A Kingdom Forged
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.
The Age of Torgilings and Dan Salmonface’s unification wars concluded like they started - with Dalecaran killing Dalecaran. By 57 SC, Dan Salmonface’s royal levies had unified nearly the entire peninsula, bringing men like Jakob Hookjaw and Magnus Wavesinger under his domain. His enemies had consolidated into a single coalition that sought to oppose the Dalecaran monarchy at all costs; this coalition was led by Torgil Stormsen, father to the Torglings, and Ulf Speararm, father to the Ulfings. The coalition had been unexpectedly pushed back to Torgil’s own fief, Torgiland, after Jakob Hookjaw’s forces took the Ulfings by surprise during what is now called the Battle of Coral Grave Reef. The enemies of the monarchy were left to lick their wounds while Dan Salmonface amassed his host in the late Gissur Coralcutter’s lands, using the position as a staging ground for a last push.
Unlike the start of the unification wars, I was present for the Battle of Torgiland. Dan Salmonface had outfitted me in some leathers and left me to supervise the medical ward; something that he could only entrust to a wise and knowledgeable man of my caliber. The battle was to begin at dawn; the Torgilings knew what was coming, so there was no point in giving them the benefit of a chaotic night battle. Dan Salmonface wanted the enemy to see the wrath of Dagon; he wanted them to gaze upon the might of a holy king. Dan Salmonface was going to lead the host himself, and so he had dressed to match the occasion: around his neck he wore a necklace of four eel skulls, one for every great chieftain he had vassalized; under his heavy armor he wore seal leather; on his belt he carried two steel daggers, engraved with carvings of a great eel devouring a man; and as his main weapon of choice, he carried a bastard sword that featured an octopus as a pommel. Men who would gaze upon the king before the battle would know that this man was Dagon’s vessel, with every swing of his sword he would be punishing those who had refuted the Lord’s divine will.
And so we awaited for dawn to come.
With dawn came no customary offer of surrender; no, instead it came with the screams of Dalecaran berserkers storming into Torgiland waving the royal banner. If you have truly been reading this tome from end to end, you know by now that describing battles is a bore to me, and, frankly, a waste in my opinion. So to summarize the Battle of Torgiland, I will say only this: the two sides fought for four hours, many men died, and the grass was stained with blood. The aftermath of the battle was so chaotic that we could not truly count all of the dead. History will never know the exact number, but I estimate it to be around twelve or thirteen hundred. History will not remember all of their names, nor whom they fought for, nor where they were born, aye, but it will remember that the Dalecaran kingdom was built atop of their bones.
Torgil Stormsen, defeated by Dan Salmonface in a duel, Ulf Speararm, and a number of their smaller allies survived. They were all brought before Dan Salmonface and made to swear fealty. Ulf Speararm had spat at the king’s feet when he heard this demand, and so one of Dan Salmonface’s guards cut off the arm for which he was named for. After this, the smaller chiefs paid fealty to Dan Salmonface quietly and quickly, all while Ulf Speararm wailed and thrashed behind them.
Torgil Stormsen, on the other hand, made no fealty pledge. He asked to be drowned in the waters of Dagon, to which the king accepted. Only, the request would never be enacted. Torgil Stormsen would be rescued from the war camp prison, along with Ulf Onearm, a number of chiefs, and at least three hundred men. We would learn the next day that they had fled west, to the Mushroom isle, Soppland. There Torgil Stormsen decreed that he and his followers would live the way Dalecarans were meant to be, where every man could be a chief, free from kings and centralized rule. The king was furious, of course, but he let them go. They would not be a threat to his rule for years. He famously proclaimed, “let the dogs lick their wounds, perhaps they will find their senses while they cower across the sea in homes made of mushroom wood.”
With the wars finally over, and Dalecara united, it was time to reward those who were loyal to the monarchy. The king and I had brooded over how we could do such a thing adequately for many days during and before the war. But close to its climax, we settled on a situation found in the Dalecaran sagas themselves. The king would name the most powerful former chieftains as earls of large territories, just as King Harold’s successors had named Haakon Whalebane the Earl of Haakonholm in the days of yore. Each earl would oversee his own vassals, chieftains of individual villages, but would ultimately swear fealty to the monarchy. Each earl would pay one third of his incomes to the monarchy, provide levies in the times of war, and uphold the king’s law. We did not know it then, but looking back at those events, I realize that we had created the first Dalecaran noble class, something that had not existed for all of Dalecaran history. Though, I have grown old enough to see that it was the right choice.
The inaugural Dalecaran nobles were as follows: Magnus Wavesinger, Earl of Alstrand; Jon Gilleater, Earl of Daläland; Jakob Hookjaw, Earl of Osterbro; Ulrik Anchorspine, Earl of Merwall; and Harald Crabneck, Earl of Borland. Additionally, Dan Salmonface created a title for his own lands, the Earl of Gordheim, which would become title of the heir of the monarchy.
And thus the Kingdom of Dalecara had finally unified after seven years of grave violence. The end of the wars in Dalecara marked the beginning of a pronounced change in culture and society for all Dalecarans.