Category Archives: Tales from the Hinterlands

Events that take place in the Hinterlands outside Freehold.

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)

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.