Category Archives: Tales from Midworld

Events that take place in Midworld, outside of Freehold.

March 2018 Prologue

PrologueRumors and News

WITHIN THE NURSERY, SOMEWHERE BEYOND MIDWORLD

Shapes, Oaths and Laws — these were the tools of order used by Gods and Archons.

Creatures like the Demon were unbound by such trivial matters. He preferred the malleable word, the obscuring shadow and a lawless reality. Of course, he had uses for Pacts, just as even the greatest of liars and thieves had uses for steel. He always believed that those who cannot be constrained cannot help but also be contrary.

And so, when the Demon entered the Nursery, with rain and battle clangouring nearby, it cared little for the wards and runes that sought to keep it out. Once, he had the strength of a hundred thousand devoured souls to lend him power enough to turn the Wards. But without the Tome, older methods had to suffice. After all, had he not witnessed its creation thousands of years ago?

As he stepped through the spaces between spaces, he remembered the time when Mortals discovered runes and writ. They thought that they had found a way to forever preserve their words. “Here was a way to stay immortal” they believed “Our thoughts and our speech would last for as long as these writings would. We have defeated death!”

But even engraved stone and runed steel turns to dust and rust in the end. The ages themselves eat away at purpose and definition. And there is also the glory and power of Context. With it, words change their meaning. They can lose their worth.

It was in this way that the Demons turned the very Wards meant to keep him out of the Nursery against the place’s Warden.

Breaking the Warden was easy. Even her taciturn features showed shock when he arose from the darkness before her and shattered her back against the wall again and again. She held true, of course, but she failed in the end – just as he had foreseen.

Then, he sent the Warden tumbling back into Freehold – a message that the Demon hoped they would understand. In this case, the Context was right but the Freefolk were always too feebleminded to know when to quit and to surrender. Nevermind that so many of them drank power from the Demon hungrily and many more bought from his markets. And with their souls and their coin, he grew and festered in the underbelly of civilization.

Casting the broken Warden upon the doors of their precious Inn was merely a warning, naturally. It was always better to give the warning first, for the spineless many that would be dissuaded by it and flee instead of fight. It would be they who lived while the brave died by the droves — as it always had been with the Demon.

When the Warden returned to do battle once more, the Demon was only slightly surprised. He should not have been. Was she not once Freefolk? Had she not sacrificed everything to contain the evils of this place? Had she not even deny herself the rest of the Afterlife to save her kin?

It was natural then that the fly would return to the spider’s web — foolish, weak and resolved, to be bound by him and crippled. The Warden was the Nursery after all – it would not do for the Nursery to be destroyed. He had work here to do and it was drudgery of the worst sort.

In the end, he had never meant to breach the Nursery. He had never meant to unleash its inmates upon Midworld. Destruction and desolation were never his goals – only his tools. Yet, the Freefolk had forced his hand, just as the Justicar had done decades ago.

They put him to this.

After the destruction of Freehold was over and done, the Demon would move on and start anew. Eternity was a long time and the only deathless thing in Midworld was chaos.

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

 

November 2017 Prologue

PrologueRumors and News

[AN AETHEREAL DOMAIN IN THE AETHER; NOVEMBER 01, 2017 (W.R)]

Nine bright stars hung in the black firmament above a windswept field. At the center of the field, a pillar of brilliant frozen energies reached up from the earth to seek the skies.

Beside the Nexus itself was Anubisath, Witch-King of the North, peering into its depths and seeing nothing but the sins of a forgotten age. His long beard and wrinkled flesh told tale of his advanced age, but his eyes were windows to immense power — mirrored by the glowing serpent staff that he clutched in one hand.

“Not many know of the Arctic Nexus” he spoke into the lights. “And of these, most see it merely as phenomenon in the Aether that ignites during the winter months of Midworld – an eruption of elemental power that moved in tune to the seasons. Some even liken it to a natural force, akin to the setting of the sun and the flowing of rivers”

When nothing but a bitter wind responded to him, he continued.

“But I, and I alone, saw glorious potential and possess the means to harness it. Truly, there are wonders and horrors that can be done with the Nexus’ power!

And thanks to you, Aggamar – this domain is well-warded from intrusion”

The Thane of the Rune-Eater warband stood from beneath the Witch-King’s long shadow, the dozens of runes on his flesh dancing in the elemental glow. Where his flesh was not bare, he was clad in leathers and furs and chains, like many in the Chained Kingdom of his origin.

“Aye, it was a vicious blow!” He laughed and beat his chest once. “Me and my children made short work of their portal and had a few dozen souls added to my runes!”

“You’re laughing?” The wind was vicious and cold, but this voice was colder still. “At your own failures?”

Beside Anubisath, it manifested from thin air with venom in its voice and fury in its gaze, appearing as a Beastling in white. The Pale Serpent pointed its own stave at the Jotunbrud Thane. “The Witch-King gave you power beyond measure and you let the Glacier fall. You let the Birdkin die!”

Aggamar’s eyebrows lifted with surprise, but he stepped forward instead of back.

“They were weak! I am STRONG! And with every blow we strike against our enemies, I become stronger still! With enough souls I may even surpass you, World-Lock! You best behave –”

Anubisath’s voice cut between the two and he faced them in turn, more doting patriarch than Witch-King.

“Peace, Sai-ris! Calmness, Aggamar!

We must unite against our enemies. After this winter season, our work only becomes more difficult: the Immortals must be destroyed, one by one. I did not gather power over centuries to rule over mortals. Remember our true enemies! These Kingdoms will not only fall to them, but they will also feed them or even shield them.

No. This battle must be ended and our foes swept aside so we may face our true adversaries with a united and ordered Midworld at our command”

Aggamar simply bowed  then strode off to further strengthen the domain’s wardings. Sai-ris the Pale Serpent remained beside his Witch-King and they both turned to the Nexus’s glimmering brightness.

“But of course…” Anubisath whispered into the Arctic Nexus. “There must be an answer for Horusath. Even Kings will fall from their thrones when my vengeance for you is complete, old friend”

Anubisath, Witch-King of the North, thrust his glowing staff into the Nexus. Above him, the stars themselves began to glow brighter.

 

Rumors (anyone may read this)
Rumormonger or Lorekeeper skill only:

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