Category Archives: Tales from Midworld

Events that take place in Midworld, outside of Freehold.

July 2017 Prologue

PrologueRumor and Lore

[VIGIL, IN THE LABYRINTHIUM; JULY 1, 2017]

The thousand year-old balete tree was not the tallest, but it was the widest. The lodge itself was built around it, woven with webbing and floored by mossy dirt. Tribal belief held that these ancient trees laired perilous spirits, and even to pass them required an apology and a swift retreat — but not many spirits were as dangerous as the Witch-King of the South.

The “door” were two leathery hides that parted when Kritek of the Thousand Teeth bowed his head to pass them, his jagged bone club in one hand. With his other hand, he dragged his prey over moss and dirt: a broken-necked man garbed in the jungle-colors of a hunter… or a spy.  The lodge was immediately lit with dozens of skull lamps that burned with magicked flame and heady incense. No two skulls were the same, from the fanged skull of a Troll, to a beaked skull of a Birdkin or a Kha-holed skull of a Gnome. Like a Sanctum spell, the illuminating magics within these macabre trophies only activated in the Witch-King’s presence, flaring to life from where they hung or whatever shelf or table they perched and burning only what was inside the lamp.

He carried the body to the central room of his lodged, wrought right beneath the tree’s heart, and encaged by exactly one-hundred and one gnarled and rune-etched trunks. Five fire-scarred skull-lamps hung above a circle of branches and rope, each was tied to a runed stone – a Witch’s “focus”. After the corpse was slammed unceremoniously inside the circle, Kritek’s claws expertly opened the man with the dispassion of a butcher.

At the Troll Witch’s belt was a skull and its crimson glow flared as organs and entrails were devoured or arranged according to an occult order. One by one, the hanging skull-lamps in the ritual room took on the same hue. The corpse began to whisper, a low croaking, breathless sound as the divination rite reached completion.

“Quiet.” Kritek of the Thousand Teeth spoke for the first time in hours. The hunt took most of what passed for afternoon in the web-infested Nightlands, but the effort in catching this prey was as much part of the rite as the evisceration. “The sacrifice has been made. The gift has been given. What do you see?”

The corpse’s silence was filled instead with a voice that echoed from each skull, originating from the one hanging from his belt – Sammael, World-Lock of the South and a gate between Midworld and the Aether.

The words were solemnly spoken by six burning voices. “It will be fought in Freehold and the battle will be glorious. Many will be the deaths and the skulls that are taken”

Kritek chuckled. “Liar”

“The Western World-Lock will return to Anubisath of the North or stay with Valtherion, the Prince of Thorns. If unchecked, the west will fall and the veil between Midworld and the Aether will be ripped apart by Valtherion’s Sundering Tree”

“Liar” Kritek grew less amused.

“Anubisath of the North controls two World-Locks. Gabriella of the East controls a World-Lock and consumes a powerful Aethereal for power” Sammael continued. “Both, individually, bear more strength and experience than you do. They will crush an insect like you if you let them”

Kritek of the South did not protest this time. He knew that the World-Lock’s divinations were in half-truths, but that meant it bore the truth – however painful. Life was multitude of pain among the Grellken. And among the Labyrithium, enduring and causing pain was the only true path to power.

He left word of his impending departure to his underlings, the various non-faithful covens and cabals within the Qabbalim.

The Witches and the Sorcerers of the Qabbalim backed Kritek because they feared the Vigil faiths. The Qabbalim supported him because they feared the King-slayer and the League. In these dire times, the Kingdoms of Midworld needed to lend him their aid due to the threat of Anubisath and Valtherion… and perhaps even Gabriella.

It was several days and many sacrifices later that the Rite of Transposition took him to the Hinterlands. He sensed an Elemental Wellspring nearby, its energies calling to his hunger. The Witch-King allowed himself a grin.

It might not be this moon or this year, but time will come that Midworld would fear Kritek.

Rumor (anyone may read this)
Lore-keeper skill only

June Prologue 2017

PrologueNews and Rumors

[THE SUNDERING TREE, DEEP IN THE AETHER; MAY 28, 2017 (WR)]

“Yes. Let me see”

At his command, the Carrionettes stepped away and their clay limbs clicked with each movement. They faded from the circle of bloody masks on the ground and waited lifelessly in the tree-line. Valtherion did not have the dead eyes and the clay hearts of the puppet-like creatures, but looking upon the macabre trophies did not gladden him. After all, there was little and less left in him when the Face-takers were done – only the burning ember of spite and the grim contentment that others had suffered.

It was not enough. It would never be enough.

Behind him, the Sundering Tree’s branches reached into the heavens. After long years, it was able now to tear into Midworld at Valtherion’s twisted will.

“The Witch-King is pleased with your work, Valtherion!” From beneath its shadow emerged a Birdkin, dressed in Gotterdammerung garments and clapping slowly as it trespassed into his domain, into his throne.

Valtherion turned his masked gaze toward the Beastling, his crown of thorns and flowers moving in tune with his movements. “What I do is not for the Witch-King, Horusath. I do this for my own cause, for my own crusade!”

The Birdkin was cautious and strode carefully around the circle of masks on the ground. From the edges of the treeline around the grove, Carrionettes watched him with dead, glossy eyes.

“The Witch-King has given you the means of your vengeance. He has given you power and the protection of a World-Lock. He has even given you leave to continue your work – instead of utterly enslaving your will. I would not be so quick to disregard his pleasure”

Horusath bent to pick a discarded favor from the muddy ground. “A Callasine favor? Do you treat with your Kingdom still? Is there something you need to tell the Witch-King of the North?”

Valtherion laughed mirthlessly. “Death-Priests of the Silver Kingdom, sent to strike me down. My former home and my liege means as much to me as this bloody mud. And at the fullness of my strength, I mean to tread upon them in the same fashion. Even the Queen of Stars will fall to the Facetakers when the Sundering Tree rends the veil between Midworld and the Aether”

“That is good” Horusath nodded his beak, looking this way and that to take the scene in. “You were Envoy for them long ago after all… just as you were once an ally to Freehold. I will remind you now that it would be unwise for you to forsake your current allegiances for your past ones.”

“They failed me after I had sacrificed so much for them” The self-style Prince of Thorns had no laughter this time, only seething spite. “They can seek me out all they like, but they will not find me or my Tree so easily. The waves of Facetakers and Carrionettes will be as an unending river – and eventually they will drown in it. Their souls will adorn the Forest of Faces.”

“Ensure that this occurs. Anubisath has little love for Freehold and less love for failure” Horusath made his way to the Sundering Tree and faded away from beneath its boughs.

How the Witch-King and his minons made easy use of the Aether and of his own creation galled him. But there were other grudges to nurse, and vengeances to be quenched.

The Carrionettes moved to allow a trio of Face-takers into the grove. They were gigantic creatures, seemingly wrought of shadows and hunger and all wearing the faces of those they had hunted. The torment of a hundred souls were stitched upon their garments – and they would only ever want more.

Valtherion shivered even now when he saw them so hungry. His fingers traced the outline of his mask, then reached inside to claw at the shattered remains behind it.

Soon, Midworld and the Aether will be joined and all will share in my glorious torment

Rumor (anyone may read this)
Lore-keeper skill only
Callas Selvarion or Rumormonger skill
Fir’bolg or Rumormonger skill
Gotterdammerung or Rumormonger skill
Ixia or Rumormonger skill
Jotunbrud or Rumormonger skill
Kali-Ishtar or Rumormonger skill only
Labyrinthium or Rumormonger skill only
Malak Travak or Rumormonger skill only
Pendrakken or Rumormonger skill only
Riverfolk or Rumormonger skill only

 

 

April 2017 Prologue

PROLOGUERUMORS AND NEWS

[APRIL 8, 2017 (W.R.); A WAREHOUSE IN PORT DAWSON]

The shadows danced with the flickering of the candleflames, lending Karasu a fearsome aspect that moonless night. Her frown deepened as her informer droned with his report. He knelt face-down before her in the inferior position that suited him as an underling, muttering secrets into the dirt. Stuck in Port Dawson and several days away from Freehold, she would have rather read a report than heard it – but times were different now than they were in Kenrei and literate help was hard to find.

He finished the report with “Karasu-sama, I hope this pleases y–”

“Pleases me?” She put one foot atop her underling’s head and ground his face into the dirt floor of the warehouse. “What kind of information is this? What kind of informer are you? You are telling me nothing that I already know!”

“Mercy!” He pleaded after she lifted her foot. His bloodied, broken nose added snivel to his pleas. “I’m just a lowly worker – I barely saw anything at the Wave-strider ship. Only shadows and feathers and screamin–”

The foot came down, strongly, repeatedly and with the mercy associated with crows and vultures.  Karasu only stopped when she heard the scrape of boot against dirt. She recognized the intent behind it and did not turn to face the newcomer.

“Boss Karasu. Black Serpent of the Dust Vipers. I heard you were second only to Boss Gemma before it all went tumbling down” The tall Elf’s shadow radiated power. Likewise, his blade was sheathed but there was a deathly aspect to it that gave Karasu pause. “But you’ve switched from carving lotuses to paddling rafts, the rumors go. What a world we find ourselves in!”

“What do you want, Gaius? I’ve no room for games” she gave her underling one final kick before turning to face the Shaedling, tattooed arm behind her with a knife. He would tell of this meeting, of course – but only what she wanted him to tell.

“I need help – as per before. A relic of my Krieger has been stolen, my brother has been gravely wounded and—“

“And you want me to find the cause of all of this? Are they so precious that you would risk coming here yourself?“

“This is everything to me, now that he has grown strong with the devouring of so many Parasites. I’m calling my favor” a coin with a black serpent fell at her feet. “Or does that mean nothing?”

She picked the coin up with her free hand, but she never took her eyes off of the Elf. Karasu touched the coin with two callused fingers and it vanished immediately into her aspect.  “Hai. It means something, even now – especially now”

“Then we have work to do and much to go over with regards to my quarry. Unlike your useless informant, I know the Black Chalice renegade who attacked the Wave-striders last night and what they were seeking”

Karasu raised an eyebrow in surprise, but she showed little else in emotion except anger and annoyance before her hands moved in a blur. She cast her throw backwards and the knife caught the underling by the throat. His gasps filled the air until the poison gave him silence.

Gaius peered at her stunned or perhaps contemplating his next move. His hands did not reach for his sword but there were other ways a Dammerlicht could kill. Expertise in Sorcery and Witchery were the hallmarks of that currently beshadowed house.

“I know this as well” her eyes narrowed and she caressed the serpentine tattoo upon her arm. “Eshuu Shadow-eater, your old enemy. How is he alive and what do you think would bring him to Freehold?”

Rumor (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
Labyrinthium Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Kali-Ishtar Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Malak Travak Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Pendrakken Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Riverfolk Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only