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This Cow Has Horns!!!

Slogan painted on the edge of Hausvik Fort.

Excitement; laughter, and happy gossip in the tunnels of Hausvik, when they announced that an American had been caught.

The men restrained themselves to spitting in her face; the women were not so kind, scratching at her pale cheeks with their nails and yanking out her hair in fistfuls.

Valdis remained in the stockroom all this time, with the door closed. She was not missed.

At around midday, they dragged her back out, up the side of the rock face with a rope about her neck, deliberately pulling too hard so that she slipped or choked. Stripping her down to her underwear, they shoved her into the crude iron cage and slammed the door. The adults left her there and went back inside into the warmth; her wails of protest, that she was not to blame for the bombs, that she was not even American, were becoming tiresome. The children dashed up the side of the slope and began to taunt her, hurling snowballs and kicking at the struts that held the cage in place as if to send it tumbling down the rock face.

Valdis sat out at the entrance of the fort, intensely focused upon the careful crafting of home-made shells for her old shotgun that lay beside her.

In the evening, the men broke open their old store of beer from the stockroom. It had been many months since they drank; and their spirits rose quickly. One of them began to boast of the beauty of the American woman, and the things he would do to 'the bitch', given half an opportunity. The others began to egg him on, and spoke more vividly. There was laughter; but before long they spoke with genuine anger. The youngest men spoke with the most excitement, and the most passionate fury.

In the darkness, Valdis stood up and slipped away.

When the men staggered up the slope, twenty minutes or so later, the American was not moving in her cage; neither did she respond to their jeers and insults. Squinting drunkenly in the moonlight, one man said that he could see blood on the floor of the cage. As the men opened the door and dragged the body out, they took note of the fact that a shotgun blast had struck her full in the chest. It was likely that she'd died near-instantly.

Some of the men roared about treachery, and shouted that 'the bitchs American comrades must have been waiting, out in the fjords - that they might be there still. They suggested a posse; even trying to set the marshlands alight (as if there was any possibility of setting fire to the frozen reeds poking through the snow!) to find them. The younger men, it has to be said, gave each other relieved glances.

As they ducked into the candle-lit shadows of the fort, Valdis was waiting for them there. Her shotgun was slung, quite ostensibly, over her shoulder. None of the men looked her in the eye.

The body of the American remained out on the snowy rock-face for the rest of the following day. The next morning, however, it had vanished, and nobody mentioned that Valdis had checked a spade out of the stockroom that last night. For months afterwards, the men and women debated the presence of the Americans in the marshlands; Dagfinn even set up a new patrol, headed further out into the wilds, to scout them out. No-one spoke of Valdis and her shotgun; nor of the spent, home-made shell, carefully crafted, that had been left out in the snow beside the cage for all to see.

Basic Information

The old tourist-beloved municipality of Lyngdal, to the south of Norway, surrounded on all sides by the ocean and three great fjords, is well-protected; those few remaining of its citizens gather in the underground Hausvik Fort from the Second World War, set into the cliffs, fiercely protecting their shelter and retaining their relative independence. Survival is dependent upon traps for the various wildfowl surviving in the frozen marshlands, and by fishing out on the abandoned piers along the coastline. A few members of the so-called 'Independent Republic of Lyngdal' camp out in the old wood-processing plant, keeping guard so that their fellows can pick up timber from the forests and process it for fuel.

Lyngdal is immensely wary of strangers who might threaten their delicate existence - this is both in response to their limited resources, and to the looting Faceless gangs that attacked from the sea five years ago, driving them into Hausvik. (This may even be a sensible attitude with regards to the Stagsfire men who have recently slunk into Lyngdal territory, ostensibly for trade, but actually sniffing out the prospects of the mill.) As a result, anyone wandering too close to the fort may find themselves being shot at - and a genuinely terrible fate has been reserved for those two or three unlucky people over the past twenty years who have been suspected of being either American or Russian - who, as in many other places, are treated as scapegoats for the devastation of the war. Such unlucky wanderers have, in the past, been left to die in the rotten iron cage that hangs over the edge of the rock face.

The little society - a dozen or so people - is under the vague command of a small council, led by Dagfinn, a one-legged man who uses his disability with great cunning to his advantage, playing the part of the crippled victim whenever arguments should occur. Dagfinn has the council's other members - the society's doctor and its militia captain - well under control. But there is one person he fears - Valdis, an ex-schoolteacher in her forties, who has control of the group's only shotgun. She's known as a good shot, commands a certain respect amongst the others, and she appears increasingly resentful of Dagfinn's control. Dagfinn has done his best to discredit her through insinuation and mocking, trying to provoke her into attacking him or leaving Hausvik for good...but so far, she has not responded.

The rest of the municipality is largely deserted, aside for a few gangs in customised canalboats that roam the fjords. The Lyngdalians do, however, speak with a certain respect for the lone figure they have sometimes seen out on the Markoy Lighthouse, fishing on the rocks in apparent blissful harmony with the sea-birds that gather there. 'The Old Thinker', they call him, and say he is dreaming of a solution to turn away the encroaching cold.


Just to use the resources we have, really - the fascinatingly detailed history and geography of Scandinavia. And to create a little society of ordinary, frightened people who've done terrible things, with internal divisions within it that can form an interesting, multi-solution quest for the player.

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