A near-endless expanse of mudflats reached from the lonely old farmhouse at the edge of the world into the distance. Littering the cracked earth were thousands of dragonfish skeletons, wriggling and writhing helplessly in the mud such that the air was filled with the sound of their clicking bones, like a choir of crickets in a field. On the eastern horizon, a yellow sun rose over the mountains, indicating that the Cycle of the Sword had come to an end. Frost had gathered on the rocks around the broken down building in which the companions had lodged, and the many dark muddy streams that still ran across the mudflats carried thin sheets of ice. The Cycle of the Spear had come. (The Cycle of the Seasons)
Four figures stirred at the edge of the world. Karl, the Gnomish Instrumentality of the noble Eladrin house of Aellrinath; Aengus, half eladrin, half Drow descendant of the Arch-Fey Hel; his pure blood Drow father Dian-Cecht; and the Warforged Legionary known as The Promise Of Distant Thunder looked out onto the new land that greeted them. It was cold, cold as Thunder remembered that it once was. The influence of the Feywild was passing, and the Swordlands were slowly reverting to their natural state, a land of ice, steel and storm, where the only certainty was the eventual destruction of all things at the end of time, a day that all in the land believed was fast approaching.
There on the worn flagstones of the farmhouse the party began to assemble the jigsaw of Warforged Ghulra, according to the drawings they had found in Siegmund’s laboratory. They discussed how they had come by Siegmund’s collection of Ghulra. Siegmund, a powerful warlord who wielded arcane magic, half-brother to the late Siegfried, once the king of Himinborg, had strived for several decades to search out the Warforged where they had hidden themselves for many hundreds of years since the start of the Crown Wars.
“It would seem, then, perhaps coincedental, that you happened upon his entire collection, the sum of his life’s work, relatively easily.” commented Dian-Cecht, whose natural suspicion lent him to second guess all workings of chance and fortune.
“Siegmund appeared in Himinborg many months ago when we first arrived.” recalled Thunder, “He challenged the knights to find him in his hall, and dared us to ‘follow the fires’, which eventually led us to the tomb isle of Glorium.”
“It was not days before that night that we had encountered agents of Siegmund within the ice tunnels of the Twelve Mothers Gap,” added Aengus, “That was where we found you, Thunder. One imagines that Siegmund was searching for you, when we happened upon you first.”
“And then soon after he strolls into Himinborg and reveals the whereabouts of his laboratory to his mortal enemies,” continued Karl, “Through a series of portals we find the Ghulra, and begin a quest to slay the spawn of the first three arch-fey, after which we are rewarded with the final Ghulra of the five hundred. I think we’ve been played.”
“I would agree.” concluded Dian-Cecht, “The only question then is what does Siegmund want?”
“He seeks the Crown of Byfrost.” spoke Thunder, “And he believes that the Warforged somehow would lead him to it.”
“The Legion decided to go into hiding (Time To Exit Stage Left) because there was a war they could not fight," deduced Aengus, “When humanity went to war with itself, the protectors of mankind were powerless to intervene. The only course they could see was to hide Byfrost, by dispersing and taking it’s secret with them. Only, Rivenhart must have encountered Hel in his journey into the underworld.”
“That would explain why she was able to bestow his Ghulra upon us as a gift.” added Dian-Cecht.
“He was the Awakener,” spoke Thunder, recalling a distant memory of what The Strength Of Steel had once said (The Day That Never Comes), "One of us was to remain while all others went into the earth. His was a great priviledge, and a great responsibility (The Last Warrior). The legends tell us that Rivenhart appeared from nowhere during the Crown Wars. He slew Angrbode, Fenryr, and Nidhog, and built the hall of Himinborg from the dragon’s bones as a lesson to all mankind. He then served as First Knight of Himinborg throughout the reign of many kings. The dates on te murals of Glorium indicate that he held that position from the time of King Vingolf, first king of Himinborg, through to King Gylfi Best-Skull, some 250 to 300 years later, before he left and sailed through the gates of the underworld. (Glorium)"
Thunder had placed almost all the Ghulra into a perfect pattern. The intricate engavings that marked each one as unique flowed from one Ghulra to those adjoining, making one single pattern woven with an exquisite design, like a fine tapestry. The only pieces missing were The Darkening Of The Sky At Sunset, the Warforged that had been destroyed at Kindraed, Rivenhart, whose Ghulra they had been given by Hel, and Thunder himself. One by one Thunder put the last pieces into their places, and then prepared himself to remove his own Ghulra.
“Aengus, my trusted friend, would you do this for me, as I know not whether I will remain conscious?” asked Thunder. Aengus stepped forward, pushed the Ghulra in Thunder’s forehead in, twisting it, and then removing it. He held the final Ghulra in his hand and watched as Thunder’s eyes momentarily dimmed.
Thunder experienced a strange sensation at that moment. The Ghulra is often likened to a human soul, and much as if a man were to lose his soul Thunder felt his strength, his resolve, his belief, his faith in Kord, his desire for good and the protection of humanity, everything he held dear, suddenly seem… less so. His most deeply felt beliefs seemed somehow distant, less powerful.
“Quickly Aengus, put it in it’s place and lets see this finished!” urged the Warforged soldier.
As Aengus put the Ghulra into the puzzle the companions watched as the pattern laid out on the floor before them began to glow. Lines of energy coursed within the intricate designs, weaving around the whole display, which within moments began to emit heat. Gradually the whole pattern liquified into something the alchemist Aengus likened to quicksilver. The pool of liquid metal swirled and then congealed into a small disc, to finally solidify into a single Ghulra.
Thunder knelt down and picked up the disc to examine it. It bore the name ‘Legion’. Slowly and carefully he placed the disc at the center of his forehead, where his Ghulra should be.