Category Archives: Tales from the Hinterlands

Events that take place in the Hinterlands outside Freehold.

October 2018 Prologue

Tab titleNews and Rumors


Leaning back upon her hinged swivel-chair, Penelope Gold-Tongue ran her fingers through her braid, brow furrowed with thought.

Although outside was bright with the light of an early fall afternoon, her office in the Iron Kingdom’s Freehold enclave was occluded with thick steel bars and plain curtains and lit with artificer lanterns. It was once filled with awards, statues and other artifices worthy of the Iron Kingdom’s envoy. But she had sold most of the more ostentatious items in financing the freedom of Malak Travak and securing a home for herself and her daughter. Instead, it was filled with books and notes from her hirelings’ investigations.

Beneath her, the hinged, swiveling chair was the only thing of monetary worth in the study now, a one of a kind gift from Bolt Anvilsmith of the Golemic Advancements Guild. It was comfortable enough and the blankets draped over it and over her provided her with some solace after long hours of perusing notes and interviewing her hirelings.

But more valuable than the chair were the multitude of notes and tomes that she had accrued across a few short years. She was no scholar or academic – but she was skilled in the tallying of numbers and the management of an office. She used those skills and spent her coin for the last few years toward the accomplishment of one goal: the destruction of the Immortals.

Her people bore the scars of their depravities: the death of thousands were at the feet of Fang-zhara during her initial invasion of the Iron Kingdom and the more recent rampage during Malak Travak’s entombment. Lector’s undead minions were much a part of the latter… though that Immortal and his Blood Lords had injured Penelope in a more personal manner – on occasion, she touched her stomach and grieved for the child that the Blood Lords broke within her.

No – all of them needed destruction. Even “gentle” Vallah was suspect, only tolerated by her because of his own declaration that they were all abominations and needed to be destroyed permanently.

The letter on her desk folded into itself without her fingers to keep it open. Penelope had read it dozens of times but the words upon it remained difficult to grasp – the, plagued and ravaged town of Northwall now marched south to Freehold, reanimated and made hungry by Lector’s unholy magics.

The other missives and notes on her desk told similar stories: that Lector himself was seen in Freehold and driven back by the Freefolk and that the Brotherhood’s internment facility was attacked by a gigantic Lich.

A reckoning was upon Freehold once again, but she was so close. She stopped herself from tugging her braid in frustration.

Penelope was no warrior. She only had healing magic. She could not possibly fight this like They could.

But she had other ways, she was an Iron Dwarf after all. She had pen and paper and more capital to burn. The Iron Kingdom Envoy moved the letters aside to unbury the document beneath them. With a short flourish, she completed and signed the sale of the swiveling chair. It was a pittance of its truth worth and she already knew where she would spent it on – but it was an evil most necessary.

After all, Penelope had already lost one child to the Immortals. She would burn a hundred such chairs and all the comfortable blankets upon them if it meant that her daughter would have a future of safety and prosperity. And while the Immortals reigned upon Midworld, no such future existed for anyone.

A knock on her thick, steel banded door freed her from her ruminations. The voice calling her name outside was familiar, so she made to open it.

For the first time in days, Penelope smiled at someone that was not her daughter. “Eva Caterwaul – what information do you bring for me, today?”

Rumor (anyone may read this):

Lorekeeper skill only:

August 2018 Prologue

PrologueRumors and Clarifications

‘At Least’ —  those are this month’s words

Rodrigo Zapatero heard the curtain beads clatter as his sister entered the tiny kitchen. Tierra was kind enough to let him stay here after his shop was demolished by Fang-zhara’s golems in last month’s invasion so he did his part whenever he could, at least.

“I did not know you had already returned” Tierra’s voice was as low and tired as the sputtering flames beneath the cauldron, as the flickering fires of the candles. “The children are asleep. How was work, Rodrigo?”

“Only getting worse” he sighed, elbows on the dining table of the small room. He rubbed his aching, bandaged fingers together. “People still want their shoes and their leathers mended. But they have not the money to pay. So, I’ve been getting foodstuffs and baubles”

“The farmers are still growing food, at least. Things are difficult with this thing around Freehold that’s stopping us from leaving.”

He upended his bag unto the table, spilling out shrunken and shriveled vegetables and hard bread. “Everyone is talking about what that bright wall is. Lots of folks are putting the blame on the Sun Elves…but no one really knows.”

Tierra picked up an onion and held it closer to a candle. The farms were saved but the price of their salvation was paid to a monstrous, treacherous Witch – so said the people in the tavern. That much she believed, but she and her children were alive…at least.

“We’re not starving” Rodrigo did his best to sound hopeful but found it harder to do than shape leather with ravaged fingers.

“But we will be soon” Tierra started cutting with a nearby knife, starting with the onion and then moving on the rest while she spoke. Shriveled or not, it needed to go into the cauldron with the rest of the foodstuff she traded for her husband’s things. “I heard that the Emerald Chalice and Swift Shipping Guilds have opened their stocks and reserves to the needy, but there is only so much food here. Hinterlanders line the streets of the north and west markets, trapped in town and hungry”

“And desperate?” He was suddenly aware of the weight of the club hanging from his belt.

“No, they left me alone. But this can’t last for long”

“It can’t. It won’t” His fists hurt as he clenched them. “But I know that we will endure this and see this through! There are people out there that will make things right for Freehold!”

She stopped cutting and her voice was a whisper as she signed herself with the symbol of the Seven United. “You don’t mean Primus do you? Celia said that she saw his cultists skulking in the streets, yesternight”

Rodrigo looked at her aghast. “No, no, that’s terrible. No- I mean, the Freefolk! They’ve beaten Primus before and the rest of those other monsters. They even defeated the three Immortals last moon! They’re practically gods and they were scattered like crows! They’ll fight their way out of this!”

Tierra finished cutting as he raved and dropped her work into the simmering interior of the cauldron, handful by handful. She felt, rather than heard, the children stir at his voice– but she couldn’t find it within herself to rebuke her brother.

“And if they don’t?” she said quietly into the cauldron.

“Then it would up to us?” He grinned at her and patted his club. “And no one wants that to happen”

Clarify (everyone should read this):
Rumors (anyone may read this):
Rumormonger skill only
Researcher, Aura-sight, Spirit-sight and/or Lorekeeper skills only:

July 2018 Prologue

PrologueRumors and news


With a full moon illuminating the warm summer night, Marlowe stepped into the threshold of the farmhouse’s ruin with nary a sound. With precise claw and godly skill, her Mistress had fused her flesh with metal and power. She was stronger and swifter now, even more than she ever was…even more than she ever could be. What was once a young human woman from the Pariah of Kali-Ishtar was now the keenest knife in the arsenal of Fang-zhara, the Eternal Architect.

She found her Mistress standing over what used to be the farmhouse’s fireplace. Everything else from the building had been broken and scattered. Neither wall nor roof remained where they had been, with only burnt beams and shattered stone to mark what had once been a home. When rain would come, its fall would sizzle and steam over flame and forge — but there was no rain tonight, just a clear night sky and a bright moon.

The Immortal had turned the fireplace into a workshop in the span of an hour. The bright fires of her creation cast long shadows into the night and illuminated the silhouette of her horns and her wings. She could have been mistaken for a statuesque Nightkin from behind, but for her green scales and a palpable aura of peril that surrounded her. From this place, Fang-zhara forged soldiers and servants, horrors and monsters, to fight, work and die for her as she wished.

These augmentations made Marlowe understand her place in things, of course, which is why she knelt as soon as she came close enough. “Mistress, there is no sign of the Deceiver”

Fang-zhara put down her tools and stepped away from her forge. Her voice quavered only slightly as she hissed: “I know he is near. I can sense his lies!”

“Then I have failed you once again. Let me be punished according to your will”

“No” Firmly yet gently, the Immortal’s clawed hand clutched Marlowe’s chin, firmly yet gently, and guided her to standing.

“Primus’ lies will never again harm me and mine. You still have a role to play in his doom, Dearest” The Immortal’s words burned with both hatred and affection.

“Must we ally ourselves with Portia and Tenebrous? What is their role in all of this?”

Her questions gave Fang-zhara pause. It seemed to Marlowe that her Mistress had much to think about these days.

After a moment, the Immortal paced as she spoke, giving some voice to her mind’s whispers. “We have common enemies and the Deceiver is not the only one. Furthermore, we have come to an agreement and they have promised me the Vashalla beneath Freehold and the Hinterlands”


“In this era, it is called Mercurium. It is a rare, powerful mineral and very useful in my craft. In all of our crafts, in fact”

Marlowe nodded but her uncertainty remained with her. “I see. And the others, they will let you have it after Freehold has been defeated?”

Fang-zhara could not help but laugh then. “Oh, Dearest! Of course not!”

“Then why help them, Mistress?” Marlowe’s hands balled into fists, with her golemic arm seizing with supernal strength. Within her, the golemic heart filled her with elemental energies as the thought of the Mistress’ betrayal brought her boundless wrath. Had she not suffered enough? Had she not seen enough lies?

Fang-zhara turned back to her work, her visage lit by the glow of the forge. “Because I will break anyone who will keep me from what is mine, even another Immortal”

Rumors (anyone may read this)
Rumormonger skill only
Lorekeeper skill only

Clarify: Those with the Mark of Fang-zhara are aware of the exchange in the prologue, in bits and pieces, as though a dream, although the Marked characters are fully aware of its reality.