Category Archives: Tales from Midworld

Events that take place in Midworld, outside of Freehold.

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

September 2018 Prologue

PrologueRumors and Clarifications

[IXIA, CAELLINRAH TOWERS; SEPTEMBER 07, 2018 (WR)]

Before the end of the week, three magical circles had been constructed around the infested tower. They meant to contain the burgeoning energies within and to weaken the undead monsters that would spill out. For their efforts, casualties were light despite the “outbreak”. But any loss of life or limb was of serious import to Choir Caellinrah – Shaed-ling verathas, Shaed-ling veridun, Shaed-ling veradas!*

They were in the middle of constructing the fourth circle, with Elven sentinels eying the infested tower’s windows and door, when the contingent from the Order of Patience arrived, bristling with weaponry and suspicion that was decidedly not the Ixian norm.

They were led by none other than the Gate-keeper Warden, a Cambion who regarded the scene with a severity akin to the sharpened steel that hung from her belt. Though she was far and away from it physically, her charge was the maintenance and the guardianship of the only way into Ixia: the Gate of Patience.

As surprise spread across the Elves, the sentinels guarding the tower turned to face the newcomers. However, they were commanded to remain at their posts by a priestess of high rank. She immediately moved to meet with the Order of Patience, with a personal guard and a tall, foreign Elf.

“Welcome to Choir Caellinrah! Sleeping Winter, I presume?” the priestess spoke with a smile that befitted a banquet rather than the containment of dangerous magics. “I am Alassiel Caellinrah, Twilarch Heirophant in Avorah’s absence”

The Cambion responded with a curt nod as she surveyed the individuals before her and her forces, as if determining the manner and the method of dismantling them should violence erupt. Sleeping Winter’s eyes settled on the foreign Elf – he did not appear to be subservient to the priestess or any other individual. More importantly, he was familiar.

“Magnus von Dammerlicht”

He returned her demeanor with a gaze that was more stoic than severe, being a soul that had endured much in recent times. “Warden. It has been several moons since the cells”

“A precautionary measure for all who enter Ixia, Patriarch Magnus. Everyone understands, of course!” Alassiel did not physically get between them but her voice was enough to break the spell between Magnus and Sleeping Winter.

The Gate-keeper Warden turned her attention to the priestess. “Your messenger has informed me of the situation, though I suspect that much has changed since then”

“No, no – the situation remains contained”

“Then why have you called for the Order of Patience? This is Crown business, not ours” Contrary to her words, her tone seethed with a distinct lack of patience.

“Because of your talents, naturally!” Alassiel flashed a winning smile. “And of course, your proximity. We were aware that you were on your way to the Gate and close by. The strength of the Order is well known to we of Caellinrah – it is all that stands between Ixia and the savagery of the outside world!”

Sleeping Winter paused long enough for the priestess and her guest to understand that the Warden was unimpressed by her geniality. When the silence was almost unbearable, the Cambion gestured that she was to be led to the tower’s perimeter.

Magnus and Alassiel shared a glance after they turned around. As it is with such things, they arrived just in time to see the wraiths and the banshees spill out of the tower in a maddened frenzy. The only warning they gave were the howls of the tormented dead.

****

The battle was a vicious one and the undead tore through sentinels and magical circles at a rate that was yet unseen. At the end of it however, the living had put the dead to rest. The strength of the now broken magical circles and the support of the Warden and her forces were all that stood between the Twilight Elves and destruction. Now the battle was over, healers were lending assistance to the wounded and the dying in no small amount – Caellinrah were known for their love of magic, after all.

A bloodied Sleeping Winter strode to the priestess. Alassiel’s priestly robes were marred with claw marks and crimson.

“Explain”

But for once, the priestess found herself at a loss for words.

Magnus had acquitted himself nobly in the combat using Witchery and he answered for her. “Warden, this attack is unlike anything I have ever seen or encountered, even when my house lived in the death-ridden Corpse-Kingdom. However, I am well aware of its nature and its source”

Sleeping Winter raised a hand up to give him pause. She immediately summoned two of her runners. “You are going to Z’akil. And you are going to the Gate. Both of you will tell them what you saw here”

The Gate-keeper Warden turned back to Magnus. “Apologies. Continue”

Magnus flinched little during the battle, but he trembled with barely contained fury as he spoke. “I have never seen it myself, but I know of this phenomenon – though I did not expect it here, nor do I understand how it comes to be here.

This energy is similar to that of a Soulwell, a nexus of necromantic and spiritual energy. A gateway into the realms of the dead”

“Where did it come from?” Alassiel finally managed enough composure to whisper a question.

“Freehold – from the people who all but recommended the destruction of the Dammerlicht… of all I held dear” Magnus almost choked from his hatred.

Sleeping Winter nodded with an understanding beyond what a single sentence could grant. She had been there at least once and had seen both the virtuous and the sinful within that town, though there seemed more the latter than the former. It was not her place to judge and enact judgment, but if she had her way–

Their palaver was interrupted by more howls, more maddened screaming. Sleeping Winter nodded to her runners and drew her steel, moving her forces between the undead and the retreating Choir Caellinrah. They only needed to last until reinforcements arrived, but it was a tall order and weeks in the making.

When the undead horde streamed out of the tower, she cracked her neck and spread her stance. She would let the wraiths and the banshees come forth unto her waiting blades.

She was patient, after all.

 

 

*See the Celestial Church of Ixia in the Ixian Religion page

Clarify (everyone 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 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

June 2018 Prologue

PrologueRumors and News

[KRAGLIN MANOR, PORT DAWSON; JUNE 18, 2018]

The manor was neither opulent nor imperial, with a skeleton crew of servants and mercenaries for guardians…but it was enough for their purposes. It peered east over the rest of Port Dawson and a roiling sea. Black banners with white crosses marked its perimeters and the enspelled wardings that protected it from harm and infiltration.

Sister Talia stood by the entrance, a hawk-like totemic mark branding her both as an Adept and as a member of the Brotherhood of the Sword and Cross. Like her mercenary brethren, she wore black, ornamented with a stark white cross. “My favorite part about having the summit here is how this Red Robert hates it as much as he hates us. The hike up to this manor is like the steepest parts of Northwall and this ‘manor’ is just as bad as that plagued hellhole.”

“Mayor or not, Robert can’t stand against the Treaty or the nine Kingdoms that are behind it. He can hate them and us if he wants, but he can either take their money or their steel… I imagine the choice is obvious” Unlike her comrade, Sister Kestrel’s face was unadorned but her garments were festooned with trophies and knicknacks – the yield of many a deadly hunt and battle. She stood within a few arm-lengths of  her battle-sister but Kestrel studied the sea instead of the path before them.

“If this Mayor was smart, he would play them against each other. The Kingdoms’ posturing against each other is the only reason Port Dawson is out of everyone’s hands. The Jotun would never have the Boggers have it. And the same with the Inthians and the Riverfolk, especially after that stunt they tried to pull with Zaalamon years ago. And you know – there’s also the lack of the you-know-what”

A nervous silence fell upon the mercenaries as the front doors opened abruptly to The acting Envoy of Pendrakken nodded to the Brotherhood as he left the manor to seek his evening lodging, doubtless an Inn or somewhere similar. Amidst helm and mail, he bore the colors of his House, the symbols of Faith and the badge of his station.

Behind him, an armored Brotherhood member exited then closed the doors. He bore with him a cruel looking blade with an ax-like construction. The sisters watched him walk the long winding trail to the base of the hill and the rest of Port Dawson proper.

The rest of the Kingdom Summit had yet to exit, save for the “diplomat” for the Labyrinthium’s pick, a masked man named Hawk who was the first to leave. He appeared as happy about things as the Pendrakken envoy did.

“Mercurium” Brother Mercy said somberly “They made that decision last moon – you can say it now… and we’ve always been able to say it”

“I know, it just feels strange to say it so openly” Talia shrugged. “Anyway, only reason for us to keep the peace in Freehold is that…mineral”

Kestrel had started watching a pod of orcas behind a vessel – possibly a trailing a whaling ship for scraps as she had heard them do sometimes, but she had spared a glance to see the doors close. “Did they bring anything new to the table?”

Mercy’s armored shoulders moved only slightly when he shrugged. With the sea breeze, it was cooler out of the manor than it was within. “Nothing of note. Lector and his undead are believed to be afoot somewhere in Jotunbrud, Malak Travak… and the ruins of Northwall. Portia may be advancing beyond the Obsidian Wastes. Tenebrous is loose and somewhere in the Hinterlands, possibly near Lockhaven–”

“Yes, yes” Talia swatted at the air in impatience. “We also know that Vallah and Primus remain under lock and key. They all seem accounted for except –”

“Fang-zhara” it was Mercy’s turn to be impatient.”Her prisons are open, her spirits were released when the arctic stars fell on those cities. She may have been involved in the Pendrakken civil war. And there is the sound of digging beneath the earth… which could her going after her Vaults to reclaim whatever strength she cached away. That’s all we know so far based on their reports and our own informants”

From her perch, Kestrel’s eyes lazily glanced at the masses of humanity at the docks. Any of them could be serving an Immortal, passing through uncontrolled Port Dawson to serve their master’s needs. T even her keen eye-sight, they were tiny and insignificant, trying to hurry their way home from the business of the docks. Any of them could be hiding Fang-zhara’s golemic augments, Lector’s necrotic blood-crowns or even the subtle mark of Primus’ cult.

And then she drew one of her many throwing daggers.

Mercy and Talia took note of Kestrel drawing steel and paid her their full attention. When Kestrel pointed out to the town below, they were just in time to watch with growing horror as the pod of orcas swam headlong into the docks.

Monstrously bulbous and pocked, the killer whales beached or impaled themselves upon the wooden construction. The mercenaries at the manor did not need to be at the docks to know the swarming and the buzzing that would come next as the gigantic corpses burst open unto the fleeing, screaming populace. Most of the newly-birthed demonic wasp creatures would descend upon the docks and infect as many folk as possible. More than a few of the monstrosities would instead fly free of the whale flesh immediately to the town’s limits. The Brotherhood needed to act quickly.

Mercy entered the manor immediately, alerting the diplomats and his brethren within — while they were in the manor they were warded and within custody. Talia used her Totemic speed to make her way to the chapterhouse days away and warn the others. When joined by reinforcements from the manor, Kestrel would lead the hunt against the fleeing Spider-Wasps.

The defense of Port Dawson and its docks, of course, would remain in the hands of Red Robert and his Redcaps as well as any civilians joined them instead of fleeing.

The town wanted to stay independent, after all.

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 or Rumormonger 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