And after him came Neimes out, the third, Better vassal there was not in the world; And to the King: "Now rightly have you heard Guenes the Count, what answer he returned. Wisdom was there, but let it well be heard. King Marsilies in war is overturned, His castles all in ruin have you hurled, With catapults his ramparts have you burst, Vanquished his men, and all his cities burned; Him who entreats your pity do not spurn, Sinners were they that would to war return; With hostages his faith he would secure; Let this great war no longer now endure." "Well said the Duke." Franks utter in their turn. AOI.
Both messengers did on their horses mount; From that city nimbly they issued out. Then, sore afraid, their admiral they sought, To whom the keys of Sarraguce they brought. Says Baligant: "Speak now; what have ye found? Where's Marsilies, to come to me was bound?" Says Clarien: "To death he's stricken down. That Emperour was in the pass but now; To France the Douce he would be homeward-bound, Rereward he set, to save his great honour: His nephew there installed, Rollanz the count, And Oliver; the dozen peers around; A thousand score of Franks in armour found. Marsile the king fought with them there, so proud; He and Rollanz upon that field did joust. With Durendal he dealt him such a clout From his body he cut the right hand down. His son is dead, in whom his heart was bound, And the barons that service to him vowed; Fleeing he came, he could no more hold out. That Emperour has chased him well enow. The king implores, you'll hasten with succour, Yields to you Spain, his kingdom and his crown." And Baligant begins to think, and frowns; Such grief he has, doth nearly him confound. AOI.
Varag Skulltaker slew many in the battle, and had even fought the Unberogen king Bjorn in single combat. Daemonic sword met magical axe as the two kings fought, but Bjorn eventually proved too great for the Norsii warlord and hacked the Chaos Champion's head from his shoulders. Enraged by the loss of their high king, Varag Skulltaker's dark-armoured Huscarls fell wrathfully upon the Unberogen king, savagely hacking him to death and tearing his body to bloody ribbons.[20a] Despite the massive losses sustained by the southern tribes, the Norsii were successfully pushed out of the Cherusen and Taleuten lands. The defeat of the main horde also signalled the withdrawal of the Norsii forces raiding and besieging the lands of the Udoses.
Though the Norsii fought like madmen to protect their steads from their former victims, the battle was never in doubt. With a full 8,000 warriors outnumbering them by several magnitudes, and with no strong leader to unite them with the death of their high king, the fractious Norsii were forced to retreat further and further northwards to the coast of the Sea of Claws, where their wolfships were anchored. Their villages burned and plundered by the Men of the south, there was nothing left for them but to return to the northern wastelands of their birth. Sigmar's warmachines had smashed the longships to burning kindling, however, thus robbing the Norsii of their salvation.
By 954 IC, hundreds of Norscan warbands attempted invasions of the jungle continent, seeking to conquer it for the glory of the Chaos Gods. The first of these was the raid of Allec Fellclaw, whose horde of Norscan marauders marked the first full-scale Chaos invasion of Lustria since the fall of the Old Ones in the Great Catastrophe. Though his horde was driven back on their longships to the sea, they succeeded in plundering vast amounts of treasure, and the survivors returned to their tribes as wealthy men indeed.[2h]
Many thousands had already fallen to the whirlwind fury of Svengar's warhammers, and he was happy to see Marcus' resolve remain unshaken before him. With a guttural war cry, the jarl faced the Bretonnian Lord, their battle lasting for a full day and night, and the elements themselves arcing down from the blackened sky to lend even greater might to Svengar's blows.[47a] Alas for the Norscans, Marcus found renewed strength with the breaking of dawn's light and found an opening in the barbarian warlord's defence, striking a mighty blow that cleaved him in twain, sending his corpse down to the sea's watery embrace. Honouring their chieftain's oath, the Norscans drew up their anchors and unfurled their sails to return to their icy homeland.
As Geheimnistag came and cold winds began blowing, the people of Nordland let out a collective shudder of relief, for the break of winter marks the end of the Norscan raiding season.[6a] The Nordlanders thus turned their efforts to the long process of rebuilding but barely three days after the first breaking of winter, the Norscans returned to play out their last acts of brutality and carnage. The Gorequeen and her Huskarls fell upon the port city of Dietershafn, and great was the slaughter they brutally unleashed, the Norscans massacring the inhabitants with vicious abandon. Dreizacker quickly marshalled his ships to intercept the raiders at anchor but with a single throw of her great spear Slaupnir, Valkia smashed their entire fleet to bloody kindling.[6a]
Necessity thus drove the courageous Harold Dreizacker to make the journey southwards to Salzenmund, in order to beseech the Nordlander nobility to provide for their beleaguered subjects. However, he never returned from his journey. Some say he was slain by spies of the vengeful Norscans, while others clamour with angry voices that he was assassinated by the agents of the nobles who felt threatened by the fisherman's rising political clout among the commoners. Regardless, with Dreizacker's death, no aid came south from Salzenmund, meaning that only the hardiest folk of the harsh province survived the winter of 2398 IC.[6a]
Tzarina Katarin, a powerful practitioner of the native Ice Magics of her people, cast a spell that froze the bay of Nordland in its entirety, preventing yet more Norscan wolfships from making landfall and reinforcing their kinsmen.[4a] The aid of the Ice Witch allowed Karl Franz to engage the Chaos Marauder warbands one-by-one, isolating the horde and driving the Norscan warriors from the Empire. No sooner had his warmachines reduced the Norscan wolfships to kindling than the emperor had taken his armies and returned back to Reikland in the far south, albeit leaving a company of his personal guard -- the much-vaunted knights of the Reiksguard -- to aid Count Theodoric in mopping up the Chaos forces that remained.[4a]
The newly ascended emperor had only intervened in the fighting in order to prove his strength to those Elector Counts who had spoken out and decried his taking of the throne. With a laurel of victory secured, the southron prince had no desire to remain in the north, and believed the Norscans vanquished. A foolish belief, for the warriors of the north do not accept defeat willingly, and were readying themselves for another stand against their foes. Even more troubling, Gutrot Spume had survived the battle, and somehow found his way back to his tribe in Norsca. Raging at his defeat at the Reiklander's hands, Spume made his oath before the Urfather Nurgle, the Chaos God of disease and decay, that he would one day return to the south and take his vengeance.
Though the horde of Mortkin had later been driven back to the north by the timely arrival of the Reiksguard and the returned Count Valmir von Raukov, their victory had been hollow and phyrric -- for Ostland had been ravaged, her sons lay dead in their thousands, and her mightiest cities were now a flaming ruin. Ostland was now a funeral pyre for a fallen king -- a fire so mighty as to reach up and blind the gods themselves. A fitting end to the saga of Mortkin of Norsca.[4a]
The beleaguered defence of the city was bolstered by the knights of Bretonnia, led by their former king Louen Leoncoeur -- now freed from his kingly chains by the return of Gilles le Breton, the first king of Bretonnia who had been revealed at last as its fay Green Knight protector. The finest of the chivalry of the south followed Leoncoeur into the battle for the Imperial capital, and in them the Norscans were to find a foe worthy of their martial prowess. In addition to the flower of Bretonnian knighthood, the defenders of Altdorf were joined by the forces of the Empire's newest Elector Count -- the resurrected Vampire Lord of Sylvania, Vlad von Carstein.
Jarls and Chaos Champions attract warriors to their bands by dint of their personal strength and reputation as undefeated warleaders. Generally speaking a Norscan must make blood-oaths of loyalty to the chieftain, and from then on does the warrior take his place in the warband's battleline; sharing in the glorious bloodshed and death that often follows. In return, these warriors receive their share of the rewards that follows a successful battle, and receives their pick of weapons from the warband's Mound of Blades. Other such gifts a warrior may receive include arm-rings, Chaos Dwarf-forged armour, and, of course, new thralls.[7a]
A whaling vessel seldom returns without towing a slaughtered whale behind it, as it is considered better amongst Norscan whalers to submit to a watery grave than face the dishonour of returning to their villages empty-handed. When a vessel does return with the spoils of victory, any Norscan village or town has much to celebrate. Thanks and sacrifice are offered up to the Dark Gods, and much drinking occurs, lasting well into the week, for the survival of the village is now assured for the next many months.[51e]
And in the castle was set a board that was of the birchwood of Finlandyand it was upheld by four dwarfmen of that country but they durst notmove more for enchantment. And on this board were frightful swords andknives that are made in a great cavern by swinking demons out of whiteflames that they fix in the horns of buffalos and stags that thereabound marvellously. And there were vessels that are wrought by magic ofMahound out of seasand and the 369air by a warlock with 279his breath that heblares into them like to bubbles. And full fair cheer and rich was onthe board that no wight could devise a fuller ne richer. And there wasa vat of silver that was moved by craft to open in the which lay strangefishes withouten heads though misbelieving men nie that this be possiblething without they see it natheless they are so. And these fishes liein an oily water brought there from Portugal land because of the fatnessthat therein is like to the juices of the olivepress. And also it wasa marvel to see in that castle how by magic they make a compost out offecund wheatkidneys out of Chaldee that by aid of certain angry spiritsthat they do into it swells up wondrously like to a vast mountain. Andthey teach the serpents there to entwine themselves up on long sticksout of the ground and of the scales of these serpents they brew out abrewage like to mead. 2b1af7f3a8