Account of Volrok “Battle-Born” Hinrich
– First week of March, 264 –
-Day of Departure-
It was a bitter wind that blew through Crow’s Landing that early morning. It passed through the cracks and crevices of any building it crossed. Volrok’s small and humble home was no exception. The wind went right on through the floor boards, and up to his mound of furs and blankets. He shivered as the bitter wind rushed between the bundles of dead animal pelts and fabric.
“Another day in paradise… How grand…” Volrok grumbled as he slowly stirred from his slumber. The night before he was busy looking at drawings and reading letters, and he didn’t go to sleep till late in the night. Being awoken by such a cold and bitter air didn’t make the start of this day seem too grand.
After he got dressed, he went through his usual ritual, oiling and polishing armor, sharpening and oiling weapons, and finally having breakfast. It almost always consisted of stew or soup from the night before with stale bread. It was a meager meal for a Ioclaochra, but being the last of his company (at least for the moment) funds were tight and anything else that wasn’t needed for survival would be considered a luxury. He quickly finished the stale bread and three day old rabbit stew, hoping to be done with it. For the taste was like eating a well-worn leather boot, but with less taste.
Once done with the food he moved on to the front door and put his own boots on, and left the small dreary estate. The sun was just beginning to crown the horizon, the deathly cold wind only confirmed that the days of spring should be approaching soon. Soon he was at the lumber mill, a place where he has been frequently as of late. Since making the Sponsorship contract with The Rangers, Volrok has been hastily preparing for rebuilding the Broken Blade; spending most of his time writing to old friends and allies to find if any of them would honor old promises and give favors towards the rebuilding of the company. Sadly, most of the contacts could not promise to help rebuild anytime soon, except say a few people offering aid if he ever stopped by. But today would be different, for today was going to change Volrok’s world. A single letter from an old friend in a merchant caravan is going to turn Volrok’s world completely upside down.
To my dear friend, Volrok Hinrich
It has been over five years since you last wrote to me, even then it was all business, which only reminds me of how much you take after your grandfather.
However, since it is still somewhat winter, and my funds are beginning to run low, I will not be able to help you financially or with supplies to rebuild. Come this summer though, if you are ever near Daven’s Reach, I will gladly hire you on as a guard for our caravans once again. I will even do better than that, if I get this deal to go through, I will come into a surplus of iron ore. Once I get it refined I will personally purchase you a wagon full of armaments for the company to use.
There is other news… Dreary news or good news for you… On a recent trip down to the colony of Newhope, I came upon the place where the ‘ambush’ occurred all those years ago. At this time though, the air was warm and the sun melted away snow and ice. I found something from all those years ago, small trail littered with armor shards. Now I did not venture too far into the woods out of fear of being attacked, but I marked the location on the trail with the symbol of Ulfkell.
I suggest you move fast good friend, who knows when the next snow will hide the trail.
Ignite the fires far old friend,
Volrok trembled as he read the letter, his hands shook violently in both joy and anger. Like a bolt of lightning he flew from the lumber mill to his house. He didn’t hesitate, he could not hesitate, for what was hinted in that letter was that there may be remains of his fallen brothers and sisters, maybe even his father’s.
By noon Volrok had left without leaving a note on his door. The small abode dark and quiet, not even mice or birds landed there. If anybody was to peer inside all they would see is a humble home locked up tight and waiting for the return of the only remaining member of the family it once housed.
Volrok was lucky that he was able to join a small caravan heading north west towards Daven’s Reach when he was leaving. Thankfully they will be resupplying inside the gates for sometime, giving Volrok time to travel alone towards his destination.
When he arrived near the edges of the old site, the Battle-Father only saw it natural to make the event that much more difficult, by adding a snow storm. Thankfully it was still daylight and he could make out the symbol and the outline of the travel that was marked. He kneeled before the symbol and whispered.
“Is today the day that I finally can rest my brothers and sisters in your flames? Is it finally time for them to be at rest?”
It didn’t take Volrok long to maneuver through the small trail. His raid on the White Oak’s, his constant patrol’s with the Rangers honed his legs and feet to maneuver such terrain. He walked and walked, the snow only came down harder making it all that much more difficult to see. The wind howled like wolves after a stag, the snow and sleet stung his face. ‘This will not stop me… Not now, or never.’ he said to himself trying to calm a slowly rising rage at the nearly impossible task before him now. The snow was now knee deep, but he felt it. He was close. Close to what he sought for so many long years.
It was dark now, the only source of light he had was a lantern that was barely staying lit. Finally he spotted something that didn’t belong. Well, it did, but was not expected. It was a bluff with a small cave. He looked around, making sure that no mordok were following him, and quickly dove into the cave. It was blocked, blocked by a massive metal shield. Volrok grunted and groaned as his frozen fingers dug the snow out of the way so that he could open the entrance. He wrapped his fingers around the edge and gave a great tug. Dust took to the wind and fresh air seeped into the once sealed cave. Quickly Volrok drug his gear and himself inside the hole and sealed it up once more.
“Ack!” he barked as he turned around and came face to face with a skull. He had instinctively drew his dagger and was ready to fight, but the mass of bones didn’t move, apparently it was truly dead. He sighed as he sheathed his father’s blade and relaxed, leaning against the wall of the cave. After letting his heart calm, he looked around more carefully with the lantern. He found them, he found three of the members from his company, at least what was left of them.
-The Next Day-
Volrok awoke slowly, cold, but not numb like he was the night before. Quietly he moved towards the shield that sealed his temporary home, and peered out of the cave. Not a soul, cursed or otherwise. He sighed in relief as he felt the now warm sun baring down on air, melting the snow. He had to move quickly for he didn’t have much time. He began to look over the skeletons and tried to identify them by what they had on them.
The first one he identified, the one that he nearly tried to kill last night, was Delgal “The Wall” Brocha. The man was, as he sounded, massive in stature and was able to hold his ground against five foes at once for some time. Volrok thought back… Thought back to the days that Delgal would train him in the ways of using a shield. He was like an older brother, laughing with him when he made a mistake and often covered for him when his father, Torcoll, would get angry for the lack of training. Before Volrok was the very shield that Delgal used in every battle, in every duel, in every aspect of his life. Setting the shield aside he began to bundle the bones together into a nice pile for carrying.
The next skeleton was thin, but had a distinctive scar on the skull, meaning it could only be one person. Siv “Blood Dancer” Simmershade. Siv may have been a syndar, but she was by far the closest thing he had to a mother figure. She was stern, reserved, and usually very serious, and showed little to no interest in anything. However, when alone with Volrok as boy, she had a different face. Siv was quiet in voice and very kind when she taught him how to read and write. When he received his hat, she pulled him aside after the celebration and gave him a warm hug and a gift, her personal hunting knife she received from her own father when she was a child. Volrok felt something beginning to move in him, he has not felt it for some time. He shook his head and moved on, piling her bones into the carrying bundle.
The last one was not his father, the hat wasn’t fancy enough nor did it really have a hat. But in it’s hand was a finely made bow fractured in multiple places, made of an old ‘Iron King’ tree back from Richtcrag. This was Cal’mire “Deadshot” Bal’one, one of the finest bowmen that Volrok had ever known who supposedly hailed from Olon Zylj. Slowly the fog of time brought him back to one of the few memories he had of this mysterious man. For most of his life Volrok’s interactions with Cal’mire had been somewhat limited, for the man would usually only associate with his brother. However this wasn’t the case one day in Valinate. For you see Volrok was only about ten years old, and was usually following Siv or Delgal around, learning the way’s of being an Íoclaochra. But that day was different, Volrok felt compelled to follow the mysterious Cal’mire that day. Quietly Volrok followed in the shadows, watching him maneuver through the alleys and streets as if they were his backyard. At one point Cal’mire came to a rather dark and foreboding alley, however he pressed on. Out of the shadows of the building came five men armed with maces, clubs, and swords and surrounded him.
“Give us your weapons and money…” one of the thugs demanded. Cal’mire only sighed and gave them a glare as cold as any death knight could give off.
“Leave… And you might survive…” Cal’mire warned them. The thing with thugs however is that they generally are not too bright, this bunch was a fine example of the stereotype. One brute attacked from behind, and in a flash his life came to a halt, since a dagger in the skull tends to do that. Cal’mire twirled around the now dead man, grabbed the sword from his hand and began to defend himself. Slicing a hamstring here, piercing a lung there, Cal’mire was fighting far better than what Volrok was lead to believe. The reason for that is due to Cal’mire never fighting on the front lines, always using his bow and commanding the archers in the rear.
In a flash the skirmish was over and in the center stood Cal’mire, his face just as serious as it was before the event occurred.
“It’s not nice to follow others Volrok…” he stated calming, looking towards the corner of the alley where Volrok was peeking around from.
“You’re not from Olon Zylj are you?” Volrok boldly asked, knowing the answer. Cal’mire only turned and walked away from Volrok.
“You’re from here, aren’t you? It shows in how you fight, why do-.” before Volrok could finish Cal’mire shot him a glare to be quiet.
“Don’t say anything to the others… They don’t need to know…” he whispered to Volrok. Shyly he backed off and followed behind Cal’mire.
“It’s because you like being with us right?” Volrok inquired one last time. All he got for a reply was a smile.
Volrok came back from memories and felt the wind blow into the cave from the cracked shield. He quietly stacked the bones of Cal’mire into the bundle, being careful to take the bow, the swords, and the single massive shield into his gear with the bundle. Slowly he got up and left the cave, double checking to see if there was anything left in their packs, finding only a single journal. He quickly put it in his pack and began his trek back to Daven’s Reach. Bandits had taken over the Reach but if you had coin, purpose, or looked like enough trouble they generally left you alone. If they didn’t leave him alone, Volrok was certain he could become enough trouble. He didn’t plan on staying anyway, now that he had found what he came searching for his intent was to return home to Crow’s Landing quickly.
He finally reached the entrance of Crow’s landing and as he reached the gate he leaned against it. A few spare coin and a good song during some drink let him pass through Daven’s Reach without too much trouble, but Volrok was exhausted from this venture, emotionally and physically. He knocked on the gate as hard as he could in hopes that someone would open the gates.
“Who goes there?” came a voice from the watchtower.
“Volrok “Battle-Born” Hinrich, currently under the employ of the Rangers of Crow’s Landing. I wish to return to my own bed.” he stated loudly, showing his shoulder drape. In a few minutes the gates opened and he made his way to his home towards the far end of the city. Once there he opened the door and sat down on the single chair in the house. He carefully began to unpack the bundle of bones from the rest of the pack, making sure not to drop any of the bones. After doing this Volrok instantly headed to the blacksmith, carrying the bundle.
Once there, he knocked on the door to the forge, hoping that the local blacksmith was still awake.
“What do you want? I’m closed…” said a gruff Richtcraig voice from behind the door. Volrok steadied himself and replied.
“I need to use the forge, it’s for religious purposes.”
The door cracked open and a single eye peered out at him, it looked up and down and then down at the bundle. The door then closed, quickly followed by rattling of chains.
“Come in brother.” said the weathered blacksmith.
Volrok didn’t hesitate, he moved into the forge and placed the bundle of bones on the anvil and began to pray. It was a long and quiet prayer, which is rare for those that follow Ulfkell. While Volrok prayed, the blacksmith placed a vented cast iron pan above the coals and another pan underneath it to catch the ashes. As soon as Volrok was done praying, the bundle of bones was placed on the vented pan and the flames began their job. Slowly the bones began to catch flame and turn into ashes, all the while Volrok watched silently. The blacksmith turned to look at Volrok and was going to comment but didn’t. He instead he left the room leaving the Íoclaochra to mourn.
Volrok stood there, watching the flames turn the remains to ash. The only sound that may have been heard other than the fire would have been the nearly silent sobs, of a warrior that had lost practically everything.