The people of Salvagard returned to their cities and their lands, gladdened by the defeat of the Icemen and eager to continue on with their peaceful lives. However, the King knew that things would never be as they were before. The Icemen were defeated, but they were not gone and still haunted the northern lands. Without defences his people would be at their mercy if they ever returned, as helpless as they were in the time of the long march.
So he ordered the formation of the First Salvagardian army, and had every large settlement fortified against possible Icemen attacks, their walls now being made of thick stone and built high to prevent the savages from ever plundering their centres of wealth again.
The new military trained to use their hunting skills as a weapon, learning not only how to fight as a pack, but also how to use formations and tactics to outsmart any potential enemy and to rely on their Pack brothers as much as themselves.
The formation of the army was not a popular move, with many of the population being pressed to serve in the army as auxiliaries for at least 2 months in a year in order to bolster its numbers. There were murmurs of discontent everywhere, saying that such a force went against the teachings of the Twelve, but the people relented as time wore on, knowing that the threat of the Icemen was one that could not be ignored.
This state was almost constant for almost 650 years. The people became far hardier as time wore on, and the Icemen again began raiding the Kingdom on many occasions, with periodic incursions by larger forces, although it never came near the numbers seen during the Ice war. But the new army proved itself a good investment, holding off the savages many times, although never able to push past the Ice wall and eradicate them once and for all.
It was also at this time that the Ice Giants began waking from their long slumber and began raiding the eastern kingdom, descending from their mountain caves to hunt for food and plunder from the rich villages in the south east, settlements that were nowhere near as well defended compared to the settlements of the northern marches.
The Kingdom continued despite these challenges, but every year life became a bit became harder, with the winter months becoming inexplicably colder and the summers less bountiful in both crops and game.
It was not a good time for the people of the Twelve, and the situation came to a crisis point when King Gorgrim died suddenly.
The reason this became a problem was because he had not yet called for the Trial of the Heir, which sent aspirants north to the Pool of Life as a test of the potential ruler’s dedication to the task and worthiness to rule. As only a King could call for the Trial, the realm was left for the first time without an heir to take on the Snow Throne and control the Kingdom.
There was chaos. The noble family of Norberg was split into several factions, each arguing for supremacy over the others, all carving up the kingdom into their personal domains whilst trying to take the others land as their own.
This Great Strife lasted many years and it drove the people of Salvagard apart. Eventually, after much arguing and in-fighting involving several elements of the army as well as the faction’s personal guard, the problems became centred on the late King’s two oldest sons, Vilhelm and Rastmir, both of whom claimed the title fell to them by divine right, and that the opposing brother’s claim was false. It was behind these two heirs that the other nobles eventually rallied, their armies consolidating outside the city of Salvagard, two vast forces of battle hardened werewolves ready to fight one another for their Lords right to rule.
For the Clerics of the Twelve, divinely appointed priests who rarely got involved in the running of the Kingdom; this was a catastrophe of huge proportions. Looking on from their temple high on the old city Mesa they saw the plans of the Prophet collapsing under the greed and stubborn denial of the two princes. They had to act.
Descending through the city as quickly as possible they made their way to the potential battlefield, their long robes of office billowing behind them. As they appeared the two forces immediately bowed their heads and closed their fists upon their breast as a sign of respect, averting their eyes from the Twelve’s chosen interpreters. Only Vilhelm and Rastmir looked on from either side of the battlefield, puzzled by the Clerics sudden presence there, preventing the conflict to settle their rights as Heir once and for all.
As they neared the centre of the field the holy men of Salvagard gestured for the royal brothers to join them. With the clerics were two daggers, used usually for sacrificing domesticated animals to the Twelve. They handed the pair the daggers, and told them that they could not let their personal conflict destroy the nation they sought to rule. If they were to fight it would be between themselves, and whoever the victor was between them would be judged worthy to rule by the Twelve gods, and would receive the clerics backing.
Thus began the Duel of Heirs. It was a fierce battle, for the brothers were evenly matched in both strength and speed. Between the two armies turned spectators the pair fought, their blows fierce with many horrific wounds being inflicted by both dagger and claw. For a full day the royal pair fought, their iron constitutions tested to the limit and beyond as they sought victory for themselves.
It was as the sun rose on the second day that the final blow came. Rastmir slipped in a pool of his own blood, and his dagger flew from his hand as he fell to his knees. Without giving it a second though his older brother let lose a howl of victory, plunging his long dagger deep between Rasmir’s eyes.
Thus the strife was over, and the kingdom returned to its original state under the new king, Vilhelm. However, it took almost a generation for the animosity to fade between the various domains that had been carved up by the Norberg factions, and even today many citizens of Salvagard still identify themselves by the domain they once fell under rather then just being a citizen of Salvagard.
"You don't have to be mad here, but it helps."