Category Archives: Tales from Midworld

Events that take place in Midworld, outside of Freehold.

April 2019 Prologue

PrologueRumors and News

[LUKDRASSIL, JOTUNBRUD; APRIL 08, 2019 (WR)]]

Her very presence profaned the hallowed Greathall of Lukdrassil, moreso than the thousands of war dead and ancient cadavers that were stacked against its walls like firewood. Three dozen candle-flames did little to brighten the temple, flickering against the cold and the dark.

With her wraith-like form, her stride was without weight but it easily carried the fullness of her will and her purpose. Sif the Fleshless gave up her mortal coil and much more than that for this — a terrible vengeance against the Luccari that had systematically annihilated her people and her faith.

Several years ago, her followers within the Creed of Kyras had dwindled to a few hundred when the Limper made her Lector’s offer: know that those that had crossed you and betrayed you will walk away freely OR give up your flesh and your faithful to be avenged.

It was not an easy choice then, nor was it easy resisting it and killing the Ishtari necromancer for as many times as she did. But one evening, after she heard of the Luccari’s victory against the Sun Empire with help from the other Wodenson faiths, she knew that revenge was beyond her and her order alone. The Limper returned for a sixth time and the Kyrasar took Lector’s covenant and she ascended to the greatest heights of power thereafter. At least half of her order recoiled from the offer, but they now served the Kyrasar in undeath.

As she approached the waterless Well at the center of the Greathall, her regrets fell away. As she walked past the shattered skulls of a thousand Luccari heroes, her power burned darker within her. Vengeance was not yet hers in full — the Luccari still lived, Sigwyn still lived and the Reclaimers still drew breath — but this was a victory she had never hoped to gain.

The mood of those surrounding the Well were less sanguine than Sif’s. The Wolf-Witch and the Cruacha still struggled with the displeasure of their new circumstances while the Assassin was dispassionate as a gravestone behind her cracked bronze mask. Unlike Sif, their new Hungering State was “bequeathed” unto them by Lector himself, though the glory of it was beyond them at the time of their fatal gambit upon Lukdrassil.

The Immortal shambled into the Greathall mere minutes later, a Twilight Elf’s spiritual projection and an executioner trailing behind. Sif and the others knelt at their approach, though the Cruacha’s own ghoulish arm had to drag her down before she finally bent the knee. Even the candles dimmed at the Eternal Devourer’s arrival.

For all the power he had amassed, all the souls he had devoured, Lector dragged himself forward not as a conquering King that he once was, but gasping like a man with a gut wound. This individual had killed giants on a whim while still alive and entire kingdoms after he had died. But now he was reduced to eternal pain and endless hunger.

It was enough to drive even a god insane.

Sif spoke first. “We await your return, Master. As you have commanded, the war dead have been gathered and placed all around us”

The Wolf Witch nodded, her displeasure vanished in Lector’s presence. “The heroes and the ancestors of the Luccari will soon be at your command”

“The Callasine still have the Blood Harbinger.” the Assassin in the cracked bronze mask had a voice as solemn as a casualty list. “Until our forces and I retrieve her from them, they will hear of this unless you ward this area, Master.”

The Executioner behind the Immortal scoffed, hefting his weapon that was mainly a gigantic blade. “Let them hear of it. A convict’s knowledge of the headsman’s ax will not turn it from their neck when it falls.”

“All have retreated to Vargheim, the Luccari, Fir’bolg, Dammerung and Wodenson — but they have left their dead to us” The Cruacha reported in a harsh whisper. “They gather their forces there to rally and recover”

The Twilight Elf’s eyes burned with a hunger for vengeance that Sif knew. Projecting from his post in the Ixian mountain, this Elf and his people were wronged, just as she and hers were. “One by one, the Kingdoms of Midworld will fall”

When Lector stood before Well of Lucca, he waved a bloodied, filthy hand and grunted. The Executioner and Elf’s projection fell to their knees as thousands of souls leapt from the stacked corpses and from the sanctified grounds to burn upon Lector’s hands and crown. The Immortal’s cudgel clattered upon the greathall’s floor as he suffered from the screams and the sorrows and the indescribable power. The candles flared and died in the wake of the deathly rush.

And when the ritual was done a few hours later, Lector made a ghoulish sound that was part laughter and part gasp.

“…Rise,” he wheezed.

“Rise!” he demanded.

“RISE!!!” he ordained.

The six around him arose at the last screamed command. And they all knew without a doubt’s shadow that every unsanctified corpse in western Midworld rose with them to feed their own Hunger as walking corpses or hateful wraiths.

The candles of the room flickered back to life, bearing an eerie blue light.

“Soon…” Lector picked up his cudgel with a painless ease, knowing well that the agony would return soon enough.

“I will kill Nihilus myself.”

Out of Game Clarify: (Envoys and Hands should read this)
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

Grellken Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

Ixia Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

Jotunbrud Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

Kali-Ishtar Kingdom <good standing> 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
Stone Clan Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

March 2019 Prologue

PrologueRumors and News

[RUINS OF THE INTHIAN SPELL-TOWER; MARCH 04, 2019 WR]

The slaughter was such that even the sun shadowed its face from the crimsoned beach. The carrion-eaters feared even a single nibble upon the tempting feast before them — except the flies and the worms of course. The vermins’ incessant buzzing was a constant over the sound of crashing wave and the voices of the dying. Worst of all was the stench of opened wounds and ripped bowels– even the howling sea-wind couldn’t disperse its putrescence.

Troll and Gnome, Elf and Nightkin, lay sprawled, dismembered, or worse yet, alive but incapacitated as the insectoid Yao-Guai made their rounds. Whether basked in limpen sunlight or shadowed by boulder, shipwreck or monstrous cadaver, none escaped the demons’ gaze. They sought, they fed, and they slew. Most unfortunate were those that found themselves on the other side of a Spider-Wasp’s ovipositor — their suffering would be prolonged and more horrifying.

Years ago, Anubisath’s Arctic Star fell and reduced the Vicious City to a few rocks poking out of a corpse-ridden sea. Of that City, only the Inthian Spell-Tower survived the onslaught. Home and hive to the cult-magicians of the Qabbalim, it had been interwoven with defensive magics and runic energies so potent that even a falling boulder of ice could not shatter it.

Yet now it lay in ruins, as gnawed and shattered as a femur savaged by a ravenous hound. Its magics were undone with a grace and power that only one type of being could ever possess: the deific, horrific Immortal.

It is to the heart of these ruins, away from the buzzing coast, past warped flora and amidst broken brickwork, that the trio dragged their victim. The screams of the dying and the demon-fodder became distant.

Her bearded visage watching every side and every shadow, the First Daughter of the Yao-Guai led her comrades to the Seething Court. Behind her and dragging their gift with one monstrously large arm was a man once known as Terasu Shin, once revered as the King of Kenrei, now an infested corpse-puppet hopelessly in love with a horror beyond horrors. Trailing last was the Jack of Knives, formerly Qabbalim, formerly deceased, and now the greatest assassin-priest of the mistress they all served.

At their arrival, the Yao-guai Viziers parted to let them pass. Though thankfully rare on the battlefield, Yao-Guai Handmaidens were aplenty here, some veiled as a Sha-ir courtier, and a few even fanning their monarch with gigantic leaves. Spider-Wasps perched on ruined walls and broken pillars, buzzing songs to the Immortal that birthed them from quivering corpse-flesh.

“Mother”

“My Queen”

“My love”

Shin tossed their captive into the strange runic circle in front of the Immortal and they all knelt as one to her. Their monstrous minds were misted with pheromone and magics, thinking all three titles were one and the same. The three peered up to her and wept with despair — there would be nothing in the world that they loved more than she.

With all the pagentry of a ballroom host, Portia descended. She was as beautiful as she was terrifying, as graceful as she was mighty, and as vainglorious as she was deathless.

“Welcome,” she gestured to her Court. “Favored Son. I’ve been expecting you”

Their captive stood up, cloak and robes shredded and bloodied. He was gaunt and hollow, robbed of the dozen demonic parasites that armored him and gave him strength, wisdom, and spellpower aplenty.

“Portia.” he spat the name as a curse. “Or is it Ishri?”

“Ishri? Silly little Vallah, writing and gossiping about me. No, my sweet — it is Portia now. When you have power enough to kill a god and take their mantle, you too have power enough to change your true name. Moreover, you need not fear those who would know it — indeed, you need not fear me, my Son.”

“No! No! No!” he fought against the buzzing in his head and the toxins in his lungs. “You are not the Dark Mother! She…she…loves her Children.”

“Ah, my sweet, but I am! And I do! All my children love me and despair.

“Our mother is love,” spoke the First Daughter as she rose with the others. “Our mother is all.”

“My Queen is the Eternal Tide,” stated Terasu Shin, solemn as a mountain. “You cannot hope to stand against it and keep your feet.”

“Kneel before our Goddess, heretic.” The Jack of Knives snarled and drew plagued steel. “Your beachhead is gone, as is all of your sea-scorpions! Submit!”

The Favored Son, high-priest of the Dark Mother, screamed in defiance. He launched himself at Portia, if only to claw out one of her many eyes…if only to lay a single scratch upon her rune-carved carapace.

But swifter than sin itself, Terasu Shin caught him instead. The Favored Son was held fast and forced to kneel before the Immortal.

“Oh sweet darling, you had me dangling above three webs!” Portia clucked her tongue and counted out her options finger by finger. “I was to make you birth more of my babies, I was to have you join me, or I was simply going to feed upon you.”

Her prey screamed once again, from frustration and from the Kenrei King’s poisonous talons.

Her smile widened darkly and her eyes glimmered with a spidery excitement. “But instead, I will make an example of you.”

The Jack of Knives laughed cruelly while the First Daughter remained quiet. The buzzing of the Spider-Wasps and the mock whisperings of the Handmaidens melted into a sudden silence. Even the sun seemed to dim in the sky as Portia gathered Power to herself.

“Let me ask you a question, my dearest, sweetest High-Priest: do you know how Lector killed all the followers of Woden in one fell swoop?

Out of Game Clarify: (everyone should read this)
Rumors (anyone may read this):

 

Rumormonger skill only

January 2019 Prologue

PrologueRumors and News

[AT SEA, THE GOLDEN MASQUE; JANUARY 09, 2019 WR]

The masked figure in the corner of her shadowed quarters continued to babble, painting a grim picture of Midworld at a rate of a hundred words a minute. Only the King in Gold understood the maze of its words, but she had no doubt that the other regents and Kings would have their own methods of divining these current events, though they would likely be less efficient than the power of a World Lock.

“…Massacre at Graellengard…Slaughter of the Nemain…Shaerach, an Abbatoir…” The King in Gold translated as best as she could, plucking meaning from the gibbering chaos as it began to subside at last. For a moment, there was only the wooden creaking of ship hull and the rush of the sea against it.

Across the table from her, the King in Crystal frowned as he picked up runed-stone pieces from a pile to prepare for another game. The swaying of the waves beneath their ship bothered them little but they were disturbed enough by the news. He shook his head. “These Immortals have already dealt a blow to those Kingdoms deadlier than even any of us could, more than even the Solari or even you with your two World Locks. This Summit will hopefully provide us with some answers and some direction”

“The Immortals were defeated before by coalitions of entire armies, just as with Fang-zhara in the Stoneclaw Mountains”  From behind her mask, Gabriella peered at the runed tiles that were collected in her bandaged hands. The shifting of the seas beneath them made for the shifting of shadows as well.  “But what Tenebrous did to the Nemain Clanhold and what Lector did to Choir Shaerach are both unprecedented”

They played, though the game was far from their minds.

“Any news of this Nihilus, Iha*? They say that his very presence brings death to mortals for miles around”

“There have been clashes across Midworld, between him and them. But the result is the same, they flee from him and all mortals in the area die within the month, with only a handful spared. Only those with sufficient spiritual strength can withstand him, but it is not a privilege that everyone possesses”

“Doesn’t his Death Curse have a cure?”

The masked King nodded slightly. “The mineral is the only cure. But it is a resource that only comes from the mines near Freehold and not in quantities that would be remotely sufficient. Add to that, it would deteriorate within a month unless it underwent refinement”

He pushed his row of rune-stones forward and lay them so that their backs faced up, Water and Serpents –  a potent attack” Which would take more time and money, I presume? Surely the salvation of these people are far more than coin and hours, Iha?”

Nikolas was the oldest of the Riverfolk Kings and knew more tricks than all of them combined, but he was also predictable. Her row was of Turtles and Flame, a perfect counter to his bid. “Coin spent on these people is coin unspent on defending ourselves from the other Immortals and other evils of the world… like Kristoff and Kritek. It is an unfortunate arithmetic, but one I am tasked to account and to put forth. Your words will not sway me like they did the others”

The old man did not waver beneath her withering gaze. “We did what we needed to do: our Fleets saved the Labyrinthium from Portia’s –”

“We had the opportunity to end the Writhing Curse! We have a duty to save our people, our legacies, instead of that murderer and the rest of his red-handed killers!”

Her words hung in the air for only a moment before the knocking upon her door.

“My King!” the Golden Scribe’s voice was muffled by the wooden portal. “Port Dawson is in sight!”

“Thank you, Scribe” The King in Gold called to her aide while her companion and former mentor began to pack away the runed-stones. He took care not to touch her, extracting the stone tiles with a deftness beyond his age and putting them in the weathered box he usually carried.

She watched him wearily, eyes narrowed behind the golden mask that mirrored the dozen that now hung around the chamber. Minutes passed before she spoke. “Why did you even come with me? Are you tired of sailing on your own flagship?”

He smiled, knowingly and warmly. “I just thought you could use the company, Iha. Not many understand what you carry. Some think that a King must command but I’ve always thought that it was my task to listen”

Gabriella turned to the masked figure in the corner, mentally willing it to continue its report. “Listening is well and good, lolo**. But for this Summit, we will need more than that — we will need answers”

*Iha– a Tihluurani term of endearment, from elders to younger women

** Lolo — a Tihluurani word for “Grandfather”, sometimes used for elder close, non-filial acquaintances

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 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