Language: English
Waterburcht Burning
Author Frythild Shairskwynn
Translator Calmeus Sárranyl (High Elven)
Sanghith Mithyré (Wood Elven - Artaburro)
Majeishi Ratsun (Wood Elven - Dragoc)
Ärró Nelvarryl (Dark Elven)
Frythild Shairskwynn (Etrandish)
Country Earldom of Etrancoast
Language Etrancoasti
Genre Historical fiction
Published 784 AEKE (Froturn)
787 AEKE (Etrand)
790 AEKE (Artaburro and Dragoc)
792 AEKE (Etrancoast)

Waterburcht Burning is an Etrancoasti historical tragedy novel written by Frythild Shairskwynn between 776 and 778 AEKE, published first in Froturn in 784. The novel revolves around the Etrandish conquest of Hulra, the replacement of the Kingdom of Hulra with the Viceroyalty of Etrancoast. Due to its negative portrayal of both the Kingdom of Etrand (portraying them as ruthless rapists and massacre-commiters) and the native Hulran/Etrancoasti nobility (portraying them as cowardly collaborators), the book found itself under the scrutiny of the Inquisition, banned in both Etrancoast and Etrand - thanks to the lobbying of King Cael'mus of Froturn however, the book was translated to High Elven and published in Froturn along with the original Etrancoasti version.

After Frythild wrote another book, Flowers of Titanius - which gained its first fan in the person of the ageing King Cairbré of Etrand - he was contacted by royal authorities form Etrand, asking him for the right to publish his book. Frythild replied by saying that he will give the right only if he is allowed to publish Waterburcht Burning as well. In the end, it was agreed that he could publish Flowers of Titanius and a censored version of Waterburcht Burning in Etrand - both books were published in 787, two years before King Cairbré died. The censored version differed from the original in that parts that depicted the Inquisition and Saint Kyneric in an overly negative light were cut, and parts involving Saint Ragenald were re-written to downplay his sympathy for Pagans and emphasize his sympathy for civilian victims of violence instead.

In 790, the Wood Elven translation of censored version was released in Artaburro, while the Wood Elven translation of the original, unabridged version was released the same year in Dragoc. The book finally found its way to its homeland Etrancoast in 792, when the local authorities finally allowed for the release of the censored version.

Plot Edit

Chapter I: Waterburcht Burning (274 AEKE) Edit

The year is 274. After 1425 years of existence, the Kingdom of Hulra has ceased to exist - conquered by Etrand. The proud warrior people of Hulra is completely shocked by this defeat and does not know how to react. People try to cope with life, even as their lives gradually turn into living hell: woman are raped and civilians are publicly executed on the streets seemingly for no reason at all. Petty crimes that are normally ignored by the law enforcement in Etrand guarantee to earn you a crossbow bolt in your chest in occupied Hulra. To make matters even worse, what most people would normally turn to - spiritual relief - is also denied to the people of Hulra: the old Pagan faith is outlawed, ancient temples are desecrated, destroyed or converted into Titanist churches, people are forced to convert to this new religion at the point of a sword. Normal food is scarce, with turnip soup and wood-bread becoming the standard diet for urban Hulrans, foraging and hunting in forests becoming a must-do action for rural Hulrans.

Amidst all this chaos lives Galfrith in a kind of apartment building with his wife Lynn and daughter Swidéra. He was a hunter before moving to Waterburcht, now he works as a tanner and a cook, while his wife is a tailor. Galfrith's younger sister, the virgin beauty Hrikka works at a nearby tavern, which is now being frequented by Etrandish soldiers such as Aelfric, who get uncontrollably drunk and do terrible things - the native Hulrans are forced to endure. During this time, Galfrith cooks for the Etrandish soldiers in the same tavern Hrikka is a maid at. He converts to the new faith - not out of true conviction, but more out of convenience -, and comes to befriend a priest named Ladislaus. Through Ladislaus, he comes in contact with and befriends Jákbyr, a pagan priest.

Galfrith, while initially trying to reject the traditional Hulran mentality of "death over oblivion" and cope with his life, he finds unable to do that when he witnesses things he cannot understand on a daily basis: men and children are bound up in chains and escorted at a crossbow-point, then executed for seemingly no reason; women are taken into desecrated temples and raped in front of their families; homes are looted and the rule of the law is as good as non-existent. Once proud warriors, the Hulrans are paralyzed by the shock and terror of the current state of affairs - the Etrandish army is openly terrorizing the Hulran people, and the nobles - the nobles who still have some power left - are doing nothing to prevent it.

Galfrith comes home to the news of more and more austere meals every day. His sister Hrikka complains about being whistled at and groped, but Galfrith tells her to "bear with it, things could be worse". On his work, he gets told that Ladislaus and Jákbyr together are working to save women from being raped and men from being executed by sheltering them at a church. Even though he is co-operating with the current regime, he is compelled into joining the efforts of the two priests to save his people - he convinces his cohabitants to shelter people at the apartments.

Day by day, things are not improving at all. More desperate people are leaving their small family houses in favour of overcrowded tenements, including Galfrith and his family, who are now eating "bread" made out of random roots. Hrikka's situation too has gotten worse - according to her, the Etrandish soldiers at her tavern have made a "must-do" ritual out of slapping her buttocks and squeezing her breasts. Galfrith was growing more and more frustrated. To make matters even worse, Ladislaus got recalled to Etrand and arrested for his sympathy for the common population, leaving the struggle to save the innocent to Galfrith and Jákbyr.

One day, the authorities came knocking on Galfrith's doors, accusing him of hiding rebels. His sister was being taken away by Etrandish soldiers who want to have their way with her - Galfrith's daughter began hitting one of the soldiers' legs, which made them throw her out of the window. The enraged Galfrith attacked the Etrandish soldiers with his axe, driving them away. After this, Galfrith became a wanted person, forcing him into hiding. Lynn and Hrikka - who got raped and impregnated - too begin escaping, to northern borderlands near the mountains where the Etrandish don't have as tight control as in the cities.

Meanwhile, Galfrith was on the run, eventually getting caught by the Aelfric, whose thugs overpowered him and took him to the public square in Waterburcht to execute him. He was beheaded publicly, but before being killed, he told Aelfric that "my wife is pregnant and have escaped, and you don't do squat about it!". Lynn and Hrikka succesfully escape, but only Lynn lives for a long time - Hrikka dies of childbirth, and her half-Etrandish half-Hulran offspring does not survive for much longer either. Jákbyr's fate is never stated, but it is implied he got captured and executed like Galfrith. Ladislaus was arrested for having pagan sympathies, but the church lobbied for him being released, and "exiled" to a monastery in Northern Froturn, where he'd stay until his death.

Chapter II: The Gathering Storm (308, 329 AEKE) Edit

The year is 308, 34 years after 274. Galfrith's widow Lynn has given birth to a son: Renward, who is a 34-year old married man by 308. The current general-viceroy of Etrancoast is Ethelstan Lynd, who is just as ruthless as his predecessor Stephanus Mirenwald. Renward is a self-sufficent man who survives from a mixture of hunting, goat-herting, foraging and selling wood. For all practical purposes, he is an outlaw, living in an area that is not controlled by the laws. He is living an idyllic life with his wife and son, but that idyll is soon broken when he kills an Etrandish officer out of self-defence.

Renward runs away, but is eventually caught. Correctly assuming that he is a pagan, the initial verdict was meant to be execution, but it was eventually overturned in favour of thirty years of hard labour. Renward tries to escape on the first day, but is killed during his failed attempt. Hearing the news, his wife is saddened, and succumbs to a combination of sorrow, starvation and exposure, while his young son with the same name swears revenge. Later, it is revealed that the man really responsible for the death of Renward the Elder was Ethelwi.

The younger Renward wanders around until finally giving up on life, but instead of a successful attempt at suicide, he is taken in by a family of thieves. Growing up, Renward was trained in the ways of smuggling, lying, lock-picking, pickpocketing and slicing throats. He became one with the shadows.

The year is 329, and now the younger Renward is all grown up, a handsome adult man. Rather than the virtuous man his father and grandfather were, he is a swindler, a con-artist, a man who makes his life by deceiving others with the help of his friends Wambald and Osnoth. Only upon re-learning about his true heritage - his father and grandfather - he becomes a "honorable thief" and begins putting his skills to use for a "noble cause" - aiding the Hulran resistance movement. Serving a "good cause" however still does not stop him from performing morally repurgant actions, such as raping a local nobleman's, Ethelwi's daughter Waldina twice - first out of spite, to humiliate her father, then out of punishment, for telling to to her father. The Waldina's father Ethelwi was considered a tyrant by the people, as he was arresting peasants for being pagan and closely working with the Inquisition, but his daughter whom Renward raped twice was completely innocent.

Backup by the people he supported by donating his illegally-gained wealth, he then riles up the peasants and leads an arson against Ethelwi's castle, masking his face to make sure no one can identify him. Ethelwi is beaten up badly but left alive, his castle however is burned to the ground - Renward quietly escapes the scene. The following days, he gets summoned to court, where he is charged with the crimes he did in fact commit - rape and arson. He pleads not-guilty, and the court actually believes him - Waldina's rape accusation is taken as "deaf woman-talk", and the peasants saying that he led the arson are taken as "unbelievable deframation". Renward is "proven" innocent, and is let go free.

After that event, he continues to live his life of deceit and fraud, eventually dying a peaceful life, just like his friends. Ethelwi and Waldina end up migrating to Etrand.

Chapter III: Waterburcht Burning Again (497-498 AEKE) Edit

The year is 497. A lot of things have changed since 329: the Viceroyalty of Etrancoast was abolished, and the Earldom of Etrancoast was founded. Etrancoast has its own ruler, who may be a vassal of the King of Etrand, but his voice still holds weight. The nobiltiy is no longer being held at a crossbow-point to do the bidding of the King of Etrand. Does that mean any real improvement for the pagan population? No. No improvements at all. The Inquisition is hunting down pagans just as relentlessly as in 329, 304 and 274, if not even more relentlessly - while the nobility of Etrancoast was no longer held at a crossbow-point to obey every whim of the King of Etrand, they for some reason still felt motivated to lick the King's behind and co-operate with the Inquisition, justifying it with "preserving our freedom and autonomy".

To Liudulf - a crypto-pagan tribal leader with much prestige and wealth, descendant of Renward - this is nothing but cowardice. He was personally acquited with elderly people who had memories of the time before Etrancoast received it's autonomy in 433. They told him stories of their forefathers, of how badly the people suffered, and Liudulf came to the conclusion that people in Etrancoast in 497 have it just as bad.

Being a de facto chieftain, more and more peasants turned to him, asking him to bring change. At first, he replied by claiming to be powerless against the nobility of Etrancoast, let alone the mighty Etrand, but as more and more peasants began begging him, he has grown more and more confident and willing to start a revolution. He and his men began petitioning and protesting with their demands:

  • Free practice of their Pagan religion
  • Abolition of serfdom, freeing of all serfs
  • Abolition of nobility's priviliges: all free men are born equal
  • Lower taxes
  • Less corruption

Initially, Liudulf believed that he could win by negotiating, and that Etrand's leaders would be reasonable enough to give into his demands. Alas, that was not to be. The government of Etrancoast - with Etrand's full blessing - ordered the army to open fire at the peaceful protesters. Liudulf and his men retreated from Waterburcht, but not without leaving a carnage in the city, burning buildings belonging to residents of Etrandish descent, and Titanist temples. During this event, a Titanist priest named Ragenald and his laymen are almost massacred by the pagan mob - Liudulf prevents that from happening. After the event, Liudulf befriendings Ragenald, who at the time is believed to be a prisoner by the Etrandish authorities, but actually a friend of Liudulf.

One year later, the situation in Etrancoast is growing more and more complicated every year. Liudulf's reputation is growing, as he is now considered a heroic thief who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Despite not being of noble birth, the people see him as their tribal leader, someone they can trust and unite under. Liudulf - who was already a de facto chieftan one year before - is now named the founder of a new tribe. The "peasant king" continues to frustrate Etrancoast by sabotaging missionaries, stealing from nobility, sabotaging tax collection providing means of migration to willing peasants, and so on.

By 498, he deems himself powerful enough to act openly - he begins storming castles belonging to nobles, taking them with ease and taking the noblemen prisoners, beating the army of Meginbraht and killing him. He then walks onto Waterburcht itself, and starts besieging it. During the siege, he starts seeing troubling visions: visions of him being captured and burned on a stake, visions of three more men after him trying to follow his footsteps and fail, visions of the people of Etrancoast abandoning their old gods and forgetting about their heritage.

Determined to prevent the "prophecy" from turning into reality, he launches a desperate assault on the city, only to be beaten back. He then lifts the siege and retreats, only to try besieging the city again the following month. Two weeks later, the siege is interrupted by an Etrandish attack led by Marius Osriking and Thankbern - in a final battle between Liudulf's men and the Etrandish knights, most of the pagans are slain on the battlefield. Liudulf himself and given a trial, in which Ragenald is forced to make a choice: either become a hermit monk, or take part in the trial. Ragenald chooses to take part in the trial, but he testifies in favour of Liudulf and becomes his lawyer, ultimately failing to prevent his inevitable fate - being burned on a stake. Ragenald even came dangerously closed to being arrested himself, as he was overstepping his authorities by bringing in testimonies about how Liudulf really behaved: saving Titanist priests and monks from being lynched by his fellow pagans, saved peasants from being harrassed, convinced bandits to return to a lawful life, etc.

While burning to death, Liudulf yells "Mark my words, this is far from over! One day, my beloved Hulra will rise again!"

After the incident, Ragenald becomes a wandering priest in Etrand, telling stories about the truth in Etrancoast, while giving charity to the poor and offering services as a lawyer for free to those wrongfully accused of crimes. After his death, Ragenald becomes the patron saint of lawyers.

Characters Edit

Chapter I: Waterburcht Burning (274 AEKE) Edit

  • Galfrith the Hunter (fictional): the main protagonist of Chapter I, he was originally a hunter who was also a competent cook and tanner, he moved to Waterburcht with his wife Lynn and daughter Swidéra three years before the final war between Etrand and Hulra. Initially, he collaborates with the authorities by converting to Titanism and providing food and leather to the occupying Etrandish, which initially earns him a relatively priviliged position. However, this position of privilige is not enough to prevent his sister Hrikka from being raped by Etrandish soldiers and his daughter Swidéra from being thrown out of the window. After the incident, he reverts to Paganism and becomes an enemy of the new authorities - rather than going together with Lynn and Hrikka, he goes into hiding. At the end of Chapter I, he is captured and executed by the men of Aelfric.
  • Lynn (fictional): the wife of Galfrith, a talented woman blessed with beauty, strength and intelligence alike, she works as a tailor in Waterburcht at the beginning. After the incident in which her sister-in-law Hrikka is raped and her daughter Swidéra is thrown out of the window, she escapes while pregnant, and outlives her husband by at least two decades, giving birth to a son who swears to avenge his father and aunt whom he never knew.
  • Swidéra (fictional): the prepubiscent daughter of Galfrith and Lynn, she was initially looking forward to a better life in Waterburcht before the war ruined it all. She gets thrown out of the windows of her parents house by Etrandish soldiers due to his father's unwillingness to let the soldiers rape his sister.
  • Hrikka (fictional): Galfrith's younger sister. She has been living in Waterburcht for much longer than Galfrith and Lynn, working as a maid at a tavern. She first witnesses sexual harassment while at work, then eventually these incidents get more and more close to actual sexual assaults. She eventually loses her virginity as a result of rape by Etrandish soldiers and escapes together with Lynn. Eventually, she dies of childbirth - her half-Hulran half-Etrandish offspring does not survive either.
  • Jákbyr (fictional): Hulran pagan priest in hiding, he befriends Galfrith and Ladislaus. He desperately tries to cheer up the depressed Galfrith, even though he himself is greatly troubled by the Etrandish occupation and turns to drinking to fight his sorrow. He is also known as a skilled singer with a deep voice. His fate is unknown, but it is assumed that he was later found and executed.
  • Ladislaus (fictional): Etrandish Titanist missionary, who ironically ends up befriending Galfrith and the pagan priest Jákbyr. He secretly hides a lot of innocent people - including Jákbyr - in his temple, people who would be otherwise raped or executed. At the of the chapter, he is recalled to Etrand and arrested with suspicion of having Pagan sympathies, but the Church authorities lobby for his release - he retires as a solitary monk in Froturn, in an unknown mountain monastery and dies as a troubled man, troubles by guilt of not being able to save as many innocent people as he wanted.
  • Aelfric (fictional): a high-ranking Etrandish officer, subordinate of the general-viceroy Stephanus Mirenwald. He is particularly sadistic and lustful, remembered by the readers for his tendency to indiscriminate have random Etrancoasti men and children executed and women raped. On the "softer" side, Aelfric is an alcoholic known by his soldiers for his horrible singing skills and tendency to trip while dancing. In the end of Chapter I, he is discharged from service with the excuse that his excessive brutality was counterproductive. He dies three years later from ambigious causes, assumed to be either alcohol poisoning or a lethal accident while drunk.
  • Stephanus Mirenwald (historical): the general of the occupying forces and viceroy of Etrancoast, he is portrayed as a man with a violent temper who orders the execution of civilians for seemingly no reason. He is also portrayed as a corrupt man who receives gifts from the Etrancoasti nobility so that his men spare their families. He is working closely with the Inquisition.

Chapter II: The Gathering Storm (308, 329 AEKE) Edit

  • Renward the Elder (fictional): the son of Galfrith and Lynn, he never knew his father Galfrith or older sister Swidéra, as both were killed before he was even born. He deeply resents both the Kingdom of Etrand and the Viceroyalty of Etrancoast for being responsible for the deaths of his father and sister - he lives as a de facto outlaw for all of his life in a forest hamlet near the mountains as a hunter-goatherder-lumberjack. After he kills an Etrandish officer out of self-defence, he gets arrested and sentenced to thirty years of hard labour, but gets killed on day one during his failed attempt to escape.
  • Renward the Younger (fictional): the main protagonist of Chapter II, the son of Renward the Elder, he was just a child when his father was killed. Having lost his mother as well after the death of his father, the hopeless child wants to die, but before he could succumb to exposure and starvation, he is taken in by a family of thieves. Renward grows up to be a handsome and jolly con-artist who frauds gullible people to make money. After learning about his heritage, he begins to use his illegaly-gained wealth to financially support insurgents, who end up spending the money to build their own weapons and secret underground bases. Renward becomes a "honourable thief" who steals from the rich and gives to the poor - he also orchestrates an arson against the castle of a nobleman who arrests pagan peasants, rapes that nobleman's daughter, but no one can prove his guilt - he ends up getting away with all his crimes and continues his criminal life until he eventually dies a peaceful death.
  • Wambald (fictional): one of the companions of Renward, he has a missing eye, so he wears an eye-patch to cover it up. A jolly and merry figure, he has a nose for treasures, loves a good usquebaugh and enjoys nothing more than spending hours figuring out what to spend the "spoils of war" at. While arguably little more than a good-for-nothing rogue who has no qualms about stealing from poor and rich alike, he limits himself to being a cutpurse rather than a cuthroat, and doesn't take part in Renward's more radical crimes. He retires from criminal life to become a farmer in the end, but remains pagan until the day he dies.
  • Osnoth (fictional): another partner-in-crime of Renward, and outspoken pagan who makes fun of Titanists by spilling water over their heads at the local tavern, then makes a mockery of the law by constantly running away succesfully. Just like Renward, he manages to get away with all of the crimes he commits, and ends up dying of old age.
  • Ethelwi (fictional): the main villain of Chapter II, he is the one responsible for the death of Renward the Elder, and he is the one who continues to overtax his peasants and gives the Inquisition a free hand at arresting and executing practictioners of Paganism. He also suffers from cultural cringe, admiring Etrand and despising his own Hulran culture and people. After his castle is burned to the ground, he migrates to Etrand and lives as a "noble beggar" who freeloads of Etrandish nobles out of their sympathy.
  • Waldina (fictional): Ethelwi's late-teenage daugher, a beautiful and talented woman whose outer beauty is contrasted by "inner ugliness": she despises the ordinary folk and hangs out with important Etrandish figures visiting Etrancoast. She ends up being raped by Renward twice, which only furthers her hatred against anyone who is not of nobility. After her father's castle is burned to the ground, she migrates to Etrand and marries into an Etrandish noble family.
  • Saint Kyneric (historical): the secondary villain of Chapter II, he is a Titanist Inquisitor who ruthlessly suppresses pagan practices, personally overseeing the investigations. He ends up killed by the pagan mob, which leads to him being sanctified after his death.
  • Ethelstan Lynd (historical): General-viceroy of Etrancoast between 304 and 312, he only makes brief appearances in the beginning. By 329, he is no longer the viceroy.
  • Kelper Meush (historical): The first civilian viceroy of Etrancoast, he held the office between 312 and 343, he is portrayed as an incompetent bureaucrat who fails to curb the (fictional) crime epidemic that swept across Etrancoast in 329.

Chapter III: Waterburcht Burning Again (497-498 AEKE) Edit

  • Liudulf the Rebel (semi-historrical): The main protagonist of Chapter III, he is based off the historical Liudulf, Liudolf the Rebel is a descendant of the (fictional) Renward the Younger, Renward the Elder and Galfrith (the real Liudulf's ancestry is unknown), he ends up leading a pagan revolt in 497-498 AEKE. After his failed revolt, he is burned on a stake.
  • Saint Ragenald (historical): The secondary protagonist of Chapter II, he is a Titanist priest, who - despite his religious affilations - sympathizes with Liudulf and his rebels, already before meeting him, but even more after befriending the man himself. He is saved by Liudulf from being killed by the pagan mob, and starts giving charity to the poor and starving during Liudulf's rebellion, and after Liudulf is caught, Ragenald acts as his lawyer, defending him in court. Despite his best efforts, Liudulf is burned on a stake. After that, Ragenald is ridden with guilt for taking part in the trial, and starts wandering around Etrand, giving charity to the poor and helping those who were wrongly accused of crimes. Ragenald also writes a book about what he deems the "historically correct" description of Liudulf's rebellion. After his death, he is sanctified and becomes the patron saint of lawyers.
  • Reginhard (fictional): the best friend of Liudolf, he is a jolly berserker with fondness for alcohol, whose main function is to provide comic relief in the otherwise serious and dramatic novel. He dies in the final battle.
  • Marius Osriking (fictional): The main villain of Chapter III, he's an Etrandish Knight of Osriking descent, he leads the Etrandish army against Liudulf. He is portrayed as a honourable man who doesn't resort to dirty tricks, beating Liudulf's army in a fair fight. Nevertheless, he is a staunch Titanist, and as such, more than willing to have Liudulf executed to make an example out of him.
  • Meginbraht (fictional): An Etrancoasti general. He gets killed by the men of Liudulf.
  • Thankbern (fictional): An Etrancoasti general, originally a soldier serving under Meginbraht who survives the battle and escapes. He co-leads the army of Marius Osriking.