The Mársmidr were a powerful criminal gang of Strand who engaged in smuggling and protection rackets.
The Mársmidr were a gang whose origins lie in Boersgard several years before the Third Great War. The founding members used to work as watchmen in the city, but were dismissed due to being corrupt. A man named Freystein later offered to buy them drinks, but refused to pay when the time came. He told them that any money they owed should be forgiven due to their service to the city. The bartender however berated the former watchmen, stating that they made nothing. This incensed them, causing them to slay the man, while Freystein claimed that they "made corpses". Thus the name "Mársmidr" or "Corpse Smiths" stuck to them.
The watchmen then fled to the trade city of Strand from Boersgard with Freystein, in order to escape punishment for the murder they committed, and established themselves there as a gang. As the subsequent crop failures starting two years before the Third Great War in the region led to desperate refugees migrating to Strand, the unemployment increased and a chaotic situation was created, which the Mársmidr exploited. The gang engaged in smuggling and were also suppliers of finer-quality mead to Karlshus, smuggling it from cities like Arberrang through Strand, thus ensuring they could sell it at a modest price. They were also involved in protection rackets.
Although their founder Freystein initially led them, his varl lieutenant Kjallak soon started grabbing power. Freystein tried to reassert his control, but Kjallak murdered him about a year and half before the Third Great War, and took his identity. He then started spreading rumors that Freystein was still alive in order to fool others and hide his own role. As Freystein stopped appearing in public, the authorities sent both the City Watch of Strand and the Governor's Guard to search for him. They found nothing, except a few dead Guardsmen who had infiltrated the gang in Denglr's Bay a few days later.
Some time later, Kjallak decided to ally with the Vak'auga leaders Magnus twins and the Aetla Hilmir leader Nikolas, the son of the Governor of Strand's late brother Helvir and mender Melkorka, in order to seize control of Strand as well as the throne of the varls. In actual, Kjallak had put this plan in motion because he believed the dredge would soon attack the varls and humans again, and he believed the current rulers were not strong enough to resist them. In order to accomplish his goals, he had the Vak'auga smuggle in varl skeletons, so that with Melkorka's help, he could fool the varl warlord Vilmundr into believing that that he could resurrect them.
About four months before the Third Great War, Kjallak desired to steal one half of the amulet called the "Gift of Hadrborg" possessed by Olaf, which was said to revive dead varls, and which he could use to overthrow Jorundr as well as rally the varls to fight against the dredge. For this purpose, his lieutenant Ottar sent two men under the command of Johan to attack Olaf's shrine, where the half of the amulet was kept. Although Olaf succeeded in killing one of the attackers and knocking out another, Johan succeeded in escaping with it to Halsar. He however tried to blackmail his gang into forgiving his brother Hallvard, who had been forced to flee for stealing the gang's profits.
Ottar soon sent Skoegir after Johan and he was murdered, and Kjallak was able to obtain the half other amulet he had. Olaf and Ulfvalgr meanwhile came after the thief and tracked him to the borders between the kingdoms of men and varls. Kjallak after realizing this, sent his men after Ulfvalgr under the command of Ottar, in order to acquire the other half of the heirloom. He however ordered them to try seize it without violence by infiltrating the caravan he was traveling in, but they failed to find it since Ulfvalgr had hidden it in Olaf's shield, something no one knew about.
After Ulfvalgr came to know that there were men after him, he killed the one trying to loot his load and fled to Karlshus, but the Mársmidr were able to track him there. The varl however fortunately found his kendr Olaf at Broddi's Mead Hall there, and feigned a fight with him, starting a massive brawl among the customers which allowed him to escape. The men soon realized that he and Olaf had fled the town together with the boy Stefnir, and forced Broddi to tell them about his dealings with Olaf by threatening him and his daughter, before burning down the establishment.
Ottar and his men soon caught up to Hallvard, who was in Karlshus too, and offered him a pardon if he tracked Olaf and Ulfvalgr, but told him to make sure they remained alive so Kjallak could get the other half of the amulet. Hallvard followed the varls and Stefnir to Strand, where the Governor's Guardsmen Eirik and Valgard spotted him. Knowing this, Hallvard let the two follow him and catch him so they could keep his targets alive, only telling them about the deal he had been offered if he tracked the varls for "Freystein".
Olaf, Stefnir and Ulfvalgr were soon unwittingly cornered by Kollsvein's Kin when they entered their territory, but Hallvard forced Eirik and Valgard into fighting the gang. Eirik started suspecting Hallvard after he discovered that Stefnir recognized him and threatened him, but all he told him was that "Freystein" was after a varl relic. A Mársmidr spy meanwhile secretly met Hallvard and told him that that the gang will take care of the rest in the morning. Hallvard replied back stating that he understood and would follow them until then.
The next morning, Kjallak personally met Olaf in the market district, offering to help him against Freystein, who they believed was the Mársmidr leader, abd inviting them to The Shattered Shield, which Olaf gladly accepted. Ulfvalgr agreed to meet Kjallak after some reluctance, but he, Olaf and Stefnir were soon trapped in the mead hall by the Mársmidr. Eirik and Valgard, who had been following them and spying from a building opposite to the mead hall, meanwhile realized what was happening, and that Freystein was actually dead. They jumped into the mead hall and attacked the Mársmidr, helping Olaf, Ulfvalgr and Stefnir escape. Though Valgard was injured, Eirik was able to bribe the merchant Frode into protecting them from the Mársmidr chasing after them and taking them to the Great Hall.
Kjallak was furious when his preys escaped and took a finger from Ottar as punishment, after learning that it was Hallvard who had led to their plans being spoilt and had been assigned by Ottar to follow the varls. He then told Skoegir to tell the Magnus twins and Nikolas about what had happened, and also go to the Vak'auga warehouse at the western docks, in order to ensure their next shipment wasn't delayed. Hallvard, who had been spying on them all, was furious after learning that his brother had been murdered, and decided to expose his old gang.
Hallvard later infiltrated the warehouse Kjallak had talked about, but got caught and was brutally tortured by Skoegir and his men. The Mársmidr then locked him inside a meat locker where he remained for two days, until Eirik came there along with his allies after being directed by the repentant Vak'auga spymaster Leiknir, who also stated the Mársmidr were planning to take over Strand along with the Aetla Hilmir and his own gang, and had sent his aide Runa with them. They rescued Hallvard, who helped them in quietly infiltrating the warehouse, and retrieved a varl skull before the other gang members arrived there with a shipment.
Eirik took Hallvard and others to a secluded manor outside Strand, where he learnt that Kjallak was smuggling in varl skeletons and was after a shield-like amulet. He then devised a plan to hold a tournament that would get Olaf and Ulfvalgr out in the open, knowing the triumvirate of gangs would send a trusted man of theirs. He also told Leiknir to inform Magnus about it very late, so the Vak'auga and the Mársmidr would struggle to find any men, while having the City Watch of Strand arrive there at a scheduled time to prevent any surprise attacks by the Aetla Hilmir. Kjallak sent Ottar to lead the triumvirate's fighters in the tournament, but Eirik's team succeeded in winning and escaped an ambush by the Hilmir after the City Watch failed to arrive at the time scheduled by Eirik, but not before discovering Nikolas' parentage.
Back at their hideout, Hallvard tortured Ottar till he stated that he could help his allies capture Kjallak or Magnus at the Ninth Pier, where the Vak'auga were smuggling in goods for the Mársmidr. Hallvard initially expressed disinterest, but relented after realizing it could also lead him to Skoegir. Though Eirik wanted to bring the City Watch in, his allies refused since the guards had already failed them in past. They went alone, while Eirik took the mutilated Ottar to the Great Hall, where he told the Governor's Steward Olvir to have the City Watch attack the triumvirate at the Ninth Pier.
The City Watch however failed to capture Magnus, who had docked at the Ninth Pier, despite slaying many of the Vak'auga and some of the Mársmidr. Eirik and Olvir soon learnt from Hallvard and Ulfvalgr that Magnus had a twin, and that Kjallak was actually after the "Gift of Hadrborg" reputed to revive the dead. Connecting it with the arrival of Vilmundr in Strand, Eirik soon realized Kjallak's true intentions. He and Olvir then had the City Watch search the whole area for Runa and Stefnir, who had the other half of the amulet on him and had fallen into the sea while fighting one of the Magnus twins.
The triumvirate gangsters led by Skoegir captured Stefnir and Runa the next morning and took them to a warehouse. There, the triumvirate leaders found the half of the amulet Olaf had given to Stefnir, before executing Leiknir in front of them. As Kjallak left with his allies to get ready for hosting Vilmundr, Runa and Stefnir escaped soon afterwards, with Stefnir hopping in a cart and telling Runa to bring Eirik and the others there. He punctured a barrel of mead to leave them a trail to follow.
Arriving at the triumvirate's destination, which was an abandoned temple of Hadrborg in northern Strand, Stefnir discovered what Kjallak was going to show Vilmundr. Eirik and his allies soon followed Stefnir's trail up to the temple after Runa returned to them, and attacked the triumvirate gangsters outside. Inside, Stefnir exposed Kjallak's trickery to Vilmundr, before his allies burst in after slaying a number of the gangsters. Outside, Hallvard kept Skoegir busy in a fight, which made him forget about alerting others about the intruders due to his personal vendetta.
Eirik soon fatally wounded Nikolas, but Melkorka accidentally set the temple on fire while trying to take revenge on him with a spell. The amulet was rescued by Ulfvalgr, but he perished while fighting Kjallak in the fire. The City Watch under the command of Valgard soon arrived at the temple, after following the directions Eirik had marked for them, and captured the surviving gang members there who weren't killed by Eirik's group or the flames. The rest of the Mársmidr members either escaped Strand or joined other gangs, finally bringing an end to the threat they had posed to the city.
The name of the gang means "Corpse Smiths".