Skalf Ranulfson was the chieftains eldest son. he was still full of the fire of youth, strong, irresponsible and reckless. He was bigger and stronger than many of the tribe and proud.
His father wanted him to learn how to be a true leader, so that he could step into his shoes when the time came. To learn the responsibilities that were needed to lead and tend to the well-being of the entire tribe. But Skalf thought there was plenty of time to learn the trappings and routines of a tribal chieftain. Theirs was a strong and healthy tribe, with a large settlement that betimes had to either fend off or treat with their neighbouring rivals.
There were rumours circulating amongst the tribes, that strangers from the south were marching upon the lands of his people and those of the other tribes around. Skalf’s father and several chieftains went to intercept these interlopers and find out what their intents were.
What was supposed to be a peaceful meeting turned quickly into a massacre as the outsiders set upon the chieftains and their small cohort of followers.
A bloodied survivor returned back to the settlement with the horrific news of what had transpired at the meeting. Enraged, Skalf ignored the pleas of the remaining elders of the tribe. He was now cheiftain and his first act was to seek vengeance for the murder of his father. He rallied every man able to bear arms they adorned themselves with the ash of the tribal fire and the rushed to slay the invaders from the south. They met with the outsiders upon a plain as thunder rolled and heavy rains fell from on high, the tribesmen were wild, strong and fierce. They were raging bears, snapping wolves. They bore hatred and sent a thrill of fear throughout the enemy. But the invaders were well armed, armoured and versed in the arts of war. It was only a matter of time until every one of Skalf’s kinsmen fell to the superior fighting skills of the invaders from the south.
Skalf remembers little of the battle. He remembers wearing the mantle of death, sowing terror among the invaders as he broke their front line sowing death as he lunged here and there among them. He remembers rage, confusion and pain. He remembers taking several of the invaders down before he had to give in to his many bleeding wounds. The cold sucking mud enveloping him as his life slipped away and he awaited the Valkyrie.
He woke screaming, tearing himself from the vice-like grip of the dry earth. Raining dirt, dust and debris, in a panic he coughed out large clods of dry dirt from his mouth and throat, yet realised that he wasn’t struggling to breathe anyway. He felt pain and thirst like nothing he had experienced before. It was night, cold and dark. He could see no signs of the battle, so fresh in his memory. Confused, he searched briefly around and found his fallen gear in the dry packed dirt beside where he had fallen.
Something felt powerfully wrong, where were the bodies of his kinsmen?
He hurried back to the settlement as fast as his aching body would take him. He was met with a ight that brought despair. The settlement had been razed to the ground, there were signs that battle had raged here. But impossibly it seemed that it must have happened many moons ago. No smoke or fire from the ruined remains of the buildings. No corpses of his kin or cooling pools of blood to show evidence of what had happened. It was as if his people had not been here for a long time. How long had the earth held him?
He must now be the last of his tribe. He went back to the thought that had started this series of events, vengeance. He would find the slayers of his kin and destroy them. He could find nothing to slake his thirst among the ruins of his settlement, he tried to drink from a nearby mountain stream and it made him sick. And so he began to walk southward, his body protesting with every step, every inch of him burning with thirst.
As he stumbled through the darkened forest, he snapped to attention when he heard voices. He was drawn to the sound like a moth to flame. Three men in a small clearing sat around a fire eating a modest meal furtively looking about them at times into the wood. Skalf was wary of approaching these strangers directly, but as he neared his hunger and thirst were almost uncontrollable. He felt a touch of fear when he drew closer to the light of the fire, which he didn’t quite understand. He managed to work out from their conversation that they were bandits and cut-throats that operated nearby. A momentary lapse as he approached and he broke twig beneath his booted foot. The bandits sprang to their feet as one, their weapons readied. Skalf stepped quietly back into the deeper shadow and felt the darkness wash over him, helping him to remain hidden from their sight. They fanned out to search the area and Skalf crept up to the one of them who was a little more isolated than the others. He was stood practically beside the man, then acting on instinct, he impaled the man with his spear. The sight of the mans blood sent him over the edge and he spring upon the bandit and he drained him dry. The death cry of the bandit drew the attention of the others. Skalf again slipped back into the shadows, it didn’t take him much longer to finish off the others.
He now knew he was no longer human and that he had not been chosen to spend eternity with his kin and ancestors. Believing that the gods must have brought him back to redeem himself and avenge the death of his people. Skalf took a new name for himself.
Vargyr, meaning wolf, outcast, outlaw…
He rested in the dark places and journeyed ever southward, rousing the tribes as a messenger of the gods, to defend their homelands.