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Sturmzeit in Norden


Kaiser Martens
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In the last few years, things were changing in Hethnamark. The Isolationist Experiment had been more than successful, and soon enough just the lands of Hethnamark were close to being as strong as Germanic Union had been by itself, with more population, territory, and resources. But the harmony in the North couldn't last. There was only one true deity, the one described by Murphy. Such was the Unreligion of the Cynicist Man.

Hethnamark had started to very gradually open to the world once that its economy was stabilized and needed to have further outlets to expand as opposed to stagnating. Until then, Vikings had done well enough, but Raiding and Trading could only get one so far. Still, the world didn't know what to truly think. For some, Hethnamark was some sort of North Korea, for others, it was mini-Nordland, other individuals were convinced that Martens still ruled there. Prosperity wouldn't last for much longer. Surtr would rise from within Iceland, causing a great eruption of lava, stone and ashes...the situation would worsen as a nuclear plant would be damaged by this, becoming the worst peacetime nuclear incident since Chernobyl and Fukushima. Economy had ruptured, and society was likely to follow. With the scattered territories of Hethnamark fearing aggression, people armed, and...

Suddenly Hethnamark itself was as confused about it as the rest of the world had been all along. Word had it that the heads of government had been mostly killed in the chaos and disaster, and Hethnamark itself was raided more than once not by Vikings, but by other pirates. The People demanded something new. The People, they had no guide anymore...people stated that the only thing keeping Hethnamark in one piece were nuclear missiles and axes. Maybe they were right. Different groups, with different interests started to form, and, not all of them recognized The Government.

The time of storms had started, and nobody knew what would rise from what quite literally in Iceland were Ashes.

OOC:

What this means is that...you get to decide what happens in Hethnamark. You get to RP any kind of group in Hethnamark that wishes to create a new order, either that, or restoring the old order is also a valid option. The only rule is that you can't say, other than vaguely, how many people support you. That's because I'll moderate peoples' adherence to different ideas and such so as to give anyone who may join a good chance to win. When everything is over, I will take the winning party and they will be the new leadership of Hethnamark and will behave accordingly. The party or group, not the characters necessarily (You won't be forced to give them up, unless you want to)

Also do not try to get *overwhelming* support from other governments in order to crush your foes, that'd be kind of like cheating, but some support and intrusion is fine.
Any kinds of ideas, parties, philosophies, and whatnot, are accepted.
Well. Want me to RP something different? Want to change something (Anything, or everything) about Hethnamark? Or want to change it completely, even if this is to suit your goals? This is your chance.

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[b]Asgaard,
City of the Gods[/b]

"RAGNAROK IS UPON US! THE END TIME IS NEAR!" Siegfried Tyrsson stood amongst the crowd, and listened to the crazed speak preach his words. "I AM HEIMSKR, CHOSEN BY THE AESIR TO WARN MANKIND OF THE IMPENDING DOOM! PREPARE FOR FIMBULWINTER! THE JOTNAR MARCH TO ASGAARD, HELS ARMY OF THE DEAD MARCH WITH THEM! ALL HAS BEEN FORTOLD BY OUR ANSESTORS!" As the man continued the crowed grew larger. "SURTR STRIS IN MUSPELHEIM! LOKI PULLS AT HIS BINDS! WE MUST ALL SEEK A GLORIOUS DEATH! ALL WILL BE NEEDED WHEN RAGNOROK ARRIVES! ODIN WILL NEED THE BRAVEST FOR THE EINHERJAR!" Siegfried left the crowd, he had other matters to attend to and trudged on down the street to the central park of the city, towards Valhalla, the golden hall of the gods, towering above the city. Hethnamark was falling apart. Iceland, swamped by volcanic activity, the coastal cities were raided by pirates. Hethnamark was in need of a strong leader. A meeting of the utmost importance was underway, one that would shape the future of all Nords. Siegfried could feel it.

A Norwegian by birth, Siegfried’s father had served in the Einherjar, guarding Asgaard. So here is where he grew up, amongst Asgaard’s temples and halls. His father had thought him to fight. From a young age he had been trained with the sword. Although his father had never said it, Siegfried had often suspected that he was meant for the Einherjar. Instead, Siegfried had joined the Luftwaffe of the Germanic Union and after the collapse of the Union he had returned to Asgaard, and studied History. As the years wore on, he became increasingly political. Not a radical like much of the youth, Siegfried was still very much a patriot, but he could see that things need to change.

In the shadow of the Little Yggdrasil and Martens Lightbringer, the great statue dominating the centre of the city, was a small tavern. At a back table several were already waiting. Mead in the hands, roaring in laughter at a joke. When Siegfried arrived their expressions grew grim. They would sit for some hours and talk. Talk about their plan for restoring the cities of the Vikings back to their former glory. The group however, did not have a set ideology. They were more or less a group of concerned citizens. Determined to maintain and restore their nation.

"It is clear what needs to be done. We need to unite the people across the nation. Rally them behind a single figure. Someone to lead them into the new age." Said an aged man. He had long grey hair and beard, a weathered face and a loud booming voice. "If he is a natural leader, people will follow him."

"No! What have we learned from our neighbours? In both Sweden, Norway and Prussia socialist parties have arisen to power." A young man replied. "We need to establish a democracy, a way for the people to be involved in the politics of the nation."

"Ha! Democracies all around the world fall every day! The people cannot be trusted to effectively run a nation collectively. Besides, we all know it will lead to a tyranny by majority. We need a strong, powerful leader!"

The talk got louder, spilling into argument, drawing attention from the other patrons of the tavern. Siegfried slammed his mug of mead on the table and waited for silence from the group. "We can do both. We can have a strong leader and we can have democracy. We need a strong leader. The Union had the lords, the GGR has Visari and Nordland had Martens. We will have our own leader. But we can also have democracy. A parliament, an althing. The people can vote, but all authority would ultimately fall the leader of that nation." The men assembled nodded in agreement of the compromise. They had found their ideology, their goal. Now was the time for change.

OOC: Edit: Spelling :v:

Edited by Aggressivenutmeg
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Somewhere in Asgaard's Main Castle, one of the Aesir saw what seemed to be a highly excitable and barely-literate man and facepalmed.
[i]"How on earth did he get past our filters?"[/i]
Somebody answered him,
[i]"He was good in the battlefield..."[/i]
They were secure, or so they thought, in the great Northern Fortress. True, they had still their fair share of Einherjar and Valkyries, but the truth was that there was only so much of Hethnamark that the elite forces could cover, given the circumstances. They still did their best, and many still feared them enough.

A helicopter noisily passed by the tavern, serving as an airborne reminder of the way of things in Asgaard. From its loudspeakers, it informed them about the curfew that would take into effect in just a few hours. People would not be allowed to be in the streets for anything short of real emergencies, such as life-or-death situations or odd happenings such as fires. In fact, even outside of the curfew, people were not allowed to gather in groups of greater than three. But the supplies for daily life were still intact, the true hell was at Iceland. Regularily jets took off for the great island, carrying aid. It seemed as if they were truly at war, only that the enemy was, sadly but yet thankfully, internal.

There were now many voices of dissent. People were convinced, and rightfully so, that if the rest of Nordheim hadn't been abandoned, there would have been enough resources and space to make the handling of the catastrophe much easier, and resented the Aesir for allowing this. "If we still had our old country this !@#$ would be already over. Whose was the foul idea of giving away our land to the Swedes? At least they didn't give it to the Finns. $%&@!"

Somebody else rose a cold, femenine voice, towards Sigfried, "Just say things for what they are, you miss the old Germanic Union system. Enough euphemisms."

Then, an Einherjar entered the room, with three younger, greenish recruits at his command. "We are here to check your IDs. Remember that in two hours, twentytwo minutes, you must be at your homes, or at a home at the very least." - Had he heard what they had been discussing?

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In the heart of Venice, a cloaked figure descended the stairs into a cellar. It was damp and cold, and he was late. The men there had been gathered for almost a quarter of an hour when he entered. They were gathered in the dark, illumined only by the few candles that periodically wavered as water droplets leaped from the ceiling past the tiny flames. News had spread from the North; the hour had arrived. That ancient brotherhood of the sword was coming together once again, now in Venice, now in Vaduz, now in Luxembourg. They were Dutch and French, German and Italian, Norsemen, Spaniards, Englishmen -- gathered beneath a common faith for a common cause: to use the power of the Hethnamark to restore the wealth and power of those so-called Poor Fellow-Soldiers who had pledged their loyalty so many centuries ago on the Temple Mount. Beneath the crimson cross they gathered, robed in white, and reciting in low voices the chants and prayers of their ancestral order.

The Templars were gathering, and they would restore the order and the power of Hethnamark. Grand Master Guy de Mortirue looked at the thin Italian as he entered the room, late to the gathering. Antonio Barbarigo was descent from the Doges of Venice, but he had inherited none of their political savvy - no matter, he was a cunning tactician and a man on whom the Grand Master knew he could count.

"The meeting is now gathered, we can begin." The seneschal of the order announced, standing aside the Grand Master. "Our hour of opportunity is upon us. This day we deploy our gathered strength and move to restore order and moral law in Hethnamark. The people are ripe for a new ideology, a new faith. We Templars have long known that our sinful nature means that men do not put their trust in God, but in men. We shall be those men whom they trust. Today in Luxembourg and in Vaduz, declarations are being made to the people. We will offer them order, law, and safety. They will give us loyalty and trust - not faith in God, not worship of Christ - not [i]yet[/i]. Today we move amidst the great Heathen mass, and we shall do so wielding the swords of our cunning and our minds, to slay the demons within them, to destroy chaos and disorder, infidelity and incompetence - and the malice which has driven Hethnamark to this great extreme. Don the cloaks of war today, for we shall claim this land as our own, and shall return it to the glory worthy of Hethnamark and the Temple Mount!"

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There was probably no better time to do this, than that. At any other time, it would have been absolutely inconceiveable to get into Hethnamark to try to get them to worship their God and Christ, of all things. But things would never be the same again, both optimists and fatalists knew that much, the intelectuals found it logical, and the spiritual sensed it without a doubt.

Given the general state of chaos, they would have probably been able to enter either by simply bribing someone, or by taking into advantage the period of time during which the military was too busy trying to control in this case Luxemburg itself, without being able to guard the borders as strictly as they did before. It almost seemed like some odd kind of remixed version of the [i]mauerfall[/i], only that no wall had been torn down just yet.

People didn't care who these individuals were. As long as they could provide safety...and as long as they weren't undercover French or Germans. That'd be their greatest concern, and in all likelihood at least one of them would end up with a sword in the gut before anyone would start to perhaps trust them. If they had any choice.

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[quote name='Kaiser Martens' timestamp='1326835405' post='2901672']
There was probably no better time to do this, than that. At any other time, it would have been absolutely inconceiveable to get into Hethnamark to try to get them to worship their God and Christ, of all things. But things would never be the same again, both optimists and fatalists knew that much, the intelectuals found it logical, and the spiritual sensed it without a doubt.

Given the general state of chaos, they would have probably been able to enter either by simply bribing someone, or by taking into advantage the period of time during which the military was too busy trying to control in this case Luxemburg itself, without being able to guard the borders as strictly as they did before. It almost seemed like some odd kind of remixed version of the [i]mauerfall[/i], only that no wall had been torn down just yet.

People didn't care who these individuals were. As long as they could provide safety...and as long as they weren't undercover French or Germans. That'd be their greatest concern, and in all likelihood at least one of them would end up with a sword in the gut before anyone would start to perhaps trust them. If they had any choice.
[/quote]

OOC: So did I just get clearance to RP all subsequent actions in Martenshaven, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg? I was kind of expecting a government response to the Templar rallies in Vaduz and the city of Luxembourg.

EDIT: fixed "Venice" to "Martenshaven". Original Templar Meeting still happened in Venice unless Centurius says it's impossible.

Edited by Sigurd Odinnson
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[b]Friesland[/b]

The region, along with its sister city Hamburg, had always been the most liberal parts of Germania. Even in the isolationist era of Hethnamark, it was this region that maintained the most links with the outside world, being the main center for trade. With the central government is Island now destroyed, perhaps it was time for Friesland to be the one leading the country.....

Edited by Kankou
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[quote name='Kaiser Martens' timestamp='1326823079' post='2901567']
Somebody else rose a cold, femenine voice, towards Sigfried, "Just say things for what they are, you miss the old Germanic Union system. Enough euphemisms."

Then, an Einherjar entered the room, with three younger, greenish recruits at his command. "We are here to check your IDs. Remember that in two hours, twentytwo minutes, you must be at your homes, or at a home at the very least." - Had he heard what they had been discussing?
[/quote]

Siegfried turned towards the voice. "I do. It was a system that worked and it can work again." As the Einherjar approached the group, Siegfried got out his ID and showed the soldier, Siegfried was confident that the Einherjar had not overheard them, despite the fact that most of the tavern had. Turning to his co-consperators he said. "Until tomorrow." Before finnishing his mead.

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OOC: Kankou is correct.

IC:

And it was better that way. Chances are he wouldn't have made it to the next day without a chain around his neck, if he had been heard. But things were just fine for the time being. The next day, the tavern had almost the same amount of people, with a few new faces. Before he entered, along the street, he saw a man being taken away by two Valkyries for attempting to remove a piece of public lighting, which had valuable metals in it. He could see the shiny, metallic boot hitting the thief on the stomach, he could see the spit towards his face "You're a shame to your people!" - And then he'd dissappear within a truck. Some people got the idea that while things were unstable, they would be able to profit. It was a risky business.

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Siegfried entred the tavern and made for the same table. There the group would continue to talk, to think. They would shape their ideas, and dream of grand plans for the re-construction of Hethnamark. This would continue for the next few days. They would try and gain support of other patrons of the tavern, while evading the ever watchful eyes of the Einherjar and the Valkyries. It was decided that they would attempt to gain the support of the people of Asgaard. This is where they would begin restoring the nation.

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This would go on for some time, but like most good things, it would also lose momentum if theory and ideas didn't lead into hard facts and real actions. This being Hethnamark of all places, everybody had weaponry, and in fact, reasonable military training. Almost everyone, that is. That is one of the reasons why Einherjar and Valkyries needed to be so good...obviously so.

One fine day, Siegfried would feel rather sick in his stomach, and have a bad omen. This would force him to discard the tavern in favor of a doctor. It was a lucky thing, considering that on that day, the authorities had figured out what had been taking place in the tavern, and had arrested most people that were there. It would be a matter of time until he himself were caught, and others had gone into hiding.

Still, people had their families, friends, and love interests... so the "Gods"' attempt to stop the changes would, like many times in history, do the exact opposite thing. A week later, when Siegfried would be feeling much better, the greatest - and only so far - public gathering and manifestation would take place in Asgaard, a march from the Graveyard of Heroes to the Castle of the Aesir. People were "missing", and there was only one institution to be blamed...

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The conspirators were at the head of the march, with the crazy preacher Heimskr. There were thousands of people there, shouting, angry and armed, a manifestation of the frustration of the people against the "gods". Siegfried himself was armed with his father’s sword. Others had blades, axes and firearms. They marched deeper into the city, towards the Castle of the Aesir. When they reached the castle, Einherjar and Valkyries were waiting for them. What they would do, Siegfried could not tell, but he was prepared for it. He led the crowed forward. Heimskr, the preacher began to cry out at all those gathered. "Here we are all gathered, under the golden hall in Midgaard. As we prepare to bring about the fall of the false gods, who are but men. All is as I have foreseen!" He began, slowly walking through the crowed. "It was in this very dream that Hermod came to me and told me of the destiny of us! Of all the people of the North! Of one of us in particular!” He moved to Siegfried. "This man! This man is destined to be our leader. For months, this man and his fellows have been planning for the new age of the Vikings, a new golden age for the Nords! Those high in the castle, see themselves as our kings! We’ll there is the only king I intend to bow to!" He turned to Siegfried, and kneeled down. "The King of the Nords!" Siegfried’s co-conspirators kneeled too, weapons drawn and repeated Heimskrs words. "The King of the Nords!"

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In this Pagan land where darkness and fear reigned across the tall mountains and deep valleys, a Cross's light would offer solace.

It was this saying, painted above the altar on a wooden plank that gave the Christians of the remote city of Akureyri hope that though their time may never come in the Hethnamark, salvation would come after death. For Rikke Njalsdottar, it was something that filled her heart with happiness and at times her mind and body with dread and sorrow. Growing up as a Christian in the frozen north was not an easy life and while the small Christian community took care of itself, through hard work and being faithful subjects of the Norse government, they still felt the pains of prejudice. Rikke had lifted her entire life in the shadow of, what was known in the north as, the Death-Cult. Norse elders would say to her and her parents, time and time again, how was it possible to give up everything for a chance at salvation for a religion which had slaughtered billions and no longer had a strong voice throughout the world.

"It is a human problem," the girl would say and push her elderly parents back towards their home in the Christian Quarter of the city. "Pagan or Christian, no one is perfect. Odin should be a perfect example of what is and is not perfect."

Sometimes the confrontations worried her, but Rikke always found peace in the small wooden church the Christians had build in the hills outside of town. There she knelt and waited for the rays of sunlight to shimmer against the Crucifix that hung near the altar. She would close her eyes tightly and clasp her hands together as small tears ran down her eyes. "I only ask you give us a chance, Holy Father. A chance to show our brothers and sisters we are not evil. Use me as your vessel, Father. With your guidance and strength, I will not fail."

Little did Rikke know that the chance to prove not only herself, but her faith and the faith of her community to all of Hethnamark was coming sooner than she anticipated. The chance to prove one could be both a True Nord and a True Christian. For in the following days the times of trouble would begin and Iceland found itself covered by a terrible black cloud of smoke and ash.

It was that day that Rikke found herself, her family, and much of her community huddled around the church in the hills fearful of what was to come.

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OOC: Oh girl, you had to go and make it wooden...

IC:

And of course, the hills had eyes. Such deviants had always been considered to be potential traitors. The authorities of Iceland were always certain to watch the Christians, which they never seemed to trust. Every country had its black sheep, and these...these were the blackest. For all the surveillance however, at least, nobody had actually done anything to them. Other than casting them out. The only thing that helped their lives become fairly tolerable, is that the newest generations of Northmen found Christianism to be so foreign, that they did not even know what it was. "Jesus hvem?" They would say, in confusion, if approached. Some others confused them for some kind of new-age people, while others thought that they were outright Jewish.

It was almost hilarious, from an educated point of view. It was just "Something from the Desert". And it was no matter of evil or good. Those two words...they were also quite foreign. Noble or weak, that is what mattered. And few with the Heathen sense of "morality", if it could be at all called that, could possibly make sense of The Book.

But one day, Raiders came. They were riding horses, and displayed a plain black banner with a small Icelandic flag on the top-left quadrant. Nothing special. They belonged to other towns and cities across Iceland, and made their intentions clear on the center of Akureyri: Their people were in danger of starving and freezing over the winter, so they would seize what they needed and depart - and use force if needed. Their boss had a bike with a sidecar, and they all had older uniforms dyed black so as to have some cohesion.

What transpired afterwards was several supermarkets being raided, as well as one military depot. Government Soldiers and in some cases storeowners attempted to resist, but casualties turned out to be minimal...until they noticed an oddly, fenced-out, separated section - the Christian quarter. They enter, looking down from their steeds...and...don't quite understand what they see. Eventually they come to find the church, and study it for a moment. One man on a horse drops down and goes poke it with his axe.

"Say, what do you think this is?"

"Looks like some kind of public office."

"No, I think its a...a...what's...!@#$, can't remember. One of those...Mohammed temple things."

"Oh. Desert people?"

"Ja."

"Mosque! Aren't they called mosques? Look, there's the minaret!" - He points at the cross above with the gun. It just happened to have a light on it.

"Well if it's a religious institution it's nonesential to life. We better take this instead of their food."

"What if it's a government thing?"

"I don't see any Soldiers standing around..."

"Okay."

"Maybe its an employment office. Look at those poor people outside..."

"I guess."

- And then, the motorbike and some horses entered the church, just like that, calmly, but completely, blissfully ignorant.

-----------------------------

In Asgaard...

The situation seemed to be getting quickly out of hand, and it seemed like the row of Elite Combatants barring the way to the Castle may be forced to fire upon the crowd anytime soon. They did not show it, but they did not wish to do so. They were trained - not indoctrinated - and did not wish to fire upon their own people, in most circumstances...just like in the Austrian war, in which they refused to participate.

"These...vikings. They don't know what [i]to viking[/i] means. Well, I had better have a word with them."

Before boiling point had been reached, a man on his fourties stepped up, over the wall, with a megaphone.

"I am Tyr, Aesir Lord, and..."

"SILENCE!"

"I am Tyr from the Aesir and have come to discuss in representation of our Thing - BE SILENT - to see what it is that you people may want. Designate two speakers, I will come back in an hour to let them in. Klar? Braa. If you use violence we WILL respond with lethal force. Think twice!"

An hour later, as promised, the gates to the forbidden, golden and silver castle, which most people never got to see from the outside, was opening...

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The noise outside as the raiders swept through Akureyri frightened nearly all of the Christians as they huddled together in the church, women holding their children tightly and men standing over their wives with pistols and rifles drawn just in case the worst would come to pass. Eventually the sound of raiders approached the small church in the Quarter and the people hushed their voices as the men outside began to talk. No one in Hethnamark understood anything. They would lump all the Western Religions together without bothering to think or analyze their fellow neighbors. But perhaps this is what separated the Christians from their Pagan brothers, the desire for philosophy, the nature of good and evil that transcended ideas of noble and weak, for in a caste system, the Christians would always be viewed a weak.

"If they even step into here," Rikke snarled under her breath to her mother and after as they tended her little brother. "I'll turn them away myself."

"Rikke, hush." Her father snapped. "You'll do no such thing. We have nothing to give, Father Olaf will handle them."

The girl looked up as the raiders rounded the church, heading towards the door and the priest walked down the aisle to meet them at the entrance. As they opened the door, about to head into the sacred ground, Olaf spread his hands. He had a long white beard and his clothes were a blend of Norse and Christian fashion and symbolism. "Brothers, what brings you to our humble home. We have seen what you have done to the rest of Akureyri, but we are a poor people and this is a holy place, much like your temples to Odin and your groves to the wild. I am Olaf and I am the leader of this community. I ask that you step off your horses and break bread with us if that is what you so desire, but we want no harm from your band of followers."

"You won't take from our hands what you took from the rest of the village!" Shouted a man in the back.

Olaf nodded in return and bowed his head at the leader. "But you are welcome to eat with us, friend. But you will not steal from us."

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The Raiders did not say anything at first, but the boss stepped out of the sidecar of the bike. A somewhat short (So, for worldly standards, average) Icelander in leather clothing, looking like someone that might have come out of Stalingrad sometime. He removed his snow googles and his cap, holding it under his forearm, somehow making him seem a little bit more distinguished than the rest. His other hand rested on what seemed to be a cavalry sable, and he appeared to meditate. He motioned for one of the horsemen to turn off his cigarette, which he did promptly, although he did feel annoyed.

"Stop it Arn, you know I hate that."

Then he looks at the Priest instead, at the people, and more importantly, at the valuable items in the room. Bits and artifacts of gold and silver - every temple had them, at least in europe...he considered. And then, he spoke.

"...you ALL live here?" His head tilted in confusion, and somebody laughed briefly in the background.

"You must be worse off than us...hm...anyway. We can't stay long. And you can't expect us to treat you differently from everybody else just because you are...here..." He adds that "here" with mild confusion. Then he categorically states, "You may need your roof and you may need your food but you don't need your golden crosses and silver statues. We will be taking that. You will not resist. You're too smart to do so. Do you understand? Evacuate the area."

He folds his arms and waits.

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Olaf nodded and sighed as he turned to the congregation behind him. "Brothers and sisters. The raiders have been gracious enough to allow us to keep the roof over our head and the food on our plates. What they have asked for is the jewelry and statues that decorate the church, most of which we have no need. One does not need a cross of gold to give honor to Christ, one only needs his message in his or her heart." Then turning back around he stepped aside. "You may take what you wish," he said to the raiders' leader. "But be quick, this is a terrible affront to our community to see us robbed like poor beggars."

As the raiders approached, however, a quiet grunting grew from somewhere in the ground as Rikke pushed herself out of her father's arms. Her thick hair covered in braids hung wild down her back and her ragged clothes of fur and leather straps molded tightly over her body. Rikke was a strong girl, anyone could see that, years of having keeping her family afloat while her father found it nearly impossible to get work and her mother suffered from illness as the winters grew colder and colder. Her blue eyes burned with the arctic wind and her rough hands gripped her rifle tightly, while a small hatchet hung aside her waist.

"So is that it?"

"Rikke! Stop!" Her father cried from the congregation, but it was too late as she walked towards the aisle of the church.

"We offer to feed you, we offer to give you a place to rest your heads for the night and so you steal from us?" She growled. "I was always told that everyone but the Christians in Hethnamark were honorable people, that Pagans and Atheists were Noble. But what I see is a bunch of men turning away help for their own greed. But we are not dogs you can kick around and at the very least, I am not a dog you will toss to the side. We fend for ourselves here and this is our land. Or are you too proud of a Nord to break bread with us?"

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"We have just finished raiding your town. You expect us to sit down, chat, eat, and have a nap? Please! You must be deranged, kid! You talk about greed but are willing to send and receive lead for the sake of some golden icons. You're not better than us. If you keep them here you'll use them to deal with your Gods, when we take them, we won't be keeping them, but selling it later. Well. At least you are braver than the rest. Now do yourself a favor and be gone. This will never be your land, you will always be our guests, never forget that!"

He returns to his sidecar. He makes a gesture with his hand as he drives out, and when the animals are out of the room, as well as the motorbike, soldiers return immediately with bags, ready to take the valuables with them, with orders to ignore troublemakers unless they become violent.

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[b]Iceland[/b]

The news of the actions in Luxembourg, Vaduz, and Martenshaven had spread widely throughout the land. The Templars had seized the banks with the help of the people without burdening them with extensive preaching or converting, and they had been well-received for the sense of Order they were bringing to the streets, enlisting their own police force and protecting the wealth and belongings of the people.

In the Hethnamark's heartland, however, the Templars had not gained such ground. It was here that a band of four knights found themselves wandering, collecting the other Templars in hiding in this inhospitable land. They knew that without the support of the continental Hethnamark, they would stand no chance in establishing their monastic state - but with three cities already in Templar hands (more or less), they were growing more audacious. Snorri Prestr was the first, and had travelled with sword in hand incognito seeking out men who appeared to be Christians to investigate their ties to the Order. He had not been as successful as he hoped - in five months of travelling, he had only gathered three fellow-knights. He had conveyed messages to the Templars in Martenshaven when he learned of their successful measures there, but had received only the cryptic reply [i]SAGMA TIGRIDOS MANE[/i] - "remain in the tiger's saddle".

So he and his friends wandered, now at least they had managed to obtain something to ride. The three old motorbikes were found by the most recent addition to the group, Njall Agarsson; he had managed to scrounge up and fix them in the last city they visited - how lucky Snorri had been to have found a mechanic! The men had traded in their longer tunics for denim jackets they had bleached white, the backs stained crudely with the red cross of the Templars. It had been Egil, the second man Snorri had recruited, who provided them the store of clothing they used. His apprenticeship at a tailor's had allowed him to obtain the scraps of denim, leather, and wool the four men now wore with mixed levels of uniformity. Snorri carried his sword on his back as they sped along. They had stopped briefly to examine their maps when they stumbled upon a city in the frozen waste they had been travelling without shelter or warm food for the last several days.

"It says the place is called Akureyri." Njall announced, examining his unrolled paper map.

"Good, maybe we'll be able to get some food and cover for the night for a change - I'm sick of falling asleep under the stars and waking up under snowdrifts," the younger Egil complained. He was the youngest of the group by about ten years. "Let's find a place to hide the machinery and eat something. Maybe there are Christians here."

"I wouldn't count on it," Njall returned, "frankly, I'd be surprised to find many people here at all by the looks of things."

"Well it's either go in here or go back the way we came," Snorri said with authority, "and we have a mission to fulfil. Into the city, [i]deus vult[/i]!"

"[i]Deus vult![/i]" they returned in unison.

[b]Martenshaven[/b]
"[i]DEUS VULT![/i]" the group replied to the Grand Master's orders. They had entered Martenshaven now in what was practically a triumph. Even soldiers were joining their ranks to bring order to the city. The Templars had occupied the largest bank in the city as well as the city hall, and were inviting people to store their wealth under Templar guard, which many readily accepted. They trusted it would not be stolen under such heavy guard. The Grand Master himself had elected to enter the city now, no longer keeping residence in Venice. A Savoyard by birth, he had been driven from so many cities it seemed he would never find one where he could stay more than a few months. He had been in Venice the longest - three years.

He had just given orders to organise the Templar Army across Europe, and train them in their individual homes. He had contacted the Templars now in Rotterdam and Flushing to begin moves in those cities. The long-abandoned cathedral in Rotterdam was to become the Templar headquarters of the Low Countries, with high hopes to organise all Hethnamark territory there into the heartland of the Rittermark. The Grand Master's plans had received the full support of the Council of the Order.

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"Guests! I'll show you who is a damn gue-" Rikke went to charge the bandit leader but two arms grabbed her shoulders and pulled her back into the congregation as another hand was forcefully placed over her mouth.

"You're going to get us killed Rikke! Shut up!" Said the church deacon and after the girl stopped struggling and crying under the force of his hand, he relaxed his grip. "Listen to me. A community disaster of so many of us dying would do nothing for our people and these men would not think twice before killing women and children. Do you think you could stand up to them alone? They would kill you Rikke, they would kill you where you stand. We need bodies, not martyrs. Christ has martyred himself, you need not do so when your family rests on your shoulders."

"But..."

"No, buts Rikke Njalsdottar." Said Father Olaf as he walked back into the congregation; behind him the bandits were beginning to take the crucifix down from the ceiling and gather saucers and plates. "God teaches us that the meek will inherit Heaven. There is no need to get yourself killed for a false sense of honor."

She looked out from the crowd around her and familiarized herself with the bandit leader. Rikke would never forget his face, not if she could help it and then nodded to the men around her that she would behave herself. They let her go and she watched in a painful silence as the rest of the church was emptied, leaving nothing but dried bread, water, and salted meat.

---

The next day, life in the Christian Quarter began to return to normal and out in the outskirts of town, Rikke returned to the woods to begin her chores for the day. With a rifle on her back and a hatchet at her side, she walked up to one of the higher hills and looked out at the off-green landscape of Iceland that ran forever into the horizon. She felt a cold wind blow across her face and tucked her small wooden cross underneath her tunic and started turning back towards Akureyri, she could hear the sound of motorbikes echoing up through the hills. If the bandits returned, she would be ready for them.

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The crowd would talk and argue about who would go, Siegfried was a given, following the crowds proclemation. The other position was open to debate however. Several community leaders belived they themselves should go, however, it was decided that Heimskr, the crazy old goði would be the second reprasentative. As the gates of the Castle opend, Siegfried approached along with Heimskr. "We have been chosen to speak for the people of Asgaard." He called into the castle waiting for a reply before they entred.

Edited by Aggressivenutmeg
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The night had been less than comfortable, but productive. The four Templars had found a place to sleep, though the hotel was not the cleanest, it was better than freezing outside in the night. As the last of them woke in the morning, they gathered in the restaurant downstairs to discuss plans.

"I think we'd do best to scout the surrounding area before exploring the city much," Njall asserted, grabbing his seat as he pushed a platter of pickled herring, bread and hakárl onto the table, "I heard some rumours of bandits attacking the town while I was up grabbing this; if we can find them and kill them, we might earn the locals' trust."

"That's a bit of a project, you know," Egil commented through a mouthful of toast, "besides, if they're bandits, the chances of them being long gone are high - we might end up just wasting precious fuel."

"Well if we want information and respect, and if we want to accomplish our goal, we're going to need to start recruiting people." Njall shot back.

Snorri interupted them, "Brother Egil has a point about the fuel; we burn gasoline travelling and there are only so many fill stations on this island. Besides, the orders from the Grand Master are clear. We keep quiet and stay low until we've gathered all the Brothers on this island. If you want, we'll bike the perimeter, but we're not going driving all over Hel's Creation to find some non-existent bandits."

"Maybe we ought to take a look at the Christian Quarter we heard them mention last night. There might be some promise there." Egil said.

"Well, let's finish up here and then run the perimeter of the town; then we'll make our way down into the Christian quarter to see if we find any Templars in the community - or any recruits for that matter," Snorri responded. He grimaced as Njall grabbed a chunk of Hakárl and tossed it in his mouth; he could never get used to the stuff - he took a few rolls and a deep gulp of water.

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And then the crosses were taken away, never to be recovered by any of the Christians again...
At least they didn't take the books away. They discovered some valuable-looking ancient books, but seemed to be respectful enough of literature to actually steal any of them. Now without all its odd insignia, the Church looked more like an abandoned temple or some old deposit than anything else. It still had what counted though, the people.

And yes, the riders return. Just over the horizon, horses and engine roar their way to Akureyri again - or so it would seem. It was definately the same banner, definately the same people, and they advanced in a fairly careless fashion, considering themselves to be in their own, secure territory.

--------

The castle let them in, but closed afterwards, locking them inside as if it were some kind of daylight horror movie. They could almost seem to expect Edward Scissorhands or some kind of daytime Vampire next, but instead, when they were led past the keep and into the Castle proper, Tyr awaited in fine garbs, surrounded by other guards of the Aesir class. He sits down at a large armchair, and there's others in the room...the place almost looked like a museum, there were paintings and statues around, and then, glögg was brought to them. The Aesir Representative nods and then indicates with a hand gesture that they should sit and state their business.

--------

It seemed that the other group of Christians would be converging too. As it was, they might even end up running into the Raiders. But if they came too close to Akureyri, then the locals might end up thinking that they were too, up to no good. They were not from that town, so they would feel a million eyes on their backs when moving in. In the distance, they saw a man replacing what had been a golden cross on the top of the church, for a wooden cross - it was as if it had been a sign planted just for them.

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The Templars on their black motorbikes slowed and turned as they saw the cloud of dust rising on the horizon behind the horsemen and the single motorbike making its way toward Akureyri.

"Ho!" Njall bellowed, "Look there! I'd say that's our bandit party!"

"Indeed, I think you're right, Brother!" Snorri shouted back over the engines.

"Shall we face them head-on or parley," the fourth Templar, a grey-beard named Eirik, asked his leader.

"I say we parley - there might be a deal to be struck, and it's always better to prevent the bloodshed," Egil said.

"Nonsense! Hit them head-on like warriors, or they'll have the advantage," Njall said almost disdainfully of Egil's offering.

"In the face of evil, a man must make an offering of himself. We shall ride up and meet them in parley. Raise the banner, Njall!" Snorri made his decision loudly. Njall obeyed his order, unfurling a banner of white bearing the red cross on it and attached it to a make-shift receiver on the back of his bike. The banner was a full-sized flag, but with a four-foot long pole attached to the sissy bar of his motorbike, it was fully visible to anyone who saw him. As the standard-bearer, Njall rode in front, leading a check-mark-like V-formation. The knights' white denim jackets and black motorbikes made them immediately visible as they approached the raiders and made motion to stop the approaching group.

OOC: Martens, can I get some numbers for this raiding party?

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