Category Archives: Tales from the Hinterlands

Events that take place in the Hinterlands outside Freehold.

February 2018 Prologue

PrologueRumors and News

[DEEP IN THE HINTERLANDS; FEBRUARY 01, 2018 (WR)]

As the bonfire burned and sizzled, light and darkness danced along the log walls that encaged the area. In daylight, the fire circle would have been a meeting place for rangers and woodsfolk to discuss matters or even celebrate harvest feasts beneath sunny skies. The stones and logs here were for sitting and congregating, though they all encircled the firepit itself, just as the walls encircled the place entirely.

Tonight, the fire circle was for deviltry and dark deeds. The horned figure in front of the bonfire remained seated upon a stone when Dagmar and Zaalamon entered from beyond the walls. They did not fail to note that sweltering heat that pervaded the air nor that the area around the bonfire remained dimly lit despite its flame’s size.

A black stone and a dragon tattoo marked Dagmar’s twisted visage – he seemed eternally wrestling with a hateful wrath. In contrast, Zaalamon was quiet and cool-blooded, moving with confidence and without need for the brutish restraint that characterized his colleague. They knelt before the horned figure, head bowed and neck offered in abeyance.

Dagmar spoke first, in a bitter growl. “Dimitri, we failed the Master. The Justicar’s armor is still out of our hands – perhaps, they are with his slaves. The Freefolk… got in the way yet again”

Zaalamon’s grin crept into his words, slippery and oil as the Troll that spoke them. “But we know who the Lightwalkers are. It is only a matter of time before they are vulnerable again. And when they–”

“The Master already knows of your failure, just as he knows that a piece of the Archon’s armor has already made its way into the hands of the Kingslayer”The horned figure did not look at them when they spoke to him, gazing instead into the depths of the flame.

Even Zaalamon’s smile slipped at the sound of that name. “How did he know?”

“The Master has his ways. He has over a thousand darknesses in his employ, did you forget?”

Dimitri’s eyes left the flame and it immediately dimmed to mere embers. The dance of light and shadow fell to a standstill thereafter but the heat remained – indeed, it only intensified.

Standing up, Dimitri fixed his gaze on the pact-bound souls in front of him, eyeing them like a butcher deciding which of his livestock was for slaughtering. “Remember that you are all morsels to him and he can devour you with but a thought. The moment it no longer pleases him that you live and that you FAIL, he will snuff you out”

Dagmar and Zaalamon were dripping in sweat. Gravel cut into their palms and knees. Worst of all, every instinct they had screamed at them to stand and fight or scream and run.

But they remained prone, with only the crackle of dying flame to count the long passing of moments.

After an eternity, there was a sound like deep, mirthless laughter from around them. And they knew then that their time of sentencing had passed them by… for now.

“Find the armor” Dimitri turned back to the bonfire and it flared up renewed. The heat seemed to recede and the strange shadowed light replaced the utter darkness that was. “Bring it to the Master while you still amuse him. Drown Freehold and the Brotherhood in their own blood if you must”

When they left the fire circle, Zaalamon turned back one last time and could not help but wonder how he had first failed to notice the shadow that towered right behind Dimitri.

*Out of Game Clarification: Those with the Dark Pact are vaguely aware of the Court meeting, having seen it in a few recurring nightmares. They are also plagued by a malevolent darkness that haunts their nighttime hours and incites them to dark acts.

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

 

January 2018 Prologue

PrologueRumors and OOG Clarification

[HINTERLANDS, ONE DAY FROM FREEHOLD; JANUARY 8, 2018 (WR)]

Brother Wisk and Brother Grim were like crows, calling to each other with each corpse they found hanging or chained to a tree. This was the Hinterlands, however and there wasn’t much left to find after the wolves had their fill. They may as well have been crows, their black garments only betrayed in hue by a white cross upon their chests– the symbol of their mercenary order.

Away from the woods and back on the road was the charred skeleton of a merchant wagon. Beside it, Brother Ghost removed his ash-covered gloves and wiped his brow with a bare hand. It was a mild day in a winter so harsh, you’d have thought Anubisath was still alive to threaten Midworld. With the sun out and this bright, the snow and the Brotherhood of the Sword and Cross were sweating. He stood up to face the approaching sound of crunching snow.

A few moments later, Wisk and Grim broke through the treeline to squelch the road’s mud beneath them. Wisk bore a troubled expression whereas Grim’s was a calmer, almost jovial visage. Where Ghost’s gloves had ash, theirs had blood and they had that faint slaughterhouse smell of a “thorough examination”.

“No weapons, no food. Everything else is burned” Ghost slapped his gloves against his thigh.

Wisk shook his head with a grimace. “The Gilded Albatross isn’t going to be happy. Those are their merchants, their teamsters and their guards strung up in the woods”

“Tortured” Grim was smiling when put a twitching right hand upon the tome at his side. It stilled shortly thereafter, leaving blood on the cover. “Mutilated. Broken. Again”

“Same as the other travelers then? They’re not just hitting merchants, they’re hitting whoever they can find”

“Yeah. And it’s the same each time” Wisk spit on the ground. “The torture, the recruitment and then the killing and robbing, these ‘Heavenfall Sons’. Some folk will do anything for a ‘good cause’”

“As opposed to us Brotherhood that do anything for money” Ghost’s chuckle was unbidden and bitter.

“Not like this though. Not for no reason either. Foraging and shakedowns are one thing and a thing of the past. But this is dark work – the cuts we saw on those bodies… this isn’t just banditry”

The tallest of the black-garbed mercenaries patted his Tome softly when the others turned to him for counsel. “Sounds about right. The dead said much of the same”

“And? What else did they say?”

“They also spoke of a Purifier. A seeker and destroyer of Sin. The Sons of Heavenfall venerate and emulate his work in destroying all with sin. They said to the victims, only in this way can the world be saved from the onslaught of more falling stars” Grim was looking at neither of them, staring into space.

Ghost and Wisk exchanged looks then the former scratched the back of his head. “Really? How’d you get all that info?”

Grim’s gaze met theirs, but his expression betrayed an untroubled lack of disturbance. “Oh, I asked.”

Rumor (anyone may read this):
Rumormonger skill only

Out of Game Clarification: Those Kingdoms who have been struck by Anubisath’s “Frozen Stars” were not destroyed but severely damaged. Player Characters from those Kingdoms who were struck by Frozen Stars do not gain Patronage at the beginning of this year– such resources are expended by the Kingdom in recovery efforts. If such a Kingdom stabilizes from the damage, then next year may yield Patronage as normal.

However, such Player Characters do not lose Kingdom Standing from this incident (though other incidents may inflict such a loss). Their Standing increases or decreases as normal as tales of their deeds spread across their homelands.

Interlude 2017-2018

InterludeRumors and News

[ANNIE’S INN, FREEHOLD; JANUARY 01, 2018 (WR)]

Jade Glimmerglint doused the first of the candles as the dark above begun to lift. The dining room was empty, a strange sight in any other season but a common one this winter. Even this early, it would be full of patrons and customers. But many of the Freefolk made their way home to look after or to look for friends and family. It was an especially strong draw for her after she heard what had happened to Malak Travak. But as that situation went, there was no going back to her homeland – there were too many tons of rock between her and her family. She had only her hopes and her prayers to the Maker that they still lived.

But Malak Travak was a distant worry, though it was especially felt in her solitude. Indee was… gone. And her death was so… sudden, like the flash of lightning.  There were others that she hired to assist in the lack, but there was no one like that Riverfolk. Even Cobb came to help and it was appreciated (begrudgingly).

The Ixians called it finding Silver within Shadows. And there was some good to be found in the midst of all this. Anubisath was gone – slain utterly and irrevocably with the kind of justice that the Maker would inflict. Except it was not gods that did this, it was the Freefolk, with the terrifying strength and stubbornness that she had seen time and time again.

Nevermind that Kritek, a veritable murderer and cannibal, was the recipient of the Northern World-Lock – it would be centuries before he had the same power Anubisath ever did. At least, that’s what Jade hoped. But there was peace at least, made even more beautiful by its fleeting nature in this place.

Long ago, she had hoped that her stay in Freehold would be a short one. But now, it was a home beyond home. Jade knew people here and even loved a few. Malak Travak was far away, but she bore that lack better than she thought she did.

Who would have thought that courage could be so contagious?

She looked to the remainder of the candles in the dining room. It was time for them to be doused but she was not afraid – there was a new day coming and soon, the Freefolk would be back in strength… with all their noise and tomfoolery.

Maybe their strength would be contagious as well.

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 or Rumormonger skill 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