Author Topic: A vignette - Nords and Rhodoks  (Read 1017 times)

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rnaD86

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A vignette - Nords and Rhodoks
« on: November 06, 2016, 10:12:47 AM »
[Hello, this is my first post. I did my best to pick an apropriate sub-forum but if I screwed up I apologize.

Anyway, I'm a Rhodok guy through and through, but after watching too much Vikings and binge-reading Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Tales I became more interested in Nords. And then a thought hit me - how would a typical Nord view Rhodoks? My brain grabbed the idea and ran with it, and the results are below.

DISCLAIMER: this was written in all of twenty minutes, so it's probably pretty rough around the edges. My knowledge of sailing and early-Medieval Scandinavian culture is rudimentary, and I make some hefty assumptions about the Nords. Obviously I love me some Rhodoks, so that colors the piece too. If somebody thinks I could do with a second arsehole, have at it!

Picture two Nord warriors chatting around a campfire and off we go...]

"Have you seen Swadian cavalry charge in the open field? They come at you like great angry waves, and the sound of their hooves is like a roaring thunder.

You' ve sailed in the storms before - cowards will whimper and look away, unwilling to face their doom; but brave men hold firm their oars, and fight with the till to stay the course. They do not look away - they gaze undaunted at the angry waves; they fear not the sound of thunder. Die they well might, for no man can thwart Fate, but they know their only hope of life is to ride out the storm until the very end.

For the Rhodoks, their spears are their oars, and their crossbows are their tills. For years they rode out the storm coming at them from Swadia. They will hold firm and gaze at the storm until the end - be it victory or ruin."
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world because they'd never expect it.

A_Mustang

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Re: A vignette - Nords and Rhodoks
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2016, 05:29:49 PM »
This is good. I would have liked to see the setting fleshed out in the text; perhaps have a young, junior warrior being lectured by a grizzled veteran, but the actual text is very well done. I do like the concept as well. The two factions with no cavalry comparing themselves to each other, as rivals, is something that may well happen in the background of the M&B setting.
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rnaD86

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Re: A vignette - Nords and Rhodoks
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2016, 06:05:09 PM »
Glad you liked it. :)

I tried to flesh the whole scene out and write more of a narrative piece but everything I'd added felt uninspired and superfluous by comparison. Mostly because I had no idea how to actually get two Nords talking about Rhodoks in the first place. :)
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world because they'd never expect it.

rnaD86

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Re: A vignette - Nords and Rhodoks
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2016, 01:26:34 PM »
[A longer narrative piece this time, musing over a recent playthrough. I enjoy writing Bunduk, but decided to have a try at writing some others. Just in case, I own nothing and merely play with other people's toys from time to time.]

It was unfair, Graeghan knew, to say that Rhodoks took to riding about as well as stones took to swimming. Unfair, but he was fast becoming convinced it was nothing more than the truth.
Bunduk, naturally, rallied to defend his countrymen.
"They're poor lads from the mountains," he argued. "They don't get to practice riding much in the hills. They're eager to learn and enthusiastic, and it was your idea to put Rhodok crossbowmen on horses in the first place."
"An idea I got from your people."
"Yes, and did you ever wonder why you've seen so few mounted crossbowmen among them?"
Graeghan knew he was right, but that day he'd received a report that some of his enterprises were bringing losses again, and his mood was testier than usual.
"You're a poor lad from the mountains yourself," he pointed out. "And you ride as well as can be expected from anyone who wasn't weaned on horse's milk in the steppes. What do you have that others don't?"
"Experience," said Bunduk, and there was a sudden tinge of iron in his voice. "I'd soldiered my way through Calradia twice over before I settled down back in Jelkala. I've seen a lot, learned a lot, and killed people of all races and creeds. You'd do well to remember that, young sir."
Graeghan had no wish to quarrel with Bunduk, whom he came to respect and admire in their time together. The man was a fierce patriot, and Graeghan knew he shouldn't have needled him like he did.
He walked away from the field where Bunduk was putting Rhodok recruits through the paces, and moved over to where the manhunters were stationed. They were an unusual bunch, these protectors of peace and justice, clad in a distinctly Sarranid style, and riding mounts which stood out among the horses of Calradia. Some of them - the most experienced ones, whom the other dubbed "Chiefs" - even rode elephants. If somebody told Graeghan at the outset that he'd come to command a force with elephants in it, he'd think their wits were addled.
Rolf was thoroughly unimpressed early on.
"If I were to venture my opinion sir," he said one day, "this lot couldn't catch pox from a camp follower. Elephants indeed! Big ungainly things that eat as much as ten men, and are less use than one!"
"They seem to be doing well enough so far," Graeghan pointed out.
"Indeed, against looters whose weapons and armors are more rust than steel; and against brigands from the hills who think a skirt is a proper man's dress. If they ever come against men from the plains, they're dead. Those wear proper armor, all chainmail and hard leather, and their bows rarely miss."
"Like yours does, my lord?" Graeghan asked innocently, and watched with satisfaction as Rolf spluttered, reddened, and decided he had urgent matters to attend to at the other end of the camp.
It was more or less open secret that Rolf used to waylay travellers in Swadian forests once upon a time, though Graeghan often thought that it does not preclude him from being an impoverished noble. Even Bunduk finally conceeded that though he added, with a gleam in his eye, that there isn't much difference between a robber and a blueblood.
At any rate, Rolf was wrong. The manhunters, backed up by horse archers and some heavier cavalry, performed admirably, and Graeghan earned good coin selling off their captives. Astonishingly, none of his companions objected - not even Sajjad who went on endlessly about atonement and redemption. Maybe he thought rowing on the galleys was a proper way to atone as well.
Graeghan moved through the camp inspecting his men. The Nords, whose skills with throwing weapons made them as dangerous from a distance as they were at close quarters; the Vaegirs, horse archers the likes of which Graeghan rarely seen even during his time in the Khergit Khanate; and Sarranids who, once properly trained, were a cavalry force to be reckoned with.
His band was growing as his fame was growing. This was good, but it carried perils.
"Penny for your thoughts, laddie?" came a voice from behind him. Graeghan was so deep in thoughts that he didn't notice Katrin coming towards him.
"I'm thinking we're doing well for ourselves," he answered.
"Aye, that we do," she said. "I could probably retire tomorrow, and live out my days in comfort."
Graeghan said nothing. Katrin mentioned retirement every once in a while, but he thought that soldier's life suited her just fine. Besides, she and Bunduk seemed to get along, and that man would retire only with an axe in his skull.
"I received another offer of vassalage today, Katrin." He confided after some silence.
"Who is it this time?"
"Doge Graveth. It's either him or Khan Sanjar - they're the only ones who still keep trying."
"Why don't you accept it then? Get a fief, get a place at the king's table, mybe get a wife. Worse things can happen to a man, laddie, than throwing in his lot with a powerful monarch."
"Better too," Graeghan retorted. "I'd rather be my own man. Fight for myself, get rich for myself. If I ever need a piece of land, I'll take it myself as well."
"You're risking making powerful enemies, boy."
"I know," Graeghan sighed. "And a time may come when I have no choice but to accept. But as long as I'm able, I'll make my fortune with this." He patted the hilt of his sabre.
Katrin said nothing, and just stared off into the distance. The sun was setting, painting the hills and the trees with red and orange of a raging fire.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2016, 03:28:19 PM by Graeghan »
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world because they'd never expect it.

rnaD86

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Re: A vignette - Nords and Rhodoks
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2017, 11:17:00 AM »
Back in the days of the old Empire, so Graeghan's father told him, Dhirim was the biggest, most prosperous city in Calradia. Located right in the middle of the continent, it naturally invited traders from all over to stop by and try to peddle some of their wares on the way. The citizens grew rich, the merchants grew rich, everyone was happy.

That was then.

Since the fall of the empire, the location of Dhirim made it a natural target for each and every army marching through the land - controlling it meant being able to launch an assault wherever one plased; everyone knew it, and so, everyone fought control the city and to keep others from controlling it. At least once, Graeghan recalled, Dhirim changed owners three times within a week. Trade ground to a halt, buildings fell into disrepair, the people - a shaggy, malnourished lot, dressed in rags - greeted each arriving conqueror with indifference of people who couldn't even spare the strength for fear.

Once, Graeghan's father told him, "rich as a Dhirim peddler" was a byword for prosperity. Not anymore though.

Graeghan felt a momentary pang of guilt at his incoming part in the latest attempt to gain control of the city. Then he buckled on his sword, slung a quiver of arrows over his shoulders and the shield across his back, grabbed his bow, and went to join the attackers.
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world because they'd never expect it.