by Martin Laurie
On Sunday at the latest Seattle Mini-con we played a LARP (live action role-playing) run by Jeff Richard set just before the break-up of the Malani and the formation of the LIsmelder tribe in 1352.
Amazingly enough things went more or less as historically written and the whole LARP showed, with great vividness, the tensions and personality clashes that ripped the tribe apart.
This was the "cast" listed alphabetically
Namold Treebrother - Clan Chief: Andrew Mellinger
Lismelder - Ernalda Priestess: Pam Carlson
Barngradus Black Spear -King of the Colymar : David Dunham
Orlev the Tall - Clan Chief: Brad Furst
Frodi Strongblade: Paul Heinz
Erland Malansson: Martin Laurie
Lornar Greydog -Tribal Brewer: Dave Pearton
Mad-Blood Malan - King of the Malani: Gregg Richard
Kogall Thunderer - Tribal Storm Voice: Neil Robinson
Indrodar Greydog - Tribal Champion: Dana Schack
I played Erland Malansson.
(Erland is a sociopathic Humakti bully-boy. He had 4 main goals at the start of the LARP:)
(As you can see, a paragon of virtue....)
This is Erland's Story:
I stood with the others at the moot. I was bored. My old dad, Mad-Blood Malan, was getting heavily drunk as usual and everyone was talking like an Issaries bargainer. Especially that sheep-fucker Frodi. I wanted to kill that bastard so badly. Just rip his heart out right in front of my sister and let her do something about it with her "oh so important" Ernalda magics. Daft bitch. What we needed was a good killing.
Dad slurred his way through the years events and we all had a chance to speak. Of course, I spoke for war with the Colymar but their King, Barngradus, was a wily git and had been spreading his wealth about our tribe trying to buy us off. I know this cos I took a big herd of cows off him to support peace. Yeah, me support peace! About as much chance of that as Ragnaglar deciding to be celibate. Those Colymar ain't as Lhankor Mhy bright as they think they are. To think, they'd extracted the Orlkar tribute from my father all those years ago! See what happens when a tribe goes soft?
Anyways I figured things were getting tense in the tribe and it was time to choose sides. I couldn't stomach being with my sister and her cronies. The Greydogs and her husbands' kin were all set against war. The tribal brewer, Lornar Greydog was all for peace and his word, or more likely his beer, carried a lot of weight in the Tribe. Indrodar Greydog was tribal Champion and Humakti like me but thats where the similarity ended. I mean this guy never lied and never twisted his "honour", even if it meant getting killed! He had a backbone so stiff I bet he had to shit standing up! Me? I just wanted blood and plunder so naturally I went to see my dad.
My old dad. What a great fellow. Mad-Blood Malan was more beer than blood in those days but when he got mad the old Malan burned through and Orlanth help any bastard who got in his way. I told him I wanted war and I told him that I would support him, including killing any broo-eating bastard who gave him shit. I said it like this. "Look, me old dad, everyone hates me anyhows and I kind of like the slitting of throats and the stabbing of chests so if you want someone dead but you don't want finger-pointing in the Moot then I'll do it and take the feuds, as long as you back me well when it gets messy."
Dad looked at me hard for a while, grinned his smashed-tooth grin and clapped me on the shoulder happily. After I picked myself off the floor we had a beer together and discussed plans. Me old dad was so pleased he said he'd make me a member of the Tribal Ring. Well naturally, I lapped that up. To protect him if things got flakey he was going to make me Ginna Jar, spirit of the tribe! Imagine that, Erland Malansson, the spirit of the Tribe!?! Well this was too rich to pass up knowing what a pisser that would be for my sister and her husband so I said yes and thanked him greatly.
Knowing that the next Moot would be interesting, I went-a-wandering among the folk of the tribe to see what else I could stir up. My sword companions were with me wherever I went as I didn't put a bit of secret murder beyond anyone in our family. Well I would do it so why wouldn't anyone else?
I went to see Orlev the Tall and he was in a foul mood. He always was in a foul mood since those damn Varmandi bandits had raided his place and Varmand himself had taken the Orleving's battle banner in the last battle against Borngold before Barngradus offed him with the Black Spear
I didn't hold Orlev's cowardice against him. I'd been by my dad's side in the Afritha Vale when the Varmandi raided the Tree Brothers and believe me, I'd have legged it if I'd been Orlev too. Varmand isn't a fellow to fight without making sure he's asleep or shagging his wife to give you a bit of an edge. You know what I mean? Varmand the Strong they call him! Strong? Shit, he split my shield in one blow and knocked me ten paces backward to land flat on my arse. Naturally I stayed there to keep out of the fight and pretended to heal. I'd done my heroism for that day.
Anyway, me and Orlev shared a fair few beers and I commiserated with him. He wanted vengence and when I brought up how the Varmandi had only stolen most of his crops and cows to pay the tribute to the Colymar and how obvious it was that the Colymar were behind it all, he got quite enraged. It was fun to see. I don't think the Colymar were popular with Orlev after that little bit of truth, no sir! Amazing what the straight tongue of a Humakti can cause if applied correctly....
The Moot was called but beforehand Malan got the four -- soon to be appointed -- members of the Tribal RIng together. To my annoyance, Frodi was there. The whining maggot was going to be Fleshman of the Tribe.
Dad had brought Frodi in to ensure the peace faction supported the war. Frodi was a big man among them and dubious of the whole thing but my dad had been cunning and had only talked of war with the Varmandi. The peace faction bought this, trusting fools. They didn't want to fight the Colymar, protective as they were of their trade rights with them , which would be lost if we went to war. Idiots. Anyone knew that if all the Malani hit the Varmandi at once instead of in bits we'd crush them and the Colymar were bound to step in on the Varmandi side. Not that they had any love of them or anything but they were between us and them, a handy fact for the Colymar and not something they'd want to see destroyed.
So Malan made us all swear to support war in return for our places on the Ring. Even Frodi swore to it and the King called a moot.
He announced the places on the Tribal Ring and there was some groans when I was announced as Ginna Jar. I just grinned, I remembered those bastards later. Then we all spoke for war. Well nearly all of us. When it was Frodi's turn he instead broke his word and spoke against war and woefully expressed his fears that a war with the Varmandi would bring in the Colymar and we'd all be doomed.
Stating the bloody obvious was always a thing with Frodi.
Anyway, his oratory was pretty stirring and quite a few of the Clan were swayed but we were okay for votes as Orlev the Tall and Namold Tree-Brother of the Afritha Vale Clan, who was the Tribal Lightbringer, were for war. So was my dad and so was I. We had enough people behind us to carry it when that bastard Lornar Greydog spoke up and quoted an old precedent that a Moot discussing war should only be raised in a Death Week. We checked with the Lawspeaker and he said it was so and that we couldn't vote on it. The Moot ended without war on the Colymar being agreed and all because Frodi broke his word.
We left the Moot following Malan who was totally enraged. I was feeling quite happy because this might be my chance to kill Frodi with support from my Dad. I said "We should kill him dad, the bastard oathbreaker!" Orlev was there too and was angry that his war of vengence against the Colymar was stalled once more. "Let me kill him for you my King!" Yells out Orlev. Malan turns to us and with that death glare of his he said: "Kill him. Kill him NOW!"
We roared our anger and headed out though I made sure Orlev managed to outpace me, hoping he'd do the killing for me. He followed Frodi Strongblade from the Moot and set upon him. Frodi wasn't called Strongblade for nothing and he soon began to give Orlev a bad time. I think Orlev would have fallen then, for all his fury, if Malan had not seperated the fight with his Huscarls.
So Frodi wasn't going to die.
Well that wasn't good enough for me so I called on my spirit severing Sword of Humakt and hurled it at Frodi. Humakt answered and he died right there in front of us. I kicked his body a bit and spat on him just to make my feelings known. I had killed him and there for was no coming back for Frodi, Humakti that he was! It felt great to finally get him. Others weren't so happy.
When Lismelder, Frodi's husband, found out, she cried out in anger and swore a secret oath of vengence. She used the powers of Ernalda against me and called on her old friend Indrodar Greydog to right this "great wrong and terrible injustice". Unfortunately by killing Frodi I had placed myself slightly on the wrong side of the law and Indrodar had been primed to kill me to correct his narrow view of an injustice.
Before Frodi was even cold Indrodar challenged me. Naturally I accepted to look the part of a carefree fellow but I made sure that some of my friends entertained Indrodar that night and the next day they failed to wake him from his drunken stupour and he didn't show up at the duel.
It only slowed him for a while though and he challenged me again. I had another trick up my sleeve though. I agreed to the fight but swore not to raise a hand against him. If he smote me and I did not die then Humakt had been on my side in the Killing and Indrodar would have no reason to challenge me further. Indrodar agreed to this and when he smote me I called on my shield of Humakt and was not slain.
Indrodar, stiff kneck that he was, agreed that justice had been done and that I was indeed sanctioned by Humakt. If that had not been the case then I would surely have died. Sme people will buy anything won't they?
My survival enraged my dear sister and her friends. She sent a whole heap of her followers to kill me in my stead and burn it down around my ears. I was fortunate for my good friend; Narnold of the Afritha was near with his Huscarls. He saw this act and stepped in, scaring off the Lismelder raiders.
This only served to enrage them further and Lornar Greydog sent his own Kin to burn my stead and kill me in the middle of the night. I awoke and strode out to meet them. I said "You come to kill me? I am Erland Malansson, Ginna Jar of the Malani! You cannot slay me for I am the spirit of our tribe, the soul of our people! You cannot stand against me for if you do, you stand against yourselves! Begone!" I can bullshit like the rest of them when I want to. The idiots were intimidated and fled, leaving me to survive another day.
When Malan recovered from a gargantuan drinking contest he tried to find a concensus among the tribe. He organised everyone to agree to a peace and end all feuds. His powers of persuasion were great and we almost succeeded, backed as they were by threats of force. I was feeling happy that things were going my way when everything went to hell.
Indrodar stode into our meeting and stated, in that ironclad way he had, that he hat to fight a duel of justice. I smiled. I wondered idly which poor fool would feel the mighty champions blade. He looked round and declared. "I must challenge....Erland."
I looked around thinking he meant someone else. When I realised he meant me I said: "What the bloody hell is it now?"
"The test of truth you performed was not just. Justice must be served."
I had a sinking feeling. I accepted the fight, not much else I could do. Then I knew it was another Lismelder plot because my evil sister announced that I was cursed by Ernalda and I would die in the fight.
When the fight came I used my battle skills granted me by Humakt but that barely made it an even fight with the curse slowing me at every step and I saw no other way of cheating. Blade to blade I fought Indrodar and after a great fight he hammered me to the ground. I was going to die.
One of my father's Huscarls stepped in under his orders and parried the blow. The whole group pushed Indrodar off the field and I was saved. I guess being loyal to my old dad had its advantages eh?
This caused an even greater uproar. Indrodar challenged me again and resolved to cut me down whether it took his whole lifetime or not. I had to fight him again but my father cast his own magic upon me and using his powers of command against one of his servants he forbade Indrodar to use his own magics in defence. The edge I gained was enough and I killed Indrodar as dead as Grandfather Mortal. He was a great champion but too stiff knecked for his own good. Served him right, the pompous git.
Then my father retreated into his old solace -- booze -- and the tribe went berserk. Barngradus, the sneaky bastard, offered sanctuary to any Malani who would leave the tribe. Lismelder, Lornar, Kogall and *** Frodisson all agreed to leave and formed their own ring taking their people with them.
While my father was drunk I tried to organise Orlev and Narmold to raise their Fyrds to attack the "Lismelder" before they could flee. They were indecisive and didn't want to act till the King spoke. When he did, he made it clear. "Let's kill them ALL!" He roared and made us all the representatives of his Ring, we summoned all the tribal Fyrd and marched after the fleeing Lismelder.
When we caught up with them much of the host of the Colymar was with them too and though we had the numbers they had the foul magics of the Colymar to back them.
Malan led the charge with me at his side.
First the traitorous Kogall, King of the new Lismelder, hurled a Thunderbolt from the skies and Malan was saved only by his Carl Guard. As we closed on Barngradus he hurled forth the Black Spear and it impaled my father, iron armour and all.
As he died at my feet I rallied Orlev and Namold and asked them to agree to my Kingship. This they did, knowing they'd be well rewarded. Rallying our Fyrd we drove the Colymar and Lismelder off the field but failed to destroy them uttery. Since then though they have never returned to their old lands and the Malani are as strong, if not stornger, than ever for getting rid of those weak weasels.
Me, I'm King now and though I haven't got Lornar's beer to keep me happy, there are plenty of other amusements. It's good to be King and I deserve it all and more! I'm Erland Malansson, King of the Malani but once I was the spirit of our Tribe. How fitting that was.
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