History of the Vor Si'r Tradition within Ex Miscellanea
The Followers of Vor Si'r (or Vorn Sior) are an ex Miscellanea Tradition of Norse Priests and Priestesses who believe their arcane powers to be gifts of the Aesir and mark them as their descendents (descendents of Gods and Goddesses). They joined the Order for survival's sake during their people's (Viking's) Expansion in the ninth and tenth Century. Any Norse child displaying an aptitude for seoir magic was inducted into priesthood. Currently, the only known surviving lines of Vor Si'r are Odin (Divination and Augury), Thor (Calling Down Lightning ), Loki (Advanced Personae), and Freyja (Control Fertility). They are all united in their religion and in the Necessary Condition of their Tradition: Loud Words. Usually when casting in their own Tradition they also Chant in Old Norse for the duration. They cannot Quiet or Silent Cast, nor can they have the Quiet Magic Virtues.
Vor Si'r is Norse for "Our Way", and it was the only way to keep the traditions and practices of the Norse Pantheon alive. At the start of the Viking Age, many Priests and Priestess of the Norse Gods spread with their people as the Vikings pillaged and raided Christian abbeys and villages. However, their magic and "blessings from the Aesir" encountered heavy resistance from the Order in the form of "Join or Die" Magi with Parma and magic peacekeepers trying to prevent the rise of a fear-induced Divine empowered army. While the Vikings and Norsemen spread throughout England and down the French and Spanish Coast, their religious support were decimated in a series of "coincidental accidents and disappearances." In the end, listening to their people beginning to question the Norse heritage and considering Christianity, the religious caste was driven into the hands of Damham-Allaidh. Although of different lineage, the Norse Practitioners of seoir magic found many a kindred spirit amongst the shapechangers, rune casters, and potion brewers of the Celtic arts. Unfortunately, their opposition, though fierce and loud, was doomed for failure.
Some say a particularly gifted Odin Priestess divined Pralix's eventual victory long before anyone else and swore to assist Tytalus's apprentice before the Order's assault even began. Most believe the Priests of Loki had long been playing both sides and were merely waiting for a victor to emerge - the Priests like to tell themselves that Pralix was able to track Damhan-Allaidh through the Isles due to their guidance and hints. A very rare deluded few of Thor believe that after their Priests' powers were exhausted, the representatives or the Order were so impressed that Pralix offered the Priests a position in their own ranks. In the history taught by Freyja's lineage, they didn't care who won - they knew their role in any army would be that of healers, and assumed they were accepted because they were expected to heal the victor's wounds.
Either way, after the defeat and disappearance of the charismatic Damhan-Allaidh, the Viking religious caste were warily but quickly absorbed into the Ordo Miscellanea with little fuss, and joined the Order with the rest of the House. It was the only remaining Priestess of Odin, Brunne of Noreg, who swore to the Order on behalf of all the clansmen of Vor Si'r. The newly anointed members of Ex Miscellanea quickly ran home to adopt apprentices and "convert" any other Priests and Priestesses of the marauding Vikings for their own safety from the Order. As the Vikings spread, settled, and converted to Christianity, the numbers of practitioners shrank. In Today's Age, Vor Si'r is mostly kept alive only by familial inheritance as the traditions, customs, and beliefs are passed from Father to Son, Mother to Daughter. Freyja's followers are said to be the most numerous, since they control the number of children they have, although it's rumored there are many more of Loki's line, just in hiding.
The Coming of Svana Hjordisdottir and the Establishment of Horti Sessrúmni (Gardens of Sessrumnir)
Svana, daughter of Hjorda and acknowledged daughter of Freyja, was born in Western Norway in 846. She was just barely old enough to wave goodbye to her father as he sailed off on the first of several raids up the Seine on Paris. Of striking beauty, Svana grew into the role of Mother to the many warriors-in-training and dispensed advice as the Priestess of Freyja. Planning to join the raids and families planning to settle during the raids in 866, she received the missives from her cousin Brunne just in time to stay behind and learn of their new role in the Order of Hermes. However, due to the her delay and the need to learn the strange, incompatible Parma, she was a much older matron accompanied by her two very young daughters, Unni and Ingrid, when she finally joined Ganger Hrolfr (Rollo) on his final attack and siege of Paris in 885.
It was during the siege of Paris and one of the lull periods during parley (or, for the Vikings, demands of tribute) that Svana met her first member of the Order outside her tradition - Magus Adon ex Flambeau on a "Join or Die" campain, and his companion, a very young Redcap Justine. He was a little disgruntled since his encounters thus far with the Viking magicians had been met many greetings in very poor, broken Latin. A little disgruntled at meeting yet another newly-fledged pseudo-member of the Order, Adon grumped a bit, Justine laughed at them, and Svana invited them into her tent for refreshments, and thus began the first of many more meetings and trysts between Svana and Adon. Also, in exchange for a little more "guarantee" in continuing the Mercare line (Justine was not Gifted but still a direct descendant, and hoped her children would show ability), Svana boosted Justine's fertility in exchange for a greater understanding of the politics of the Order.
And then came the betrayal in 911. After Hrolfr's losses in Paris near the end of 886, King Charles sent them on their way to raid Burgandy. After claiming much land, tribute, and the continued sacking of several abbeys and churches, Svana was shocked when it was declared that Hrolfr would become "Count Robert of Normandy", be baptized, and spread Christianity amongst his subjects. Her only point of true refuge would be her friend, Magus Adon. She fell back on the support she was used to working with - the wives and daughters of the Norsemen. As with most Viking women, the wives of the invading Danes and Norsemen knew what was best for their menfolk and assisted in hiding and smuggling Svana to her friend. The hidden relationship between the women and Normandy and the Vor Si'r would continue until William the Conqueror's takeover of England in 1066.
Between Svana and Adon's contacts (and the unkown assistance of the Mercare - Justine's first child turned out to be Gifted), they managed to gain a Covenant Grant and formed one on the Northen Banks of the Somme River, in the Northern portion of Normandy. Joining them was Svana's two daughters, one of whom (Ingrid) was Gifted and following in her mother's footsteps, and Loki Priest of Ex Miscellanea Vor Si'r, who now went by the name Nikolas. Adon also invited his longtime friend and rival, Magus Giscard ex Merinita, and Horti Sessrúmni was born. A few Viking warriors seeking to follow the old ways also "retired" and joined, forming an unofficial Varangian Guard. Eventually, unskilled and incompatible with the powers of the Longevity Ritual, Svana died soon after the formation of Horti Sessrúmni in 921. Magus Adon was devastated for a while and seemed on the verge of working himself into Final Twilight, but Ingrid took advantage of his broken emotional state and soon took over both her her mother's place in the Covenant and in her lover's bed. Unni, meanwhile, became a very capable steward of the lands, and with Ingrid's help (both magical and in coitus) begat several daughters and two sons. And an almost familial tradition was born - the daughters with the Gift would learn the ways of Vor Si'r, and the sons would be both shieldmates and bedmates to their sisters. When a taboo is based on the fear of illegitimate children, it sort of loses its fear/stigma when you can control the chances. Between successive generations of Freyja priestesses, the gardens and apple orchards have been plentiful, but Sessrúmni's greatest source of mundane income comes from their cows - namely the cheese produced from those cows. With guaranteed calving or parturition, the stewards have worked with the ranchers to create a base stock of cattle and cows of very selective high quality. And although they had to lightly step around the many Abbeys and Cathedrals in the area, the peasant women still fought for the right to host Svana and later, her daughter Ingrid, and so on, on Walpurgis Night for a traditional celebration in the night and blessing of the fields. Maidens past the prime age of marriage could find work in their fields, and although they had no rights to raise arms and a guard, the unoffical Varangian Guard paid some bribes, cleared out some brigands, and found approval for a mercenary group that made it's base in the area. With continued difficulty in the application of the Longevity Ritual, the women of Vor Si'r Freyja began to focus their study on it, trying to pick it apart and isolate its shortcomings (sterility) which they believed put it in direct contention with the teachings of Freyja.
In 1066, King William's forces swept through the lands and gathered all of the trained armsmen for his gathering at the Bay of Somme. Most of the grogs, covenfolk, and retirees were swept up in the fervor. The only remaining armsmen were the unGifted sons who refused to be seperated from their family. When Magus Adon died later that winter, the Covenant lost all leadership and the magi cloistered themselves pursuing their own interests. The stewards and unGifted family members struggled to continue, but after the accidental death of the head herdsmen, and the refusal to let the locals build a chapel on the premises, caused the covenfolk and surrounding locals to abandon the plantation. Without enough hands, the crops and livestock withered. Even the Mercare, after successive visits and generations did not lead to an increase in Gifted progeny and the loss of a Friend of the House (Adon), stopped making social visits. Through successive tribunals and Certamen, the Vor Si'r magi slowly lost possession of most of their Vis sources. The Merinita had found a faerie regio and disappeared while studying it. The final blow came in 1138 when the lands their Seisen was on became part of the land grant given to the Abbey of Valloires. The remaining Vor Si'r Loki maga took her leave for the Provencal Tribunal and the Covenant lost quorum. Without seisen or quorum, the Tribunal considered Horti Sessrúmni disbanded.
History/Background for Jormungand -
Almost thirty years later, in the winter of 1165, Asadon Freyjuson was born of Maga Brynhyld. In 1167, his younger sister Asvana was soon to follow before Maga Brynhyld cast a Longevity Ritual on her younger sister, Unni (the Norse repeated names of ancestors... a lot). They grew up in a now dilapidated manor house with a very small plot for subsistence gardening. A very small chapel lay on the edge of the grounds, and they survived by regularly tithing most of their wealth to the Abbey of Valloires and taking care of the Abbey's apple orchard (ref land grant - the Dominion Aura had since overwhelmed the former vis source/ Seisen). With multiple attacks always flowing in from Germany, the manorhouse made most of its taxes and tithes through entertaining and housing passing army officers(nobles) to avoid being sacked. Essentially, they were a high class hidden brothel. Asadon was soon turned over to the direction of the three brothers still around to train in the arts of war and fighting and Viking traditions. After a couple of years, the family was very surprised when it was determined that Asadon had the gift or seior instead of Asvana. Taking over his training, Maga Brynhyld finished his education of Latin and venerating the ideals of fertility, beauty, lust, and love. Continuing the family tradition, he was taught not to separate agape and eros love. Finally, in late 1174, after servicing his first customer and achieving his own satisfaction for the first time, Maga Brynhyld deemed him ready to learn Hermetic ways.
Most of his study and the remaining books in the library still revolved around the conflict caused by the Longevity Ritual and Fertility, with extensive dissertation on the advantages and disadvantages of both. However, Maga Brynhyld also relentlessly drilled him on the Code, as her mother had done to her after watching all of their resources dwindle and be stolen. What she could not teach, unfortunately, was how to properly defend against such acts and attacks, since their line of Vor Si'r usually dealt with conflict through reconciliation and sex, and left the compromising to Odin.
(This section subject to review and approval/change. Creating background story for Unaging, the Personal Corpus Vis Source, and Visions) In 1181, on Walpurgis Night, the elderly maga, with her apprentice's assistant, gathered the remaining family and tried performing a traditional seior trance and ceremony to gain answer from the Gods on how to restore their fertility (at the time, a Longevity Ritual had been cast on everyone but Asadon and Asvana). Whether it was a curse from the Gods, or a failure due to an unfortunate strengthening of the Dominion Aura that now lay over the lands, the traditional ritual failed, horribly. All participants of the ritual suffered an Aging Crisis, all three brothers died, both Asadon and Asvana became afflicted with Unaging (to be discovered later), and the Amber Statue of Freyja that had served as the focus (a winged statue affixed to the end of a staff standing about a foot tall) began to cry silver and gold tears, as Freyja was known to do over the loss of her husband. Upon later collection and investigation, the tears held a small amount of Corpus Vis, and continues to cry every Walpurgis Night. After this night, Asadon also became afflicted with visions, or perhaps merely changes in perception. Not prophetic in nature, his visions sometimes shifted so he saw the land as if no human had ever touched it, and sometimes it shifted to a scorched earth. Asadon believes he is seeing visions of Ragnarok and Freyja's personal lands of Sessrúmni. Sometimes these visions last for a couple of minutes, sometimes for days. The longest was the entire Summer Season of 1189. It was very difficult to navigate the manorhouse when he couldn't see anything but ruins the entire time. Maga Brynhyld recognized there were some benefits to the consequences, but also immediately burned her notes as a price too high.
In 1190, Asadon successfully passed his Gauntlet test by sending himself and his three partners at the time (well, they said they were in a moment of trance, although their moment of trance seemed to involve a lot more gasping and searching for breath) into a deep trance to find Freyja's wisdom and, if lucky, his first spirit animal. During his trance of ecstasy, he found his favored animal form not to be the traditional falcon that Freyja turned into but boar Hildisvini, which she rode upon. Emerging from his trance, he accepted the name Jormungand for his tall stature and other asset (look up what Jormungand means) and began working on his first transformation spell.
During Philip II's initial raids and takeovers in 1192, the old Manor House began to grow slightly as refugees overflowing from the Abbey found welcome. One of these refugees was Sophia, who would eventually become Jormungand's wife at the end of the conquest in 1209. She didn't really understand Jormungand's whoring ways, but willingly accepted a trade of three children from the strapping "young" lad for protection during the turmoils of war and a promise of long life. She refused to give up her religion of Christianity, however. In the years that followed, she gifted him with Xavier Jormunsson, Ingrid Jormunsdottir, and Claudine (named after Sophia's mother). After her Casting of the Longevity Ritual, and the understanding of sterility, she has become a little more receptive to Jormungand's promiscuous ways, though she has not joined in yet like he expected. Ingrid immediately paired with Xavier and was already claimed as Granny Brynhyld's next apprentice as soon as she developed enough, but Claudine is still with Sophia and learning the Christian ways of Norman women.
After Philipp II of France solidifed his control of Normandy in 1208, Christianity flourished and the Abbey of Valliores grew. Actually, their wealth grew so much that by 1220 they arranged to buy the lands formerly known as Horti Sessrúmni to rebuild a newer, bigger abbey with rib-vaulted stylings. With little finance, no political capital, the taxes owed, and no help from the Order, they had little choice but to vacate. Maga Brynhyld managed to find acceptance into a Rhine Summer Tribunal, trading her Longevity expertise for provisional membership, and brought her apprentice (Ingrid) and her apprentice's personal shield grog (Xander) with her. Jormungand was close to being in the same boat for himself, Sophia, and Claudia when he was surprised by a Redcap at his door bearing a missive from some strange magus named Apollodorus...
Explanation of Virtues - Freyja's religious/magic focus on Fertility and growth naturally lent itself to the study and focus of Creo and Corpus, which they now specialize in. The MMF is due to their research in trying to overcome the sterility associated with the Longevity Ritual, the Unaging and Personal Vis Source are awaiting History review. And he's supposed to be a pretty-boy toy, thus Venus's Blessing and Side Effect: Pheromones.
Explanation of Flaws - The Fertility Magic has a natural conflict with the (Deficient) Longevity Ritual. He suffers from Visions (pending History Review) and he's definitely of a Non-Roman Tradtion (Hedge Mage). The entire magical lineage is familial based, and with the shorter lifespans the family suffers in comparison to the rest of the Order and the culture they are trying to keep alive, the Family stays in touch with each other. Lecherous = read background. His Social Handicap is in many ways related to his Lecherousness - sex is Jormungand's bargaining chip, entertainment, profession, and really what he feels is his duty to enjoy. In any situation with the impossibility of carnality, he cannot comprehend or adapt to the situation. Necessary Condition - need help.