While crossing Mercia and skirting around Ardenes Weald to avoid the hostile spirits there, the party arrives on the outskirts of Ligora Ceaster (Leicster) Because of the conflict between the newly arrived Norse and the locals, the bishop has sequestered himself within the cathedral. While the party rested in Ligora Ceaster, Aelfric attempted to get the bishop to come out of his sequester. The cathedral was dim and a pall hung over it. There was no singing or liturgy, only the bishop sitting silently in his cell. As the bishop was apparently under some sort of spell, Aelfric was unable to convince him to leave his sequester. Repeated attempts to communicate were rebuffed by stone cold silence, with the bishop staring into the windows. The bishop could not be moved. Without forceful leadership by the bishop, the locals will slowly come under the influence of the old gods, and with that, the land will be fertile for Norse settlement. (This is an ongoing theme--the old gods trying to reassert themselves in a basically Christian England--with temporal effects depending on how that goes. E.g. the bishop of Wintan Ceaster is quite active in his advice to the king, and managing his diocese, and Aelfred is so far a siccessful king, so not much paganism there...)
With that out of the way, the party trudged on toward Lynclyne. Occasionally, there were refugees on the roads--fleeing the strife brought about by the advent of the Norse. While most of the Norse arrive as settlers, there is still a large amount of displacement--and Burhred seems powerless to stop the disintegration of his once mighty kingdom. The relative lack of law and order worked both in their favor and against them. It was decided that locating Garic would be the best way to start, and taking lessons from Cirren Ceaster, a low profile would be maintained.
While approaching Lynclyne, a town located on a bluff overlooking the river Witham, a small band is leaving and traveling on the road towards Ligora Ceaster. As the band came closer to the party, it was apparent they were a family leaving Lynclyne. When asked, the father volunteered that he and his family were cursed by a seithkrona, and they were on the way to Ligora Ceaster to see the bishop and have it removed by him or one of his arch proiests if possible. Aelfric informed that that the bishop would not be of much use as he stays in his cathedral staring at the wall. This caused no little bit of consternation to the family. The gesith Wulfgar, one of Aelfric's followers, asked if they would accompany them back to Lynclyne, After some hesitation, the father agreed.
Of course, problems follow! When asked who he is, Aelfric responds that he is Aelfric of Badon--this tips off Garic, who is in the crowd. He immediately runs--and uses his superior knowledge of the town to escape. Their cover blown, and now with the full attention of the locals on them after a chase through the streets, their task became much more difficult.
Enter a pair of Danes--Snorra and Ingjeld! Looking a bit ragged, and being hasseled by the guards, they eventually push through the gate and enter the town. Wulfgar enquirers why they have such long faces, and they relate that their lord, Sygtrygg Hring, was captured by a wyrm in the fens. Aelfric asked why they are alive here when their lord needs them, and they respond that there is no shame in fleeing unacnny things, and they are looking to recruit some men and go back for their lord post haste as they lack the strength to take on the wyrm. Aelfric is good at reading people, and he saw they were truthful. Further discussion revealed that they are locals, and Hring has a hall here in Lynclyne. Wulfgar said if the Northmen will help them find one Garic, they will help them find their Lord. After a short negotiation, a bargain was struck. Neither group completely trusted the other, but Wyrd had brought them together.
Warily, Aelfric and Wulfgar went into the smallish boat, owned by Hring, with the two Northmen. Some of the rowers were not happy with the prospect of seeking a Wyrm--and so two left despite the pleading of Aelfric and Wulfgar. None the less, the now expanded party began to travel down the river Witham to the large fens near the sea. River travel being faster than land travel, the party arrived by nightfall. Unfortunately, this made finding the wyrm's lair, and hopefully Syggtrygg Hring, much more difficult.
Aelfric suspected a trap, so he made sure that Wulfgar was always near him. Happily, on of the northmen came close and said he had found the Wyrm's lair. There is a small mound with a large hole in it. Beside the hole are two large trees, very ancient willows. A plan was needed. Snorra suggested they charge into the lair and slay the thing, and rescue Hring. This was rejected as too rash. Aelfric suggested Wulfgar go to the top of the mound, and that Aelfric and the two Norse will make noises to lure the beast out. When the wyrm leaves his lair, Wulfgar will throw his spear and the others will do likewise as the fight continues, until the thing is slain. This was agreed to. So, in the dark though moonlit fen, the men took their places. Several attempts were made to lure the wyrm out--and it was a few minutes until they were successful. Wulfgar did as he was asked, he cast his spear as the wyrm emerged. It glanced off the wyrm and he lost heart and fled.
Next the Wyrm went for Aelfric--and fortunately for Aelfric his mail byrnie kept him from being disemboweled--though he was rather severely bruised in his abdomen. Injeld threw his spear and it too glanced off the monster. Aelfric's attack was similarly ineffexctive--but Snorra's spear transfixed the Wyrm's wing, though the wound was by no means serious. The now wounded wyrm reared his head and went for Injeld. Ingjeld tried to leap out of the way, but the wyrm caught him by the leg and bit it clean off. Ingjeld sank into the muck with his life ebbing, and died very quickly. Snorra, seeing his partner dead, thought about fleeing, but then remembered his lord, who had been good to him and gifted him often. Drawing his sword, he swung, but only scratched the wyrm. Now Alefric attacked the wyrm with his axe, a gift from the now killed King Eadmund. He swung at the wyrm, and though his axe did not cut too deeply, much blood began to flow from the wyrm, and it recoiled in pain, and perhaps fear!
As the wyrm fled, Snorra closed with his sword and cut deeply, and another large blood flow began. In less than a minute, its life draining into the swamp, the wyrm was overcome by a mighty blow from Snorra's sword. Now Snorra and Aelfric planned to enter its lair. As Wulfgar, shamed, had returned, he was sent back to get some torches with some comforting words from Aelfric, and as Snorra had said, there is no shame running from uncanny things. Aelfric and Snorra entered the lair, calling out for Syngrygg Hring. Eventually he was found, dead but still warm. They were too late to help Syggtrygg.
His Lord dead, Snorra cut off the head of the Wyrm as proof of their valor. The party gathered Hring and Injeld's bodies, and returned to Lynclyne.
With the sight of the party returning with a giant serprnt's head, they were the stars of the town. Snorra had some of Hring's other men search or Garic. And as they approached Hring's smallish hall, hi wife, Asa approached Snorra, and saw the two bodies being carried. She asked "What news is there of my lord Syggtrygg Hring?" "He is no longer with us, lady..." said Snorra. With that, Hrings children began weeping and crying out for papa. In the back, a youngish woman was sulking in the shadows, watching Aelfric with growing malice. This is he seith woman, Aelfric and Wulfgar reasoned. Clutching their religious symbols, they stood firm in the hall.
With that doleful event, Hrings men were able to locate Garic. He was a little roughed up, but conscious. Aelfric asked him "Do you know who I am?" Garic answered "Aye, dryhten." What followed was negotiation along with some physical encouragement, shall we say--Garic gave details of Ulf Redhand's steading near Eorforwic, also caled Jorvik by the Norse. Aelfric got the layout, how many men he has etc. Also, Garick agreed to pay weregild for the kidnapping, as Aelfric saw he was desperate and did not want to just kill him.
When the party returned home, Halla asked if Aelfric killed that kidnapper, as she had been kidnapped before and was now unable to sleep or think clearly. Aelfric said he had accepted weregild, and he did not kill Garic. Halla more or less asked "What about me?" Aelfric gave her the weregild, a full pound sterling, and said "let this strife be done now, Garic will never harm you again."