Remarkably, my friends and I's viking clan entered The Carrot Age in Valheim last week. Given the magnitude of what we'd accomplished, we thought our great march into Orange County and beyond would slow. Hah, how naive we were. For we have welcomed new life into our camp; a hairy, robust life that we deeply cherish. I am delighted to announce that we are now loving fathers to a boar, and we will do anything to protect it.
The unforgiving realm of Valheim had taught our bumbling clan three key things: one must ensure the bees sleep soundly before beddy byes; a carrot must always be in one's inventory, to serve as a reminder of one's ability to overcome adversity; one must punch a new organism upon first encounter, as is the clan's way.
These principles governed our clan's conduct and behaviour. We had become a rock-solid Jenga tower, one so stable we could withstand a hurried ejection, or even a Sweet Chin Music, such was our cohesion. And yet, we hadn't seen it coming; no-one could've seen it coming. A boar had crashed into our lives, and sent our blocks tumbling into disarray.
On a clear morning, Ragnar and I decided we'd adopt a boar. A feat that had eluded us previously, but felt possible that day. Often our choices are dictated by the way the breeze filters through our beards. Many believe that they are simply for decoration, but they actually act as antennae. Wind blows through their bristles which send two signals to the brain: punch inquisitively or remain inquisitive, but try your hardest not to punch.
And so, the latter had been engaged. We skipped out of camp in search of a suitable piggy, and there it was, grazing amongst its peers. Cautiously, we approached it, stifling nervous giggles and outbursts. Turns out boars are alert, feisty creatures, and before we knew it, this rugged ham had pursued us back to camp.
Meeting new people is scary, and judging by the boar's status as "Wild and Frightened", we knew it was just as nervous as we were. So we thought that if we invited it back to our home, we could sit around the fire, maybe have some carrot soup, and get to know one another. But no, what followed was chaos.
The moment the boar hurtled into our home, I closed the front door, and turned to find it had not acclimated well. The boar pursued Ragnar and bashed him in the back repeatedly: a porcine behaviour which we soon realised had something to do with the torches scattered around our camp. Pigs don't like fire, so we blacked out our camp, and even razed our kilns and smelters to create a zen environment for our skittish swine.
"I leapt over the gate and sprinted towards our pig, and for the first time ever, it didn't draw blood."
Yet, the boar continued to bound around our camp like that famous Windows screensaver, the one where the logo bounces across the screen, and you clench when it comes close to slotting perfectly into a corner of the screen. And so we hurriedly constructed a corner of our own, and watched with glee as it finally came to rest in our shabby pen.
As the days passed, we found the boar would tuck itself right at the back of its enclosure. Despite our numerous displays of warmth and affection - like running towards it at full pelt with a mushroom in hand - we decided that our baby boar was simply shy. So we tossed various foodstuffs into the enclosure from a distance and observed.
Slowly, steadily, it would nibble on our treats. And we watched as it gradually gained the confidence to explore the pen. Sometimes we'd hop in just to check how it was doing, then get swiftly gored. But we laughed as we brushed the blood off our tunics, as we could tell that those tusks hadn't rammed into us quite as hard as last time. Our boar had softened and our relationship had begun to grow.
Then one day, a burst of yellow love hearts sprung from the boar. Had our son finally accepted us as its father? I leapt over the gate and sprinted towards our pig, and for the first time ever, it didn't draw blood. Instead, it trotted towards me, with a tenderness that welled the eyes and choked the throat. I knelt down and patted its coarse fur, and the message "Boar loves you" appeared on screen in big yellow letters. "Oh pig", I breathed, "Oh p-pig, you are a precious h-ham cylinder, aren't you." I managed, before my face crumpled inwards and I slammed my fist into the earth. A punch which I'd bottled up for so long; uncorked by a surge of emotion so strong, I briefly lost all composure.
Dads talk about what it feels like to bring life into this world; a love that knows no bounds, this indescribable feeling of protection towards a soft, pale sack of your creation. I'd say that our boar-child has taught us what it means to love and the challenges that come with fatherhood. We have had to re-evaluate our principles, the very fabric of our clan codes of conduct, to make way for our son. No more naked sails on a whim, or spur of the moment mining expeditions. Certainly not without checking in on our little hammy wammy. He is our world and we will absolutely not use him as a means to farm leather scraps in the future. No, absolutely not, are you kidding?