The Swordlands

Ogre Bridge (Part 1)

Several days travel across the mudflats that once had been Dragon Lake led the companions to the foot hills of the great range of mountains that reached from Hamingjen in the south to Mycklegarth in the north. All along this range stretched the Skoninjen Way, which Thunder now recalled having walked the entire length of many hundreds of years ago. His memory of the route through the mountains was reinforced by that of countless other legionaries who had lived for thousands of years, such that he felt as if he knew every twist and turn intimately.

As the keeper of the Legion and of the combined memories of it’s soldiers, Thunder felt closer to the land than ever before. In one instant he had been transformed from a soldier lost in time, struggling to find fragments of his own past, to possessing knowledge beyond all reckoning, understanding every detail of the land, every facet of it’s workings. In time he would be able to control these memories and use them at will. Along the way he had had time to reflect on the fact that his knowledge of the land was detailed, yet some 500 or so years out of date. It may be the case that entire towns that he once knew now no longer existed, the devastation of the Crown Wars having been so extensive. Such was definately the case for the village of Tilden’s Watch, where he had once been reforged after an encounter with some ferocious beast.

The party made a camp in some caves in the side of a gorge that cut through the mountains. Here, the Skoninjen Way led through a narrow rocky ravine and out into a long stretch of forest and a valley that would take them toward Byfrost, As Thunder pictured the route in his mind. When the party had riden pegasi over this route from Mycklegarth they had found an army of Ogres, petrified like statues, no doubt victims of Bangog’s wrath some time in the past. They appeared to have been members of the Mammoth Clan, a particularly fearsome clan of ogres.

Oellorn had told them that several hundred years ago the Mammoth Clan had marched from the far north-east near Thruthgelmir all the way towards Hamingjen intent on usurping Bangog’s power, most probably driven to do so by their Formorian masters. Bangog had clearly prevailed and the entire army turned to stone as they had been marching. Now however, they were unclear as to what they might find, as they had seen that destroying the serpent queen had released her former victims from petrification

That night the adventurers heard strange sounds in the darkness. Some kind of foul creature was loose, calling with a vile and gutteral roar. Later that night Aengus awoke the party when he espyed a group of ogres drawing closer. The party set an ambush for the patrol and slew them easily. Examining the bodies they saw that these indeed appeared to be from the same tribe that they had found turned to stone some days before.

The next day they caught sight of a long bridge that had been built long ago high across the ravine. While now it was possible to walk across the mud and rocks along the bottom of the gorge as the party had been doing, not long ago it would have been filled with a mighty river. On the bridge it could be seen that the ogres had made a camp. The party estimated there to be some fifty or so of the savage monsters. Presumably, hundreds of them had not survived reanimation.

Along the bridge could also be seen several human captives. It was early dawn and the camp was still mostly asleep. The adventurers decided that the would launch a head on assault on the ogres while they had the advantage.

View
We Are Destiny

In an instant Thunders eyes began glowing brightly, brighter than before. He felt a surge of energy and a rush of power. All his resolve returned to him and he felt renewed. He saw mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, roads, towns, villages flash before his eyes. He saw the faces of people as if he had met them all himself. He saw kings in their halls, warriors on the field of battle, he saw Warforged standing tall and proud at the roof of the world. Within moments he understood what he was experiencing.

The sum total of all memories owned by the Warforged of The Legion That Waits were now in his possession. He saw every tiny detail of the land from a dozen viewpoints, every tree and hill, every rock and stone, every house and the faces of everyone that had ever lived in thousands of years in thousands of lifetimes came to him in but an instant. Thunder reeled from the onslaught of memories, eventually managing to control his thoughts and come back to his senses.

“I know where Byfrost is.” he whispered, “I can see it clearly in my mind, it is many days travel from here, but I know how to get there. I can climb to the top if I focus my mind, but then the light grows so bright I cannot see.”

“Then are we to assume that the Crown of Byfrost, the salvation of mankind from Ragnarok, is not so much an object, but a place?” suggested Aengus.

“I believe you are correct. It is THE place.” replied the Warforged, “It is the home of the Legion That Waits. It is the top of the mountain, and I can feel it calling me, it is a powerful compulsion to see that place again. He who holds The Crown holds The Bridge, and from The Byfrost Bridge shall the last among men watch the giants fall.

“Indeed,” spoke Aengus, “Should we follow that path, and risk leading Siegmund to the Crown too?”

“If destiny requires Siegmund to be present then it shall come to pass.” declared Karl.

Dian-Cecht stood by impassively. “The Feywild is free from Ragnarok. We have done what we came to do. From this moment on, we are destiny.”

The companions discussed how they should proceed at some length. Aengus suggested that they should examine the other items that they had recovered from Siegmund’s laboratory all that time ago, items that had, until now, gone overlooked. Aengus produced a preserved human toe on a chain, and an old dog whistle, and undertook some basic arcane analysis.

For the rest of the day the party laboured to reforge their magic items using the shards of the Eye OF The Storm. It was a relatively simple process, as The Eye lended itself readily to magical fabrication. However, now that the Ghulra had been used to make the ‘Legion’ Ghulra, the party had no more supply of components. From now on they would have to re-equip from whatever they could find as they went.

The next day, the companions set of on the course they had decided. They would make for Byfrost, and come what may.

View
The Legion Remade

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.

View
Memory Of An Unknown Legionary
Salvation

On a cliff’s edge far above wave-weathered rocks, a young girl shivers in the wind. Her dress is torn from running through the bracken along the rocky coastal path. There at the top she is looking out at the setting sun upon the Kindersee. As the Warforged approaches the girl startles and looks up. She is a short way below him, having climbed down the rocks to a precarious outcrop. She has tears down her cheeks and a desperate look in her eyes.

“Go away!” she called up through her tears, “I want everyone to go away!”

“Child, come away from the edge, you are in danger here.” cautions the legionary, reaching out as he slowly draws closer. The girl inches forwards, sending stones skittering off the clifftop and into the roaring wind and crashing waves.

“Don’t come any closer, I just want to die!”

The Warforged stopped. Considering that the wind might change direction, he thought that he may be able to reach her if he dived forward suddenly. Would the rocks beneath their feet support him if he jumped? It was uncertain. This should be resolved through dialogue.

“Come back, my child.” beckoned the soldier, “You are upset, but it will pass.”

“How would you know?” sobbed the girl, “You don’t fall in love like us, you don’t know what it means to give your heart to another and then be betrayed!”

“I do not, but I know that all wounds heal in time. I can help you.”

“No you can’t! You can’t help me! What is the point in living? We are all going to die. Surtur will come, and Thrymm shall follow. All that is will turn to dust and disappear in the wind. Every man, woman, and child in the land knows this. We are born knowing this and we die knowing this. There is nothing you can do! You can’t save us, noone can save us!” The girl screamed as she shifted another inch across the last rock between her and certain death.

“That is beyond our control. But you could certainly live a full and happy life many times over before the end of time my child. It is our destiny.” reasoned the soldier, beginning to grow unsure that this would end satisfactorily.

“Well I don’t want it! It’s not my destiny! I’m not going to live for you just to be able to die for you! I’m going to die my way!” The girl readied herself to jump, leaning back against the rocks she would leap from. The Warforged realises he has mere seconds to act. Trying to grab her would likely result in both of them falling to their deaths. Was there nothing he could do, nothing he could say?

“Stop child, you do not understand!” he shouted into the wind, “Ragnarok is not the end, for the Crown of Byfrost is the salvation of mankind!”

The girl looked up. The soldier had but another second.

“He who holds the Crown holds the Bridge, and from the Byfrost Bridge shall the last among men watch the giants fall!”

Later that night the Warforged returned to the village with the girl wrapped in skins. Her father fell to his knees thanking the legionary and offering blessings to the god of storms for not taking his child from him. The soldier left the village before dawn. It would be many years before he realised the price that all mankind would pay for saving a single life.

View
The Cycle Of The Spear

As night falls on the edge of the world, Karl, Thunder and Aengus negotiate a series of large stepping stones through the shallows of Dragon Lake towards an abandoned farmhouse. Someway behind, Aengus saw his father following, pausing on occasion to look over his shoulder with a look of consternation. Overlooking the waterfall from which Bangog had fallen, a ramshackle stone building nestled within a series of large rock pools along the cliffs edge.

Entering the building the companions set their torches on the walls and begin to examine Hel’s gifts. Inside the dark wooden box Karl retrieves a rolled parchment bearing the stamp of House Aellrinath. Unrolling the brittle document it appears to be in two parts. Written in the exquisite hand of Eladrin nobility it states that the bearer may claim one of the two rewards. Firstly, there is given details of an arcane ritual which may be employed to cross between two worlds. Secondly, Karls is surprised to see his entire family tree listed in intricate detail, including a wife he hasn’t met yet and children he hasn’t had. The family tree extends many generations into the future and ends in the declaration that all those listed here are henceforth released from service to House Aellrinath.

Aengus retieved a small roll of soft fabric, within which was stored a single nightshade flower. As he held the flower up to examine it his father related to him Hel’s instructions.

“The flower is the soul. It was the property of Hel and those in her care dwell in darkness, but your mother is a child of light, and as such her full restoration requires much sun. For best results, she should be grown in a place as far away from darkness as possible, high up, above the clouds even so as to maximise the light. The higher the better. Like any other bloom she will also require earth and water, but remember Aengus, light is the key.”

Thunder reached into the box and retrieved a single piece of metal the size of a large coin. At this Aengus’ father spoke once more.

“You, legionary, are searching for the salvation of mankind from Ragnarok. For services rendered, Hel hereby presents you with the legendary Crown Of Byfrost itself.”

Thunder saw that he was holding a warforged ghulra in his hand. It was very old. A large gash reached from one corner to its the opposite, apparently a battle wound inflicted on it’s wearer long ago. Now traces of rust gathered around the scar, and the symbol depicted on the face of the ghulra was at first unclear.

Thunder cleaned the old relic quickly, to discover the name it bore was that of Rivenhart, legendary hero of the Crown Wars, who slew the first three of the great fey beasts to end the war and save mankind from destruction at the hands of it’s own creations. With this ghulra, the party now possessed all 500, including the one they had salvaged from the destroyed warforged near Kindraed, and the one that Thunder himself bore.

“Our old adversry Siegmund had some ideas about what to do with these.” commented Thunder as he produced a bundle of items they had recovered from Siegmund’s laboratory on Glorium. In the bundle was a preserved toe on a chain, an old dog whistle, the remaining ghulra that had not been used in the creation of magic items, and a book of notes and drawings made by Siegmund himself.

“It seems that he was trying to put the pieces into some kind of pattern, but each attempt met with failure. Now that we have all the pieces maybe we will succeed where he did not.” spoke the warforged with grim determination.

The companions discussed what this might lead to. Thunder proposed that by connecting all the ghulra together correctly they might form a map of some sort. Aengus suggested that the ghulra themselves could form the Crown. Karl meanwhile was studying what seemed to be his future family tree.

“How could even the Arch-Fey know all this if it hasn’t yet come to pass?” he pondered.

The adventurers remained there in the old farmhouse deep in study throughout the night, before finally finding some much needed sleep. When they awoke to the light of day, it was a very different picture that awaited them outside.

View
An Old Land, A New World (Part 7)

From ‘The Last Warrior’

The two warforged speak at the gates of the hall at the roof of the world. It is to be the last time The Strength Of Steel would ever see Byfrost with his own eyes.

“Why are you so sure that I am equal to the task?” Asks the smaller legionary. “I possess no single virtue that sets me above the others. In faith, I have but a modest talent. In spirit, I boast no great gift. With the sword I am unexceptional at best. Why are you so convinced I am the one?”

“If I were seeking faith I would have asked The Darkening Of The Sky. Had I been seeking zeal I would have asked Justice For All. Had I been seeking skill at arms I would have asked Shiny Metal Bastard. In temperance alone you are different to your comrades.” continues the general. “I would not say that you are uncaring, but your passion does not burn in your eyes.”

The smaller soldier is silent as he hears the generals words.

The Strength Of Steel continues, “In the years ahead you will be tested, and more arduously than any of us ever have been before. You will need your patience, you will need your wisdom. You will be distant, calm, perceptive, and you will endure. You will wait.”

The smaller legionary turns away. Quiet for some time, the soldier looked across the snowy mountainside.

“This duty you place upon me breaks my heart in twain, but I will do as the council has ordained.”

“This task is fit only for you. I am certain no other legionary can endure the horrors that await without becoming unbalanced. You will see mankind tear itself apart. You will see humanity descend into evil beyond imagining. I myself would sooner rip my Ghulra from my brow than bear witness to the future of this world. But the legion must live out it’s destiny, we must be ready when the time comes, and one of us must sound the call.” replies the general.

“And if I cannot endure… if I fail?”

“Then, come Ragnarok, what remains of mankind shall cease to be, and we all will have failed.” replies The Strength Of Steel.

The legionary watches as the general departs, as he trudges through the snow fields under the brilliant blue sky, as he disappears from view.

View
An Old Land, A New World (Part 6)

From ‘A Stairway To Hel’

Blinking in the sudden light, the companions emerged to a great vision of Nothing. They were stood on a small ledge, partway down a huge cliff. Above them, they could see jutting rocks and the high edge of the cliff, and ahead of them clouds, mist and spray disappearing into a grey bleakness lit only with the occasional rumble of thunder and far-distant flash of lightning. Below and to the sides the cliff extended to the edge of vision with nothing but a narrow ledge as a way down. Roping themselves together, they began to move down.

The journey was slow, monotonous and dangerous. Jutting rocks wore at the ropes, the path was slippery with water and occasionally other waterfalls shot from the cliff with great force, arcing off into the mist below. A cold wind blew and as the hours passed they took more and more time sheltering in small caves against the weather. Some caves extended further back into the wall, and it became apparent through the days of their journey that there were evidence of workings in the stone. Each layer showed more ancient work than the last, firstly appearing hundreds of years old, then millennia. There were rooms and hallways, maybe even evidence of long-gone cities.

Sigurd explained her theory as they walked, that each civilization had built on the work of those previously, striving ever upwards to escape the depths they had started from. Moving inside the cliff and following the pathways, climbs and slides down the group continued.

Aengus stopped suddenly at one point, smiled grimly, then continued walking.

“What was that?” asked Thunder. “You looked as though you’d seen a ghost.”

“Not exactly,” replied the Eladrin. “It’s just… I can feel my kin are getting closer. Or me, closer to them.”

“Hang on a minute,” said Iben. “I thought Eladrin came from the Feyworld, not from miles underground in dank caverns.”

“About that,” Aengus said. “I suppose this would be a good time to tell you that only my mother was an Eladrin…”

From ‘The Vampires Of Skienwael’

Soon after, a group of Knights Himinborg arrive led by Serkeljoff. The party explain that Siegfried’s last words were to announce that whoever carries the token of the first knight shall succeed him as king. It is revealed that both Thunder and Serkeljoff possess such a token, Thunder knows it as the symbol of the Legion That Waits. Thunder renounces any claim to the throne and Serkeljoff is informally made king.

At dawn the party, together with the Knights Himinborg, locate a blubber boiling tower on the shores of the Kindersee where it appears the vampires lair. They venture inside and find hordes of vampires waiting in the darkness. Taking advantage of the fire pits in the tower they set the place ablaze and wait for the creatures to die in the flames.

The next day Serkeljoff explains that they are raising an army to meet Siegmund. The party explain that their mission takes them far into the Beastlands, to Mycklegarth and Hamingjen, to hunt down the surviving spawn of 2 mythical creatures of the Feywild. The 2 groups prepare to go their separate ways.

View
An Old Land, A New World (Part 5)

From ‘Journeys With A Cake’

Ahead, they could see dim light flickering in the night. Moving closer, Aengus saw small footprints as if made by booted feet leading towards the light. At the edge of the clearing, each member of the group could see an empty campsite, fire built, and food laden all around. A roast boar with an apple in it’s mouth sat mounted on a tripod, a rack held several dragonfish and two rabbits, and over the fire itself a deer was roasting on a spit.

Aengus caught his breath as he realized what was going on. In areas such as this, far from civilization and the trappings of humanity, it was possible to cross from the World to the Feywild just by walking. They stood now at the far edges of the Beastlands, where it was said that a conjunction with the Feywild exists.

Iben, too, being familiar with tales of spirits, could understand what had happened. We are being invited to talk with Lady Snowshoes, he thought to himself, and stepped into the clearing, gesturing the others forwards.

On the very edge of hearing, but swiftly growing louder, quiet whispers could be heard.

“They have come! They have come!”

“Who has come? Who is here?”

“They have answered the call!”

“They are here!”

Realising he was in the presence of Faerie, Karl introduced himself with his full family name and rank, the other following suit with similar words. As each person spoke, they noticed that the animals and foodstuffs that were laid out around them were animatedly moving and wriggling on their respective hooks and spits, and the voices that could be heard were coming from them. As Iben spoke and introduced himself, the boar spat out the apple in it’s mouth and joined the chorus. With a start, Aldis noticed that it was the fish asking “Who has come? Who has come?” as their eyes were sewn shut.

Looking around on it’s spit, the deer nodded at Karl: “The Instrumentality1 has answered the call! So Far have his little feet carried him!” The fish wriggled as they hung and slapped their bodies together, creating the effect of a light smattering of applause. Looking across at Iben, the deer said “Kindraeder has answered the call, so pleased you have come! The herald they call him!” The fish applauded once more.

Confused, Aldis asked of the camp “What call? We have heard no call, we are travelling to Thruthgelmir.”

Looking back and meeting her gaze, the deer responded. “Wyrm has come, she comes to free her people. And the Eladrin, too! So cruel she was to summon him so, so cruel she was. Einherjar has answered the call! The Call That Does Not Sound!" With each announcement the fish slapped their bodies in applause.

“The Call That Does Not Sound?” asked the boar in a grunt.

“And yet he stands before us!” rejoiced the rabbits.

“And a human woman has answered the call,” continued the deer, “but not ours, not ours!”

“Not ours? Then whose?” grunted the boar.

“Perhaps her own? Perhaps?” asked the rabbits.

Trying to get a grasp on the situation, Aengus calls out “We have spoken with the Wailing Spirit of the Mountain, near Kindraed!”

The boar responded loudly “You must save us!”

The fish and rabbits chorused immediately, “Save us! Save us!”

The deer spoke again, saying “The end will come, the land will die. Faerie, too. You must save us! The lands are joined by lines – these lines must be severed."

“You mean.. Leylines?” asked Aengus, calling on his knowledge of the natural world.

“Well…” began the deer.

“She will tell you, she who awaits at the end of the World!”2 interrupted the boar.

The deer continued quickly. “Beware Siegmund!" At the mention of this name the rabbits trembled and squealed with fear

“He tricks you! You have what he has not, and he wants it. He –“

A sharp snap of a twig sounded in the forest, off to one side, and in an instant, every animal went limp, the boar picking up the apple with its mouth again before falling still.

View
An Old Land, A New World (Part 4)

From ‘An Urn Of Questions’

As the raging light from Requiem died, all that was left was Sigurd’s magelight spell to illuminate the room. Looking down at the fallen Warforged at his feet, Thunder felt a deep sense of sadness.

He was one of us once, he thought. Now he attacks, raging and confused. What if this is what has happened to all the Legion? What if I am the only one left?

He knelt and examined the form more closely. Now that it had stopped moving, Thunder was able to get a much better idea of what had happened to the General. He could see that in addition to his Ghulra being removed, many modifications had been made. The body had been augmented and corrupted, growing in size and strength but losing the fluid grace that made members of the Legion so human-like.

Sigurd and the others had also been examining the other items on the dais. They found a book of star-charts, detailing formations in both the real world and that of the Feywild. Inside this book was a collection of other pages showing examples of Ghulra. On some pages, the Ghulra were combined like a jigsaw, as if an attempt was being made to turn them into one form, but each attempt was incomplete.

Several other items were also located, including a human toe preserved and mounted on a chain, a whistle, a box of white powder (Sigurd thought this might be a component in creating more of the rat-creatures) and a large urn. Aengus and Sigurd both could sense powerful magic within the urn, and after a short discussion agreed to open it.

Aengus’ gasp of shock sent Thunder moving quickly over them. Mutely, Sigurd turned the urn so that he could see inside it. Collected inside were several hundred Ghulra, and Thunder could feel his comrades spirits looking down on him as he stared at it.

“You know what this means?” he asked, sifting through the small discs. “I’d estimate that there are nearly 500 Ghulra in here – that was the full membership of the Legion. I think I may be the only one left.”

A short while later Karl came over to Thunder where he knelt praying to Kord. “We’ve counted the Ghulra,” he said. “Four-hundred and ninety-seven. Including you and the Warforged that was destroyed at the mountain, there is still one missing. Unfortunately, unless you can remember the names of every member of the Legion, we’re not going to know who it is.”

View
An Old Land, A New World (Part 3)

The murals of Glorium depict Rivenhart rising to prominence at the end of The Crown Wars:

A warrior emerges from the chaos and slays the three monsters Fenryr, Angrböde, and Nydhøg, one after another. He is named as Rivenhart, bearing a stylised eye on his shield, similar to the insignia of the Legion That Waits. King Vingolf is depicted sitting on the throne in a great hall built on the bones of the fallen wyrm Nydhøg. To his right sits Rivenhart in the seat of the first knight of Himinborg, and to his left, Queen Brichta. King Vingolf and Queen Brichta are said to have ruled Himinborg some 500 years ago.

In the final panel, the warrior named Rivenhart sails a boat away from Himinborg and through the gates of the underworld upon a river of knives. Here awaits a beautiful and mysterious woman, black on one side of her face, white on the other. On the shore from where he came King Gylfi looks out across the ocean as Rivenhart sails away. Iben recognises the female figure as a fey spirit known as Mistress Night and Day, who tends to the souls of the damned in the underworld, otherwise known as Svartlheim, or the Feydark. King Gylfi is known to have lived some 250 years ago.

The Northman Arrives In Concordance

The northman looked out of place amongst the wealth and trappings of civilisation, but his host, the trophy hunter, who had so enjoyed hearing his stories had insisted on lavishing food, wine, and fineries upon him. Iben's account of his encounter at sea had captivated him such that he had commissioned an artist to conjure a fanciful likeness of the beast, complete with razor sharp talons and monstrous jaws, dismissing Iben's protest that he had not actually seen the monster's head, if indeed it even had one.

"Well my friend!" declared Lord Wyvernhoe standing hands on hips before the portrait, "The one piece missing from my collection. You have found me a dragon, and no mistake! I shall have it's head, and you shall lead me to it!"

Within a week a frigate was chartered. The Aurora , a ship of war bedecked with harpoons and bristling with armaments such that a pirate prince would shudder at the prospect of facing her on the open sea. Busy about the deck, a crew of veteran mariners full of rude talk, each one with a keen eye for trouble and profit. And, come the unexpected, a party of adventurers of varied talents who had each been met with offers of highly paid work, enough to take them out onto the high seas in search of monsters.

From ‘A Contest Of Heroes’

The gnome soared through the air and launched several small throwing stars, and as they thumped in a small pattern around the woman's head the gnome twisted in mid-air and landed smoothly on his feet. He turned, bowed, and announced "Top that, gentlemen!" To the woman's relief, the contest was decreed over – no man wanted to face up to attempting to surpass that feat!

As the group celebrates their upcoming quest to join Serkeljof and the other Knights to find the king, a silence drops upon the room. Through the main doors walks, no, trots a strange creature - half-man, half horse. He is dressed in a savage style, with furs and obvious weaponry. The surrounding men seemed stunned at his boldness – for this is clearly a Beastman and as such has no place here. The centaurs tatoo's shine in the fire. As he enters, the centaur pauses for a second, staring at Thunder intently, before shaking his head and moving around the fire.

Moving to the seats that Serkeljof occupies, the centaur speaks for the first time.

“I trust I am not intruding?” he asks, calmly, but with a restrained malevolence in his growling voice, "But it is so long since I was welcomed in this hall. Tell me, what news of mein bruder." Men around the hall are being restrained from attacking this arrogant creature. Fruhli, the storyteller, confirms to Aengus that this is indeed the King's half-brother. He is also the leader of the raiders that have caused so much trouble in recent months.

“No news is… how you say… good news.” returned Serkeljof, who now stood almost face to face with the giant centaur.

“Well, I shall forgive your rudeness this once, and I shall extend an invitation to you all. Come to my hall, the hall of Siegmund. I will show you true hospitality.”

“Yes, the location of your halls,” began Serkeljof with deliberately overplayed innocence, “It has been the subject of some discussion here…”

“You will know,” answered Siegmund, his voice gaining ferocity, "Just follow the fire!" The Beastman laughs, and as men draw weapons and go to attack him he throws some sort of bag into the cauldron hanging over the firepit. It immediately begins to bubble, before spewing forth a wave of rats that leap out and begin to fill the hall. Laughing even more, the centaur disperses into a cloud of bats and flys up and out of the hall via the top window.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.