The three centuries of the Fall would see the decadence and gradual destruction of the Old Dominion, threatening the very existence of humanity in the continent of Surtoris. In Aalvarheim, the fate of humanity would mirror this almost to the last detail. The burning of Yggdrasil saw the very foundation upon which Nord civilization was built turn to ashes. Human society in the north was largely based on the belief of Valhalla, the constant strive to prove one’s self in the eyes of Odin and his Valkyries, in order to be lifted from the realm of mortals and into the Eternal High Table, where the Einherjar, glorious warriors of the gods, would wait for Ragnarök.
With the end of the Last Crusade, however, Ragnarök was over. The prophecies that had shaped the Nords for generations had come to pass, only to be proven false. The gods were dead, together with a host of mortal warriors and working hands, the Einherjar were nowhere to be found and the Valkyries had disappeared, leaving even the greatest and most heroic deeds unrewarded. For decades, only Loki’s monstrous children would serve as a sad and deadly reminder of the gone might of the Nord pantheon, roaming the land mad and unchecked, plaguing upon humanity and wreaking havoc wherever they appeared. Lack of manpower and superstitions based on generations of tangible religion would bring to a halt any raids to the rich lands of the south, for few were those who would dare brave the wild waters of open sea without the blessing of the Gods. Such superstitions were not without some merit, for, in the absence of gods, the Sea Jotnar that plagued the deeps would slowly start testing their might against human ships. For the first time in their remembered history, the Nords stood alone to face the challenges of the North.
It is a testament to their mentality and mettle that the name ‘Mannheim’ is first mentioned already at this time, the Nords laying claim on the land they were supposed to tame anew. But the limitation of this seafaring and raiding nation to land, coupled with the dismantlement of its entire pantheon, would bring a cultural and resource crisis, equal to that suffered by the Old Dominion at the same time. While war between the different Nord settlements had never been lacking, the mortal spiritual leaders that had held it in check had now lost credibility and importance. Bloody chaos ensued. In more than one instance, over two or three warbands came battling each other on the same field and at the same time in a bloody free-for-all that would see entire settlements be left without warriors and therefore either quickly abandoned or its people forced into servitude.
In time, this would perhaps prove a blessing in disguise. The smaller settlements were absorbed by larger ones and, more importantly the scattered warbands would slowly turn into cohesive forces, capable of securing the settlements and even take the offensive, hunting and killing the monstrocities that plagued them. Mortal leaders with a solid grip on their power would eventually rise and lead with iron fists, tackling problems as those were rising to the best of their ability. Manpower would stabilize, as the lack of raids kept all capable hands stranded on Mannheim, and mankind would slowly gain control of their own fates. Proving their mettle without gods, the Nords had risen to the challenge that their land was, to stand their ground where no one else had ever dared, while plans for raids were being made and Sea Jotnar be damned. It was a true and hard victory for mankind of the north, even if it was short-lived. For, with the protection of the gods gone, it would not take long for a forgotten enemy to resurface.
Defeated and banished ages ago by the Aesir and the Vanir, the wildest of Jotnar had sought refuge to the harshest, most unforgiving places on Mannheim. But the winds of power had changed in the north and its howl on the mountain slopes sang a different tune. From her icy throne on Fjeltorp, highest peak of Mannheim, Hel, Queen of the Frost Giants and, some say, Loki’s Daughter, had watched the smoke of burning Yggdrasil rise to rival the mountain she sat upon, the flames that swallowed the World Tree dancing in her cold, blue eyes as she smiled.
“What a wonderful new sun this is” the Ice Eda claims she remarked “and how wonderfully it will fade. What a glorious night of cold and darkness it will dawn”.
And slowly she turned those eyes to gaze upon the lands of mortals.