Iceland has always been a land where the hand of man lies lightly and the world of spirits presses heavily on the border between worlds. Spirits and otherworldly creatures spill into the physical world almost constantly, and the balance between the world of spirit and the world of flesh is a tenuous thing at best. Even the human inhabitants of the land understand this; they have always taken great care to show respect to the spirits and powers of the land and are wary of causing offense. Even in this age of technology and science the people of Iceland are not fool enough to forget the power of the wights and spirits.
Perhaps it is the constant roiling energy of the spirit realm pouring into the physical world, and the hundreds of loci it creates that draws the Uratha to Iceland. Or perhaps it is the incredible danger that the wild spirits represent. Either way, Iceland boasts one of the highest per capita populations of werewolves in the world. With dozens of packs and scores of wolf-blooded families, many of which can trace their lineage all the way back to the first settlers from Norway and beyond. Almost all the werewolf tribes are represented in Iceland, both Forsaken and Pure, and often the constant fight against intrusive spirits is the only thing that keeps the peace between the disparate Uratha groups. Still conflicts do arise, and they can be devastating.
When tribal and pack ideologies do clash much of rural Iceland is turned into a small scale warzone. As tribes, and packs clash and feud with each other over loci and powerful spiritual resources. These conflicts can oftentimes leave lasting scars on the volatile spiritual landscape of Iceland. Some rumors claim that the famous 2010 eruption of the Icelandic Eyjafjallajökull volcano was the product of one of these tribal conflicts when a pack of Fire-Touched harnessed the power of the volcanoes spirit to destroy a rival pack of Blood Talons.
Despite, or perhaps because of the savage conflict surrounding the uratha of Iceland they have developed and maintained a culture and tradition unique among the werewolves of the world. Icelandic werewolves place great stock in the stories and legends of their ancestors and tribal heroes. Each werewolf strives to be remembered as one of the mightiest of his kin folk and to make a name for himself that will last through out the centuries. The great emphasis that the werewolves of Iceland place on heritage and history ensure that many of the packs of Iceland are ancient, having a continuous legacy and unbroken history that stretches back centuries.
But of all the peculiarities of Icelandic werewolf society the strangest may very well be their spirituality. While many werewolves around the world have a strange pseudo-religion revolving around the various great spirits of the Shadow, the Uartha of Iceland are unique in their persistent belief in human religion. Many of the Icelandic werewolves firmly believe in the ancient religion of their Nordic ancestors and seem to think that the existence of the Shadow and the spirits in no way conflicts with the existence of Asgard or any of the Aesir. They continue to revere Odin and Thor and Frey just as they honor Father Wolf and Luna.
Although naturally their beliefs undergo changes based on the new knowledge they acquire about the world as werewolves and their rituals often seem brutal, tribal and primitive the strange hybrid werewolf-viking religion of Iceland would still be recognizable to their ancestors.
While it would be false to state that all, or even most, of the Icelandic werewolves believe in the ancient Norse gods, the religion has always persisted to at least a small extent among the Uratha. However, the ancient belief has undergone as much of a renaissance among the werewolves as it has the regular people of Iceland in the last few decades and a notably greater number of the Icelandic Uratha have readopted the ancient beliefs since the Asatru awakening of the 1960’s than at any time since the 11th century.
The Fylkir pack of Northern Iceland is one of the oldest in the country. Originally founded by the werewolf hero Ragnar Tvegskref in the 10th century it has been host to numerous champions and heroes among the werewolves of Iceland and persists to this day. Sworn to the Ivory Claws tribe of the Pure the pack’s current Jarl is Hjalmar-od, an old warrior respected and feared on both sides of the gauntlet. It numbers well over a score of werewolves, and easily twice as many wolf-blooded and human members. It is one of the largest packs in Iceland, surpassed only by the Harulf pack of Reykjavik and the Gladdr pack of Akureyri.
Unlike some of their cousins the Ivory Claws of Iceland, and indeed the Icelandic Pure in general, tend to be much milder in temperament. The relatively small and interconnected population of Iceland, as well as the near constant conflict that plagues the Werewolves of the island, means that although Pure and Forsaken are still prone to conflict and bloodhshed there does exist a states of mutual, if often reluctant, respect among the two factions. In fact, a very few packs in Iceland have a mixed membership of both Pure and Forsaken. Although these packs are still looked upon with hostility by both Pure and Forsaken they are never the less a testament to the more restrained attitudes of the Icelandic Uratha.
The Fylkir pack is notably milder than most Ivory Claw packs, even in Iceland. In fact, it is even rumored that the current Jarl Hjalmar-od, owes a life debt to a Storm Lord from the far south. The Fylkir are still however entirely Ivory Claw in composition and that fact is unlikely to change in the future.
Jarl Hjalmar has lead the Fylkir pack for over 20 years, in that time he has made it one of the most respected and powerful of the Icelandic werewolf packs. However, even werewolves are not immortal and it is time for Hjalmar to begin looking for a successor to his title, who can ensure the safety and continued prosperity of the Fylkir.
In more typical Ivory Claw packs leadership is almost always determined by lineage and blood. However, the werewolves of Iceland are not quite so typical. While it is still true that great emphasis is placed on the heritage and blood of pack leader it is not the only consideration. Candidates for the title need to not only be of the right blood but also need to prove themselves worthy of the title through a series of grueling tests. However, Hjalmar only has one biological child, his son Brynjar.
Born twenty two years ago on the eve of Yul Brynjar is the only son of Hjalmar and his wife Brynhild. However, Brynjar’s birth was surrounded by dark events. It was said that a week before Brynjar’s birth his mother, Brynhild, witnessed the Lagarfljót Wyrm, an omen that always heralds dark and dangerous events. Barely a year after Brynjar’s birth, his mother disappeared. The details about her disappearance are a closely guarded secret, known only to Hjalmar and his closest and most trusted Hirdmen.
Rumors persist that she went mad. That Luna, jealous of the powers and purity of the Fylkir, sent her spirits to seduce and corrupt Hjalmar’s wife. The spirits whispered to her and drove her to violent madness. In her madness, Brynhild committed horrible crimes, crimes so terrible that it forced Hjalmar and his closest companions to hunt her down in the depths of the northern glaciers. Folk whisper that she had placed a terrible curse upon Hjlamar and that the Jarl was forced to kill her to prevent the evil from coming to pass. However no one but Hjalmar and his Hirdmen know for sure what happened the night they found Brynhild, but they returned home bearing the torn and bloody body of Hjalmar’s friends Sigurd Hrafrn, and Brynhild has not been seen since.
Most of the Fylkir, or at least those who have some idea what passed, claim that Hjalmar was forced to kill his wife. They say that her crimes, such as they were, were far too heinous to allow her to live. But others maintain that even after all that she had done, Hjalmar could never kill his wife. No matter how far she had fallen, or how horrible her actions it was beyond him to kill the only one he had ever loved. They claim that she is still out there, banished from Iceland by powerful magic but biding her time until she can return and have her revenge. Whether she is alive or dead no one has seen Brynhild for more than twenty years.
What is for certain, is that sometime during the events surrounding Brynhild’s disappearance Hjalmar’s friend and Hirdman, Sigurd Hrafrn lost his life. Obligated by oath and duty, and motivated by guilt, Hjalmar took in the orphaned children of Sigurd the twins, Halbjorn and Ulfhild. Of an age with his own son, Brynjar, the twins would be raised as members of Hjalmar’s household and treated as his own kin.
This is the world that Brynjar grew up in. As the children, adopted or otherwise, of the Jarl Brynjar and his foster siblings were raised to be warriors, leaders and champions. Unlike the children of werewolves in other parts of the world, who are raised ignorant of their heritage, the truth was never hidden from the three. They were raised on the tales of great heroes and mighty warriors, both mortal and Uratha. They learned much about weapons and fighting, the lore of the spirit world and their own ancient mythology.
The three children were thick as thieves throughout their child hood, growing up together in the shadow of the great Jarl Hjalmar. Together they ranged far across the pack’s territory, raising hell and pretending that they were the great heroes that they had heard so much about. They boasted about the days that they would one day join their father in the great battles of the world, and earn the deed names that they longed for. The pack thought that despite the fall of his wife the gods must truly have blessed Hjalmar to provide him with such a fine crop of children.
Being born of two Uratha parents there was never any doubt that the three children would one day undergo the first change that would see them elevated into the ranks of Uratha. And indeed, in their 16th year and within the stretch of a single month, each of the children underwent the great transformation. Now, they hunted and fought together standing shoulder to shoulder against the foes of their pack, both spirit and Uratha. It was not long before they had each acquired the deed names they had so desperately longed for in their youth.
Brynjar’s name was earned in a violent fight against a rival pack that was encroaching on the territory of Fylkir. In the battle that followed their foolhardy attack on Fylkir Brynjar singled out a Rahu, the fight was savage and the foe landed a ferocious blow upon Brynjar’s breast. Seemingly unaffected by the mighty blow, Brynjar ripped his foes throat out with his teeth. In honor of his great fortitude the pack elders named him Jarnsida (Ironside) so that all his foes might know the strength of his hide and his resolve.
But, as Hjalmar looks for a successor a wedge has been driven been the three friends. By ancient custom and tradition the adopted children of the Jarl have as much right to his title as do his own biological children. All three of Hjalmar’s children are eligible for the rank of Fylkir’s Jarl, and each of the three desires it. But, before a successor can be chosen each of the three must prove themselves worthy.
The ancient traditions of the Ivory Claws of Iceland are clear on how to prove the worth of one who seeks to become Jarl. They must not only prove themselves as worthy warriors, but also as champions who can face all the dangers of the supernatural world. By the ancient rites, the three candidates for Jarl must each leave Iceland and are forbidden to return for a full three years’ time. They will each travel the world alone and will return to Iceland with the trophies taken from nine great foes felled by their own hands. Only then can the spirits decide which of them is worthy of their father’s title.
Determined to be the his father’s heir and continue the legacy of his bloodline, Brynjar searches the world for the greatest and most savage of foes so that he may kill them and bring their skulls back to his people and prove himself worthy of his lineage. But his adopted siblings are no less determined; they seek the same goals and will stop at nothing to earn their own place at the head of the Fylkir.