The Swordlands

Homecoming (Part 3)

From the foot of the mountain, a long, winding staircase was carved out of the ice. It seemed to weave it’s way up and up until they could look up into the glare no longer. After a moments pause they mustered themselves for the next stage of the ascent. Up and up they climbed along a path which offered no shade nor respite, only the promise of answers that lay ahead.

Many hours they climbed, until their pace slowed to a crawl. Howl found himself in the front, and as he struggled onwards and upwards, calling on all the reserves of his warforged fortitude that he could find, his companions began to notice that smoke was rising form his body. After a gruelling climb they finally clambered onto a small flat plain, where the imposing tower of Byfrost perched on the roof of the world. From here they could see across the tops of the Galdhopiggen glacier and beyond, where rolling clouds formed an ocean of storms as far as the eye could see.

Approaching the tower the adventurers could see what looked like a pair of perfectly smooth double doors in the wall. It appeared that the structure was made not of ice, as it had first seemed, but of some kind of transluscent quartz. The party arrived at the doors and took a moment to study each others countenances.

“Before we enter this place I want you all to understand that, if I am correct, the Crown of Byfrost is the origin of The Curse.” began Aengus gravely. "It is my belief that the fleshwarping that we have encountered with increasing frequency is infact Hel’s magic, although she was not their creator. There was, according to legend, one other being of note who passed through her gates: Rivenhart. It could be that Hel is working through him somehow to bring this undead curse upon the land, although for what purpose I cannot fathom.

“History, at least as far as the stories tell, is as follows: Rivenhart bought an end to the Crown Wars some five hundred years ago. He served as First Knight of Himinborg under a succesion of kings until one day, some two hundred and fifty years ago, he sailed off in search of the gates to the underworld, never to be seen again. A century ago there fell upon the land an undead plague, and ever since these foul creatures have haunted the secret places of the world, always lurking close to where the Einherjar lay in waiting.

“As we ventured closer to Byfrost we encountered more and more powerful fleshwarped undead, but it was not until we discovered the terrible monstrosities that lay within the labyrinth that I my suspicions were aroused. Karl once quipped that perhaps Byfrost was the center of all evil. I fear that he may have been entirely correct.”

Howl had been listening in silence. When Aengus had finished he turned to the doors, reached out and placed his hand upon them.

“How exciting!” whispered Dian Cecht, to himself.

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Joe

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