You Are A Stammering New Priest Among The Viking-Men! They Laugh At Your New Religion Through Sheaves Of Ale And Capons, Ho-Ho-Ho They Do! How Will You Make Them Listen, Little Smoothcheeks?

Ho, lads! There is terrible quiet in the mead-hall now, and the quiet is for your announcement! The year is 890, the whole world is Sweden with a V in it instead of a W, and there is only one woman, Iron Jenny. She isn’t here today; she’s making the wheat. There’s two religions now, and you’re the other one, and everybody laughs at you for it.

I’m the brave boy who will make England! I’m ready to:

Hold up a crucifix that’s a-shaking and a-trembling before getting shot with arrows

Wear a determined tonsure and explain beardlessness

Whisper “If please, sirs – if you might put down the hammers and the gold-greaves and leave off your wench-singings for but forty seconds, I might could show you the holy winecup of the Southron Pope –”

Do you a small determined miracle!

A sweaty hand pushes your mouth away from talking! The tall tall man spills his flagon on you and laughs because he already has ninety-seven gods just for bullying, and a ship that looks like a mean fish at you.

Gentlemen, the crops! I speak to you today of the crops, and a hush falls over the crowd and it’s a-terror-time for my waiting-parts. The old gods…can’t heal the rye fields! They can’t, sir, but only it’s true, only please don’t wince your axe at me for saying so! King Harald himself knows it to be true!

A crown of caribou antlers is placed on your head in jest before you can finish even to speak! Mmf!!

He kisses you on the cheek and you blush the sun away. Ho ho ho! The crowd has fun at your squeamishness. “No trust for a druid-man who won’t kiss a hero!”

Explain to them what an eclipse is to keep the heroes from kissing you in a spirit of abominable levity! Promise them their new god will always tell them when an eclipse is from calendars, if only they will shake hands with his blood and learn about his friend Peter the booklad.

“In the future you will have many restaurants!!!” you shout over the crowd. “With popular small brownbreads and herrings and whimsical arrangements of very small amounts of greens! But you must arrive to your restaurant future through the scryings of Christjesus and not Freya or her meatplates of bounty! Stop being Vikings right now, please and thank you, it’s time for England now.”

Drop your crucifix in terror at such a long speech before being eaten by dogs!

Wipe your robes against your brow in relief before being pushed out a window!

Accept tremblingly the smallest haunch by a friendly helmsman who has heard of your strange religion in his sailings to Miklagarðr and wishes to extend you the grape of friendship!

Spill your wine down your surplice!!! “Oh-ho-ho,” the northern boyos chortle, “wait til Iron Jenny returns from her wheat-inventing and sees what you’ve done, it’ll be a mickle of trouble for you mite then.”

Let’s eat England, the humongous friends agree! Let’s leave now and eat it all up with fire and Danmark!

No!!!

Nooo!

No, please, brawnhearts!

Read this book instead of doing a rampage and swilling! Stop having violent fun, sir-darlings, and learn chanting and spectacles instead! I’ll build many a-church in your swollen-necked absences, chiefman, and even after you gibbet me I’ll church you up good!

Church them up good!!! (You die.)

Grace Lavery is launching subscription services for The Stage Mirror today; the first issue is “What Sex Feels Like” (!!!).

The Rules of Trans Chess

Queens are kings and kings are queens (obviously), but when one player’s pawn reaches the other player’s back row it has to be replaced with a backgammon piece

Knights can only move backwards, rooks can only move in circles

If one bishop moves, all bishops move; this is called synchronized prelacy

Middle row on both sides populated by invisible Borgia pieces, which can’t move but can poison the piece directly in front of them; both players still have to do the work of individually cancelling one another’s Borgias out

Check is illegal

Every move is checkmate

Pawns now supported by a booster row of light infantry

Additional pieces include dragoons, Hessians, imperial guards (which are not allowed to attack), Angevins (which can only move in French), Aethelred the Unready (cursed piece, cannot move), Waltzin’ Empress Matilda, the White Company of John Hawkwood (must move as a collective), brigands, highwaymen, Dauphins, longbowmen (only allowed to resolve the Hundred Years’ War, cannot attack queens-as-kings), trebuchets, Scotsmen, caliphs, El Cid (as long as El Cid remains in play both players must remain standing), M.C. Escher stairs, the Order of Indulgences, Witchfinder General, Witchloser General, optional Vikings, a deer park sanctuary, the King’s hangsman, the King’s deer, the White Hind, the Grail and the Lance, popes and antipopes, and Prester John.

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