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Harald of Stormark

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Harald of Stormark
Harald av Ettlingum Freyu
1685 Harald of Stormark.jpg
Former Senator of the Lakes
LesserArmsofStormark.png
Tenure began 1522
Tenure ended 1574
Senate(s) I, II, III, IV
Comment Senator also 1582–1595; posthumously expelled from the Order of the Holy Lakes in 1712
Physical description
Gender Male
Race Vanic
Biographical information
Father Gudrödar Grjotgardsson
Mother Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir
Spouse(s) Hervör (d. 1472)
Asa Bloodhelm (m. 1527, her death 1546)
Sigrid Magnusdottir (m. 1553, their deaths in 1685)
Children Æsileif
Hallbjörn
Date of birth 1446
Place of birth Flóðhǫll, Mysterious Isles
Date of death 1685
Place of death Haraldsborg
Resting place At sea


Harald Freyjugjöf of the House of the Descendants of Freyja, was the first and only High King of Stormark (1471–1685), and a former Duke of Elwynn (Froyalan), Duke of Brookshire (for three days in 1541), and Steward of Shireroth (1542). He was indefinitely exiled from Shireroth and Elwynn to Stormark from 1651 and onwards, along with most of his family, and from Natopia from 1663 and onwards. Harald died during the collapse of the Storish state in 1685.

Names and sobriquets

Harald was known under several names. His birthname was Harald Thorstein Gudrödarson, but he left off the patronymic upon ascending to royalty. He was also known as Harald of Ettlingar Freyu (after the Hurmu Norse version of his house name) and Harald of Froyalan (due to him being the only Duke of Froyalan ever). In honour of his hierogamous devotion to the Goddess Freyja, Harald changed his second name from Thorstein to Freyjugjöf ("Freyja's gift").

In the year 1474 Conglacio Geiteskrank bestowed the sobriquet "The Generous Giver" upon Harald out of gratitude after Harald had given him the Kingdom of Middarthian. Hence, Harald was often referred to as Harald Thorstein the Generous Giver or as Harald Freyjugjöf the Generous Giver.

Childhood

Harald grew up in Flóðhǫll in the Mysterious Isles. His father was Gudrödar Grjotgardsson, a local lord and jarl of the not very significant Kjøpsvik jarldom, and his mother was Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir, from the House of Kaupsted. He grew up with a close relationship with most people in his vicinity, but his closest childhood relationship was probably with his sister Ærinndís. Large parts of every year, the siblings spent at Klædaská Rock, because of a threat to the family from an evil petty king called Ivar the Impaler. It was at Klædaská Rock that Harald would get to know Geirbjörg Gefialdrsdottir, who would later become the mother of Harald's biological children, the twins Hallbjörn and Æsileif.

At the age of 12, Harald was sent to court in Alexandria, where was fostered by Emperor Edgard I for two years. Having been raised a fervent believer in the Vanir, being now in a Catholic setting was upsetting for Harald. However, he developed a great respect for the Catholic religion, and promised to support the religion wherever he went.

When he was 14, Harald's stay in Alexandria ended abruptly. A cousin of Harald's father, The Jarl of Hattfjelldal died of old age, and unexpectedly willed his jarldom to Harald, by-passing other relatives.

Conquest of the Heartland

Harald in 1485

According to the beliefs and teachings of the Froyalanish Ancient Ways, Harald would early in his jarlship meet the Goddess Freyja. After a series of meetings, some of sexual nature, Freyja would promise Harald to rule over a great piece of land, in the Heartland, which he was to call Stormark ("great land").

Harald knew very little of the land that Freyja would give him, but he believed in the visions and trusted in his goddess. Freyja introduced him also to her sister Goddesses, Idunn and Frigga, who would help him rule his future kingdom. Idunn is especially important in a secular setting, as in the Vanic beliefs, she holds apples that stops old age. As such, Harald of today looks more or less the same as he did when he was 25 (aside from trends in fashion, Harald hates all pictures of him from the 1490s…, and is said to be particularly pleased with his outfits in the 1550s).

Trusting on those beliefs, he set off by building longships that were able to cross the oceans. After going around to more or less every town in the Mysterious Isles, Harald managed to gather a crew for his ships. Most strong and able-bodied men refused to believe Harald's visions of meeting Freyja, but a small number did, and they formed Harald’s loyal regiment, and became the basis of Stormark's nobility after the conquest of the Heartland.

The trip to the Heartland was an arduous one. Religious tales tell of struggles with Kraken, pirates and evil men. Secular studies give little insight to the actual journey, but what is known is that Harald and his two ships survived the journey intact. They set foot on Hnossa Isle, just outside what is today Haraldsborg. Upon embarking the ship, Harald said, "Here I shall build a fortress", and bulding started immediately. The first version of the fortress was a simple one, made out of wood from trees growing locally. The fortress was named Vanadísarhall, after Freyja (who is also known as Vanadís). However, in common parlance the fortress was simply known as Haraldsborg ("Harald's fortress") which would later become the name of the conurbation that quickly grew around the fortress (today Vanadísarhall is a giant stone palace, and bears little resemblance to the wooden shanty fortress of old).

Harald and his men, loyal to Freyja's promise, began incursions to the inland of the Heartland. At this time, the Heartland was ruled by five different tribes; the Gula, the Eidsiva, the Frosta and Borgar tribes were at constant war with one another, and commanded their people's obedience through dictatorial and oppressive ways. The last tribe, the Hurmu, lived around the lakes of the north of the Heartland, and were a peaceful, pacifict nation. Not long before Harald's invasion of the Heartland (maybe only 10 years), the Hurmu people controlled most of the Heartland. Due to their pacifist nature, however, they were easily subdued by the other four tribes and reduced to living in the inaccessible far north of the Heartland.

On one of Harald's quiet days (they were not many given how much war and killings he was engaged in), he was walking in the forest, when he saw a beautiful woman bathing naked in a lake. Struck with attraction to the woman, he soon realised that the woman bathing was the heiress of a mighty lord and landowner, Lady Hervör. If he managed to get a marriage with her, his acceptability as ruler of the Heartland would soon be realized. Accordingly, he introduced himself to the woman and explained to her the promises of Freyja, the conquest he was undergoing, and how he needed to uphold Freyja’s promise and commandment of conquering the Heartland. After some initial scepticism towards Harald’s words wore off, she agreed to marry him. This quickly gained Harald the support of all landowners in the south, and southern Heartland became a safeground, and large-scale infrastructure and industry took root.

Harald and Hervör continued fighting heavily across the Heartland and the nearby Hålogaland. Learning that Ivar the Impaler controlled many fishing, trading and whaling stations along the coasts, Harald was angered. He knew of the Impaler's hate for his family and kin, and decided to eradicate that threat once and for all. However, the Impaler managed to find out of Harald's plans (by help of a widowed queen of one of the local kings that Harald had earlier killed) and attacked pre-emptively Harald’s camp. It was a bloody massacre. Almost all of Harald's men were killed, however Harald and Hervör, along with a small number of soldiers, managed to escape. They headed to Hurmu’s peaceful lands, hoping to rest there and gather support. The Hurmu, true to their pacifist nature, refused to engage in any war of any kind and declined to join Harald’s army. Harald asked the tribesmen there rhetorically if they would rather be slaughtered by a foreign army, and the tribesmen answered "yes, we would rather die true to our beliefs than die killing other of the children of Ash and Elm". Surprised with their answer, Harald developed respect for the un-Viking-like behaviour of the Hurmu people, and decided that they indeed had bravery worthy of admiration. Accordingly, he acceded to the Hurmu people's wishes of being independent. In a letter to them, entlitled the Epistle of the Peaceful Pastures, he confirmed that he would never lay arms upon Hurmu's people or lands.

Renewed with strength, Harald and his men moved eastwards and found support to gather a new army there. Unfortunately, that army was not trained well, so he pawned a lot of his possessions to buy the support of pirates. Thanks to the pirates and their terrorizing the Impaler's last stations, Harald and his men marched in without much let or hindrance to the the station Ógnarvígi, Ivar the Impaler's last seat of power, where Harald proudly executed the Impaler. Thereby, the Heartland, except Hurmu, was under Harald’s firm rule.

Harald’s accession to rule came so quickly that the landowners of the Heartland were worried that Harald would remove their lands and powers from them. Willing to alleviate their concerns, Harald and the landowners negotiated the Pact of the Heartland which lay down the conditions for the future kingdom, Stormark. The Froyalanish Ancient Ways teach that Harald now joined his three-helper goddesses, Freyja, Idunn and Frigg, in a holy marriage, the consummation of which the religion underscores and deems theologically relevant and significant. Thereafter Harald was crowned High King (previously translated from Storish as “Sovereign Viking Emperor”, though “High King” is a better translation that was adopted later).


Early rule in Stormark

As high king, Harald ruled with a firm hand. He was very interested in foreign affairs, and later befriended Richard Lyon (Rashid Arsalani), the Babkhan baron in the Arminian territory of Hurmu. Hurmu had been cut off from communications with Stormark after Menelmacar took on a protectorate role in Hurmu, but they were now restored. Large-scale cooperation and cultural exchanges took place. When Hurmu, along with Arminy, joined Shireroth as a barony (and duchy, respectively), Harald joined too. Richard Lyon abdicated the barony of Hurmu to the Slobovian Troy Thompson, but after this man was ousted by the Duke of Arminy, Harald’s friendship to Richard paid off, and Harald was named the new Baron of Hurmu. Arminy soon seceded from Shireroth to become the Royal Crandish Republic, in which Hurmu was one of the constituent states, and Harald was named Duke and Prince of Hurmu. Upon the dissolution of the Royal Crandish Republic, Hurmu was by Prince Harald declared a joint Grand-Commonwealth and Storish protectorate, with Richard Lyon as the new prince (who took on the name Prince Andelarion there).

On the eve of battle at Myrkviðr, where Hervör perished in the course of earning her victory against the Harkalegar.

Meanwhile, in Stormark, Harald did not manage to remove all opposition to his rule in Stormark despite all good government and the many reforms undertaken. Stormark expanded heavily, and became one of the richest and largest empires there ever was. After a few decades some men loyal to their former king, gathered enough support to challenge Harald’s rule at Myrkviðr. They called themselves the Harkalegar. The incoming army toward Haraldsborg, now a bustling city of more than a million people, came as a big surprise. Stormark’s armies were in Normandie helping a local duke there beat a rebellion, and the local city guard was heavily outnumbered in comparison to the incoming Harkalegar. Hervör, Harald’s wife, decided to lead the frightened guard herself. After an inspiring speech, she restored morale among the men, and the Guard marched out to Myrkviðr to fight off the incoming Harkalegar. The battle was extremely bloody, on both sides, and the City’s loyal guardsmen died one after the other. Hervör was devastated, but by, as the Froyalanish Ancient Ways teach, divine intervention, a regiment of soldiers from Normandie arrived at Haraldsborg far earlier than estimated, and reinforced the Storish army outside Haraldsborg. At this time, however, Hervör had been mortally wounded. Enraged, Harald went out in battle himself, leading the newcomers into the last episode of the battle. Harald rallied the newcomers into such anger that none of the Harkalegar were spared. Minutes after the last of the enemy died, Hervör died in Harald’s arms.

Struck with grief, Harald sought comfort with his friend, Ása Bloodhelm. She the grieving widow of Lord Rob Davis Bloodhelm of Haldarsvik (and former chief justice of Elwynn). Soon the Lady Ása and Harald began courting. After a difficult dowry negotiation process (due

Rise to power in Elwynn

In Elwynn, Harald was now the Count of Araxion, and his loyalty to the Barony of Elwynn was put to trial when the Antyans invaded. With help from his former compansions at the conquest of the Heartland, he led a conscripted army of northern Elwynnese to Vijayanagara where the foe met its fate in battle. Very few of Harald’s soldiers died (149 out of 13,000), but among Antya's 10,000 soldiers, all but less than 900 survived. Harald's ruthless and decisive victory secured Elwynn's respect as a power in Shireroth to be reckoned with. Shortly therafter, in 1509, Elwynn was elevated to a duchy.

After Harald's friend Richard Lyon was made Babkhan shah under the name Rashid Shahanshah in 1529, the Duke was more and more absent from Elwynnese government. This angered Kaiser Mors V, who wanted a more active duke in Elwynn. Accordingly, the Kaiser removed Richard Lyon from the Ducal Throne and put Harald there. The Kaiser wanted to change Elwynn's name, and heeding the Kaiser's advice, Harald changed the name of the Duchy to Froyalan.

As duke of Froyalan, Harald began a series of law reforms in the duchy. Ironically, in an effort to de-Elwynnize Elwynn with the name Froyalan (mainly on the ill advice of the Kaiser), Harald actually managed to do the same. He soon realized his mistake and encouraged cultural development. To deal with angry sub-nobles, Harald created the first Elwynnese legislature, the Logthing, which was to evolve to the Council of Eliria and the Elwynnese Senate. However, he did not restore Elwynn’s name, which was done only in 1542, after Harald’s abdication.

[more to write…]

[1587, making babies with Geirbjörg, born in 1588 not knowing of them until they are teenagers, rescue mission]

[death of Asa]

[new marriage]

Post-Auspicious Occasion life and regency

After losing dynastic territories in Shireroth (Auspicious Occasion) and Natopia (Uppheaval), Harald, the High King of Stormark sunk ever further into a dependency upon Idunn's Apples, a potent drug that enabled their users to feel rejuvenated and invincible whilst feeding their own sense of grandiosity and megalomania, and an incurable, indeed insatiable, satyriasis.

The death and collapse of Alexandria and the end of support from Natopia over the years led to Stormark slowly reaching "pariah status".

With Harald, along with his favoured grandson Noah, sinking into mead-sodden dependency and self-indulgence, extolling their being seated at the high table in the finest banqueting hall in Haraldsborg as being proof of their continued fitness to rule and favour in the eyes of the goddesses, whilst the High-Realm decayed around them, power increasingly came to be exercised by Esther, Harald's great granddaughter begotten by Noor, Kaiseress of Shireroth, and her husband Noah, as well as Aoife the Celt, who became his regent by law. Taken into exile following the Auspicious Occasion, Esther was to grow into adulthood with an abiding hatred for those responsible for the deposition of her father - whom she would continue to term the "Livvist hordes" long after Liv Dravot's departure from office and eventual death.

Under Esther's guidance the foreign policy of Stormark briefly regained some sense of purpose and direction. She noted in Arkadius IV, the King of Amokolia and Batavia, a kindred spirit and a personality type quite similar to that of her beloved great grandfather. She also noted the estrangement that Arkadius felt towards the Raspur Pact after the rebuffing of his ambitions towards the Golden Mango Throne by Elwynn and the Unified Governorates of Benacia. The Kalirion Fracture had been met with some grim satisfaction in Haraldsborg when it had happened, being taken by many there as proof that it had been their steadying hand which had been required to hold the Imperial Republic together. Now Esther saw the conditions created by the fall of Shireroth as providing the opening that would allow for the restoration of her father's patrimony - as a true Froyalan. The seduction was easily accomplished, with Arkadius more than willingly falling into the role of eager suitor and thus doing the majority of the requisite legwork, and the couple married in 1681.

The fruits of the marriage were manifold. In addition to the four offspring born from their union was also the Empire of Francia, a strategic alliance between itself and Stormark, and the establishment of the Froyalan Tribunal. The influence of Esther upon the Froyalan Tribunal in particular was observable in its fixation upon the marital status and dynastic rights of the House of Ettlingar Freyu over and above the fate of the millions of individual Froyalaners uprooted from Elwynn after the Auspicious Occasion.

This dynastic alliance between the Descendants of Freya and the House of Vinandy committed Stormark yet further to rendering material and financial aid to Francia - a process that had begun even before the consummation of the marriage in view of the generous aid rendered by Stormark during the Second Amokolian War (1678–1679) which had made possible and sustained the Frankish war effort.

High King Harald in 1685, weeks before the Collapse of Stormark

What was not apparent at the time, in view of the way in which they presented their society to the outside world as the pinnacle of post-scarcity superabundance, was the strain that this aid had placed upon Stormark's economy. Although a global colonial power, Stormark had minimised its exposure to the remainder of Micras, considering the greater part of humanity (with the possible exception of Senya) to be accursed and with nothing worthy to offer in exchange for the good graces of the High-Realm. As such Stormark had operated as an autarchic political and economic system. In this it had achieved a good measure of self-sufficiency, albeit often times through more inefficient means than might have been realised through direct trading with foreign powers.

Nonetheless the material surplus that was generated found itself eaten away at in order to sustain the standards of luxury, pomp, and courtly ceremonial expected in the court of the High King and amidst a myriad of Jarls and lesser notables. It has been observed by some that the dispensation of "royal boons", along with obligations of open house hospitality in Stormark's innumerable feasting halls, fulfilled the role provided by welfare states in more conventionally organised countries. On top of this wasteful and ever expanding munificence was then placed the burden of supporting a client state with revanchist ambitions directed against one of the more heavily militarised alliances operating upon the world at that time.

Stormark had become largely dependent on Senya as a trading partner due to a combination of their diplomatic isolation and Svorgas International Airport's relative geographic centrality to Stormark's many far-flung territories, with Stormark's main airline, Loftleiðir using the airport as a hub, meaning much of Stormark's internal trade was passing through Senyan customs. As such, by 1685 AN, Stormark had racked up a significant trade deficit to Senya. In addition to this, overspending in Francia had placed economic hardship on the empire, and when Senya raised import taxes in early 1685 AN, the Storish economy effectively collapsed.

It was under these circumstances that the gleaming edifice of Vanic kingship would suddenly buckle, crack, and have completely collapsed by the end of 1685 AN.


Death

On 3.XIV.1685, Harald's body was found by scavengers in the ruins of Haraldsborg. The body was sold to the Order of the Holy Lakes, who confirmed through DNA testing and dental records that the body was indeed Harald. The Order updated its records, and then incinerated the body. The ashes were spread in the sea, to avoid making a shrine out of a potential grave. The Order of the Holy Lakes managed to secure and incinerate the corpses of Aoife the Celt, Hallbjörn Haraldsson, Æsileif Haraldsdóttir, Fjǫrleif Hallbjörnsdóttir, Noah Hallbjörnsson, Sigrid Magnusdóttir, Inga Njalsdóttir, and Ærinndís Ettlingar Freyu in a similar fashion, in the weeks before and after the discovery of Harald's corpse.

Family and Descendants

Harald was married three times. None of his marriages produced children. His wives were:

  • High Queen Hervör (died c. 1472)
  • Married 1527 to High Queen Asa (1446-1546), birth name Angel, widow of Robert Davis. Through this marriage, Harald received one stepdaughter, Chloe Davis
  • Married 1553 to Sigrid Magnusdottir (1526–1685)

He had two children, Hallbjörn Haraldsson (1588–1685) and Æsileif Haraldsdóttir (1588–1685).


Preceded by:
Troy Thompson
Baron of Hurmu
1502–1505
Succeeded by
himself as Prince
Preceded by:
himself as Baron
Prince of Hurmu
1505–1512
Succeeded by
Andelarion
Preceded by:
Position created
Prince among the Lakes
Line of Harald

1512–1685
Succeeded by
No legitimate heir
Preceded by:
Yvain Wintersong
Duke of Brookshire
1541 (for three days)
Succeeded by
Yvain Wintersong
Preceded by:
Richard Lyon
Duke of Froyalan
1533–1542
Succeeded by
Hesam Jayatar