Sanitized For Your Protection?

With the book in final review stage, waiting on the cover to go, I’ve been picking at it, finding little stray hairs of errors and cleaning up the glossary of things I should have caught long before.   Then, I had something come to light that forced me to look hard at my creation.

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The Prodigal Son by James Tissiot

One of my reviewers, whom I thank for taking up the task, let me know that the book was inappropriate because of something that happened in it.  Now I bring this up not to bash, nor to seek to shame or take to task, but to help myself and others understand my work.  I keep the book relatively clean.  There are only a couple points where the language gets ‘blue’, but there apparently is one thing in here that someone found unforgivable.  It was put to me the challenge of whether or not I should remove the phrase from the book to make it ‘safe for a Christian audience’.  That caused me to think about it over the course of a day on what was the purpose of the use of the offensive/blasphemous oath.

I asked myself about the phrase.  Was it gratuitous or unnecessary?  No to both.  What the phrase did was set the tone for the kind of environment the characters were about to enter.  It was not a completely safe place and not everyone there were good citizens or Christians.  They were complex fallible people who sinned, but also gives a hint to several things deeper in the future and serves as a warning sign to the reader that not everything is as it seems.  Yes the phrase is blasphemous if you want to strictly adhere to the law violating taking God’s name in vain.  Something that we in modern times are often guilty of dozens if not hundreds of times a day.  But for a sailor in the 16th century… this is right in line with the speech and attitude many had despite being a faithful person.

What I then realized is that the reviewer’s statement was not going to be uncommon.  There will be thousands if not tens of thousands of Christian readers who will see this one statement get very offended and ban the book from their own libraries and possibly others.  I was heartbroken about this realization.  I did not foresee it.  But I also saw the solution.  Remove or soften the phrase.  Now, I’ve done this once before already, and I’m still troubled by it being the right choice.  Is leaving this phrase in the book a hill I want to die on?

I finally realized yes.  It is going to stay and here is why.

Although I want this book to be edifying and uplifting to Christians, they are not my target audience.  It is not primarily for legalists and purists of the faith.  I will be ecstatic if they read the book, get something out of it and love it none the less.  I really hope they do.  If my beta readers and some of my reviewers are good indicators, this will be the case.

The main audience I hope to gain with this book is not just nerdy Christians who have been in the faith all their lives and have never been outside God’s grace like I had been.  This is a book aimed at nerds who have never been exposed to Christianity in this way.  Who don’t want to be preached to.  Those who do not want to hear a sermon and talked down to like they are the sinner and must be saved.  I think I accomplished that even though the characters in it live their faith out loud.  You are talking a monk dealing with ecclesiastical problems who is being punished by his superiors for failing to toe the line and is caught in a crux of the plans of others.

I want those people to find a book that is entertaining… scratch that… I want them to be THRILLED by the book!  I want those Christians who are slipping or doubting their faith or wondering if they are good enough for God to be encouraged by what they find.  I want them to see characters who are not perfect Christians and fail and sin and are hot messes but God loves them and is with them inspite of themselves, while others who seem pious and in God’s good graces to have to take a step back and realize that is not all sunshine they’re standing in.

I want them to the little heresies of life to be evident, because it might inspire someone to look at their lives in a new way.  Under all the entertainment, that is what I want them to find if they look for it.  I want those who have never seen Christianity in the same ‘cool’ lighting and stagecraft before like we so often see paganism, pantheism, atheism and other occult philosophies.  How often have we read fantasy novels or even Sci Fi novels that are chock full of “ancient weapons and hokey religions” and nobody blinks an eye at it being preached and praised?  That’s what I am doing with Christianity.  “Azeroth Metrion Xinthos…” see nobody bats an eye at something that although made up, it stands in for praise of something occult when you boil everything away.  Change that to “In the name of Jesus, demon come out!” and you get the point.

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This also speaks to the other reason I am leaving the blasphemous oath in.  I have a hard time reading most Christian fiction because everything seems to be… sanitized.  Even the villains seem to be only Disney Channel level of menace.  Even demons seem that way at times, but people are sanitized the most.  Nothing that could besmirch the squeaky clean image of the Mouse is there.  A lacquered Jesus that doesn’t even get dusty.  Never do we see the real challenging aspects of faith in a mud and blood spattered mess that is mankind.  I mean even JRR Tolkien is grittier than them and he never cusses or deals deeply about crisis of faith in any of his books, but the people there feel more real than the glossy clean brand image you’d expect with people’s Easter Sunday behavior.  This is what I hope to avoid as a writer, because I want these characters you root for to be relatable because they walked in situations like you have and do on a daily basis sometimes because being a faithful Christian can be hard and we fail over and over again, which necessitates God’s forgiveness more and more.

On the other hand, you can completely gloss over the Christianity and just treat it from a historical POV slapped into a fantasy setting like you would if you watched the movie “Kingdom of Heaven” or “The Name of the Rose” (Nobody but crazy literary people and scholars actually read Umberto Eco do they?  I love the movie though!)  The rest you can treat as typical low/historical fantasy with heavy steampunk elements thrown in on top.  Nobody will fault you for it and honestly, if you don’t care about the spiritual stuff, just enjoy the story.  So I pray what I put together actually stands up that way and does not rely on faith and sermonizing to work.  It’s part of the setting and historical context, but I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m evangelizing them deliberately.

That means I now realize even more than ever this book is in God’s hands.  Hell, this whole SERIES will be in His hands!  He’s gonna do with it as He sees fit.  But then again, when doesn’t He?  ;c)

Lastly, I also realized two things that form a viscous worrisome stew in my head.

1. I realized that if this book somehow only ends up on the shelves or pages of Christian Bookstores or online retailers, I will have failed in my mission to deliver something good for nerds and fantasy geeks.  I will have missed my intended audience and gotten my secondary one.  That’s not bad, mind you, but it will go against my hopes.  And I refer back to “God’s gonna God”.

2. I’m probably going to get hate mail from multiple sides over religious purists who will not like my handling of the faith, spiritual warfare or history, despite this is a fantasy and fantasy twist that comes from a historical basis.  It is biased to my understanding and is not perfect as theologians may say.  In fact, I deliberately have mistakes in it because it’s part of the setting and/or based on historical precedents of the medieval Catholic Church and monastic system.  This will piss off legalists who will come up with a laundry list of reasons to hate this.  Ultimately I will unashamedly refer to “It’s fantasy and welcome to the liberal use of Handwavium.” if I must.

But you know what?  I am going to have to learn to deal with it.  I wrote all this because I really felt it appropriate in the book itself.  This novel is what I felt God wanted me to write, and so I’m going to do it the way my understanding guides me and let see what happens.

Just like I cannot pick my fans (thanks artists who demanded Ivanka Trump remove their art from her walls for teaching me that… but did not offer to buy it back.)  I just need to say, “Thank you.  I am grateful that you love my work.” and respect the fact that I touched someone I didn’t intend.  But God knows what He’s doing, and that is what I’m going to have to rely on.

Thank you for reading.

 

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Beta Read is now LIVE!

Attention all Beta Readers, you should now have your copy in your inbox that you provided.  If you have not received it, lemme know!

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X-Post Fact Toast #3

Wordcount: 1,682 and 6 pages.
 
Woke up early… again… and puttered a little before I got to writing. The scenes are there in my head but are being “bocky-kookens” as my grandmother would say. Closest translations of that phrase is “stubborn cookies”.
 
Anyway… Latest chapter is “Stirring the Ashes”. It’s been incredible now to go back over many things I wrote and finding I’m echoing themes like a waveform, which is great! They are similar but not copies, illustrating and reinforcing each other. More writing later. One scene of the remaining few is in the can. So few left to go and they are just acting like that first bite of hot pizza where the cheese refuses to let go of the slice or cut with your teeth.
More to come later.
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The Battle Is Won

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Today’s Wordcount:  2,275  (Not counting minor edits and rewrites).

The final battle is done and amazingly, I feel the best about the final line for it sums up a thematic echo that lo many pages ago I had no idea would be in this work.

“…They hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.”

It’s amazing in a way to see how God keeps inserting Himself in very powerful and poetic ways.  This leaves only three scenes left, some half written:

Resolution

Arrival and Parting of Ways

Exile

I’ve been terrified today about what would be the upshot of the battle I had just completed, so I am once again so thankful for my very special alpha reader who was able to get in touch with me today.  When you deal with schedules on opposite sides of the planet, this can be a rare and special thing.  He gave much wise council that after an overly long nap I was able to implement, and I think it is all the better for it.

I can’t wait to share this with you guys!

Writing Playlist

Yes.  I have a writing playlist that I use to put me in the mood.

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Many people listen to music while writing.  Others do not.  Some can even do it with the TV going and other distractions.

I like writing to music.  Tea at the ready in the wee hours of the morning.  I seem to not get really rolling till after 4am lately.  This I think has more to do with working nights, but I prefer to write when its dark out.  Just the way I am in my inconsistent manner.  So what do I listen to?  Here’s a list of songs and artists I have in my playlist.  I wish I could put up an actual playlist so you could all enjoy, but hopefully you then have enough information to look on your own if you are interested.

Okay, maybe some samples will show up if they are on youtube or something.

The “Official” Akiniwazi Playlist (exerpts)

Two Steps from Hell

  • Moving Mountains
  • Heaven Hell
  • Nero
  • Norwegian Pirate
  • Heart of Courage
  • Strength of 1000 Men
  • Breathe
  • Cry
  • El Dorado
  • Ocean Princess

Vangelis

  • Conquest of Paradise
  • Monastery of la Rabida
  • Light and Shadow
  • The Bounty

Mychael Danna:

  • Phoenix Anastasis
  • Nakawe
  • Visions of Bernadette

Loreena McKennitt:

  • Prologue
  • Marco Polo
  • Night Ride Across the Caucasus
  • Dante’s Prayer

James Horner:

  • Jack Dawson’s Luck
  • On Hallowed Ground
  • The Oglala Sioux
  • Proud Nation
  • Thunderheart

Dead Can Dance

  • The Host of Seraphim
  • Ascension
  • Circumradiant Dawn

 

Hans Zimmer:

  • Progeny
  • The Emperor Is Dead
  • Reunion

Other Cinematic music from:

  • The Civil War
  • The Fog
  • The Island
  • Schindler’s List
  • The Passion of the Christ
  • Hannibal
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • The Professional
  • The Crow
  • Prince of Egypt

Various Medieval music, both classical, modal and re-envisioned:

  • Hildegard Von Bingen “Illumination”
  • The Empire Brass: “Passage”
  • Gregorian Chants from the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos
  • “Sing We at Pleasure”
  • Native American Flute by Coyote Oldman’s “Thunder Chord”
  • Nordic Roots Albums

Classical classics like:

  • Faure’s Requiem
  • Night on Bald Mountain
  • Mussorgsky “Pictures at an Exhibition”
  • Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” plus a re-envisioned version.
  • Hall of the Mountain King  (you just knew it was going to be in there, didn’t you?)

And several dozen from various artists I found for free on Soundcloud and other sources.  I shall leave you with a favorite of mine.  I use all three “versions” out there.  The full, acappella and instrumental:

 

The Strange Dichotomy I Stumbled Upon

Akiniwazi is a complex project.  It’s roots are based in some big philosophical questions:

  1. Can you make a Christian based “magic system”?
  2. What would the world look like if the Vikings discovered the New World
  3. What would a civilization look like if it discovered steam power but not gunpowder?

Number two and three have been possibly some of the most fun while number one has been the most trying.  When laying out the rules of the world in my mind, and on many scraps of paper (I tell you if this thing becomes a blockbuster, there are going to be so many scraps of real source material floating around for collectors after I die if I don’t burn them).  The biggest, even before I realized the alternative history aspects that are many of its roots is that this is based on the philosophy of what I call the “War Behind the Veil”.  The idea that there is a war between God and his rebellious creations following Lucifer and the effects it has on the physical world.

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Now, originally, this was to be a complete fantasy world with nothing in common to Earth and the world as we knew it.  But… I hit upon a huge problem:  How can you have Jesus and Christianity in truth, if you tamper with the the world and make it all fantasy.

I was stuck!

I realized you could not have that if there were any changes done to the “Old World” of Asia, Africa and Europe.  I had to leave them be, untouched and historically the same.  That single realization was a terror to overcome.  How could I have this setting I envisioned with the world being exactly as it was historically?  Then I stumbled upon it,

The New World can be totally different!

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The map was mutable.  I could make the new world and have it all the way I wanted, save for one last issue:  The Skaerslinger.

It is painfully obvious that I have taken heavily from Native American cultures.  The names of the lakes are taken from corrupted translations of Ojibwa words, for example.  But something I want totally divorced from this is to make the Skaerslinger anything like the actual indigenous people.  While the old world medieval Viking culture and related materials have to be at least honestly researched (maybe not perfect, but darn good enough to satisfy all but the biggest nerds/experts who will pick at this), I needed to abandon the same level of research and historical accuracy to the Skaerslinger.

I can’t do this, because I am not going to be accused of hate speech or racism (though some might try it anyway) because they want real world accuracy on their cultures in a fantasy novel.  So there is a big reason why I have thrown historical research for all New World cultures out the window and thrown in multiple influences into the mix from Celts, Cossack to Zulu to Aztec and Inca.  Plus many other ideas I have that make for a good ‘spice palette’ of the culture as it develops.

There are some very strong black and white lines because that is the nature of the novel, but I do not want to have anyone claim I’m saying “insert Native American culture is Satanic”.  I’m not, and will not.  But there is a reason for the structure, what I have to say and what is to come. It will be illustrated throughout the entire series.

So that’s the strange dichotomy.  All things in the old world and before the discovery of Akiniwazi are going to be considered as truthful and attempts will be made to make it accurate.  The New World, its people and geography and events there are a rapidly diverging splinter timeline and world from the base because it is fantasy and it MUST be.  This gives me freedom to create from raw cloth as well as just spice things up a bit from time to time, or even take interesting aspects from those cultures and use them as a template.

Many of these things will not really come about till book 3-4 I think, but you’ll see hints as we go.

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BTW, I am toying with releasing another sample chapter as it passes through the third or fourth edit.  Let me know below if you want to see another chapter out of the book!

 

 

Akiniwazi Notes: Keeping Time

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I have had trouble a long time with keeping time in my setting till I came up with a better, but more imprecise way of tracking it.  Throughout history, the church has been a primary keeper of time, so have ships for they needed it for navigation, setting of watches et all.  The problem is, clocks were expensive and generally not available.  Most people relied on sundials, hourglasses, water clocks, candle clocks and a variety of other time keeping elements.  This lead to a lot of imprecise understandings of time.  That needed to have some reflection in the setting.  So how to keep time in an organized manner and from a medieval mindset.  I settled on  the use of church Canonical Hours as a compromise.

 

Canonical Hours

This is how time is kept in Akiniwazi on land in three hour blocks. If time is specifically known, it will be referred to as either the 1st, 2nd or 3rd hour or minor of the period.

  • Nocturnes: Midnight-2am
  • Matins: 3am-5am
  • Primae: 6am-8am
  • Terce: 9am-11am
  • Sexte: Noon-2pm
  • Nonae: 3pm to 5pm
  • Vespers: 6pm-8pm
  • Compline: 9pm-11pm

Now time throughout the day is broken into eight three hour blocks which flows more with the rhythm of the setting.  So when you want to say what we recognize as 1200/12pm… aka noon, That is now First Sexte.  Dinner time?  First Vespers or Third Nonae if you meant 1700/5pm.  You see how it flows.  It works well when considering hourly progressions.

The finest reliable method of time keeping I have is by half and quarter hours.  Rarely will they have (or need) a piece of time keeping equipment with fine enough precision for single minutes or less.  Very few mechanical clocks exist in Akiniwazi, Most of the technology did not make the trip over.

Needless to say, it has not been without its own challenges, but it adds a nice flavor in the end.. in my opinion.  Then again, I’m the author, so I’m biased.

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Timeline of Akiniwazi: 1307-1310AD (39-42 Ad Segregationem)

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(Althing – Icelandic Parliament)  Government Thing Viking Law.  If it helps, pronounce it “Ting”.  But this is a real thing.

 

1307AD (39AS) Halmarpakt- Through the planning of his father, Halmar created the “Akiniwazi Union”, unifying all the Jarls and their Aettir into one cohesive government under him. There were now 13 “Royal” Aettir that united under the plan and became known as the Halmarpakt. Seven of them were given control of one of the lakes of the land while the remaining 5 were given major rivers as their lands while the Visekonge held the Kisiina Sea and the Athrflodjt as the personal lands of the Visekonge.

1310AD (42AS) – The Second Royal Census: In the wake of the Union of Akiniwazi’s creation and the naming of the 13 Royal Aettir, many old clans and families demanded some official recognition in compensation for agreeing to the new Halmarpakt. This prompted the order of the Second Royal Census. This was the first since the Isolation began. Many hoped it could help give closure to the era most Forsamling felt. Included in the census was the tracking of all the Aettir in Akiniwazi.

This, when complete, created the “Peerage of the Aettir”. Five distinct levels of peerage were created in the Halmarpakt.

Vapenaettir or “Crested Aettir” were those who had meritorious service to the Royal Aettir and land. They were given the privilege of a recognized coat of arms, motto, colors and family crest. Royal jewelers and metal smiths were directed to present graven copies of these to the heads of the family as templates for their family broaches and other jewelry.

Landetaettir or “Landed Aettir” were provided the privilege of recognized colors. They often were given much better titles and greater power as the Visekonge wished to rule in concert with the forming blocs of power.

Fargataettir or “Colored Aettir” were those who had provided meritorious service or were allied under one of the three Royal Aettir. They were given the distinction of a color, but took the crest of their patron Aettir.

Sivuaettir or “Paged Aettir” were those without land, industry or meritorious service, but could trace back their lineage to the old world and were still a cohesive family. These families were only listed in the Census Registry index. They had no official heraldry permitted. Their only honorific was the page and line number their family was listed on at the time of tabulation. Often Sivuaettir would have broaches and other decorations with the pair of numbers written on it. Although there was no officially recognized hierarchy, it created a social hierarchy and began to reshape society quickly as both new alliances were formed as the new Halmarpakt was accepted.

The result of the Census was grim. From a peak estimate of approximately 16 million people in the land, not including Thralls and Skaerslinger, only 5 million Forsamling survived the Fimbulvetr and the Aettirkriegen.

Timeline of Akiniwazi: Aettirkriegen!

After the Fimbulvetr, there was a lot of problems that came up for the Forsamling.  Not only was the threat from without by the Skaerslinger, the threat now came from within!  Get ready for a lot of new terms, for there are a lot of things that must be established.  This is a dense setting and now more than ever able to chart its own course.

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1274-1302AD (6AS – 34AS) : Aettirkrigen (War of the Families)

The Isolation was finally being accepted as fact by the Forsamling and caused a societal breakdown on what had become known as the “Old Nobility” because their attachment to the power of the Old World, which had held some in check, suppressing their desires to seize control. The old lines of control were now threatened or completely fell apart.

Originally, the Forsamling were governed by the Union of Nine. These were the 9 families or “Aettir” who had the power, backed by the old world. Four came from kings, called the Gamleverdenaettir, traced their lineage to the vassals of Sveinn Forkbeard and Knut the Great, and 4 were of the families of the sea captains who had been given control of all travel to and from the old world. With the inability to travel across the ocean the Kapteinaettir waned in power, while the Gamleverdenaettir suffered less of a decline. With the decline of real power and control, new aettir rose to power and became strong enough to rival the Visekonge’s Sveinnaettir, or Royal Dynasty as it was called.

A power struggle began when Visekonge Mikko Sveinnson became ill from an unknown disease and his eldest son died. Although Visekonge Mikko survived, his power to control others was weakened, and his only surviving son, Halmar was considered not strong enough to lead and rally the Aettir to his crown. With the talk of rebellion and open war now spoken openly in the streets, Mikko devised a strategy.

On March of 1280ad (10AS), he abdicated his throne to his eldest remaining son, Halmar Mikkosson. This was unheard of and many claimed he could not do this, for his shadow would be cast over his son’s reign as long as he was alive. He went into hiding. By the summer of that year, it was declared he was dead of the disease that had laid him low the year previous and Halmar’s reign was no longer in question. Yet Mikko remained close to Halmar and advised him constantly from secret.

Sensing the end of the Sviennaettir dynasty, Halmar became a lightning rod, drawing many enemies out into the open hoping to kill him and seize power. They did not think of the hidden threat of his father, who acted as his Chamberlain in disguise and rose up in secret against those enemies. Halmar was gifted at drawing in the power hungry self made nobles, while Mikko guided his military forces to crush the militarily inexperienced “new Jarls”.

The risky gamble worked. With many of the individual rabblerousers dead, many of the “New Jarldoms” were easy to subvert and bring to Halmar’s side. The Gamleverdenaettir were not so easily brought to heel as they saw their opportunity to supplant the Sviennaetta’s control grow when the careless were struck down. This helped them concentrate the discontent into their camp.

Mikko and Halmar now worked more as co-equals as he learned under his father’s tutelage. They used their rising power to divest the formerly loyalist Royal Aettir. Without the backing of the former royal houses of the old world, the Gamleverdenaettir were also weakening. For years they had relied more on tradition than merit to keep control over their holdings. With deft manipulations these weaknesses were exposed and exploited. Mikko rolled out his most cunning plan yet. With power passed from father to eldest surviving son or daughter, the Sviennaettir began a campaign that captured and executed the offspring of those families. Mikko saw it as fitting revenge for those who had hoped to do the same to him.

With the death of their lineage, the heads of the remaining rebellious Gamleverdenaettir sought a diplomatic resolution to the war. They were forced to fall back into line with Halmar. The Aettirkriegen ended displaying that he was both ruthless and now popular with the New Jarldom’s Aettir.

To address the problem of the rising power of what became known as the Nyrjarlaettir, or “New Jarl Clans”, Visekonge Halmar Mikkosson gave six of them the same rights and peerage as the Old World Aettir, while the Gamleverdenaettir and Kapteinaettir were reduced to three each.

Mikko, who had been in poor health lingered till 1306ad till he finally passed and was given a secret burial and his death was not announced until after the last of the Aettir came under fealty to the now well established Visekonge Halmar Mikkosson.

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Next up… the Halmarpakt and Second Royal Census!  (1307-1310AD / 39-42AS)

Edit:  Caught a critical error on the number of Royal Aettir.

Timeline of Akiniwazi: Fimbulvetr

Formerly known as “Den Lange Vinteren”.  Why the name change?  Because I have a spectacularly helpful friend in Norway who’s been a great cultural sounding board.  Take another bow, Torfinn!  Where the name comes from is this linkypoo.

The singularly most important event of the history of Akiniwazi!

…and the map.

Main Map of Akiniwazwi

The basic map of Akiniwazi

  • Light Green: mixed forest
  • Medium Green: Deep Forest
  • Dark Green: Swamps,
  • Light Brown: Hills
  • Dark Brown: Mountains
  • White: Icefloes and impassible ocean

 

1266-1269AD – “Fimbulvetr” and the Isolation Era.

The war against the Skaerslinger progressed very well with over 15 million people calling Akiniwazi home. With their prosperity, the dangers of the Skaerslinger became mere nuisances. Heavy logging had begun deeper in the forest as they started cutting into the hardest, thickest hearts of the Pinery. Massive amounts of timber were chopped and sent down rivers to mills and towns to be converted. Rich seams of iron, copper, tin and gold began to be mined. As the forest thinned in areas, farms began to take hold in areas never before open to the sky. Wheat was planted for the first time ever, and Peat cutting was becoming popular for fuel. Profits from shipping had never been greater as the wonders of the land were shipped back over the ocean.

On the day following the Autumnal Equinox in 1266, the ground shook faintly shortly after noon. It was just enough to cause all kyrkja bells to ring and the carillons to jangle incoherently. People began having a feeling of unease that would not diminish all over the land. At Nonae, a peal of thunder that lasted what seemed a half an hour occurred. It was as if the world rumbled like a heavy cart on cobblestones in mid winter. The Kyrkja and all its wisdom were unable to formulate an answer, but knew with dread something horrible was coming.

A few days later, ships coming from Europe gave stories of a massive wave that swept the ports facing the Atlantic Ocean killing tens of thousands. Peals of thunder so loud that it shook fine glass and an earthquake powerful enough to crack stone walls had occurred in the Reykjavik. Several volcanoes in Iceland erupted in sympathy, blotting out the sun in the northern seas with ash and smoke. Ships coming in for their last trip of the season said they were already battling floes of black ice in the ocean, and that clouds so dark they turned day into night and rained ash over half the ocean. For a thousand miles, fish lay dead in the open water, like it was poisoned. No mariner had ever seen such an event before.

Reports from the Pinery kept returning that Skaerslinger war parties and hunters were being spotted hunting far heavier than they ever had before, and even going so far as to rob grain bins on some farms, but never attacking the settlers.

By November, icebergs, never seen before in the Kisiina Sea began to be seen by the farthest lighthouses and clog the known shipping routes. The sunsets had been incredible in their beauty all fall, but were always colder than in past years. Frost came early as well. The autumn storms on the lakes were much stronger, and seemed as if the intelligent force behind them had returned, waiting to pounce on the shipping on the lakes with incredible ferocity. Shipping ceased earlier than it had ever done before, and Lake Ishkode, which was normally ice free all year long began to freeze over on its calm bays.

Winter set in that year in one massive storm. The prevailing easterly winds had grown hot over a week. Then, as if they could no longer fight off the coming winter, they changed. Winter winds blown over the cold seas, generating powerful storms were charged even stronger by the lakes. The killer storm raged for 3 days straight of intense snow. Snow drifted to depths taller than 10 men standing on shoulders. Entire cities were buried, and all the lakes, froze completely over. Most of those who lived in the wilderness perished, trapped, suffocated or crushed in their homes under many yards of snow. All of Akiniwazi became a frozen wasteland.

The snow did not seem to want to stop for a month. It hit with constant regularity, often filling in what had been dug out the day before. Men were exhausted from digging for survival throughout the entire month of November and beyond. But as the Winter Solstice hit, the snow dissipated, and the bitter cold set in. A cold worse than any ever felt before in the land. Tens of thousands more froze to death. Those who did not die from suffocation or freezing faced the grim specter of starvation. Often men braved the cold and snow and went hunting. The hunters were disturbed with the rarity of game and the new tracks in the snow that they had never seen before, giant skeletal human feet set in ice. A new evil was stalking the land.

As starvation began to set in late winter and early spring, the makers of the mysterious tracks were seen. They were giant men of skeletal stature that were like walking dead with feat that sometimes burned or smoked. They attacked the homesteads, killing and eating all inside. Hunters found entire native villages wiped out as well. No one was safe. Word started to circulate that even the natives were afraid of these creatures and called them Wendigo. They could run at incredible speeds through the pinery and leap so far people it was commonly believed they flew.

The terror of the Wendigo continued as the snow slowly melted but finally abated when the frosthold left the ground. After this, the trees and plants refused to bloom and grow. The world had turned brown and gray, refusing to live again. The nights remained cold enough to freeze into mid-summer, and the Northern Kisiina Sea, remained clogged with ice. Very few ships made it through, and the captains complained that the sea was only getting worse. Many began to flee what they saw as certain death coming to them all. People turned to their priests for answers, and were unsatisfied with the answer to their prayers:

The world as you knew it will now pass away.
Save for His Grace upon you, you will soon be alone,
Prepare yourself.

In July, plants began to bloom, and the forest tried to make up for lost time. But the farmer’s troubles only increased. The wheat crops failed, corn did not produce, and other field crops were ruined by the colder wet weather. No plant brought from the Old World seemed to take root or grow well while native plants flourished by comparison. The Pinery produced more or less as usual, but competition for food was fierce. The natives knew somehow it was going to be a horrendous winter, and were trying to make sure that the Forsamling had little to eat. They hunted and gathered deliberately around the cities, stripping them as bare as possible. They burned grain silos and stole from food stores as much as possible. Everyone seemed to know that the winter was coming early and would be just as harsh as the last year.

That September, the last boats arrived, quickly unloaded their cargos and the few remaining immigrants and fled between the thickening ice flows. They were never seen again. Winter struck as it had before, with icy vengeance and storms only a few days after the last ship left. The one bright point in that horrible hard winter was that the Forsamling had prepared and prepared well. It seemed to be enough.

When spring returned early in March, everyone was surprised. It was as if God knew that their supplies were running out. Sadly, the retreating snows and ice revealed a world much changed. It is estimated by the best historians that nearly half of all Forsamling had died during the winter because of cold, suffocation, starvation or Wendigo that had ravaged the countryside. Madness had taken more as it drove them into the wilderness after months of being trapped. No one was sure what happened to them.

The most ominous sign that the world was changed for good was that the Kisiina Sea never thawed. Ice shoves had destroyed seaside towns, ports and structures. Only the sturdiest stone buildings and breakwaters had survived ice the size of hills pushing onto shore. The Pinery took on its former character, and proffered food again in abundance, but the fields had vanished into new growth forest.

Ships never returned from the Old World, and Forsamling built ships could not escape the treacherous ice floes. They were cut off.

Visekonge Mikko Sveinnson sent forth small bands of the heartiest explorers to try and find access to open sea and to travel into the Ondeandkurv Mountains that surrounded the land. None of the explorers found a way to open sea in any direction, and most who tried were killed or never returned from their mission.

All years following 1266ad are also called by the new calendar Ad Segregationem, or “After Isolation”.

1267AD (1 AS) The Order of Anjar, or Anjars are formed by Saint Anjar.

1268AD (2 AS) The Taitian Order is founded by Saint Tait.

 

Coming up next the Aettirkrigen!