Category Archives: Tales from the Hinterlands

Events that take place in the Hinterlands outside Freehold.

May 2017 Prologue

PrologueRumors and News

[THE HINTERLANDS NEAR THE SOULWELL; MAY 08, 2017 (WR)]

A Gnome stepped out from the Soulwell, blue flesh limned by pale moonlight. After several breathless strides, he collapsed unto his knees among the roots and the earth.

“I’ve returned.” His ragged fingers dug into gravel and dirt. “Even from death, I return! Is there no end to this torment?”

He was whole. His clothes, the beads around his body and even his blades – all were wrought anew by the Soulwell’s eldritch energies upon his reincarnation. Only the livid crossing scars upon his face remained of his past life and they remained there in his every incarnation, joining beneath his right eye – the eye that watched his children fall to a light-wrought blade.

He remembered who he was, even if his gods already forgot him*. No longer a sentinel, no longer a parent, no longer a Priest  – now nothing but the whisper of a whisper, an echo of an echo.

“…Memnocrathes…” The Entity rasped as it stepped around him. Its voice was as merciful as a butcher’s blade.

The Gnome remembered what he was. And what the Sun Elves did to his comrades and to his children, the Entity did to his faith. It was nothing but dust and ashes now, the bitter dregs of a once-flowing chalice.

“You did this!” He stared up at it, his hands curling into fists. “You made me do all of this! Every tenet, every code – broken, ruined, shattered! You even made me bring you to this gods-damned Soulwell!”

“Little thoughtling…” it rasped as its towering shadow blotted the moon’s light from his form. “The Orrery…”

He remembered what it wanted him to do now and the rage found him again, filling the spaces where faith had dwelt. His power was a tiny spark when compared to the thunder storm that was the entity, but he had weeks of torment to scheme and plot. The Gnome rose slowly, hands closing around the handle of a dagger in his belt. It was only a memory of a blade, but it was a hateful recollection from when the Solari first struck at Freehold long ago. In the mind of a Gnome, even thoughts were deadly.

“It’s gone, the Orrery. It’s her toy now – to bend or break as she chooses”

“I already knew, Thoughtling” It glowered at first, but then its light softened into cold mirth. One of its hands flexed bloody fingers. “Its power flows to me in rivulets…yet it pales when compared to the essence I wrest from the fallen.”

“But I now know this ‘Freehold’. I know that there is nothing here that can stop me — I have searched the memories and I know this to be truth. My purpose will be fulfilled — my duty will continue. All thought, all memory will be taken and archived until the Gods’ return”

“THE GODS ARE DEAD, ZAKARIEL!” Memnocrathes screamed and forest fell quiet to his voice. “They will never return and I won’t be your toy or Fate’s any longer!”

With every last ounce of his strength, he lunged at Zakariel and buried the Archon-bane dagger into its chest. But his foe flinched only slightly when the blade was driven home. With a single motion of its bloodied hand, it broke the Gnome’s arm and tore the dagger from its flesh.

The Entity’s wings fluttered behind it as it strode forth and grasped the Gnome by his skull to bear him violently unto the earth. Zakariel’s grip tightened as it spoke and Memnocrathes’ vain flailings slackened into an eventual stillness.

“Little Thoughtling, I have seen the raising of the seals and the falling of the Daemon. I have sifted through the memories of thousands upon thousands — even warping the thoughts of a broken Aethereal. 

Know then this — that your blasphemy is not new. Your rebellion is not novel. Your weaponry, all of it, in its futility, means nothing to the Archonis Celestia. I am one of the Gods’ true servitors, not some upjumped Aelfan!

And in the Archive I keep for them, you will not even be a footnote!”

When the Entity removed its hand from the Gnome’s face, his eyes saw nothing and there were only bloody wounds where his gems – his Kha – had been.

From amidst the shadows of the forest around the Soulwell, dozens of cross-scarred Gnomes followed Zakariel silently, blood still dribbling from the holes in their faces.

*A curse among the Servitors of the True Keepers – “May They forget you”

OOG Clarify: Every character that has ever performed Research or used the Analyze Item skill on the Enigmatic Orrery or otherwise Attuned themselves to it receives this as a vision as a very vivid dream Thursday night (May 11, 2017). These characters are aware of Memnocrathes’ surface thoughts and his final actions before his attack upon the Entity, they are even aware of the time of this occurrence.

 

Rumor (anyone may read this)

 

 

March 2017 Prologue

PrologueRumors and News

[A BASEMENT SOMEWHERE IN FREEHOLD; MARCH 21, 2017 (WR)]

After Freydis the Whip snorted the Spice off of the table, her eyes rolled back and her body shuddered as the effects took her. Her half-empty goblet splashed wine upon her dress, her thrall-bodyguard and the meeting table even as her cup-filler thrall moved to ensure she never reached sobriety.

“Eve, my dear Chemist” She slurred when her vision returned. “Lucca’s lies, you’ve certainly outdone yourself this time!”

The candle flames shrouded the Silver Elf’s face in shadow, but her displeasure was known. She furrowed her brow and leaned upon the table before her. “Evestine, not Eve. Spice is for the ‘clients’ — not for you”

“Evestine is right. You indulge too much. What if your slaves revolt?” Valac’s right fingers curled and uncurled into a fist but his voice was even and firm, as it was to all folk he spoke to — superior, victim and underling. He kept his eyes on the door to their basement hideout. “I’d hate to have to clean another mess”

“Relaaaax” Freydis gestured with her goblet, staining the table and their plans with a dark crimson. “We have been pulling record numbers all moon, and even the moons before that. As for my *thralls*… they would. Not. Dare. A. Thing. Am I right, sweetling?”

Her bodyguard nodded, stoic and quiet at her question, then shivered and scratched at his facial brand when the slaver turned away.

Everyone, except heavy-lidded Freydis, jumped to their feet, weapon in hand, when the door slammed open. A tall tattooed human stalked in, his wrathful visage marked with a black dragon. A smaller figure followed behind him, the troll’s eyes peering cautiously at every shadow.

“Boss Dagmar” Valac nodded to his superior as he and folk at the table lowered their weapons. His deft fingers produced an alchemy stick and begin to light it with his flint-sparker.

The human took his place at the head of the table. The troll found his own on the opposite side, a place for the newer members of the leadership – such as Evestine.

As soon as weapons were sheathed and breathing was calmed, Dagmar let loose his wrath. The cup-bearer had not a chance to react as poisoned steel swept through him and added blackening blood unto the table and the reports upon it.

“Fucking Kingslayer!” Dagmar’s fury was far from sated and it grated on his voice like a grindstone.

“Dagmar, you butcher! These thralls are expensive!” Despite her words, Freydis spoke with the ease of one accustomed to buying and selling lives for little and less. Her sobriety returned to her with the death of her thrall, but only just so.

His eyes bulged and he lashed out at the Jotunbrud but her bodyguard got in his weapon’s path. The thrall fell at her feet, wounds darkened and blighted. She did not even look down.

“Fucking Brotherhood!” With a mighty slam, he broke the table in half. Candlewax, splinters and soaked papers adorned the ground. Candles died in pools of spilled wine and blood. In the wake of his rampage, silence and darkness hung in the air.

Valac’s face barely was lit by the burning ember of his alchemy stick. “They’re clamping down, Boss?”

“They’re clamping down hard” The troll answered for Dagmar, conjuring a light of his own with spellcraft instead of artifice. “They’re hitting all our ops they can find, from Northwall to Breakwater. Passing Port Dawson is easy, even for me – but there’s blood on the streets. Our people’s blood”

The meeting began to talk all at once, disagreeing, complaining and otherwise filling the room with the clangor of their discontent.

“Doesn’t matter!” Dagmar’s voice blotted out the rest of the discussion and echoed across the darkened basement. “Evestine, we double production! Freydis, we double profits! Valac, we start killing people in the streets! And you, Mule, keep the lanes open and help Valac bring in our own set of killers!”

His gaze quavered for a moment. “We do this right and we do this now! Before He gets involved!”

The quiet settled in again, a silent dread filling the space left by Dagmar’s words.

Evestine spoke, the Elf’s arms folded and her voice betraying annoyance. “Doubling production is easy with what we have. But what of the Brotherhood? The Freefolk? What of the King-slayer?”

“I can help with the last, I think” The troll, Zaalamon, smiled viciously. “After all… before he set his sharks on me, I used to be one of them”

Rumor (Anyone may read this)

The Brotherhood of the Sword and Cross, hired policing force of Freehold, were seen putting up wanted posters that seek out a reward for the death or capture of Syndicate leadership. These figures have been identified thusly:

Dagmar the Butcher – current leader of the Syndicate

Evestine the Chemist – alleged creator of “Spice”

Freydis the Whip – wanted for over a hundred counts of slavery

Valac the Fist – head enforcer of the Syndicate

Zaalamon the Mule – for possession and movement of illicit items and components

Furthermore, it has been revealed that — as of the moment, possession of any type of Spice and its derivatives has been declared illegal within the boundaries of Freehold and towns affected by the Treaty of Freehold. The Brotherhood intends to confiscate and punish those found with these substances.

 

Rumormonger skill only

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.