So after I completed the game, having bought it about a month ago (all hail the Steam sale), and witnessed that absolutely beautiful ending scene I decided to write the ending up in the style of a novel while listening to 'We Are All Guests Upon The Land' on repeat. After that, I decided, why not do the whole thing? So I started a new game and started writing. As of the time of posting I have completed Chapters 1 and 2, and have made a start on Chapter 3. I'll post Chapter 2 after I've done a bit more proof-reading, but here is Chapter One: Only The Sun Has Stopped...
EDIT: There is now a pdf containing the whole story, courtesy of Aleonymous, here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...y%20ajrman.pdf
It had been several long months on the road. The snowfalls had accosted the caravan on its approach to Strand, largest of the trade cities on the Varl-Human border, and the caravan’s last collection before returning to the capital. Several days earlier, the sun had simply come to a stop in the sky, although no one could be certain exactly how long it had been. Some of the varl in the caravan took it as a dire omen, but Ubin, the white-haired varl who led them, was not prone to superstition, though he would be glad to be done with the year’s rounds.
As the caravan of the horned giants called Varl approached the gates of Strand, a crowd had gathered. The supply cart, driven by a large cow-like yox beast, came to a halt outside the open wooden gates. Ubin, who sat on the seat of the cart wearing a purple tunic, turned at the sound of a human voice from the crowd. A man rushed forwards, pushing his way through the crowd.
“There is fighting in the great hall!” he yelled. “You must hurry!” Ubin stood and looked up the hill on top of which Strand’s great hall was built.
Inside the great hall, the governor of Strand, an old man dressed in a grey woollen tunic, with a yellow cloak draped over his shoulders, held his sword, seeing the last of his men being cut down by the troops dressed in red. Their chieftain, a long haired ginger man with a braided beard, pointed his axe at the governor. He started to speak when the doors buckled. Everybody turned to look at the doorway, which had been barred shut. The bar splintered under another bang, giving way. Three huge figures, twice as big as any human, filled the doorway, one of them brandishing a great two-handed sword, the second holding a sword and shield. The shield varl stepped forward and cut down the first of the chieftain’s men with a strike of his sword. The chieftain lunged at the giant, but his axe was deflected by the wooden kite shield. The second varl spun round as he brought his sword around, taking down two men in one mighty swing. The shield varl bashed the chieftain’s axe away with his shield and stabbed him in the abdomen, nearly lifting him off the ground. As the chieftain’s body hit the floor, the governor dropped his sword and slumped down into his throne, resting his head on his hand.
“How did it come to this?” he sighed. “We fool ourselves believing peace will last.” He lifted his hand, gesturing to the tapestries that adorned the walls of the hall. “My grandfather built all this from a small fishing village, you know.” He turned to face the tapestry behind him, on which were decorated scenes of death and warfare. “He watched the Gods die, watched the chaos that followed, watched Man and Varl slaughter each other, even before the Dredge arose. All we’ve done is trade one struggle for another, and now there are no more Dredge to war against, we war against ourselves.” He said, gesturing at the bodies that littered the hall to show his point. He pointed at the dead chieftain, whose eyes had rolled up to look back at him. “This man meant to kill me, and he’s not the first.” He walked to the open doorway of the great hall. “A dozen families in this city would gladly take my chair. This type of wolf doesn’t stop when its head is cut off, it just grows a new head.” He leaned against the doorframe, clearly weary from the fight. “I am in a bad way, my friend. Help me finish this fight and I’ll gladly send you on your way with double our King’s tithe.” The varl who had not taken part in the fight walked over to look out over the city. He wore a purple tunic and had long white hair and a beard. His grey horns curled round as they protruded from his head. He had one lazy eye, but the other was alert, scanning everything. The other two varl joined him as he started to walk back down the hill.
A few minutes later, as he reached the bottom of the steps that led down from the great hall, Ubin turned at the sound of a human hurrying to walk alongside him. He had blond hair and experienced eyes, and wore a brown cloak and tunic.
“Eirik, steward of Strand. I manage the governor’s business.” he said, doing a slight bow. “Ubin, isn’t it?”
“It is.” Ubin replied simply.
“The governor tells me you will be lending us a hand.”
“What did you have in mind?”
“The Skalfings that you didn’t hack up in the great hall scattered after you took out their chieftain. The governor wants to make sure they stay down. There’s someone I know down in the marketplace by the docks. If they’re in hiding, he can tell us.”
As the two reached the marketplace, Ubin’s guards having gone back to join the rest of the caravan, Eirik gestured to an old man standing behind a table in a market stall with his arms folded and wearing a fur hat. He looked at Eirik with contempt.
“Hadd, I’m not in the mood.” Eirik said scornfully.
“For what?” Hadd replied, shrugging his shoulders.
“Talking to an idiot.” Hadd responded by shrinking back. Clearly similar versions of this conversation had happened in the past. “The Skalfings’ chieftain bled out a while ago, so when you tell me what hole the rest of them crawled into, nobody’s going to try and kill you this time.”
“I don’t talk to…” Hadd said, raising his hands feigning innocence. “They don’t talk to me.” Ubin said nothing. Eirik overturned the flimsy table, scattering Hadd’s assortment of junk across the ground. Hadd jumped back in fright. “Gods, Eirik. Laying it on a bit heavy, don’t you think?”
“Where are the Skalfings?” Eirik said, raising his stern voice. His hand rested on the handle of the axe that hung on his belt. Hadd’s panicky eyes darted between Eirik’s hand and his eyes. Eventually Hadd buckled.
“They’re in Nobleman, up by the east wall!” he squealed. Eirik waved him away with his hand, and Hadd grabbed all the items he could before skulking off, presumably disappearing until all of this blows over.
“Are we done here?” a growling voice said from behind the pair. A ginger varl dressed in green and yellow stepped forward, holding the two-handed greatsword he had used in the fight.
“Just a minute, Gunnulf.” Ubin said, before turning to Eirik. “That man seemed unreliable at best.” he said.
“A blind dog wouldn’t trust Hadd, but he used to be Skalfing.” Eirik said. “If they’re licking their wounds, they’ve probably gone to old haunts, not new ones.”
“Nobleman?” Ubin questioned.
“A mead hall.” Eirik explained. “As best I can tell, the name’s ironic. I know a man who would love to put some of these Skalfings in the ground. I’ll meet you at the mead hall once I’ve found him.”
“Just make sure the governor remembers his promise.” Ubin warned. “Double the usual tithe.” Eirik nodded.
“I’ll remind him.”
It was about an hour when Ubin, Gunnulf and the other varl with the sword and shield – Ubin could never remember his name; Gunnulf just called him ‘Shieldbanger’ - managed to locate Nobleman. Eirik was already there, with a weather-beaten soldier he introduced as Valgard. Valgard wore a white woollen tunic and had brown hair.
“I’ll point them out.” Eirik said. “Ready?”
“Let’s get this over with.” Ubin replied.
“That’s the spirit.” Valgard remarked. He turned and booted the door open. Wide-eyed, drunken Skalfings clambered from their tables reaching for weapons, scattering mead tankards everywhere. It was barely a moment before Valgard ran forwards, knocking away the weapon of the closest Skalfing before embedding his axe in the drunk man’s neck. Eirik was next, hacking at the legs of a Skalfing who thought he could get the jump on Valgard. The man fell to the floor with a yelp. As Gunnulf moved forwards a Skalfing who was a bit more sober than the others managed to leap between the horned giant’s legs, jumping to his feet on Gunnulf’s other side and getting in a glancing blow before the varl spun round and brought his sword down on the man. Shieldbanger took on the last two Skalfings, keeping one at bay with his shield while he slashed at the other with his sword. Ubin stood in the doorway, staying out of combat but making sure none could escape. When the fight was over, Eirik and Valgard set to work gathering the bodies. They were just finishing when Eirik spotted something out through the open door. He muttered a curse.
“I’ve got to go and wash off all this blood.” he mumbled. Ubin followed his gaze and saw a fleet of longships sailing in from Denglr’s Bay, some displaying a blue horn on white sails, others showing a yellow wolf’s head emblazoned on red.
“One banner I know well.” Ubin said, meaning the blue and white sail. “Vognir, next for Varl kingship last we spoke.” The red and yellow was the flag of human royalty.
“Important guests.” Eirik said. “Can you delay them at the docks while I make sure there are no rotting bodies or pools of entrails in the great hall waiting for them?” he asked, semi-mockingly. Eirik and Valgard quickly walked out, Eirik chucking a silver coin to the barkeep. Ubin gave an apologetic shrug before leaving for the docks.