A Journey; A Test

Brother Harkov takes a report from a retinue of scholars detailing the potential locations of an ancient warrior’s tomb. They were lucky to find an old Ulven woman who was willing to share information with them, though her words read more as a riddle than any true instructions. He pours over maps of Mardrun. He knows Sigismund Blackfell was of Clan Grimward; he focuses his attention there.

Puzzling over the cryptic words, he thinks he deciphers the path. Before setting out on the long journey, Harkov asks Brother Oliver for a group of Eagles and the Scholars. Oliver is quick to agree to the request. A local Ulven merchant from Starkhaven who has ties in Grimward accompanies them as she will be able to vouch for their peaceful intent while traveling through Grimward territories. With their supplies packed and their equipment readied, the party leaves Starkhaven in the direction of Grimward lands.

Harkov follows the path he has mapped out. He passes through ruins of settlements, broken either through time or the Civil War. He passes through small hamlets who carry no more memory than the names of heroes. He passes through Pack Goldmane, who carries the legacy of a great retainer of Sigismund. He winds north, close Ironmound territory. The Great Wolf’s Hackles loom before him.

Harkov bids the merchant farewell as they approach the foothills of The Hackles. She’s done her part well aiding them through the Grimward lands. With purpose, Harkov leads his party up the slopes. His well trained eyes pick out the slight wear of a rarely treaded path and with delicate intent he and his party work their way down the old trail. It is slow going; his party is not ill suited to being outside, but are not as skilled as he. As they make camp, Harkov stares at the clear night sky. There’s something in the air here…

The next day the weather turns. Howling winds drive sheets of rain against them. Harkov watches his party carefully. The Eagles watch the Scholars. The Scholars jaws are set, eyes hard with determination. Arnathian clerics are strong no matter their profession. They are in this until the end. They press through the day and with luck the skies begin to clear as the sun dips lazily toward the horizon.

The sun’s dying rays cast gold as they crest a ridge and look down into a small valley before them. The light doesn’t penetrate the hollow in the mountain, leaving it in stark shadow. Harkov pauses and turns to make sure his party was safe and present alongside him. After a brief rest, Harkov leads his brothers and sisters downward into the small valley following a switchback pattern down the steep slope. Near halfway down their descent Harkov and one of the Eagles notice a cave set into the side of the mountain. With reserved haste the devout of Arnath make their way into the cave. It is dark, but the light from their glowstone leads them. They stop after turning around a bend.

An elderly woman stands near a raised dais. As Harkov cautiously approaches he notices the dias is carved. A warrior lies in repose on top, his hands clasped around the hilt of a sword. A scholar whispers in Harkov’s ear.

“I see I judged you well.” The old woman says.

“You knew the way.” The scholars says. “You knew where it was located. Why not just lead us here?”

“That is part of the test; the journey.” She replies. “My family has kept this place for generations. As his name faded, so too did pilgrims to this place. You are the first in a generation. Soon, none will remember his name.”

“You’re descended from the first one.” Another says. She nods.

“From both.” She answers. “A Lorespeaker grows close to their legendary heroes. It why they are often males. However, I am also the last. No children follow me, and I am soon to speak to Great Wolf. It will be up to you to carry on the legacy.”

“We do not wish to defile a sacred place.” one of the scholars puts in. The Lorespeaker nods.

“Nor shall you need to. Witchbane, or what remains, shall sleep here. However, this,” she says, and pulls out an amulet from her cloak, “is made from a piece Witchbane. It was granted to me by my forebearers, who were given it by Sigismund. It is mine to do with as I wish.”

“Thank you.” Harkov says, and gently takes the amulet from her.

“Use it well, son of Arnath. I have a feeling we will need it before the end.”

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