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Children of the Wolf God

For the first time in days, Manetho permitted herself to relax. She sat down on the stool outside the largest hut and closed her eyes, leaning back against the rough logs of the wall. Her knees, elbows, and back were one solid ache, and her head was beginning to spin from lack of sleep, but the last of the fevers were finally going down and the village was beginning to come back to life.
Not that it was much of a village. Near a dozen huts clustered around a communal green where the bake-ovens had been built, and not far off, a pond with privies built much too near it for any healer’s comfort. The inhabitants were all Ulven save for one stray Human, but they shared no clan or tribe: just a collection of farmers, soldiers, and survivors, driven from their previous abodes by the civil war. Their houses were still new enough for there to be sap between some of the logs, and even before the fever had sprung up among them, their children had been hollow-eyed and too thin.
Still, calamity had been avoided. Thank the lizard that he’d had his claw on them; Manetho never would have come this way had it not been for a too-chatty blacksmith at Hareford, a day’s journey west. He’d heard there was a new settlement of the displaced, but it wouldn’t last long … Why not? Well, you know refugees, he’d said. Dirty bunch no matter what race they are, no surprise they’re all getting sick …
When she’d arrived, twelve of the adults and ten of the children had been near comatose. The remainders had talked of sending for a mage they couldn’t afford. Manetho was no mage: just a healer, with a satchel full of practical remedies and a tired, dogged refusal to give up. But this time, at least, that had been enough.
The children had recovered the quickest. Young, spry folk with quick blood, despite their deprivation and illness. Now, as the last of the sickly adults groaned and staggered their way back towards health, the children were having an impromptu holiday.
There were twenty of them all told, and by any gods you cared to name, they made a riot. Currently, there was a minor war going on for possession of the tattered village green—boys versus girls. The girls had the advantage of numbers, but the boys made up for it in sheer volume.
“Not fair!” screamed Thannet, one of the girls’ ringleaders. She was a fair-haired child, the perfect picture of a young Ulven with snow-white fangs and china-blue eyes. The image was somewhat spoiled by the sheer amount of mud coating her face and the front of her dress. “You cheated!”
“Did not!” retorted Ulmar. He was younger than Thannet, skinny and sneaky, the kind of child destined to one day slip daggers into other people’s backs. He’d gotten a fine head start on his career as a rogue by tripping Thannet into the mud.
“Did so!”
“Did not!”
“Did so!”
“Did not! You said we couldn’t throw mud!”
“We also said no pushing! It’s rude!”
“But we never said ‘no pushing into the mud!’ That’s different!”
Despite her exhaustion, Manetho stifled a laugh. Perhaps she’d been wrong: Ulmar might have a future as a lawyer.
But the argument was escalating, and to her great reluctance, she forced herself to stand up. A lot of screaming on the village green was not going to help the fever patients who were only just beginning to get the rest they needed.
“Settle down there,” she said, picking her way across the muddy green towards the argument. “Your parents are still trying to get their sleep, and you hollering won’t help them.”
“He threw mud at me!”
“Did not! I threw you in the mud. ‘s completely different.”
“Hah! You said you pushed me before. Can’t you make up your mind, liar?”
Lizard save them all; there was a whole crop of lawyers coming up in this village. Manetho silently resolved to never get caught in a crime within fifty miles of the place. She whistled loudly, breaking up the argument yet again, and crossed her arms.
“If you’re going to fight, children, do it quietly. Don’t you remember how awful it felt when you were sick? How much your heads hurt, and how badly you wanted to throw up? Well, lots of your parents still feel that way, and if you screaming makes it worse then they’ll thrash you black and blue once they’re better. Can’t you play nicely?”
“That’s boring!” one of the younger boys huffed. There was a chorus of agreement from several of his compatriots. Ulven youngsters: lovely and adorable until the mob started forming.
Manetho played her trump card. Fighting children were often bored children, after all. “All right,” she said. “If you promise to sit quietly, then, I’ll tell you another story.”
To her great relief, that got a chorus of eager agreement from the kids. Even Thannet, who often loudly prided herself on being too old and grown-up for such babyish pursuits, didn’t object. Manetho was still new enough to have stories they hadn’t heard yet, after all, and she’d begun storytelling while children were still getting over their fevers. Now she’d happily tell every last tale all over again if it would buy her patients a few more minutes of (gods-damned) peace and quiet.
“All right, make yourselves comfortable,” she said, pointing to a patch of grass away from the mud. The children did so with all the grace and ease one expected of Ulven: scrambling into place, bumping into each other, and breaking out in miniature scuffles over who’d pulled whose hair and who took whose spot. It was like watching a pile of puppies fight.
Manetho’s good humor faded a little at the sight. In ten years, these children would be farmers, craftsmen, tailors, bards—but all of them, in a pinch, soldiers. The Ulven, for all the mockery she could throw at them (and often did, she would admit), had a vitality and strength to them that her own race conspicuously lacked. Ulven were the bulwark of Mardrun, and these children would in their turn hold the line against Mordok and each other.
Her tribe had been different. There’d been few children among the Deshret Syndar, and though each one was prized, there was much to learn and heavy burdens to lay on their shoulders. There had always been the consciousness of being one of the few: secret, set apart, despised even by their Syndar brethren.
If she had been young again, she might have envied these Ulven children their freedom and ease. Being as old as she was, she instead mourned for what they would have to face.
“Now,” she said, trying to shake off her thoughts and put on a facade of good cheer as she sat down in front of them. “I have a lot of stories. But you’ve heard most of them already, so we might have to come up with something new.”
“Talk about the Battle for the Ironmound Village!” called one voice from the back.
“That one’s boring,” said another. Manetho belatedly identified that speaker: Olaf, the soldier’s son. An aspiring—though for the moment, stupendously untalented—bard. “Tell the one about the Blackpaw and the Red-Eyed Man!”
That got a chorus of assent from several of the girls. Manetho had told that story the first time they wanted a tale: heavily edited, of course, with all real names altered and the characters ginned up to resemble something from a good heroic myth. The girls had especially enjoyed it. Who didn’t like a story about a strong woman standing firm against a vile fiend?
(No mention of a Syndar healer ignominiously begging on the ground. That didn’t make a very good story.)
The group consensus, however, was against the Blackpaw tale. As much as they liked it, they’d heard it twice more since then, and novelty was what the mob demanded. Another squabble broke out, and the children temporarily stopped arguing to cheer on the two battlers. Manetho mentally ran through her list of stories and waited for the dust to settle again.
When it had (the winner triumphant, the loser insisting he wasn’t really trying to fight, honestly, I pulled every punch!), Manetho had decided.
“How about …” She paused for effect. “The Tale of the Thorn Curse?”
This was a risky move. It was an old story, stretching back far beyond Mardrun—and, knowing her tribe, farther back than her own lineage. She rarely had a chance to tell these stories, because they were full of things that Mardrun children would have no reference for: crocodiles and djinni and hot, blazing deserts. Things that even she recalled only in dreams. But she’d used up her stock of other tales, and if they really wanted novelty, they would have to call on the spirit of Faedrun for a few brief minutes.
There was some hemming and hawing among the children at that, but the word ‘curse’ was usually a guaranteed winner, and they assented. Manetho made herself comfortable, crossing her legs and pulling her leopardskin over her shoulders to drape just right, and began.
“Now attend and listen.”
That was the traditional way to begin these stories. It was ceremonial and solemn, both an instruction and a warning, and guaranteed to silence every Deshret Syndar in hearing distance. As far as Manetho could figure, it was the Syndar equivalent of the Ulven “You have impugned my honor” or the Human “If you don’t shut up right now, so help me I’ll—!” It didn’t have much of an effect on the gathered children, but then, they weren’t Deshret.
“Once, in days long past, in a tribe of Syndar on the cusp of the high red desert, there lived a brother and sister who were orphaned at a young age. The boy was near to manhood grown, and the girl was of an age to be wed, but because they had no parents, he had not been permitted to fletch his first arrows and she had not been permitted to put on her mother’s leopard cloak.”
Seeing that the assembled young Ulven didn’t understand the gravity of this insult, Manetho quickly improvised some extra details. “They were made to work like slaves all day, every day, carrying heavy jars of water and cleaning the tents of the elders.” That got more approval: no child, whatever their race or origin, liked having to carry and clean.
“Their names were Khepri and Serket.”
“Those are stupid names,” said one unidentified young critic of literature in the back of the group.
“They’re not stupid, they’re Syndar,” Manetho told him. “They mean Beetle and Scorpion.”
That got a chorus of giggles from her audience. “I’d die if my parents named me Beetle,” said Olaf, to general assent.
“And scorpions are gross.” That was Thannet, not to be outdone in voicing her opinion.
“They are,” Manetho agreed. “But in the deserts of Faedrun, there were scorpions as big as your arm. And there were gigantic black beetles that would come alive out of balls of—“ Dung. “—dried dirt, even though they’d been dead before. Beetles and scorpions had powerful magic, and you wanted to be respectful of them. Being named Khepri or Serket would be like being named Wolf or Bear.”
“Oh.” Thannet considered. “That’d be okay, I guess.”
“I’m glad my tribe’s ancient and revered traditions meet with Your Majesty’s approval,” Manetho did not say, though she was thinking it quite loudly. Best to keep the tart tongue for her patients, who were in need of correcting and often unable to run away. Instead, she took up the thread of the story again.
“One day, it came time for there to be a great meeting of all the elders of different tribes. The elders were to speak together and discuss the future of their tribes: who would marry, who would share knowledge, and whether they would make war. Khepri and Serket were ordered to prepare the bathhouse tent of crocodile skin, and they carried dozens of jars of water from the river and built great fires to heat the water.
“At last, worn out by their work, the twins fell asleep behind the bathhouse tent. When they awoke, the elders were standing over them, furious at them for sleeping. ‘What is this?’ cried one of the elders. ‘These worthless young fools cannot even serve us as our importance demands!’”
Unreasonable, shouting adults were always another easy villain for child audiences. That got some frowns and hisses from the group.
(The original word in the tale had translated as honor, not importance, but Ulven had very different concepts of honor from the Deshret, and Manetho had finagled the translation a little. Honor was to be respected among Ulven: self-importance and smugness, not so much.)
“’You must prove to us that you are worthy of being our kin, and not just lazy lie-abouts!’ declared the greatest of all the elders. ‘You shall have a task. You will go forth into the sunset, and walk until you find the place where the moon sleeps. There you shall find a mountain, and in the mountain you will find a cave, and in the cave you will find a bundle of thorn branches. Bring us the thorn branches, and all will be forgiven. But be wary, and do not commit any act which will disgrace your tribe! For it is known that one of us speaks for all of us, and one shame is shame upon us all.’
“So it was said, and so they must do. Khepri fletched his first arrows, and Serket put on the leopard cloak of her mother, and they went out together into the world.
“For three days they followed the moon, and could not find the place where it slept. On the dawning of the fourth day, they came upon a woman lying on the sand, a cloth covering her eyes. Khepri looked upon her and saw that she was beautiful, with long black hair as shining as a starling’s feathers and moon-colored skin that had never known the sun, and he told Serket they must stop and help this woman.
“’We must not,’ said Serket. ‘She is not of our tribe, and she will see any misstep we make. One shame will shame us all, brother.’
“’But it is shameful to leave someone to die,’ said Khepri, and they halted. They gave the woman water and revived her, but when she awoke, she cried out and veiled her face.
“’Leave me!’ she said. ‘My sight is so keen that I can see a fly’s eyes a thousand miles away. The sun blinds me, and I am useless to you.’ But Khepri and Serket shared with her some of their black eye paint, and she could see again. And so the three traveled on together.”
Here Manetho paused to swipe some of her own black mesdemet from her eyelid and playfully poked Erik in the nose. He giggled and went cross-eyed, trying to see the smudge of black left behind.
“Three more days passed, and as the sun rose on the fourth, they came upon a man sitting on the sand, his hands wrapped in bandages. Serket looked upon him and saw that he was handsome, with strong shoulders like a warrior’s and hair the color of the sun, and told Khepri that they must stop and help him.
“’We must not,’ said Khepri. ‘He is not of our tribe, and may be a bandit or a criminal. One shame will shame us all, sister.’
“’But it is shameful to leave someone to die,’ said Serket, and they halted. They gave the man water and revived him, but when he woke, he cried out and bowed his head.
“”Leave me!’ he said. ‘I am a swordsman of rare strength, able to cleave a man’s head from his body a thousand times a day. But my hands are broken, and I am useless to you.’ But Serket and Khepri cleaned his wounded hands and re-bound them, and he was able to grip his sword hilt again. And so the four of them traveled on together.
“Three more days passed. As the sun rose on the fourth day, they came upon twin children, a little boy and a little girl, asleep upon the sand. The boy’s skin burned with fever, and the girl’s skin shivered with cold. Now Khepri and Serket did not speak of any shame, for they were far beyond where they had begun and knew well how it hurt to be an abandoned child. They halted and revived the children with water, while the woman Keen-Eyes kept watch and the man Sword-Arm guarded them.
“’Please, leave us,’ said the little boy. ‘We are cursed!’
“’Evil spirits hate us,’ said the little girl.” (‘Evil spirits’ was not a satisfactory translation of ‘djinni,’ but it was the best Manetho could manage on the fly.) “’I am forever breathing out wintery winds, and my brother forever brings forth scorching flames. We are not meant to live, and so we were cast out of our tribe!’
“’We will not leave you,’ said Khepri. ‘We see now that many people have been cruelly given to the desert when they are no longer thought useful.’
“’To abandon the injured and the cursed is the only true shame,’ said Serket. And they gave the girl Ice-Eyes a heavy cloak to contain her chill, and wetted clay poultices to soak up the boy Fire-Hands’ flames.
“Three more days they walked, until they came at last to a mountain in the midst of the desert. When they looked up to the sky they beheld no place between the tip of the mountain and the rim of the moon, and they knew they had found the place where the moon slept.
“They entered into the cave and found there the bundle of thorn branches, surrounded on all sides by the bodies of the dead.”
The children had been sitting quietly, absorbing the tale, but glossing over bodies was too much for an Ulven audience.
“What kind of bodies?” someone yelled.
“Were they gross?” another added.
“I bet they were gross.” Olaf, naturally.
“I bet you’re gross.” And that was Thannet, not to be outdone.
“The bodies were …” Manetho momentarily groped for a translation. Heqer, “hungry,” would not carry the same meaning to these children of Mardrun. Stymied in her search for correctness, she went with gore instead. “The bodies were hideous beyond measure. There were men and women, all in armor with swords, strung up on the walls. Their faces were contorted in horrible leers, their lips peeled back, their teeth exposed. Great wounds had been gashed from their bellies, and their withered organs lay about their feet. Tiny spiders were skittering out of their rotting eye sockets.”
The children were pleased.
“Seeing this terrible sight, Khepri and Serket and their friends halted, for there was no monster in their sight that might have slain those men. Then they knew there was some evil magic on the thorn branches.
“’Beware,’ said the woman Keen-Eyes. ‘There are webs across those branches, o my friends! Webs too fine for any other eye to see.’
“Serket took her black eye paint and blew a cloud of it, and there! The webs stood revealed. Then came a horrible, blood-chilling shriek, for Isfet, the great spider, saw its trap had failed and fell upon them!”
She had a fair sense of her audience now, and didn’t hesitate to add more juicy details. “Isfet was the greatest, the queen of all evil spiders. She was as tall as a tree and as long as a longhouse! Her fangs, each as big as a dagger, dripped green poison that made the stone floor smoke where it dropped. Her eight eyes rolled madly as she bore down on the travelers!
“But the brave companions would not be frightened. Khepri brought forth his bow and shot many arrows at the beast, making it shriek in pain, while the man Sword-Arm waited for his chance. At last, with a mighty blow, he struck! The vile Isfet howled in pain as her jaws were cleaved open, and she thrashed wildly, her tree-trunk legs thumping and smashing on the floor. But Khepri’s aim was true, and this next arrow put out one of her evil yellow eyes. As she screamed in fury, Sword-Arm struck again!
“Her body fell into two pieces, steaming with black smoke and dripping black blood. And together in triumph, the heroes took up the thorn branches and went home.”
Manetho let that sit for a moment. The children were grinning at each other, clearly imagining themselves in the role of the heroic spider-slayers.
“But,” she said, and they looked up again, “it was now clear to them that these thorn branches could not be ordinary. Why would simple branches be guarded by such a hideous monster? And the companions wondered why it was that they had been sent to steal these things from Isfet, the great spider. Did the elders send them on a quest that would kill them? Or was there something in the branches that the elders wanted? Khepri and Serket were troubled.
“When they neared the place where the tribe had camped, and saw again the distant bathhouse tent of crocodile skin, they did not go into the camp. Instead, they sent young Ice-Eyes and Fire-Hands, who were quiet and clever, to hear what they could hear.
“The children crept unseen by the batthouse tent and heard the elders’ speech.
“’I do not think Khepri and Serket live,’ said one. ‘They are too long gone.’
“’So be it,’ said another. ‘But if they have survived? Imagine it, brothers! The cursed Thorn Army will be ours to command at last! There shall be no more tribes, but an empire of Feral Syndar, and we its emperors!’”
A couple of the children booed, and Thannet hissed between her teeth. Feral Syndar were not always well-loved, whether among their Syndar brethren or the other races, and threatening an evil army of them was a good, cheap way to get the audience on your side. Though to be fair, there was more to it than the Feral concerns: these children had had enough of wars and armies to last a lifetime.
“When Ice-Eyes and Fire-Hands returned to their companions and told what they had heard, there could be no more waiting. For the elders, who counseled so strongly against shame and bad conduct, had committed the worst of sins in hopes of simple power!
“As night fell, the group fell upon the camp. Together with their companions, Khepri and Serket brought swift and unrelenting vengeance on the faithless liars who had been their elders!”
That needed more details, of course. “Ice-Eyes and Fire-Hands put their hands together, and as her eldritch cold mingled with his scorching heat, a thick fog arose to blanket the camp. Within the fog came Serket, singing a mourning song, appearing from the mist like a demon from the darkness. The evil elders cried out in terror, for they were sure this must be a ghost, sent to punish them.
“But one, who had said they would be emperors, had no faith in any god and would not believe in spirits. ‘It’s a trick!’ he cried out. ‘Slay her, my brothers, or all is lost!’
“And they would have slain her, but hidden within the mist was the noble Sword-Arm, who would not see Serket harmed! No sooner had the faithless elder spoken than he spoke no more, for Sword-Arm struck!”
Manetho clapped her hands once, making the children jump, and let her head sag back, making a terrible gurgling noise as the elder was slain.
“His head went rolling across the camp, and came to a stop at Serket’s feet. She picked up the head and cried out: ‘Death to the faithless, who would kill their kin for power and betray all their honor!’
“Then came Khepri, his bow in hand. He loosed a dozen arrows in a dozen seconds, and the elders fell, gurgling on their own blood!”
The children were jumping up and down now, grinning from ear to ear, laughing with the joy of seeing evil punished. Manetho was swept up in the story herself: she gestured broadly, miming the cut and thrust of battle, inventing new details on the spur of the moment.
“But another lurked behind him, shrouded in the mist. He was the youngest of the elders, a bare hundred years, and he was as clever as he was evil. He dreamed of being an emperor and crushing all who were not Syndar under his heel. And so he leapt upon Khepri, rising out of the mist like a vile spirit of death!
“’Beware!’ cried the woman Keen-Eyes. ‘Behind you!’ For even the thick mist which the children had conjured was no barrier to her sight. Khepri dodged at the very last moment, and the treacherous elder’s blade struck only the sand.
“There was no time for his bow. Khepri seized an arrow from his quiver, and as the elder raised his knife again, he struck with the arrow in his fist. It pierced the elder’s heart—and as the wind came and the mist began to thin away, the liar fell, and there was silence in the camp. They had won!”
Manetho took a deep breath. She was somewhat aware that she’d been shouting at some point, and that was really not acceptable. So much for peace and quiet for her patients! But the children were smiling, and the old tale had new life in the tongue of Mardrun. Her heart beat a little faster.
Taking another breath, though, she calmed herself, and let her voice lower again to bring them towards the conclusion of the story.
“When the battle was done and Keen-Eyes, Sword-Arm, Ice-Eyes, and Fire-Hands were seen there with them, there were cries among some of the foreign tribesmen. For here were their sons and daughters, who had been forced out into the desert at command of the elders. There was weeping and joy, as Keen-Eyes’ mother embraced her daughter, and Sword-Arm’s father his son.
“And at the last, when all was finished, there were feasts and weddings: for Khepri married the lovely Keen-Eyes, and Serket wed the handsome Sword-Arm. And when the prayers were said, the bundle of cursed thorn branches was cast into the fire, so that whatever evil army was in its power could tempt no more.
“In life, health, strength, it was so.”

* * *

Evening was drawing on now. The children were gathered into one of the huts, where Thannet’s mother was dishing out watery stew from an enormous cauldron. In another day or two, when all of the adults were back on their feet, everyone would go back to their own homes and the daily life of the village would resume. For now, it was enough that they’d all gotten through another day.
Manetho did the evening rounds, preparing fresh teas for the patients and taking the pulse of the remaining fever cases. Doing well, all of them—the totems be thanked for their mercies. Spring fevers didn’t always kill, but too many had come too close for her liking, and to not lose a single one in such a large group was always something to be thankful for.
Her plan to get her patients some peace and quiet had gone a little awry. The minute the story ended, a miniature battle had broken out, with various children all taking the roles of Khepri and Serket’s magical companions and gleefully declaring that they would slay each other. Lacking fire and ice for the battle, mud had sufficed, and several of the children now eating supper looked more like bedraggled bog mummies than anything else. Lesson learned: next time, tell them something with a little less blood in it.
But … damnation, it had felt good. Manetho tilted her head back and looked at the sky. The sun was sinking, and the edges of the world were darkening. The first glimmer of stars could be seen on the blue velvet of the horizon. She hadn’t told the story how it was meant to be told, but she’d told it anyway, and for a few minutes all the tire and terror of the world had seemed to melt away. Her own childhood heroes, and her tribe’s words, had lived again.
They had life, these Ulven children did. They had energy and spirit and swift-running blood, and despite the deprivations of war and their own recent sickness, they laughed and battled with a fire in their eyes.
She wondered, sometimes, about their Great Wolf. Was he truly a god to them? Or was he simply a totem like her lizard—some wise animal spirit who had, for reasons known only to himself, taken an entire people under his paw? Either way, he had his work set before him and no mistake.
Spring was coming on. Summer would be here soon enough. And with spring and summer came war, as inevitable as the rising of the tide and the flight of geese. Manetho hadn’t been in any of the larger towns since the fall, but she still had ears, and she’d heard the rumors. Honor-bound gone missing. A move against the Mordok. And always, the whispers of discontent among the clans, and the benevolent bland smile of Prince Aylin that said everything and meant nothing.
She looked at the sky again.
“You be good to them, Wolf,” she said. Thannet and Olaf and Erik and Ulmar and all the rest flashed before her, smiling and bright-eyed, smeared with mud and ready to sink their teeth into any challenge. Had Brynja and Reyna and their ilk ever been so carefree?
“Be good to them,” she repeated. “Or I’ll ask the Lizard to shave you bald, Wolf. They deserve better than this.”

Read more: http://lasthopelarp.proboards.com/thread/1841/catherine-butzen-story#ixzz5GBpdvqe4

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A Winter Well Spent

Somewhere on a back street a short walk from a New Hope market square there is a tavern room. It had always been an unassuming room, small, sparse, and a little dark, but soon it would become the room where it all happened. It had been months hold up in this lantern lit tavern room, surrounded by drying herbs, pipe ash, and stacks and stacks of ink stained notes, but Cordyn was finally edging close to a breakthrough. All the long restless days would finally be worth it when he managed to crack the recipe.

***

Months prior Cordyn arrived in New Hope with the intention of spending the Winter surrounded by civilization and whatever work he could scrap together. He had a small amount of coin saved up as well as some reagents he collected on his travels southward from the Great Wolf’s Hackles and the fields surrounding the Archon’s Spire. With his knack for potion work he wasn’t worried about making a living. Things had a habit of working out for Cordyn. He was never really sure why, but he found that when he put himself out there, things just fell in place.

After finding a room at a local tavern, Cordyn mixed up a small sampler of potions and took to the nearby market square to secure some work. It wasn’t long before he stumbled across a struggling, overworked alchemist. He was an older man who had clearly been around for a while and had drummed up a consistent level of business that he was desperately trying to keep up with. After a short conversation they agreed on a business relationship. The alchemist would supply him with reagents and then buy back completed potions at a reduced wholesale price. Cordyn would have definitely made more money selling potions on his own, but he liked the idea of being able to pull up stakes when he wanted to and a shop of his own would have felt more like a shackle than anything. Either way, he made enough money to cover room and board and still have a little on the side to put away.

Things went very well for a few weeks until one day Cordyn set his pipe too close to some dried herbs and they quickly went up in flames. There was no way the alchemist would resupply Cordyn for one of his own mistakes, and though the thought of lost coin hurt his heart as well as his purse, he resolved to head down to an herbalist himself and replace the lost reagents.

***

The door was heavy and the room smelled of dried flowers and potpourri and a large burly man stood behind a counter. Were it not for the racks upon racks of herbs, Cordyn would have sworn he accidentally walked into a blacksmith. Quietly and thoughtfully, Cordyn picked through the racks, placing the replacement herbs into a bag, it wasn’t until he walked up to the counter that he saw it. Far in the back room behind the burly herbalist was a fantastic, dusty library. Cordyn’s eyes lit up as his gaze fell past the herbalist and onto the leather bound tomes. The shopkeeper found his excitement endearing and with little push agreed to let Cordyn peruse his expansive collection. Cordyn pushed his way past the large man and sat at the floor, pulling book after book off the shelf to leaf through. The majority of the herbal properties were already known to him through his alchemical research and training, however one word appeared a few times that he had not encountered before.

“Hey shopkeep?” Cordyn called out inquisitively, “What’s an aphrodisiac?”

Out of reflex the shopkeeper laughed a bit, but quickly he pulled himself together,

“ Well, it’s an herb or powder, something you eat either way, that puts you in the mood and puts some power in your loins. Between you and me, none of them really work, but that doesn’t stop people from dropping some serious coin on a hope that they will. I get runners for New Hope nobles in here weekly loading up on this or that for their respective employers’ sexual potency. I’ll tell ya, boy; whoever does figure out a real aphrodisiac will find himself a rich man.”

Cordyn smiled from ear to ear and hurriedly gathered up a sack of reagents from around the shop. “

“Tell ya what, shopkeep. When I’m that rich man, I’ll buy you a drink.”

The shopkeeper called to Cordyn as he spilled out of the store, “I’d lose a lot of business if you do! You’d better make it a bottle, boy.” He chuckled, rubbing his temples.

***

Over the next few months Cordyn continued his alchemical work, but with all of his spare time he worked to develop and perfect his new potion. He’d worked out a deal with an older homeless beggar. In return for testing his potions, Cordyn would buy the old man a meal and a stiff drink at the tavern. The beggar didn’t ask what these concoctions were supposed to do, he just jumped at the chance for a hot meal. It was for the best this way. The last thing Cordyn needed was a placebo. The testing needed to be blind or he may well end up with just another wannabe aphrodisiac.

For months they continued in their standard fashion and everything was working out well. Jimmy, the beggar, was well fed and Cordyn inched closer to a breakthrough. Other than a short vacation to escort Gwynevive to Iron Mound so she could reconnect with her Phoenix family, Cordyn worked tirelessly. One afternoon after hours of distilling and grinding Cordyn poured a crystallized powder into his working dish. After a few seconds the once clear liquid he’d been toying with took on a milky, purple appearance. This was it. Cordyn could feel it. He tore downstairs and threw open the front door to the tavern, calling out for his assistant,

“Jimmy! This is it! Hurry”

The elderly beggar made his way toward the tavern door in no apparent rush. “Calm down, boyo. Let’s get some stew in a bowl.”

“No! No, Jimmy. This is it! Potion first, then stew!”

The beggar grumbled and took the potion from Cordyn, “Alright. Just give it here.” Jimmy grimaced at the sight of the potion and downed it in a single swallow. “Well, at least it doesn’t taste so bad.”

Cordyn stared at the man with eager eyes, “Well?”

“Well. It’s not doing anyth- …wait…” Jimmy’s eyes widened and he quickly moved to grab between his legs. “By the fucking grace of Arnath, boyo! I haven’t felt the call in years! Forget the stew! I need a whore!”

Cordyn jumped and laughed in excitement and with trembling hands dug his coin purse out of a pouch and placed some coins in Jimmy’s hand. “Should be enough for the night, my man!” Jimmy clasped his hand over the coins and tore out of the tavern, whooping and skipping.

Still trembling with excitement Cordyn turned to the bar, placing a few coins on the counter. “Give me a bottle of whiskey, please. I have an herbalist to visit.” As he stepped out into the Spring sun, Cordyn finally began to calm down. He sighed contentedly and mused, “Well. It was a Winter well spent.”

Read more: http://lasthopelarp.proboards.com/thread/1844/story-cody#ixzz5GBijtjyv

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Adilah Amtullah

PLAYED BY: Ezekiel Hellerud

CHARACTER NAME:  Al Shaheen Al Ghamdi Bint Batool Adilah Amtullah

GENDER: Female

CLASS: Cleric

AGE: 35

RACE: Human

HAIR: Dark Brown

EYES: Dark Brown

OCCUPATION: Body guard for hire, Bard.

KNOWN SKILLS: Archery, cooking, sewing

BIRTHPLACE: May’Kar

APPEARANCE: Dark skin, with a sharp hawkish nose, high cheek bones, and a slight build.

NOTABLE TRAITS: Never seen without a hijab

RELATIONSHIPS: She gets along well with Al Sydly

RUMORS: Nothing of note, other than that she is rather quiet.

BIO / BACKGROUND HISTORY:  Shaheen, sighed and rubbed her temples. Her elbows were sore from pressing for so long against her desk and her neck was starting to ache. She looked down at the blank piece of paper and gave the smallest of huffs. She lowered a hand and reached once again for her quill and ink. Writing had never been her strong suit, talking about herself even less so. “Self-reflection is necessary for self-improvement,” said her mother’s voice in the back of her mind. Shaheen shook her head, pulled the quill from the ink well, and set the tip against the parchment;

 

Anyone, who saw me would immediately know my origins. I was born in the beautiful land of May’Kar. Those that have not seen it, are fortunate. For those that have, know what beauty and majesty have been lost. As a child I was often lulled to sleep by the sound of my mother’s lullabies and the whistling of the sand and wind.

I was born on the edge of a small village. My parents felt a simple rigorous life was the surest path to humility and patience. I wish I could say that those were two things I had in abundance as a child, but I cannot.

 

My mother was a Kae’Rim and my father a soldier. Our family was technically speaking, just the three of us. But so many travelers and traders rested at our home that I had too many uncles and aunts to count. I had never lived in The Faedrun of old. I only knew the land of the dead and the struggle of the living. I cannot say that I truly understood though. I only heard stories from the traders while I sat upon my father’s knee. “Such and such has been swallowed up,” They would say. “The undead have taken this place,” They would whisper. I did not understand the fear until the day my father left. I remember in the gray light of dawn, right after prayers, he donned his old armor and left, never to return. I remember my mother’s tears as she held me and rocked me. It was my first taste of sacrifice.

For several years, it was only my mother and me. The traders became less and less. The few that stopped in had only more depressing tales and as I grew older I began to comprehend them better. My mother was a soft and kind woman. She would attempt to cover my ears or send me off to do some chore. During the nights though, I would tip toe outside into the desert and practice with my toy spear and bow. I would run to our well and back or do the exercises I used to watch my father do.

With the dwindling of traders, the coin slowed to a trickle. I quickly learned to be useful to my mother. I traded out my toy bow and spear for real ones. I took over my father’s duties as provider for the family and began farming. When the few traders would come, I sold my toys and pretty dresses. Any trinkets that I had were traded for rice, oil, and information. Our lives were hard, but with my mother, I wanted for nothing. I was perfectly happy to live with the little we had in our small house on the edge of the stars and sand. When I turned 13, that all changed.

 

One day I went to gather water from our well. The day started out as any other. The sky a lapis blue and the sun was a golden disk in the sky. Its hard to believe that I had been in a good mood. That something did not warn me… When I returned, there were two camels tied to the post by our door. It was only then that a foreboding feeling crept into my heart. I don’t remember dropping the bucket of water, I don’t remember stringing my bow. I only remember stepping through our broken door to see The Penitent and my mother.

 

Shaheen laid down her quill and buried her face in her hands. The candle on her desk spluttered for a moment and cast a dark shadow across her hands. She lowered her them and picked up the quill once again.

 

After strapping our meager possessions onto the camels’ backs, I burnt the bodies of the men in our home. My mother recovered neither in body or spirit and staying there would have only deepened the wounds. I swore that day to never wield a sword, to never harm an innocent creature, to actively seek to protect the weak, and to strike down all undead I came across.  We journeyed to Aldoria where I set up lodging for my mother with other May’Kar refugees. I did odd jobs here and there to earn any money that I could. When I became older, I fell in as a body guard. The money was decent, and I greatly enjoyed the work.

 

Life in Aldoria was better in regard to possessions and money, but it was grim, very grim. My skin and my cloth immediately marked me as a May’Kar. We were all traitors to many and were treated as such. Some shops would speak coldly to my mother and I and our trips out were seldom. Most days though, my mother hardly had the strength or will to rise from her bed. During my eighteenth year, my mother’s soul left the world.

Things became considerably darker after that. It seemed that my mother’s fire had been one of the few things that was holding back the sea of strife and despair. I began to partake in unsavory activities. I drank and fought. Many a tavern brawl was caused by a slight (real or imagined) on my person. When I discovered that ships were leaving for the new continent of Mardrun, I immediately booked my passage. There was nothing for me in Faedrun.

 

When the ship touched down on Mardrun, I immediately fell in with the few other May’Kar. My martial skills set me apart as someone useful. It wasn’t long before I became a guard for the settlement of Serai. It was there that I began to tame the fire in my heart. Being around other May’Kar was comforting. We all had a place that we could be ourselves. I learned to quell the ever-present rage and divert the energy to more useful activities. I continued to train with my bow and spear. I also came across a new love, music. The nights around the fire with my brethren were some of the best nights of my life. We would sing and talk of many things and sometimes when I looked up at the sky, I thought I could see the desert stars. I grew into full adulthood in Serai. It took some time, but I gave up the drink (although a friendly tussle was occasionally had).

 

When I reached the age of thirty-four, there was talk of a new order and it wasn’t long before The Bos Mezar were formed. I won’t lie to you, I found them very attractive. They seemed to embody everything that I held dear and believed in. Their armor was bright, and their colors were of our beloved home. I would have fit in well with them and yet… Perhaps I did not feel worthy of joining their ranks, perhaps I wasn’t sure how I would do under authority, but I decided to put it off for a time. I trained often with them and considered many to be my friends. Which only made their betrayal so much worse.

 

 I remember when the undead shambled through my new home. I remember doing what I could to aid in their destruction. I remember the burning shame as once again; all eyes fell on the May’Kar. I could not understand the Bos Mezar’s reasoning. I still do not. More importantly, I do not understand how I had not realized what was going on. Perhaps I did not wish to see? Perhaps I was too comfortable to search for the truth. Now I know that a painful truth is far better than a pretty lie.

 

Over the period that The Order of Arnath occupied Serai, I became interested in them. I learned more of their God, his hatred of undead and his love of justice and goodness. I could not help but fall in love with his ways. I decided at once to become one of His own. I am certain now that Arnath had set me away from the Bos Mezar to become a servant of His will. I now serve as an instrument of his goodness and mercy to the people of Mardrun. I atone for my sins and the sins of those in Serai who either actively experimented with the undead or were merely complacent. I wish to become a lantern for all. A light in the darkness which they may follow onto safe paths.

 

I cannot say for certain whether I will join the Order in any official capacity. I have seen firsthand what happens when groups mindlessly follow. While I believe that Arnath is a force of goodness and strength, I know that the hearts of man are quite fallible. For now, I seek only the best way to discipline myself and help those who cannot help themselves.

 

Once again, Shaheen put down her quill. She picked up the papers, leaned back in her chair, and propped her feet onto the desk. She frowned as she read it her customary furrow present between her brows. It was rough writing for certain. Nothing to be proud of. But then again, she gave a smile, it was really meant for her eyes only. It would make an excellent start to her new journal.

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Emilia Sötbeck

Character Name: Emilia Sötbeck
Player: Sadie Raab
Race: Human
Class: Rogue
Traits: Blue eyes, naturally brown hair, though it changes sometimes when she has a mind to. Shaggy and short at the present, but she is growing it out
Born: July 14, 243
Birthplace: Farfield Village, Vandregon
Family: Biologically, none she is aware of. Considers Uthrid Cameburland to be an older brother
Known Skills: First Aid, Blacksmithing and Field Repairs

My early life, or what I can remember of it, was influenced heavily by the Vandregonian military. My father worked as a smith for them, keeping their swords sharp and their hammers heavy. My mother was a triage nurse, gentle as they come, always there to save the lives she could and to comfort the ones she could not. As a young girl, I would listen with astonishment to the men and women who would come through my father’s forge, telling their tales of honor and glory on the battlefield. My father insisted that if I wanted to be in the smithy and distracting his customers, I could at least learn how to swing a hammer. I started watching him work, though I was still too young to be much good at anything. Still, the kindling had been lit.

I must have been just seven years old when I knew something was wrong: both of my parents were trying not to act weird, as though the happiness on their faces was just a mask. Soon I found out why. News had reached them that the unit they both worked closely with was going to be dispatched soon, near to the front lines, and my parents alongside them. I was too young to come with, and without relatives nearby to look after me, my parents sought an alternative. About a week before they departed, my father repaired the shield of a man named Sir Theobald Jarnson. He was as tall as a tree, and just as broad. His shoulders were heavy with age, but his pride kept them up. A graying beard hinted at his true age, though the fire in his eyes and spring in his step would have you convinced he was a young man. His stories enthralled me from the first time I met him, his voice booming and enthusiastic. He and my dad talked for a while, looking back at me frequently. They both looked sad. They were talking about me. Finally, Sir Theobald stood up and came over to me. Kneeling to meet my gaze, he asked me if I wanted to come with him. Not as a squire, of course; he already had one of those. I was to take what my parents had showed me of field repairs, both of equipment and of flesh, and use them to keep him and his squire, Uthrid, as healthy as I could. I couldn’t believe my ears: I was going to get to travel with a knight! Stories from soldiers are great and all, but the knights were a cut above: chivalrous and noble, with glimmering armor and swords as sharp as they come. They were more than warriors; they were heroes.

We set off soon after that day, and I promised my parents that I would learn everything that I could, and that I would make them proud. I practiced fixing Sir Theobald’s armor when he would let me, but it was mostly repairing Uthrid’s chain. I would also pick up any tricks I could from local healers about how to clean and dress wounds, though I could never quite grasp the more intricate, delicate work. I could keep a man from dying from his wounds, but actually fixing them was beyond my skill. Then there was the combat. Gods, how I loved watching those two spar. Uthrid was getting older and stronger, probably fourteen years by now, compared to my nine. He was quick and tenacious, but it was clear that Sir Theobald’s patience and experience were more than a match for the young man. Still, they could spar for what seemed like hours, and I could watch them for just as long.

The next year, we heard about the Fall of Aldoria, and Uthrid grew nervous. His parents lived close to the Aldorian border, and he feared for their safety. After a few days of pestering Sir Theobald (and a disgraceful number of puppy eyes from me), our mentor agreed to go check on his squire’s family. When we got to the village, we were moments too late. Undead shambled throughout the square. Uthrid drew his sword and rushed in, connecting quickly with the remaining town guards and fighting by their side. Afraid of losing his squire, Sir Theobald followed shortly behind him, cursing at him for his recklessness the whole way. I kept pace with Sir Theobald, believing that by his side was the safest place to be. He had given me a practice mace for the rare instances when I would be allowed to spar with Uthrid, though it was little more than a club. Still, it was my weapon, and I told myself I would use if for great deeds. When we got closer to the melee swirling around the village, I felt a cold hand on my arm pulling me away from Sir Theobald. I screamed. He turned. Lowering his shoulder, the man who had become like a surrogate father to me barreled into the husk that had grabbed me, wrenching my arm free from its grasp and falling to the ground beside it. The fight turned deadly in a hurry, and Sir Theobald managed to drag a furious Uthrid away from his hometown. We had survived, but only barely.

Sir Theobald urged us towards the coast, paying a small fortune to secure our places on a ship away from Faedrun. He looked…unwell, though I was scared to say something and anger him. I was already ashamed that I was unable to defend myself and that he had to come to my rescue. Eventually, I worked up the courage to ask him if he was injured at all, and that I could try to patch him back up if he was. Reluctantly, he removed his gambeson to expose his tunic, stained with blood along his left arm. I gently rolled up his sleeve and gasped at the wound: a large chunk of flesh had been bitten out of his forearm, and blood and pus coagulated in a putrid slime oozing from within. He must have sustained it during his fight with the zombie that tried to take me. This was my fault: I insisted on coming with him but couldn’t defend myself, and now he had come down with a serious infection and fever. I tried to recall everything my mother had taught me about treating illnesses, but nothing worked. Some days he was worse than others, but he and I both realized soon that if he was lucky, he would only lose his arm.

He was not lucky.

Uthrid ended up saving me from myself. He was the one to take charge after Sir Theobald passed, trying to convince me that crying about what had happened wouldn’t bring Sir Theobald back, nor would it keep it from happening to anyone else. We were still young and now we were alone in the new world, but at least we had each other. I would work odd jobs trying to make ends meet, while Uthrid looked for work more suited to his skills. He worked as a bodyguard mostly, convincing clients of his worth despite his age. I was always there to clean up his mistakes, whether they were dents in his armor or wounds on his body. We continued to grow up together, earning our keep during the civil war and taking a break in the months that followed. During this break, Uthrid began to encourage me to spar with him, and I reluctantly obliged. I focused mostly on my shield work, and at the risk of sounding vain, I got pretty good. I’m not keen on the idea of hurting people, so using a weapon is still somewhat foreign to me, but I’ve learned the hard way that if I want to save those that I love, I can’t just wait around for them to come back.

Uthrid brought me word of a new initiative recently called the “Shield of Mardrun”. It sounds ambitious, so it’s right up his alley. I’ll be coming along, too; someone has to make sure he comes home.

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Finnath

Character: Finnath

Player: Jake Segor
-Male, Age 49, Rogue class
-Syndar of the Phoenix
-Professional wanderer and expert in finding fancy plants and rabbits

Finnath had always had trouble staying focused with much of anything. Born to the Phoenix tribe in the deserts of the May’kar Dominion, he was easily distracted by anything that wasn’t sand. When the Phoenix would stop in any city, big or small, Finnath would almost surely get lost trying to explore anything he could.

His father was a hunter and trapper, his mother passed during childbirth. While his father admired Finnath’s curiosity and excitement, he also worried since he knew the dangers of straying too far from the group in the desert or, maybe worse, in a city. While Finnath wasn’t very attentive to his father’s teachings of trapping and the many ways to skin animals, he picked up what he needed to at least make him proud.
Finn was far more interested in hearing stories about lands with great green forests, wide blue lakes, and strange and different customs. He especially loved the stories Laertes would tell and would constantly pry for more details about these far off places.
When he was 19, the decision to follow Magis Yara was made and Finnath was beyond thrilled to be going on a real adventure. Sure they had made many treks across the desert before, but he always knew that it would lead to just more of the tan and brown expanses. Now he’ll actually get to see something new, the sea that he’s heard so much about. His young optimism held strong in the harsh travels through the desert. Game was scarce and remaining food had to be rationed. His father would often give his own food to Finn and unthinking, Finn would graciously eat it. After a time, his father grew exhausted and ill, like many others.
As reality began to set in, the gravity of the situation wore at Finn’s optimism. He knew he had to help his father, he would plea to the clerics of the group but their energy was also quite tapped. The most that could be done was to try to find reagents to concoct tonics that might help him and others who had also been suffering from this ailment. In foreign lands with not much hope, he decided to try to search for these reagents himself. The next time their caravan stopped for the night, he snuck out of camp and went on his own, scouring the dunes for any of the scarce plants he could find. After days of repeating this and making very little progress, he knew he would need help.
Anariel was older than him by two years, growing up together he knew that he could trust her. Finn knew that with her desire to help others, love of adventure, and being his friend that she would be willing to help. With Anariel’s camel, Clementine, they were able to cover much more ground. After three nights with no success, it began to feel dismal. His father grew weaker with each day. On the fourth night they found a lush oasis, plants of all sorts grown around it! They collected what they could carry and took it back. Overjoyed, elders put the reagents to good use, healing Finnath’s father along with many others. Finnath and Anariel tried to explain where this oasis was, but when the caravan got to that spot, nothing remained, as if it had all been some sort of mirage. While his father still recovered, Finnath tried to take up his responsibilities. He began to wish he had paid more attention to his father before, and found himself asking more questions about his trade with each passing day.
When they had finally made it, Finn’s eyes grew wide, taking in the sight of the most water he’d ever seen in his life. He ran to the shore and simply couldn’t believe this to be real. Just as he’d been told, it was almost the total opposite of the desert. It was blue and wet everywhere! The Phoenix stayed here for some time, he had heard it was to find ships and someone willing to captain them. He would spend these days exploring this port city, watching dock workers bring in boats and fish, so many fish! He’d never seen live fish like this before and was intrigued. He attempted to board a fishing vessel once. Snuck on as they took off. It was then that he truly learned what it meant to be seasick. While he didn’t learn much about fish that day, he did learn that he didn’t like boats. Months passed and eventually the day came to board a ship to find their new home. Finn spent most of that time below deck. He was far less helpful on the seas than he had once imagined himself being. He found himself wondering if an endless sea was actually worse than a desert. And for all the times that they wished they had more water in their travels to get to the sea, now he only wished it would go away. After storms on the sea and in his stomach, they finally land at their new home.
If he had been excited when he first saw the sea, it didn’t even compare to what he felt now. In his heart he knew that this place was the home he had always dreamt of. Lush greens and blues of trees and the accent of the sea. Sand on the beach even felt welcoming, for the first time he may have even enjoyed its tan hue and coarseness under his feet. The only thing to break his near trance like state of taking in all of these delightful colors, is the sounds of his friends and family cheering in excitement. That day they built a basic camp and much celebration and praise to Solarus fills the air until night. The next day, and each day after that, they find ways to survive and make this new home their own. Finnath and his father build a small home on the ground. As much as Finn wanted to live in the trees and be closer to the sky, his father’s stamina still was not the greatest and this was much easier for him. The days were spent exploring, finding new fruits and other foods along with small animals. Finn loved to watch the rabbits on the island, the way they would dart here and there always made him smile. He had no qualms to hunting and trapping them, but everyone agreed that had to be done in moderation. This gave him more than enough opportunities to spend time spectating. Over the years he learned to truly love providing for his community. As much as he loved going out into the forests and traversing new portions of the island, seeing the joy that he would bring to the faces of the others brought him something even more.
Days pass like hours, and years pass like mere weeks. They name their new home Fire Isle and it goes from surviving to thriving. Finnath perfects his skills with traps and bows. He even lures some groups of live rabbits into a make-shift pen and starts raising them. On a fateful day, a group of Phoenix lead by Laertes and Anariel head off to see if they can find more land. Word travels back that they found humans! They start to travel back and forth, each time coming back with more exciting stories than the last time, and with more silver. Finnath continues his daily life, tending to his rabbits and foraging what he can even though it becomes less necessary each day. One day, after walking one of the same trails that he’d walked every 5th day of the week he came to a realization. He was bored. As a member of the community, he feels a responsibility to stay behind. Over time his father takes notice of Finn growing depressed and follows him one day. Knowing what needs to be done, he packs Finn’s things and that night he convinces him to join the expeditions heading north, saying that if there’s anyone who could help bring color and sunlight to the dirge, it would be Finnath. Standing at the shores of Fire Isle, Finn wonders if the north will hold the same excitement as those first steps that he took onto the island. As he sees the Phoenix ship come into view on the horizon, he can’t tell if his stomach is starting to turn with excitement or the ever so fond memory of seasickness. An hour later he’d come to realize it was both, but still manages to keep a strong and wild smile.

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April 14th, 2018 – Stand Against the Black

==STORY INFO==

Stand Against the Black

News spreads like wildfire across Mardrun; the initial month of the war against the mordok is a success. While some warpacks of ulven and their allies experience stiff resistance in various parts of the swamp, the reports coming back from the front-line are relatively similar; the mordok are being beaten and driven further north across multiple areas. Victory after victory is recorded as the next plan of this initiative is drawn up.

These victories do not come lightly and have had a bloody cost. Scores of ulven and some of their allies are killed in combat as the invasion grinds to a halt as the warpacks venture deeper into the swamp. Mordok resistance is initially driven before the warriors and cut down in large numbers and then continues to get more cunning, organized, and coordinated. Venturing any further into the swamp would see warpacks isolated and overrun. Instead of pushing deeper into the swamp, the larger war effort is to patrol and hold this conquered territory with the intent to fall back to fortified positions which are now being constructed. With mordok driven north, it gives these construction crews room to build and move supplies and the peace of mind knowing that warriors stand between them and the monsters to the north. However, this moment of respite is brief and the opportunity is now.

Safe from roving mordok, engineers and construction foremen have scouted out the best possible locations for outposts. There still seems to be a lack of cohesive planning in how many outposts should be built in the large-scale effort, but construction has begun in earnest. As the mordok resistance continues to take its toll on the warriors campaigning in the swamp, the construction of these defenses are critical; every day that goes by gives the mordok a chance to lash out at the war effort or retake lost ground.

Following last month’s success, the Warpack of Pack Dawnrock of Clan Shattered Spear has sent out a general call for aid to come and support the next step in this plan. Warriors of this pack and their allies recently endured hardship together last month as they fought to conquer territory and the Warpack leader is once again looking for help.

In this scenario event, players will either play existing or new Pack Dawnrock ulven of the Clan Shattered Spear Warpack assigned to this area or supporting allies as they focus on the next step of the plan. Numerous tasks await to make sure both the outpost is constructed, fortified, and viable along with the surrounding areas patrolled, maintained, and supply lines kept open.

=EVENT SUMMARY==

The Dirge Swamp seemed to rise up to reject the invaders, bringing a strange cold and freezing rain into the newly established outpost. Work was slow going and patrols limited as a result, but the rain-dampened spirits of the Shield of Mardrun could not be so easily broken.

Trudging through mud and snow, several armed patrols established an allied presence in the area, deterring much of the Mordok activity the camp had expected. While a few young whelps strayed close to the camp, no concentrated assault was mounted, and those within the walls of the outpost were able to focus more thoroughly on the various tasks at hand.

Such a strong military presence did not come without a cost, however: the bodies and attention required for the patrols took several of the potential workers away from the camp. Those that remained worked diligently to improve the land, but with so few bodies and tools, the work barely caught the attention of the Shattered Spear warriors who would be manning it. They appreciated the work that was done but were hoping to be able to focus more completely on the fight to the north rather than improving their own camp.

Within the camp itself, tensions flared as Sigurmon Shattered Spear and Audhilde Spiritclaw butted heads on how to deal with the walking, talking corruption idol that was now inside the outpost’s walls. The warpack leader’s hand was stayed as those around the corrupted young man urged patience in the matter, but the seeds of doubt had been planted. Scholars and researchers began to investigate the young man, magically poking and prodding him to see what might happen. A handful of breakthroughs were made on the subject through divine magic, and the research opened doors to further discovery.

 

Click HERE for photos from the event!

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Simone Fitzsimmons

Name: Simone Fitzsimmons
Age: 19
Race: Human
Occupation: Herbalist. Heals people with magic-y stuff
Known Skills: Observation. Listening.
Birthplace: Faedrun
Appearance: Black hair that she usually keeps down, shorter than most people,
Relationships: presumably plenty of Order members know her since she grew up in the Order

Fear. Leaving the old world, coming to the new world. To Mardrun. It was all I had. Fear of the dead. Fear of the water. Fear of the fangs. Fear of the… monsters? Mordok. They’re called mordok. The fear kept me alive. Survival instincts are just another fancy term for fear. Bravery is just a fancy term for ignoring your fear.
I don’t remember my parents. I know they were part of the Order. I also know they died before we got to Mardrun. I don’t know how. I never asked. I do know that I came to a new place, alone and horribly afraid. Surrounded by adults I didn’t know. I know that the people I met here saved my life. I know that the place they took me was the only place I felt like I could breath. I know the things they taught me, about Arnath and his teachings. The big people who wore their heavy armor suits, I called them the smart ones. They marched in their bravery costumes with their short hammers and courage shields. I could never imagine being that close to something attacking me. I keep a sword just in case, but I’d much rather keep my distance. About 9 feet, to be specific. But Arnath demands that I stand true, to not recoil before my enemy. That doesn’t stop the fear, though. It just means i’m better at ignoring it than I was as a child.
I used to hide behind those taller than me. It wasn’t difficult then, as a child. It probably isn’t difficult now, since even full grown I’m still as tall as a child. I would sit close to the fire while I meditated so that I wouldn’t think about how cold I was. In time I learned that letting your eyes adjust to the darkness is the best way to stay safe, so the things in the dark can’t creep up on you. I also learned that venturing outside of Starkhaven was dangerous on its own, but most of the time, incredibly necessary. I still don’t like going out. But bravery doesn’t mean having no fear, it just means looking past it. I can be shaking in my boots and still protect myself.
I’ve never been the loud type. Or chatty. Or talkative at all, really. It’s always been, ‘speak when spoken to, stay out of the way, don’t fall behind.’ Mardrun is a chaotic place, full of people with far more important jobs than just me, as useful as I can sometimes be. Besides, being distracted making small talk never helped anyone. Quiet people are often ignored, which makes it a lot easier to listen in, to observe. To be His eyes. It’s important to stay aware and get the job done. And to stay aware to stay alive.

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Brother Orrin Ree’s Report from the Swamp

“As I lay here on the cold, wet and bloody ground, I will make what may be my last report.

We arrived in camp several days ago and sought out friends to help us in our mission of seeking out a corruption site and by ritual, contain the corruption for further study. Pack Spiritclaw was very eager to help us.
I exchanged words with the war pack leader. I asked for his help in finding a corruption site so we could study it to find a way to fight against it. He stated that we were in the swamp to fight not to study. He only wanted to burn the sites, not study them. We started out this morning to clear out a Mordok encampment they had found earlier. It was defended only by young and inexperienced whelps. Victory was too easy.

Note: perhaps this is how the Mordok train their young to fight? The weak die.

We marched on to the second encampment, and in route a corruption site was found, by the bard no less! As the research team went into action, I fought with the war pack to level the second Mordok camp. When I returned, the research had been completed and the site cleansed of all corruption. The war pack leader didn’t seem happy that the Order had stopped at the corruption site, but I pointed out that I was there with him in battle helping. He had no choice but to leave it at that but he is suspicious of what we were doing. Having sustained damage to our armor, SuuNalla and I went back to camp for repairs. We missed the third village fight, but I believe the fighting was getting harder as the Mordok seemed to put up more fight the deeper into the swamp we went.

The fourth battle was hard. The Mordok were larger and much more experienced, but we achieved a victory. A discussion ensued that we all had a voice in as to end the day or fight one more battle. Blood lust was upon me and I agreed we should go one more fight. That was bad judgement on my part. We stopped to mend armor and regain mana and pushed on before we should have. The front ranks ran into a solid wall of battle hardened Mordok, they were stopped cold. We should have known to turn back then, but we didn’t. I fought on the front line shooting arrow after arrow but they would not move back. I was hit by one of their archers and moved to the rear to recast protection onto myself. At this point, SuuNalla asked if we should be leaving. I was going to say yes but three Mordok flanked us and to keep the trail open we were forced to fight them off. I did not know that the warpack leader was already wounded and sent back to camp with several others. Magnus took charge but sent more wounded back thus depleting the front line. He called retreat and I was furious that the line bolted and ran, leaving several wounded behind. I turned to go back to the shield wall protecting the retreat but was astounded to find that there was no line. SuuNalla was with me as was Revin, holding back the Mordok flankers and we were left behind as we held the line for the others. May it be entered into the books- that of SuuNalla: of her courage and honor in staying with me to the end so that others may live. This is decreed by Capt. Orrin Ree Griffin of the Order of Arnath’s Light.

Knowing I wasn’t going to make it I told SuuNalla to run and turned back to see 8 to 10 Mordok pounding down the trail 20 feet away. I used my bow as a shield, drew my sword and met their charge in Arnath’a name! I went down quicker than the time it takes to slip on your boot. The only reason I wasn’t killed immediately was that I was grappled by a Mordok and the others who slashed with great ardor didn’t get clean blows. I was cut deep and bled profusely. The Mordok were in such a hurry to kill more that they left me for dead. I lay there, letting them think that. The day grew long and eventually dark. I used some dirty bandages I had on me and managed to stop most of the bleeding and crawl behind a large log. Even then, the screams of the wounded being killed or tortured are ringing out into the night. I think I am going to pass out…. I hear something is coming my way… I think this is the end.. I need t—

Report:

The Eagles of Arnath go north to the site of the battle which reportedly took Brother Orrin’s life. They wade through the mud, bramble, and thick underbrush until they get to the site of the battle. They look around at the dried blood sprays of the slain, arrows in trees, and the sundered shields. After going back some ways they find what should be the spot where they would find Brother Orrin’s body. However, instead of finding a body, they find only a bloody trail, as if someone was dragged or crawled off some distance. They followed the trail for a good few hundred yards before the trail goes cold; however they note that the trail was heading south out of the swamp. We will keep looking.

As I lay on the cold wet ground in the middle of a miserable swamp; below a terrifying Mordok, the only thought in my head was that I couldn’t save anyone. The one time I had tried to save someone ended with a spear plunging through that poor Ulven’s chest and I didn’t even know his name. I ran in terror when I should have stayed and fought, and that ultimately was my undoing. Everything came rushing into a very clear focus as the noises of retreat came flooding into my senses. As a Mordok brought his spear down to finish me he must have lost focus for a split second and missed my vitals as he stabbed. That could be the only explanation that makes sense, or could it have been by some divine intervention. In a rush the Mordok ran after the rest of our forces eager for another kill. They are savages in every right and my reports to the Prince have defined that explicitly. I dared not move a single muscle for what seemed like an eternity but I knew there were others in this swamp, the ones left behind by the quick retreat. If I was spared by some divine force, I had to make every second count.

The fear was spreading through my veins like ice and I could barely move, but I had to and I knew there was no other option besides death. As I stumbled through the wet tall grass, fading in and out of cognition, I saw a man in armor donned with a red tabard. That was a member of the Order and I had seen him in camp! I ran, or rather stumbled my way to the man trying my best to offer assistance in any way I could. When I got there, I fell to his feet. I don’t know much about first aid but he helped me stifle my bleeding. We sat and waited, trying to recover what little energy we could to get ourselves out of this cursed land. We shared what little rations I had left in my pack and he told me about the Eagles and how they were bound to come out looking for him. After a short rest he used some sort of magic to bind together my wounds making me able to move slightly better. I knew that we had to hide from the Mordok for they would eventually return to loot our bodies for any treasures or trophies we might have, and hide we did. The tall grass and many fallen trees made it slightly easier to evade the impending doom that was sure to befall my new companion and I. When the sun had set the true terror of the swamp was revealed. The darkness has always been quite the fright for me ever since I was a child but even now the darkness seemed to claw at my soul, reaching deep within me and instilling a grotesque sense of dread. All we could do was wait and try our bests not to let the Mordok hear us or let the cold take us in the night. I could never have been more elated to see the sunrise; it meant that we could make it out of here. The orange glow of the rising sun gave me hope that I could have a future even when hours before I had contemplated if it was all really worth it or if I should have just lay on the ground with those warriors and bled to death. But that was no time for negative thinking, we had to press on and I had to prove my worth to Orin. Together we shambled our way closer to what we hoped was safety until we heard movement in the trees ahead. I couldn’t believe that we had made it this far just to be cut down by a patrolling Mordok but when the sound of the movement came closer it wasn’t a Mordok at all. The exhaustion and relief washed over me as I saw what I presumed to be one of the Eagles that Orin had told me about. I was saved. I owe everything I have to Orin Ree, he saved my life. Every breath I take from this moment is a gift, and it shall not be wasted.

Report:
Captain Orrin Ree and a companion named Claudio has been found in very poor condition and will be taken to the nearest camp and treated by a healer. More reports to follow.”

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Aethelwulf Var Sulyvene

Character Name: Aethelwulf Var Sulyvene
Played By: Jared Helgestad
Gender: Male
Class: Rogue
Race: Serous Syndar

(Excerpt from the journal of Aethelwulf Var Sulyvene)

When I looked out from the small window below the deck of the ship I was on, I saw the smoke rising in the distance and could barely hear shouting on the shore in that small village. I had rose from my bed to get a better look I saw men in armor running around shouting orders.

Although I couldn’t hear them, I could tell what was happening; I knew it far too well. Orders for the soldiers, being shouted at by their superiors. I would be there with them if it wasn’t for the archer.

That damn archer…

If it wasn’t for him I’d be out there on that shore with my brothers and sisters and I wouldn’t have this damn breathing problem. Protecting the civilians as they were loaded onto ships, but instead I was wounded and deemed incapable of assisting in any capacity. So I was loaded onto a ship myself…

They wouldn’t survive…

There were not enough to fend off the numbers that were reported. They knew it too and yet they stayed to fight as I should have been. But I was left wounded and could not. I have always resented the fact that I was not there when they fell to the undead. I should have been there with my brothers and sisters fighting with them in the final moments of their lives.

I would not have made any difference. I know that…

But I would not have this guilt on my conscience. That is why I took the Rahd Noc.

I will NEVER let anything like that happen ever again. In the name of the Galendhidur and all those who gave their lives in defense of the innocents of Faedrun I won’t let it. I dedicate the life that was spared from death on that now forsaken land to this cause…

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Guardian

After the siege of Davens Reach, I was trudging through a thunderstorm on my way home after giving away the last of my silver to bandits that had lost their way. After my extended life, I’ve seen humans do far worse things to put food on the table. But this story isn’t about Davens Reach or what happened on the way home. Those stories are for a different day.
As I returned to my homestead in Darkport, I immediately began drawing myself a bath, as I had been drenched by the downpour and had no way of getting clean until I got home. I had talked to the Sailors Tribunal and announced to them of my wish to officially become a diplomat of Darkport since it’ll take me some time to fully become their leader. The Syndar leader, Nathaniel, was not present and they informed me of their decision when he returns. I returned to my homestead to prepare for the next big adventure. The next day is where the magic will begin and when I will assume the highest title in my tribe. It’s a title that very few members of the Wolfgang tribe had attained in the lifetime of this tribe. It is one of the highest honors to receive and it is something not given out lightly. Only Syndar that have not only proven their worth for their people, but also make grave sacrifices, gain this title.
I arise from slumber like a normal day. I wake up, make some breakfast for me and my daughter, and do some meditation. However, instead of a cheery child like normal, I am greeted by a sad and gloomy girl that only looks like my child. I had thought nothing of it as it could just be her time of the month or something. The rest of this story will be told as if it was happening in real time.

Naxala, “Father? What are your plans for today?”
Dad, “I don’t know hun. Probably some light meditation and I might go out to the Spire and talk with Vazra.”
N, “Oh..I see… well for today can you stay in Darkport? Some of the members of the tribe have a gift for you.”
“Ok. I’ll stay for today only because you asked. You also seem sad. Is something wrong?
“No, nothing’s wrong…I’m fine, just my time of the month I suppose”
I then finish my breakfast and clean up the plates. I spend part of the day talking to some Syndar from Fawyth about some old projects that were left on the old world and how it’ll be nice to go back there and reclaim them.

I am then approached by my Adviser, Allon Bowstar. “Meister Talonflame. A word in private”
“Certainly, Bowstar. What is it?”
“I need you to come to my home here in Darkport. The members of Wolfgang have set up something special for you since you were away on your birthday. “
“I’ll gladly go even though there is no need to celebrate my birth. It’s quite unnecessary. What time should I show up?”
“Arrive when the sun and the moon are both present in the sky”
I then return to my home to prepare for the night’s festivities as I know that when my tribe plans something, it’s usually going to be big. I decide to put on my tribal attire as I know some members of my tribe aren’t as regal as I am.

Later that evening, I arrive to Bowstar’s place. The candlelight is quite dim for it to be a party. I walk in and immediately I am knocked out, bagged, and dragged to some unknown place. I am then awoken by a rush of water hitting my face. The first thing I notice is that I am bound like an offering. Arms and legs spread apart on a stone slab. I later realize this to be some sort of altar, but it was destroyed after the ritual, so I had no time to study it. Around me I see 15 dimmed out candles and I smell the burning of lavender and sage.
“Is this some kind of ritual?!!? Unbind me! Let me free!”
A robbed figure came up to me. “Calm down father. What we offer to you is a gift for what you have done and for what you face on our behalf.”
“Why must I be bound like some sacrifice?
“Because what we offer you, your body will reject even though your mind may be willing. You are much too powerful for us to test your connection to your body’s will to control it.”
She then utters a few words that initiates the ritual. All members in that room began chanting.

“The mouth of the Just shall meditate wisdom,
And His tongue shall declare judgment.
Blessed is he who endureth temptation,
For once and twice he hath been tested, he shall receive the crown of life.
Oh Kuriki, Lord of Darkness,
Oh Eagle , Watcher of the sky.
Oh how holy, how serene,
How generous, how pleasant this man who believeth.
Oh Pure Azureal. Protect us from all threats and let your will be heard”
Show us the will of, The Guardian of the Blue Flame”

It has been over a century since I’ve heard of these words and I have never once heard them. To have them spoken about me is an honor, although I wonder. Where on Earth did they receive such words. That was believed to be lost in time since the move to the sea. They were chanting those words so much that the walls began to shake and those words began to burrow in my mind.
Then a change in the drowning vocals, my child comes up to me.
“Father… I would like you to meditate into this and channel your energy to its core” she places on top of my stomach my black orb of nothingness and I began channeling my energy into it as instructed. I can’t turn down my own child when she looks sad, call it a weakness.
As my mana has depleted into this orb, my child removes the orb from my stomach and begins to channel a bit of mana into me as she is reciting the chant. Then one by one, each member of my tribe comes to me and channels some mana. At first it didn’t feel too bad, but then my mind began to lose connection with my body as I am now becoming connected to each remaining member of the Wolfgang tribe. I watch as my body begins to contort and I appear as if I am in pain. It’s like my body is rejecting the mana that is being poured within and I am looking at myself as the man on the altar is not me. We then drain my mana again with the orb and the process continues until every member of my tribe has had their mana depleted into my now not moving body.
It felt like a dream but what happened was true and I may be a bit sedated on foreign mana and drugs as I wrote this but it would appear that I have become a guardian to my people. I will cherish this gift for as long as my mortal body lives. The orb I now carry represents what I was and my body represents what I am.
I know I am a man of many titles but the title of Guardian supersedes all others.

Guardian Azureal Talonflame, of the Blue Flame