January 2017 Prologue

PrologueRumors and OOG Note

[DEEP IN THE HINTERLANDS; JANUARY 7, 2017 (W.R.)]

“This is weakness” Jarl Thronggar spit on the ground. It was a moonless night but shimmering golden light illumined his snarl. “Better to flatten them while they stand, as oats before the blizzard! We are the servants of Winter are we not?”

The Winter Wolf growled with him, as if echoing the Jarl’s discontent.

Around them, five thin pillars of golden power rose from the ground. Every now and then, they would pulse power into the sky.

“There is no weakness in following the Witch-King of the North and the West!” The tall Birdkin stepped toward him, brandishing no weapon but his resolve. “He gives us direction, just as he gives us strength! Just as he will save us from chaos, from the curses of the Immortals and from the brutal injustice of the Solari!”

Such words would have cowed a lesser being, but not a Jarl from Jotunbrud. The Chained Kingdom followed strength and since Anubisath proved the strongest, then he would be followed above all. But Jotunbrud was a land that culled weakness from mortals and weak mortals from the world–mortals such as this Beastling.

“What would you know of the brutality of the Solari, you unblooded fool?” Thronggar’s laugh was a harsh one, like twisted steel upon steel. “I have seen my lands and my brethren burn from their unholy magics.”

Horusath narrowed his eyes and put his beak inches from the Jarl’s nose. “What they’ve done to your pithy people pales when compared to what’ve done to m–“

The Gletschenschreitener’s sudden, looming presence silenced their bickering as it strode from beyond the treeline. Blood stains coated its gigantic shield and ponderous frame, likely the evidence of its grim work on the local farmsteads of the Hinterlands.

“…HRRN…” it grunted and even the Winter Wolf took back a pace from its bulk, choosing instead to patrol the threshold. All arguments, all bickering seemed miniscule to the Gletschen and its sweeping gaze.

Jarl Thronggar returned a cursory grumble then stalked off to his task: channeling over one of the golden staff-like pillars to empower it. For all his brutishness, he was a skilled spell-user, masterful in the focusing and directing of his energies. Thus was the tradition for many of the Rune-Eater Warband of Jotunbrud, who esteemed spellcraft and magic over simple brawn.

For all the power it required, the Witch-King’s plan was as subtle as it was cunning and it allowed them to bypass the Spell Wards that would normally protect Freehold from a Battlefield-Scale Ritual. Their vengeance would be long in coming, but it would be no less as sweet – Winter was patient after all.

Horusath did not do the same, standing his ground instead and peering at the Gletschen. He found a fracture-line on its shield, one that was likely much bigger a few minutes ago but grew smaller by the second. It was a curious thing, considering that luckless farmers could not possibly harbor the strength necessary to even chip ice off of this monstrosity. Only an immense amount of power emitted in a sudden burst would do such damage – and yet, it was naught but a pittance to the gigantic beast.

“What happened?”

Its gaze locked unto Horusath and though he was Hand to the Witch-King, he felt smaller than even the merest of hatchlings. This was the Gletschenshreitener after all, Dragon-wrought and put to nigh eternal slumber by the ancient ones. It would only grow stronger and stronger while it remained awakened, while it supped upon the power around it. The creature hunched toward him, bloodstains gleaming in the golden light.

The creature rumbled as though to laugh. Its fist moved slowly toward him then opened to reveal a scrap of black cloth with a white cross that fluttered off into the winter wind.

Its azure eyes followed the scrap till it vanished into the night wind, then returned to look upon Horusath with the lifeless apathy of a butcher choosing the next of the herd for his chopboard.

“…NOTHING…”

Rumor (anyone may read this):
Rumormonger skill only
Hunter-gatherer skill only

Out of Game note: Until this scourge has been quelled, Survivalists cannot get their usual Herbal components at the beginning of the Month. Those who have been Chosen and Heralds of the Season for this year are not subject to the same penalty for their seasonal benefits — however, they still do not get the Herbal components at the beginning of the month for being Survivalists.

If Anubisath’s minions are allowed to run rampant, this may persist for several months.