Here, have some salt," Vigdis says. "Thank you. Now, to seal off our agreement, I ask for 400 denars from you. It's an advice my father gave me. He told me, 'Baheshtur, never fight for a barbarian before he pays your worth of gold first.'" Vigdis offer Baheshtur the 400 denars he has requested and tells him to get ready to leave Praven.

Vigdis and Baheshtur ride to the nearest village, Azgad. It is not far from town and what do you know - five lads are willing to join Vigdis as mercenaries. She gives each man an initial sum of 10 denars. But these lads are poorly equipped and have no training at all. Vigdis decides to do her best and gives them a crash course in fighting. Only after one day the raw recruits are ready to be promoted to militiamen. Vigdis feels confident and returns to Praven with her small band of mercenaries. The merchant awaits her in the tavern...

"Splendid work. You have hired enough men to take on the bandits," he says. "Now -- travellers entering Praven told us there is a small group of robbers lurking on the outside of town. I suspect they are all from the same band, the one that took my brother. Hunt them down and defeat them, and make them disclose the location of their lair!" the merchant says. "Very well. I shall hunt for bandits," Vigdis promises.

It is not long after they leave Praven again that they spot a small group of villains, 4 men strong. Vigdis leads a mercenary band 7 people strong, herself included. Her mercenaries outnumber the looters and robbers, they also have some better gear. The looters mainly carry clubs and stones, while Vigdis' Swadian militiamen at least have crossbows to use as a ranged weapon. Furthermore, she has a horse, so has Baheshtur -- the enemy are all on foot. Vigdis and Baheshtur charge the enemy. The looters try their best to pelt their assailants with rocks but they soon learn that against skilled horsearchers this is not effective. 2 looters are quickly killed by arrows and the third is wounded. The robber is also wounded. Vigdis dismounts and approaches the enemy on foot. She wields her heavy bastard sword in a menacing way, intimidating the wounded man...

"Ay! Spare me! Spare my life!" he cries. "Let me go, and I'll go far away from here, and learn an honest trade, and you'll never hear from me again!" the robber pleads. "I'll spare your life -- but in exchange, I want information. Either you or your mates kidnapped the brother of a prominent merchant in town. Tell me where you're hiding him, and give me your word that you'll stop troubling the peopleof these parts, and you can go free," Vigdis says. "Oh bless you, lady. Bless you. We've done the lad no harm. We've been keeping him in our hideout near Gisim. I'll describe the area nearby in detail, so there's no mistaking it..." the robber says.

They set out, along the coast, from Praven in the early morning. It is in the afternoon when the mercenaries approach the hideout. The looters don't appear to have spotted Vigdis' party yet, and they could still sneak away unnoticed. But that is not why they had come -- there was a fight to be had. The difficult approach to the site -- down a narrow defile -- means that only a handful of troops in the party will be able to join the attack, and they are unable to bring their horses. If the mercenaries' initial attack fails, the looters will easily be able to make their escape and disperse.

Vigdis, Baheshtur and three of the militiamen enter the hideout, while two of the militiamen guard the entrance to cut off any escaping looters. The mercenaries sneak closer. They spot a group of looters loitering around a campfire, next to a small cottage. The attackers have not been spotted yet. Vigdis gives the order to aim and fire. Her first arrow strikes one of the looters in the head. He goes down without a sound. Another looter is struck by Baheshtur's arrow and at the same time by a crossbow bolt from one of the militia. Another looter is wounded by a crossbow bolt. The mercenaries have the looters' attention now. The outlaws counter attack with rocks and some of them try to storm the mercenaries' position with clubs and falchions. Baheshtur and Vigdis keep firing arrows at the approaching outlaws. They go down one by one. The militiamen are not trained archers and reloading a crossbow is a task that takes a lot of time. Instead the men decide to engage the enemy in melee. Vigdis and Baheshtur join the men in the fight. Looters are cut down left and right. But a steady stream of reinforcements keep coming and the mercenaries are scattered around the hideout. The militiamen are overwhelmed and struck down one by one, leaving only Vigdis and Baheshtur fighting the entire camp. Vigdis is approaching a group of a half dozen robbers with bows, using her own bow. Arrows fly all around her, but the young woman has nerves of steel. She is a very skilled archer, having used a bow from early childhood. She takes down two of the outlaws with her bow, then she is struck by an arrow in the leg. A couple of bandits engage her in melee while two of their friends try to hit the attacker with arrows. Vigdis pulls the arrow out of her leg and meets the outlaws with her bastard sword and shield. Meanwhile, Baheshtur is surrounded by a small group of looters. He kills three of them but one of the looters manages to whack the mercenary on the head with his club, leaving Vigdis the only mercenary standing to fight the remaining looters. The first looter to engage Vigdis uses a staff. He spins around and tries an overhead blow. Vigdis anticipates the move and blocks the attack with her shield. The young mercenary quickly counters with a low slash that severs the looters leg. She finishes him off by impaling him on her blade. Two more looters try to surround her. Vigdis spins around and with a mighty force she swings her sword. The looter is barely able to hold on to his falchion as the blades meet. The outlaw is too slow to act and Vigdis finishes him off with a slashing cut to the neck. The other looter tries to attack from behind. Vigdis isn't quite fast enough to avoid or block the attack. The outlaw's falchion bites in her flesh. It isn't a deep wound, and Vigdis fights on with unsapped determination. The looter soon goes down and she is the last one standing. It does not take long before an unarmed man comes running -- it is the merchan't brother. He asks if if his brother has sent Vigdis. "Yes. I told him that I would find you. I advise you to return to your family as quickly as you can -- and be careful on the road," Vigdis says. She starts searching for her men. Baheshtur is the first she finds. She helps her companion back on his feet. He is bruised and will have a bad lump on his head for a while, but otherwise the young khergit is unharmed. The militiamen are also safe, but a bit bruised, and they are ready to be promoted to footmen.

The mercenaries return to Praven with a few extra denars filling their pockets and some weapons and armour, from the fallen, to sell. After resting and selling the party's loot, Vigdis visits the tavern. The merchant soon approaches her. "Well... my brother is home safe. I'm not sure what to do with him -- maybe pack him off to a university outside Calradia. That way, if he gets knocked on the head in a brawl, no one can say it's my fault. But that's not your problem. Here's the rest of your reward. It was well-earned," he says. "The money is most welcome, and I am glad to have been of service," Vigdis says. "Good! Now... are you interested in making some more?" the merchant wonders. "Possibly. What do you need?" Vigdis wonders. "Remember how I told you that the bandits had an ally inside the walls? I think I know who it is -- the captain of the watch, no less. Some moths ago this captain seeing the amount of profit we merchants were making from trade across the frontiers, decided to borrow some money to sponsor a caravan. Unfortunately, like many who are new to commerce, he failed to realize that great profit comes with great risk. So he sank all his money into the most expensive commodities, and of course his caravan was captured and looted, and he lost everything. As a consequence, it seems, our captain turned to villainy to recoup his fortune. I suppose I'd do the same if, Heavens forbid, I ever faced indebtedness and ruination. Now, any watch captain worth his salary will have a few thieves and robbers on his payroll, to inform on the rest, but our captain decides to employ these bastards wholesale. He brings them into town, lets them do as they please, and takes a share of their take. You've heard off poachers tirning gamekeepers? Well, in the unfortunate land of Calradia, sometimes gamekeepers will turn poacher. Luckily, there are atill a few brave, honest souls in the watch who've told me how he works," the merchant says. "Now -- here's my plan. I could bring this to the attention of King Harlaus, lord of the city, but that would mean an inquiry, my word against the captain's, and witnesses can be bought and evidence destroyed, or maybe the whole thing will be forgotten if the enemy comes across the border again, and all I'll get for my trouble is a knife in the ribs. In time of war, you see, a king's eye wanders from his domain, and his subjects suffer. So I've got another idea. I've got a small group of townsfolk together, some men in my employ and some others who've lost relatives to these bandits, and we'll storm the captain's home and bring him in chains before King Harlaus, hopefully with a few captured bandits to explain how things stack up. All I need is someone to lead my little army into battle -- and I can't think of anyone better than you. So what do you say?" the merchant continues. "How do I know that you're telling me the truth?" Vigdis wonders. "Oh, well, I suppose it's possible that I found a dozen of bandits who were willing to give their lives to give a passing stranger a false impression of life in old Praven... Well, I guess you can't really know if my word is good, but I reckon you've learned by now that my money is good, and there's 500 more denars waiting for you if you'll do me this last favor. So what do you say?" the merchant says. "All right. I'll lead your men," Vigdis says. "Splendid. It's been a long time since I staked so much on a songle throw of the dice, and frankly I find it exhilerating. My men are ready to move on your word. Are you ready?" the merchant wonders.

Vigdis leaves the tavern and goes out to the streets. Nervous looking young men are waiting in every street corner. She can see that they have daggers and clubs concealed under their clothes, and she catches a mixture of fear, anticipation and pride in the quick looks they throw her as she passes by. Praying that their enemies have not been alarmed by this all too obvious bunch of plotters, Vigdis checks her weapons one last time and prepares herself for the action ahead. The bandits are taken by surprise when Vigdis and the townspeople attack. Even the merchant, himself, is among the attackers. The remaining few bandits scatter off to the town's narrow alleys, only to be hunted down one by one by the angry townsfolk. Making sure their victory is complete and all the wounded have been taken care of, Vigdis and the merchant head to his house to review the day's events.

"Hah! Wll done -- I saw at least three of the enemy go down before you. Keep fighting like that, and you'll make quite a name for yourself in this land. Unfortunately, about 6 of my lads got themselves wounded. I should go look on them," the merchant says. "Let every villain learn to fear the name of Vigdis!" Vigdis trimphs. "Yes, yes... Now, a couple of my boys have the watch captain pinned down in a back room, with a knife at his throat. I'll need to go drag him before King Harlaus and explain what this breach of the peace is all about. You don't need to be part of that, though. I'll tell you what -- if all goes well, I'll meet you in the tavern again shortly, and let you know how it all came out. If you don't see me in the tavern, but instead see my head on a spike over the city gate, I'll assume you know enough to stay out of town for a while and forget this whole episode ever happened. So -- hopefully we'll meet again!" the merchant says.

Vigdis in Praven

Vigdis asks the guild master for some work. He needs someone to escort a caravan, but Vigdis doesn't really have enough men in her employ for the job. She briefly visits the village of Veidar in the forest and recruits a couple of villagers. She now has enough men for the job. Vigdis travels to the town of Uxkhal, a town that is built on two sides of a river. The caravan follows her. The journey takes all day, from morning to night. After a good night's well deserved sleep, Vigdis visits the local tavern. A pilgrim approaches her... "Greetings, fellow traveller. Perhaps you can help me," he says. "How is that?" Vigdis wonders. "I shall tell you -- but know that it is a tale of gross iniquity. I warn you in advance, lest you are of a choleric temperament, and so become incensed at the injustice done unto me that you do yourself a mischief. I am by training a natural philosopher, but condemned by the jealousy of the thick-headed doctors of my university to make my living as an itinerant surgeon. I was hired by a merchant of this city to cure his son, who fell into coma after a fall from his balcony. I successfully trepanned the patient's skull to reduce the cranial swelling, but the family ignored my advice to treat the ensuing fevers with a tincture of willow bark, and the boy died. The father, rather than reward me for my efforts, charged me with sorcery -- me, a philosopher of nature! Such is the ignorance and ingratitude of mankind. The lord of this castle is reluctant to place me under arrest, but I am anxious to move elsewhere," the man says. "Well, you could travel with us, but you'd have to be able to fight in our battle line," Vigdis suggests. "As I told you, I am a surgeon, not some silk-robed university physician who has never touched a body. I can get my hands dirty. I have treated every variety of wound that can be inflicted by the hand of man. Before I was a surgeon, I was a student, so you may be sure that I have inflicted wounds as well as healed them," he says. "Then welcome to our company, doctor," Vigdis says. "Good! Give me a few moments to prepare and I'll be ready to move." Jeremus joins the mercenaries.

Vigdis is ready to leave the tavern when a woman catches her attention. She walks over to her... "Yes? Keep your distance, by the way," the woman says. "My apologies. I was merely going to say that you look a bit down on your luck," Vigdis says. "My luck? You could say that. It was my bad luck to be born to a weak father who married me off to a drunken layabout, who beat me. It was my bad luck, when I ran away from my husband, to be taken by a group of bandits. It was my bad luck that the only one among them who was kind to me, who taught me to hunt and to fight, inspired the jealousy of the others, who knifed him and forced me to run away again. But I do not count myself unlucky, stranger, no more than any other woman in Calradia, this fetid backwater, this dungheap among the nations, populated by apes and jackals," she says. "Hmm... are you by chance looking for work?" Vigdis wonders. "I might be. I could certainly use the money. But let your followers know that I do not suffer louts and brutes. Anyone who misbehaves around me will quickly find an arrow in their gullet," the woman says. "I will hire you. Try not to shoot anyone on your first day," Vigdis says. Deshavi joins the mercenaries.

Her next journey brings Vigdis to the town of Jelkala in the Kingdom of Rhodoks. She has been asked to deliver a couple of kegs of ale to the local tavern. The tavernkeep is pleased and sends his regards to the guild master who sent Vigdis. Now that the young woman has completed her task, she can take a moment to sit down. A pretty young woman joins her at the table. "Good day to you!" she says. "Hello. What's a well-brought up young lady like you doing in a place like this?" Vigdis wonders. "A good question, and I shall tell you! My father, a well-known merchant here in Yalen, decidedthat I should be married to one of his business partners, a man well past the age of 30. I have been an obedient daughter all of my life, but it was a ridiculous and horrid proposition. So I ran away! I shall marry whom I want, when I want. Moreover, regardless of what father might think, I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I was thinking that I should join a band of gypsies, or perhaps a troop of mercenaries," the young woman says. "Well, as it happens, I run a company of mercenaries," Vigdis says. "Do you? Well, I am in no position to be picky! I would be pleased to join you. I think you would find I would be a most valuable addition to your ranks. I am well versed in the classics of literature and can declaim several of the epic poems of my people. I play the lute and am a skilled manager of household servants," she says. "Um, that's a start. We can teach you the rest," Vigdis smiles. Ymira joins the mercenaries.

There is a tournament going to be held in the town of Veluca. They travel through the valleys of the Kingdom of Rhodoks until they approach the town. Then Vigdis' latest companion speaks up... "Can you smell that? Lemon trees, apples and crocus flowers, it's the scent of Veluca. I spent many a happy summer here when I was a girl, playing in the gardens of my mother's family while my father was away trading. Veluca has wet winters and hot summers, but the people here build great cisterns to water their crops. They grow grapes -- Velucan wine is famous, my lady -- and those who can afford it make walled gardens, where fruit trees grow in abundance, and we sit at night listening to music, or playing chess, or merely sniff the night air. The poets call Veluca a paradise, and I think for once that they do not exaggerate," Ymira says.

You may think that the tournament in Veluca would be an opportunity for brother and sister to meet -- it would have been, had Björn not decided to settle down. It turns out that the merchant in Praven was forced to sell all of his property and leave town. The king had given him 30 days to clear out. The king was not pleased by the vigilantes. On one hand he was glad that the corrupt guard captain had been brought to justice, but he a king could not allow the leader of the vigilantes to stay. The merchants in town were instructed to give the vigilante a good price. This was the opportunity for Björn to settle down. He bought a warehouse in town and became a merchant himself. But Vigdis would not learn this until she returned to Praven some time later. Now it was her turn to visit the towns and earn renown in the tournaments. And in between the competitions her mercenary band would hunt outlaws all over Calradia. Vigdis would run errands for the occational noble lord, but mostly do quests for the guild masters in the various towns. And all the time her mercenaries became more and more experienced and well equipped. Within a couple of months, her company was a force to be reckoned with -- and a force that cost plenty to pay the weekly wages.

Visiting the arena, visiting Uxkhal

Over time, Vigdis finds more companions in the taverns all around Calradia, such as Marnid: "Hello. Would you be so kind as to have a cup with me? I'm down to my last five denars," he says. "Your last five denars? What happened to you?" Vigdis wonders. "It's a tragic tale, madame. A while back, I left Geroia with a caravan of goods. I was hoping to sell it all in Sargoth and make a hefty sum. But, what do you know... we were ambushed by a party of khergit raiders who rode away with most of the horses and goods. And two days later, my own caravan guards ran away with the rest of what I had. So here I am, no money and no way home," Marnid says. "Well, perhaps I could offer you work? Can you fight?" Vigdis wonders. "Well, I will confess that I am not a warrior by trade. I'm a fast learner. I can ride, and know a fair bit about trade, prices and such," he says. "That will do," Vigdis says. Vigdis soon learns that her new companion doesn't get along all too well with Baheshtur: "Madame -- as you recall, I was a merchant before I signed on with you. I respect men who make their living peacefully, risking all to bring goods for far away lands. I don't much care to hear Baheshtur gloat about the caravans he has looted, or he plans to loot, like he has no repect for good honest trade," Marnid says. "Baheshtur is a capable member of this company. I don't want you picking more fights with him," Vigdis tells him. "A moment of your time, captain. Marnid seems to think me a common bandit, just because I have rewarded myself in the past to legitimate spoils of war from caravans passing through my family's lands. I told him that if the warrior's way bother's him so much, that he become a priest or a beggar and so not have to worry about such things. I hope you don't mind that I said such things," Baheshtur says.

"Bahadur, we are nearing Halmar, largest town in the lower steppe. My mother's sister went here to marry a townsman and I thought to seek service with the lord here. That is when I ran into you, Baheshtur says. Khergits had always come here, to trade and raid, and in the last days of the Empire we began to settle. Just like the Vaegirs, Swadians, Rhodoks and Nords, we took the Emperor's coin to keep the other tribes at bay. But when the Great Horde attacked our homeland in my grandfather's day, we moved into this region in force. We pushed the Vaegirs back, and made their fortresses our own. Of course, you know how things go. My father's generation were hard warriors from the cold lands across the mountains, but this generation all has houses in the town and great estates and spend time as much as trading as they practice archery. The next generation will grow soft on Velucan wine and will lose their lands to the next batch of illiterate hill-raiders to come over the mountains, just you watch. It's how things always were, and how things always will be," Baheshtur says.

In another tavern, having just returned from a successful victory in the town's tournament, Vigdis identity is mistaken by one of the patrons. "You there, good woman, be so kind as to fetch me another drink, eh?" he says. "You must have me confused with the tavernkeep, sir", Vigdis replies. "My most humble apologies. It is sometimes hard to recognize folk amid the smoke and gloom here. I still cannot believe that I must make my home in such a place. I was my father's first son, and his heir. But my mother died, and my father remarried. His new wife thought that her son should inherit. She could not move against me openly, but the other day I fed a pot of stew that had been left out for me to one of my hounds, and it keeled over. I accused my stepmother, but my father befuddled by her witchcraft, refused to believe me and ordered me to leave his sight. I hope to offer my sword to some worthy captain, as it is the only honorable profession for a man of my birth, apart from owning land. But in the meantime I am condemned to make my bed among thieves, vagabonds, merchants, and the other riff-raff of the road," the man says. "Perhaps you would like to join my company for a while," Vigdis suggests. "I would very much like that, madam. I am a gentleman, and prefer to fight with sword and lance. I recognize that you are of lower birth than I, there is no shame for me to serve under an experienced captain -- presuming, of course, that your followers do not become too familiar with me. I assume that will not be a problem?" he says. "Well, it shouldn't be," Vigdis says. "I'll have a talk with them." "That's very good of you. And before I join, can you lend me 300 denars, so that I can buy some proper clothing that befits a gentleman of noble birth such as myself. The coat on me has been worn down badly due to my recent bad fortune, and I cannot let common soldiers mistake me as one of their own," he says. Vigdis gives him the money he has asked for and Alayen joins the party.

It soon becomes apparent that the new recruit doesn't get along with everyone. "Madame," Marnid says. "If you don't mind, I'd prefer not to be deployed anywhere near Alayen, after what he said to me during that last battle. The enemy was bearing down on us, and he says, 'Step aside, merchant, this is knight's work.' Next time I will step aside, and let him take a spear in the gut." "Tell Alayen you have my support in this, and he should hold his tongue," Vigdis replies. But Alayen does get along well with Ymira, though. "Captain. Ymira acquitted herself well in that fight back there. A fine, modest maiden she is, if I dare say so myself. Were she of noble blood, I might ask for her hand. It is a pity that she is a merchant's daughter. But speaking with her is a pleasant way to pass time on the march," Alayen says.

"Ho there, traveller. You wouldn't by chance be in the market for a tracker, would you?" a stranger asks in another tavern. "Perhaps, what's the urgency?" Vigdis wonders. "Well, madame, it's a long story... I had a bit of a misunderstanding here in Jelkala about a horse that I found tied up outside the inn. It was the spitting image of a beast that threw me a few days back and ran off. Naturally I untied it for a closer look. As it turns out, the horse belonged to a merchant, a pinch-faced old goat who wouldn't accept that it all was a simple mistake and wen off to get the guard. But if I was with a larger group who could vouch for me, they might let it pass. I'd be very grateful to you," he says. "Perhaps. But how do I know there won't be a 'misunderstanding' about one of my horses?" Vigdis wonders. "Madame -- I'm offended that you would even think such a thing. I'd be most indebted to you, andd you'll see that I show my gratitude- I've ridden over a fair amount of rough country in my time, more often than not in a hurry. I'm a good tracker and I've got a good eye for terain. So what do you say?" the man wonders. "Good. You can be useful to us," Vigdis says. "I will be very useful to you, madame, you can bet on that. Just one more thing before we leave, would you mind lending me 300 denars? I am ashamed to say it, but I have made myself a debt here, staying in this tavern for over the last few weeks and the tavern owners no longer believe that I am loaded with gold as I used to tell them. You know, things could get ugly here if they see me leaving with you before paying them," he says. "Very well, here's 300 denars. Now, fall in with the rest," Vigdis orders Borcha, the newest recruit.

Life on the road has its ups and downs. "Madame. I just wanted to tell you that Borcha may be a rough sort, and I'll venture a thoroughgoing rogue as well, but I am proud to call him my companion. Based on how he did in that last fight, I'd say that I'd trust my back to him any day, although I'd still keep a hand on my purse," Marnid says. "Captain," Borcha says. "-- no offense, but I'm a bit tired of Deshavi who puts on airs like she's something better than your humble servant Borcha. She's a common bandit, just like myself, and she has no right to tell me to keep my distance from her, as she did just now." "Captain, I have done my best to put up with your followers' rude talk and filthy habits, Deshavi says. But that one who calls himself Borcha is beyond tolerance. I do not care for how he stares at me around the campfire after a meal, as he picks his teeth. I believe I recognize him from my days as a bandit. He is base and ignorant. I do not care to travel with such people," Deshavi says. "Boss," Borcha says, "Marnid back there didn't do badly in that last fight at all. He's a good egg, too. Without good honest souls like him to bring silver into Calradia, scoundrels like me would have a hard time in life, I'll warrant. I'm glad to have him with us."

"Captain, if you don't mind me saying, you have fought long and hard against the scum of Calradia, and with their defeat, you make this land a better place. You are well deserving of a fief of your own -- and I suspect that if you were not a woman, a king would have offered you one by now. That is the way of the men in this sorry land: they let us stand in the front of the battleline to take the enemy's blows, but when it comes to division of the spoils, they expect us to head to the rear," Deshavi says.

Visiting the Lord's hall

One day, during her tour around the world, Vigdis meets an interesting woman. "Do I know you?" she wonders. "I am Vigdis. Perhaps you have heard of my exploits," Vigdis wonders. "I am Isolla, rightful queen of the Swadians," the woman says. "I thought Kingdom of Swadia was ruled by King Harlaus?" Vigdis says. "I was the only childof my father, King Esterich. Although I am a woman, he loved me like a son and named me his heir -- not once, but several times, before the grandest nobles of the land so that none could doubt his intention. There is no law that bars a woman from ruling -- indeed, we Swadians tell tales of warrior queens who ruled us in our distant past. Yet when my father died, his cousin Harlaus convinced the nobles that no Swadian king of sound mind could name a woman his heir. Harlaus said that his designation of me was the act of a madman, and thus had no legal standing, and that he, as my father's closest male relative, should take the throne. I will admit that I did my cause no good by cursing Harlaus and all who listened to him as traitors, but I also believe that the magistrates who ruled in his favor were bought. No matter -- I will raise an army of loyal subjects, who would honor their old king's memory and will. And if anyone doubts that a woman can wield power, then I will prove them wrong by taking Harlaus' ill-gotten crown away from him," Lady Isolla says. "I want to take up your cause and help you reclaim your throne!" Vigdis says. "Are you sure you will be up to the task, Vigdis? Reclaiming my throne will be no simple matter. The lords of our realm have all sworn oaths of homage to King Harlaus. Such oaths to a usurper are of course invalid, and we can expect some of the lords to side with us, but it will be a very tough and challenging struggle ahead. Unfortunately, King Harlaus' grip is very strong. Unless we can losen it, it may be difficult to find allies," Lady Isolla says. "I am ready for this struggle," Vigdis says. "You are a capable warrior, Vigdis, and I am sure with your renown as a commander, and my righteous cause, the nobles and the good people of Kingdom of Swadia will flock to our support. The time is ripe for us to act! I will come with you, and together, we will topple the usurper King Harlaus and take the throne from his bloodied hands. But first you must give me your oath of homage and accept me as your liege lady," Lady Isolla says. "I am ready to pledge myself to your cause, my lady," Vigdis says.

Before the struggle to reclaim Lady Isolla of Suno's throne can begin, Vigdis needs to recruit and train even more mercenaries. Her force is strong and a match for the lords of the land already, but Vigdis has greater plans and for them needs more trained men. With her great experience and renown recruiting and training is a relatively easy task. Soon the young mercenary leader is satisfied with her party and sets out for the Kingdom of Swadia. Vigdis has already sent a letter to her brother in Pravem. He knows she is coming, he knows why she is coming, and he will support their cause from inside the walls of the great port city of Praven.

It is morning on May 17th in the year 1257 when Vigdis and her mercenaries approach Praven. In the field before the town they encounter the king's army. It doesn't matter if he knew she was coming or not. Vigdis is quick to take the initiative. Though her forces are outnumbered by two to one, Vigdis is very confident in her soldiers. They are well trained and well equipped. She has spared no expense on them, meaning they cost quite a sum to keep each week. King Harlaus has a few knights and men at arms but most of his forces are footsoldiers, archers and infantry. All of Vigdis forces are cavalry and that makes a great difference. King Harlaus is taken by surprise when Vigdis' mercenaries gallop down on them from over the hill. Vigdis has equipped a lance for the occation, a weapon she will use in all cavalry charges from this day on. A Swadian skirmisher is the first victim for her lance. She turns around for a second go. Several of her men are already bogged up by the king's forces. Vigdis rides into the thick of the fighting wielding her trusty bastard sword and shield. A crossbowman takes aim at her, but Vigdis shield takes the hit. In the chaos of fighting, Vigdis horse is knocked out and she is thrown to the ground. Vigdis drops her blade, but quickly picks it up again. Several of the king's men engage her. But they are poorly trained. Many good soldiers are killed this day. The king's troops soon see where the tide is flowing and start to flee the field. A lot of them are cut down while trying to run away. In the chaos of the battle King Harlaus is wounded, but he manages to escape from the battle field. -- The mercenaries are victorious and they have only lost one man. 6 mercenaries have been wounded. King Harlaus has lost 136 soldiers, 2 were wounded while the remaining escaped. He had almost 200 men to begin with.

There is little rest for the mercenary, though. She springs into action and orders siege ladders to be built. It is a 6 hour operation and will not be completed until by afternoon. Meanwhile, Vigdis' brother Björn and a number of loyal collaborators have been hard at work inside the walls. Part of Björn's plan has been to spread misinformation about his sister's forces -- he has spread rumors that a large group of bandits are trying to sack the town. The townspeople loyal to Björn and Vigdis have also started fires around the town, to aid the attackers by distracting the garrison. The smoke can be seen from Vigdis' camp. When the siege begins, Vigdis approaches with her loyal companions and a few men. The bulk of her army is hidden out of sight. A number of the defenders sally out to meet the 'bandits' in melee. The surprise is on them when they face an elite force who cuts them down like wheat before a scythe. The 40 men who sallied out are killed in minutes and the second stage of the siege begins. Vigdis leads her company up the siege ladders to storm the walls. Meanwhile, Björn Vilde is fighting his way to the gate house. The mercenary turned merchant cuts his way through the guards and opens the gate. Now the bulk of Vigdis' army storms inside the town. The fighting is fierce and bloody, but when it is finally over, the town belongs to the rebels. Alayen raises Vigdis' banner, she has chosen for herself, over the gate house. The new lady of Praven, however, examines the battle results: The mercenaries have lost 10 men in the siege. 17 men have been wounded. The defenders, though, have lost 280 men and suffered 17 wounded. But among the casualties is Vigdis' brother, Björn Vilde. Vigdis mourns her loss, and swears her brother will receive a proper funeral, a burial in the tradition of her people.

The slaughter outside the walls of Praven

Vigdis commissions a boat to be built for her brother's funeral. It is the custom of her people to send their deceased nobles to their gods by lighting a funeral pyre on the water. That is why the boat is required. The craftsmen will require some time to build it. In the meantime, Vigdis and her mercenary band patrols her new estates. There are four villages that belong to her, now, along with the town of Praven itself. On the 21st of May, two days after the successful capture of Praven, Vigdis defends the village of Elberl against Count Rafard and his raiders. The villager join the battle on her side. Vigdis decides to battle on foot in the village, but not all of her cavalrymen dismount for the fighting. Several of the enemy fall before Vigdis' blade. The mercenary company loses only 4 men and suffers 8 wounded. 2 farmers are killed and 2 wounded in battle. The enemy loses 41 men and one wounded. Vigdis gains a few denars but all of the other loot and all prisoners goes to the farmers. The villagers also provide raw recruits to cover the losses Vigdis has suffered. The young mercenary captain makes sure that the new recruirs receive proper training. They only have two days before they fight the next battle to defend the village of Gisim against Count Tredian and his men. Once again, Vigdis fights on foot alongside the villagers. 7 mercenaries are killed in the battle and 12 are wounded. 5 farmers lose their lives and another 9 are wounded in the fighting. The enemy loses 102 men and 2 wounded. Again the farmers take all the loot and prisoners, while Vigdis gains a few denars. The next battle is fought in the forest village of Veidar on the 24th of May.This time they face the Counts Klargus and Rafard. It is yet another bloody battle where the mercenaries and villagers emerge victoriuous, but not without losses. 9 men are killed, 9 more are wounded, 18 farmers are slaughtered by the enemy and 13 are wounded. The enemy lords lose 106 men and 11 wounded. One of the reasons for the high death count is that Vigdis is not given enough time to train her raw troops. They are the ones who get themselves killed while her experienced mercenaries do much better. On May 25th the enemy is back at the village of Gisim. This time it is Count Devlian who is the attacker. His small force kills one of Vigdis' men and wounds 3. No farmers are hurt in this battle where the enemy loses 39 men and 2 wounded. In the evening the same day, the funeral for Björn Vilde is held on the shore just outside Praven.

The young mercenary does not take time to mourn. She already has plans on how to consolidate her power and gain more approval from her liege. The mercenaries through the night to Tevarin Castle. They get a couple of hours rest before morning when they start building siege ladders. Vigdis is confident and leads the charge once the preparations are done. With sword and shield she heads the attacking party and scales the walls. The defenders try to stop the attackers with their archers. Some of the attackers are killed by crossbow bolts fired from the battlements and towers, but the mercenaries archers are also good with their weapons and shoot down a couple of the defending archers. Once Vigdis and her closest companions make it up the siege ladders they engage the defenders in melee. Several of the poorly trained and equipped defenders fall before them as they push deeper into the castle. The resistance grows stronger as they push harder. The cries of the wounded and dying meld with the sound of steel against steel. The dead start littering the battlements as the battle progresses. Leading the attackers, Vigdis and her companions receive many blows. Fortunately, none of them is killed, but still 18 mercenaries pay the price with their lives, 29 are wounded. Only one defender is captured alive. The remaining 167 are all killed. After the battle Vigdis suggests that Lady Isolla of Suno take the castle as her own fief -- Vigdis gains approval by her liege.

There is a short respite for the mercenaries where they can rest and recouperate before the next challenge by the enemy. On May 31st, in the year of 1257, one of King Harlaus' supporters switches sides and joins the rebellion. Count Montewar becomes Lord Montewar. The following day, on June 1st, the mercenaries face off against King Harlaus' forces again. Count Haringoth and Count Devlian are ambushed by the highly mobile and well trained mercenary cavalry. The enemy is completely unaware of the rebels until the cavalry are upon them. The initial clash is a slaughter as the lancers impale the footsoldiers. Then the sword wielding and axe wielding Swadian and Vaegir knights under Vigdis' command hack their way through the enemy lines. The Swadian lords' troops are demoralized and start to flee in all directions, making them easy targets for the mercenary cavalry and the few footsoldiers Vigdis has employed. The battle is a complete success. Not even one soldier is wounded amomg the mercenaries. The enemy on the other hand lose 155 men and 8 of their men are captured. Only three enemt soldiers manage to flee. In the midst of battle, Count Devlian yields. He is wounded and surrounded. Vigdis turns to the old man and says: "You have fought well. You are free to go." Count Haringoth is not given the same priviledge. Vigdis takes the enemy lord prisoner.

The next day Vigdis' forces clash with Count Rafard's army. The enemy lord's forces are outnumbered and outskilled. Vigdis' quick and moblie cavalry quickly break the enemy line and send the count's soldiers fleeing in all directions. Vigdis dismounts to battle the enemy on foot. She kills a couple of poorly trained men before it is all over. Again, the mercenaries have suffered no casualties. The enemy has lost 53 men, 2 wounded soldiers have been taken prisoner while 9 have been routed, among the Count Rafard himself. Only hours later, the mercenaries encounter Count Ryis' army. The two sides clash in a violent and bloody battle. They are about equal in numerical strength, but the mercenaries are far more disciplined and better equipped than most of the count's soldiers. It is another slaughter, but not without mercenary casualties. One man is killed and another is wounded. Count Ryis loses 102 men. Only 3 of his soldiers get away. The count himself is wounded in battle and yields. Vigdis takes the enemy prisoner. It is late afternoon when the mercenaries encounter the third army this bloody day. They face Count Delinard on the battlefield. Again it is the training and equipment that grant the mercenaries victory. They have lost another member and suffered 4 wounded, but all their injured are taken well care of by the mercenaries own surgeon, Jeremus. Count Delinard escapes capture along with 8 of his soldiers. One wounded soldier is taken prisoner, leaving 105 dead Swadian troops on the battlefield.

There is a few days of quiet before the next great battle. It begins in the morning, June 5th, when the mercenaries lay siege to Derchios Castle. The preparations go as planned and the assualt takes place in the afternoon. Vigdis leads her men into battle. By now the enemy has learned to fear her name, but the defenders have nowhere to run. They fight desperately for their lives but none of the 121 soldiers defending the catsle survives. The battle has been costly for the mercenaries as well -- 13 men have been killed and 17 wounded. Vigdis suggests the castle be given to Lord Monetwar as fief. This day Count Clais, lord of the town of Dhirim, defects and joins the rebellion. The only man in the country who has shown Vigdis some interest in courtship also joins them. When Vigdis meets Lord Plais, lord of Senuzgda Castle, he asks to loan Vigdis' companion Alayen for a few days, a week at most. Vigdis is pleased that he has joined the rebels and gladly offers to loan her companion to him. Alayen has no objection. The lord of Rindyar Catle, Count Mirchaud also renounces his oath of fealty to the king and swears fealty to Lady Isolla of Suno. It has been a very busy and eventful day when the mercenaries finally make camp for the night.

The next day, Count Regas lays siege to Derchios Castle. Vigdis' mercenaries are not far away and when they approach, the enemy lord tries to get away. His army is much slower than the mercenaries though. Vigdis catches up to him and her cavalry bears down on the enemy count. His men try to shoot the swiftly charging knights but they only manage to wound a single enemy. 8 of Count Regas' soldiers manage to run away without being cut down by the mercenaries. 2 soldiers are wounded and taken as prisoners. 90 Swadian troops litter the bloody battlefield. Count Regas gets away. On June 7th, the day after, the lord of Tilbaut Castle, Count Grainwad and the lord of Suno, Count Klargus, join the rebellion. Vigdis's silver tongue, her uncanny knack for knowing just when to wield her persuation skills and when to wield her blade, has won the rebels many supporters. She has a little chat with her liege: "What do you think of our progress so far?" Vigdis asks. "We have 6 lords on our side, whereas King Harlaus still has 14 lords supporting him. We control 3 towns, 5 castles and 16 villages, while they control 1 town, 5 castles and 8 villages. Overall, we have become a significant force and we have an even chance of victory," Lady Isolla says. "Then we must keep fighting and rally our supporters!" Vigdis says.

At night on June 8th, near the town of Uxkhal, the mercenaries clash with the armies of Count Deglan and Count Delinard. In the darkness they fight and emerge victorious. One mercenary is slain and one is wounded. Their enemy has lost 86 men and 9 wounded, whereas 14 soldiers have escaped from the battlefield under the cover of darkness. Count Deglan is among the lucky, CountDelinard is not -- the old enemy lord is taken prisoner. -- Vigdis would have liked to let the old man go, but they are too close to Uxkhal and she fears that the enemy lord might make the coming siege of the town even harder. She decides to take no such risk. The preparations are completed by noon and the siege battle begins. As always Vigdis leads the men into battle at the head of the troops, sword and shield in hand. It is another fierce and bloody battle where the defenders desperately fight for their lives, but in vain. All 319 defenders are killed before the fighting is over. 17 of Vigdis' men are also found among the bodies littering the blood drenched streets and walls of the town. 25 of the mercenaries are wounded. So is Vigdis, but with the good care of Jeremus, she and most of the wounded men are ready to fight again when Count Beranz appears outside the walls. The mercenaries sally out and meet the enemy count in the field outside the town. It is late in the afternoon when Count Beranz is defeated and taken prisoner along with two of his soldiers. 10 of his men are lucky enough to escape, 55 are killed. In the evening, when Vigdis speaks to Lady Isolla of Suno, Vigdis asks for the honor of Uxkhal. Lady Isolla has no objections and gladly awards her marshal with the town and its surrounding villages. The other vassals are not particularly pleased with that decision, however.

The 11th of June in the year of 1257 another lord joins the rebels. It is Lord Devlian. The following day, a messenger arrives with a ransom of 3400 denars for the release of Count Delinard. Vigdis quickly decides to accept the offer. Later, the same day, Count Despin appears with a small force, as Vigdis leads the mercenaries towards Reindi Castle. Vigdis' cavalry wins the day, though, but not without losing one member. One mercenary is wounded. Count Despin loses 20 soldiers. One of his men is taken prisoner and 2 of them get away. The enemy lord had several prisoners that the mercenaries rescue. 20 Swadian troops join their forces. The day continues with the siege preparations and the following battle in the late afternoon. 4 of Vigdis' men are killed in the siege and 8 are wounded. The defenders lose 147 men. One single survivor is taken prisoner. After the battle Vigdis convinces Lady Isolla of Suno to award the castle and its accompanying village to Lord Plais. "We have 7 lords on our side, whereas King Harlaus still has 13 lords supportin him. We control 4 towns, 6 castles and 20 villages, while they have 4 castles and 4 villages. Overall, we are winning the war, but our enemies are still holding on," Lady Isolla says.

On June 14th Vigdis accepts the offer of 1100 denars ransom paid for Count Beranz' release. Three days later, on the 17th, Vigdis visits Senuzgda Castle. She speaks to Lord Plais. "My lady, I have been giving much thought to our recent conversation. It is time for me to ask. Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?" he asks. "Yes, I would," Vigdis replies. "I suppose the next step would be for me to send a message to your family, asking for their permission to marry you, but I suppose that you make your own decisions," he says. "You assume correctly," Vigdis says. "Very well. Then. As there are no obstacles to our marriage, should we then consider ourselves engaged to be wed? I will organize a great feast, and we can exchange our vows before all the lords of the realm If you are willing, that is..." he says. "I am willing," Vigdis announces. "Very well. Hopefully, a little over a month from now, we shall be wed," he says. Vigdis' companion, Alayen, returns to the company this day. This same day Lord Rafard joins the rebels as the 8th lord.

Winning the heart of a noble lord

On the 20th of June in the year of 1257, at unuzdaq Castle, the rebel forces clash with the king's forces. King Harlaus and several of his supporters have rallied their troops to meet Vigdis and her allies on the field of battle. The king's forces outnumber the rebels, but Vigdis is the rebel's trump card. The rebels let the king's forces take the initiative and attack their position on a small hill. The uphill slope slows the advancing cavalry down and make them an easier target for the rebel archers. When the bulk of the king's forces reach the hill, Vigdis' cavalry falls upon them. The cavalry wreaks hacoc on the footsoldiers. Panic spreads among the Swadian forces who try to flee in all possible directions. The rebel troops hunt them down, mercilessly, but still 25 of the enemy soldiers get away. Vigdis loses one mercenary to an enemy arrow, in the battle. 2 of her troops are wounded. The king and his supporters have lost 171 men when the battle is over. Another 6 are taken prisoner. Count Delinard, Count Despin and Count Deglan all get away. Their king is out of luck -- hishorse is struck by a rebel's arrow. The wounded King Harlaus is tak

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