Category Archives: Tales from Midworld

Events that take place in Midworld, outside of Freehold.

October 2017 Prologue

PrologueRumors and Lores

The following is a report written by the leader of a Riverfolk expedition that traveled to the Thousand Rainbow Isles one year ago.

My King,

It is sung that over a hundred years ago, seven Riverfolk ships sailed to the drowned lands that were once our home, to the sunken tower that was once our people’s crowning glory. It was to be a tale of redemption, another victory for our Kingdom’s heroes to add to their own long list of accomplishments.

Seven ships we took as well, your brightest and your bravest and most guileful. I write now as this task to you nears completion – you must forgive your Hand’s poor writing and the many marring scratches on this parchment. At least, this record (and this messenger bird) will survive me and the rest of my doomed expedition.

And just as our ancient heroes met with grim betrayal and ill fate, so too did we find our doom.

When neared the Rainbow Isles, the air was heavy. The sun hid behind dark clouds while we remained among the archipelago’s grasp. Eduardo could hardly breathe, he stayed in my ship’s hold while we did as you bid. We knew in our bones that it would be terrible work, dangerous work. But I am the Hand to my Datu and like the rest of my Fleet, I am bound by sky and sea* to my task.

The few islands we examined were barren, emptied of flora and fauna. These scourged lands were only the fringe of the archipelago, the other islands at its core remained sunken beneath the waves.

The mists crept upon us while we were studying the island of Palavan. They were swift, nipping at our heels one moment and then rendering our Fleet blind the next. Our charts and divinations became of little use, but we tried nonetheless to leave the archipelago…but we were too late.

The mists thinned when we saw Arauan, the sunken tower, grasping at us with an eldritch, purple glow. For all our attempts to escape it, my King — the curse had brought us to its heart.

When we saw that light piercing through the murk, the bells began to toll. Despite its volume, this death knell could not mask the sickening sound of horrors pulling themselves over railing and of tentacles grasping mast and hull.

And… those things… Adarna blind me in her mercy…

They were moaning and writhing in pain, eyes clouded with death sight and sickly black magics. Flotsam and blood and ragged indigo clung wetly to briny flesh. They clawed at us and at their very touch, my shipmates cried out in agony. I saw them grab hold of Celia Many-Fish… she died so quickly. She screamed and screamed like a wounded animal.

They were everywhere, dancing shadows in the wan purple haze. I heard screams in the distance from the other ships. There was a sickening snap as a mast was rendered into splinters – Captain Roanoke’s ship, I think.

For all these tales of brutality, I fear more for those who were dragged away and down into the waves. Their fate will be the worst, if your theory holds truth, my King. 

Before I was dragged away by my crew to safety, I saw her… I saw the Reader. Our records tell us that she sacrificed herself to save us all… but Riza the Reader swept upon our ships alongside those monsters. Everyone that touched her with fists or sliced her with blades fell writhing upon the ground. My memory is mercifully hazy shortly after her appearance. 

​That was last night. With the exception of boatswain Eduardo, who took the other lifeboat, my crew gave their last to ensure my escape. Keralzo, my second mate, shoved my writing box and a bird-cage into my arms before a tendril found his foot and pulled him into dark waters.

The wind is silent now. The skies are dark and the seas churn with… things. There is nothing left to me except hungry mists and tolling bells and the truth behind every guttering, flickering hearth – that warmth and light are fleeting lies in the face of the very end. By I have sworn by sky and sea, by sun and shadow…I would see this task to its very end.

If it please my King… tell my sons I love them. Tell my daughters to be strong. And tell my husband that my return will be delayed until the next season, but I shall bring Callasine spring-wine with me. I know he will understand.

Admiral Imelda Sa-lupa

Hand of Marya II, the King in Jade

“Spring awaits us all”

 

(written with assistance by Vanessa Nichols)

Lore-keeper or Riverfolk Kingdom only
Rumor (anyone may read this)
Rumormonger skill, Labyrinthium Kingdom or Riverfolk Kingdom only

September 2017 Prologue

PrologueRumors and News

[AN AETHEREAL DOMAIN IN THE AETHER; SEPTEMBER 05, 2017 (W.R)]

She opened her eyes and was woefully reminded that it was not a nightmare.

Through the blur and the ache, she could see that her ice coffin was one of hundreds standing upright over the muddy slush of Witch-King’s domain and beneath a grey vault of roiling storm clouds. Each coffin was a prison for those who were captured by Anubisath, Witch-King of the North. From time to time, the Glacier, the Birdkin or another of the Witch-King’s minions would take an ice coffin and drag it to the ziggurat that beshadowed them all. And just like that, another fellow inmate was gone – no screams, no struggle, beyond the helpless despair in their eyes.

The cold of the coffin seeped through skin and muscle into the core of her being. Voices spoke to her, quieting her will and her thoughts. From her expertise, she knew them to be the whispers of Muses: wind spirits known to inspire emotions and artists. They instead summoned images and words within her mind, reinforcing memories within the deepest recesses of her spirit. They made her recall the battle at the Aethyric Tear, the desperate pursuit and the ambush that led to her capture. She remembered the Glacier that Walks encaging her into its gluttonous frame and the darkness thereafter. They sharpened most of all her memories of those who had failed her, those who left her behind to endure this torment… and to break beneath its weight.

She would shake her head if she could, but there was no moving nor breathing within the coffin that both imprisoned her and sustained her mortal flesh. There was only her encaged thoughts, nightmare-filled sleep and the poisonous words of the Anubisath’s Muses.

Of course, she resisted. She did everything, negotiating with the spirits, praying to the gods and even filling her head with thoughts of kittens. There was no breathing in her prison, but her freezing blue lips formed the incantations and the prayers nonetheless, hoping for something… anything.

But the Muses’ words were turning true – there was none that came to reclaim her and the only news she ever heard was the Muses singing of Anubisath’s triumph over the Storm Lords in the Aether. Only a handful of the Elemental Lords and Monarchs did not bend the knee to Anubisath or know the chains of his conquest. Whatever plan the Witch-King had was coming to fruition and it appeared contingent upon the Winter season. As the weeks had passed, fewer and fewer ice coffins remained, despite the recent additions that were brought to the frozen field by the Glacier that Walks, Horusath the Birdkin or the strange Jotunbrud man with furs and runes.

When her time finally came, her mind and her will was as foggy as the thick clouds gathering above the ziggurat. Somehow, she knew that similar clouds were gathering across Midworld toward some deadly purpose.

Yet, she still had hope.

Even after weeks of frozen, silent torment…

Even after magics of the Muses were woven around her spirit…

And even when Gjallanir, Eater of Runes and Jotun Giant, picked up her prison and brought her to the Witch-King of the North for her final moments of willful, tattered consciousness…

This hope was a candle-flame and a whisper amidst the howling winds of her despair – but it was there.

Out of Game Clarify: This vision, in jarring bits and pieces, is granted via one or several horrible nightmares to those who have ever been Favored of Violet Rayne (via the Favored of the Spirits skill) within the last five years. It is apparent that it is her but there appears to be no communication or response possible, even by another Witch. 

 

 

Rumors (anyone may read this)

Callas Selvarion or Rumormonger skill only:

Firbolg or Rumormonger skill only:

Gotterdammerung or Rumormonger skill only:

Ixia or Rumormonger skill only:

Jotunbrud or Rumormonger skill only:

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:

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