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Found 8 results

  1. Louis of Nutwood

    CDC1 Tower: The Last Eye

    Ütoverögat Entry for GOH's Anniversary Challenge: Tower. (As always, a cup of warm beverage should go well with the following read. Enjoy!) High up in the cold mountain peaks of the white north, where the winds hissed and the storms blew, there was one rule that reigned above all: the rule of the stronger. Younglings were thought to embrace the snow, to cherish the blowing wind and to endure with a hollow belly. The ones who took those teachings by heart were most likely to survive the bleak environment of the vast and unexplored Frozen Beyond. Yet even those who grew a thick skin and sustained through nights of famine were subject to perish on the hands of wild beasts, raging diseases or lingering savage tribes. To survive meant to gather and form a family. For as a group, people were stronger, and for the group they fought not only for their own lives, but for the ones they have learned to share their lives with. There was one village, though, that contrasted from the rising communities. Instead of relying on fishing and agriculture, and establishing trade relations with neighboring families, they trusted on a different source of strength that was unknown to most. This village, called Völsung, was establish up in the North, somewhere past the last remaining road. In the center of a gorge, it was surrounded by two ebony cliffs of frozen black stone, where rivers have dried, trees did not grow, and no animal found reason to walk by. It was a dead land, buried under a thick mist and doomed to remain untouched, hidden from gods and men. But fat wooden towers, heavy timbered walls, and massive speared palisades appeared over time, indicating the entrance to an uninviting nest. It raised suspicion amongst the northern clans. After all, how could these people survive in the middle of nowhere, under an unstopping storm, without provisions from any of the known villages and apparently, without ever opening their gates? Everyone had questions, but no one dared speaking aloud. That same year, as all years past, just when the winds turned colder and the frost covered the crops, people were called to prepare for the time of shortage and ensure their comfort during days of blizzard. But that year, winter came in a flash. Faster and stronger. Even those accustomed to a life of clenching teeth felt tricked by the gods, for the blowing winds came without a warning and brought the thickest clouds and a lingering shadow that enforced an unending night over their homes. A darkness that took away their harvests, their sleep, their children. Everything. People cloistered. They hid themselves from the unnatural force they could only assume was cast by the gods and prayed their villages would not be chosen. Still, a small group of men set foot on the road with only their loved ones in mind, and blades in their scabbards to calm their disquiet. But this winter was different. They fought against time and nature to stock for a time of uncertainty. Yet they strove to understand a force that slipped from the grasp of reason. Fiobvr followed, as it was his duty, and prayed in silence in an unsettling farewell. “I’ll always protect you”, whispered the farmer to his family, facing the spreading clouds over the mountaintops. ... Fiobvr walked the lonely streets of the camp he knew so well, under a black mantel that covered the world. Starless skies swallowed his puzzling dreams and filled his chest with frozen air. The distant glow of a dancing fire revealed at least one man amongst all farmers and fishermen was awake. There was no doubt. He knew who it was, and therefore forced himself to think of scenarios in being summoned at this hour, while all others slept, meant a good thing. But no blessing came to mind. The lingering air inside the tent was thick and warm, and Fiobvr thanked the Gods for feeling the tips of his callused fingers once again. Leaning over a hardwood table, the figure of a man made of nothing but muscle, dwelled over a wrinkled map as his hair, clamped in silver rings hung over the world as a pendulum. His eyes turned to the woken farmer, briefly turned into a warrior, and a puff of air fled from his clenched teeth. “Gather your belongings and empty your tent. You will leave at first light,” said the chieftain from behind a thick beard. “You may form a group of men to accompany you, to make sure your travels are safe.” “All of my belongings, Lord?”, Fiobvr said puzzled. “Where should I leave to?” The Chieftain emptied his lungs and his head sunk between his broad shoulders, as his eyes wafted across the map. “A messenger was sent west to report on our families”. He paused, looking for words. “Many villages remain tall and strong. These have opened their gates to the neighboring families in need. Some other villages, though... had to be evacuated”. His finger drifted across the map and landed over a vast forest Fiobvr recognized in a heartbeat. There was a handful of friendly villages, and amongst them, Høydefür, the one village he knew more than any other. Home. His mind was filled by warm thoughts of Nyeda and his sisters, Phili and Teri. Yet, he shivered, conceding the arrival of the sudden winter, and realizing his task up in the cold mountains of the North was far from complete. “For all we know, Høydefür fell.” Are they safe? Fiobvr wanted to ask, but a sudden freeze grabbed his throat, and he could not find his voice. “Roligsfrakk is well provisioned, and I trust your family will find comfort by their heaths. But I reckon your sisters will feel safer in your presence,” said the warlord, his breath frosting in the dim light. His braided hair swung like a bell, from one side of the map to the other. Fiobvr followed. “The last group... they did not go west,” Fiobvr observed. But in truth, he did not need the reply. He was summoned in the middle of the night, not to bring distress. He was asked to leave before dawn, not to raise more speculation, he figured. That meant all he needed to know, and a sudden shudder raised to his collar. The chieftain’s eyes moved across the map up to the north, and stood over a neck, where two ridges met. The gorge. “Everything leads to the same place. The Frozen Beyond.” He grunted. “We can send men to protect the whole land. But until we understand what happens inside those walls... we and our families will live in fear, waiting for a shadow to swallow the sun and bury ourselves in the snow”. His eyes left the map and stared into the night beyond the cloth of his tent, as the candlelight danced in the silence. Rumors. Fiobvr heard all of them. People spoke of sorcery and Seidr magic. Of a blood-thirsty creature brought from the underworld that meandered with the winds. Of a whisper chanting in the storm. Of the return of the undead... Rumors. Nothing but rumors. That was what he kept telling himself. But truth be told, they haunted his sleepless nights. Because beyond the rumors, Fiobvr saw the villages with his own eyes. Dortvaenir, Khardun, Sjenervandt, once prosperous and full of life, were taken by the storm in a sudden, and were now sunken in the snow. Deserted. Taken by the dark shadows of an unknown strength, blowing from the North, and their people were nowhere to be seen. It all happened so fast! He knew the rumors, aye. But those were not the works of rumors. Those were something else. Fiobvr swallowed and struggled to find his voice. The image of empty cobblestone streets filled his mind and twisted his guts. The chieftain’s words echoed in his mind. “Until we understand... our families will live in fear.” “Aye. I’ll leave before dawn.” A distant glow burned the sky behind the cracked contour of the mountains, taking the night as the falling snow covered the footsteps of the Norseman marching into the frozen mist. ... Amidst the white fog and the cutting storm, the shadow of a structure, tall as a mountain, defied the cruel weather. From atop the wooden pillars flapped the green and golden banner of the northern folk, marking the final stretch of the world known to men. Ütoverögat. The last eye. Fiobvr stopped. His feet hiding in the snow, cloak flapping in the wind. Before reaching the arch of stone that divided the two worlds, he looked over his shoulder, beyond the path that brought him thus far. He glared beyond the mountaintops and the grey sky. Gazing deep into the past, he embraced the warmest of his memories, and begged for the spirits to guide his path. From this point on, what remained was the unknown of the Frozen Beyond. “I’ll always protect you,” he whispered once more, hoping to meet his family once again. ... ... Following chapter: Chapter II: Daemon's Throne ________ Louis of Nutwood For Mitgardia! Hope you all like it, and if you had time to read (thank you!), please let me know your thoughts. Skol!
  2. kahir88

    The hardest choice

    Still didn't know, where to put my votes on both voting topics. Any suggestion? Or anyone wants my vote? Write here, or PM. me.
  3. Louis of Nutwood

    CDC1 Tale: Daemon's Throne

    The Goddess: Hel Entry for GOH's Anniversary Challenge: Tale. Before continuing, make sure to read the prequel, so it makes (more) sense: Chapter I: The Last Eye As always, a cup of warm beverage should go well from this point on. Enjoy! ... The road tightened between two ebony walls, lost among grey twisting clouds, and Fiobvr felt the need to breath deep and swallow his own freezing breath to make sure his chest would fill. At the bottom, where the parallel walls met the ground, two wooden towers erupted next to a long wall of black timber, and a small, almost hidden gate hailed unlikely wanderers. In its front, a set of spikes carved onto the ground, pointed towards the road, and reminded unwelcomed visitors to turn on their heaves. What once was a forgotten village, almost overnight, had become a stronghold secluded from the world they all knew. The gorge. A roar thundered, as the wind hissed and spit sideways defying the Norseman against a falling pit. Every move could mean a stumble and every stumble could be his last. Away from the dirt path, he walked unnoticed through the mountain, barely seeing beyond the fog. He climbed the ebony rock until he found a crack with a smooth surface and a canopy to protect from the storm, high enough for him to gaze inside the walls. And there he stood, deafened by an eternal whistle, watching the stillness of the gorge, where day and night were just the same, and no living person would pass by. Until one day, someone did. From the snow-covered path, among the clouds that drifted low over the ground, a figure covered in pelts appeared as if from nowhere. He led a small cart pulled by a scrawny mule. Its load tightened under a blanket. He stood by the gates for longer than one should and waited to be greeted. But as far as he could tell, no one was around. Not at the watchtowers, not at the clearing path, and not a glow of a lamp light was seen in the past days. For what he knew, the place was empty. Yet, lifeless as it was, a buzzling sound clang and the crackling of wood echoed along the corridor formed by the mountains. A small fissure cut the wooden walls, and the gates of Völsung yawned open. The cart rider dumped his load in the stronghold’s deserted patio. A dozen long and heavy sacks piled atop each other and rolled sideways on the snow. He dragged the sacks one by one, aligning them as a farmer prepares the land for a crop. Once all twelve sacks were displayed, he opened each, revealing twelve bare corpses that lay still on a cold white blanket. The man rushed to his cart and pulled the reins, leaving behind a trail of death. On a ledge on the face of the mountain, one man stood still, grasping for an understanding that did not come. But from beneath the wind, the storm, and the dancing fog, inside those walls, a faint orange light glistered at the base of the opposite ridge. What looked to be a wall of stone was turned into a hollow cloister inside the mountain. The faint light became brighter, and the silhouette of a person stood under the cold archway marking the entrance of a grotto. Its face was protected by a hood and a cloak clapped and flapped in the wind. A staff pierced the white ground as the person stood in front of the line of silent bodies. From inside the cave, ten, twenty, thirty men appeared carrying twelve wooden logs, cut, and scraped with perfection. Next to the corpses, those big chunks of wood were loosened. And as if moved by the same rhythm, like a dance they practiced over and over, all bodies were tied to the logs and lifted. Twelve pillars were pinned to the ground, pointing to grey skies, served as racks to the bodies, purple with cold that hung feet up and heads down, aiming at an empty bucked that trembled in the breeze. The hooded figure then lifted her staff and pressed it against one of the hanging man’s chest that bent inwards with a crack. A black whole twinkled when the staff was pulled, and a black viscous liquid slithered across the man’s chest and neck. It drifted, dividing itself upon reaching his chin and ears, consuming his expressionless face before dripping on the bucket beneath him. And soon, she had twelve buckets filled with the black liquor of death. All men walked back inside the cave, buckets in hand, as the woman followed. Her cloak flapping with excitement. She then stopped and turned, facing the pillars. As she opened her arms and bent her head to the sky, a glowing light kindled at the bottom of each pillar, fighting against the blowing ice with unfair advantage, for within a heartbeat, a small flare turned into a firepit that consumed twelve heads, twelve bodies, twelve men. Just as it all started, the raging storm swiped, taking Fiobvr from his feet. Icicles flew, cutting the air with the force of a thousand blades. A roar bellowed from the sky and made the world tremble when the warrior heard a voice whisper in his head. The storm washed the clearing with a new layer of untouched snow, finding its way across the tight walls of the gorge. And where once was a woman, now remained only the shadowed entrance of a cave. ... After two days tucked in a whole, up on the road, another cart appeared. The norseman left his post and moved behind the cart as it stopped by the piercing pikes and thick wooden walls of Völsung. As the rider waited on the thundering winds, Fiobvr sneaked under the cloth protecting the content, and waited in the dark, together with the cold remnants of his fellow northern men. A roar echoed through the gorge and the cart moved once again. Fiobvr closed his eyes and let himself be manipulated. Tossed, pushed, and dragged on the snow, he struggled to contain his grunts and shivers. And once the cart rider rode back to where he came, the warrior opened his eyes to see a line of twelve bodies resting on the ground, where he was the thirteenth. He shook the snow, ran, and ducked next to the entrance of the cave, praying he had remained unseen. Within moments, that faint orange light glistered from inside the cave once again, and an army of men walked out, followed by a woman. Her face was painted blue, and she held a staff ornamented with teeth and bones, dragging a line on the pale ground. Fiobvr was fast to sneak inside the cave. While he made his way past tunnels and wholes, the idea of a staff piercing his chest crossed his mind and a taste of metal touched his tongue. The snow dissipated inside the cave, and for a moment, the warrior felt lost under the faint glow of the torches. But beneath the dust that covered the ground, he noticed the weak markings of a trail. He followed. His steps echoed with the slightest move, and found himself in a room, where the air turned thick and warm, and the stone walls flashed like fire. A set of pillars held the ceiling from falling, and a set of steps, carved in the stone, led to an altar, where a thousand candles burned. But among the tinkling blaze and the muffled scent of smoke, a pile of bones intertwined and melded to form the throne of an unborn king. It was an ugly thing. Cracked bones made the throne’s arms, spines made the spindles, femurs made the uneven frame of the rails, and every inch made Fiobvr shiver with the sour taste of his stomach. Next to the throne, he saw a bowl made of rock. It was filled with a thick dark liquid that lay still and shone with the blaze of the candlelight. Fiobvr examined and thought of those men tied overturned in the open. But from the narrow entrance of the room, he heard the mumble of footsteps, and a faint glowing light swept the ground. He ran and hid behind a pillar, watching the room get smaller and smaller. The ground shook, and an army approached, moved by the power of one piece: the sorceress. Eleven buckets were emptied in the basin, and it drank the liquid with an unhuman thirst. The walls narrowed and a wind swiped. The deep echo of a voice, exulting in a feast sounded when the buckets filled the bowl, calming its belly, and pleasing its spirit. “Feed me”, it said in a deep voice that rang in the warrior’s chest. And as the twelfth bucket spilled its content, a drop cracked the surface and slithered to the floor. All men kneeled as the sorceress stood feet away from the basin and turned, staring at the twisted empty throne. Arms wide open, she bent her head to the ceiling and the white balls in her sockets glistered with the dancing light of the candles. She then uttered words he could not understand and struck her staff on the floor, when a cold wind swiped, darkening the room in an unbroken shadow, leaving behind a fumed scent. An empty silence prevailed. But the tinkle of a drop hitting the surface shredded the stillness of the void, followed by another drop and one further. And the gutting growl of a beast echoed in a slow demonic breather, confronting all men’s beliefs. A single candle kept its light, and under a faint glow he saw the throne was no longer empty. The sorceress hissed with a trembling voice and a few more candles lit, revealing what Fiobvr never though his eyes would see. Atop the altar, materialized what could only be the proof the Gods had turn their backs on the land of the living. For there stood a beast that was not living nor dead. A shadow drifted on floor and as it thickened, it formed the whiskered hooves of a goat, wrapped in a sinuous tail. Following its belt, it built the naked torso of a man. A layer of stretched skin covered the remnants of its pale flesh hanging from a whole amidst the broken bones of an opened chest. From atop his head, two horns twisted over edged ears. But those eyes... made of the piercing flame of the Ancient Ones, were soaked in angst and horror. They took every breath, every glimpse, and every soul. Two red eyes cut the dark, iced the room and filled it in dismay. “Look me in the eye and face your summoner”, the sorceress found her voice looking straight at the beast, as it muttered a visceral rumble like a starving animal. “Take me to your garden and open your gates to me, for now what divides our worlds apart... is no more” she shouted, as the beast roared and clamped its boned jaw. “Embrace me as your own and let us seek those who oppose our ways. Take me to an eternal life and let us rule the world from beneath the earth, from above the clouds and from between the winds”. She cried, as the candles raged across the room with a raging whistle. “Take my hand and I’ll raise as the Goddess of Life and Death!”. With open arms, she reached out her hand. The beast did the same as its cold fingers touched the woman’s flesh. Their fingers entwined and never parted. Beast and sorceress walked to the throne at the center of the room, as they revealed to the world their unity in a ceremony despised by the gods. The woman sat, chin up and spine stretched, as her smile glistered in the fire, and a soft voice reverberated once more: “My queen...”. With the flick of a candlelight, just as the spirit appeared, the cave was left in the dark, and both vanished in the air, into the underworld, leaving behind an empty throne made of bones. … Fiobvr found himself alone, walking through the dark tunnels of Völsung. He found its way out of the fortress, out of the fog, but his mind never left. Three days passed as he approached the flowing banners that marked the entrance to the village he knew so well. A hollow belly and the memories of a horned spirit loaded his thoughts. But the jittering and mumbling of wandering people, merchants shouting, and farmers farming was blurred by an unusual silence that made Fiobvr’s throat tighten once again. He led his hand over his chest, searching for a hole that he could not see, but swore was there. His hand lowered and squeezed the hilt of his sword as his feet sunk in the snow. There, where four familiar walls made of stone met, remained nothing but a colorful sea of distant memories fading with the white snow. Buried in the cold, the souls of a thousand loved ones searched for the rascal that inflicted their tragic fate. Two red eyes that would forever stare into Fiobvr’s dreams. Hel. THE END. ___________ Louis of Nutwood For Mitgardia! If you've reached this point, thank you so much for reading through. Please, let me know what you think of the build and the story. Skol!
  4. Near the borders of the continent, where the Mystic Isles starts. There is a floating rock. Thanks to the strange nature of this place, it is a very common sight. The lighthouse, erected on the rock, serves as a guide, for those, who lost in the dense mist. Or more likely as a warning, to turn back...
  5. - I'm ready Daddy! Draconius look back from his shoulder. He needed to look turn more further, cause the quiver blocked his sight. He saw his little daughter, running down the stairs, her nanny couldn't keep up with her. - Daddy! Daddy, I'm ready to go hunting with you! Look! - and she started waving her makeshift bow, made out of a stick and colorful ribbons. - Look what did I make! Can I come with you, pleeease! - Excuse me, your highness. - the woman finally arrived. - I couldn't keep the princess in her room. She wanted to show you, her bow before you leave. - It's okay. - smiled the king, and pat Ysphet's head. - She will be a great ruler. - he looked down at the girl and kneeled next to her. - I'm sorry darling, but you can't come with us. Hunting is a dangerous pastime. Maybe, if you will a bit older. - But daaad! If it's dangerous, why are you going? "Good question" ran through the thought in Draconius mind, but he couldn't answer it, cause Ysphet continued her arguments: - I already made a bow to myself! The string is made out of unicorn hair, and only a pretty princess can fully draw it. Watch! - with that, she started pulling the "string". It wasn't a surprise to everyone in the large hall when the stick snapped quietly. But, It was everybody's duty, to pretend that, it was unexpected... - Nooo, my bow! It's broken! - cried out loud the little princes, and tears started appearing in her eyes. Draconius was fighting with his emotions. He wanted to smile about what happened now, but a father can't do that right now. He remained calm and tried to cheer her little daughter up. - Perhaps you are too pretty for this bow. - smiled. - Don't worry darling we will find you a bow, that can handle your beauty. Know what? Go to the kitchen and ask the cook... in second thought. order the cook to bake something for you. And after I came back, I will tell you how was the hunting. - Okay daddy. *sob* - then she turned around and start walking towards the kitchen. Pulling her broken bow behind her. ----------------------- On the next birthday of the princess, she was escorted into the palace's garden. It was already decorated for her tea party with colorful ribbons. - But daddy! I'm ain't ready now! I only combed my hair 88 times! And the other girls aren't here! - Don't worry darling. - smiled the king. - You will enjoy this. As they arrived in the center of the garden, where the princess's tea party would begin much later. The place was filled with adult men. Many of them were familiar to Ysphet. As Draconius arrived, all of them stood up and greeted the king and the princess. She recognized some of them. There was Batlin, the old advisor, Marrik, the treasurer. The guy, who always accompanies his dad on hunts. In uniform, Admiral Gasgor, and one of the castle's criers, Olmil. The two other men were unfamiliar. - Ysphet. - started Draconius. - You know most of the gentlemen, who appeared here. Let me introduce you Waldrat, ambassador from Mitgardia, and Hagmund, who came here to make business about... About what exactly? - Your Majesty. - bowed down the two men. Hagmund continued: - I'm here to make contracts about bath oils and other luxury products, from Kaliphlin. The king nodded. However, Ysphet wasn't sure, what will happen now. She must have a long and boring conversation about bath oils, and how his father will buy and ship them? As the king looked down at her daughter, he also saw the confusion in her eyes. No more delay! - Dear Yslphet. - and kneeled down next to her. - Today is your birthday, and these gentlemen volunteered to make this day memorable. - he signaled with your his hand, and the hunter appeared behind him, with a wrapped present. - This is your first present today. Don't worry, there will be more. Ysphet quickly grabbed her present and started tearing down the ribbon and the wrappings. She was amazed at what she found. - This trainee bow was crafted only for you princess Ylsphet. - bowed the hunter. The bow was very light. Its hilt was silver plated. She quickly grabbed and pulled out. This time it didn't broke, nor tore apart. -This means... - she asked with sparkling eyes. - I can go with you hunting? - No sweetheart. - laughed Draconius. - Not yet. First, you must practice. - But how do I practice, if we don't have any animal around here? - We can fix this problem. - looked up the king to the standing man with a commanding look. All of the guests reached behind their back and pulled out the next surprise. It was hard for Ysphet to determine what were those. They look like animal furs and animal parts sewed together. But when every man put them on, she started realizing, what's going to happen. They looked hilarious. - These fine gentleman agreed to help you practice hunting. - said Draconius, while tired to not laugh. - But I will need them later. So instead of using real arrows, I ordered the royal Fletcher to make practice arrows. - and handled some of them, to her daughter. The end of the arrow was covered with a small sack, and it felt soft, thanks to the fabric inside. - Indeed Your Majesty. - stepped forward Batlin, the advisor. - Should I remind you about today's programs? Draconius let out a sigh. Then he looked down at her daughter, and winkled: - Sweety, would you be that kind, and start your little "hunt" with that pig over there? - and pointed on the advisor. - Sure daddy! - and with that, she placed the arrow on the bow pulled out, and started chasing the old man. Everyone enjoyed that noon. The adults tried everything, to hide and avoid the little girl's arrows, while she does her best, to hunt them down. - No Ylsphet, no! The gardener isn't playing with us!
  6. Georgina was a knight of Kaliphlin hundreds of years ago. Though who she really was and who she fought for are details lost in time, what we do know is that she bested -- single-handedly -- a Blue Sand Dragon. One of the rarest of the Minor Dragons known to have existed in the Siccus Badlands. We believe they've all been wiped out, but every so often a traveler or caravaneer will report seeing one. Many investigations have been proposed, but funding and support are scarce. - Anonymous (author unknown) Report on Georgina and the Dragon, University of Petraea Bonus Shots: Builder's Notes:
  7. Previously: A New Post at Gammeltårn Party Supplies Perils Old and New Unsought but Welcome Out Through the Market Embarking Once Førstlys had disappeared in the distance, the wind caught their sails and the ship surged westward, slicing through the growing whitecaps and skipping over the deepening troughs between the swells. Their course carried them rapidly past the rocky southern coast of the Burial Isle, whose sloping hills soon grew to craggy peaks and towering cliffs. Throughout the afternoon they kept their distance from the increasingly jagged shore, for which Kjell was thankful, as the seas rolled more violently the further they sailed. He felt his nerves were tight enough just worrying about the waves, and wasn't sure he'd be able to worry about the mighty rocks against which they crashed as well. He and the other men said very little, each fighting his stomach (with varying success), while the gold-clad elves moved quickly and efficiently around them, seemingly unperturbed by the motion of their vessel. As the sun descended and lit upon the horizon, the old elf turned to his helmsman. "Vaikea olla oikealla." The helmsman shouted a few quick commands and, to Kjell's alarm, the ship wheeled about quickly and tacked rapidly to the north, directly towards the cliffs. He wanted to yell, but dared not open his mouth. In a matter of minutes the dark mass of the coast loomed before them, and to either side in the gathering twilight could be seen great sea rocks, jutting from the churning waves like gnarled fingers. Panic began to overtake Kjell; gone was the nausea, and in its place was the hollow fear that he might soon be swallowed by the endless, frigid darkness upon which they foolishly danced. Beside him the old elf was calm. Soon the foam of the mountainous swells, which relentlessly battered the rapidly-nearing cliffs, was all that could be seen in the dusk. The old elf raised his right hand before him, his left hand held to his chest, and quietly but clearly spoke, "Kuíave fōd thu luz." Out of the night a pale light shot across their path, illuminating the base of the cliffs in a blue glow, and beyond it the waves seemed to calm. Still, before the ship they yet surged, and the old elf turned once again and spoke to his helmsman, "Tee kaivoon, setten nomeasti vasemmalle." The ship shifted course slightly, cutting along a deep valley in the water. Kjell couldn't breath. The helmsman shouted again, they shot across the light onto smooth water, and immediately turned hard to port. They glided over the glassy surface, down a narrow aisle of water between the rock face and the luminous wall that held the raging sea at bay, and Kjell saw that the light progressed in a steady chain between the sea rocks. As they neared one, the dim light revealed that the wall issued from openings in a structure that was built into the landward side of the rock, hidden from any eyes that would dare to search from the Bay of Storms. Nearly as tall as the rock itself, the edifice towered over their ship as it passed. In awe, Kjell turned to the old elf and breathlessly asked, "What is this? Who built it?" Again, the slight smile played at the corners of the elf's eyes and he replied, "These are the Lánfadan. They were built in the long distant past by the Pinnothen, whose blood you share." Kjell could not summon a response so, unprompted, the elf continued, "They were a great students of the world about them, observant of the flow of energy through the earth, trees, and sky, and were insatiably curious. They soon mastered the ability channel that energy, direct it as they desired, and bend it to their considerable will." "They quickly became renowned as master builders and craftsmen, and a formidable force on the field of battle. Even among the mightiest of kingdoms in the land, the most prudent rulers chose to offer generous terms of allegiance." "But if they were so mighty, what became of them?" asked Kjell. "Unrivaled might is its own greatest threat," the elf replied. "With no opponents to face beyond their borders, the Pinnothen turned inward. Princes coveted the power of kings, and the wars that brother waged against brother all but destroyed them. But that, I think, is a tale for another night..."
  8. Ahesh at the Battle of the Wither Woods As the rain poured outside, young Aarash ran to his father, Ahesh, and asked, “How did you become the Emir of our town?" Ahesh leaned back, looking into the fire for a moment and then gestured to his son and said, “Hop up here. It all started when Eastgate was under siege many years ago…" …Petera had been held up in Eastgate by his own brother, Dugal. As Eastgate was far enough away from Batuhan, this fighting rarely involved our village. We were too small to be of any importance. But we were drug into the conflict when a battle was to be fought at Trigan’s Mill, close to our farm. Dugal had command over these lands at the time and sent messengers to every village and town recruiting fighters. Your grandfather has already passed and I was in charge of our farm. The messenger made it clear that choosing not to fight was not in my best interest. I was given a week to report to camp. I found an old, but sturdy shield, what mail could be found as well as my helmet and sword, packed up, said good by to my mother and left. Ahesh I arrived at camp with several of our neighbors and found a busy sight. Many mercenaries and lords were already there. People from distant lands looking for excitement, payment or who were loyal to Dugal and his cause. That night, my neighbor, Bagher, said to me, “Given the experience and equipment of these mercenaries, I feel we shall come out as ground meat when the battle begins.” I nodded silently, feeling the same way and then said, “Stick with me, Bagher,” as I clasped his shoulder, “and we’ll watch each others’ backs.” The next morning was warm with a clear blue sky. As we lined up for battle, a gentle breeze blew across our faces. It would have been quite pleasant if it were not for the task ahead. I looked at Bagher, lined up next to me, as we mentally prepared for what was to come. Lining up for Battle Bagher, the rest of our neighbors and I were positioned as part of the left flank near the river. Our company was lead by Jakon “the Invincible” who brought experienced soldiers: veterans of the Battle of Khordeem, and mercenaries calling themselves the Black Lions. Mark - a yeti - and the Blue guard were also near by. Darrin Longshot and his archers took a position on a small rock formation near the river. Darrin Longshot and his archers above the Red River While waiting that morning for the battle to start, minutes felt like hours. No one spoke as time drug on. When it was clear the battle would begin soon, Jakon stepped out in front and spoke, “We have gathered here to fight for a Historica free from tyranny. Failure today is not an option. Keep formation and do not allow the enemy to break ranks. For Dugal and Historica!” Jakon Inspires the Troops While his speech was inspiring, I still had my doubts. I figured we were only there to absorb first onslaught in the attack. But as the battle began, Jakon and his Black Lions lead the way. They marched toward the enemy with poise and purpose. We brought up the rear and I prepared myself for my first battle. The enemy’s line melted before Jakon and his warriors aided by the archer support from above. I got in a few blows and managed to miss the few that were directed my way. Bagher and I stayed close as we fought forward. Being in the back gave me time to learn to battle on-my-feet, so to speak. Jakon continued to fight at the front and advance our position, proving his “Immortal” nickname. The Yeti, Mark, with his magic ice blade was also making headway as I continued to hold my own, defending myself and my comrades from any enemy that got through the mercenaries in front of me. Ahesh’s Introduction to Battle The fighting around us began to settle - we were winning! But just as I thought the battle was over, a great noise came from behind us. Petera had opened a magical portal and out streamed the Blackguard of Eastgate, a company of Snake Dwarves and a monstrous lizard: a luck dragon. Petera’s Materialized Reinforcements As I turned around, I learned what battle is really like. Without the experienced mercenaries between myself and the enemy, I found myself truly fighting for my life. Petera’s troops were on top of us in an instant. A snake drawf’s spear found Bagher and he collapsed at my side as I saw my other neighbors and friend cut down. I struggled to shield myself from blow after blow after blow. Ahesh Fighting for His Life I finally received some reprieve when a large explosion went off several yards in front of me killing many of the Snake Dwarves and wounding some of the Blackguard. The luck dragon reared itself and then was upon me. In the Dragon’s Sights The first swipe of its claw grazed my chainmail, slicing through it and dragging me to the ground, but leaving me unhurt. I swung my sword at its head, which recoiled and then came back to bite with is enormous mouth and daggerlike fangs. Dragon’s Bite Just as my life was to be over, the beast’s head was pulled away by the chain around its neck. Jakon had seized control of the beast and pulled it away. The dragon obeyed its new master as I saw him lead it away as the battle had finally come to an end… End of the Battle "… and that was Battle of the Wither Woods, at least for my part. After the battle, I returned home with Bagher’s body and a modest payment for my service. I was gifted the land of my fallen neighbors and tasked with taking care of their families." By this point the rain had settled down and little Aarash was anxious to play outside. “Managing a village that has suffered heavy loses in battle,” Ahesh said, “is much less exciting than fighting dragons, but much more important. I’ll tell you more of the story another day."