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gillianvintage

Terra Nova: Zimograd larp (Kolfinna's story)

So, as some of you probably know, I love larp, especially when it has fantasy/steampunk setting with not too much rules to remember and a possibility for me to play characters that are important to me and that I use as a sort of psychodrama. I will go more into my own reasons for larping some other time, as I will write more about larp itself.

But now, I will post an in-character journal from Terra Nova: Zimograd larp, which was held on January 11th-13th. The story is simple - new land is discovered, and after the first wave of colonization, the second one comes (you can read more on the story here) I was playing a Viking girl named Kolfinna Bjornsdatir, who was cast away from her clan because she gave birth to an albino child. And here is what happened to her in Terra Nova:


Kolfinna's story

It could have easily been years instead of months I’ve spent in my solitaire cave after being banished from my home. Days went by in lone contemplation, always followed by tears spilt for my child, whose faith was unknown to me. Nightmares plagued my dreams, screams of my newborn son echoing in my ears as I would wake up, and loneliness threatened to take away my mind. The gods have truly cursed me, not with the child whose skin was white as snow, but instead with contempt and hatred of my entire clan. I was no longer to be called a Grimrung, no longer belonging, alone forever. But what was I supposed to do? The word of my shame had reached all clans and neither would offer me a place amongst them, now that I wasn’t a proper Viking woman anymore. So I dwelled in the cave for months, talking to myself and to the gods, dreaming of my lost child, waiting for death to come and claim me.

But one day, my solitude was interrupted by my sister Aessa, who came to express her regret over my bad fortune and complain about duties she had to take over because of my unfortunate exile. She was learning to become a healer for years now, and hated the work of a merchant, now forced upon her by our father. I was taught the art of trading, because our father had no sons and it had been upon me, as the eldest, to take over the family trade business. But since our father was the first to renounce me, Aessa was now forced to learn how to become a merchant as good as our father, and she wanted out of it. So she told me of her plan – we would go to the newly discover land far across the sea, and trade deals there so good that our father – and the rest of the Grimrung clan – would be forced to recognize that I was no longer cursed. I hesitated for a moment, wondering if I would be able to live again amongst those who renounced me so readily – but something was drawing me to the new land, something strong and irresistible, as if gods themselves spoke to me, telling me to go across the great sea. So I agreed to Aessa plans, and slept that night peacefully at last, somehow knowing I would find something valuable – perhaps even my son – there.

And so Aessa and I travelled for days and weeks, accompanied by her husband Ulf, a strong warrior but of little words, who I believe found me more insane than I truly was. We arranged for a drakkar to take us to the shores of the Terra Nova (as the Ardonian colonists called the newly discovered land) and walked to the settlement of Zimograd by foot, in company of few people from another ship – a charming, yet doubtfully honest pirate Jelly Squid, a rat-slaying warrior whose name I constantly kept forgetting (maybe because of one night during which I drank a bit too much and bothered him a lot with my sad story) and a Mongolian horse tamer named Sor… Sor… well, we called her Sore, who tried to seduce Aessa, much to Ulf’s disapproval, which led to some intense friction in our small group.

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The night was freezing when we finally reached Zimograd, a small settlement in the middle of the forest, and something dark was in the air, as if darkness itself was watching us. It was warm and swarming with people inside – they travelled to Terra Nova from many lands, and I barely recognized some traditional dresses, for instance a group of Picts whose legs were amazingly naked in the cold, and their faces painted with blue tribal symbols. But the greatest surprise was to find a Viking there – and a handsome one, I must say – a skald named Yngvar who, until then, believed he was the last Viking remaining in the world. And here the gods showed their will in the first of many “coincidences” – Yngvar’s clan was wiped out from this world by a horrible ice storm, the same one that happened exactly nine months before I gave birth to my white-skinned son. We shared drinks and I wanted to talk to him more, but Aessa was all business and she dragged me to the governor Flavius to introduce ourselves. We shared some bread and salt with him, and Aessa’s true intentions soon became clear – besides trading, her goal was to find me a suitable husband! It embarrassed me a lot, to have her practically offer me to any man who would seem like a good catch, especially to the leader of the Pict fiana who, while I must admit was very handsome and skilled with a sword, seemed too full of himself even for Viking standards.

But, all of that became less important when strange, dangerous shadows begun attacking the settlement from the dark. Many were wounded, and the shadows were difficult to defeat, but luckily there were some very skilled warriors there to fight them, and Zimograd had its own home guard.

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To my surprise, the Mongolian (who seemed to completely lose interest in my sister once we got there, although there were very few other women there) joined the guard and proved to be quite efficient in swordfight. But none of them were able to help me when one shadow begun taunting me about my son and offering me immortality, and then dragged me into a strange world beyond, where everything was cold and frozen, yet terrifyingly beautiful. In that frozen forest, which was not of this world, I heard the cries of my son, felt him close, and saw the light of something that I was supposed to find… It felt horrible, yet sweet, and I suddenly knew that, if I were to find the glowing thing named Maral, which used to belong to someone named Muriel, I would be rewarded not only with immortality, but with the embrace of my son as well.

What followed, I barely remember. They told me later I had been possessed by a shadow, yet I remember so little about it… I can recall being bound and knocked unconscious, running through the dark forest while weeping Aessa tried to hold me back, throwing away our family fortune because nothing mattered anymore, nothing except finding the artifact that glowed in the dark and thus earning to finally hold my child again…

The first thing I clearly remember was the touch of a creature made of earth – Mold, they called him – that banished the shadows away from me, leaving me confused and ashamed and seeking forgiveness from my sister, from Yngvar, from anyone whom I have hurt in my possessed, cold fury. Yngvar comforted me and told me how he lost his wife and children in the storm – and suddenly I realized he was the only one who could fully understand how it was to lose your child and the entire clan, and to remain alone in the world, losing your place in the world. I told him my story, and then he asked me would I stay in Terra Nova and start a new life there, as his wife. My heart begun to pound strongly and I barely found the words, wondering was this how it felt to be in love?... So I happily accepted his proposal, and we went to share the news with Aessa.

My sister, of course, was not easy to persuade. Not even a horde of shadows would make her give up old Viking marital traditions, so she demanded of Yngvar to prove himself worthy. The ceremony – held by traditional ways of our people, of course – would be held the next day, and since we were officially in New Ardonia, it would have to include Ardonian priest as well. Aessa was not happy with it, but she agreed, mostly because Yngvar was the only Viking there, so it was the closest to “normal” she could get for her sister (not to mention he had already proven himself to be able to father children with normal skin colour). So, after few more attacks of those horrible shadows, I went to sleep with happiness in my heart, for I was about to finally find my own place in the world, as a true Viking woman should.

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The next morning was clear and beautiful, and the forest surrounding the settlement now seemed tame and not dangerous at all. So Aessa and I took a walk around it, taking some time to talk and connect more as sisters, while we searched for herbs for her to refill her supplies and discovered unknown kinds of plants. She confided in me that she was pregnant and, after a few touching moments of sisterly closeness, we continued planning my wedding. Then we were joined by the Ardonian priest named Zsolrad who turned out to be very polite and intelligent, so I found myself liking him despite my sister’s suspiciousness. He even helped us collect some pine cones for my wedding garnish. Aessa and I then finally managed to discuss trade business with the incredibly busy governor Flavius, and reached the mutually satisfactory agreement – if the test ride of our drakkar proves successful, the governor will accept our offer for supplying the fleet of New Ardonia with drakkars, and I would be in charge of the that business in Terra Nova. That finally satisfied my sister enough so she set to organizing the wedding with full force.

I, on the other hand, decided to get to know my future husband and his work better, so I spent some time with him when he returned from the guard patrol with a strange, wizardly looking staff. Since he was not as literate as me, I helped him read the runes on the staff – they spoke of magic and marked the artifact as Maral, the same thing that the shadows wanted me to find for them (and presumably destroy, which makes me shudder). Brother Zsolrad, Yngvar and I all knew stories about time long ago, when ice giants pillaged the earth, followed by even more horrible, nameless creatures of the night that would leave their victims screaming in terror, and often without memory of the encounter. It was believed that such horrors were put to an end by strong warriors and mighty sorcerers – and it turned out that Muriel, the former owner of the staff, was a powerful sorceress that once saved this land from the invasion of dark shadows, by sacrificing herself and her warriors in the surge of powerful magic.

Some powerful magic was performed on the staff as well, by one of the natives called Tuk-u that was present. We watched in awe as he mumbled magical words and spread his magic all around the staff – and then told us that the staff can be used to stop the shadows forever, and we would all be doomed if it fell into their hands. So, we did the only sensible thing and, while the sun was getting dangerously close to setting, hurried the wedding. (Well, if the shadows take me again or even kill me, I thought, at least I will die as a properly wed Viking woman, alongside her husband.)

We quickly assembled two parties, one to defend me, and one to attack so Yngvar could prove his worthiness by seizing me from their protection.

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And since it was an obvious will of the gods that we get together, he succeeded and, in a show of incredible strength and courage, kidnapped and carried me all around the building, proving himself to me, to my sister, to the world, and more important, to the gods.

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We said our vows before the guard captain’s right hand, McDougal, who tied up our hands together, and drank from the same bottle as true Vikings should, sealing thus our connection. The words of Brother Zsolrad, as Ardonian priest, were short, but filled with meaning and happiness, so I became a married woman not just in the eyes of the Viking people, but by the Ardonian law as well.

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(Yngvar, along with two other men, was at some point taken by the shadows – who continued their attacks even while the sun was still up – and lost the memory of the wedding… but since we managed to restore all their memories thanks to the mighty cook/healer/ex witch Salima, who channeled our energy through the staff into those three poor fellows, it is not really worth mentioning. The magical circle and the staff, though, proven useful for the protection spell we managed to put on the entire settlement, so perhaps it is worth mentioning.)

Since I, through marrying a man who lived in New Ardonia for six months, kinda became Ardonian, it was proper for me to participate in the Day of the Eternity (Ardonian main holiday, if I understood correctly), so Yngvar and I composed a song together which he then told before everyone (well, actually, since it was written down, I whispered the lines to him, like a true Viking wife should, and then he would tell them):

Lo’ and behold, across the oceans deep

We came to new land, and now a promise we keep

A land of future, a land of new hope

Seen on the horizon in navigator’s scope

Stranded landed, we reached the shore

But found the danger we did not hope for

Warriors brave fought the shadows of dark

But our presence did leave a mark

Half of the year has already gone by

It was fleeting, fast, as if it could fly

United together, we took our vows

Before the gods, even a shadow bows

Shadows, we swear, will be no more

This time we will strike their very core

Many were impressed by the skill of my skald husband, I must say, and many approved the heroic tone of the song filled with hope, so we shared many drinks with the others. Other prayers were read and put on the small altar as well, and although it was all a bit too monotheistic for me, it was really touching and beautiful.

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One unfortunate event spoiled it a bit, though – Brother Zsolrad was accused by some templars of desecrating the altar to the Emperor, so they wanted to take away his priesthood and imprison him. Since I saw how devoted the Ardonian priest was, it was impossible to believe he would do something like that, a since I have finally found my place in the world, I acted as a true Viking should – I stood in the defense of the wrongly accused priest. Unfortunately, my word didn’t mean a lot to the templars, but at least the guard took over and promised a fair trial for him.

But it didn’t do him much good in the end, for he was found murdered, and Yngvar had to investigate alongside others from the guard. Being a proper Viking woman, I assisted my husband and his captain as good as I could, but before we could determine who killed the priest, his body went missing. Suspecting there was more to the disappearance than everyone thought, Yngvar and I searched the forest – and there he was, our Ardonian friend Zsolrad, undead but still himself, demanding for the justice in the form of duel with the templar who wrongly accused him, and saying it was the templar’s assistant who killed him. We were both wordlessly touched by his despair and pleas for justice, and we gave him our word, as friends and as Vikings, that he would get what he’s entitled to. And we said our goodbyes, promising we would meet again in Valhalla one day.

The templar accepted the terms to this duel (to the death, with no assistance from others) and went to fight the priest, and Yngvar and I were the only ones watching the duel (which was, I must say, more impressive than any I’ve ever witnessed, greatly due to the now-supernatural nature of Zsolrad’s moves). Then the templar’s assistant interfered, attempting to help his master, so we had to disarm him and argue against the guard and everybody else since our friend’s honor was at stake – but in the end, Zsolrad was satisfied by the spilt blood and left to the afterlife, and the templar was healed, although I couldn’t stand the sight of his falsely righteous face again.

The shadows continued their attacks, and since more and more people were being wounded, I took my place in the fight by my husband’s side, as a true Viking woman should. And not only shadows – we were now plagued by some ancient warriors risen from the dead as well – but the help came through the unexpected appearance of two mysterious and wise Tuk-u people (although I’m not certain about their motives – they didn’t seem like they truly want to help us, and I was sure I heard them mutter something about killing us and thus getting rid of us).

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Still, Tuk-u are peaceful people who refuse to fight (although they do have some form of staring dueling, similar to Viking insult dueling, I suppose), so the fighting was up on our shredding numbers – many ended wounded, and I myself almost died when a shadow – Blackeyed, they called it – challenged me to a duel after I attacked it fiercely when it cut down Yngvar. But the gates of Valhalla were still closed to us, so we both got healed, and the shadows defeated – for now. For the Tuk-u people invoked the earth-made creature, the Mold, and it told us that we must move from that place, for we have disturbed the spirits of those buried in the ancient runes deep below, where mighty seals put by Muriel hold the unthinkable evil at bay. But now the seals are broken, and we must abandon Zimograd and leave it to its ghosts, and travel to the shore where another seal awaits us.

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The Mold also found it appropriate to give the Tuk-u woman some sort of powers, and to the Mongolian (whose name turned out to be Sorqoqtani, so I’ll continue calling her Sore) – and of course, to Yngvar (which only strengthened my sister’s belief he was truly a great catch for me). Sore decided to celebrate her new powers by taking the captain of the guard to the forest where she took his virginity away (although he later claimed it was he who was in charge of situation), and I was glad to have everybody’s attention on this (pretty loud, I must say) coupling instead on my and Yngvar’s wedding night.

To conclude this journal (the first of many, I am sure): I, Kolfinna Bjornsdatir, the wife of skald Yngvar Haraldsonn, now call this land, Terra Nova, my new home, and will defend it alongside my husband against creatures of the dark until the gods decide to take us both to Valhalla. In the meantime, since my sister Aessa was quite generous with her wedding gift, we are going to have our own brewery. Therefore, my skills as a merchant will not go to a waste.

And my white-skinned son… I know that this land holds the key to the mystery of his conception and birth. One day, I hope, I will get the answers I seek. Until then, I remain hopeful and proud, as a true Viking woman should be.

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