By D. Koch
After the First Thing of All Middarmark, where Bjorn was chosen as the High King, and before their first winter at the Rimfjord, the Bjornings constructed a grand mead hall. About three hundred years ago, after the Bjorning invasion took hold and Bjorn Longfarer's fleet secured the Rik Bay, the Bjornings constructed a great hall called Drekansrier.
To consecrate the sacred hill they built the grand hall upon, shamans gave offerings to the landvættir and washed the palisade with the blood of the last Sakki thralls captured during the invasion. Many famous warriors gathered, and for a time, Sigrun's sword, Skofnung, graced the hall.
Drekansreir roughly translates to the "drake's lair," and dragon-head adornments and carvings cover the high hall.
On one side of the exterior, nine pillars depict scenes from the nine realms, and the other nine illustrate the nine original great clans of the Bjornings. The carvings on the four columns at the entrance represent the animal spirits of the fierce bear (clans of the wilds), regal eagle (clans of the air), steadfast ox (clans of the fields), and wise whale (clans of the sea).
Today at Drekansreir, High Queen Astrid attends to the lands of the Bjornlag through diplomacy, strategy, planning, and, when necessary, warfare. Comforted by a roaring fire, the queen's hirth listen to entertainers, host guests with strong drink, or swear oaths. As the seat of the Bjorning tribe, Queen Astrid gathers with her hirth for seasonal ceremonies.
A wooden palisade protects Drekansrier and the heart of Rimholm. In the middle of the town center, a second wall serves as a last line of defense against outside forces. The palisade has never been compromised, and all attempts to breach the high hall's defenses have been repelled.
A mead hall is not a tavern, and it attends to a specific community function. Smaller mead halls serve as feasting halls for a clan and occupy a single room. Grand mead halls like Drekansreir are formal, multi-room structures for more prominent ceremonial feasts, receiving royalty or clan leaders, or conducting tribal affairs. However, mead halls in humbler settlements are often informal gathering areas for the community to socialize as well.
The boasting nature of the human stock is often misunderstood, but it is a compelling driving force.
Boasts need to be made in a hall like Drekansreir or a tavern. It cannot be done without a larger audience in a recognized space, so it does not work in camp or the back alley of a town. It is not a personal vow kept silent in some internal monologue. A boast is a public statement of bravery and determination.
The Middarmark Gazeteer has a whole page dedicated to the rules and mechanics of boasting (Middarmark, p.79).
Mechanically, a boast is incredibly powerful:
"All tests made in pursuit of the Goal are considered to be within your character's Nature. If you accomplish your boast and live to tell the tale, gain +1D or +2D to Circles tests in the place where you made the boast based on the enormity of the task."
Boasting is a ritualized vow. Boasting in the context of Torchbearer means to take an oath and to carry out actions toward a Goal in service of that pledge.
Boasting is not arrogance, bragging about mundane matters, or prideful blabbering. It is not trash-talking or tall tales. It is a promise taken before a battle, conflict, or in the face of some grave danger to accomplish some nearly impossible and specific feat or act.
Example Goals for Boasts