Sacking of Gordheim
The following is an excerpt from THE NEW HISTORIES OF THE DALECARANS, a tome written by Örlen, a learned man in the service of Dan Salmonface. The tome’s aim is to document the newer histories of the Dalecaran peoples.
It had been centuries since the Dalecarans openly raided one another for sport. Not even the bitter longbeards who were so stingy with their oral histories could claim they remembered a time where chief slaughtered chief. Indeed, during their lives, and their father’s lives, and their father’s lives, the Dalecaran chiefs seldom warred upon one another. Wars usually arose out of blood feuds between clans, and succession challenges. So when the Dalecaran chiefs began to mercilessly raid one another after settling the Dalecaran peninsula, many longbeards were revolted and dismayed. Young men suddenly found themselves taking up a spear or a rake and heading out to the most powerful chief they could find. Those who stayed under the protection of the smaller chiefs quickly found themselves fighting day and night against the forces of men like Torgil Stormsen; in other words, men who had turned to the ancient ways as soon as the opportunity arose.
These raids often created blood feuds as families fought and died, as well as wounds that would last for years to come. These raids oft ended with the execution of a weaker chief, the death of his sons, and the submission of his people to their conquerors. If the chief were left alive, they would seldom retaliate. What forces could a man whose family, lands, and people were annihilated muster to seek revenge? Though, as history oft does to me, one raid proved this wrong. It fundamentally changed the course of Dalecaran history and society; a change that I have lived to see myself. This raid, infamously called the Sacking of Gordheim, started what I have coined the Dalecaran Unification Wars. It marked the birth of the monarchy and the death of the chiefdom governance system. It also put my old friend, Dan Salmonface, on the road to Dagon’s Hall.
The Sacking of Gordheim took place in 54 SC. I was, fortunately, not present for the raid, but many of my apprentices were. Dan Salmonface and I had departed Gordheim in the early hours of the day in order to treat with Chief Magnus Wavesinger; a boisterous and godly man who was eager to form an alliance with the Seatamer. I had expected to be across the river for several days, but the negotiations were short; so short that we had departed only in the early hours of the next day. Magnus Wavesinger had refused to swear fealty to Dan Salmonface, but was still clamoring for military protection. Dan Salmonface did not want a greedy chief splitting his host in two, especially when Torgil Stormsen was growing in power. When we returned to Gordheim, we saw the smoldering ruins of buildings; we saw the dead men scattered about for leagues; we saw the arrows sticking out of the ground, rivaling the spring flowers; and we saw the head of Dan Salmonface’s second son, Halfdan Eelkisser, mounted on a spike outside the burning Head House.
My apprentice, Knut Inkwriter, informed Dan Salmonface of what happened. Around midday, Torgil Stormsen descended upon Gordheim and made battle with the host stationed there. Halfdan Eelkisser led the defense but Torgil Stormsen’s host was nowhere the size it had been reported. It overran Halfdan within hours. Knut describes Torgil and Halfdan’s battle as legendary, with Torgil fighting with his infamous two axes, and Halfdan using a squid-beak hammer. Though the two raged for what seemed like hours in the mind of my apprentice, Halfdan was eventually defeated by Torgil. His head was placed on a spike and used to torment the common folk into submission; my apprentice even told me that Torgil used Halfdan’s head to torment his wife and her daughters. Much of Dan Salmonface’s host accepted Torgil’s offer of employment in exchange for their lives… those who did not were mounted on the banks of the river nearby or forced into the woods for hiding. Torgil’s forces set the settlement ablaze, looted what they could, and left the way they came; with Halfdan’s babes in tow, a number of Dan Salmonface’s former men, pounds of riches, and a number of prisoners. The young man, Gorm, who later became Gorm Seademon, told us that Torgil had boldly announced that he had come to end the Daning clan once and for all, and that he was disappointed that Dan Salmonface and his last remaining son, Dan Saltskin, where nowhere to be found.
As we later surveyed the ruins of Gordheim, Dan Salmonface simply said that he must convene with Dagon on these matters. He told me to take count of the remaining men in his host, and to begin to gather survivors to rebuild the settlement. And so I did. Those were trying times, aye, but they were only the beginning of what was to come.