Category Archives: Tales from the Hinterlands

Events that take place in the Hinterlands outside Freehold.

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.

 

October 2016 Prologue

PrologueRumors and News

[DEEP IN THE HINTERLANDS; OCTOBER 10, 2016 (W.R)]

In the shadows of a gnarled oak tree, the night air parted like a curtain and from beyond it stepped a tall figure that was more shadow than flesh. Keeping one arm raised, he held the portal open as an army of the dead entered the Hinterlands. Some were corpseless beings, gliding through the air. Others were gaunt and hungry for flesh. Yet all were bereft of life and made animate by fell magics.

The last to exist the portal was a stocky human, garbed with black armor and with pallid flesh that betrayed his undead status. He nodded to the portal keeper as he passed – the tall one frowned but lowered his arm. The aethyric rift closed shortly afterward

“Gerion!” a woman and two men approached the stocky man, their skin pallid in a similar manner. From their number, the man clad in wolf furs and tattooed features sneered. “Is this all that you’ve brought? You promised –”

With a touch to the tome he carried with him, Gerion Vard silenced the speaker.

The tattooed man stopped in mid-speech then fell to the ground, clutching his guts. He gasped. “Pain?! But I’m… we’re…”

“Undead?” Gerion let his eyes wander over the others, the tall shadowy creature joining their ranks. Whatever dissent or discord there were had disappeared. “Liches? Or close enough to one?”

“What have you done to us?” the other man spoke quietly, disgust in his tone. A black and green object jutted from his chest, as though he was run through from between his shoulder blades with it. “You’ve each given us our tasks and we’ve completed them, except for the idol –but  you owe us at least the truth of your motives”

“One by one, I have looked for you – sought you out by the merest whispers of rumor, by the smallest pieces of your ruin. And I have awakened you from your dooms—“

The woman whispered, the black whorls on her face seeming to move with her shadows. “–For vengeance”

“Aye” Gerion moved his hand away from his tome and the prone man stopped writhing. “For vengeance…yes, that is part of it. I may no longer be Pendrakken – but that word still means EVERYTHING to me. As it should to you all – each of you found doom at the end of the Freefolk’s blade, at the end of their machinations. Some of you were even betrayed by those who should have sided with you. I know those times well”

“But how? What allowed you this spellcraft? All of us were done! We were beyond! And you ripped us back from our rewards!” The tattooed lich raised himself up from ground and pointed to the tall shadowy figure. “How did you raise him? How did you raise us?”

“Persistence. Patience. And your own hatred in the matter at hand – but never mind the how of that. Each and every one of you have talents that are integral to my plan: special talents, special abilities. And all but one of us knows well the art of necromancy. Our knowledge and expertise combined will be greater than the mere sum!”

“Why?” The man with the shard in his chest stepped forward, his voice laced with both threat and puzzlement.

Gerion looked beyond them, eyes focused in faint light of a distant hearth-fire. “This is more than revenge. My tome of ordeals has showed me a vision: an hour of doom approaches, a day of black fire upon us that will burn the every earth. And the Freefolk will not be able to stand against it, they will simply go forth and die. They were strong enough to defeat us, but their might will quail before ours – we who are reborn in undeath and hatred! We who are stronger in our new deathless bodies and bound to me, in service to the greater good”

“Greater good?” It was the shadowed one’s turn to sneer.

Gerion ignored him, keeping his eyes fixed on the lights of the frontier town.

“In order to save Midworld – and everyone living that we still hold dear — we must destroy Freehold”

Rumor (anyone may read this): In some parts of Freehold, the month of October is called the Reaper’s Moon or the Hungry Moon. It is a time of harvest, but also a time of fear. Many are the terrible memories and horrifying nightmares born of this month. Except for the foolish, the brave and the ill-intentioned, most townsfolk and hinterlanders alike bar their doors at the setting of the sun.

The winds are colder this year. Yet, they are warmer than they could be say the tellers of tales and gatherers of gossip. The heroes and mercenaries of Freehold stopped a winter spirit corrupted by an entity known as Anubisath and defeated it before it could bring about an early frost.

Rumormonger skill only:
Aura-sight skill or Spirit sight skill only:

 

August 2016 Prologue

PrologueNews

[Hinterlands north of Freehold; August 8, 2016 (WR)]

For the first time in decades, Maravalarien was cross. The Gnome had ruled a third of the Inthian Spell-tower in the Labyrinthium and had worked hard (and killed harder) for the position. And now, like a common apprentice, she waited.

Mara looked at the assembled Qabbalim behind her and felt disgust. Arrayed were some of her strongest disciples and beside them were some of her most bitter rivals, followers of Dark Mother, disobeying dictum and orders by joining her. These were not merely believers in the Inthian god of plagues and vermin – these were her most fervent (and crazed) worshippers, heretically believing themselves higher and holier than the High Priest.  Much like Jack of Knives himself.

If it were not for their own value to her, she would have set them all to flame. Instead, she waited for “contact” and mentally recounted her pacts.

Jack of Knives had promised her new demons to study and control

She had promised herself a look at the powerful entity from within the Vault of Slithering and Seething.

And she had promised her Vault-locked masters their vengeance…

Perhaps it was not the passing of time, but merely a glance in the right direction that brought Jack of Knives to them. The sorcerer had not come alone – the buzzing of wings filled the air and spined creatures lurked in the shadows nearby.

“You have arrived and you are late in the hour,” She snapped at him, fury piercing through discipline. “The rumors have it that the demon is dead, as is the Sixth Daughter of the Yao-guai. You have much to report and much to answer for.”

Her head apprentice stepped forward, his silver collar glinting in the moonlight and menace in his smile. The eyes of the bulky Minotaur were ablaze with hellfire and a love of destruction.

“She is not what we believed,” Jack spoke haltingly, one of his blood-soaked hand gripped his shoulder.

Mara eased forward, curiosity overcoming caution. “What is she then?”

Jack of Knives gasped and screamed, falling and writhing on all fours.

Dark Children and Diabolists watched as his form contorted and stretched. They listened as his bones and his flesh made way for new growths. Twin barbed limbs ripped themselves from his body to sit atop his shoulders.

“She… is so… much… MORE!” He rose slowly, his voice charged and his gaze ravenous.

“By the Vault…” Mara stepped back as Jack leapt upon her Minotaur apprentice and feasted on his liquids and essences. Jack used his six limbs to hold the Nightkin down and took his fill.

“It is as he says,” From the night sky, a woman clad in blue and white descended – her back adorned with gossamer wings. “The Seething Mother is more than a mere demon lord – Mother Portia is our salvation, our freedom, our goddess reborn anew.”

“Fallen Sky…”The Gnome’s eyes widened in recognition, and then narrowed in wrath. The Dark Children fell prostrate in abeyance. Meanwhile, the buzzing gained a hurricane’s volume as winged vermin fell from the sky to land upon her screaming apprentices.  She set herself against Jack of Knives. Ruinous magic coursed through the Gnome as she began her conjurations. “You pathetic turncoat! You would dare betray me? I’LL BURN YOU ALL TO CINDERS!”

Her spell was interrupted when spines pierced her flesh from afar. The air was filled with screaming and praying and buzzing.

Jack wept blood and his throat was raw with pain and hollowness, “All shall love her and despair.”

Rumor (anyone may read this): In the town of Northwall, the Freefolk were not only witness to the “rebirth” of the Seething Mother, but also a party to the destruction of one of her strongest minions: the Sixth Daughter of the Yao-guai. Even the Seething Mother was no match for these heroes and mercenaries — they smote her swarming form into the ground and scattered her forces like roaches before sunlight.

Near Freehold, flying spidery monstrosities have been seen and a few townsfolk have complained of strange whispers of power in their souls. Chanting has been heard in the woods, verses to “Dark Mother”, Inthian God of Plagues and Vermin, though further investigation has proven fruitless so far.

Labyrinthium or Rumormonger only: