Category Archives: Tales from the Hinterlands

Events that take place in the Hinterlands outside Freehold.

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

October 2017 Epilogue

EpilogueRumors and News

Admiral’s Log; October 17, 2017 (W.R.)

We arrived in Freehold after the tolling of the bells, summoned by Freefolk Witches and Adepts. Freehold had already faced the mists and most of them survived. Through various methods, the Kings in Gold, Jade, Azure, Crystal, even the King in Black arrived in Freehold Proper.

The Datus then gathered for the first time in decades. Through a bit of theatrics and annoying bits, Kapitan Zaragoza revealed himself as the King in Crimson.

Yes, I wrote that correctly.

He’d been in hiding for… well, much longer than any of us expected. The other Kings knew but they kept it from us all — their own secrets were at risk here. Zaragoza explained the true tale of what happened at the Tower of Aruan one hundred years ago.

By the retelling of the Kings, Gabriella, the King in Gold was originally the King in Indigo but her fleet drowned in battle. The King in Gold was originally Riza, now fueled by betrayal and vengeance. The ritual the Datus attempted all those years ago was intended to destroy the Writhing Curse. Depending on who you ask, a number of things went wrong and it resulted in the spell backfiring.

The Datus were rendered unaging, Riza was gone, and Gabriella was dead — though the strength of her World-Lock returned her to a painful life. 

The Kings that gathered in town were the same Pintados of old – the ancient heroes of the Riverfolk, hidden in plain sight for one hundred years. They were working in secret against the Writhing Curse and had it known they were still alive, then it surely would have moved to stop them. During our visit to Freehold, the Datus assisted in various ways to ward or bolster the Freefolk.

When night fell, Riza sprung her trap. Her magics separated us and sent us to several hellish pocket dimensions. After the Freefolk fought their way through hell, we reconvened and found a way through the hungry mists to the Tower of Arauan.

After a fierce battle, Riza was painfully purified and the Writhing Maw was defeated. The Writhing Curse was abated… or so we thought. Now that I am ship-side, I have heard more reports. It is still out there, it is still claiming souls. Something has gone awry with the rite — was the King in Jade mistaken? Or is this another trick of Kristoff to keep us all at each other’s throats? Or perhaps, one of the Kings is in the employ of the Writhing Curse itself, playing at immunity while accursed?

There are so many questions now. Add to them the strange nightmare the Kings have been having… with the same strange, horrifying figure.

Fell portents aside. This has cost us all much and the Freefolk are not exempt. Indee Malvolen, once of the Jade Fleet, perished fighting the Writhing Maw as it came gnashing out of the King in Gold. She will be mourned and missed but never forgotten.

Spring awaits us all.

Rest well, my friend.

Gabi Laguna, Admiral of the Golden Fleet*

Gold speaks in all tongues and to all hearts

*Written by Nana McConnell

Rumor (anyone may read this)

Rumormonger skill only