History of the Norlundar
The first Ard Ulv was Ustjad, the first of the clansmen of Norlundar that successfully united the clans under a single governing. Before then, there had been a series of alliances between various clans and families, mostly obtained through marriage and co-operation, but they were just as easily lost as they were forged. After a period of particularly harsh winters, however, the aged Ustjad of the Torvald set out visiting settlement and telling the tribes of a vision that had been presented to him in a dream - that the clans should unite in a single pack, as wolves do to their pack leader. In the destitute times, with a steep increase in deaths through starvation and the cold and a discernible decrease in newborns surviving the first six months, a coalition to share resources and to ensure that neighbouring settlements would help defend the village should they be attacked by the savage Yotunaar. Most of the clansfolk willing joined under Ustjad under this new alliance, provided that Ustjad made good his promise that his council would have equal voice in his halls.
The settlement of the Torvald, Drenhould, saw the first meeting of the council of tribes leaders. It began with disaster. Two minor families, the Elgalf and the Gemeshyr, began to bicker before proceedings were underway and weapons were quickly drawn. Ustjad himself waded into the fight to separate it and banished both families from his halls for a year and receive no protection from the united clans. The head of the Elgalf demanded to know why Ustjad believed he had the authority to condemn his clan to death when the winters showed no sign of easing up, and Ustjad replied simply: ‘The authority is mine because I have taken it, and no man other that I sits at the head of these halls.’ This is the etymology of the name given to the united clans: the Norlundar, which means literally ‘No man but I.’
Despite the tyrannical undertones of the name, the first council of the Norlundar progressed well enough once the Elgalf and the Gemeshyr were ejected. Each of the families swore to one another. Arrangements were made that those who were within sight of a allied neighbour would build tall torch-towers and set them ablaze and, should trouble come, they would signal the attack in a request for aid. Those that were too remote for that luxury agreed to send and receive outriders every three days. Crops and livestock were agreed to be salted and shared, timbre saw even distribution – enough for what was immediately necessary in order to preserve the livelihood of those that lived near pine forests. Several marriages were arranged to underpin these agreements.
Come the second winter, the Gemeshyr came to the council once more, and not just the tribe’s head. Several of the elder sons and childless daughters of the Gemeshyr marched in, with bringing with them the former clan head of the Elgalf. Steen Gemeshyr, the head of the Gemeshyr, announced that the Elglaf had been integrated into the Gemeshyr clan. He declared that as a clan made stronger through the thicker bond of brotherhood, they would no longer be spent blinded by the false security of the Ard Ulv. Warning that Ustjad could just as easily spurn those that dissatisfied him into cold and certain death, Steen made a plea for those that would not be held under the whim of the Ard Ulv to join them in the south. As they departed, Steen prayed that the ancestors would curse Ard Ulv Ustjad and the entire of the Tolvad clan with utter ruination so that not even the earth would be sated with the dust of their bones.
Come the fifth winter, the Gemeshyr had taken three smaller families out of the Norlundar. Whilst the weather was becoming more bearable and crops had been much more ample between the tribes, Ard Ulv Ustjad had fallen ill. Feverish in his bed, his son Ustgran took the head of the hall and lead the council. Sworn to marry one of the Daelwrod clan and inexperienced in holding the council, Ustgran took his soon to be father-in-law’s council on most matters. There came some discontent from the other tribe leaders that believed the Daelwrod were becoming favourites of the stand-in Ard Ulv. When Ustjad died and Ustgran took his father’s halls the next winter, the fact that Kjeld Daelwrod still sat pride-of-pace by the Ard Ulv’s throne.
This disquiet was not aided by movement from the Yotunaar. The harsh winters had taken their toll on the ogrekin as much as it had the humans, and whilst some of their settlements had little option and taken to desperate raids against the newly fortified villages of the Norlish, settlements of Yotunaar that could afford the time to wait had bided their time and gathered their strength. Seven years into the existence of the united Norlundar, Yotunaar began waging a terrible campaign against the settlements with barely any peace. The structure of the Norlish and the defences and precautions that they had put in place were tried and tested. In some areas, it was found very much wanting, and some smaller clans were all-but destroyed by the Yotunnar’s assault. Wulfhould, the home of the Daelwrod, came under one such attack. With his wife fearing for the life of his father, the young Ard Ulv did something that he would do for no other clan: lead the Tolvad out to defend Wulfhould.
Kjeld survived the assault of the Yotunaar, as did most of the Daelwrod clan, but the Ard Ulv's rash decision coloured him as a weak-willed nepotist. The next council saw these allegations thrown at him by several of the stronger clans. Whilst the Ard Ulv had no reasonable justification, when the attention of the bile turned to the Kjeld Daelwrod the elder Daelwrod stood and announced to those gathered that all he had ever sought to do was to guide a young man into a path of leadership, that he had never asked the Ard Ulv's favour and sought no better treatment. In order to try and settle the court, Kjeld removed himself and the Daelwrod from the council. They were no less sworn to the Ard Ulv, and would still act in accordance to the Norlundar, but they would hold no further sway over the position of the Ard Ulv.
Perhaps Kjeld Daelwrod believed that Ustgran would learn from his mistake and that Kjeld had no more to teach the young Ard Ulv. Perhaps Kjeld had seen in that brash act that the Ard Ulv would think with his heart first, and so Kjeld hoped to remove himself from Ustgran's concerns. Some even speculate that Kjeld might have seen the way the waters were rising and either got himself out to protect his family, or was biding his time to take the position of Ard Ulv for himself. Whatever had brought about the decision, Kjeld Daelwrod essentially left the Ard Ulv to stand on his own two feet, and thus set into action the chain of events that would see Ustgran's demise.
Within three years, the Ard Ulv had become a very different man. Without Kjeld's guidence, the decisions made in Drenhould became more and more centered around the protection and security of Drenhould, whatever was in the best interests of the Torvald clan and the Ard Ulv himself. Settlements further afield, at the fringes of the mountains or the Iron Empire, had their interests overlooked and ignored, the Ard Ulv too focused on the central settlements and immediate neighbours. These neighbouring clans were all too aware of the situation, however, and had no disillusions to the fact that should the elves pitch for territory or the Yotunaar of the mountains turn their attention away from the dwarves, any attacks on these outlying clans would have incidental effects on the central clans should they come under attack. Without realising it, the Ard Ulf began to alienate himself from the other clans. It was likely in these days that Ustgran began to blame Kjeld's absence for the lack of respect he seemed to command.
The next summer solidified the idea in Ustgran's mind that had been betrayed by the Daelwrod. Life within Wulfhould had continued as normal in this time, the wolf-riders called out frequently to help defend against Yotunaar attacks. Wulfhould was 'central' enough to not see a great deal of Yotunaar activity themselves whilst at the same time close enough to more at-risk clans that they were sworn to that they found themselves lending aid frequently. Kjeld Daelwrod's wife, Gethwine, had long before then given birth and so was not an active warrior, but she was one of Wulfhould's finest wolf rearer and was in that summer pregnant with what would be her ninth child. Two of Kjeld's daughters were also with child, one of which was Edoma, wife to the Ard Ulf. True to Norlish traditions, Edoma had come to stay with her family during her maternity. The younger sister, Henna, was frail-framed at birth and had never seen battle like other Norlish women, and had been brought up rearing wolves with her mother. Baring a child made Henna ill, however, and one night she became feverish and not likely to see the light of day. That same night, Edoma's waters broke.
Perhaps it was ill fate that saw the Yotunaar attack Drenhould that night. Perhaps the night was foreseen as fortuitous by Yotunaar soothsayers. Either way, the Daelwrod were in no position to ride to the defence of the Ard Ulf. Though the attack was pushed back, the Torvald clad suffered many losses. Ustgran saw the Daelwrod's absence as the final slight against his family. His thoughts turning to conspiracy and paranoia, his warriors were given two nights to recover their losses, repair their equipment and regroup. Then the Ard Ulv marched the Torvald clan against the Daelwrod.
The battle was bloody and, whilst it was mostly contained outside the palisade of Wulfhould, some Tolvald lead by the Ard Ulv managed to get into the settlement. They stormed Kjeld's halls, the Ard Ulv fully intending to decapitate Kjeld's wife and take her head to battle Kjeld. When Ustgran stormed the halls, however, Edoma was no-where to be seen. They found only two figures awaiting them: Gethwine, the Ard Ulv's own wife and round with child, and her wolf.