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Haddock's Speech

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"Haddock's Speech" is a Season 4 thread from February 20-21, 2015 during which King Haddock reveals to the Grounded Dungeon Rebellion that he has sold everyone's soul to the goddess Hel.

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Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second observed the people below him. He had called together everyone in the Grounded Dungeon Rebellion to speak to them all at once for an important announcement.

Typically Haddock felt no worries or pressures speaking to these people - his own people, for whom he was greatly thankful for their loyalty. He knew, however, that they would question the information he had to tell them tonight.

But they have to know.

He took a deep breath and large step forward, looked down at the faces of the people he knew, and began.

"As very well all may have heard," he said, voice carrying to everyone, "hard times will be coming upon us. How we approach these difficulties, though, can alleviate some of the stress and pains of what may come. Holding together and standing firm, standing together, will provide us the strength to make it through as best we can, and to make the very best of whatever comes. We need not fear; the future can be as we make it.

"We shall persevere as best we can, even in the face of rumors of Ragnarok itself approaching. I can confirm that Ragnarok is indeed coming without shadow of a doubt. I have sought to prepare us for this upcoming war between the gods so that we are as protected as we can be."

The king paused, heart racing. He knew there was no good way to phrase this next part of his announcement.

"In order to prepare ourselves the best, I have taken the choice to ally our people with the goddess Hel. She… shall have our…" he swallowed, though tried to hide his faltering "…souls… but in exchange for it, we shall be in a better standing for upcoming times. As much of a change as this may seem, I assure you this decision was not made without the most careful of deliberation, and the one with the least amount of negative impact for us in the future."

Sveið Jóra Mær: Svie∂ listened in on Haddock’s speech to the rebellion…

"As very well all may have heard," he said, voice carrying to everyone, "hard times will be coming upon us. How we approach these difficulties, though, can alleviate some of the stress and pains of what may come. Holding together and standing firm, standing together, will provide us the strength to make it through as best we can, and to make the very best of whatever comes. We need not fear; the future can be as we make it.

"We shall persevere as best we can, even in the face of rumors of Ragnarok itself approaching. I can confirm that Ragnarok is indeed coming without shadow of a doubt. I have sought to prepare us for this upcoming war between the gods so that we are as protected as we can be."

'Wait- Ragnarok?' she thought. The tales that she heard her father tell about when she and Kira were little; was that why she was alive out of her own timeline and in future Wilderwest? 

"In order to prepare ourselves the best, I have taken the choice to ally our people with the goddess Hel. She… shall have our…" he swallowed, though tried to hide his faltering "…souls… but in exchange for it, we shall be in a better standing for upcoming times. As much of a change as this may seem, I assure you this decision was not made without the most careful of deliberation, and the one with the least amount of negative impact for us in the future."

'Wait- Hel? Okay this young king is a little crazy but…it sounds like he had no other choice..' She rationalized as various members of the rebellion began to rant in protest of the king's decision. 

Seasick: Seasick was still furious over how easily Stonegit was forgiven after he had woken up. After everything he had done, a simple “I’m sorry” was all it took for complete forgiveness. The young viking did not agree. She had hoped that this gathering was going to address the issue as well as past events, however much to her surprise and the surprise of everyone else, it was not.

Hearing the king’s words and watching him closely, Seasick became even more furious at him. It was obvious he was holding something back, perhaps even lying. Seasick could no longer stay silent.

"How can we trust you?!?" Seasick yelled out from the crowd. Those around her turned in shock, and the King’s eyes met hers. 

"Your majesty, with all due respect, you’ve missed quite a bit while you were… gone." She paused to take a deep breath, trying to keep her anger at bay. "When you were gone, things happened in this camp, bad things. We thought we were safe from demons, but they hid among our members, causing them to do horrible things. 

"Did Stonegit tell you what he did?" Seasick threw an angry glance at Stonegit and then turned back to the King. "How he put all of us on lock down? Threatened to kill us if we didn’t hand certain people over? How he attacked the Alpha and forcefully controlled the dragons? HE TERRORIZED US!" Seasick screamed. The members around her began to nod in agreement, many began whispering among themselves. 

"For three days Stonegit was completely out of his mind and he terrorized us, and you of all people, the one who missed it all, think it’s your decision to forgive him? Now suddenly he’s okay, and a simple "sorry" makes everything better? It doesn’t wash away the terror that was inflicted upon us. How do the rest of us know for sure he isn’t still possessed. How do we know YOU aren’t still possessed?"

There was so much anger within Seasick, and it all just came out at once. Still looking at the King, she continued, “We’ve trusted you far too many times and you’ve let us down. You haven’t protected us like you were meant to. Now you go behind our backs and sign away our souls to Hel? Without our consent? And you expect us to be okay with it? How do we know we’ll be okay? How do we know you aren’t lying? What more are you hiding from us?”

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: There was a second's pause after Seasick finished, and then Stonegit, from where he had been standing beside Haddock, heaved a quick sigh, and undid his weapons belt, dropping it to the floor. He rolled up his sleeves, turned his pockets inside out, and then calmly, and quickly walked down the towers stairs. He approached Seasick calmly, his hands up slightly. “Seasick…” he said carefully. “Neither you, nor anybody else, got a ‘sorry’ for what I did. Because I did not apologize, because it was not my fault. We’ve had to many possessions and damaged souls or memories…and too many innocent people taking the blame for them. I hope you can understand that Seasick…you are probably the most sensible person in the camp, and people should listen to you more.”

 ”But what Haddock did, there was a reason, and it’s a good one, believe me. It porbably saved our very lives, and if you will just give him a few minutes… he’ll be able to explain this.”  

Seasick: The anger within Seasick had subsided when Stonegit spoke to her. She looked at him sadly and said “I suppose you’re right, but recall the meeting we had when looking for a new leader. How many more chances are we going to give everyone? We can’t keep putting our trust in people if they only break it.” She sighed and looked at Haddock, “How can we trust that you’ll be able to protect us? Sure, you can say things, but that doesn’t mean you’ll go through with it. I want to be able to trust and follow my king, but from what you’ve just said, I’m finding it hard to do.”  

Grey Bergman: Grey wasn’t sure what to make of this as she pushed through the crowds of rebels hoping to get to Seasick and Stonegit before any further chaos broke out. As she pushed through the large group of people with Shadow, Greg, Warren, and Asha trailing behind her, all she could think about was Haddock’s speech just now…and what he said during their last conversation regarding the Warden. Once again, the king’s words rang clearly in her mind.  

"I am here to protect all of you. Do you not understand that?”

Now, here he was saying that he signed their souls over to Hel so that they could be in her army during Ragnorak. Stonegit was right… He had a reason for doing this so suddenly and without their consent, especially after he initially denied it when Hel visited a second time to give Stonegit back to them, and she was going to do whatever it took to find out what it was. She finally made it to the front as Seasick finished her statement to Stonegit. 

"Seasick, enough," Grey said firmly walking up to her. "This is King Haddock we’re talking about here. When in the few months we had been in this rebellion has he given you any reason not to trust him? He’s been here to protect us from Day 1. He would never put us in harm’s way. I know you’re scared…We’re all scared. It’s not every day you hear that your soul belongs to Hel whether you like it or not, but blaming our leader is not going to make things better. We have to trust him." 

Greg Ericson: Greg scoffed as his sister defended the king. “‘He would never hurt us’?” Greg called out to Grey. “That is large pile of crap and you know it Grey. You were there only days ago when Haddock pointed his sword at me, and for what? For standing up for you. If that is how he treats his subjects when they defend each other, I fear to see what happens should I breath the wrong way. The truth is we cannot trust this man to keep us safe. We cannot even trust him to keep his own temper in check!” 

Asuka Guarini: Asuka stood and loudly objected. “That man is not who you once knew! Forget everything you have ever known about him! I know a deep evil resides within him! I saw it once with my own eyes! Humans attacking other humans is a sad and pathetic act! I now see why the elves sent my sister myself to human school! To teach us how NOT to behave!” 

Cynbel: Just then a tall man with some muscle walked in and then tilted his head confused. He then sat down towards the back of the congregation. Please no one notice me… 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock had expected questions and perhaps some resistance, yet it still did not make the event any easier to handle. He tried to process the barrage of arguments for and against him bursting out all at once.

"I understand the confusion and the fear you all feel," he said, trying to speak above them. "I understand why you may doubt me for my choice." His eyes turned regretfully toward Greg as he said that comment. "This contract with Hel was not, as I hope you may sympathize, an easy choice to make, yet it was done with more conviction and consideration than a temperamental raise of a sword. I will answer any questions and attempt to placate any uncertainties in this manner. Please, be calm, and I will explain as you desire."

Seasick: Seasick had calmed down quite a bit, but was still unsure of everything that was happening. 

"Well, how about you explain how this happened?" she questioned the King. "If you want us to understand your choice, then explain WHY you made it? Why did you do it? What caused you you to go behind our backs and make such a  choice without asking us first? What made it so difficult, why did you make such a hasty decision? Please, o great King, tell us everything. No more lies!"

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit snarled slightly at the crowd. “Mind your tone!” he snapped. “You ask fair questions but Haddock is still out King. He has been addressing us with respect and you all ought to do the same.” 

He turned to Asuka. “And you…you show up out of nowhere, never recognize Haddock as you King, and yet you think you can live here while being exempt from all the rules? Who are you to throws such accusations, you don’t know Haddock, you don’t even know this rebellion!”

There was an angry murmur through the crowd and a small stream of smoke curled from Stonegit’s clenched fists. “Pacify your sarcasm and wild ludicrous accusations.”   

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock held up his hand to try to still Stonegit. “Thank you for your defense,” he said, nodding to his bodyguard. “Yet none of these people mean me intentional harm. It is right that they want answers.”   

He waited for peoples’ angry murmurs to die down. They sort of did, if not ever fully; he eventually continued on with a raised voice to be heard above the remaining discontented murmurs.

"Seasick, I can only partially remember the barrage of questions you have hurled at me, but I shall attempt to reply to what I remember accordingly now. You asked me for the purpose of my choice.

"If you remember, another army just recently stopped outside our camp, and I met with their leader, Orskaf Donz." Haddock refused to give that… monster… a title. "He leads the first regiment of Odin and the armies of Valhalla. He attempted to pressure me into a contract with his god… but it was one that was less benevolent than Hel offered me at an earlier time. Orskaf’s presence and the threat he posed to me made me realize we needed protection from the armies of Valhalla. I made the choice to ally with Hel because it was the better option; I would not have the people close to me harmed by Orskaf and his me."   

Blunt Donz: "Everything he says is true!" Blunt called, jogging up the scene and leaning over, breathing heavily. He straightened, placing a hand on his chest. "Orskaf Donz…is my grandfather. He is cruel and dangerous, and you owe your very lives to that King for aligning with Hel. There was no time for consent, he was here…and I know what kind of man he is." he paced around the crowd, his face serious. "He’s a predator. He gets off of hitting kids and throwing them across rooms. I have my fair share of scars that he gave to me, ones he gave to me before I had reached my teen years. And he would be no less merciful to your children."    

He turned pointing a finger at the audience. “He’s beat within an inch of your life for a stray word, he’d have you raped without a second thought or incline of guilt if you so much as stood up to him. He will order the slaughter of an entire town if it meant getting ride of a handful of noble half breeds!” 

Blunt drew a shaky breath. “Within the short day he was here, he hurt me, had his guards fight Stonegit four to one, and scorched your King’s head with a brand!”

"Shut up Blunt!" Stonegit said suddenly. Everything the man had said had been fine in Stonegit’s ears…everything, except for that very…last…part.    

Kira Mӕr: "Wait... RAPE?" Kira jumped into the commotion. "If that’s what the other choice was, I’d rather have Hel on my side!"   

Grey Bergman: Grey furrowed her eyebrows together at the man, who Stonegit called Blunt. Somehow that name seemed to be very fitting considered what he just said. She had never seen this Orskaf-guy, but…that last part was all she could focus on. Fight Stonegit four to one…and branded King Haddock…? All she could do was look up at King Haddock…not with anger…but with confusion and concern.    

"Your Majesty…" she called up to him. "What is he talking about?"   

Asuka Guarini: Asuka stood to object once more. “See I was—” But Skye stood up and looked right at her.    

Akira Skye: "Odin, do you EVER shut up? I mean really. Just SHUT UP already!" And then he cleared his throat and began to speak. "While I may not know if this is truth or not; I can tell you that being marked either mentally or psychically is not a fun thing. It brings much shame to the marked. You all remember me when I first came here? And how I wasn’t exactly the best person around; that’s because of the darkness that took over my mind and toyed with it. Almost as if it left a stigma… But it is gone and I am me once more. And I do not think that we can do the same for King Haddock… But! I do know that we can have a little bit of faith in him. He has not steered us wrong yet? Has he?"

Greg Ericson: Greg ignored Skye. All other conversations were diverting from the main issue, the mark. “Yes Haddock, Grey is right. I think we are all very keen to know if what this man speaks is the truth. Show us.” He demanded.

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock’s hand started to reach for his crown. His left hand carefully adjusted the circlet to make sure it was resting against the burn, the coldness of metal overlaying the burning sting of the recent brand mark. He also brushed his hair further to that side, hoping nothing could be seen of the slavemark.

"Blunt may be misinformed on the rumor of the brand," he said stiffly, hoping that would stifle demanding questions. "He is correct of Orskaf’s danger, though I was able to speak to Hel before real harm came to me."

Greg Ericson: Greg frowned. “I believe that there is only one way to prove that Haddock. If there is nothing there simply remove your crown for all to see. That would silence all the doubters, would it not? Unless of course you are hiding something from us.”

Akira Skye: Skye looked over at Greg and glared him down. “You have no right to talk of that! None at all! There’s always shame in having a mark on yourself that you didn’t put there of your own volition! You see it and regret it! I see mine on Grey’s face every time I look at her… You have no idea what it does to me! How it eats at a person and makes them feel less than human… Your rights to speak on this are none!”

Seasick: Listening to the back and forth comments, Seasick grew tired of her questions being avoided.

"Please, your majesty, can you just show us? Let’s settle this once and for all. A king should be honest and truthful to his people. You owe us the truth. No more lies. Please."

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock exhaled, eyes falling immediately to the ground. His face was whitened as his left hand again reached up for his head. Hopefully not everyone would be close enough to see what the exact mark was.

He wordlessly pulled the crown off with one hand, brushed aside his hair with the other, and rose his hazel eyes up gravely to Seasick, Greg, and the crowd. The s-shape mark was exposed.

Kira Mӕr: The sisters just stared at Haddock’s slavemark, saddened and shocked. Whatever happened to him..both of them shuttered to think of how terrible it must’ve been.

Greg Ericson: Greg sucked in a breath through his nose as the mark was exposed. It was just as he thought. He turned and addressed the crowd. “Do you see people! How easily your king lies to you! If we cannot trust him to tell the truth on such a simple matter as this, how are we to trust him at all!?”

Grey Bergman: Grey felt her jaw drop as she laid her eyes on the s-shaped mark…the slavemark on the king’s head. Tears welled in her eyes. Her island did not support slavery, but she know what it meant to other lands. It was basically the mark of shame. Her parents had taught her that the mark did not make the victim any less of a person. But…only one question remained…What could have happened during this meeting between this Orskaf-guy and King Haddock? She was jolted out of her thoughts when Greg started yelling to the people. She glared and grabbed him by the shoulder forcing him to look at her. 

"Greg, enough!" she yelled. "He is still our leader! I will NOT let you disrespect him like this! That mark does not make him any less of a man!"

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: "Oh no by all means keep talking," Stonegit said, staring at Grey is disbelief. "How dare our King initially hide a privet, hurtful injury, instead of proclaiming it all to you." he leaned forward, pointing a finger. "You got a problem with this? Fine. Leave it behind here, and go find somewhere else to call home." he jerked the finger off towards the west. "Orskaf is set up somewhere that way…last I checked he was always brutally honest…you’d like him."

Hel: "Well of course you could do that…well it wouldn’t make much of a difference, but you could do it in theory." said a calm cool voice. Hel materialized off to the side of the balcony, looking like a looming black shadow with orb like eyes. She tilted her head as she clicked her tongue, holding up a sassy finger. "Just so that we are clear, do you all know just how obnoxious a situation has to be to get your god to pull herself out of hel just to lay down the fact? Anybody? Questions? Comments? Concerns?" she shrugged. "Or you could go back to your virtually nonexistent mortal politics…either way."

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock gritted his teeth as soon as he saw Hel materialize amongst the crowd. The last thing he needed was for the goddess to show up and remind the people their souls belonged to her. It could create fear and more of a backlash against him. As soon as she spoke to quell the rebellion, though, he could only hope the people would listen to some capacity and let him to his duties as king.

He stepped backward, trying to dissolve from the situation, shoving the crown firmly back onto his forehead and holding it there by his ear with a lingering hand.

Grey Bergman: Grey glared at the goddess of Helheim and quickly hopped onto her dragon. The Night Fury lifted off into the air so that Grey was facing Haddock and Hel. The girl’s heart pounded as she stared at the ruler of Helheim, but nevertheless, she kept her glare and stood firm as Shadow growled at the goddess as well.

"Haven’t you caused enough trouble already?" she asked Hel. "Why don’t you just get out of here?"

Hel: "Ha ha. You’re funny." Hel said dryly. "Check this out," she said, some white teeth gleaming through the shadows of her face. She snapped her fingers. And Grey suddenly felt water well in her eyes. It spilled out in thick, tear like streams. Her lungs contracted and her stomach turned as she started to cough up water, the liquid draining out of her nose, mouth and ears. Hel gently caught them out of the air as the Night Fury too suffered a similar attack. She plopped them back on the ground, the water subsiding and allowing the two of them to breath again.

"Let make this clear." Hel said. “Gods are on the earth. If you aren’t own by a god you’re target practice and boredom busters for literally hundreds of armies made up of millions of jacked up, blood lusting soldiers. However, when you are own by a god, we give you power, we keep you from being slaughtered until official days of battle. And, of course, if your god wins you all get free passes to a safe new afterlife, for when you eventually pass away.”

"Now if you think I as a god would take my time to ask for all of ya’ll ‘permission’" she said, making quotation marks with her fingers. "Your dumb…actually…you’re all pretty dumb anyway, but that’s not the point. Anyways. So I had your King make the choice. To bad so sad, you’re on my side now…and I will deliver positive results. Oh sure Odin would have been cool to work for, except for the fact my old grandpappy is going to loose this war."

"So where does that leave you. Protected until official call to arms, empowered, soul secured, and on a winning team. Now the way I see it you can all except your fate…or whine like lil bitches and point fingers at one another. I don’t care. But if you lot even try to leave, or physically damage each other, I will personally haul my ass back up her, disintegrate you, and resemble you with tree sap…savvy?"   

Greg Ericson: Greg bowed his head, afraid to look at the goddess directly and said, “If I may? I would like to make request for a new leader to take the place of Gareth. He has proven that he has lied to us and if we cannot trust him in simple day to day affairs, how are we to trust him with our lives on the field of battle?”

Grey Bergman: Grey glared up at her adoptive little brother as she continued to breathed heavily from where she laid on Shadow’s back. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. This was the same teen, who had the guts to go and befriend the Warden…a demon. Now, here he was asking HEL for a new leader. She mustered all the strength she could to pick herself up off Shadow’s back. She was a little dizzy but she managed to fight it long enough to face Greg.

"I don’t believe you," Grey said sternly. "You had no problem befriending the Warden when she has done far more horrible things than any of us, but the minute that King Haddock did something to you and revealed that he was hiding a slavemark… the mark of shame… you’re asking the ruler of Helheim for a new leader?! I’m not justifying him pointing that sword at you, but you have got some nerve for even thinking that! What happened to second chances and the benefit of a doubt?"

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: Haddock clenched his fists at Greg’s words, angered. How very much he desired to charge up and silence the man before Hel could even consider stripping away his own kingship, his livelihood, everything he knew and loved and cared for and strove to do. 

Except that charging Greg… would prove… exactly what he meant. That Haddock couldn’t be trusted. 

"Don’t you know how long I trained to be a king?" he muttered angrily under his breath instead, not loud enough for anyone to hear. "How much effort it takes? How many difficult decisions I have had to mull over and make?"

How long I have tried to live up to the footsteps of my father.

He could hear Grey trying to countermand Greg’s request to Hel. Yet the fact someone was on his side did not prevent the king from falling into worry. 

For the love of Od - no. No. Greg can’t be right. And Hel wouldn’t possibly remove my… no… would she…?

The king stayed silent, obtruding the world only to breathe.

Greg Ericson: Greg looked coldly at Grey. “No one hurts my family.” He said simply.

Hel: "Hmmm right," Hel said, laying down on her stomach and getting eye level with Greg…that is, it would have been eye level if her head hadn’t been the size of one of the fortress towers. "And hand picking a brand new King from a pack of child prisoners would totally keep your family safe." She rolled her eyes. "Newsflash everybody, nobody is king anymore. Get a grip, we’re gods, and we’re on the earth. The title of king means absolutely nothing now."

She waved hand. “So yeah, sure, whatever, I decree that Haddock is no longer King…or anybody else in the entire world. Good enough?”

Greg Ericson: "Then when the time comes, who will lead us into battle?" He asked, his head remaining down. "I do not mean to sound insolent, but an army cannot win a war without being led in the right direction."

Treepelt Halfpaw: “You should have thought of that before asking to dump his authority,” an irritated voice said from the edge of the crowd. Tree folded her arms tightly and glared at Greg. “Look, I’m mad too, but you don’t just get rid of your king, that’s not going to solve anything.” She started to walk through the crowd, tail flicking slowly back and forth. “Our first rebellion might have worked, but are you really going to count on it a second time?  I don’t like this any more than you do, but we don’t exactly have any replacements! What did you think you were going to do?” She balled her fists and got right in Greg’s face. “What, did you think you would make a better king than he is?” Turning back around to face the crowd, and keeping her back to Hel, Tree said stoutly, “Sounds to me like Hel doesn’t care either way, so unless everyone says otherwise, Haddock stays king.” She raised her eyebrows, waiting for a response. 

Stonegit Brotchurn Elmiss: Stonegit starred at Tree, blinking a few times, and then nodded seriously. “Hel may say Haddock isn’t King. She may own us. She may be able to do whatever she wants. But she can’t keep us from going to people for help. Haddock has entertained our every request for council, no matter how trivial. He may not have always had the answer, he may not be perfect…” he glanced up at the King. “To some…” he breathed, and then turned back to the crowd. “But he has never turned any of us away, he has protected this place, and most of all, he gave you your freedom!” he raised his fist into the air as well. “So I say he stays! Title or not!”

Blunt Donz: Blunt licked his lips, and then raised his fist into the air. “I’ll admit I think I could do a bang up job as king…I mean, I really, really think I could do better than most but…” he sighed, dropping the act. “Yeah what the Hel! I’m with Stonegit.” 

Grey Bergman: Grey smiled at Tree and Stonegit, thankful for them speaking up for their King. She took a deep breath.  

"I agree," she said walking up to Stonegit and placing a hand on his shoulder. "I couldn’t care less about what Hel says. The last conversation Greg, Warren, and I had with Haddock might not have been…a pleasant one, but I was always taught that you stand by your leaders no matter what, especially if they had done nothing but good for the people. King Haddock is not perfect. He’s only human, but that shouldn’t decide whether or not he should stay King. He has been there for us and gave us chances to prove ourselves in this Rebellion. Some of his actions may not have been justifiable, but come on, I’m sure that there have been some actions we have done and cannot take back. We have given Stonegit a second chance. Now, it’s time for us to do the same for our King!" 

Seasick: "But that leads to a problem" Seasick spoke up again. "How many more chances are people going to get? Some of the things that have happened in the rebellion are quite horrific, and you can only make so many excuses for their actions. You just can’t keep following people blindly." 

Seasick paused and looked up at the king. “This mark you have, some people will have an issue with it, and if they do, they should be allowed to leave the camp peacefully. Those who take no issue with it, should be allowed to stay. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Haddock should remain king, as he’s been our leader for a while, and the last thing we need is a power struggle. But know this, if you want to keep your followers, you must be honest with them, and consult them on whatever issues that arise. We depend on you for protection, so please, no more lies.” 

Gareth Ragnar Haddock the Second: The king’s face had continued to pale the entire conversation. He stood there, awkwardly, trying to continue inching back, to escape this nightmarish situation. Yet he could not back away, could not escape from this situation, neither by fighting nor fleeing. This was about him. Who he was, who he would be… it would be decided by the people around him, some of whom were showing loyalty, but many of whom… were not. 

The first exile and stripping of titles Haddock had undergone as an eighteen-year-old had been more than bad enough. So long he had striven to prove he was someone who deserved the title king… and yet… even for all that…

These people questioned him.

Words passed and forth as people argued what the Rebellion’s leadership should be like. Every time someone mentioned the brand or the lies or Haddock’s dubious credentials, Haddock’s forehead pulsated, burning as though it again were making contact with Orskaf’s hot iron.

Good gods. What could he possibly say to alleviate this situation? Was there a way?

Seasick spoke up, defending him even as she called him out for lying to them. It was at this point Haddock could insert himself back into the conversation. Defend himself.

Hope… that people listened.

He would not know what to do with himself if they did not. No, don’t think on it.

"I agree I am an imperfect ruler," he said, forcing himself to announce that loudly. He might have choked on his own voice. "Far from perfect. There are many better than me." He pursed his lips at the bad taste of that admittance. "Yet all I have sought, and will continue to seek, is the good of everyone. I wish to be transparent as much as I can. I wish to hear the voice of everyone around me and understand them.

"There are times I will act on my own volition and mine alone. The contract with Hel, for instance, rose up in a situation that… consulting others was… ah… inconvenient. In situations as this you will have to respect my judgment and my knowledge to represent your desires, or go with what I feel is the best choice even when some people voice dissatisfaction. I cannot please everyone simultaneously." He swallowed. "But I try.

"In these times we must be unified. To leave the rebellion now - peacefully, otherwise - even under political disagreement compromises the integrity of our unity and strength. We must seek our common views, our common goals, rather than stagger beneath the blow of dissenting opinions. There can be - there is - a way for us to step forward strongly even in light of what is ongoing now. We need not split. Need not make radically different changes to the leadership in order to address fears and grievances. I will listen to all of you and work to make what is here now the best it can be for all of us. For all of us to be protected, for all of us to survive… we must be one people. Not factioned.

"I humbly beg of you," said Haddock, holding his crown in front of him, "to reconsider any changes in the hierarchy in this time of turmoil. Ask yourselves if it is worth it to divide ourselves on such an issue. I am willing to work with you to solve this problem. I hope we need not more drastic measures to address any problems.

"My name is Haddock, King of the Wilderwest. It is who I am, and you will not take it from me. You need not take it from me. A king’s job is to serve. In light of recent circumstances, I shall endeavor to do that better than I have before." 

Fiendal Hrothgar Hookless: "I, for one, stand by this man to stay king!" Fiendal called out from the crowd. "I have spent uncountable years of my life running from royal guards and angry villagers, at the point where i only had the safety of leaves to keep me hidden at night. I was alone and scared." he said, then used the curve of his hook to gesture to king. "When i came here, when this very man let me live here. I felt safe again. If you find him to be inadequate in his actions and what he has allowed us all to do, then you are free to pack your bags and leave, but would it be worth living as a warrior deprived of all he has?” he then swiped his hands across his chest. “NO!” he yelled, “trust me when i say what is here is better than what is out there, and that your king, our king is giving us the best he can!” 

Hel: Hel surveyed the crowd, nodding slightly. “Well then…it appears you’ve all come to a reasonable conclusion. Very well, follow this man if you feel like you need to do so. But don’t his orders, or anybody else’s for that matter, over my own.” Hel twisted her mouth to one side in thought. "Since we’re looking for unity here, I may as well own up to some…miscellaneous details. For starters, I will formally take the blame for the both bodyguards previous actions, that was my bad. Next, I will put suspicion to rest. As you all may know, being Hel and all and demons coming from me and whatnot, the Warden, as you call her, is my granddaughter. She has acquired her own body now, and has left the camp, whether or not she’ll be back I don’t know. But for now, you can all rest easy knowing she is not among you."

 Hel shrugged with a sniff. "Like I said, petty things really. So does anybody need anything before I go? Snacks? A drink? Better speak up now because I have stuff to do."

"Um…yes!" Blunt called up from where he stood, raising his hand. "Since you offered, I’ll take a fruit salad or whatever you happen to have food wise."

Hel stared down at the man in deadly silence, then she slowly pushed a hand into her black, mist like form, produced a pear and slapped it into Blunt’s open hand. "Bitch." she grumbled. "Anybody else?"  

Grey Bergman: Grey glared at the ruler of Helheim as she left Stonegit’s side and stepped forward. Her heart pounded as she remembered what Hel did to her and Shadow moments before. She took a deep breath.  

"There is one thing that I’m sure we’re all curious about," she said crossing her arms. "Tell us about Ragnorak, and don’t leave out any details. When is it happening? How will we know when it’s happening? And what’s going to happen?" 

Hel: "Well I would love to explain that to you…not for you personally but for the betterment of the cooperation of the three to five hundred souls here." Hel took a breath. "Anyways. Due to an increase of people cheating death, including Rockdope and Vox Von Shmit here, along with an ungodly number of people from Japan. The end of the world has come early. Because basically, due to all the mortal mayhem, and despite how dysfunctional my family is, we agree that it’s time to start fresh…that’s about all we agree on…hence the war. Now here is the order of operations." 

"Humans are the bottom of the food chain, the only thing they can offer to keep themselves from getting flat out slaughtered is their souls. A god enlists human services in bulk, each in his or her own way, it’s a mass call to arms slash resource harvest, so you can understand why it can’t be handled in individual cases. Once a human is under the protection of a god other god owned armies cannot attack them unless it is a ‘day of reckoning,’ AKA, when the gods decide its time to fight one another."

"When this happens the armies fight one another until the gods call it a day, then we go back. Those who live, live. Those who die are absorbed into the god and go into a peaceful stasis until Ragnorok is finished. Then we go on repeat."

Hel rubbed her chin. "That’s the jist of it…was that answer satisfactory?"  

Sveið Jóra Mær: "But…I was…" she stuttered a bit not used to talking in such crowds. "But I was brought back here.. after I died. It wasn’t really my choice, I was just here and I was back here alone until somehow my sister turned up.” She explained.  

"I’m not used to talking in such a crowded place as this but.. All I want to know from you is- Why? I’m fine with being able to heal people and help people." 

"I..uh."Svied hesitated gathering her thoughts, her sister behind her supporting her. She looked back at her sister and then to the dark demon maiden. 

"Why am I here in a future I’m just so lost in?"  

Hel: Hel sighed quietly. Only time time it did not have its usual bite. "Children, I don’t know why terrible things befell you in your young lives." he motioned to crowd, and then to Stonegit and the Haddocks as she spoke. "Sometimes it’s because something was meant to shape you, other times its because you were stupid. I dunno it’s not my forte. But… most time…every time, is simply because mortals mess as much shit up as gods do, sometimes more." She studied Svied. “But you…well I certainly would not have given up a soul willingly…nor would have grandpappy…or anybody else for that matter. My guess is, you did it to yourself, whether you realize it or not. You wanted to stay here for some very…special…or at lost some strong willed reason.”

 Hel sighed once more. “I hope that help. Now, I must leave, do be dears and not nag too much while I’m gone. It’s terribly grating on the ears. In the mean time, I suggest you all go home and sleep on this. You’v all had enough for one day.” 

With that the deity disappeared, leaving the fortress in silence.   

Sveið Jóra Mær: Svied stood deep in thought. Had she really come here on her own terms? Not that Hel was wrong to say that, Actually with how she felt, she was open to suggestions about how she got here.  

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