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"It would seem sensible, wouldn't it? After all, it would be bitterly ironic if we survived all our adventures only to get ourselves killed in some back-alley in this god-forsaken place"
Tyrion, during his return to Skeggi after reclaiming Sunfang[2b]

Skeggi is the oldest and largest Human settlement in the New World. The gateway to Lustria through which adventurers and plunderers seek their fortune. Foremost amongst these are the Norse, whose greed for gold is as great as their lust for battle.[1a]

Overview

The Norse are a race of warriors, and their gods are the gods of the End Times. When the Realms of Chaos expand and the beasts of nightmare are made flesh, the Norse answer the call to arms and march to war alongside the warriors of the Dark Gods, slaying all who cross their path and burning that which they cannot plunder.[1a]

But few such men idly await the call of the Ruinous Powers to make war, and instead set forth upon longships to plunder all the lands of the world. Through countless generations of raiding, the men of Norsca have become prodigiously skilled seafarers, boasting(occasionally truthfully) the ability to out-sail even the fleets of the High Elves of Lothern.[1a]

Among the greatest of the Norscan seamen was the legendary Losteriksson, who, in the year 888 of the Imperial Calendar, made landfall upon the coast of the New World, opening up the unexplored continent of Lustria to the predations of Man and forever altering the course of the plans of the mysterious Old Ones.[1a]

Losteriksson's expedition was not the first Norse penetration into the seas around Lustria; his was just the first successful one. There had been other adventurers who had worked their way down the coast of Naggaroth towards the unknown continent of Lustria. Since these expeditions came to a bad end, with no-one left to tell the tale, they do not feature in any Norse sagas, leaving Losteriksson to claim all the fame for discovering Lustria himself.[3c]

Early Exploration

The Norse adventurer Losteriksson was the first Old Worlder to land on the coast of Lustria and live to tell the tale. As soon as his three ships anchored off the coast, the men were plagued by sickness caused by insect bites. Leaving the sick warriors behind to guard the ships Losteriksson headed inland with the rest of his men in search of treasure. At first Losteriksson had no idea what the interior of the new land contained, but assumed that there would be temples and cities to plunder just like there were in Ulthuan and Naggaroth. However, he was hoping for more luck than in those two lands, which were rather too resolutely defended for his liking.[1b][3a]

After a long trek through the jungle and with only half his party still alive, he emerged among the overgrown ruins of a deserted temple city. This was exactly what Losteriksson had been hoping for. His men spread out to ransack the place. Some meagre items of gold were found in various vaults and crypts after a full day's search, although several men disappeared in the process. Losteriksson decided to return to his boats while the going was good, intending to return again with a bigger expedition to probe deeper into the jungle.[1b][3a]

Eventually Losteriksson and a handful of warriors reached the beach to find the boats deserted. Their men had gone, not even their bones were left. Their fate was unknown. There were now so few Norse left that the shareout of the gold made all the survivors quite rich. This gave every man the impression that Lustria was a place where a man could get rich. None stopped to consider the odds of surviving to enjoy the riches.[1b][3a]

Losteriksson could now return to Norsca with honour and the dowry for his beloved Inga. Norse being excellent seafarers, all the ships returned safely, despite the diminished crews. Soon word spread throughout Norsca of a new land overflowing with gold. Warriors flocked to Losteriksson's new and magnificent hall, built with his share of the gold, and clamoured for him to lead a new expedition to Lustria.[1b][3a]

Foundation of Skeggi (888 IC)

A Norse and an Empireman standing shoulder to shoulder in Skeggi

At length, Losteriksson ordered many ships to be built. Under his leadership, these sailed southwards loaded not only with Norse warriors, but also their wives and farm animals. The expedition reached Lustria after a long and arduous voyage in which some of the ships were lost. Losteriksson navigated along the coast to find the great cairn which his men had raised to mark their previous landfall. The place was found and the ships were beached. Within a few days, the Norse had built a stockade around their ships.[1b][1c][3b]

The new land was rich in timber and the human axes were sharp, so it was not long before a true Norse settlement had taken shape complete with a timber hall. The jungle was cleared back for hundreds of yards, which did much to alleviate the sickness brought by the insects. The Norse fed on fruit instead of the stodgy porridge of their homeland, and the meat of the great reptile beasts that they hunted in the jungle roasted well on their spits. Lack of ale was a serious problem, until the first crop of corn was harvested. However, the hives of the huge tropical bees provided honey to make a mead which surpassed anything in Norsca.[1c][1d][3b]

The new Norse colony was called Skeggi, in honour of Losteriksson's daughter who was the first child to be born in the new land. At first Losteriksson forbade anyone from going into the jungle. This was a great annoyance to the young warriors eager for riches and soon many were disobeying him. Small groups went their own way and never returned. At least one or two bands did find riches elsewhere and returned to Norsca, encouraging more Norse to make the voyage to Lustria. Thus ships laden with more settlers turned up from time to time at Skeggi to swell the population.[1d][3b] Within a decade, the settlement was a thriving town, the gateway to the New World. Each year, ever more adventurers would pass through its port, and ever more gold and slaves would return through it to the Old World and Norsca.[1d]

Unfortunately, one of the more reckless bands of Norse warriors must have stumbled upon a temple city which was inhabited by Lizardmen. No doubt they attempted to seize something precious and got away with it. Losteriksson and the settlers of Skeggi only found out about this when a vast horde of Skinks suddenly emerged from the jungle and swarmed across the settlers' hard won fields.[3b]

The settlers retreated back into the stockade behind a shield wall of warriors. Every Norse farmed his plot with his axe and shield beside him, which was just as well. The Skinks besieged the stockade, showering the settlers with poisoned arrows and javelins. The situation seemed hopeless until Losteriksson ordered all the treasure accumulated in Skeggi to be thrown over the rampart. His men reluctantly obeyed. The Skinks stopped shooting and several crested leaders scurried out to inspect the items. The Norse observed their hissing conversations as they debated the hoard, picking up each item and discarding it. Then, taking only a single gold plaque inscribed with glyphs, they turned away and led their men back into the jungle without a backward glance.[3b]

The Norse waited a few moments before rushing out to recover their treasure. Obviously the Skink officers, who were in fact Piqipoqi and Qupacoco, had been sent by the Mage-Priests of Hexoatl to recover a particular item of great value to them. The rest of the gold was nothing more than trivial trash as far as they were concerned. None of the Norse had failed to notice that the Skink leaders and many of the warriors were absolutely dripping with silver and jade trinkets and jewellery.[3b]

And so the settlement survived and prospered. For many years. the Norse were content to probe into the interior and search the ruins which they found for treasure. Of those who went too far, none returned and so the great cities of the interior remained hidden from their greed. Norse being Norse - great travellers, drinkers and boasters - the tale of the fabled wealth of Lustria was now the talk of the taverns of Bretonnia, Estalia, Tilea and the Empire as drunken Norsemen related their wild tales before falling senseless under the table. Needless to say, the rumours of gold fired the interest of any Dwarfs who overheard them.[3b]

The Slann had known all along about the founding of Skeggi and the plague of gold-lusting strangers that was about to break their tranquility, as it had been predicted on the great plaque of the three hundredth cycle of the two moons in Itza. The Old Ones had calculated every stage in the evolution of the new spawnings. The great Slann of the second spawning had calibrated the predictions to take account of the accelerated evolution caused by the collapse of the polar warp gates. All the Slann mages knew of the events via the lines of telepathy across their lands, and gave these instructions to their servants: "Xla Xaurux quaha tec oxltl huac izqua tlann iq zxlan!" (-Raise Saurus and prepare the weapons of war, for a time of tribulation is upon us)".[3c]

Recent History

Over the centuries since its foundation, Skeggi has become a prosperous port, thanks to the tithe its inhabitants enforce upon all who pass through it. But it is a lawless place, where petty chieftains rule and bands of itinerant adventurers hold sway. The many drinking dens, brothels and slave markets are the centres of power, lairs from which the brokers of such power rule their small empires.[1d]

The streets of Skeggi throng with two-way traffic. In one direction pass those fresh ashore after many weeks of sailing across the Great Ocean, impatient to find their fortune within the gold-strewn depths of the jungles. In the other direction pass those returning from the green hells, and these either bear the thousand-yard stare of those who have seen friends killed by unspeakable horrors for no gain whatsoever, or the furtive visage of those who carry untold wealth secreted under stinking rags. More often, the former is the case.[1d]

Layout

Skeggi has been described as a 'rotten sinkhole', and there are two main factors that combine to make this a wholly accurate description of the place. Firstly, the site chosen by Losteriksson for his landfall was in fact one of the wettest on the entire stretch of the coast, to the extent that many buildings must be constructed upon tall stilts in order to keep their occupiers at least partially dry during the biannual flood season. The second reason is that Norse rarely build in stone, preferring instead their traditional timber buildings. Unfortunately, where the good old ways of doing things worked fine for their ancestors, they are not so effective in the sinking mire in which their descendents chose to establish the settlement, and hence the dwellings of Skeggi are invariably ramshackle and rotten to the core, and in constant need of rebuilding.[1e]

The greatest and most stable feature of the settlement is the stockade built by Losteriksson himself at the time of his second landing, and this has been expanded over the centuries to create a formidable fortification surrounding the port, and extended outwards into the sea to form a seawall within which vessels may gain a measure of safe harbour(at a cost of course). At the center of the bustling port still stands the original mound of stones placed there by Losteriksson to mark the location of his first landing, and this too has been greatly built up, making it a mighty monument to the Norse gods. Upon the founding of the settlement, Losteriksson cleared the jungle surrounding Skeggi, and this has had to be carried out annually ever since, lest the voracious jungle flora reclaim the land. This is a task generally forced upon prisoners and slaves, for the diseases spread by the insects of the marshes generally make it a lethal duty. Over the centuries the area of jungle cleared has expanded as the settlement grown, and Skeggi now accounts for a great swathe of land.[1e]

Due to the nature of the land around Skeggi, the only dependable route into and out of the settlement is by sea. The marshes all around are in a constant state of flux as the water table rises and recedes, flooding any roads anyone is foolish enough to have built. As a consequence, the jungles around Skeggi are criss-crossed with a network of small tracks and pathways, but very few usable roads. The moment a traveler leaves the dubious safety of the clearings surrounding the settlement, he is plunged straight into the dense jungle, and all the perils that reside therein.[1e]

Inhabitants

From their coastal stronghold the Norse of Skeggi launch raids that reach into every corner of the continent and beyond. To the north lies Naggaroth, and numerous Norse chieftains have proved insane enough to launch raids against the vicious Dark Elves. To the west the jungles are packed with Lizardmen sites ripe for the plunder, and some Norse have even survived the deadly traps planted within to deter treasure hunters such as themselves. Further west still lies the temple-city of Hexoatl, a vast metropolis teeming with Lizardmen - to date, no Norse has been foolhardy enough to attempt an attack upon it, though it is only a matter of time before some blustering warleader decides to gather an expedition.[1e]

For those Norse who have grown up in Skeggi, the sweltering climate is of no detriment to them, as it often is to newcomers to Skeggi. Instead, they have become adept at negotiating the jungle pathways and at survival through hunting its beasts. A few have even braved the dank caves within which Cold Ones lay their eggs, stealing away with one of their young, to rear and break it, and to ride it to battle. Such a thing is rare, and causes great consternation amongst the Lizardmen, who see it, and the very presence of the Norse in Lustria, as a disruption of the plans of the Old Ones[1e]

Military

Though no one man has ruled over the people of Skeggi since the days of Losteriksson, there have been moments in the settlement's long history when its fractious inhabitants have united, if only for a short time, behind a single strong warleader. Given its status as a refuge for the most bloodthirsty and piratical of Norse warbands, Skeggi has found itself the target of punitive attacks by the Lizardmen and other races, often often seeking return of some priceless artefact stolen from their most sacred of sites. As great as the righteous anger of such a party may well be, the zeal with which the Norse will defend their collective honor and general right to plunder is invariably greater. Many a besieger has sought to reduce Skeggi, only to be driven off into the jungle by hordes of very angry, and often very drunk, Norse.[1e]

The Norse Warleaders of Skeggi are no less warlike than their cousins of Norsca. They may forgo the wearing of heavy armour due to sweltering heat of Lustria, but they are well equipped, and blessed with the gifts of their patron gods. Some ride to battle upon the backs of snarling Cold Ones, leading the warhird of Skeggi to battle in search of pillage and blood.[1f]

Trivia

  • Around 2273 IC (XI, 110), Tyrion of Ulthuan hired humans from Skeggi for an expedition he was leading into the jungles of Lustria.[2a]

Source

  • 1: White Dwarf 309
    • 1a: pg. 70
    • 1b: pg. 71
    • 1c: pg. 72
    • 1d: pg. 73
    • 1e: pg. 74
    • 1f: pg. 75
  • 2 Tyrion and Teclis: Sword of Caledor (Novel) by William King
    • 2a: Chapter One
    • 2b: Chapter Eight
  • 3 Warhammer Armies: Lizardmen (5th Edition)
    • 3a: pg. 11
    • 3b: pg. 12
    • 3c: pg. 13