On the eve of his 50th year, King Siegfried of Himinborg received a gift from his half-brother. Fishermen had found afloat in the harbour caskets of faerie ash in which had been placed the hands, heads and hearts of those who had opposed the warlock in towns and villages as far away as the mountains of the Beastlands. Fingers still bore wedding bands of bronze, teeth still were studded with gold, and runes of destiny and doom were inscribed in the damp wood inside and out. That night, the troubled king remembered the first and last time he ever saw the creature that was his estranged kin.
He was a boy not yet a man, following his father’s footsteps in the snow, when he found himself alone in the woods far from the hunting party. A young centaur appeared and challenged the boy to a fair contest of his choosing. Being a son of Himinborg and a child of Kord he accepted. Young Siegfried knew that as fast as he was, he was no match for this beast in a race nor did he appear to be able to match it in strength, and so instead he decided on a singing contest.
The young fawn accepted and thus declared that the whole world and all it’s kingdoms would belong to the victor, and that the birds in the trees and the stars in the sky would decide who sang most beautifully. Siegfried sang a song so merry that songbirds echoed his melodies and stars came out even though it was not yet dark. When he was finished the centaur sang a song so sad that the forest fell silent, and the sky grew dark without sun nor moon nor stars. When each song had been sung the boy and the fawn complemented each other so greatly that neither could say who would be awarded the world and all it’s kingdoms.
Many years later, if Siegmund ever learned of his brother’s death in Skeinwael it did not appear to halt his advance. His raiding parties continued to ravage the land in pursuit of a secret quest. Only now have the raids ceased. The armies of Himinborg and every home of men and women across the length and breadth of the Swordlands begin to gather in the foothills of the mountains within which Siegmund is said to be encamped.
And only now does his intention appear clearly. He is said to seek The Crown of Byfrost, an ancient power as old as the world itself that is said to bring salvation when Ragnarok comes. As the legend goes: He who holds the Crown holds the Bridge, and from the Byfrost Bridge shall the last among men watch the giants fall. If the legend is true, Siegmund desires that which was meant for the good of all. If the legend is true and the Crown does exist, then there may yet be a salvation from Ragnarok.
The Crown is said to have once been guarded by the Einherjar, immortal sentinels whose only purpose is to defend humanity at the end of time. But when mortal kings went to war over this most sacred of all treasures some 500 years ago it became lost, and with it vanished the Einherjar.
It is said that all these long years since Siegfried first received the gift of skulls, Siegmund’s warbands have been searching for the Einherjar, retrieving them one by one from the caverns and secret places of the world in which they are hidden. 10 years of searching has led the centaur to discover almost every one of the 500 guardians of the Crown, and curiously, wherever they lie are also found the undead hordes not seen since the time of The Curse, a plague that caused the dead to rise from the earth and walk the land almost a century ago.
In some cases it has been reported that these undead destroyed the Einherjar that they had watched over for so many years as it awoke. In others Siegmund has emerged victorious and retrieved the sentinels only to destroy them or corrupt them in his laboratory. How this research will lead him to the Crown is as yet unclear.
Also in this time it is said that Auslanders traverse the kingdoms in the service of their Fey masters, for the oracles of Aelfheim have seen that Ragnarok approaches, and destiny and doom await.
So it is here that we find the Auslanders, Swordlanders, and Einherjar, carried by winged horses high over the Skøninjen Way. From their altitude the mountains appear little more than creases on a map, and the long and winding Dragon Lake but a black thread sown into it’s folds.
Sighting the circular falls that encompass the ancient keep of Saalsgard the adventurers change course in the brilliant blue sky. As they descend, the gleaming white mountains rise around them and the inky black waters spread beneath them until trees appear on the mountainsides and rocks emerge from the earth. When finally their own reflections are visible in the lake below it becomes apparent that the water here is but inches deep.
The Pegasi come thundering down into the shallows, hooves splashing on the pebbles and wings beating a spray of water droplets into the golden air as they slow to a halt. Here ringed by a series of cascades, the towers of Saalsgard emerge from the water. This is the home of the Dragon peoples since the time of Nidhog and the Crown Wars, and here are to be found the Valkyr, powerful allies in the search to end the conjunction and save the Feywild from Ragnarok.