The Swordlands

The Trap Is Sprung

As Thunder presses one of the orbs a draconic wraith made of blood manifests and attacks him, using it’s breath weapon to drench him with blood and instill a growing panic in him. Thunder stands his ground and resists the urge to flee through the large room filled with vicinity-trigger magical blasting traps.

Aengus presses another orb in the room with the magical font. A draconic wraith made of golden vapour manifests and attempts to gain control of his mind. The wraith instructs Aengus to drink from the Font of Purification. Despite his efforts Aengus succumbs to the wraiths psychic attack and plunges his head into the molten gold. Blinded and burned he uses cold magic to counter it’s worst effects.

As Karl presses the final orb in the pit the floor he is standing on suddenly drops into the darkness in but a heartbeat. He plummets 100 feet onto the solid gold slabs on which he was standing a moment before, next to the crushed remains of the dragonspawn. He survives the fall and sees there at the bottom of the pit a large golden door with 3 more orbs placed around it. Karl tries a series of acrobatic manouveres to press all 3 within a split second but eventually settles on the idea of using one of the dead dragonspawn’s severed hands to trick the mechanism into operating.

Moments after the trap is sprung it resets. The wraiths disappear and the pit trap catapults Karl up 100 feet again, slamming him into the ceiling. After the party rest and recover from their injuries they devise a plan to trigger the trap and reach the last golden door in time to open it. Using severed hands from the dragonspawn they fool the orbs into activating and open the door at the bottom of the pit before the trap resets itself again.

Bahamut's Warning

Beyond the party discover a complex of rooms and passages which house the remains of many dragonborn knights. Karl manages to disarm a series of traps and they find an inscription in one of the larger rooms of the tomb.

Tread now among lords of Dragon
Scions of Wyrm and Man
Bound to the service of Sif
Through sword and fire
Honoured intruder know this
Bahamut forgives all but sacriledge

In different rooms the party find a total of 3 more glowing orbs set into the walls. It appears that when pressed together they will trigger something. They also find the remains of twisted draconic creatures known as dragonspawn, evil mutations that Bangog uses as her agents. They all appear to have died horrible deaths. One lies on the floor near a magical font filled with molten gold near to one of the glowing orbs. It’s head is encased in gold. One lies crushed and mangled in a pit at the bottom of which another glowing gem is set in the floor. In the larger room filled with magical traps stands a similar creature apparently made of solid gold. A third glowing gem is set into the wall of a nearby crypt chamber.

The adventurers separate and, standing in their respective rooms, simultaneously touch the gems.

The Tomb Of The Valkyr

Swimming down and down through the long natural shaft the party are attacked by swarms of skeletal dragon fish. Just when they seem to be gaining the upper hand a huge zombie dragon eel rises from below and swallows Karl whole. Aengus teleports Karl out of the belly of the beast but not before more skeletal dragon fish trapped in the dragon eels stomach set upon him. The adventurers battle the leviathon as it swims through the tunnel and eventually succeed in driving it off.

The vertical shaft twists and turns and as the water breathing rituals were beginning to wear off the party emerges into a vast natural cavern. Here a stoney beach rises from the flowing stream. The adventurers notice smooth pebble-sized nuggets of pure gold amongst the stones. At the far side of the cavern stand a large pair of golden doors. Three glowing orbs are set into the wall around the doors, one on either side and one above. 2 large golden sarcophagi bearing images of dragon born knights indicate that this is the place they were looking for.

Curiously, hundreds of bottles float on the surface of the water, washed up on the stoney beach. Inside each appears to be some parchment and some gems. Opening one the party find a message written in a draconic script, mentioning the Valkyr. They decide that these must be some form of prayers.

After some investigation they discover that touching each of the 3 glowing gems set around the doors at the same time unlocks the magical seal and causes them to open.

The Oracle Of Chronepsis

Where once had lived the Valkyr now was an exotic bazaar in which dragon-kin and serpent-folk writhed and slithered through thick clouds of incense. Gold was presented for sale and trade in many forms, every object that one might normally expect to find in a market was made of solid gold. Swordlanders from the farthest corners of the world had also made the journey here and were trading their furs, armour and weapons for golden pots, horsehoes, even fruit made of pure gold.

In the center of the bazaar an elegant medusa with blind white eyes sat within the coils of a seven headed hydra as she was attended by merchants and musicians. As the party approached she turned and spoke.

“I was here when Bangog rose to power from the ashes of the Crown Wars. I saw the coming of the Dragonborn and all the dragon-kin that came of the union between this new world and the old world of our ancestors.

“Before the great war this hall was the house of a mortal king named Saal. He and all his people disappeared in the onslaught that came, and for many years Saalsgard stood empty. It was the Dragonborn who claimed it as their home. A great and noble people they opposed Bangog and her bloody-minded tyranny. They called themselves the Valkyr. They were led by a glorious faerie warrior, a maiden who came to be known here as Goldenhair and is still to this day revered as an exemplar of purity and excellence in battle. In our world she was known as Sif, and her defeated adversaries were many.

“I saw Bangog finally defeat the beautiful Sif in battle nearly 250 years ago, and I watched as the Valkyr retreated from these halls into the mountains in which they had long since buried their dead. And there the Valkyr were not silent, but they grew in strength, seeking every opportunity to oppose the Serpent-Queen and her forces, as they still do to this day.

“This is my home now. I am Shewva, Oracle of Chronepsis, the Watcher. I have seen the future, the end, and the beginning, and I know that it is close. Many will die, but some will be saved, and they shall be chosen by the one who holds the Crown of Byfrost, for ‘He who hold the Crown, holds the Bridge, and from the Rainbow Bridge shall the last among men watch the giants fall.’ None can prevent the end, and until now Bangog has denied any the right to leave this land. And so here we await what is to come.

“It was I who, long ago, told Snoflgrof of his fate. He took it rather well. Kindrbode I cannot imagine even barely understood what I said to him, but Bangog was… displeased. She is a jealous creature and will not relinquish her life willingly, no matter what is at stake. She has allied with Siegmund, and together they have been searching for the lost Crown of Byfrost. I have seen only that one of them will find it.

“You have come seeking the Valkyr in your quest to slay the last of the three. You are not the first to attempt this. Already the conjunction is weakening, the Cycle of the Sword passes quickly, the red sun sets in the sky and the cycles of the old world reassert themselves. You will find the paladins of Sif in their ancestral tombs that lie behind the waterfalls around Saalsgard. There they are protected from the agents of Bangog by powerful unliving guardians.

“A century ago came what is known as The Curse. At that time I sensed the presence of a dark power. In a dream I saw The Boon Companion, The Apple Thief, The Trickster, Jack-In-A-Hood, The Sleepless Dreamer, The Gift That Is A Curse, A King Unborn, Night and Fear, Death and Dream, Friend and Foe, The One Who Waits At The End Of A Journey, The Night Watchman who fashions a ship from the torn nails of dead men in which will sail the army of the damned through seas of blood at the end of time.

“That the dead once walked the land was doing of this dark force. That they are now restless is the doing of Siegmund, for it was he who has disturbed them in his search for the Crown. The guardians of the tomb of the Valkyr are unliving terrors, yet the Valkyr wield powerful magic that was taught to them by their patron Sif, herself a servant of Bahamut.

“Through the magic of their faith the undead tomb guardians have retained some sense of their former selves, and will allow to pass any who is an enemy of Bangog. However I have seen that all will not be well with your search into the tomb. Something is not right and you will be opposed.

“Bangog has been silent for several days now. It is unusual that so much time should pass without some manifestation of her fearsome will. It will not always be so, and thus you should make haste toward you goal.”

The medusa turned back to her attendants. Suddenly a small eladrin chlild appeared at Aengus’ side. She introduced herself as Sanoba, a merchant, and said that she would show them the way to the tomb. Sanoba mentions in passing that she has seen a statue of Aengus at Hamingjen, Bangog’s lair, but at the stage the soporific effect of the incense that fills the hall had rendered the party almost at a loss for words. Sigurd, realising that this creature knew a great deal about the mysteries of destiny, decided to stay in Saalsgard, with Oellorn to watch her back.

Outside at the waters edge Sanoba presented Karl, Aengus and Thunder with rituals of water-breathing, saying that they will need them to enter the tomb. She explained that she and the crew of her ship had been making the voyage to Saalsgard for as long as passage existed, but one day they were cursed by Bangog for some perceived slight and since that day they have aged ‘younger’ rather than older.

The three adventurers wade across the shallow lake and soon come to the waterfalls behind which Sanoba said the entrance to the tomb lay. Thunder strides through first and finds a deep water-filled shaft beyond. Protected by the eladrin child’s magic they dive down into the tunnel and begin to swim into the darkness.

Hel's Gift

Karl was awakened by the dawn light streaming through his closed eyelids. He grunted and rolled over, “It feels like I only just handed the watch over to Aengus, another 5 minutes…” He was just settling down to grab that quick final doze when the deeper instincts which have always done so well to keep him intact nudged him “You have just handed over the watch to Aengus, and you were facing west!”

He cautiously open his eyes, but having rolled over, he was no longer facing the illumination. Even so, the spill from the light was visible even from this angle. He then realised that he had been facing Aengus. Nonchalantly making a yawning sound he rolled back toward him, his hand casually covering his face hiding his open eyes while his other hand discretely reached for one of the many blades hidden about his person.

Aengus was glowing – brightly. The Eladrin was sitting cross legged in the normal pose he adopted for his meditative watches but the serene expression he normally wore had been replaced by a fierce concentration. His left hand was over his breast, and the ring he always bore upon it, his deceased mother’s wedding band, shone piercingly bright. Adding to the illumination where the green flames flickering around the clenched fist of his other hand, almost in anticipation of one the Eldritch Spears he flung around.

Karl looked around for Thunder to find him regarding the Eladrin in contemplation.

“Err, did I miss the invite to the firework display?” Karl asked. “How long has he been glowing like this, and shouldn’t we wake him?” he said as he moved over to Aengus and tentatively reached out to him. The light from the ring generated no heat, though the ground was charred beneath the green flames coiling around his clenched fist.

Karl gently shook Aengus and called his name, but got no response. He saw his lips were moving and stooped closer. It was some ancient Eladrin form, full of arcane mutterings that were lost to him but he caught one word clearly and bounded away immediately “Hel”.

“He appears to be in communication with his patron” Thunder explained. “Our faith’s are very different of course but we share enough common understanding for me to be able to perceive that this is a religious communion and he is not in direct danger – at least none he is not fully aware of and walking directly into.”

“He might not be in direct danger but glowing like that is going to draw a lot more than moths to us!” muttered Karl as he vainly tried to gather some branches to obscure the light spilling from Aengus’ ring.

Thunder shrugged, “Then we will warmly welcome any who are drawn thus.”

Karl cocked an eyebrow “Welcome?”

“One way or another!” Thunder clarified raising his own eyebrows.

Karl smiled and continued his unsuccessful attempts to hide his glowing friend.

…Aengus awoke, which was strange as he’d only just settled down to meditate. Karl and the others were curled in their cloaks a few yards in front while Thunder sat, eyes closed, his back against a nearby tree.

Something was not quite right here.

Several river salmon Karl had tickled earlier were smoking over the embers of the small fire they had lit. One wriggled on its hook, arching up to look Aengus directly in the eye and whispered “She comes!” before flopping back lifeless.

Aengus immediately stood and alerted the others “Awaken! We have company!” but his companions stirred not. He reached over to shake Karl but his hand passed right though his friend.
“Hmm, insubstantial, one of us is not actually here… perhaps I have yet to awaken after all” Aengus pondered.

Aengus turned to a rustling sound behind him to find the plant life writhing to take the form of their recent acquaintance Hel, his many times removed grandmother. His fist clenched unconsciously and green fire formed around his arm – not that it would amount to much in any real confrontation but he couldn’t help himself. His feelings regarding this dangerous ally were very confused. To what extent she was involved in his mother’s demise he remained unsure but she was certainly using the situation to gain the support of his father. Still, they had little choice in the matter given the circumstances they were facing.

He forced himself to relax and bowed to the ancient Fey now fully formed in front of him.

“It is unlike you to reveal yourself directly so far from home?” he queried.

“Needs must child,” she replied. “and it costs me much to do so in a fashion that will not scream my presence across the mountains. You have done well since we last met but the challenges ahead will only get greater, and I fear you are not yet strong enough.”

“Perhaps,” Aengus replied “but strength is not my remit, we have other companions whose purview it is to stand front and centre and draw the ire of our foes. When I strike, my foes are left grasping at shadows.”

“All need to be strong or all will be lost!” Hel hissed. “Besides, I sense that your company will soon be sundered, you may not always be able to rely on the strength of others.”

Aengus frowned, “What do you mean? Thunder would no more leave us than float in water and Oelorn has proven a more that reliable ally. Karl is capabale of…”

“Hush child” she interrupted “I have seen what I have seen. All is cloudy and I do not for certain know what will pass, I only sense that greater strength you will need.”

Aengus bowed again in apology “What would you have me do then exactly, bench press Karl? I couldn’t even pick up Oelorn’s sword and I don’t see that changing any time soon.”

Hel, smiled briefly, “I would like to see that. Never a more deadly member of the instrumentality have I encountered. But no, strength takes many forms.

She paused to regard Aengus “Your mother was an accomplished sword mage, but you did not complete your studies under her…”

Aengus exploded “You dare mock me about such things?”

Hel’s form began to waver “We have no time for your outrage child, listen to me now or risk losing all. It is not my part to elevate or lower my children, all of us have rules to follow, the greater as well the lesser, but I can channel that passion and teach you a little of what your mother would have passed on. “

Aengus glared, “And the sacrifice for this… gift?”

Hel smiled sadly “You know me well child, but as I said, we all have rules to follow. The sacrifice is yours to make, but decide quickly, I am almost spent.”

Aengus sighed and looked around. He saw his lyre leaning against his pack, he gestured and it flew toward him. “Take my voice then, I shall sing no more till my family is reunited. I hope your gift is worthy of such a trade” and he broke the lyre, his mother’s, over his knee and keened loudly in anger, frustration and loss.

Hel reformed briefly to tower over Aengus, and bent over to deliver a single burning kiss to his forehead “It may seem otherwise child but I love you as I do all my children. I feel your pain as I do theirs. I think you will find my gift worthy of your sacrifice.”

Aengus collapsed to his knees, overwrought by grief, and dazed by the burning kiss left on his forehead. But then the leaves which had embraced him fell away to be replaced by arms of flesh, and the kiss on his forehead from lips not briars. He opened his eyes to find his mother embracing him, smiling but tearful. She put a finger to his lips before he could speak.“We have little time my son and much I must teach before the dawn touches the sky. Listen and learn the lessons I could not pass on before I was stolen from you.”

Aengus closed his eyes, breathed deeply and open them again to calmly gaze at his mothers face. “Teach, and I will learn…”

. . . Aengus woke to find the night still dark, and heavy, literally. Then he realised that he appeared to be buried under a small mountain of leaves and branches. He cursed and teleported out from beneath the detritus, appearing suddenly in front of Karl who was approaching the now sagging pile with another bunch of leaves in his arms.

“Finally awake then?” he said dropping the leaves and brushing his hands.

“Err, was there a reason for making a bivouac with me inside? I thought the normal idea was to rest on top?” Aengus enquired.

“You were glowing,” Karl explained “a lot!” and pointed to a small pile of enemy bodies that had been lain along the side of the campsite, Thunder stood over them arm raised in benediction.

“You were your usual gung ho self I see.” Aengus said referring to a gash across Karl’s forehead.

Karl frowned, “No actually, that was you, or at least I assume so…”

Aengus frowned in puzzlement till Karl gestured toward the fragments of his Lyre scattered amongst the mound of leaves. He coughed, “Ah, yes, sorry about that”.

Thunder finished and turned to face Aengus “A satisfactory communion?”

Aengus’ face flitted through many expressions before settling on a sad smile “Yes, very satisfactory.” He sat down by the remains of the fire and reached, tentatively, for the last of the fish. It did not talk, nor flinch and Aengus broke his fast with relish.

Tilden's Watch
A Memory

The soldier known as The Promise Of Distant Thunder arrives at the pearl fishers village of Tilden’s Watch he is always subject to much attention. Rising from the sea he is greeted first by the children who swim in the shallows. These youngsters have not yet learned to fear iron and swords, laughing and running in circles as the armored knight strode across the black beach.

The Elders of the village were, as they had for countless years, waiting for him as he came ashore. The Warforged returned to this site every fifty years to within a few days, and his coming had now become a source of legend. Scanning the faces of those that waited silently on the dock, he recognized amongst them those that had been children when last he set foot here. Unchanging, unchangeable, unchanged, his metal face betrayed no sign of the melancholy within as he was once more confronted with the mortality of humankind.

The leader of the village – an old man Thunder distinctly remembered falling off the dock with excitement on his previous visit – raised in a trembling hand a longsword, pointing it at the Ghulra on the Warforged’s forehead. Thunder halted, and in return drew his sword, larger and heavier than most men could lift. The blades – shining as the sun lanced through a gap in the clouds – touched briefly, point to point.

The Elder spoke first as he lowered his weapon. The villagers fell silent at his voice, even the children sensing this was not a time to shout and play.

“Einherjar, once more you return to us. We hear distant rumors of war, of terrible beasts, of the ruination of the world. Have you word?”

Thunder, keeping his sword held out in front of him, replied in a clear voice.

“I am the Promise of Distant Thunder, Einherjar, of the Legion That Waits. I bring you the Word of Kord!” The ritual answer, if anything, deepened the surrounding silence. Out of the corner of his eye, Thunder saw a woman, no more than eighteen winters old, clutching a young child to her breast. Every eye on the village was upon him.

With a sudden motion, Thunder thrust his sword skywards. In answer, a bolt of lightning, hammering down from the clouds, struck the upraised steel and earthed itself through the Warforged as he stood un-moving. Thunder, the electricity crawling over his body, spoke again.

“We wait still.”

The cheers from the villagers echoed over the water.

As was his custom in this place, Thunder spent the day assisting the village in all matter of tasks. Firstly, he spoke with the healers of the village, bringing forth the holy power of the God to mend broken bones, close up sores and alleviate the effects of disease. To each patient he spoke quietly, reassuring them and bringing peace to their pain.

Only once this task had been completed would he speak with the Elders. For two hours he stood in the Hall, answering a barrage of questions about the wider world. The movements of troops, battles, new tales of heroes and disaster, discoveries, magic and the continued slow return of the Fey all fell from his mouth as the Elders pressed him. He gave advice, answered dilemmas, blessed all those present. His wisdom shone in the room as brightly as his armour.

In the afternoon, and for the next two days, he worked with those that wished to learn the art of warfare. Taking a group, he taught the basic forms of attack and defence with those weapons that were available to them. Spears, axes and daggers flashed in the sun as the villages, with varying levels of success, attempted to learn. Some of the old men, who had undergone the training fifty years previously, laughed and joked at the side until Thunder, in a rare moment of levity, challenged them to do better. For a few minutes he kept them all at bay, batting aside blows, blocking, twisting away from axe strikes. Calculating that the old men were getting tired, he allowed himself to overwhelmed and fell to the floor under their assault.

Raising himself back to his feet and leaning on his sword to show his “tiredness”, Thunder addressed the group.

“In single combat I could best any of these men, though they have long years of experience. Yet with teamwork and dedication, they were able to throw me down and were this a real battle I would likely have been destroyed. Take this lesson to heart – alone, one man is a warrior. Together with his brothers, with the fearless people who stand with him, with the unquenchable spirit that drives the righteous forward, he is an army.”

“More – he is a Legionary. This is the lesson Kord teaches us today.”

The villagers murmured back, “Praise be to Kord.”

The last action that Thunder took before he set out for the next settlement always drew a crowd. Removing his armour and weapon, leaving only a short blacksmith’s apron to cover himself, he worked at the forge. For several hours, working at a pace and precision no human could match, he made repairs to armour, fixed blades and strengthened tools. At the fall of night he emerged, holding a single new sword.

Once more the Elders had gathered, the rest of the village staying respectfully some distance away. Thunder scanned the faces in front of him and gestured at one young woman. She had shown particular aptitude in battle, demonstrating a rare speed of learning and a wiry strength that had left more than one of the others off-balance and, in one case, with a black eye.

“I am The Promise of Distant Thunder, Einherjar, of the Legion That Waits. I offer this sword to you. May you use it as a tool in defence of humanity, as I am to be used when Ragnarok comes. Will you accept?”

Nervously, the woman took the proffered blade and scabbard, buckling it around her waist. Thunder blessed her, gathered his armour and weapon, and turned to leave.

“Why do you come here?” A voice rang out in the quiet. Surprised, Thunder turned back. The young woman who had been holding the baby at the start of the day had stepped forward, tears in her eyes. Her voice challenged him to answer.

“Fifty years ago you gave my grandfather a sword. He died not six months afterwards, fighting a creature that came out of the woods. Why did you not stay to help us? Why will you not protect us? Why do you come back, unchanging, immortal, for just a few days whilst we must scrabble for the scraps the land provides?”

The Warforged saw the same questions in the eyes of many of the other villagers. Perhaps they had always been there. Perhaps he had never bothered to look, safe in the endless pattern of obligation and ritual.

“Your questions deserves answers, villager of Tilden’s Watch. I cannot stay and defend you, for in doing so I would leave many other settlements in need of help. I undertake these responsibilities in many lands, on a long journey that takes in both grand halls and tiny hamlets. Wherever I and the other Einherjar go we do what we can in the short time we have to mend, to train and to inspire. We cannot fight your battles for you, for that is not our task. We are charged with the protection of humanity, and we, through the wisdom of Kord, have seen that to protect humanity is achieved by allowing them to grow in their own power. Were we to take on every challenge for you, you would be weak and unable to fight for yourselves.”

“You asked why I come here. Aside from my own obligations and instructions, I must tell you that there is a grander, and yet more simple, reason why I return to this place. Many hundreds of years ago, this place was known as Loksvald. A great blacksmith was born here, who wrought iron with un-matched skill. One day a stranger approached, strong in both divine wisdom and human magic. He spoke with the blacksmith for many days, and the forge sang with what they created together.”

“That blacksmith was named Tilden. He is the man that forged me that day, and set me on my task. This place, in as much as any place in the world, is my home. Do not believe that your place of birth sets your ability or your potential – all things are possible for those that strive to achieve them. May Kord bless you, and your child, my lady.”

In silence, lit only by the now-risen moon, Thunder began to climb the hills towards his next destination. The villagers returned to their homes, shaken, yet joyous, in the revelation.

The Promise Of Distant Thunder
A Memory

In the last days of the legion, the Einherjar leave Byfrost. All of them are now to walk roads which they have travelled long ago, for their many quests have led them to the farthest corners of the world and back. All have chosen to wait close to a place that they have known. Most of them will never see Byfrost again, although they do not know it.

The Promise Of Distant Thunder chooses the road to the Kindersee and beyond. Along the way he sees from a distance the armies of men, but his orders are to avoid all contact. He sees the trail of destruction they have left in their wake, but his orders are not to intervene. After a long and arduous descent he reaches black shores and green lapping waters. He treads heavily over the gravel beach and wades into the shallows. Step by step the waters consume him.

Many days later he emerges from the water into a cavern of ice. Far above him on the surface is a small village where the pearl fishers had once welcomed him. When he next sees the light of the sun however it will be as if that village had never even existed, for 150 years of bitter warfare now await the waking world and all it’s kingdoms.

The Promise Of Distant Thunder takes a minute to remove the barnacles from his armour before he traces on the ground the circle he has been taught. He recites a verse that induces, line by line, the sleep of the Einherjar. This prayer will ensure that he remembers only the good in mankind, and that the memories of these dark days do not cloud his resolve when the time comes, and he is called once more to duty by the awakener.

And slowly his eyes begin to dim.

The Last Warrior
A Memory

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.

Descent Into Saalsgard
Intro To Next Session

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.

Not A Dream

It was midnight on the fourth night after the dragon’s attack. The adventurers were huddled around a small campfire while all about was utterly dark, the only sound to be heard was the soft crackle of flame.

Suddenly, the dragon appeared from out of nowhere. There was an intense flash of light, huge brilliant coils writhing all around them, it’s serpentine head poised above them. The enormous wyrm unleashed it’s dazzling breath weapon down upon the group and several of their number turned to stone where they lay. The remaining adventurers leapt to their feet and drew their weapons having been taken completely by surprise. The dragon reared up and came crashing down upon them, it’s gaping maw of golden teeth slamming shut…

Sigurd awoke and looked around. The party lay sleeping in a small cave in the hills near Dragon Lake. Outside the cavemouth could be seen the shapes of the pegasi against the starlight.

“We have three more moons,” thought the Oracle, realising that this had not been a dream, but a premonition.


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