Author Archives: Rules Director

May 2018 Prologue

PrologueRumors and News

[FORSAKE CATHEDRAL, SOMEWHERE IN THE HINTERLANDS; MAY 14, 2018 (WR)]

It was a holy place long ago, but few things survived the march of antiquity and the Demonic Entity’s desecration. Overgrowth now trespassed where engraved stone once stood and shadows replaced a muraled ceiling that once depicted a covenant between gods and mortals. It belonged to Him now, corrupted and stolen from silent divinities. Only two broken pillars and an altar remained of the hallowed house – and they were mockeries of the holiness they once radiated.

When the last of his disciples finally arrived to give the Demon his worship, there were precious fewer than there were before. Yet, he had called them from across the ends of Midworld, whispering into each fetid niche and benighted corner that served him. Where he once had tens of thousands, he had mere hundreds. Still — all that still lived, all that survived the destruction of the tome and the crucible of the Freefolk’s vengeance, arrived and bent the knee in turn. Even mighty Dmitri and a shape-stealing Skinwalker genuflected humbly before taking up their places beside the master of the Court.

In a twisted parody of a Dammerung Vespers, he addressed his congregation of killers and blasphemers from behind the corrupted altar. All knelt before their fell celebrant, except for two grinning Gnomes in the back.

“I have called and you have arrived. We are here to execute our greatest conquest upon Freehold and bring this land back to its true nature. For too long, the light has inflicted its tyranny upon us. For too long, we have kept our fangs unbared. Now is the time for vengeance, my servants…”

The Demon’s dark homily trailed off as a hooded figure entered the ruins, having navigated the illusions and traps that prevented its discovery for ages. The Court’s mastermind raised his right arm to halt Dmitri from advancing.

“Are you done talking? I usually let ‘em finish before I do my spiel. It’s the politic thing to do” the newcomer drew back his hood to unveil a sneering face riddled with runes and horns. The crowd encircled him as shadows before a candle.

“Who are you to stray into this my domain, little flame? Did you answer the call?” The Demon already smiled at the answer that he knew was coming.

As one, the congregation arose and encircled the newcomer, flickering shadows around a blazing candle.

“Me? I’ve come to offer a sacrifice to your ‘holy gathering’… in exchange for what I want”

“Pray tell, what does a member of the Brotherhood desire from the Court of Shadows?”

“The Brotherhood? Nah, I’m just Arcanamach now” The Sorcerer tilted his head to crack his neck and then surveyed the multitudes of villainy that surrounded him. “I want Freehold to burn and I’m here to tell you how you’re going to do it”

Out of Game Clarification: Those who have once been touched by the Dark Pact are vaguely aware of the Court meeting, having seen it in a few recurring nightmares. Its location remains elusive.

Rumor (anyone may read this)
Only those with the Rumormonger skill may read this
Clarification (everyone should read this)

April 2018 Prologue

PrologueRumor and News

[THE HINTERLANDS, 2 DAYS FROM PORT DAWSON; APRIL 5, 2018 (WR)]

The column proceeded slowly along the road to Port Dawson, trekking amidst a grey land of drizzle, mist and a vanished sun.

Her newly wedded husband rode beside her, chatting away with his cousin about his latest experiments with “turkey bacon”. Grugach Cu Gohrrim was always prone to amusing matters like that and that made him more tolerable than the affair itself. It was a political marriage rather than one of love, a joining of the most powerful Clans in the Bog – represented by the wedded couple’s closest of kin.

Love and affection mattered less to them as much as the support of their families…or what passed for a family among Clan Nemain. Aemon Mac Nemain did not believe in love nor was she inclined for anything beyond her research and her spellcraft. But Gru was tolerable, acceptable and even amiable and he found her much the same and more. In the end, everyone got what they wanted: Gru got acceptance among his war-like kin, Aemon was one step closer to her goal and the Clans received an alliance strong enough to shake the foundations of Morread. And of course, the couple had each other — which was more comfort than she expected from it.

Now that the wedding was over, the long journey back to Morread across road and sea awaited them. Breakwater was much farther than their original venue of Freehold, but she had convinced him and their families of the change – and judging by the rumors of what had just happened, she was right. The most arable of lands in the region lay in Morread’s northern border, split between the Gohrrim and the Jotunbrud Chainers and fattened by the constant bloodshed of infrequent raiding. That would be Aemon’s new home – though she did not expect to stay in it overlong due to the demands of her research. Perhaps, arrangements can be made for a change of scenery…

Grugach stopped and the column stopped with him. Despite the marriage and the alliance, both the Clans of Gohrrim and Nemain still regarded each other with some distance. Both had fearsome reputations and centuries of feuding that no amount of drink and merriment could absolve. It did not help that a fair number of Aemon’s cousins were burdened with no small amount of demonic or umbral grafts, becoming more horrific entity than elf.

Angry mutterings came from the back of the column, no doubt a Gohrrim clansman suspecting the other faction’s treachery. They were loud like that. A proper Nemain would seethe quietly rather than voice their disquiet, except for that ass-mouth Kelder (who was definitely not invited).

Aemon’s mind was quickly changed when Gru called for weapons. Both Clans drew swifter than an adder’s bite then faced away from each other, peering into the mist and rain and leafy boughs.

After a few pregnant moments, their doom revealed itself. It came for them quickly, as beasts, plants and frenzied Druids launched themselves upon the Bogfolk. The air was soon filled with warcries and howling and screeching. When her kinsfolk, new and old, began to turn on one another instead of the enemy before them – Aemon knew better than to stay. She grabbed Gru but was slapped off of her horse by a strength she had never seen from him.

As she strained to raise her ringing head from the mud, Aemon looked up to watch her husband stride toward her, an alien fury in his gaze. And then suddenly, he was gone — backhanded into the treeline by a towering monstrosity that was both wolf and man and neither. She called desperately for the energies of her spell, but her mind instead was filled by the words she had discovered in her latest research into the Druids:

Awaken the Sundering Storm!

Awaken the Ancient Fury!

He who breaketh the works of Men and Mortals,

Morrath the Destroyer!

 

Rumor (anyone may read this)
Only those with the Rumormonger skill only may read this
Only those with the Lorekeeper skill only may read this
Clarification (everyone should read this)

March 2018 Prologue

PrologueRumors and News

WITHIN THE NURSERY, SOMEWHERE BEYOND MIDWORLD

Shapes, Oaths and Laws — these were the tools of order used by Gods and Archons.

Creatures like the Demon were unbound by such trivial matters. He preferred the malleable word, the obscuring shadow and a lawless reality. Of course, he had uses for Pacts, just as even the greatest of liars and thieves had uses for steel. He always believed that those who cannot be constrained cannot help but also be contrary.

And so, when the Demon entered the Nursery, with rain and battle clangouring nearby, it cared little for the wards and runes that sought to keep it out. Once, he had the strength of a hundred thousand devoured souls to lend him power enough to turn the Wards. But without the Tome, older methods had to suffice. After all, had he not witnessed its creation thousands of years ago?

As he stepped through the spaces between spaces, he remembered the time when Mortals discovered runes and writ. They thought that they had found a way to forever preserve their words. “Here was a way to stay immortal” they believed “Our thoughts and our speech would last for as long as these writings would. We have defeated death!”

But even engraved stone and runed steel turns to dust and rust in the end. The ages themselves eat away at purpose and definition. And there is also the glory and power of Context. With it, words change their meaning. They can lose their worth.

It was in this way that the Demons turned the very Wards meant to keep him out of the Nursery against the place’s Warden.

Breaking the Warden was easy. Even her taciturn features showed shock when he arose from the darkness before her and shattered her back against the wall again and again. She held true, of course, but she failed in the end – just as he had foreseen.

Then, he sent the Warden tumbling back into Freehold – a message that the Demon hoped they would understand. In this case, the Context was right but the Freefolk were always too feebleminded to know when to quit and to surrender. Nevermind that so many of them drank power from the Demon hungrily and many more bought from his markets. And with their souls and their coin, he grew and festered in the underbelly of civilization.

Casting the broken Warden upon the doors of their precious Inn was merely a warning, naturally. It was always better to give the warning first, for the spineless many that would be dissuaded by it and flee instead of fight. It would be they who lived while the brave died by the droves — as it always had been with the Demon.

When the Warden returned to do battle once more, the Demon was only slightly surprised. He should not have been. Was she not once Freefolk? Had she not sacrificed everything to contain the evils of this place? Had she not even deny herself the rest of the Afterlife to save her kin?

It was natural then that the fly would return to the spider’s web — foolish, weak and resolved, to be bound by him and crippled. The Warden was the Nursery after all – it would not do for the Nursery to be destroyed. He had work here to do and it was drudgery of the worst sort.

In the end, he had never meant to breach the Nursery. He had never meant to unleash its inmates upon Midworld. Destruction and desolation were never his goals – only his tools. Yet, the Freefolk had forced his hand, just as the Justicar had done decades ago.

They put him to this.

After the destruction of Freehold was over and done, the Demon would move on and start anew. Eternity was a long time and the only deathless thing in Midworld was chaos.

Rumors (anyone may read this)

Callas Selvarion Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Fir’bolg Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Gotterdammerung Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Ixia Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

Jotunbrud Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

Kali-Ishtar Kingdom only
Labyrinthium Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Malak Travak Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Pendrakken Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Riverfolk Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only