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The Factions of USV: The Ravens

The United States of Vinland (USV) 1,000-year-long timeline is a grand narrative of a people and their rising power. This narrative is broadly about what they build, but also family bloodlines and their rival factions, all spread across not just a vast geographical area but generations. In this brief piece, as originally introduced in the Markland Settlement Saga: #1 Tha Landing, I want to explain the origins and ethos of the first of the three major Norse American factions, the Ravens. In the following two blogs over the following week or so, I will outline separately the characteristics of the other two main factions, the Wolves and the Bears.

The Ravens

The Ravens, as led by Eskil, are about new beginnings built on the foundations of the old.

Eskil led his people west across the ocean from Iceland to seek a new world where he could let his faith and family take root. His driver for this was that the world he was leaving behind was fragmenting (at least to him). He could see the culture he had been raised in and his beliefs being threatened and then subsumed by strong external influences. He feared this change, something he was certain was wrong but also, at that moment, inevitable.

Christian missionaries, the followers of the White Christ, had been making inroads in establishing their faith in Iceland for decades, something brought home to Eskil every day. They and their growing faithful were dividing society. Some of the missionaries, while successful in converting a few local chieftains, had also killed. Their heavy-handed work saw some label them unlawful fanatics and a great danger.

This claim rang especially true when the Norwegian ruler, King Olaf Tryggvason, decreed that Iceland should convert and that his ports in Norway (Iceland's major trading partner) would be closed to Icelandic ships until they did so. On top of that, the Norwegian King took several Icelanders living in Norway hostage. Some were the sons of prominent Icelandic chieftains. His threat was not just to hold them, but kill them.

This crisis forced the Icelandic Althingi to consider and then declare that the island would adopt Christianity, although the old faith would be allowed in the privacy of people's homes. That, for Eskil, who already had heard of the new lands waiting across the ocean to the west, finally forced him to gather his new wife and closest friends willing to dare the waves and make his faithful crossing.

Of course, things don't always go to plan (and thus begins the first book in The Markland Settlement Saga, The Landing.

Eskil and the survivors discover the waiting shores of a new world. With fresh soils, if thin, to farm, they have found a new home that will host their small settlement. A settlement destined to grow.

They brought with them who they are, as well as their culture and beliefs, but in Markland, they are quickly exposed to a myriad of unknowns and other influences that impact them and their endeavours. Some influences are strong, if not brutal, exacting quick changes in Eskil's Ravens; others will unfold over not just years but generations. So, shaped by these factors and time, what is at the core of the Ravens? How would their nature be defined?

What Are The Ravens?

The Ravens are daring explorers who hold their truths deep in their hearts. They are open-minded but wary of danger and their enemies—but they also watch out for their friends. They struggle to forgive those who have wronged them, but they can when it is earned. The Ravens are ever tempted by what may be over the horizon. As explorers, they are used to venturing forth and encountering new people, places and concepts, which keeps them ever agile.

They look outward, seeking to learn and discover, while inwardly, their focus is on their home and family and their defence. In that sense, while they will secure their halls as best they can, they will take greater risks than the Wolves, as they will always have an eye on the next shore or vale and what opportunities may await discovery there.


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