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OSTLAND (Kingdom of)

Location: Off the coast of the Sea of Dawn, east of Vestland and southeast of Heldann. OW

Area: 8,920 sq. mi. (23,105 sq. km.).

Population: 129,000. Population dropped as a result of the recent civil war in AC 1015.

Languages: Heldannic.

Coinage: Krona (gp), eyrir (sp), oren (cp).

Taxes: None. All revenue is gained through raids into other nations.

Government Type: Feudal monarchy.

Industries: Piracy, agriculture (grain, potatoes, and beets), fishing, logging, and trade.

Important Figures: Finn Hordson (King), Yrsa Svalasdottir (Queen-Mother), Asgrim the Bowed (Royal Adviser), Oda Elsasdottir (Jarl).

Flora and Fauna: Sheep, horse, cattle, goats, dogs, deer, elk, and brown bears can be found on the islands of Ostland. The forests are composed of ash, yew, and conifers.

Further Reading: GAZ7 The Northern Reaches, The Domains of Ostland by Jacob Skytte, previous almanacs.

Description by Gilor Rockcrusher.

Ahh, Ostland. Beautiful but harsh islands of the cold Sea of Dawn. Home to the traditional warrior, to the true hero, Ostland is my home. Ostland isn't plagued by the trappings of so-called civilisation, here you can speak your mind as long as you're prepared to back up your words with force. And there are no hard feelings between men of might. In Ostland you can truly make a name for yourself, as I have.

Ostlanders traditionally prefer the noble trade of the raider [what others would call piracy. Ed.]. This custom consists of hard-fighting men and women sailing the famous Northman longships to foreign coasts to prove their worth by fighting the greatest warriors of those lands for the rights to plunder their riches. If a man cannot defend his belongings, he is not worthy of possessing them, and they would be better off in the hands of a true fighter.

Foreigners think that all of Ostland is the same, dreary, wind-swept wastes of hostile Northmen. Rubbish! While I have certainly seen my share of dreariness in the long winter months, and a good amount of hostility as well, the truth is that every domain of Ostland is different from the rest. The jarls, while subservient to young King Finn Hordson, dictate how life is lived in their respective domains, and they are as varied as the people of any country are. My recent employ as a warrior of Jarl Oda Elsasdottir of Clan Vithesford illustrates this point perfectly.

The Land

If there is such a thing as a desolate place in Ostland, it is certainly Vithesford. Located in the far northeastern corner of Noslo Island, the largest isle of the four major islands comprising Ostland, Vithesford is mainly made up of mountains and foothills. It is a cold, wind-swept place, as implied by the name of both the jarl's great hall and the nearby waters of Storm Bay. In the winters snowstorms make travel nearly impossible, and only the most robust of warriors and fishermen can ply their trades during these months.

The lands of Clan Vithesford contain part of Gråbjerge, particularly inhospitable mountains that contain caverns, which are home to the infamous Modrigswerg, the cursed moulder dwarves, driven from Rockhome in ages past.

The People

The inhabitants of Vithesford are among the toughest of Northmen, and they would have to be to survive in this inhospitable region. Their daily hardships have not quenched their spirits, and these 1,500 people truly know how to live. Every catch is a bounty for a fisherman, and is shared among the villagers of his local homestead. And every capable warrior can bring back great riches from raiding, which is often shared with family and friends.

Like all other Northmen, the Vithesford Clan are a reverent people, respecting all the traditions of Odin and Thor, the almighty Gods [Northmen call their Immortals Gods. Ed.] of kingship and war. Godar [what the Northmen call their priests. Ed.] are honoured and live good lives in these lands. Skalds who tell roaring tales of both ancient heroes and of the fantastic lives of the Gods will always be able to find a hospitable homestead, where they can get food and shelter.

Oda Elsasdottir, 36 year-old Jarl of Vithesford, is a great leader of raiding parties, and she often brings back plentiful goods, and throws parties in honour of her valiant men and their fighting prowess. While she is rumoured to be cruel and vengeful, she is well within her rights to punish any who speak against her or her rule. The jarl and her husband, Eldgrim the Killer, rule the domain cautiously but justly, swiftly striking down rebel sentiments and dealing with criminals harshly.

Recent Events

Jarl Oda Elsasdottir, formerly of Clan Noslosford, whose lands are located to the west of Vithesford, married into Clan Vithesford in AC 1000, when she was wed to the former jarl, Ragnar Solmundson. Ragnar protected Oda during the Noslosford clan war, where her brother, Bue Geirsteinson, deposed their father, Geirstein Thorgelson, as jarl of the clan. There is little love between the siblings now, and I am unable to confirm the rumours that Oda gives shelter to her other brother, the exiled Lot Geirsteinson. It was also during this clan strife that Clan Vithesford lost the forested lands south of Gråbjerge, which contained the thriving village of Skovstad.

In the year 1003, Ragnar Solmundson met his end at the hands of Katla Thorunnsdottir of clan Thorholm, south of Vithesford. Katla's family had been killed by Ragnar, and she had herself been disfigured during the battle. She had been planning just revenge for years, and finally managed to lure Ragnar to his doom during a casual visit. Katla and Oda are said to be allies, if not friends, and rumours have been floating around for years that the two women planned Ragnar's demise together.

After a period of mourning, Oda Elsasdottir married the sinister Eldgrim Hrappson, also known as "the Killer" in 1005. Eldgrim is well known for his foul temper, and his disturbing fashion of spitting in the eyes of the men he's killed. His fighting ability is eminent, though, and he's devoted to the jarl.

Ragnar Solmundson had dealings with the mysterious Modrigswerg of Gråbjerge, and Oda continued these dealings in the years following Ragnar's death. In return for treasure and goods gained from raiding, the Modrigswerg traded some artifacts to Oda, artifacts which she has used to ensure her position, and which are helpful in raids. This unique relationship has certainly been instrumental in drawing out the Modrigswerg from their caverns, and even leaving them occasionally for the first time in centuries.

When Finn Hordson succeeded his father, the late King Hord Dark-Eye, as King of Ostland, Oda swore fealty to the new king along with most other jarls of Ostland. She also stood by the king during the recent civil war in 1015, where both she and her fierce warriors won great respect from both allies and foes in the war.

Last year Clan Vithesford was asked to accompany the small fleet sent to far-away Qeodhar to aid their ancient brethren of Ystmarhavn. Several warriors of Clan Vithesford joined this fleet in the hopes of bettering their standings. The vacuum they left behind has been filled with mercenaries such as myself, ready to fight for Jarl Oda Elsasdottir and join her raiders on their expeditions.

Don't Miss

Spending a winter here among these brave souls, huddled around campfires, telling tales of ancient heroes, and boasting of your prowess during recent raids, is not an experience to be missed! Outside the wind is howling, snow falling all around you, while mead is brought forth, and a few arguments are settled by the traditional fistfight of the holmgang. You haven't truly enjoyed life till you've tried this.

Do Miss

Getting caught on a longship out in the Storm Bay during a snowstorm is, on the other hand, one of the most terrifying events you'll ever experience. While the longboats of the Northmen are sturdily built, and are crafted to withstand weather such as this, hurling water from the ship with a bucket in the freezing cold, icicles hanging from your beard, can be very sobering. I pray I won't have to try it again anytime soon.