Honor, Family, Vengeance

Foreword:
This story stands as the culmination of several months of resources and effort put forward by a group of players.

In the final month’s of 267, Fritha Stormjarl, Hersir of Clan Stormjarl gathered support from various packs within Stormjarl territory. They were set to converge at the hold of Jarl Gor Whitecrest with the intention on supplying and organizing for a raid on Grimward. The primary focus of these raids was to retrieve as many Stormjarl ulven that had been taken captive during the Ulven Civil War as they could. Fritha was joined in her endeavor by her mate, Thrand Stormjarl; their long time friend, Bryech Savagefang; an honorbound-turned-freeman from Pack Longfang, Kaylek Nightriver; and a former Longfang, Toralf Grimmsvulker. Together they spent months preparing for the raids. Supplies were loaded, weapons were sharpened, and and through it all Whitecrest played a series of pranks, most utilizing eels, on the preparing Ulven. No doubt he did this in a bid to maintain levity. Most did not find his jokes pleasing, save for Kaylek who found that he had needed some levity in his life. In November of 267 they were prepared to strike out to exact honored vengeance and reclaim their lost family.

Before preparations were final Jarl Whitecrest had pulled Fritha aside and entrusted her with command of his Viknar, Stormjarl’s elite warriors. The gravity of the situation was not lost on her. All of Stormjarl was watching these raids.

Honor, Family, Vengeance – 267 Stormjarl raids on Grimward
As the month progressed more and more ships from nearby villages began to arrive at Whitecrest’s Hold to take on supplies and weapons for the upcoming raids. The time and effort put forward by Thrand and Fritha helped to secure support from an array of Stormjarl settlements. The coin they had put forward helped to make sure that all of the warriors were well equipped and their armor and shields were reinforced. The training that Thrand and Bryech brought to the fresh raiders made sure that they were ready to fight hard and fight together. The labor put forth by all made sure that the ships were able to be packed quickly and efficiently. In the end a fleet of ten ships carrying warriors from several different coastal settlements moored along the coast of Whitecrest’s Hold.

There was a palpable tension surrounding the raiders and warriors packed into the Stormjarl long ships as they cast away from the pier and began their journey northward. People were excited, but in the same vein they were nervous. It had been a while since they’d all gone raiding and for some of them this was their first time. Many of the younger warriors had been very vocal and excited about their first raid, but once on the ships they sat in silence, staring down at the deck. On one boat one of the older fighters looking for a glorious death grew tired of the sniveling youngsters and began to rummage through his small bag of provisions. After a while he pulled out a fairly large bottle filled with a rich, amber liquid and handed it to one of the green warriors

“Whiskey, boy. Drink it and share it with your friends. It’ll put some fire in your belly. I won’t be needing it either way.” Within time the tension seemed to die down and the rest of the voyage was largely uneventful aside from Kaylek’s unyielding sea sickness.

Thrand and Fritha road together in the same boat, leading the first group, so as to be ready to make quick decisions together when needed. Bryech, Kaylek, and Toralf split themselves up and road in different boats within the second group so as to integrate more easily into the Stormjarl raiders and Viknar. Everything seemed to be set up to ensure a clean and decisive victory. Stormjarl was prepared while Grimward flatfooted, but that did not mean that there may not be a tough fight ahead.

***

It was still early in the morning when the first village came into sight around a bend in the coastline. The dawn had broken, but only just barely and fog bled over the hills in the distance in a wispy grey wave, backlit by the orange morning sun. Were it not for the pressing matters at hand the scenery would stand worthy of admiration, but now was not the time.

Fritha and Thrand took their ship and began their approach toward the small settlement with the rest of the first raiding party following closely behind them. As the boats approached the shores the raiders kept their eyes open, but they did not see anyone on the beach or around the village to stand against them. It was not long before the boats reached shallow waters and upon Fritha’s command the Viknar were the first to disembark, weapons in hand, to storm the beach.

Once on the beach the ringing of an alarm bell came into focus. It was not clear how long the bell had been ringing due to it’s sharp tone being overpowered by the sounds of waves hitting boats and the loud nature of splashing through waist high seawater while carrying heavy weapons and shields. Upon hearing the bell however, the lack of people milling through the village started to make sense. Clearly the alarm had been raised and the villagers had taken to sealing themselves away.

Under Fritha’s direction she took half the Viknar and raiders and sent the other half with Thrand to sweep through the village, moving from home to home, clearing them of any potential combatants and searching for Stormjarl thralls. Home after home, they were found to be devoid of life, but many of them with warm meals still set at their table. After the first few empty cottages everyone started to realize that the villagers, knowing that as farmers they didn’t stand a decent chance at repelling raiders, tucked themselves away in a central, more defensible position. After searching through the homes the two forces reconvened at the front door to the village’s modest longhouse and found it barred from the inside.

On Fritha’s orders all shields were brought to the front and arranged into a wall in front of the doorway and few of the Ulven with large axes were placed on either side of the entrance. The axmen were instructed to bring the door down, aiming to splinter the frame where it met with the doors heavy iron hinges. The axes made quick work of the door frame and within minutes the thick wooden doors buckled and fell out and away from the building and as they did a volley of arrows rung out from inside the longhouse. The arrows slammed into the wall of shields and one pierced straight through the forearm of one of the axmen who was a little too slow when clearing the doorway. As his friends and allies cleared him from the area, Fritha lead the shield wall in pressing through the doorway.

Inside the longhouse stood a cobbled together militia of farmers and fishermen, all of whom stood in shock and terror when met with the prospect of fighting against true, battle-hardened Viknar. Thrand and Fritha called out to them to drop their weapons and explained that there was no need for violence. The two explained that if they laid down their weapons and allowed them to take any rescued thralls with them then they would all be “gentle” in their collection of “supplies” on the way out of the village.

The Grimward militia exchanged meaningful looks between themselves. They seemed incredibly hesitant to push this fight and seemed to be weighing their options. After a short time an older Ulven stepped forward from the back with a stern look in his eyes.

“You are all cowards!” he shouted at his fellow clansmen, “Our brothers and sisters, our husbands and wives, our children are all to the north fighting the Mordok and we won’t even stand against these Stormjarl pups? Well I’m not going to roll over like you.” The Ulven turned to face the Viknar and spit at their feet. “When I see him he’ll judge me brave, can you sneak-thieves and raiders say the same?”

The elderly Ulven lifted a crude club high above his head and charged the shield wall alone. He did not reach the wall. He did not come close. Without hesitation, a long spear shot forth from a crouched position behind the wall and pierced the Grimward Ulven’s chest and his body fell limp on the wooden floor of the longhouse; his blood pooling around his body and streaming down through the gaps in the floorboards.

That was all the convincing that it took. The rest of the militia tossed their weapons into the center of the room and dropped to their knees with their hands on their heads. It seemed simple to them: not all battles must be fought. In the end the villagers turned over the thralls they had. The majority of them were farmers that had been kept in the villages to work the fields and tend to supplies while the rest of the working age Grimward went north to aid The Shield. On the way back to the boats the raiders were let loose to scour the village for supplies and valuables, but told to keep their word that they would be “gentle”. The haul from the first village came relatively light and brought in eighteen missing Stormjarl who were divided between the Stormjarl ships.

Lanterns were smashed along the piers and as the long ships prepared to sail away, torches were tossed onto the oil soaked boards. Within a short time roaring fires overtook the docks of the small village and the raiding ships of the first strike party began their journey northward to reunite with their friends and fellow raiders.

***

When it had become abundantly clear that Fritha and Thrand’s team would be able to handle the first village Bryech gave the call that the second group should start making its way to the next target. The travel went smoothly and in relatively short time the long boats of the second arm were landing on the beach.

The scene upon arriving at this village was not remotely the same as the first. Whereas the first village appeared unguarded and empty, here a wall of militia fighters was present on the beach looking to stop the advance of the invading raiders. These Grimward fighters stood in defiant pride and beat their shields while hurling insults and jabs. With the droning sound of a blowing horn they charged down the beach with ferocity and fervor that was shocking to the raiding party that was expecting an easy fight. The Stormjarl warriors locked into a stable shield wall and braced themselves in the sand to the best of their ability.

The resulting battle did not last long, though it ended in much bloodshed. The ferocity of the Grimward militia quickly proved to be primarily bluster as they slammed into and bounced off the Stormjarl shield wall. Not to be dissuaded by their initial weak start, the Grimward militia dug themselves into a shield wall of their own with the goal of stopping the encroaching Stormjarl in their tracks. Unfortunately for this village, they had sent their best warriors and equipment to the north and those they left behind were largely untrained and not accustomed to the nature of battle and its terrors.

Under the direction of Bryech and a few of the other veteran warriors, the Stormjarl raiders brought down heavy axes upon the Grimward shields and were surprised to find that many of them crumbled as though the linen and paint on their faces was all that was left to hold them together. It did not take long to break Grimward’s line and as the shield wall crumbled so did any semblance of order within the militia’s ranks. In this growing chaos, the Stormjarl Raiders quickly learned that an untrained force can still be dangerous. With their ranks broken the Grimward militia began to abandon order and charge into the fray with reckless abandon. Under their wild lack of tactics they were crushed, but not before they were able to overrun and kill some of the invaders. Things progressed quickly and violently and before they knew it, Bryech, Toralf, and Kaylek found themselves standing on a blood soaked beach trying to take in their surroundings. The Grimward forces fought through to the very end, and a brutal end it had been.

Bryech placed a few of the raiders on the morbid duty of verifying the dead so as to give a merciful end to their enemies and hopefully locate and triage any of their own wounded warriors. Kaylek also remained on the beach to help tend to the wounded while Toralf and Bryech joined the rest of the raiders as they went into the village to search for any thralls and loot for supplies and spoils.

Twenty-four Stormjarl thralls were recovered from the village, again all of them farmers left behind to tend to harvests and supplies and a reasonable haul of supplies and valuables was brought down to the beach and loaded into the ships. As the last of the goods were being loaded onto the boats everyone was able to see Fritha and Thrand’s ship carving it’s way through the waters followed closely by the rest of the first raiding group. With the smashing of lanterns and the tossing of torches, the second raiding party set sail to reconvene with their allies. The flames and smoke from the burning docks punctuated their brief visit to the small coastal village as it shrunk away into the distance behind them.

Even with the loss of a few lives in the second village, spirits were high as the ships reunited and plotted their course to the next target. The first raid had gone as smoothly as one could hope and, even when met with resistance, the second raid went quickly and with a low mortality on the part of the raiders. It seemed as though Ranmir’s intel was correct and all of the targeted coastal settlements had sent what warriors they had to the front and were content to leave their security to their militia. Unfortunately for said militia, they did not stand a chance against the Stormjarl Viknar or the other raiders in their party. With this sense of security and the high adrenaline from a so-far-successful raid, the long ships pressed on to their next fight.

***

The third village began to come into focus as the fleet rounded another bend in the coastline. This settlement was a degree larger than the last two had been and was nestled away into a small pocket created by the coastal hills and bluffs. Up a small hill to the back of the village stood a large longhouse and from there a twisting network of dirt roads lead through the village and down to the beach. As the boats approached the shore it became evident that, much like the first village, there was no one around the greet them, but unlike the first village there was no alarm bell.

With Fritha in the lead, the Viknar hit the shores and as the raiders assembled into their lines Kaylek, Toralf, and Bryech reunited with their allies from the first raiding party. Together they looked over the empty village.

“No welcome? That seems odd,” Kaylek stated as he squinted his eyes to see if he could pick out any forms in the distance.

“Yeah. Something doesn’t quite feel right,” Bryech responded.

“I wouldn’t necessarily be too worried,” Fritha assured the two, “This is how things were when we arrived at the first village. The villagers all held up in their long house and barred the door. They’re probably doing the same here.”

Toralf scoffed at Fritha’s words, “They didn’t even fight? That’s not at all what we dealt with at our village. They fought to the bitter end.”

Thrand stepped up and put a hand on Fritha’s shoulder, “They are probably hold up in the longhouse, but we should still be careful and search all the homes again, just to be sure.”

The groups broke apart again and began a thorough sweep through the village, checking every home as they made their ways toward the back of the village and after a painfully slow search they reconvened at the doors of the longhouse. Fritha quickly organized the raiders into the same formation they used to take down the doors at the first village and once in position one of the axmen reached out and grasped the handle to the doors and pulled. To the surprise of everyone, the door swung open with little effort and revealed a completely empty longhouse. The Ulven on the shield wall dropped their shields and peered inside the building in a state of confusion. There was absolutely and unequivocally no one in this village.

The Stormjarl Viknar stood in a loose formation and looked to Fritha for guidance. Before she could formulate a plan the sound of a large horn was heard blaring from the top of the hill that flanked the village to the north and in short time it was answered by another droning horn from the hill to the south. The raiders all snapped to attention and looked around in shock as the sound of roaring warriors began to come into focus over the tops of the adjacent hills.

“Boats. We need to go back to the boats!” Thrand shouted in urgency, “They’re going to cut us off! They’re going to crush us from the sides!” He reached out and shook Fritha by her arm.

Fritha broke from shock and looked over the alarmed raiders and in the loudest voice she could muster gave the command, “You all heard him. Get back to the boats. We’ll stage on the beach! We can’t let them hit us here.”

Everyone quickly took heed of Fritha’s words and began a quick rush to return to the beach and be ready for a true fight. Unfortunately not everyone made it to the shores before the Grimward fighters reached the village and their forces collided with the Stormjarl forces. Toralf and a not-insignificant number of the Viknar were separated from their allies as the Grimward forces closed in around the village. Without hesitation Fritha turned and gave the command to fight and clear them a path out, but from the first swing it was clear: this wasn’t a militia; these were Grimward Warriors and they came to crush anyone they found.

What followed was a horrendously brutal fight. Shields were smashed and bones were broken. Blood was spilled on the edges of swords and chests were split wide under the weight of heavy axes. Arrows cut through the air and found their place deep within the flesh of their targets.

Bryech bounced down the line calling out orders and taking advantage of any opportunity he saw to drive a sword into the ribs of a Grimward warrior. He parried axes and blocked swords, all while his adept footwork and quick responses kept him from harm’s way. When a spear pierced a Grimward leg causing them to drop their shield, Bryech was there to deliver the final blow. When an axe fell toward a Viknar’s head, Bryech was there to catch the ax head on his sword and pull it from the warrior’s hands.

Kaylek stood behind a wall of shields and dropped his ax repeatedly on the enemy lines, splintering shields under the force of his blows. Seeing the damage being done to the lines, a Grimward archer drew back their bow and threaded their arrow through a small gap in the Stormjarl shield wall where it hit it’s mark in Kaylek’s chest, narrowly missing his left lung. Kaylek gritted his teeth and winced at the impact as he stumbled back and away from the line to pull out the arrow and bandage his chest, but within seconds another arrow found its way through the wall and took up a trajectory aimed to join it’s friend in Kaylek’s torso. At the last moment Bryech’s shield shot to the side and intercepted the arrow in flight. Kaylek nodded to Bryech and stepped back from the line to treat his new wound while Bryech stepped up to the line and shouted to everyone within earshot,

“For fuck’s sake, you’re a damned shield wall! Do your fucking job and block arrows! I’ll show you how the Ulfednar do it.” And Bryech stood on the line and under his watch, no arrows passed and through the entire battle, he was not touched by a single blade. The only evidence that he had even fought was the coating of Grimward blood that he earned through the fight.

On the other side of the line, still within the village, Toralf stood with a group of hardened Viknar. They formed up as best they could in the streets of the village and stood against the onslaught of Grimward Warriors striking from all sides. Cut off from the beach, things looked beyond bleak for them, but Toralf held solid and did not step off their shield wall, all the way up until an ax reached out and hooked the top of his shield and pulled him off the line. Within a split second axes began to fall upon him and splintered his shield and though he did all he could to parry the following blows they eventually found purchase on his body. Axes and swords cut into his limbs and in the end a large heavy mace landed a blow on his torso and broke several ribs on the left side of his body. Toralf fell to his knees and saw his blood pouring into the dirt; the sight of his vital essence mixing into a thick muck as the edge of his vision softened and blurred is the last thing Toralf remembers.

One of the Grimward warriors lifted his ax above his head to deliver the finishing blow, but as the ax fell it was intercepted as the grizzled veteran who had given his whiskey on the boat shoved his way out of the Viknar shields and blocked the ax, his heroic deed put him well in harms way and before he knew it axmen surrounded him and drove their weapons deep into his body, but he stood through the pain and shouted to his assailants,

“Here I will die, but I will do it with honor. I will die with glory and he will know my name. I join the Great Wolf as a warrior.” A final ax fell and buried itself in the Viknar’s chest and his body went limp.

As the Grimward warrior struggled to dislodge his weapon from the corpse, a low, guttural roar began to manifest deep in the Toralf’s throat as he rose to his feet. Tall and imposing, he stood face-to-face with his savior’s killer, his eyes wild and alight with a burning fire. The roar broke free from Toralf’s throat and he screamed in the face of his adversary as he reared back and punched him square in the nose, knocking the Ulven to the ground. With uncalculated and reckless ferocity, Toralf took the large ax from the Viknar’s body and drove it deep into the Grimward’s chest before turning to face the Grimward line that blocked their path to the beach.

“Oh, it’s time. Get ready boys,” one of the older, Viknar muttered to his surrounding allies, “It looks like we’re about to get our path out of here.” Toralf launched at the enemy line with a complete lack of self-preservation and with the Grimward ax he smashed through shields and cut down warriors, carving a thin line through the Grimward forces. Behind him the Viknar had assembled themselves in a wedge and charged into the fray, driving themselves into the crack that Toralf had cut and splitting it wide open as they made their push to the beach.

Kaylek was mid-way through bandaging his wound when he heard Toralf’s roaring cut through the Grimward lines. He watched as Toralf spilled out through the back of the shield wall and he watched as the Viknar wedge shoved warriors aside as it too burst through the lines. The warriors followed Toralf through to the back of the Stormjarl forces where he lost his strength and fell into the sand next to Kaylek. It was clear that the wounds that Toralf had sustained were well beyond the scope of what Kaylek would be able to treat, but after a brief hesitation a thought came to Kaylek’s mind.

“One of you! No, two of you. Take him!” Kaylek yelled at the raiders that had followed Toralf’s charge, “Hold those wounds and take him back to the boat I sailed in on! That one! Right there!” Kaylek called out in fervent urgency while pointing to one of the Stormjarl long ships. “One of our passengers, one of the thralls we saved up is a healer. We have supplies on the boat. Get him there. Now.” Two of the Stormjarl stepped forward without hesitation, scooped up Toralf, and immediately began to run him to Kaylek’s boat. Kaylek finished bandaging his wound and stood up to get his bearings.

A degree of chaos broke out on the battlefield following Toralf’s push. The Grimward forces began to fight more recklessly and the raiders were beginning to be pushed back down the beach. Lines from both sides began to crumble and fall into disarray as the fighting became more brutal. Grimward axes repeatedly dropped on the Stormjarl shield wall as they drove the lines back. A few large poleaxes smashed through Fritha’s shield, one cleaving clean through and into her shoulder. Before she could recover from the impact a spear shot out and pierced her leg and an ax hooked her ankle and pulled her to the ground as her lines continued to fall back without her. Fritha grit her teeth through what should have been a series of immobilizing blows and forced her bleeding shoulder and leg to drag body back toward her line, but the movement of the battle was too quick and the Grimward lines continued to push her own warriors back and away from her. Just as the Grimward lines were set to overtake her, Thrand pressed through the Stormjarl wall and took a firm hold of her wrist and started to drag her down the beach away from the encroaching Grimward warriors.

An imposing Grimward warrior in thick chain and masterfully tooled leather pauldrons pushed his way through his line, and unfortunately for both Fritha and Thrand, outpaced them as they backed away. He carried a large, heavy mace and bellowed as he stepped within striking range, “I don’t know your name. I don’t know your face. But I saw from the hills, you lead this party. You think you can just walk into my home? You think I’ll just let you run away? When I’m done with you, Stormjarl whelp, you won’t be walking or running ever again.” In a burst of speed that betrayed the heavy nature of the Grimward’s weapon, he stepped forward and brought the mace down with resounding force on Fritha’s left leg. A sickening series of cracks rung out over the clamor of the battlefield; Thrand roared in protest; Fritha grit her teeth and held back a scream. She did all she could to remain conscious, but with the loss of blood and the mounting pain from a rapid succession of wounds, her vision began to blur.

The Grimward warrior stepped closer to Fritha’s body lifted his mace above his head to crush her ribs and drive home a final blow, but was caught entirely off guard as in a final act of defiance, Fritha drove her seax into his calf before finally succumbing to her wounds and passing out. Capitalizing on the confusion, Thrand dropped Fritha’s wrist and threw himself over her body to tackle the Grimward. With his balance off, Thrand was quickly able to take the Ulven to the ground and without hesitation he tore Fritha’s seax from his opponent’s leg and drove it repeatedly into his face, showering himself in blood.

The brutal display sent a wave of shock through the Grimward forces and the Stormjarl Viknar were able to capitalize on their hesitation and push them back toward the village far enough to bring Thrand and Fritha back into the relative safety of their back lines. Through it all, Thrand remained on top of the now obviously deceased warrior that he had brought to the ground, still repeatedly stabbing the Ulven in the face and throat.

Kaylek followed the line forward and found Fritha unconscious and Thrand still in the midst of his moment and immediately rushed to Fritha’s side to check her for a pulse. Kaylek pressed a finger to side of Fritha’s neck and felt relief wash over him as he felt a weakened, but present pulse. He then looked up and Thrand and called out to him, “Thrand, Stop! He’s dead! There are more important things right now.”

Thrand’s head snapped back, a fire burning in his eyes as he looked back at Kaylek holding Fritha’s head as she lie bleeding in the sand. His eyes darted over Kaylek in a panicked frenzy of rage and lingering hatred for his opponent, but immediately settled into a state of shock and unbridled worry when they found their way to his mate. He immediately let go of Fritha’s seax and scrambled in an uncoordinated rush across the sand back to Fritha. Thrand looked her over in a panic and realized the severity of her wound. “Give her to me, Kaylek. I need to get her out of here.” Thrand shoved Kaylek hard in the chest and scrambled to lift his mate out of the sand. Kaylek fell back hard onto the beach and winced as his wound made contact with the ground, but grit his teeth and climbed back to his feet to find Thrand pulling Fritha up by her arms and pushing toward the boats. The entire time Thrand did not stop repeating, “I need to get her out. I need to get her out…”

Once on his feet, Kaylek shouted, “Thrand! Wait! I know–”

Thrand’s head snapped back and shot daggers directly into Kaylek’s eyes, “I’m not waiting. I’m getting her out. I swear, Kaylek, If you to get in the way –”

“Just listen for a second! I know where we have a healer! Let me take her.”

Thrand’s eyes burned with a smoldering rage, “Just tell me where they are. I will take her. She’s my mate. I will make sure she’s okay.”

Having pushed the Grimward lines back up toward the village, Bryech had earned the chance to look back and saw Thrand arguing with Kaylek, Fritha limp in his arms, and immediately rushed to his friend’s side.

“What is happening, What happened to Fritha?” Bryech called out in urgency.

“She was wounded, badly. Thrand is trying to take her back to the ships, but he needs to be here to finish what was started. I can take her.” Kaylek answered.

Bryech dropped into a urgent, yet reassuring tone. “Thrand, you need to be here. With Fritha down you have the command. Don’t let her think you’ve wasted this opportunity. Let Kaylek take her and you and I will finish her raid with honor.”

Thrand began to protest, but before words could leave his lips he felt Fritha’s hand on the side of his face and looked down to see her eyes hard and determined though her voice was weak, “Finish this, Thrand. Don’t waste resources.”

Thrand’s eyes softened and he was able to see the help that was being offered to him. With great effort he relented and passed Fritha to Kaylek who immediately began to rush her to his boat to be tended to by the healer. Thrand turned and walked to the mangled remains of the deceased Grimward warrior and picked up his mace before returning to Bryech. Together they rejoined the lines to take the command. Under his capable orders and steeled reserve Thrand led the Stormjarl Viknar in a decisive and bloody victory, his swift tactical decisions tempered in the cool flames of hard determination. Bryech’s fervor in battle remained unquenched as he and Thrand cut their way through the enemy lines. In the end Grimward soldiers either set down their weapons, or were cut down indiscriminately.

When the battle resolved only a small handful of Grimward warriors remained and were bound and kept for questioning. Bryech took the duty of interrogating the warriors, though it did not take much effort before they revealed everything that they knew.

A pair of hawk’s had been sent from the first village before the raiding party had even set foot on the doorstep of the longhouse. One warned the next village up the coast of the arrival of the Stormjarl Viknar and warned them to be prepared. The second hawk was sent to the nearest Chieftain, Yjolkar Duskmace. Yjolkar sent a hawk of his own to the third village to tell them to pack their valuables and the thralls and immediately move to his nearby home of Duskwatch, a village tucked into the inland hills a half-day’s journey away. Yjolkar gathered his forces and set out immediately for the third village, arriving with enough time to be well staged before the Stormjarl party landed on their beach. Through questions and answers a few things became clear: There were no valuables or Stormjarl thralls left in this village, the Ulven that crushed Fritha’s leg and was killed by Thrand was the Chieftain, Yjolkar Duskmace, and whatever message Thrand and Fritha looked to send to Grimward was received loud and clear.

Thrand sent the raiders into the village to confirm the lack of Thralls and valuables and told them to take whatever supplies they could find that the villagers were unable to carry with them as well as any serviceable weapons and armor from the fallen Grimward warriors. In the end, there was still much in the storehouses in the way of grains and supplies stored up for the winter and a good deal of serviceable equipment was collected from the dead. The supplies were loaded into the boats and before heading down to burn the docks and cast off, Thrand tossed a knife into the sand next to the bound Grimward.

“Cut yourselves free once we disappear down the coast, then burn your dead.”

Thrand and Bryech returned together to the ship Kaylek had sailed in on. Fritha and Toralf were already aboard having their wounds tended to and it made no difference which raiding group they sailed in for the return journey. Toralf’s wounds were severe, but the healer was able to stabilize him with the promise of no lasting damage. His ribs were broken and would take a few months of rest to properly heal, but in the end he would be in fighting shape again.

Fritha was not as lucky. The healer had managed to stabilize her condition and clean the sand from her wounds, but her leg had been hurt badly. The chieftain’s heavy mace had shattered bones in her leg and despite the healers best efforts, there was simply no way to properly set what remained. Fritha would live, but her leg was irreparably damaged. She slept through the journey home and not once did Thrand leave her side, nor for a second did he even think of releasing his gentle hold on her hand.

Elsewhere in the ship and throughout the fleet word buzzed between the returning Viknar and raiders. Stories were told of Bryech the Untouchable, The Shield of the Viknar, who whipped their lines into shape and was untouched by arrows and blades. Tales were woven of Toralf the Unyielding who when beaten down, rose and broke the Grimward lines and led many out of the village deathtrap. Word spread wide of Thrand the Tempered whose quick actions saved the life of his mate and turned the tide of the battle and who took the charge and led the raiders to victory. But above all they spoke of Fritha the Honored who brought them the chance to regain their slighted honor, who brought them hope that they would see their stolen families again, who gave her all on the battlefield to bring them to the end. Though the last battle had been hard and bloody, spirits were high on the return home. Songs were sung and looted bottles of mead were drank. Toralf drank and rested while Bryech sang a song or two, Kaylek sat quietly and tried to hold back sickness, Fritha woke up now and then, but overall she slept, and Thrand watched over her.

***

It was late in the afternoon when the ships returned to dock at Jarl Whitecrest’s hold. The Jarl stood on the docks and greeted the returning raiders with a grin and open arms. He clapped warriors across the back as they walked down the docks and he seemed in a great, jovial mood until he saw Thrand and Bryech carrying Fritha down the dock on a cobbled together stretcher. He didn’t ask any questions, he saw the look in Thrand’s eyes.

“Take her to bed and get some rest. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

Bryech helped Thrand get Fritha to bed and then turned in for the night. Toralf found a room with a decent bed and laid down to sleep. Kaylek caught up on the drinking he had missed on the ship and eventually found a warm place to pass out for the night. Thrand cleaned Fritha’s wounds and changed her bandages before falling asleep at her side.

In the morning Thrand paid a visit to Whitecrest’s longhouse to tell him about the outcome of the raids, but was quickly cut off when he tried to speak, “Oh, don’t worry about filling me in, Thrand. While you were sleeping last night we had a great deal of drinking here in my hall and the Viknar and your Nightriver friend told me everything. All things considered, you all did well. Could it have been smoother? Probably. Was the situation beyond your control? I think so, but you all rolled with the punches and you came out on top… I’ve got something for you. There’s a tradition in my hold that when someone has proven themselves they are given a small token of appreciation” Whitecrest reached into a pouch and pulled out a tasteful silver arm ring and tossed it to Thrand with a shit-eating grin covering his face. “ But when rank is bestowed on a warrior, on a friend, they are given an arm ring. Go ahead and put that on, Hersir Thrand Stormjarl and then go get those friends of yours and bring them in here. I have words for them as well.”

Thrand slipped his new ring over his wrist and went out and brought back Bryech and Toralf, but after a deal of searching and asking around he wasn’t able to find Kaylek. The three Ulven returned to Whitecrest’s hall and Bryech and Toralf took a place at the edge of the Jarl’s platform. He immediately launched into a rehearsed and theatrical speech, “You have all done a great service for—Wait. Where is the other one? The one who thinks my eels are funny?”

“I couldn’t find him in the village, Jarl.” Thrand answered, “I asked around and no one outside had seen him.”

“That’s odd. He was definitely drinking with us last night. He must have found somewhere to bed down.” Whitecrest stood from his chair and in doing so knocked a heavy pewter goblet from it’s place causing it to fall to the wooden planks of his platform with a loud crash. Within a few moments a groaning could be heard coming from beneath the platform and soon following Kaylek crawled out from underneath the Jarl’s platform covered in mead stains and a layer of dust.

“Where the fuck am I? Shit, my head hurts.” Kaylek muttered as he pulled himself to his feet and hazily looked over the confused and concerned faces of his allies. Bryech and Thrand quickly grabbed Kaylek by his arms and pulled him over to stand between them. Toralf dug an elbow into Kaylek’s ribs and pointed up toward Whitecrest who stood on his platform with an amused grin.

Whitecrest cleared his throat and began again, “You have all done a great service for not just me, not just Thrand, not just Fritha. You have done a great service for Stormjarl. This was not your fight and you didn’t need to be here, but I am glad you were. I heard the stories of how you held yourselves on the battlefield. Know this, you will always have a warm bed in my home. There will always be mead and ale for you. There will always be a hearth to warm your blood. The blood of the battlefield is thicker than that of brotherhood. You are our brothers now. You are welcome anytime. And Bryech,” Whitecrest continued, “Bryech Savagefang or should I say, Bryech the Survivor of Blackwolf Creek, Bryech the Untouchable, Bryech The Shield of the Viknar. It seems the list of names you’ve earned with my people and all of Stormjarl continues to grow. Know this, Bryech. We have a great interest in you and a great deal of appreciation for all you have done for us. There are important eyes are on you and we greatly look forward to watching your future.” Whitecrest let a sly smile cross over his face. “Now someone go fetch Fritha, if she can walk. She deserves to be honored as well.”

Thrand left his allies to talk with Whitecrest while he went to gather his mate and help her to the long house. When he entered their small room he found her sitting up in bed. She looked him over as he walked through the door and when her eyes landed on his arm ring she smiled, “One of Whitecrest’s gifts? Well then Hersir Thrand, I assume, what else did I miss?”

“He would like to speak with you,” Thrand answered, “The rest are in there talking with him right now. You shouldn’t try to walk on that leg yet. Let me help you.” Thrand helped his mate to her feet and found a sturdy staff to help her support herself and together they returned to Whitecrest’s hall where they found their allies sitting around a table to the side of the room, all of them plastered with a knowing grin. Thrand helped her up to the front of the room and supported her to keep weight off of her injured leg. Whitecrest bowed his head and began to speak,

“Hersir Fritha Stormjarl. Our people owe you a great debt. You have worked hard to help us bring back some of the honor we lost to Grimward. You have worked hard to be sure that people would be reunited with their families again. You gave much on the battlefield and then you gave more. I cannot express the gratitude that I feel for what you have done. I trusted my Viknar to you and you did not squander that trust. You are strong, Fritha Stormjarl, strong in many ways and I know in my heart that you would make an amazing Jarl yourself.” Whitecrest lifted his head and looked over the room, “I want you to know that I am going recommend that you be made a Jarl. My word has weight behind it and I know that it is time for you to move up. If this is what you desire I want you to know that I will do everything in my power to bring it to fruition. There is one small catch however; Jarls of Stormjarl cannot hold fealty or status with other factions.” Whitecrest’s face hardened slightly, “If you wish to be a Jarl, you must give up being a Longfang permanently and make your home here in Stormjarl. I know this is no small choice. Take your time and think it over and let me know how you want to move forward. No matter the choice you make, know that all of us appreciate you and no matter which path you walk we know you will walk it with honor.”

Whitecrest continued on to explain that all of the valuables would be collected from the ships and shares of the spoils would be split between the warriors. It would take some time to be sure things were divided appropriately, but he assured everyone that he would get everyone their share in due time. The rescued Thralls would have a chance to share their stories and then they would all be escorted to their home villages as soon as possible. The supplies would be divided up and sent to home villages of the rescued Stormjarl to help offset the losses they incurred by not being home to help with harvests.

“You have all earned a good long rest.” Whitecrest continued, “Take time and enjoy yourselves. Eat with us, drink with us. It is time to celebrate, but do not forget that we have cast a stone through Grimward’s window and we all know they aren’t the type to leave a favor un-returned.”

Read more: http://lasthopelarp.proboards.com/thread/2211/stormjarl-raids#ixzz5zAnvkuOR

August 268

The month of August comes and goes, but the hustle and bustle of Mardrun is ongoing. 

 

In the City State of Newhope there has been a rather large amount of guards found dead in the alleyways, guardhouses, taverns, and in their own homes. Many of those investigating are reporting poison, strangulation, and multiple stab wounds as the causes of death. This news has put many of the guards and those that reside within the walls into a moderate paranoia.

 

The City State of Newhope has expanded dramatically over the past three months, most notably the settlements of Crow’s Landing and Starkhaven. With these two large settlements now under their control, both economic and martial forces have drastically grown, creating an even greater force to be reckoned with . 

 

While the City State expands, the city of Daven’s Hold has started a rather ambitious project. Governess Kathrine has announced that the success that she has seen rallying citizens under her banner has given her reason to begin construction on a larger, improved merchant quarter for the city. Many who have lived in Daven’s Hold over the past year are eager to see what the Council of Three can do after seeing the highly aggressive expansions over the past year. 

 

The Tensions rise further along the Stormjarl and Grimward Clan borders; it has been noted that Clan Stormjarl have heavily reinforced their defensive fortifications while Clan Grimward Warpacks, geared to the teeth with Clan Ironmound Steel, now march to form a wall of shields and blades. The coastline can see Stromjarl ships patrolling off shore ready to move against enemy ships. Yet, neither side moves to press further to engage one another, the tension is palpable as both stare at one another and each wonders who will make the first move.

 

On the other end of the continent, Clan Squalborn is close to the breaking point due to lack of clan leadership, good farmland, harsh winters, and lack of resources.. Clan Steinjottun, Clan Axehound, and even Aylin’s Reach are eyeing up the possible prize of people and lands. The future of the clan is uncertain, but what is certain is that its neighbors are planning to take full advantage of their plight.

July 268

The Continent of Mardrun is a buzz with activity this month, and some of that activity isn’t good news for its residents. 

 

The infamous Black Market Faire occurred once more and what came with it were some of the biggest movers and shakers of the underworld. Ranging from Pirate Captains, Bandit Lords, high ranking members of organized crime groups, and more. Within that night, it is rumored many deals and hands were shook and it seems that the bandit lords of the Pass and the former Clan Riverhead lands are even more solidified and organized than before. 

 

The City State of Newhope’s campaign to bring more settlements under their rule seems to be progressing forward with great results. Many settlements, even larger ones, are bending the knee and swearing oaths of fealty to the Council of Six. That being said, Daven’s Hold is also gathering many to their cause, many are Vandregonians and some merchant companies that once had close dealings with Governess Kathrine. It seems these two colonies are slowly becoming rivals.

 

In Aylin’s Reach, many are curious as to what the Prince has planned as he slowly and steadily expands his rule and solidifies his new colony. Trade Guilds, Libraries, Temples, and other buildings are slowly being built and rumors of a road that will be built to connect the more inland areas to allow for easier commerce. Out of all these however, is the odd single ship that has been sent north to navigate a course to some island. It seems the Prince has his eyes on even furthering his kingdom, but to why he would choose these small islands is anyone’s guess. 

 

Negotiations between the Clan’s of Whiteoak and Axehound continue at a slow but steady pace. The progress made by Pack Redwind has been  visible as many of the packs within the clans are now halting raids against one another. It is said that the talks have even had a significant decrease in brawls that break out. However there are still brawls that occur, but these brawls seem to be more tests of might and strength rather than one of hatred or bias.

June 268

The colonies of Daven’s Hold and Newhope are in full political motion as they work with emissaries to have banners sworn to their cause. Settlement after settlement slowly fall under a liege lord of one form or another as the political boundaries begin to form. While the City-State of Newhope has gathered a substantial quantity difference compared to the other, Daven’s Hold has had many high material producing settlements swear loyalty to it. 

 

Prince Aylin seems to have sent a few small ships up north of Whiteoak to do some scouting of the shoals and islands. Being considered an odd move at best, many speculate what mystery has caught the royal heir’s interest to spend such valuable resources. 

 

As June comes to a close, Clans Shattered Spear and Clan Whiteoak are coming even closer to an agreement on their alliance that would surround the Dirge Swamp. Many in both clans feel strongly that the talks will result in an alliance that will finally solidify the two northern clans as the defenders of Mardrun from the destructive forces of the Mordok that have finally been pushed back into the swamp.

 

Rumors of a possible treasure trove are on the lips of adventurers and fortune seekers. The rumor goes that there is a chest of gems, precious potions, rare books, and other items of value are hidden deep in the Great Wolf Hackles. Hopeful adventurers, young souls, and those looking to get rich quick flock to the mountains in hopes of finding the elusive bounty. 

 

The Mordok launch a major strike against the Shield on the Whiteoak side, there was even the sighting of one of the rumored Called. This attack was almost successful in breaking through the outpost and patrolling troops, but a warpack from Clan Axehound came in from nearby and flanked the enemy force. Before the Mordok could regroup and recover, the Axehound reinforcements utterly devastated the them, forcing a retreat back in the Dirge Swamp. 

 

Limping back into Starkhaven is six of remaining former Lion’s of the Fist, with three more on a cart in dire need of medical aid. Many are surprised to see that any of them survived, but those that did seem to have been what was left of the best the Fist had to offer. They limp through the streets with tattered armor and battered bodies as they assemble in front of the temple and await their judgement by the Order of the Light after they survived their ordeal and crusade against the void of the Dirge Swamp.

Cific Watchwolf

PLAYED BY: Jake Segor

CONTACT INFO: Cardica1@aol.com

CHARACTER NAME: Cific Watchwolf

GENDER: Male

CLASS: Rogue

AGE: Near thirty

RACE: Ulven

KNOWN SKILLS:

Thrusting
Archery
Armor
Toughness
Lore:ulven
Resources: gather information
First aid
Lore:syndar
Pull arrow

BIO / BACKGROUND HISTORY:

-The following writings were scribbled out on parchment placed above scrolls, books, and small trinkets in an unmarked box-

I am writing this in late May of the year 268 because after various events I have come to realize how frail and short life can be.

If you have found this cache, I pray that you use its contents for the good of Mardrun and its people. Enclosed are various documents, artifacts, and other forms of unearthed lore, most of which was found in the last three months. My purpose for keeping these has been to study them and uncover the true nature of the secrets they held, for I am, or at least was, a Truthseeker. My name is Cific Watchwolf and at the time of writing this I am 27 and have not held the title of Truthseeker for very long. Below I will share my personal story in hopes that it will help you grasp the worth of the documents enclosed and the worth of the sacrifices made to obtain them.

I was born in the winter of 241 to a small family residing in the middle of the Watchwolves of Luna’s territory. My father was a carpenter and my mother had mastered various crafts from seamstress to basket weaving, whatever needed to be done at the time. I have an older sister, Gisela, who is very protective of me. When I was born, I came too early. I’ve been told I was very small and didn’t scream or put up much fight. Because of this I was not a strong child and developed slower in my infancy than others, this lead to my mother and sister’s protective natures toward me, my father detested it. At the age of 4 I still had trouble walking on my own. I would often trip or become tired, my earliest memories are of my sister holding my hand and arm to make sure I wouldn’t hurt myself. And of my father yelling at her that I should be able to walk on my own.

By 7 I was far more mobile, able to walk and sometimes run but not able to keep up with other children of my age. They would often mock me because of this but my mother would always tell me that I would grow still and not to be discouraged. She was kind and gentle, always there to help myself or Gisela. I spent most of my 8th year bedridden from a sickness to my chest and it was rare for her to be away from home for too long during this. While I couldn’t leave the bed, she taught me the basics of how to read and write. It was tedious but with nothing better to do, I had latched on to it. She even found me a book of my favorite story of the Sun Horse and Moon Horse, which I have also left in this case of documents. After some time, a Daughter of Gaia with knowledge in medicine visited to attempt to heal me. She was able to supply some medicines to ease my breathing but said that my chest may not have developed fully on the inside. Her suggestion was to move somewhere with cooler air, preferably to the coast. My father did not like that.

We did not move then, my father established himself as a carpenter in the area and would not give up all he had built. At this point in my life I could tell that he hated me. When he would drink, which became more and more common, I would hear him talk to others about how he wished he had a real son who could carry on his trade or bring some type of honor. His words hurt worse than my young deformed chest. I wanted to know why Gaia would permit for someone to be born like me and I wanted to prove my father wrong. Though I was only a child I wanted to toughen myself and become stronger, but any attempts I made at this were futile. I still couldn’t keep up with others, after almost a year in bed I felt even further behind. He saw that I was trying to be tougher, or at least he saw that I was failing at it. One night he came home in a drunken stupor, I was home alone as Gisela and our mother were out helping with some project or another in our village. He came home as I was reading my favorite book, and that disgusted him. He never spoke to me much but that night he felt he should tell me that I spent too much time reading, that I wouldn’t become a good son that way. His words brought me to tears. My tears brought his belt across my face. And then his fist. And then he said he would fix me. Then the door opened and Gisela tackled him. I still have a scar on my chest from where his knife met my ribs. We moved out to the coast the next day without him and to this day, I do not know his fate nor is it something I’d care to learn of.

We left abruptly but found a good home with other Watchwolves. I don’t know if they knew our story and held some form of empathy or if they respected my mother traveling with almost nothing but her pups. Once we had settled one thing did become clear, the sea laced air was freeing. It labored me much less and I could move more freely. I spent every day walking the coast, even in the winter months when the water droplets would freeze to my clothes like small beads. I was inseparable from the water and learned to swim as soon as summer came around. My mother had crafted a net for me and told me to collect fish if I was going to be away from home this much. Fish are incredibly swift, they proved nearly impossible to catch but I refused to let her down. After weeks upon weeks of attempts I had finally caught a small trout in a river that lead into the sea. And days after that I caught a bass, and then the very next day I had caught another.

Over the next 10 years I would continue doing this, only now I would bring home baskets of fish and even cook them. At some point an older Watchwolf who had seen me out every day taught me how to use a spear. Spear fishing was different, to this day it makes me feel like a crane wading in water quietly before plunging its beak in to catch a frog. Aside from fish, I would spend my time continuing to read, write, and study. I became engrossed in the stories of other Watchwolves, those on the coast had kept their eyes toward the sea to watch for the Great Calamity that was prophesied to come. I grew more curious with each story that I heard. When lore speakers would visit I would ask them so many questions about stories of old, fabled heroes, mythical creatures and places like horses and the Outlands. At some point during this time, I knew that reading and studying wasn’t enough and that I wanted to find these things out on my own.

Then the calamity may have came. Boats from across the sea landed on our shores. Tensions became high as these new beings, soon to be called Humans and Syndar took to our lands. It was encouraged that anyone who could learn to fight, should, in case you needed to defend yourself. I thought myself unable to, but was surprised to find that over the years of swimming and running on the shore, my chest didn’t ache in the ways that it used to. Maybe Gaia had planned for this all along. I still could not keep up with trained warriors, but I also didn’t drag behind others for once.

The rest of this story is well documented in other places, so I do not feel I need to tell all of it. When the wars broke out, Grimward had taken our land in a way. They respected the Watchwolves of Luna and our culture and allowed us to continue the sacred duty of watching the shore in exchange for our favored neutrality. Words eventually spread that the war between Ulven over the fate of the colonists was over. Other words found their way in throughout this of how dishonorable these colonists were. Males who would cast magic, greatly selfish individuals building cities, and so on. It was rare to see them on our lands because of the reach of Grimward’s territory, and when they did they were guests with purpose. Many deemed that they were not the calamity we had been watching for, but I think some still wonder if they are. I may have thought that until recently as well.

Years continued to pass by. More words travel in and I continue to listen to them. They no longer come from lorespeakers. Instead the words tell that the lorespeakers lied to us, hid our own history. For the first time the waves can’t calm me. The ideas that I had built my life and identity around suddenly have lost their credibility. Even my favorite childhood book might have been no more than some type of diversion from the truth. One night, I swore under Luna’s light that I would find the real truth and spread it to all of Mardrun

My calling was that of a Truthseeker. I spent more time reading, preparing myself for travels. The thought of leaving this coast that had given me so much life was frightening. Gisela was the one to eventually push me, she has always had a way of reading my hesitations. Word had been spreading that something big would be happening come spring, and so I rushed to gain the mantle, and to my surprise I was allowed it with very little hesitation.

Mid-March, 268

I’ve become a Truthseeker and on this day I wear the Thorn rune over my right eye, praying that Luna may protect my path. A noble and scholar of New Hope, Arragones, had divined spots worth investigating to find the true nature of the Dirge. She claims that her people had been here before as well. I do not trust her words, but they are necessary.

I was given a great honor to hold onto an ancient relic, vital to opening a cache of lorespeaker information. Keys to facilitate the tablet were hidden all over, we required help to find them so many were granted guest rights to come on our lands and help search.

Our camp was full of humans and syndar. They dressed, looked, and acted odd. Remembering their presence that day brings back feelings of sickness to my stomach. Of these visitors only three are Ulven. Two from Grimward eased my anxiety that the colonists would do harm, one Grimward warrior could cut down ten of them. At least that’s what I thought then. The third was another Truthseeker by the name of Audhild Spiritclaw. She must have been guided by Luna herself to be here, my mind was at ease quickly after we met. She told me stories about many of the colonists who were there and why I could trust them. I took her word and it proved true. She introduced me to many, notably Alestear and his group. I also met one of the most curious people to date, her name was Shin and she was a scholar for this Arragones, she was incredibly excitable but still intelligent. Even though she was a syndar, the care in her eyes was so clear, just like my mother’s eyes.

All of them aided the cause, even the Rangers, who earned a poor name with our people, proved reliable. I wish I could say the same for my own.

I could feel the tension in the other members of my pack. They trusted our guests less than I did. When the first search mission went out, they turned and attacked them from behind, breaking guest rights, breaking their own honor. A man named James fled from that fight with use of magic and told us that they took on a new honor, that of the lorespeaker’s oath. My stomach sank. The guests returned and Audhild handed me the key they found. I had no way to process this. I couldn’t trust my own pack, I had to put my full trust into complete strangers. I wanted a lorespeaker back alive, to question them, and to prevent their death. That didn’t happen, they chose suicide over capture. Had it not been for Gisela watching me, I would have gotten sick at that word.

The keys were found, the cache was unlocked, three mana stones were recovered, and many lorespeakers died. My mind was put into a squall of sadness and rage. This was worsened when the cache itself was found to be not an ancient Ulven artifact, but instead Syndar. And inside was evidence that they had brought their gods of the Sun and Moon to us, and that they had commit various atrocities.

That night I packed all of the things I needed and left my home, the sea shore just didn’t smell the same anymore.

April, 268

I was not well. It was my chest. This day I wear the Algiz rune reversed. I will admit now that my mission was clouded by anger for the lorespeakers and the syndar. The illness in my chest was not my breathing, it was my anger.

We had heard of walking ghosts in the great forest and that another location was divined in this spot. Gisela came with me, probably the only reason I maintained some composure. Alestear, Shin, James, Aethelwulf, and other familiar faces were there. Most of which I found some form of trust for, weather it shown through my anger or not. I did not understand most of what we were doing that day, it involved mana and it’s flow, concepts that are foreign to me. Shin attempted to explain it but talked too fast, so eventually Alestear made it more understandable. He seems different than he did a month ago, humbled almost. We talked personally and for a moment my anger faded. Weather I knew it or not then, my opinions began to change about many things that day.

We found the point we were looking for and sent many of the walking ghosts on their journey. The point was a thing called a pylon. Some type of convoluted magical device that was not working properly. I wanted it studied, taken from that spot so we could learn about it. My anger clouded my judgment, in hindsight it needed to be destroyed right then. In the moment I was furious that my lead was destroyed. Later that day in my anger I was cruel in conversations with Shin and her scribe Elegast. Shin’s eyes looked sad, that look will haunt me forever. I am not my father.

I wandered for a good amount of time. I asked Gisela to go back home and check on our mother. I found myself wandering to New Hope, to Key’s Crossing. The city was different than anything I had seen. I spent a week there interviewing people, asking the stories of Faedrun. These people have seen so much worse than we have.

May, 268

As I write about this, the wounds are still fresh. My chest hurts worse than it ever has in my life. I have not slept in 2 days and when I do, all I hear is the scream or the sobbing or his voice. Rialvis. He never said that was actually his name but I refuse to call him otherwise.

I wear the Ehwaz rune on this day, extending my trust and accepting it in turn. We took a boat here, the fact that I got on it was a showing of trust alone. On deck I was happy to see Audhild, Alestear, and others, though I did not have what you would call sea legs yet. Out of fear of getting ill on a friend, I stayed below deck until we landed. Gisela once again traveled with me, and while I appreciated having someone to aid with my seasickness I continued to worry that I was putting her in harm’s way. Once there, I shared many greetings. So many were willing to put themselves on the line to find the cache of information that was here.

We wasted no time in going out and finding the Luna cache, which shortly after, lead to finding him. He seemed mentally ill. Speaking in circles and making demands. He knows things and his knowledge is alluring. I did not want to admit how much I wanted to give Rialvis so that I could learn the things he would speak of. And I’m thankful now that I didn’t.

We bartered with him. He wanted to come to our camp until nightfall. I did not know how to act around him, all I could think to do is to offer him food. He spoke with many, and made dark deals with some. His presence brought out sides of us we had never looked at before.

Audhild. Alestear. Shin.

I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know. My body and my mouth moved on it’s own at times. At a later date, I’ll write a journal with more specifics on the events that day. I found more truth than I was looking for in that moment, but it took until the next day for me to realize that.

We opened the Luna cache. But at what cost.

The next day we begin hunting for the clues to lead to the Sol cache. I wore the dagaz rune for many reasons that day. My chest was not the only one unwell that day. The guilt we all carried was palpable. Each clue we find contains information in it, notes from ancient syndar. Personal notes. They thought so highly of themselves, as if they were gods. Each one infuriates me. On our final trek we’re set upon by mordok. The conditions are harsh and as time burns away, tensions grow. James tries to flee with magic in the midst of a fight, Audhild curses him, a man from New Hope is chased down by mordok, my bow is broken, another man almost loses his leg. Everyone is hurt, and the search is abandoned. The walk back is tense. I try to offer support to Audhild who is angered over the loss, but I’m just as distraught on the inside. Then James comes over. He has words with Audhild and pulls his blade out. I try to talk him down. He swings his blade towards her I realize the truth I’ve found in the swamp, and step in front of his blade.

That truth was two part. It was that we will never be able to grow and learn if we stand divided. And that along these three months home stopped being a place, but the people I was with. As his blade cracked my rusted chainmail and cut my arm, I could swear I smelled the sea.

Now, as I finish writing this I have decided on my next paths. Questions that must be answered.

Who gave the Watchwolves their task? Was it the ancient syndar? Have we been nothing but tools for them this entire time? I will find this answer.

What connection do the lorespeakers have to all of this? Why would other Ulven want this concealed? I will find this answer.

Arragones made dealings with the demon Rialvis. He had said that she had common interests with him. I will make her answer for this. And for Shin.

Three months ago I never would have written this, and would never have trusted an unknown recipient with what I am about to ask. If I am no longer able to answer these questions, I am trusting that you will take the life I have described into consideration and finish them in my stead.

-Cific Watchwolf, Truthseeker

Margaret “Mag” Feldman

PLAYED BY: Tamara Carlson

CONTACT INFO: Tamara Carlson – reluctantdebater@hotmail.com

CHARACTER NAME: Margaret “Mag” Feldman

GENDER: Female

CLASS: Rogue

AGE: 46

RACE: Human

HAIR: Brown, going gray in some places

EYES: Blue

OCCUPATION: Healer and Midwife

KNOWN SKILLS: Mag is generally known to be a healer and midwife, but she also dabbles in sewing to make ends meet.

BIRTHPLACE: Kingdom of Aldoria, Faedrun

APPEARANCE: Mag is a rotund woman in her middle age. Parts of her brown hair are starting to turn gray and she loves to point out that she is “getting on in years” even though she is not that old yet.

NOTABLE TRAITS: Portly and commonly smells like alcohol. RELATIONSHIPS: Mag generally doesn’t have close relationships with others, but is fond of the Phoenix, since they commonly carry alcohol and will sell it to her. Her sharp tongue tends to drive other people away.

RUMORS: It is commonly known, and less a rumor than a fact, that Mag is an alcoholic. Some people say that Mag occasionally lets her patients die just so that she can sell their belongings for more alcohol. It is rumored that she has gone a little “mad” since her husband and young son were killed by Mordok.

BIO / BACKGROUND HISTORY:

Mag was born in the Kingdom of Aldoria, to a family of middle class merchants. Unlike the rest of her family, Mag did not show an interest in the merchant trade and instead became a skilled healer and midwife. When the new land of Mardrun was discovered, she volunteered to join the colony and was quickly accepted.

A few years later, she met her husband, Richard Feldman, who was from the Kingdom of Vandregon. His family had stayed and tried to survive, but eventually fled in 254. While he started out sweet, her husband was an arrogant man and became verbally abusive after their marriage. He would commonly call Mag a coward for leaving Faedrun at the first opportunity. He would question her every time she came back from attending a birth, convinced she was cheating on him. When Mag had finally made up her mind to leave, she realized she was pregnant.

With the birth of Anthony in 256, Richard made his wife and son move with him outside of the walls of their village. He claimed he needed to have more space for the farm that would be his legacy for his son. Mag was against the move, knowing more than her husband about the risks of living in Mardrun. Richard ignored her.

In 262, while Mag was assisting a birth in the village, her husband and son were slain in their home. The damage done to the bodies made it clear that this was a Mordok attack. Mag took to drinking heavily to deal with the death of her young son, which she blames on his father’s arrogance in desiring to leave the safety of the village.

Since then, Mag has been traveling and offering support as a healer, for a price. She rarely does anything out of the goodness of her heart anymore, but will do what she can to earn a little extra coin for alcohol.

SECRET INFO: Any secrets that Mag might have had have long since been told to barkeeps in any village she enters.

May 268

The land of Mardrun is finally getting sun and warmth after many months of snow and rain, and with that weather is an increase of activity all across her lands.

 

In the colonies, delegates and representatives leave in droves from the City-State of New Hope and Davan’s Hold. Their destinations are the many outlying settlements, and their mission to bring them together and solidify their colony’s respective lands. Many leave the Gates of New Hope and half as many leave the safety of the walls of Davan’s Hold in hopes of achieving this mission.

 

From New Aldoria the IDS Resilience sets sail and begins her service under Dutchess  Madeline d’Argent. A massive galley that can sport nearly 200 crew and plenty of room for transporting cargo or soldiers all over Mardrun. Many are very impressed and curious about what future plans await this wonderful ship and its crew.

 

To the North in Serai, we turn our attention again to the remnants of the Fist. A report from a Clan Shattered Spear outpost states that only five members came walking to them, with three others on a small wagon. Their armor and bodies were noted to have been in tatters and in ribbons, those alive barely able to stand. After they were fed and given medical treatment, it was discovered they were faced with a large and well trained mordok force. It seems those who are alive are only alive because they were able to just barely survive the onslaught of death and screams. They are now in the Clan Shattered Spear lands being treated and cared for maims, wounds, malnourishment, and trench foot.

 

Talks between the clans continue this month, nothing out of the ordinary except for an incident at a Clan Whiteoak and Axehound meeting. Two chieftains got into a fist fight over a past incident during the Ulven Civil War. Those there were able to break up the fight before it became too out of hand, and removed from the meeting sight. Both  parties then continued their discussions on the idea that Pack Redwind proposed last fall, both realizing the long road ahead of them if such an ideal is to come to be reality.

 

Banditry seems to be increasing further in the lands around Davan’s Hold and near the Pass. Many are curious how the Council of Six of the City-State of New Hope and the Council of Three in Davan’s Hold will respond as merchant guilds and companies are losing more and more money every day. Many are demanding a force be sent in to start removing and slaying the bandits in the area, and many are growing eager for the issue to be resolved sooner rather than later.

April 268

The past month, much and more has been discovered by the expeditions, however there are many happenings and gears in motion in the world.

 

To the North, along the Shield of Mardrun, the remnants of the former Order of the Fist continues their penance crusade. For months they have been spotted fighting Mordok with a religious fervor that even seems to scare some of their numerous foes. However, they have been noted to be working themselves to the bone, slowly wearing down in both body and mind. They were last seen taking back Serai from a small group of Mordok that stationed there.

 

It seems that the Ulven Clans are a bustle of activity, mostly in the political sense, after the reveal of the Ironward Alliance. It seems multiple clans are in the process of beginning to garner the same idea, Shattered Spear and Whiteoak, Nightriver and Goldenfield, Whiteoak and Axehound, and more. It seems the political stage of the Ulven will be the main focus for a couple more months to come.

 

However, there is one Clan that is in talks with nobody at the moment, Clan Squallborn.. The clan seems to be trying to handle the internal strife within its borders after the harsh winter nearly brought it to its knees. Rumor has it that its neighboring clans are eyeing up Squallborn for possible expansion.

 

Around the colonies, merchant and trade guilds are growing restless as the bandit issue continues to grow. Many have lost considerable amounts over the winter and spring months, and they are not seeing any action on resolving the issue. Lictor Mary cul Tricuspis has spoken and said that she will be focusing New Hope guards and forces into reinforcing the main roads in the City-State and warns Merchants that if they are planning to leave the area that they should hire well trained guards until New Hope can resolve the situation.

 

In Aylin’s Reach the people are becoming increasingly pleased with their expanding city and villages. The portside city is growing in size and count faster and faster as new shops and services appear. As of this past month an tavern, a labor guild, and a lictor courts have been erected. It seems that the Prince and his advisors are not slowing their pace either, for it is rumored that many more plans for the Reach lie in the works.

May 18th and 19th 2019 – Dirge Swamp Expedition

Story Event Info

 

After intense and bloody fighting, the threat of the undead has been cleared from the forest after it was confirmed that this area was attracting all of them to it. Why is still unknown, but hunters have reported seeing no additional hungry ghosts after the combined forces helping the expedition moved to put them down for good. What was discovered at this location was an ancient Syndar device, called a “Pylon”, that had apparently been damaged and had been influencing the mana in the area. Records kept near the Pylon indicated that it was once part of a vast network and that in it’s prime it would have been connected to neighboring pylons. With the undead laid to rest and the odd nature of the mana stream fully researched before the Pylon was destroyed, Arragones’ scholars were able to reference the new notes and logs, as well as some of the magical readings taken in April, and triangulate the location of this “neighbor pylon.” Following on revelations uncovered by the researchers and adventurers during their expedition into the Great Forest, Celestial Arragones’ scholars have located another area of interest.

 

Upon arrival the scholars were unable to find any traces of the ancient Syndar artifact. Much to their surprise; however, they found a small locked chest that contained another series of notes and ciphers that pointed to another ancient Syndar Cache of some sort. Unfortunately the location indicated stood deep within the western reaches of the Dirge Swamp. Examining the location noted in these texts coincides with the estimated location of the Scholar’s previous divination ritual; whatever is out in the Swamp in that area is connected.

 

Arragones’ and her scholars have again asked for volunteers to help on this Dirge Swamp Expedition. Duchess Madeline d’Argent has stepped forth and pledged resources to assist this expedition with a full security detail, support wagons, and scouting forces to help navigate this area of the swamp. With the lack of mordok forces, presumably due to heavy losses during the war throughout the winter, this could be a narrow window to get into the swamp, setup camp, and secure more knowledge. However, the remote location of this forward camp being setup means that should the Expedition run into danger, their will be no reinforcements coming to aid them… they are on their own.

 

Event Summary

 

Upon arrival the first day the scholar and her team informed th expedition that the cache found in the swamp required a reclament scholar to open. It was made known that a reclament had sent word to Celestial Aragones as Rialvis. It was said he would make contact and produce the reclament tool as proof of his claim. Many of the assembled group had headed out to the cache location to inspect it and the surrounding area. It was at this time the the red eyed syndar made himself known to the group and introduced himself as Rialvis the reclament scholar. He was promised safety and brought back to the camp to discuss his terms for aid.

 

While in the camp it was made known that he knew what was in the cache and that he requested a small piece of the contents for himself with no questions being asked to know what it is. This was agreed upon by the scholar. Rialvis the red eyes spent time talking to the camp members and offering to trade knowledge if they had something of value. He had offered one question for free and another the Celestial’s scholar traded her magic for. As night fell a group was gathered and included the red eyed syndar. They got to the cache and were able to open it and the red eyes retrieved his portion. Before much else could be done a blood curdling scream was heard that caused even the mordok to show fear. The mordok and the red eyes fled and the party made a hasty retreat back to the outpost with the cache. Once opened and examined it turned out the cache, known as the luna cache, had only a few notes, a key, and talked of a final research cache. This second cache, referred to as the sol cache, must be found before sundown the next day or its contents would be permanently destroyed. It was determined more important to get camp defenses set up and deal with the rest of the cache the next morning.

 

At the break of day the camp came together to fully examine the Luna cache. It contained a puzzle key as well as notes speaking on a number of three more keys needed to unlock the sol cache. The luna cache also contained the location of the first key which was contained in a research teams private cache. A party was assembled and found the first cache which lead to the second which in turn lead to the third. After all three were found all of their notes were assembled and the location for the sol cache was determined. A party was assembled and went out in search of the cache but they were beset upon by mordok. The party searched for what must have seemed hours but to no avail. The party returned to the camp with barely enough time to pack up and reach the boat.

 

 

From the libraries of the illustrious Celestial Arragones,

 

Her Grace, Celestial Arragones as well as ourselves, her illustrious scholars, were quite saddened to hear of the loss of the second cache that was mentioned in the notes of the Luna cache. That being said we were all fortunate enough that the Reclament scholar was knowledgeable in many of the areas in which questions were raised. Rialvis’ notes were sent to us and compiled with some of the information we already possessed.

 

To the question of the origins of the swamp; it has been reasoned that it was created as an incidental byproduct of the experiments of the ancient Syndar that had come to Mardrun. We know that these experiments and subsequent calamity had much to do with the nature of divinity, however; the information we had gathered lacked specificity towards the exact nature of the aforementioned experiments. More knowledge in this area may be able to be uncovered with further investigation.

 

Refarding the cause of the Siphoning which has long plagued our people; much has been learned on the nature of mana and this new knowledge has been able to be correlated with the notes sent from the Reclament scholar, Rialvis. Mana has been shown to be able to be destroyed and warped beyond use and recognition. This has been noted to be caused by those casters who have unlocked a practical and working knowledge of both the divine and arcane schools of magic. Known as “Witch Magic,” this ability seems to be antithetical to the continued stability of the mana stream.

 

To the question of what exists north of the Dirge Swamp in the area known as The Outlands; the Reclament Scholar has reported that he has been north of the Dirge and has witnessed what is contained in the strange northern lands. He wrote of a lost colony of Syndar that have had a calamity worse than that of the worst punishments doled out by and to our people. A second group that was mentioned in his notes was that of an Ulven clan which he referred to with a previously unknown name of Clan Stonetooth. Lastly he made mention of a city of the Mordok which he referred to as Amor’dacca. He says that this city only for the “chosen Mordok” and that they are “called north.”

 

The information gained on this expedition was an astounding triumph however it is greatly unfortunate to think that some of this information may have been expanded on further if only the notes of the Sol cache had been uncovered.

 

Compiled by the scholars of the esteemed Celestial Arragones.

April 20th, 2019 – Great Forest Expedition

Story Event Info

 

Worried about overstaying their “welcome” in Clan Grimward territory, the expeditionary forces made haste to leave and returned to the City-State of Newhope.

 

After the successful completion of the first expedition into Watchwolf territory, Celestial Arragones’ scholars have deciphered some of the texts and, as promised, the information was made public. Within those texts show proof that Syndar had indeed visited Mardrun in the past and seem to have had some sort of hand in the shaping of the Ulven as they are today. The public outrage of these texts being denounced in February has seem to have grown in volume as more and more Ulven find these “truths” and “evidence” hard to believe. While some answers are found, more questions remain. One aspect that has been unsettling is the sudden and coordinated appearance of Ulven that claimed allegiance to the Lorespeakers and their cause, refusing to back down even when up against suicidal odds. Dozens of Ulven lay dead after repeated attempts to stop the Research Team and their allies failed. What the Lorespeaker’s true agenda in this is still unknown.

 

Now, the Celestial’s scholars have pointed at the second area of note which is deep within the Great Forest of Mardrun. Something inside the Great Forest has shown up during the divination rituals of the Scholars of the City-State. The southern region of the Great Forest was host to a bloody campaign as Mordok forces pushed into Clan Riverhead territory several years ago. Wayward villages or remote settlements in the Forest were massacred or pushed away from their homelands. Although the survivors were absorbed into several Clans, existing Riverhead Ulven to this day have been concerned about the dead left behind in their former territory and have been more vocal since others have joined them in this concern due to the end of the battles of the War in the Dirge.

 

The concern to properly put to rest the fallen Ulven combined with increasing reports of walking corpses and hungry ghosts in the forest also combined with the strange magics being detected with the Great Forest have many speculating that something abnormal is going on this side of the border to the Dirge Swamp.

 

Event Summary

 

The Celestial’s team and a number of allies went into the Great Forest to uncover the meaning behind the anomalous readings of the area. Armed with the notes and locations found out from the divination ritual and a rediscovered tool for reading into the mana stream the Celestial’s scholars began their research.

 

It was a difficult start to the expedition with the threat of the undead looming. Luckily the many allies had come along to help deterring or destroying the restless dead. The scholar’s team was able to take readings of the mana flow in the area from a number of points of interest. During the day some sort of device had been discovered and reported to the scholar. A team was assembled and sent to investigate the object. It was determined that this device was left here by the ancient Syndar and was designed to draw in some form of mana but it had broken at some point in history and was reaching a catastrophic state. It was decided on by the investigating team that it must be destroyed before it caused a bigger problem. It was also discovered that a corruption idol had been set up in the area by some of the Mordok and a team was organized to dispatch this threat as well.

 

In the end the research mission was a resounding success for all of those involved. Celestial Arragones has promised the quick dissemination of the information brought back by her scholars.

 

From the libraries of the illustrious Celestial Arragones,

We would like to start this proclamation with giving many thanks and our appreciation to  those who gave their time and dedication to uncovering the anomaly within the Great Forest. With everyone’s aid given to helping our scholars and the readings taken by them we have been able to determine that this area of the Great Forest has been flooded by a deformed and broken version of mana. We have not determined what has caused this malformation but it seems that this mana is not naturally drawn into the mana stream. The Syndar device found in the forest that seems to be referred to as a Pylon appears to have been created to collect this broken down mana and store it for some purpose. We have run some smaller tests and determined that this malformed and broken mana does seem to exist in many areas of Mardrun. This is concerning to us as whatever may be causing this deformation most likely is adding to the Siphoning that has been plaguing us all for quite some time.   

 

Compiled by the scholars of the esteemed Celestial Arragones.

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