Yet more prologue, chronicling the arrival of the first agent in 1066. No game information yet, but at least we’ve got to the right timeline!
Thick clouds hid the night sky; but Geir did not need to see the naked stars, with no manmade points of light drifting among them, to know that the Device had worked after all. The utter silence and darkness of a Norwegian winter night was enough, when he had come from a summer warm enough to lie out in. He gathered his furs more closely around himself; he’d been out in worse, certainly – in years when there were no proper storms, his school had arranged outings to the Arctic so the boys could learn to deal with weather – but it had been rather more pleasant to smell the summer grasses with a woman by his side.
He settled down to the long walk to the coast. Halfway down the mountain a thought struck him and he looked back. The blackness of Dovre faded seamlessly into the blackness of the night sky; but what made cold shivers go down Geir’s back was that here was a Dovre under which Halkjell Yngling did not sleep. He felt dizzy as he finally grasped the sheer magnitude of what the Secret Hird had accomplished: The complete destruction of twelve hundred years of history, including their own. Oh, he’d known, of course; he’d been working on the Project for ten years, since he was fifteen. But he hadn’t believed. Neither had anyone else in the Secret Hird, apparently, or they would have realised he was going back to a time before Halkjell Yngling, and destroying Norway’s sleeping king under the mountain; all his achievements and glories, wiped out as though they never existed. Indeed, if you believed the math, they never had.
His stomach churned; it took a distinct effort of will to bring the nausea under control. Then the old habits of discipline reasserted themselves. It was useless to dwell on casualties; assess your new capabilities, reprioritise objectives if necessary, continue the struggle. The King under Dovre would never wake to aid Norway in its time of need; very well, he wouldn’t. The trick was to make sure that he was never needed, then. Geir stood straight, turned around, and continued his trek to the coast.
On the third day it came to him: The Device had been kept under Dovre mountain, and had been built to rescue Norway from being outgrown and overshadowed by the Chinese. Surely that was an hour of need. So Halkjell had done his work after all; and if in the doing he destroyed all his other works… Why, that was only what a great King should do for his country. A phrase teased at Geir’s mind, some half-forgotten motto from a story he’d read as a child: We are the Kings, who die for our people.
Which meant that Geir was the tip of the spear that Halkjell had thrown to save the Realm. The briefing had contained the words, ‘awesome responsibility’; but not until now had Geir really believed, down in the guts where it counts. Perhaps no Yngling in history – in all those twelve hundred years that he was personally destroying merely by standing here, breathing air that would otherwise go unbreathed – had had such a backbreaking task.
And if so, what of that? Are we not Ynglings? Geir squared his shoulders and resumed his march. The smell of the sea was in the air.