Friday, May 31, 2013

Helgi I 881-903

Helgi the Hated, first ruler of Rus
His brothers have never risen
Children oh children
One fell off a tower wall, one ate pheasant and turned blue
Away to Asgard for Anlaufr and Ormr

With Swedes wood-swimming, where Ingria meets the sea
And villainous Veps nearing Novgorod
Helgi the Hated gave his land, never to return
Hills and heath never to return

For poor Faste af Ostrov, steward and friend
Peasant-hate pulled him from horse and home
Torn and twisted, Faste's body faltered
Til two pieces of Faste, littered the ground

Thus the rebels came, war never waned
For Helgi the Hated knew no peace
Twenty two turns of the year, he knew no peace
Moskva and Mozhaysk left in cold blood

Still Helgi the Hated bore on, placing crown upon crown-seat
King of Rus the Red
Gardariki the Grey, with great forests and water-roads aplenty
Hail King Helgi the Hated

The new king with crown and cape of ermine, made haste to Smaleskja
There battle was borne to the heavens
Kupala laughed lightly, while new king led his men onward
Smaleskja smoldered as Helgi strove on

An arrow from afar, pierced Helgi's arm
Barbed and bleeding arrow scarring poor Helgi
Rust-water ran from the riven wound, Helgi's health did fester from then
Eleven years ere his death

Smaleskja soon fell, as Norns had foretold
But Helgi the Hated slept in Holmgardr
Weeping was wanting when Helgi passed on, no peasants wept for what was gone
But Rurik returned from away to the west upon Helgi's death

Out of Character

Helgi was kind of a disaster but still ended up being first King of Rus (or Gardarkiki; the names change depending on your ethnicity and maybe religion, which is way cool). From day one, the nascent kingdom was rocked by invasions and rebellions. I'm rethinking that the Norse are inherently overpowered. Some of them certainly are (I'm looking at you, Ynglings and Denmark), but the constant wars really grind your forces down. There were a couple wars which I was forced to yield immediately, since I had to prioritize which places to fight (I was always at war with multiple parties, large and small). In 22 years, Helgi saw 5 of peace.

The first thing I did to consolidate was have my two kid brothers killed via intrigue plot. They were eight and six but they were also the Duke of Tver and the Duke of Belo Ozero, respectively; the game's tough. One of the attempts failed and I was outed, which is partially what started the rebellion spiral; my vassals were not pleased at all.

Weirdly, Helgi latched onto Slavic paganism. My son, Rurik I (he's going to be the first because he's actually the first king of Gardariki, not the legendary Rurik), stayed at his mother's court in western Norway, so he'll be properly Norse. Still, I'm sitting on a barely stable powder keg of ethnicities, religions, and power struggles. Which is, I guess, a lot like the real Russia of the time. Still, I'm eyeballing the upcoming second bout of gavelkind and considering conversion to Christianity just to have stable inheritance laws.

Rurik's coming in unmarried and 33 years old. This could be a big frigging problem, since his brother is, too. Conceivably, due to not having control over their marriages when they were young since they were at a foreign court, this could go very badly for the Rurikovich dynasty if the zygotes don't align properly.

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